Bottle Pot - Alan Brentnall

Tuesday, 16 February, 2016

A very cold night saw ten of us meet at Stoop Farm (450m) for a trip down Bottle Pot. Ann and I had been up to the farm the week before, and checked where the entrance was, and talked to the farmer's wife - so there wouldn't be any hunting about in the darkAs soon as folk were changed and ready, we made our way, in twos and threes, along the permissive path towards the sharp ridge of Chrome Hill, and, in the third field, veered right across to the shake-hole below the wall by Tor Rock, where a really ornate gate protects a fluted hole from falling woollies. Orpheus dug this hole back in 2009, and I got in touch with a couple of Orpheus mates before this trip to make sure we knew what was what.

The gate opens onto a fluted, climbable shaft to a chamber from which a low crawl leads round a bend to the first pitch, scaffolded on one side, with a bolt on the other, and an old in-situ rope hanging down. I rigged a new rope down this shaft, although it would be free-climbable, if necessary. At the foot of the pitch, a narrow rift (thread belay) leads down to a right-hand bend (two bolts in situ) and thence onto the Aven Pitch. Rigged straight from the two bolts, the rope falls heavily onto the sharp edge of the pitch head, and I searched around for either further bolts, or some naturals to create either a Y-hang , or a deviation effecting the same. I found nothing much at all, but, there again, I've had trouble seeing bolts in the past (I don't tend to cave wearing my glasses) so I eventually retreated, and asked Ade to see what he could find.

Ade couldn't find any bolts or belay either, and so we decided that I would use the rope bag as a rope-protector, and Ade would look for a re-belay further down, to limit the rub. Ade managed to create an interesting belay using two slings attached to a dubious spike and a flimsy thread creating a Y-hang, and this sufficed. And we soon were reunited at the bottom of the pitch. Here, a short fissure leads of in one direction for 6 metres, while a larger phreatic passage leads past interesting mud formations to the final Orpheus dig in the other direction. This was an interesting trip into a new find. Clearly, one or two extra bolts on the main pitch would be a big improvement for safety, and there is obviously a great deal of potential in the phreatic passages which are filled with easily digable glacial mud.