Taken from NPC Newsletter No.1 pp 6-9 ( NPC Journal Volume 1 No. 1 : Feb 1955 )


The first N.P.C. parties explored Penyghent Pot to the sump and, licking their wounds, retired, leaving unexplored a large inlet passage, just below Boulder Chamber. It was expected that this passage would fall to some other club.

However, events proved not as expected. Two major clubs, the B.S.A. and the C.P.C., attempted the pothole and both clubs were involved in serious accidents. Penyghent Pot became notorious, and was left severely alone.

Early in 1954 the club decided to descend once more and complete the exploration. Easter was chosen for the attempt to take advantage of the existing enthusiasm and to forestall a proposed B.P.C. meet later in the year.

On Saturday 10th April, Burgess, Leach, Sheppard and Talbot laddered to the big pitch without incident, and the exploration was on. On the Sunday, Ashworth, Cornes, Dickens, Holden and Riley pressed on as far as Boulder Chamber using steel wire tackle. This light-weight tackle considerably eased the burden of laddering. At Boulder Chamber the party stopped for food. The next pitch below (Spout and Ladder) was then laddered, and everyone seemed to have had enough for the day; but the inlet passage was now so close that Riley was allowed to have a quick look. He crawled into the passage, which was approximately 3 feet high and 15 feet wide, with a deep flowing stream, and followed its course for about 80 yards. The character of the passage was still unaltered, so he returned, and the whole party struggled back to the surface.

It was considered that the water in the inlet was from Hunt and/or Hull Pots. So accordingly fluorescein was introduced in half pound lots at Hunt Pot on Good Friday, 16th April at 4 pm, Saturday at 4 pm, Sunday at 4 pm and again on Easter Monday at 9.30 am.

At 10.45 am on Easter Monday morning, Ashworth, Holden, Riley, Sheppard and Talbot descended and made quick progress to Boulder Chamber. Here the party divided into two, Ashworth, Holden and Sheppard were to have a trip to the sump, whilst Bradshaw, Riley and Talbot explored the Inlet Passage.

The 'Inlet' party crawled into the passage and found success, for there, faint but clearly visible in Talbot's bright light, was green water: fluorescein from Hunt Pot, though the size of the stream indicated a possible Hull Pot connection as well.

The party crawled on over slimy submerged boulders and rock edges, past the point reached by Riley the previous weekend, and on. The floor dropped away a little, making waist deep wading, in a stooping position, possible. Talbot, however, was having serious trouble with his boots which were rotted and in a state of collapse. They required constant attention, until finally he and Bradshaw stopped on a dry bank in an effort to fix the boots. Riley carried on for another 50 yards or so, till the passage widened to some 60 feet, and the roof sloped down to the water, stopping further progress with a large, black, upstream sump. The total length of the Inlet Passage was 250 yards.

The two parties linked up again in the main passage (Ashworth, Holden and Sheppard having reached the sump successfully) and returned, after a tiring struggle, to the surface at 9.15. The Cross Streets Hotel was reached just before closing time, thanks to an extension, and here waiting club members bought drinks for the party with reckless abandon.

On Sunday, 25th April, Myers observed the fluorescein at Brants Gill Head and later report confirmed this.

Plans were now made for withdrawing the tackle, but Cornes was insistent that an attempt be made to climb the steep mud and boulder slope out of Boulder Chamber. So, on Saturday, 1st May, Burgess, Cornes and Riley descended to Boulder Chamber carrying ropes and several "Cornes" patent angle iron pitons. Burgess and Cornes manfully tackled the slope, pushing in the pitons as required until roof and walls unfortunately closed in. Riley let off some flash powder, the smoke from which just wouldn't clear, and thus suggested that no overhead passage existed.

The party then de-laddered the pothole as far as the main pitch.

The following day, Ashworth, Baron, Bradshaw, Dickens, Dunnington, Gemmel, Holden, Peterson, Talbot and Wadsworth descended to the big pitch and brought out all the tackle. Two ounces of fluorescein put in the little swallet roughly 380 yards south of Penyghent Pot (Map reference 830.729) at 12 noon was observed at the first pitch inlet at 2 pm as expected.

Thus, the obvious passages in Penyghent Pot are now explored and the club can feel contented. The 1954 explorations were helped by quite favourable weather and the use of lightweight tackle. Finally, without doubt, a large unexplored cave system still exists in that area, but Penyghent Pot does not seem to be the probable way into it.


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