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 Classic Easgill Caving Trips

County Pot - Eureka Junction - Easegill Aven - Molluscan Hall

February 1997

Map of Route

It is only after many visits to the caves of Easegill that you can start to piece together routes such as this and be reasonably confident of not getting seriously lost. This trip was several weeks in the planning and involved two prior trips to familiarise ourselves with the less well known areas of the system. We were also to use the knowledge from many years of visits to one of the most popular entrances, County Pot.

Typical Easegill Crawl.

The weather was set fair after a brief spell of heavy rain. Our route only visited one flood-prone area, the well known 'Eureka Junction', discovered in 1950. We were not to take the standard route to this point however. Moving quickly to 'Spout Hall', a climb up in the roof takes you to a bit of passageway called 'Ignorance is Bliss', named after Ron Bliss who thought that this was the sought after connection with the not yet found master cave. When his friends came to check it out they all recognised the 'new' streamway below them as the previously visited Platypus Junction. However Ron was really right because this part of the cave does now lead through to Eureka Junction via a little known route, thus by-passing the 'trade route' of 'Poetic Justice'. Climbing up into the main roof passage between Poetic Justice and Platypuss Junction, traversing above the drops we reached a classic section of keyhole passage (Picture on left). Further twistings and turnings along bodysize passageways lead to a roof level slot and a connection through to 'Upper Pierce' passage. To get to 'Lower Pierce Passage' and thus 'Eureka Junction' we now had to climb down a narrow rift. Its smooth walls meant we just had to jam ourselves in and slither down the 20 metres or so to the small streamway.

One hour later and we were having our first route-finding problems. We were attempting to get into 'Sideline Passage' in the upper level series. The last section had been easy going along well known ground past 'Eureka Junction', 'Stop Pot', and 'Mainline Terminus'. Now however vague recollections of a trip to this area five years ago only confused the issue. Using a rope we brought with us we made an awkward climb up into the start of 'Mainline Passage'. This however proved to be a waste of time. The connection through to 'Sideline Passage' marked on the survey was only a vocal one! So down we all went and went to look for an alternative route, the 'Mancunian Way'. One of our party, Paul, eventually found this unlikely bit of passage way and soon we were all crawling flat out towards 'Easegill Aven' (we hoped).

'Easegill Aven' is the key to this section of cave, linking two levels together. It now boasts an old fixed bolt and an even more ancient loop of hemp rope. Lowering down the rope feels quite committing as a reversal would be both difficult and dangerous, unless you left your own rope in situ. Once all five of us had made it down the search began for our next objective, 'Molluscan Hall'. We had to be careful not to let our party get split up at this stage. The problems were the inaccurate survey which basically was no help, and the large number of route choices in this area. We hit a big streamway and hoped that this was the one directly below 'Molluscan Hall'. It proved not to be so, but after more searching we found an incredibly muddy 'oxbow' ( complete with mud sculpture) that led us to the bottom of 'Molluscan Hall', and relief at knowing our whereabouts once more. All that remained were the long crawls and squeezes of 'Dismal Bypass' and finding our way up 'Razor Passage' and thus the entrance to 'County Pot'.

All of this took just 5 hours on a Friday evening, by 10-30 pm we were all in the pub, our short intense adventure over with. We were probably the first group ever to complete this particular round trip!

TJ Phillips - February 1997

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