Thursday 27 June 2024

Heron Pot

After several days of hill-walking, climbing, and some aborted mountaineering in the Cuillin (thanks to Scottish weather), Anne and I decided we had to finish off our active streak with some caving. Being in Yorkshire, we were spoilt for choice, and having been taught the basics of rigging by none other than rope aficionado Mr Bartek Biela, I picked Heron Pot as a relatively easy cave to rig unsupervised.

After the short entrance crawl we met the stream and followed this for 10-15 minutes to the head of the first pitch. From here I shimmied up to the start of the High Level Route and began rigging the traverse. I quickly found out why the description said that having long legs was helpful. So too did Anne, who discovered a hitherto unknown talent for doing the splits. Before long (in distance terms, not in time terms as I was pretty slow!) I reached the bolts for the Y-hang. After rigging this, I swung out over the darkness and enjoyed the great pitch (maybe 20ish metres) to the bottom of the cave.
Anne soon joined me, and instead of completing the through trip (and then coming back to de-rig), we decided to crack on with prussiking back up and derigging. Part of me was a little worried about how Anne would manage going back along the traverse with her little legs, but she managed fine and I thoroughly enjoyed working out how to de-rig the traverse while keeping myself safe.

With lots of time remaining, I rigged the first of the wet pitches and dropped down to the head of the second. A grunt from above made me look up to find Anne dangling from her cows’ tails, with her legs waggling in thin air. Apparently the tiny traverse to a nice ledge was just the wrong shape for her, so a controlled lower onto her cows’ tails was in order. After another couple of goes she had it sussed and soon joined me at the bottom of the pitch.
The second pitch had me completely baffled. Unless I was missing something, it involved an easy but very exposed traverse right across the pitch head to the second anchor. The anchor was quite high, meaning that when I arrived at it, I would have had to lean out over the pitch to clip into it and rig it. Risking a big fall and swing on a long piece of rope didn't seem a great idea to me, so I decided that caution was the best part of valour and retreated. (I later checked the topo again, and could see all the anchors marked on it in the cave, so I can't see that I missed anything

All that remained was for us to prussik back up the first pitch, and for Anne to struggle with the mini traverse before I derigged and we headed out of the cave. Once back at the car, we nipped into Yordas where we did the (very mini) through trip, before driving to Valley Entrance and going to the pitch down into the master cave. Being late in the day, we didn't go further and explore, but I'm looking forward to doing a through trip from Swinsto at some point.

This was a great day of caving: three fun caves, a great challenge and lots of variety. We shall have to come back and complete the Heron Pot through trip at some point.
Cavers: Dave & Anne B
Trip Report & Photos: Dave B

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