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Photograph of the volcano formation in Witches II Cave

Stop Pot to Wretched Rabbit

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This series of articles is intended for the guidance of experienced cavers, who may not be familiar with the details of the best routes through the more complex systems in the Yorkshire Dales. To echo the sentiments in Northern Caves, it "is intended as guidance for the wise, not the obedience of fools"

This isn't my favourite routes by any means, but it has three important things going for it:

It's also useful if you're in a hurry. There is a fun alternative via Depot 1 Passage and Flashbang Crawl, but it is better to first familiarise yourself with the route from the other direction.

From Stop Pot, there are two main ways of getting into the Wretched Rabbit passage. The main one is the same as if you are going to exit via County Pot. From Stop Pot make your way downstream. This is best done by following the water, but in higher water conditions, a low bypass crawl may be found a couple of metres above the water on the left hand side of the choke (not recommended!). Once in the stream way, make your way to Eureka Junction, and turn left. This passage soon divides into two, the left hand branch being Wretched Rabbit Passage, and the right branch being Pierce's Passage. Turn left into Wretched Rabbit. Note that in high water, this route is inaccessible. Follow the passage with the stream until you crawl up through a slot under some boulders into a lower section.

If you spend anytime at all down Ease Gill, it is important to know the second way into Wretched Rabbit, as this is the all-weather route. At Stop Pot ascend the boulder choke for a few metres, keeping left until you arrive on a shelf about 5 metres above the stream. Follow the bedding plane passage leading off from here, to the right. At one point you have to go through a constriction, but in general it's easy going.

After a few metres, the floor turns to rock, and the passage exhibits signs of vadose entrenchment. This leads into a small chamber. To the left is a hole into Four Ways Chamber, which is where you next want to be. You can't climb down from the hole, but to the right of the hole, you can climb up through a slot which leads you onto a shelf in the chamber. This isn't obvious at first.

Traverse into the chamber, and climb down to the centre, where there are two holes, both of which lead down into the stream passage. The one to the right (upstream) is less constricted, and requires a bridging manoeuvre to get into it. After a few metres, you will find yourself in the stream a few metres downstream of the crawl up through the slot mentioned above. A tightish slither down at the far end of Four Ways Chamber would have bought you to the same place.

Once through the slot, follow the obvious crawl which is at first in the stream, and then to the left, until you come reach a cross-rift. Turn right, up over a boulder into a deserted rift passage, and follow this. Some greasy traversing is necessary. After some 50 metres the stream is rejoined.

From here the route is easy-going and straight forward. At one point, soon after climbing some pleasant cascades, you are forced to climb up just before a junction of two streams. The Wretched Rabbit stream is the one coming in from the right, but you have to climb into the passage on the left in order to reach the one you want! This is where the alternative route from Depot 1 and Flashbang Crawl joins.

There are no further major landmarks until you near the surface, where you enter some impressively high rifts having traversed round a dominating walled pit. Keep straight on and ascend some 20 metres of rifts in four steps with the help of fixed handlines. The top step leads into a crawl, with the low entrance just round the corner.