Pen-y-ghent Pot
Saturday, 8 September 2007

9am, Settle – It being some years since the majority of the group had visited PYG, there was some trepidation as the trip began. Would the Settle Down still be in business? Would the bacon still be as deliciously fat as a gammon steak? Fortunately things had not changed a great deal, the only difference being that the staff were younger and slimmer than before, unlike some of the potholers!
In an attempt to embrace modern spelaelogy, a permit had been obtained and hence it was decided to park at Dale Head as directed on the permit. Having negotiated the farm hounds and duly deposited the relevant paperwork at Dale Head House we trudged off, over the hill to the entrance. These innovations in access did not seem so beneficial to cavers.

At the entrance the trip took on the tones of a descent into Hades as we were greeted by the baying of Cerebrus. Tonk attempted his dog whispering act but, despite a credible performance, the mad rolling eyes and continual barking clearly fingered the hound as a mad Alsatian leaving the group to conclude the likely presence of a notorious northern diver in the cave.

On entry to the system due penitence was paid in Pilgrims Way and at the first pitch the ropes of the other party were encountered. The die cast for a multiple-party, multiple-rope confusion but Cooper manfully rose to the occasion and raced on to rig the pitches. The cave was so full of bits of tat that no one really took much notice of the spare chest harness discarded at the top of the big pitch until much later in the cave when Cooper indulged in a little Wattyism and betrayed, in a slightly extrovert fashion, that he had left it there by mistake.

The descent was indecently smooth, all things considered, and a couple of hours later the days achievements were toasted at the main downstream sump with a couple of cans of lager thoughtfully supplied and transported by the wise and competent Sam Allshorn.

The trip out proceeded equally smoothly for a few yards right up to the first climb. At this point there was an almost imperceptible dip in the performance of one or two of the group. Perhaps the tiniest alarm buzzer may have sounded at the back of Sam Allshorns brain at this point. Myers Leap was ascended without undue concern however the start of the rift climbs confirmed the style in which the exit would be made.

The cave had been rigged according to the excellent caving guide by Mike Cooper “Not for the Fainthearted that had proved to be completely accurate on the way down. Some confusion in the definition of a pitch must have arisen around the Eighth pitch as an easily descended rift had been left unrigged and on return this presented at least one of the sub-prime potholers with an enormous challenge. Fortunately Sam Allshorns light shone and he gently wafted up the climb and rigged the required rope. From here on Sam Allshorn acted as a steadying foundation for the exiting potholers, for which I am particularly grateful.

Meanwhile the notorious northern diver and his team, whom had been encountered at Hunt Pot inlet, had elegantly exited the cave at warp speed. A slight miscalculation (perhaps the wrong word) had resulted in them derigging the second pitch and not dropping the pre-rigged ULSA rope in place of their own. A serendipitous delay saw Phil arriving several hours late for the bottoming trip but exquisitely timed in order to re-rig the second pitch and thus meet up with the main group at the big pitch. Never let it be said that proper organization is any substitute for blind luck.
A steady exit was made and everyone was out after a trip of around 7 hours. The arduous walk back up and over the fells to Dale Head was somewhat alleviated by the lovely evening weather, the fine views and the imminent prospect of foaming ale and good company in the Helwith Bridge.

Thanks to all those who came on the trip.


Many thanks to Dave for organising such a splendid trip and such excellent weather, and many thanks to everyone for providing such a memorable day out in excellent company. I suspect Sam Allshorn will be more wary about going on “old gits” trips in the future (until he reaches “old git” status himself).

When I arrived home in Wath I stopped to pick up a bottle of wine to celebrate my continued existence, I was alarmed to find how difficult it had become to exit my car. The pain in my knees is starting to subside now and be replaced by mere bruising. My wrist and ankle joints have started to regain their former range of movement. My arms and shoulders are also easing slightly after a very rude awakening in the Rift where resorting to the Ron Fawcett “come on arms – do your stuff” approach failed dismally on several occasions and resulted in ungainly thrashing. The entrance crawl was the final straw where several periods of lying down groaning were indulged in before the final thrutch to daylight and “midge death”. This was my first real trip this year and perhaps a year between trips is too long to maintain any semblance of cave fitness!

Dave refers to the second climb above Pool Chamber (the first really awkward climb actually in the Rift). Readers should refer to a write up in the CDG NL by Julian Griffiths of a two person carry to dive the Hunt Pot Inlet sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. This little climb also caught out the slightly over-encumbered divers of yesteryear. Ironically, it was the Sam Allshorne sump being dived by Jason Mallinson this weekend (he generously asked me to carry out a tub of valves but after I dropped them at the foot of Myer’s Leap, Cooper eventually managed to shed them very effectively by using the

“parked at Dale Head” excuse (official sherpa cop-out number 20134). We never saw Jason again!

Again, many thanks to all. I could do with a softer touch cave next time!

Andy Tharratt

Monday, 10 September 2007

“I could do with a softer touch cave next time! ”

Humm – have you seen Dave’s list of possible next caves. PYG *was* the soft touch cave!

Yes I too would like to praise Dave for organising a top trip, though in my case because of cop-out number 12843 (recovering from recent illness – only doing a limited trip) I largely caved by myself having lost sight of Sam Allshorn’s heels at 1st pitch (but did get a thimble worth of the lager from the 3rd (punctured) can – ta Sam Allshorn). I had a pleasant amble down to 3rd and called it a day. Ambled back out passing Mssrs Murgatroyd and Tooms after 2nd. Back up first and made speedy progress in the low section of Pilgrims Way by rolling over and over sideways – very effecient mode – …. but … makes you feel bloody sick once you stop. Then entered Tharrat mode with lots of stopping and groaning, throbbing knees and stiff neck. Hound at entrance went ballastic while I thrashed about getting my bulk out of the entrance hole.

Pleasant warm walk back to car, then back to Leeds and crashed out.

Cheers, Tonk


Monday, 10 September 2007