Scythe Hole, Langstrothdale by Phil Ryder.

NGR SD 90665 78574 Alt 274m Depth 7m.

John Southworth of the Earby P.C. has a talent for studying old maps and finding things of interest for cave explorers. We had just moved back to digging in Langstrothdale when he announced he thought he had found an old rising on one of these ancient maps.

A look on the LIDAR map of the area seemed to show a large trench through the glacial drift emanating from the base of a small scar that corresponded the spot that John had found.

A quick recce by John, Adele, Hucky and Lee confirmed it was a site worth digging, and permission was obtained from the farmer.

The digging team consisted of the same people who dug at the back of Raisgill Farm – John Clarke, Graham Huck, Dave Milner, Gordon Proctor, John Southworth and myself.

John S. said it was ok to put this on the WRPC website,  as we have now collaborated on several digs and have got further ones planned.

The first day up there saw us removing constrictions for 2 metres to allow comfortable entry for diggers and buckets.

Dave Milner widening the entrance

It was a the bottom of this area that Dave M found several rusting pieces of metal, (16 in all I think), that turned out to be the blades of 2 handed field scythes. How they got there is a mystery but they must have been placed there by persons unknown.

Hucky and John Southworth. Some of the scythe blades from the hole can be seen to the middle left.


Below was an ever widening shaft blocked by a cone of debris. It must have been formed by water flowing downwards and cannot have been a rising as first thought. Therefore in the future I will look at LIDAR maps with ever more caution.

The debris included some large gritstone blocks that had to be capped, but they were too big to have come in from our point of entry. Where had they come from?

As the shaft got deeper and wider, two diggers could work in the bottom. A seat was also constructed. As five sixths of the diggers were geriatrics this was helpful to have a rest on. Also vertically challenged diggers could use it to climb out of the shaft, without needing a ladder.

But the time came when this beloved seat had to go, to forward the progress of the dig. Some diggers were not happy and plans were made to try and remove rock round it.

A particular savage salvo of snappers by Dave M. followed by one too by Hucky, saw the seat survive – just! And a diggers war was averted.

Hucky went down to knock a few rocks with a lump hammer. He’s never happy unless he can do this a least once a digging session. Anyway he said the horizontal way on was too small.

John S. then took his Boiler down, otherwise known as a Vape Machine, and declared no draught. Weird that. We never saw any fumes from the capping / snappering on the the surface and conditions cleared pretty quickly.

With no draught it was pointless carrying on. We aim to go back in the future, not a least to photograph the beautiful flutings in the shaft. 

Our next project has the working title of Collapso Hole.

(All photos by Phil Ryder).