Jockey Hole and Rift Pot on the Allotment
Cavers: Chris Scaife and X Ritchie
The forecast was for heavy rain, so we plumped for a wet weather option or two. In fact there was very little rain and water levels were quite low, so the world had quite literally been our oyster; but our reasonably all-weather caves were highly entertaining, so je ne regrette rien.
We walked up to the Allotment from Crummack Lane and found Rift Pot first. Following the gash, wherein lies Rift Pot, north for a short distance, a double shakehole is reached. The way into Jockey Hole is the smaller shakehole on the right, at SD 76082 72966.
The X Man, or hole jockey, rigged Jockey Hole with his 98m rope. First we climbed down the grassy edge of the smaller shakehole towards a sloping tube, with a Y-hang right at the start, then a backed-up Y-hang at the edge of the drop. This short drop landed on a large ledge and from above it looked as though the rebelay was a giant swing from here. However, there were large footholds on either side, so reaching the rebelay was easy as pie. The long final hang is then kept just away from the wall thanks to a deviation on the opposite side just below the Y-hang. This is a great pitch, narrow enough that you can touch the sides for most of the way down, then opening out closer to the bottom, with just a glint of daylight creeping through from the shakehole far above. Nothing horizontal at the bottom though, so back up we went.
Rift Pot was next. We climbed down into the entrance shakehole at its southern end and then Xaaaaaaaaaaaaaandah rigged an initial Y-hang, followed by the widest Y-hang in the world, and we were soon rebelaying and going down into another impressive pitch, again with daylight – and not rain – coruscating from above. After descending another very short pitch, we swapped rigging duties and I had the honour of using the 98m of Spelenium Gold. We followed the YRC 1904 route to the bottom and this was a very enjoyable bolt-clipping exercise, with resin anchors appearing every few metres as the descent winds its way around jammed boulders. While I was rigging the final Y-hang, a rock bigger than my head (and undoubtedly capable of crushing my head) fell from above and landed just beside me, rolling into my foot. At least that’s one loose rock future cavers needn’t worry about.
We ferreted about a bit at the bottom and then headed out into darkness. Without navigational aids, finding Crummack Lane in the dark might have been a challenge, but auspiciously Mr Ritchie had brought his GPS device and we were soon drowning our sorrows in the Game Cock* in Austwick. By far the worst part of the day for me was the drive home – not only did I not have my usual travelling companion to think up outrageous scenarios for Would You Rather?, but I had to drive through incredibly dense fog. It was almost like being blind.
*Game Cock, gash, hole jockey, bottom, going down. There are often one or two unavoidable innuendos when describing caving trips and I can only apologise profusely for their inclusion in this report.
A few pictures from the trip, as I had my phone with me for GPS…
Looking up Jockey hole
Coming up Jockey hole
A suicidal sheep at the bottom of the entrance pitch to Rift.
Chris rigging the 3rd pitch in rift.
Chris rigging the 5th pitch in Rift
Fine oxbow passage in Rift.
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