Alum Pot: Background of pioneer John Birkbeck who undertook the first partial descent into one of Yorkshire Dales' deepest caves that were featured in Channel 5 show starring Helen Skelton and Dan Walker
Alum Pot is a pothole with a large open hole at a surface elevation of 1,125 ft (343 metres) on the eastern side of Simon Fell, North Yorkshire.
It links with nearby Long Churn Cave and Diccan Pot and can be accessed through a 1km private track from Selside Farm, Ribblesdale.
It has often been known as Allan, Alan, Allen, Hellen and Hell’n.
Here is everything you need to know about Yorkshire Dales pioneer potholer John Birkbeck.
Alum Pot: Background of Yorkshire Dales pioneer John Birkbeck
In 1847, John undertook the first partial descent into Alum Pot from Long Churn Cave, though it did not reach the floor of the shaft.
He returned the next year and made a successful descent, when a group of nine men were taken down to the shaft floor in a large bucket winched down by a group of railway workers.
He completed another successful descent of Alum Pot 22 years later when another group of people were winched down to the floor using a cage and windlass operated by navvies working on the Settle to Carlisle line.
John was a banker, alpinist and pioneer potholer from Settle and educated at Giggleswick School and Trinity College, Cambridge, however, as a Quaker, he could not take a degree and he lived most of his life in Settle where he was a partner in the Craven Bank, which was established by his family in 1791.
He was also a justice of the peace later in his life and his family home was Anley, which is now used as a nursing home.
He is well known for his participation in some early explorations of some of the potholes of Ingleborough, particularly Gaping Gill and Alum Pot.
John had the water from Fell Beck diverted down the ‘Birkbeck Trench’ around 1842 and went down the first 100 ft, then 190 ft down the Main Shaft of Gaping Gill, where a ledge is located that is now named after him.