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Pasture Gill Pot (Aborted)

Saturday November 29th 2014

Members present: Adam Hughes,  Andy Hurlbatt,  Rachel Findlay,  Sophie Hentschel,  Will Scott

Report by Andy Hurlbatt

After getting changed in lovely scenery by the Wharfe, the five of us traipsed past the hamlet of Yockenthwaite (why does it even have a name? It's literally 4 houses) up the hill. As per the description, we followed the wall to a small waterfall type feature, and easily found the fenced off entrance about 20 metres to our left. Upon arrival I started looking for the suggested "chock stone and spit" to rig the entrance pitch from. The chock stone is obvious enough, but the spits were harder to find. There seems to be a large amount of crap rock just above the pitch, so they're not where one would expect them to be. Instead, at Will's suggestion, I scraped a layer of moss and soil from a rock just below me. Sure enough, I felt two likely holes in the rock face. Upon closer inspection, the spits were not only rusted to buggery, but also somehow recessed into the rock face. I wouldn't trust them to hold a loaf of bread, let alone a few soggy cavers. Not enjoying the prospect of using a single chock stone, and failing to find inspiration from the chossy rock elsewhere, we decided not to try our luck.

The next logical step was to head over to Yockenthwaite Pot, where another team was having a trip, and hijack their ropes. After a fairly lengthy delay in finding the damn thing, involving clambering over walls, hopping over fences, and enough ferns to last a lifetime, we got to the entrance. Will headed down first(?), followed by Sophie, Rachel, Adam, and myself. Whilst descending the entrance, I was audience to wails and shrieks of what turned out to be revulsion, followed by Adam's bellows and shouts of 'Grim!'. I soon found out the reason for the cacophony as I posted myself through a small hole bedded on soft mud. When part way through the hole, I was confronted by the bones of at least one sheep, and realised that the 'mud' through which I was currently slithering was at least partly partially decomposed ovine flesh. My own exclamations of disgust were added to the list of obscenities of the previous few minutes.

Upon reaching the head of the second pitch, the message had been passed back that Rachel, Adam, and Sophie would not be continuing the trip, due to the pair of tight and awkward pitch heads beyond. After progressing past the others, I descended the 3rd pitch to have a look at the 4th, and understood their reason for turning back. "Awkward", while accurate, doesn't do justice to possibly the tightest pitch head I've seen. Fortunately, being a lanky git, passing was not too much of an ordeal, and was more of a logistical challenge of not becoming tangled or getting something caught, than a physical one.

At the bottom of the next pitch, I met with Will, who was removing his SRT kit, and explained the situation. We both decided to continue, and after removing my SRT kit, we followed the obvious route down the boulder slope to a short climb down. Emerging in a very small chamber above a stream, we tried various ways on of contortionist crawls and posting through holes, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was not down here. Ascending the climb back to the boulder slope where we had previously dumped our SRT kits, we spotted the route on a climb up to our left. Following the passage for a short distance after this climb lead us to the start of an imposing rift.

Being unsure of the route we were both fairly hesitant to enter this committing thrutchy rift. Seeing it was worn, I decided to go through to where the passage turned an obvious left hand corner, to see how it progressed beyond. After an embarrassing amount of to-ing and fro-ing, thrutching, cursing, and generally fucking about, I reached the corner, where to my delight there was a convenient chock stone to stand on. From this new vantage point, the rift continued in a similar vein, although appearing slightly less strenuous than the section behind me. During the discussion with Will about the merit of continuing, I heard a faint whistling. After a while of head turning, it became apparent it was coming from the passage ahead of me. By this time the characteristic *<i>KRRRSCH</i>* *<i>KRRRSCH</i>* of an oversuit over rock could also be heard, and soon a Sims was appearing from around the bend.

Gathering back in the chamber at the base of the last pitch, Will and I updated the other team on the reason of us being there. After a lengthy chinwag, we decided we should probably get going. Exiting was minimally exciting, with the tight pitch heads obviously providing more of a challenge this time around. Having crawled through the sheepmud for a second time, we decided back at the car that the oversuits would benefit from a dunk in the Wharfe.