A WOMAN with polio and a life-long fear of tight spaces faced her fears when she ventured into a cave as part of a BBC documentary.

Poet Kate Davis, from Walney, who was diagnosed with polio aged four, traversed the descent into the cave alongside keen potholer Rachel Ashton, of Barrow’s Ashton Theatre Company.

The trip has been made into a documentary due to air on Radio 4 tomorrow.

Weaving in her poetry, the documentary explores the poet’s relationship with the ground, having struggled with mobility after contracting the rare disease in childhood.

The 68-year-old writer said she had been apprehensive about the activity weeks before entering the cave, near Ingleton in North Yorkshire, having been claustrophobic from a young age.

Describing the experience, she said: “With Rachel being keen on potholing and me having a strange relationship with the ground because I fell over, it was fascinating to do that together.

“For weeks before I would wake up in the night with a shock of fear.

“A phobia is particular kind of fear, it’s a certainty that you’re dying and the shock is overwhelming.

“As I saw the entrance to the cave I could feel my pulse rate going up.

“I felt overwhelmed by the rock around me.” Mrs Davis said the experience went better than expected. “I did quite well in the end,” she said. “I managed it and did OK in the cave. “It was nowhere near as terrifying as I expected.

The poet, who is the author of the collection The Girl Who Forgets How to Walk, described living with severe claustrophobia.

She said: “I don’t go in small spaces ever.

"I got stuck between two buildings when I was a kid.

“I have dreams about it.

“I absolutely hate lifts and rarely use them, there are very few thing worse than lifts for someone who has claustrophobia.

“Eight flights of stairs is fine.”

The documentary airs on Sunday at 4.30pm.