Skip to main content

Present: Ian W, Pete H

I’ve long wanted to try my hand at Peterson Pot, and with the weather *still* being poo this weekend, Pete and I gave it a go. I had heard much of Roly-Poly Passage, and was expecting a bit of an ordeal. Nevertheless, I wanted to do it ‘properly’ and packed full rigging gear for a return trip to the bottom of the fifth (last) pitch. There was always the option of pulling through if we got to the other side of Roly-Poly Passage and couldn’t face the return.

Super-duper non-phaffness got us in and out of Inglesport by ten o’clock, and we had called at Leck House farm and got changed and underground by eleven! Climbing down the muddy shakehole, we saw that the entrance pitch was already rigged. Still with great enthusiasm, the pitch was rigged with our own rope and we abbed down. There are plenty of bones and skulls and the like at the bottom, and also at the bottom of the next pitch, though they are the old, clean type. There was also a fair bit of crap around here, left over from someone’s dig. Roly-Poly Passage follows almost immediately, and we got straight into it. Having the tacklebag ahead of me was a bit of a phaff, but the passage itself wasn’t ever as awkward (or entertaining) as I had been lead to believe. Similarly, the ‘unusual contortions’ description had had me excited, but it wasn’t to be as bad as all that. After forty-five minutes, we were out of the other end. We put on SRT kits and rigged and descended the next (third) pitch. This is a close-ish rift and drops you down to the stream level; it seemed unusually longer than its eight metres. A short traverse over the fourth pitch got us to the Pippikin connection inlet, and the end of the fixed rigging. A wobbly bolt formed the belay for the fourth pitch – we hadn’t brought a spanner and I was glad to see it was there. Being the only non-natural rigging point, we’d been fine till here. Two naturals made the belay for the fifth pitch and we were soon at the bottom. I had a look in the rift at the bottom but succeeded in only a short exercise in reverse shuffling and getting water up my trouser cuffs.

Pete derigged on the way out. We paused at the top of the third pitch for flapjack and water, and to remove our SRT kits. I again lead through Roly-Poly Passage, though naturally I left Pete the tacklesack. After a while, we had a rather efficient method where I pulled it along with a sling and Pete eased it over obstructions (there are a few). There are a few corners where turning over like a hog roast is the easiest path (I made a point of proclaiming each roll) and these were fun; there were a couple of corners where feet and knees were pressed into the corner of the roof too. Maybe it wasn’t so boring after all; in fact this was actually rather good fun. It took us a rather leisurely (?) seventy minutes to return through Roly-Poly Passage. Once at the other end, we spent a while tidying a spaghetti-like loose end of electrical wire. I assumed it was blasting wire, but left it in case it was a telephone wire. There was other rubbish around, and we filled a small tacklebag with it (though we decided to leave the buckets and angle-iron). We then made a swift exit (four and a half hour trip) and stomped back up the fell to the car, where we changed in front of two rather odd chaps parked beside us. We were convinced they were going to break into our car if we hadn’t arrived, or else they got their kicks watching semi-naked cavers on lonesome fellsides. We didn’t ask them which, but instead went back to Ingleton for tea (I had ‘Mexican’ Beans on Toast which was rather good). We were back in Durham for half-six. I like caving.