Cave Descriptions


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This short cave system has much to offer for cavers of all abilities.

The focal point of the cave is the dramatic Alum Pot, a huge 100m deep open pothole, which can be abseiled directly from the surface via the North West (NW) route.

This is probably one of the finest abseils in Yorkshire!

Although a small stream flows into the top of Alum Pot, most of the water enters via the nearby Long Churn Cave and Diccan Pot. These provide a second and third route to the bottom of Alum Pot. Long Churn by itself is an excellent trip for beginners. In fact, for many cavers in the north of the United Kingdom, this will have been their first ever trip underground! Diccan Pot, on the other hand, provides a rumbling, roaring, challenging, wet pothole for the enjoyment of experienced cavers, and joins with Alum Pot near the sump.

A variety of exchange trips (from one entrance to another) are possible.

An excellent trip is to start at the top entrance of Long Churn Caves. About 30 minutes of mostly horizontal stream cave (ideal for beginners) and one easy pitch emerges onto a ledge looking out part-way down Alum Pot. This is one of the areas most photographed locations! The remaining route is more technical and traverses from one side of the great shaft to the other, followed by a dramatic abseil to the bottom. For the upward journey, the NW route up Alum Pot main shaft is the quickest, and will certainly work up a thirst. Those seeking a challenge may prefer to exit via the dramatic and wet Diccan Pot route, with takes a staggered route up through the falling water.


Grid reference for parking: SD 7824 7570

Park along the track leading off from the north end of Selside village (100m north of Selside Farm). This may be very busy so those with capable vehicles are encouraged to park further up the lane. Do not park opposite the gate on the right. Note that Eurospeleo delegates do not need to pay the £1/person fee or call at the farm, but please leave a copy of the congress guide on display in your car to show you are a Eurospeleo delegate. Non-delegates must still pay the £1/person fee at Selside Farm.

How to find:

Follow the lane and cross the stile at the end. Follow the obvious path up the hill. The walled enclosure of Alum Pot is soon reached (surrounded by trees). Continue around to the left and cross the stream and follow the path up and over the field. After only 150m, two fenced enclosures are reached. The first enclosure (the right of the two as you approach) is the entrance to Diccan Pot (and the resurgence of Long Churn). The second enclosure (left) is the easiest way into Long Churn.

Turning left, away from these enclosures, leads to another stile across a wall 100m away. Climb up onto the fine limestone pavement (one of the best examples of this in the area). Cross this and walk 100m towards a small tree in a large depression at the end of a stream valley. Here you will find the top entrance of Long Churn which is the most exciting and sporting entrance into the cave.


Long Churn Caves to Dolly Tubs

0 2 4 30 mins

Long Churn is a wonderful, horizontal system. The cave is essentially one underground stream with two main entrances. This is ideal for enthusiastic novices, although you may get a bit wet!

At the top entrance, follow the water underground and then down a water chute (Dr Bannister‘s Handbasin). There should be a rope to hold onto here. This drops into a waist-deep pool. Follow the fine passage downstream for several minutes to reach the lower entrance, where you will see daylight ahead.

Follow the water to the right into a crawl, leading to a climb down a 3m high waterfall. The water then leaves the cave via the ‘resurgence’ exit (a low wet crawl emerging in the enclosure opposite the Diccan Pot entrance). The way on through the cave however is the dry route on the right.

This leads through two entertaining deep pools (the Double Shuffle Pools, the first being 2m deep) and then a short climb down a rift into a large chamber. Ahead, at chest-height is the Cheese Press, one of the most famous squeezes in Yorkshire. It is a 3m long flat-out squeeze, and is passable to most moderate sized cavers. After the Cheese Press is a 3m climb down.

The Cheese Press may be avoided by a 3m climb down further along the chamber beforehand.

Both routes soon reunite and Dolly Tubs pitch is reached. A trip just to here is an excellent introduction for novice cavers (and great fun for experienced cavers alike). This pitch involves only a very simple 15m abseil and reaches a spectacular ledge (Dolly Tubs). This ledge looks out over Alum Pot, and is a spectacular viewpoint and a fine end to a short trip.

Experienced cavers will of course wish to continue onwards…

Alum Pot (from Long Churn)

3 3 4 < 1 hour to bottom

A roped traverse out from the Dolly Tubs ledge reaches a series of abseils and further traverses (just follow the rope!) to land at the bottom of Alum Pot where the NW route rope of Alum Pot also enters. A single further downward pitch (which may be quite wet) reaches a large passage which can be followed downstream to the bottom of Diccan Pot, and then the sump.

Diccan Pot

5 3 5 1½ hours to bottom

For lovers of wet pitches and technical ropework, Diccan is one of the finest trips in the Dales. Dress warmly and avoid this route in all but the driest conditions.

The water resurges from Long Churn in the first fenced enclosure, and then disappears back underground again. Follow the water downstream through a short section of fine river passage. Three spectacular (but very wet) pitches are then reached, which lead almost directly to the sump. At the bottom of the third pitch, follow the water upstream to reach a short rope going upwards to the bottom of Alum Pot, where two ropes enter from above. The NW route ascends directly to the surface. The Long Churn route ascends part way up the shaft and then takes a traverse across to Dolly Tubs ledge where an exit via Long Churn can be made to complete the trip.

Alum Pot (NW Route)

3 2 2 < 1 hour to bottom

This is the most direct route down Alum Pot. The majority of the shaft is descended in one rope, commencing at the north-west (NW) end of the shaft (the side nearest to Long Churn caves). At the bottom, the rope coming down from the Dolly Tubs/Long Churn route also enters. A single further downward pitch (which may be quite wet) reaches a large passage which can be followed downstream to the bottom of Diccan Pot, and then the sump.

Additional reading: Northern Caving (p162-165) or Selected Caves (p33-36)

Location Map: