The caving group visited Excalibur Pot in the North Yorkshire Moors at the beginning of June. Excalibur Pot was one of the most significant cave discoveries in Britain in 2007. It was found and explored by Gary and Matt, GOC members, and their colleagues in York and Scarborough Caving Clubs (for a description of the discovery, the work they put in, and some excellent pictures, see Descent issue number 202, June/July 2008). The North Yorkshire Moors are a relatively untapped caving area, and Excalibur Pot is the largest cave in the area! We spent some hours squeezing, crawling, and walking around this fascinating and varied cave, glad to be somewhere sheltered after a very wet Friday night on the campsite in Hutton-le-Hole. We eventually reached the main underground streamway where we were glad to be able to walk comfortably down a beautiful passage with abundant calcite decorations.
A small team including Matt and Martin from GOC then split off to explore a promising lead in an area of the cave too restricted for everyone to join in. Their plan was to move or remove a large boulder that was blocking the way ahead, although crawling height passage could be seen beyond. Martin investigated and reckoned that moving a different boulder a little bit would make access possible. A large crow-bar did the necessary job, and the team squeezed through, finding an estimated couple of hundred metres of previously unexplored passage of great significance to the hydrology of the cave. These finds have still to be surveyed but should take the total length of the cave towards a mile, making Excalibur one of the longest UK caves in Jurassic limestone.
On the Sunday we went to look at Bogg Hall Rising – the resurgence from Excalibur Pot and almost certainly other sinks in the area. Entering Bogg Hall Rising is a wet experience. A shuffle down a steep, tight slope drops you into shallow water in a low passage, but a few steps further on the floor slopes steeply down and you find yourself moving through water well above waist height. Negotiating a block sticking out from the wall necessitates a brief dip up to the neck before you climb out of the water for a few feet and then drop back into it. It is at this point that getting properly wet becomes unavoidable. In dry conditions, you climb over a block and then edge forward with water up to your neck in a passage which is barely shoulder height and water-filled to that level, but which obligingly provides a head-sized slot in its roof so that you can breath. In wetter conditions, the size of the airspace diminishes and on this day, after heavy rain earlier in the weekend, the airspace was a matter of inches. As water was likely to be rising rather than falling, we decided that continuing would not be wise. We made an aqueous retreat and waded/swam down the river outside by way of alternative entertainment, before spending several hours in a sunny garden, drinking tea and eating our way through a boulder-pile of rock buns as guests of Richard, the local expert on caves of the area.