Pollnatagha         Co. Fermanagh


Still in Ireland.

It was noon; Bob & Ian sat in the Reyfad Groups’ cottage and thought over mugs of tea about cooking breakfast. A late night in the Bush Bar, thus a late start. We needed an easy but spectacular trip to get us on our feet. Suddenly I remembered that infamous Marlow poster that used to be in the changing boom at Bullpot Farm. I remembered it was somewhere in Northern Ireland. A quick search through “Caves of Fermanagh & Cavan” and there it was, the Pollisika , Pollnatagha, Pollprughlisk system which neatly straddles the border between Eire & Northern Ireland, (just like Puckoon) on the moors above Swanlinbar.

By three o’clock we were leaving the bar with a borrowed rope and an excellent team of Sherpas in the shape of Louise, Dave & Mick Doran. Once on the open moor we spent some time searching the border, which hereabouts consisted of a rusty barbed wire fence. We eventually found Pollprughlisk. just over in Eire in a plantation. This is fine, open shaft over 100 feet deep & about 30 feet in diameter.
We carried on past this and located Polliska which is an open pot, 20 by 10 feet and 30 feet deep that engulfs a large stream. This flows out of the North to enter he Pollnatagha shaft about 50 feet down. Pollnatagha is a small diameter pot surrounded by a rampart of peat across the dry river bed from Polliska. A through trip from here to Pollprughlisk would be probably the most unpleasant border crossing in Ireland, judging from the description in the book. Anyway this was not our intention.
We threw the customary stones down the open pot - it sounded a very long way - more than 170 feet. Anyway while Bob put his gear on we rigged the pitch with the hastily borrowed rope to two rotting fence posts that had been jammed into the peat bank. “It’ll be reet”. I said. Dave seemed very pleased not to have his gear with him.

In the event, Bob set off and I followed. It certainly was a spectacular abseil, free all the way with a huge stream falling about 15 feet to one side. At the bottom one lands at the end of a large. figure of eight shaped chamber with daylight reflecting of the walls, very much like a smaller version of GG. The chamber is about 150 x 50 feet & a good view is obtained from the boulders at the far end from where the pitch enters. While Bob set off up I had a quick look around, but the way on seemed most uninviting, climb over boulders to a foul looking cherty crawl. The prussik out was as spectacular as the abseil in, and once out our noble Sherpas de-rigged, washed and packed up the rope -while I had a fag and washed my gear. Thanks lads - you need the practice.

 

A. Hall.

 

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