Cave Descriptions


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Return trip to the bottom

4 2 1 3 hours

Rowten is a massive open surface shaft which drops to the bottom of the valley via a series of very airy and exposed staggered ledges. Visiting cavers are treated to some stunning views and an abseil down the side of a huge waterfall. Rather impressively, Rowten Pot was first descended in 1897! You will appreciate during your journey down what a challenge this must have been at the time.

Thanks to clever positioning of the ropes, it is actually possible to reach the bottom of this active pothole in most weather conditions, despite the very large amount of water that thunders down it. However, extra warm layers of clothing are recommended, as there will be a lot of spray and wind during wetter conditions.

From the surface, it is also possible to visit the horizontal Rowten Cave (which carries the water into Rowten Pot). This is a short, but interesting stream cave, which can be found upstream of the pot. It is a good place for photography, and, for the more intrepid, it connects with nearby Jingling Cave for an even longer adventure without needing any ropes.


Park on the Kingsdale Road in the layby about 500m north of the track to Braida Garth Farm (just beyond a gate on the left leading into some sheep pens).


Grid Reference: SD 6982 7802

Go through the gate by the sheep pens and up the steep hill (keeping to the left wall). At the top of the hill you will meet the Turbary Road footpath. Just over the wall on your left is the huge fissure of Rowten Pot next to the track.


At the far end of the main hole (furthest away from the gate) is a secondary, smaller hole which is the classic entrance to Rowten Pot. A secondary route called Gully commences nearest to the gate, which is unfortunately not rigged for Eurospeleo.

The traditional route commences as an abseil directly over the edge of the hole leading immediately to two re-belays and an impressive 20m abseil onto a large balcony. At the bottom, remain attached to the rope and traverse across a rock bridge to the next pitch.

This pitch drops over the edge of the main shaft; however, a complete descent from here is not possible due to the proximity to the waterfall. Instead, you will find a re-belay just below the edge, and then an entertaining swing into a crack in the ceiling. This is a very exposed place indeed and those with any concern about heights should avoid this! Traverse along this crack, high up above the main shaft. After a 5m difficult traverse away from the falling water, the start of the spectacular big pitch is reached. This is definitely a moment to enjoy!

At the bottom of the big pitch, swing over, or climb up onto a 3m high balcony out of the river.

In the corner of the balcony, the next pitch commences the Flyover route and drops several metres around a corner via an awkward re-belay. This pitch leads to the start of a wide traverse, which can be followed to the final pitch. At the bottom, a passage leads down to the sump, where most cavers turn around and head back up towards the surface.

The Rowten Sumps lead through to Kingsdale Master Cave in Valley Entrance via three short, free-divable sumps with in-situ lines. This allows a through-trip to be completed without a return back up Rowten Pot. These free dives are very serious indeed and should only be attempted in low water, by very experienced wetsuit-wearing cavers who have experience of free diving and who have read the description in Mike Cooper’s book ‘Not for the Faint Hearted’. Beyond the sumps, follow the water downstream to where the rope from Valley Entrance is found.

Additional reading:

Selected Caves (page 68)

Northern Caving (page 77)

Not for the Faint Hearted (page 104)

Location Map: