Another Look at the Caves of Wild Boar Fell

All Photos

Rhys, Cecilia and I returned to Wild Boar Fell for another look at the Angerholme Pots, on the NE side of the fell. These are described in the Gritstone club journal from 1985, with numbers from 1 to 25, and occasional names. The more significant pots are fenced to avoid a net influx of sheep, and it was from these fence posts we abseiled in to take a closer look.

Angerholme 25: Main Sink

This was our most promising lead. Water from Main Sink had been dye traced clean through the mountain to Needlehouse Rising in the south. We couldn’t see the bottom from above, and there was precious little information in the Gritstone club journal.

Rhys set up a strong belay using a huge bowlin-on-the-bight which was to become our signature rigging tactic, and I slithered down after him. Main Sink was not what I had imagined. We landed on a broad, flat terrace, with a 2 m downclimb to the true bottom, also broad and flat. The floor was made from boulders, covered in thick green moss. At the far (west) end was a raised pool fed by two waterfalls.

The water flowed out and down through the boulders. We found a few ways through the boulders, to find…more boulders. It is clear a thick layer, formed by rocks falling from the side. There was one possible way to slither down, but given the unstable nature of the boulder floor, we decided against it. It would take some serious digging to make Angerholme 25 passable.

Angerholme 24

Rhys in Angerholme 24 (unnamed), a downclimb into a boulder choke. Significant potential here, where well sculpted and lightly choked cave passage.

Just next door to Angerholme 25 is Angerholme 24, to the SE and outside the fence. We scrambled down to have a good look, and actually found a body sized descending shaft at the bottom. The walls are made of actual rock (rather than boulders) and we dug for a bit before leaving it. This seems a surprisingly possible lead.

Angerholme 21 (Beacon Hill)

Rhys descends into Angerholme 21 (Beacon Hill Pot), the widest of the three in this enclosure.

Angerholme 21 is in a fenced enclosure with Angerholme 22 and 23, and is the widest and most promising. I descended first to find another wide, flat bottom, boulder strewn pot. Rhys followed behind and we found the way on mentioned in the Gritstone club journal – a narrow rift on the far side.

Angerholme 21 is again flat bottomed, lined with boulders. Rhys squeezes through into a lower pitch, which is narrow and reaches a short horizontal passage which chokes in either direction.

We rigged a rebelay off a handy boulders (boulders are in plentiful supply in Angerholme 21) and Rhys slithered down. He shouted up that the far wall was real rock (not boulders) and soon after he was into a rift with two real walls. At the bottom was short horizontal passage which quickly choked in either direction. He was not very enthusiastic about the potential for digging given the enclosed space.

Rhys descends into Angerholme 23, NW of Angerholme 24. The bottom is lined with black plastic bags and dead sheep. No further investigation. Ditto Angerholme 22.

Angerholme 22 and 23 are both filled with squidgy black plastic bags and some scattered sheep bones. Undoubtedly this is not a sanitary place for cave exploration.

Weird slime blobs. What are they?!

Angerholme 16 (Nab Pot)

This was another promising-looking open pot. It’s fenced off, and Rhys and Cecilia went down first. As I lowered myself over the edge to join them, I could see Cecilia enthusiastically diving into a narrow rift below. I found her wedged deep in a very wet, narrow rift with plenty of loose rocks around. Not ideal, but full marks for initiative. Apparently is doesn’t go. A rather wet Cecilia prussiked quickly out to warm up.

Angerholme 13-15

Rhys descends into Angerholme 13, the Nab behind him.

Angerholme Pots 13 to 15 are all in the same fenced off enclosure. I’m not entirely sure which is which – we started at the SE end, with a short, dead abseil into a 6 m deep pot. Further towards the Nab, Rhys went down a narrow and very loose rift which he did not enjoy at all. Finally, I descended a wider, complex junction of rifts, which I believe is Cove Pot (Angerholme 14).

Cecilia descends into Angerholme 14, Cove Pot. We rigged it grom the N side, giving an exciting overhang.

This we abseiled into from the north side, which lead to an impressive overhang and a 10+ m drop. At the bottom is a narrow rift, formed in fossil rich limestone.

The rift slopes down, with lots of gritstone pebbles and limestone boulders, and organic debris. We removed a lot of this loose slope, and were able to see another 4 or 5 m down, with the water running in. This was probably the most exciting bit of cave we saw on this trip, and is certainly diggable.

Back on the surface, we met two cavers from the BPC, also walking across the fell to see how the caves looked. We told them what we’d found, and I promised to post on with the write up. Given the two hour drive to Wild Boar Fell, a regular digging session is out the question, and I’m happy for someone else to benefit from our reconnaissance. I think the most promising digs are Angerholmes 24 and 14, though with a huge effort (see Death’s Head in the Dales) I think Angerholme 25 could be interesting.