Penyghent Pot

Cavers:  S. Terry, M. Taylor, H. St.Lawrence, B. Stevens, P. Seddon, P. Llewellyn, G. Leach,                       .            B. Holden, B. Hill & friend, F. Hardy, A. Hall & D. Crellin.                                      .                                             Skivers:   M. Woodhouse & K. Lewis.

I arrived at Brackenbottom at 10:30 as instructed & waited. Peter Muckalt & wife drove up intending to see Penyghent the conventional way from above ground. They were eventually followed, by Hugh, Bill, Frank and Graham, who brought the news that a number with the tackle had arrived much earlier. They were obviously wasting no time in getting the meet off to a good start under the usual intrepid leadership of Andy.

I gingerly donned my dry ex-R.A.F. boiler suit with the sneaking feeling that, it might not stay that way. Armed with my car inner-tube knee-pads & another gift from heaven, an electric lamp of Grahams, I set off up the hill with him and Bill. Amid, the mirages of the hot June sunshine, two wetsuit fried figures approached us. It was Keith & Mark. Keith informed us that the entrance was partly blocked by boulders & claimed it was too tight Mark was just accompanying Keith in his skive. As it happened the entrance didn’t prove to be too much of a problem with the correct angling of the body. The cave was cool & pleasant & once in., the canal the going was fast & easy as the gravel floor most of the way made it relatively soft on the knees.

The hands & knees crawl eventually lowered to flat out before cutting down to the first pitch. The 25ft. pitch, hung from a bar between the two waterfalls, involved some Tarzan impersonations to get on the ladder but was soon negotiated & brisk going resumed along a stooping, winding passage to the next pitch. At the top of the third pitch, the expedition seemed to have closed together as Graham, Bill & I met those who had gone down before us & we were caught up in turn by Frank & Hugh. After a bit of a wait & almost losing my chocolate over the I30ft. waterfall, I followed the rest down the third (50’) & fourth (70’) pitches. From there the way continued down the long rift in stained white limestone. Four pitches followed all looking pretty much alike & apart from me getting lost up in the roof of the rift, it was uneventful.

By the time I had reached Pool Chamber at the end of the rift, the rest had gone steaming ahead and I was beginning to feel a little damp. I was joined by Frank and struggled on down Myers Leap where the icy water went straight clown the neck of my “dry’ gear. We went on past the low, murky-looking Hunt Pot Inlet to Niagara where we began to meet people coming in the opposite direction. These on their way out were no doubt eager to avoid de-tackling & to get to the pub for opening time. Andy, of course was well to the fore! On the final section of the stream passage nearing the sump I was well & truly soaked, the wet eleventh pitch having taken its toll, and I bobbed along through the water like a cork in my inflated boiler suit. Frank & I were caught up by Hugh, but it was Paul who was first to jump into the sump & the rest soon followed. Bubbles of foam over the wallls and ceiling indicated recent flooding but it seemed fairly low now. After a few lengths of doggy-paddle it was time to be off & out - the trip wasn’t half over yet. Initially all seemed. to go well on the ascent. To avoid the wet eleventh pitch, Hugh led us zig-zag up the left wall to a window above the impressive stream passage, then a traverse took us back to the stream in Niagara Chamber. I then had a spot of trouble climbing up the Niagara pitch which had been tackled with a hand line but I managed eventually by climbing the left hand wall & across. Help from the others, especially Paul, who earned himself a piece of chocolate, was very welcome. After once again gaining momentum, the entrance didn’t seem too far away. And it wouldn’t have, been, apart from the appearance of Steve, Pete & Bob Stevens.

On meeting these three on their way down at Pool Chamber we thought “Great, here are some suckers to do the de-tackling and we’ll soon be out.” But it wasn’t to be that way. The four of us reached the bottom of the 70ft. with nothing, but Frank getting lost and my cursing at frequently getting stuck to hold us up. Hugh, & Paul lined me up. Halfway up the ladder I was so exhausted I just had to wrap myself round it to rest before continuing. Despite this all appeared well, but it wasn’t till Frank had come up that it was, realised that the lifeline was not long enough to do both the 70 & 50 from the bottom & that we would have to stay & line up the last three. So we all climbed to the top of the third pitch & waited - & waited - & waited. After what seemed like hours, Hugh, who had climbed back down to the ledge cried that the others had arrived. No sooner had he uttered these words than Frank and I were off at a sprint for the cave exit. The crawl in the canal didn’t seem half as long as it did on the descent. The entrance was much more difficult on the way out & batteries & belts had to be removed.
We surfaced to a still & cloudless evening with the Sun just setting. Within a few minutes Hugh & Paul appeared, the latter needing to be wrenched from between the boulders while the former fumbled for his fags amongst some rocks. Hugh having had his dose of nicotine, we made our way down to Brackenbottom for 9:30. This made it almost a ten-hour trip and I was glad to get out of my cold, wet boiler suit. As we prepared to leave, the last three cave worn figures of Steve, Bob & Pete trooped into the car park weighed down with ladders. Steve met Hugh, Paul, Frank & I in the Crown Hotel for the debriefing before we dispersed. (Do you mean supping ale? Ed.)

As well as being the most memorable caving trip I’ve been on, (from which I learnt a lesson concerning attire.) “Penyghent Pot ‘79” was also one of the largest, which means that it was very difficult to keep track of progress & activities of other people. I would therefore like to apologise for any incidents &/or people omitted from this report. Finally a big thank you to all those in the Red Rose who have welcomed me into the club with friendship & advice over the last few months since I first started caving. I hope to be seeing you all for some time to come.


D. J. Crellin.

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