I couldn’t believe that it had been almost 18 months since we were last down Penyghent Pot and I’d hoped to tick off another of Yorkshire’s free dives in the form of the Friday 13th sump. Last time we’d been for a recce. of the route and the painful cobbled crawl reminded me to wear good kneepads, but now looking at my holed, threadbare set on this attempt didn’t really inspire me.
With Simon off on an underwater expedition, Brian and I parked at Brackenbottom (thanks again BPC!). Walking up in civvies wasn’t too bad, with Brian having a huge rucksack and I had a couple of tackle bags containing the usual minimalist kit. As I normally cave in workboots, which are currently about to disintegrate, I made the mistake of walking up in my trainers, having forgotten my wellies and despite the dry spell the boggy approach meant I got a good soaking.
Having always followed ‘The Navigator’ to the entrance, I wasn’t quite sure where to find it and Brian’s last visit had been about 7 years prior with a White Rose All-stars team of Warren, Bushel and Sweeney, so he was lost too. After about 15 minutes of meandering we found the scaffolded entrance and kitted up.
Entering the canal, I was surprised how much water there was, since whilst not quite up to the near flood of my first trip in the wet summer of 07, this had been almost dry on my last visit (Nov. 07) and we got a good drenching on the first pitch – quite refreshing really as I’d got a bit hot from the crawl in my wetsuit.
All the rift climbs were done free, despite the water and were thoroughly enjoyed by Brian and myself and though the time saving over using ropes is not great, the reduction in tackle and increase in fun make up for it several times over. Fixing my rope for Myers Leap, we followed the classic stream passage beyond, free-climbing the last pitches to the sump, where I had a good dip in its murky depths.
Getting back to the approach to the extensions, I was regretting my lack of knee protection, as well as rueing my rather light breakfast, craving a cup of tea and a pork pie at the Norman Bates Motel, whilst all we had was Brian’s Twix!
Getting to the Tyrolean of Eerie Pot, I managed to bridge across again, whilst Brian showed a bit more faith in the in-situ ropes! Arriving at the start of the cobbles, we decided to make that the end of the trip, hunger taking precedence and resolving to return with pies and tea in the future, as well as buying new kneepads – again!
Climbing back up the rift pitches was again a pleasure as was the ‘boulder problem’ pitch 2 and taking a steady pace along the canal we were out into the spring sunshine after a fine 6-hour trip.