AYGILL CAVERNS

SD 6635 8183 Length 2438m Depth 55m

A fascinating system developed on several levels in the DENT THRUST

A fine stream cave. The water in the downstream sump flows via Bull Pot of the Witches to finally emerge in the right hand sump of Waterfall Passage in Lancaster Hole although the physical connection between Aygill and Bull Pot still remains to be found. See map

Link to Surveys CaveMaps surveys

Entrance to Aygill Caverns

The entrance is a hole in the true right bank of Aygill surrounded by a dam of boulders. Climb down the hole to enter a crawl which enlarges and can be followed to a choke where water sinks in wet weather. The way on is before this via a short climb up to the left into a crawl and squeeze which leads to a short drop and traverse to the FIRST CHAMBER. Beneath large boulders are a series of crawls to a 4.5m pitch into the INLET SERIES. The obvious way out of the FIRST CHAMBER leads down to the 9m TRAVERSE PITCH. The pitch may be laddered but can free climbed via an exposed traverse, rope advisable, over the top and a climb down the far side onto a large boulder. The large passage below rises up a slope and chokes with the way on being a slot in the floor under the pitch. A clean washed crawl and rift, tight in one place leads down a chute to the head of the 11m SECOND PITCH, belay to a thread above ledge on left at the bottom of the chute. A narrow take off breaks out into a fine high chamber. At the bottom off the pitch the main water enters from the left and falls down a series of fine CASCADES. A chimney up the cavern above the CASCADES brings one onto a massive block, with ledges on each wall. Two side passages at this level are narrow and soon choke

Following the water upstream round to the left brings you to a cobbly junction of streams. Ahead,to the right, are a series of chutes and pools which rise into a maze of shingle crawls, which have been pushed in dry weather to a slope down into a shallow pool. The main inlet to this cobbly area enters on the left just as the main passage begins to lower and has been forced past a low arch and a tight slot to a chamber with fissure inlets in the roof. If the right hand passage is taken at the cobbly junction a 1.5m wide tube can be followed to where it splits into smaller choked tubes. At a left hand bend a dug crawl leads to a low pool with the roof lifting beyond leading to more water logged passage not pushed to a conclusion. This unfinished passage is iteresting as it is the most westerly in the cave.

To the left is the bottom end of the INLET SERIES. A climb up in the roof above the waterfall enters a stream passage, the waterlogged section may be avoided by a dry crawl up into a chamber where an oxbow rejoins the passage. There are a series of crawls part way around the oxbow and an exit into a strike passage where small streams enter and sink in the floor. Slot from oxbow chamber lead to the stream again, but also rises to a high level strike passage where the stream is encountered once more. A 4.5m climb at the north end leads to a short sandy passage. Above the strike passage is the 4.5m pitch dropping in from the crawl from the First Chamber.

JUNCTION COMPLEX and THE SUMP

From the chamber below the CASCADES several passages radiate at different levels. To the left 1.5m above the stream is a high rift with a traverse and oxbow to a muddy passage followed by a 2m drop into a wet crawl which connects back to a passage in the chamber at floor level. At the beginning of the rift is a roof passage which leads to three more high level routes originating in the roof of CASCADES CHAMBER. Up to the right at stream level a ramp ascends to BRIDGE CHAMBER where one of the high level routes is encountered. A climb up steep boulders has a visual connection with the MIDDLE SERIES and leads to a muddy passage choked by boulders. The stream can be followed out of CASCADE CHAMBER into a wet crawl, or alternatively a dry crawl on the right which pops out into a chamber with two exits. At roof level a passage splits to communicate with BRIDGE CHAMBER and CASCADES CHAMBER, at a high level. The way on is down a ramp to a wide low passage. From here the stream may be rejoined, or a dry crawl on the left followed to SAND JUNCTION. Finally two routes at stream level and two high level crawls from SAND JUNCTION unite in SHATTER CHAMBER, which has an unstable choke in the roof.

Downstream an easy crawl emerges in MIDDLE CHAMBER with a steep choke to the left and the roof quickly lowers to the WET CRAWL which has a low airspace for 18m (liable to flooding). A fine tunnel continues to the impressive terminal sump. The stream reappears in THE BULL POT of WITCHES but no physical connection has yet been made.

Downstream Sump

The first dive here reported a sump leading through a low bedding plane with six low sections to a m high and 1.5m wide passage. However, subsequent investigations conflict. From the sump pool a low passage in the left hand wall has been followed for 3 m to where the low bedding plane requires excavation. Two rift passages have also been noted on the right of this passage. The first closes down almost immediately, the second has been followed for 1 m to a squeeze at -7.5m depth: an upward slope beyond here does not appear promising.

A low passage in the left wall has been dived for 30m to where it requires digging.

NEW YEAR SERIES
From SAND JUNCTION continue north along a roomy tunnel past a sump on the left to a stal chamber. The sump on the left just past Sand Junction has been dived for 1 m in a passage 3 cm by 0.6m. It continues in a similar manner. Step up into a crawl which leads to a rift with a blind aven. The crawl continues to a grotto where a manhole drops down to a sump, which has not been dived and an upstream passage leading to a small blind calcited chamber. An easy high level crawl from the grotto joins the stream below a boulder pile which rises into CURTAIN CHAMBER, where a fine aven climb ends in another chamber with dangerous choked roof passages. From the chamber a wet crawl enlarges and passes under three avens. In the third aven a crawl to the right ends in a boulder choke and a staircase to the left leads to a tube which crosses a pool, here the passage splits into two levels both of which choke. An aven and crawl draught well but the area is unstable.

At the boulder pile below CURTAIN CHAMBER a crawl upstream improves to reach a cross joint where the water rises from an impassable bedding plane. A climb up into a roof crawl leads down over slabs into NEW YEAR CAVERN, a wide bedding chamber with a floor trench. Traversing back over the climb into New Year Cavern leads to an inclined bedding into a boulder chamber. A squeeze through blocks leads to another shattered chamber to a phreatic tube ending in a choke.

A small inlet at the north end of New Year Cavern soon closes down but the main inlet is a flat out crawl at the back of the cavern. The crawl rises dramatically into a fine passage with aven and short passage in alcove to left, but the increasingly large passage is eventually choked with mud and boulders. The stream issues from beneath the choke and can be reached down a slot against the right wall, the wet crawl becomes impassable to the right, but to the left is a dry flatout crawl to a small aven and slide down into the stream again. The low wet passage continues to a sharp left bend and climb up through a scaffolded choke and further 15m of widened passage to a small aven where stream issues from narrow rift. 

Just before the end of the large passage is a 10m high aven which leads via a squeeze to a 15m long draughting inlet.

Some more photos of main New Year Passage

MIDDLE SERIES

A climb up into a passage in the right wall of MIDDLE CHAMBER leads to a crawl past formations (Care) to a complex junction. Up to the right is a maze of passages at three levels, the low level route soon chokes, but straight ahead is a crawl to a 'T' junction. Right is easy going to a steep sand slope and a crawl to a calcite choke where the waterfall in the WATERFALL SERIES can be heard. Back over the sand slope is a high level passage with odd traverses over the 'T' junction until it enters the maze area. Up to the right is a mud slope and tunnel to yet another junction. Left leads back into the maze area and right soon splits again. To the right the active branch is a squeeze into two choked chambers, whilst straight ahead a mud floored crawl leads to a boulder choke and a visual connection with BRIDGE CHAMBER in the JUNCTION COMPLEX.

WATERFALL, LEFT HAND and the RED ROSE SERIES
See link to original exploration by RRCPC

Just before the terminal sump a climb up into a large window leads to two passages. The LEFT HAND SERIES crosses an eyehole over the sump and rises to a 'T' junction. Right leads to a squeeze and a choke, while left becomes tortuous and splits into two blocked passages. Right above the climb quickly reaches a crossroads and a stream channel in the floor emerges at the sump. Upstream a handsome passage ends in a aven and a noisy waterfall with an accessible inlet rising tortuously to a sump, and a dry passage to a choke. The upstream sump located at the end of the tortuous inlet has not been dived.

Opposite the stream channel at the crossroads is a narrow high fissure which continues beyond a choked branch and a small chamber to a crawl above a small stream. this streamway becomes very low, but to the left a crawl breaks out into RED ROSE CHAMBER, a fusion of avens. Ascend flakes into a much higher passage which becomes narrow, but up through sharp rock is a section of larger passage choked by mud at either end.

PRECAMBRIAN SERIES

Two passages can be entered by swimming across the terminal sump pool. Straight ahead is a 15m long crawl which becomes too tight. The PRECAMBRIAN SERIES is gained by a similar passage to the left. The crawl passes through a duck and a squeeze to a junction with a streamway. Downstream after 30m is a pool with diminishing air space. The downstream sump is choked and cannot be entered. Upstream a 1.5m high meandering passage, CAROTID PASSAGE, leads to an inlet bedding plane, which has been forced to a chamber and a zig-zag passage above a small fall. CAROTID PASSAGE continues to a waterfall and an alternative climb up into a chamber whose exit is a long inclined bedding plane. Beyond a small inlet a low crawl at water level enters an aven with a narrow fissure near the roof. This point is possibly very close to the end of CASTERTON POT


R.R.C.P.C. 2013