Divine Caving in Magnetometer Pot – Purgatory and Pendant Passage
Cavers: Chris Scaife, Alex Ritchie
Midway upon the journey of our lives, I found myself in Magnetometer Pot. I had been in here before, but only as far as Caton Hall; however, today I was with my very own Virgil (the wrestler, not the poet). Xaaaaaandah is such a Magnetometer veteran that these days when he visits he has to cut his face with a spanner just to add some variety.
Down the concrete pipe and on to the entrance shaft, a sling rebelay was used. After a couple of climbs down we were soon in the Wet Crawl, then the Dry Crawl and before long we were down the (now P-bolted) Caton Hall Pitch. We left SRT kits and tackle sacks here, to enter Purgatory unencumbered.
A small hole in the floor led us to Rough Crawl and we crawled off to the right and up a chimney into Purgatory. I had heard so many times that this was a miserable, pleasureless passage that I was highly impressed. No wondrous sights along the way, but a very entertaining section of cave. The first flat-out squeeze in Purgatory is usually reckoned to be the tightest, but we both slithered through easily enough. My ribs are a bit sore now though. There’s not much room to turn around in here, and the flat-out squeezes just keep coming. We both thought that the third squeeze, although not as tight as the first, was the most awkward. We were treated to five squeezes in total, before emerging into Pendant Passage, all good fun.
Pendant Passage is a place between Purgatory and Heaven and Hell. It was mostly stooping along a streamway with sharp rock. To return to Rough Crawl, we had two options – Heaven or Hell. Both are flat-out rocky crawls and we chose Heaven. After emerging from Heaven first turned right and followed the arduous, wet crawl to the sump, then returned along more arduous, wet crawling.
The crawling passages from here to the Labour Exchange were quite confusing and maze-like, but we eventually found our way to easier ground and followed this to The Whale and then Echo Aven – two highly worthwhile attractions.
On the way out, Xaaaaandah managed to injure himself in quite an unusual way, when his spanner caught itself in a crack, and then the elastic cord pinged it straight into his face. I haven’t seen his face bleed that much since he banged his head on a signpost in Armenia. Anyway, Purgatory, Heaven and Hell is no place for comedy. It was a divine caving trip.