Attendees: Me (Darren), Rachel, Will, Toby, Louise, Mark
A new year dawned with a sense of keenness only slightly diminished by the steadily falling rain ranging between heavy and light. The relatively new discovery of Five Ways Pot was decided upon, none of us having been here before we gathered what knowledge we could and set off with what we hoped was the correct level of gear, lengths and enthusiasm.
The first challenge was (unsurprisingly) finding the hole and a good hour was spent wondering the slopes of Dowlass looking for the correct pot hole, the way to find it is to go to Gritstone Pot (Large Gritstone boulder in the entrance) and following the shake holes north for about 130m. Luckily the rain held off during our long search and some sleuthing eventually led us to the correct shake hole and the five entrances? of the pothole
A climb down into the entrance chamber leads almost immediately to the first pitch of around 7m, best laddered as slightly narrow at the top, this provided some moments of unsureness as water was heading straight down the gap and a thorough soaking was required to descend.
The next section is the Tonga Trench which used to be a long muddy slippery slope before the diggers did what they do best, its now a series of 9 impressively shored climbs leading deeper into the pot, these were again quite dripping, at the bottom of the climbs a short crawl is found (Ice Age crawl) leading to the first proper pitch
The pitch is approximately 20m deep and named Blade Runner, with a re-belay after 5m giving a clear hang, the pitch is in some excellent shaped passage and their is a decent length straw to be seen on one of the walls, unfortunately this was again very wet on most of the descent. This is also quite loose at the top and some care is required in this area. At the bottom of this pitch a slight swing into the correct ongoing passage is required (Keep an eye out for the handline currently in situ), this resulted in some yelling and up and down on the descent to find the correct way on
The cave carries on through a decorated crawl (Marmalade Sandwich) to the next pitch, named My Left Foot (20m). A clean hang down and nicely sculpted passage, with a deviation to keep slightly more clear of the cascading stream, the trip was getting better and better.
The next pitch (Picnic Pitch) quickly follows and is another fine affair of about 20m to a decent sized chamber.
The rest of the cave consists of shorter pitches and passages in between down a series of drops, Stone Age Pitch (6m), The Deceiver (8m) and finally The Pincher - Slightly tight in a section (10m) leading to a small final chamber with a small hole taking the water leading on. I believe Toby had a look but wasn't thrilled at the prospect of flat out in water
Now cold and wet it was time to go, at this stage I happily realised I wanted to burn more of the New Years eve food off and had lost my Pantin... Rachel, Will and Mark shot out followed by myself, Toby and Louise.
No issues on the exit and my Pantin was found at the top of the first pitch, a boulder did also appear and drop from nowhere at the re-belay prompting some shouting up. We emerged to a wet, cold, dark and frankly miserable surface.
All in all an excellent trip and well worth doing
A few points to note if planning:
- Cave is "Sporting" when wet but quite passable
- Currently still on spits - My lengths are very approximate and should be taken with a tablespoon of salt (Hopefully a consideration for bolting in the future)
- The cave is loose in places, the top of the second (Blade Runner) requires care and possibly some gardening
- More information here: UK Caving - Five Ways
All that’s left is to say congratulations to the diggers on another fantastic addition to the caves of Dowlass Moss, may 2023 bring further success