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Photograph of the volcano formation in Witches II Cave

Bar Pot - Upper Bridge Hall Area

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This article is based on "Bar Pot and Flood Entrance Pot" written by Phil Johnstone and Colin Boothroyd, and published by the Lancaster University Speleological Society in 1978; and information from an article by John Cordingley published in the CPC Record 32, October 1993.

Above the rock bridge in Bridge Hall (survey) the shale bed has caused an enlargement all round the high aven. The foolhardy may, while lifelined, cross the bridge and traverse round the far side of the aven, past a tight blind bedding, to a corner and enter a parallel aven at its base. This aven, which is very loose, may be climbed, again by the foolhardy, for about 10m. Near its base is a small bedding, again choked all round.

Back at the top of the bridge on the right is a chamber which was called Glacier Chamber because of its fine moon-milk floor and formations (survey), now mostly destroyed. In the flat roof is a tight rift passage. This can be entered either by jumping up and trying to jam some part of the anatomy, or by a tight squeeze up from the end of the chamber. The passage continues fairly straight and not un-tight, with a small trickle of water, until progress at floor level is halted and one must traverse in the wider section about 3m up.

Eventually the traverse ends at a small muddy chamber, with a low bedding closing down to the l eft and a tight rift up on the right. The way on is another rift passage, easier to a squeeze passable at floor level and a tight climb up into the base of a 15m high aven - Graveyard Aven, so called because of the alleged 'thousands' of mole bones therein - now mysteriously vanished (cross section).

It is possible, in fact quite easy, to climb this aven and gain access about 10m up to a passage which trends back over the previous rift. An awkward upward squeeze leads to the previous end of the passage, where it is almost blocked by a protruding flake. A little work with a lump hammer enabled LUSS to pass this extremely tight and rather intimidating squeeze into an upward bending passage, which leads under a four metre high aven and through yet another squeeze to a junction.

Ahead is a blind pit four metres deep, and right is a rising passage to a boulder-floored chamber with a bedding at roof level, which can be followed in several directions for a short distance until it chokes with earth. This point is very near the surface (about 3m-4m) and was radio-located at the position shown on the survey, very close to the main path to Gaping Gill Main Shaft.

The main Bridge Hall Aven was climbed by John Cordingley in July 1993. (survey). The tiny stream reaching the boulder floor below was found to emerge from a rift passage some 22 metres above the floor of the aven, although the aven itself continues upwards. Entering the passage, another aven is encountered almost immediately with a strong inward draught. This was named Bonfire Aven, after an unsuccessful smoke test to an open rift on the surface. This has been climbed to a shale band and five metres of ascending rift passage. The main passage (Violet Ground Beetle Passage) terminates some 40 metres from the Bridge Hall Aven at a flowstone blockage.

The area was revisited by John Cordingley et alia in 2003, whilst trying to trace the destination of marked pebbles dropped down a small immature shaft some 12 m northwest of the Bar Pot shakehole. A small rift some 4m into the passage was entered for a couple of metres to where it got too tight, and an ascent made for some 7m to where a voice connection could be made to a passage part way down the entrance shaft.

During the same trip, a traverse was made around the Bridge Hall shaft into a rift passage which led through into the side of the second aven marked on the survey. From here it could be seen that the main aven ascends to a height of about 35 m above the floor, narrowing to a riding fissure. A small passage could be seen to the southeast at a height of about 32 m above the floor.