AN experienced potholer found dead on a climbing rope and still in his harness in a pot near Ingleton had probably been there for several weeks before being discovered, an inquest in Skipton heard.

Michael Wood, 68, a member of the Bolton Speleo (speleological) Club, lived both in Bolton and in Clapham, where he had a caravan at the Flying Horseshoe caravan park, and was well known in the area, the inquest heard on Monday.

On December 7, Sergeant Les Moorhouse, went to Mr Wood’s caravan after being contacted by a doctor in Bolton, who had received a call from a pharmacist to say that Mr Wood had unusually not collected his repeat prescription for rheumatoid arthritis since August.

Inside, Sgt Moorhouse found a reference to a pot hole at Scales Moor, near Ingleton, on Mr Wood’s noticeboard. The Clapham based Cave Rescue Organisation was called in to help with a search and the next day, Mr Wood was recovered from Ewes Top Moss Pot, Scales Moor. His rucksack,containing his railcard, was outside, at the entrance to the cave.

Mr Wood’s brother, Ian Wood, also an experienced potholer, said his brother had been a caver since he was a teenager, was very experienced and extremely safety conscious,. He spent two thirds of his time living in Clapham had suffered from arthritis for 20 years, but had adapted climbing gear and his own system to carry on caving.

Coroner, Rob Turnbull concluded that Mr Wood had died as a result of natural causes. It was likely a natural event had occurred, which had led to his death, but it was impossible to confirm, because of state of the body. He could not be clear how long Mr Wood had been in the pot, but it was likely to be closer to August than when he was found, in December.