Monday, 27 December 2021

23rd December 2021 - A Yorkshire Pilgrimage

Holidays mean that we can be a bit more flexible about our Thursday meeting time.  Instead of the usual 5 pm at Devil's bridge, we can go earlier and further afield. A high pressure sitting over the country also gave us more options than the usual set of wet weather alternatives. So it was that the classic Penyghent pot was chosen as our objective. Despite having done it before, Mike was more than happy for a return and it would be new cave for Tony and I.

The beginning of the week brought stunning cloud inversions across the country, social media filling with summit photos surrounded by a sea of cloud and island peaks. By the Thursday morning though, the forecasts were not as certain and I began to have my doubts. While the others met at Devil's bridge to drive over to Horton, I stopped off in Ingleton to pick up the last pair of neoprene gloves in Yorkshire and some valuable local knowledge from internet influencer, Inglesport Johnny (better known as Wild swimming Yorkshireman).  Rather than flocks of birds and poor animal's entrails, the oracle consulted forecasts and river gauges and gave the nod. We were good to go.

The others were almost changed as I pulled into the layby in Horton, but I still found time to get one of Tony's fantastic egg mayonaise butties down me before pulling on my gear. Then it was onto a strangely deserted 3 peaks motorway.  The last time I'd been along the road to Brackenbottom, youngest and I were struggling in the heat, overtaking a myriad of walkers as we completed a round of the famous peaks.  This afternoon though, it was only the three of us who stomped up the road, before heading up onto the open fell.

3 fields later we turned left, off the main drag, a couple of dog walkers guessing our intended destination.  The rusty red gate in the description no longer red nor rusty, replaced by a newer galvanised version.  Mike as ever led us directly to the pot's entrance as opposed to the aimless wandering over the fellside that usually ensues when multiple, multi-million pound satellites and I try to do the same. Here it was, a small scaffolded entrance with a wire mesh lid. 

I dropped down into the entrance and almost instantly found an awkward section in which to entangle my tackle sack, not the most promising of starts. The drop down into the canal initially offered relief, its ample dimensions being easy to pass through and my new gloves keeping my hands lovely and warm. After a while you realise you've been crawling for quite a way and yet the passage continues ahead, an impromptu carol from Tony being the only relief from the monotonous crawling. They say a change is as good as a rest, but I don't think they had in mind the roof changing from a few feet above the water to about a foot. This lowering did though signal that the pitch was nigh.


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