King, not Vesper!
Yes, the old team of the ropegun and the navigator back together! Simon had hitched up to Ingleton and managed to give me a fright by peering into my window just as I pulled up outside the café. The plan was for Vesper Pot, but fortunately I packed a few more ropes, just in case. After a very fine coffee in Curlew Crafts, we drove to Kingsdale on this fine day, to find only 1 car at Braida Garth, whose 4 occupants were headed for… you’ve guessed it. We decided upon King Pot, having only done it once before and packed my vintage orange Kingsdale guide for reference.
Walking up to the farm, we were greeted by a newly-calved heifer and her offspring next to the gate and she wasn’t keen to let us pass! Keeping a wide berth, we met the farmer coming our way and continued up to find the pot.
With a bag of 8 and 9 mil each, we were not exactly overloaded and after getting a bit lost in the entrance series, we were soon plodding along to negotiate the strenuous roof traverse leading to Queensway. Whilst King Pot is undoubtedly a great cave trip, it has too much slippery, mucky rock to give it top billing, in my opinion, with the squalid breakdown chamber of King Henry Hall presenting a hazardous obstacle, where a slip could have very unpleasant consequences.
Moving on, the caving becomes cleaner, wetter and more enjoyable, although a minor cock-up left us with only 20m of rope for Elizabeth Pitch, which is best rigged with 30m! However, I normally just traverse over to pitch heads anyway, to rig in ‘Bushell-fashion’, so with a couple of slings off the rock arch and a deviation off the big flake, I found my feet hitting terra firma on the stretch.
The rumble of the Main Drain water beckoned as we trundled our way along the final crawl – why were we dragging tackle sacks? Another cock-up, but good exercise at least.
The Main Drain was indeed high and mighty, with the power to sweep one over and the middle sump, with its beautiful, pulsating formation, was visited prior to the foaming pool downstream.
On the way out I paused to wait and chanced to look up to see a beautiful set of columns in the roof, hidden from view when looking downstream, but I can’t exactly remember where! In error, I took a low level route to get to the chamber at the end of Queensway, finding a Mars Bar, labelled – 19p – was 20p! How old is that!
One other minor cock-up as Simon dropped a tackle bag down the pit below the rope traverse, but we exited to fading light and a fine moonrise over Scales moor, after a trip of about 7 to 7 and ½ hours.
Walking back through the farm, the collie pup was much more friendly than an old dog that growled until we made our way off to change as quickly as we could to avoid the midges, before heading off to the pub.
Leaving Simon to hitch out of Ingleton at 9:30, I didn’t fancy his chances, but he got home before I did anyway!