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Photograph of the volcano formation in Witches II Cave

Bar Pot - Around South-East Passage

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This article is mainly 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. It also contains information from an article by John Cordingley published in the CPC Record 20, October 1990.

From the head of the 33 m pitch (Point D) it is possible, with care, to traverse round to the left, over the 90 ft pitch, and enter a tight rift passage of pipette cross-section at the far corner (survey). This passage continues dead straight and breaks into a wide muddy bedding plane which connects on the left, via a squeeze (Point E), with the final chamber in the Major Series. The floor of the passage drops away as a vadose trench, the shale bed provides ledges on either side and the rift continues in the flat roof until the lip of a pitch is reached.

A short P-bolted SRT descent lands onto a platform of jammed boulders with a pitch on either side. To the left various chockstones make it possible to reach the other side of the pitch, a series of cascades and pools carrying a very small stream. This pitch descends in steps of 1.7 m, 8.8 m, and 20 m to South-East Passage.

Upstream from the platform of jammed boulders, a slippery 3.4 m water chute can be climbed by combined tactics to reach an interesting inlet passage consisting of a washed out shale bed with a winding rift in the roof and a vadose trench in the floor, not in line with each other. Where the trench begins is a widening of the bedding and a pool. Ahead a muddy passage, carrying no stream, becomes tighter and more unpleasant, winds past a couple of squeezes and eventually chokes with mud in very unpromising circumstances. From the pool a rift off to the left turns through two right angles after a 2 m climb, and a small elliptical inlet passage runs almost dead straight for 24 m, past a few small oxbow columns and through a couple of pools to a muddy sump (Sump 2). There was no evidence of previous exploration of this section.

From the platform of jammed boulders, a P-bolted traverse leads to a fine pitch of 30 m down an impressive shaft which lands adjacent to the entrance of New Hensler's Passage. Continuing over this pitch allows one to reach a small dry passage. A squeeze round a large block and a length of crawl leads to a 6 m pitch into a chamber. Here, a 2 m climb up at one side and a rift passage of decreasing height end at a squeeze into a small unstable chamber with a choked outlet near the roof.

In the other direction from the 6 m pitch, a widening rift passage leads shortly to another 6 m pitch into a wide muddy rift (Wildcat or Groundhog Rift). Further down is the skeleton of a cat which gave the rift its name and provided a puzzle as to how it got there. Beyond it, a narrow section leads to a very muddy 3m high tunnel which passes a blind branch on the left, and pops out 4 m up the back wall of the big pitch shaft. The climb looks easy but isn't.

Most cavers reach this point more easily by descending either the 28 m pitch or the 30 m pitch. Three galleries occur round the shaft where there are shale beds. At the bottom of the pitch, the water enters a low, gravel-floored bedding with a healthy draught blowing out, possibly associated with New Hensler's Crawl.

Past the entrance to Wildcat Rift a mud bank rises and drops again into a parallel aven which rises up to Upper South-East Passage. At the lowest point, under one wall, a tiny passage carrying a tiny stream winds off between mud banks to a tiny sump. Further on up a muddy boulder slope, a hole against the wall drops into New Hensler's Crawl. Straight ahead is a climb up to Far South-East Passage, more easily reached by a glutinous muddy slope and traverse on the right. From here a low muddy passage leads into South-East Rift.