Can't engage 1st or 2nd gear (gearstick won't move left)

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Can't engage 1st or 2nd gear (gearstick won't move left)
Howdy folks Ill try and keep this breif and descriptive.

Yesterday I was unable to select 1st or 2nd gears on my Peugeot 306 2.0 HDI (Y reg). The gearstick physically won't move left, only to center and right positions. I decided to limp her home in 3rd but had to stop for traffic lights where my exhaust promptly fell off, breaking off just behind the cat. Removed what was left of exhaust and got her home, currently up on axle stands in the driveway.

I'm wondering if anyone has any pointers as to why I can't move the gearstick left? I'm hoping its something to do with the linkage somewhere, which perhaps seems especially likley given how close the linkage is to the broken catalyst? It seems like the sort of thing where someone who has done this job before and knows specifically how the linkage works might be able to point me towards why I can't move the stick left.  3rd 4th 5th and R all still work perfectly.

I'm going to go back out once my ibruprofen has kicked in (poor aging back...) to try and remove whats left of the catalyst. I've gotten one nut loose but I havent yet found a way to wiggle a spanner in for the other nut.

*edited before posting as I've just been out and done a bit more*

I've now undone the main gear linkage rod underneath the gear stick, the stick now moves freely as expected. So I'm hoping the problem is something to do with the weird pivot hub thing that the 3 smaller linkages attatch to *or* am I looking at a more serious gearbox problem? From my amateur understanding of how selecting a gear works, since I was having problems moving the selector left, not up/down (actually engaging a gear) I'm really hoping its not a problm inside the gearbox.

Shes at 88k miles, not had much in the way of servicing (replaced a drop arms last year) but also not thrashed or driven hard. She does have a daily drive down a short dusty country lane however to *everything* is dusty and grimey underneath.

So yeah, I think that about sums it up. So if anyone has any pointers I'd be very thankfull. Also if anyone has any suggestions for removing the cat from the manifold that'd also be great, theres so little room under there...

EDIT: Been out again, the main gearbox selection rod (the one the 3 linkages sprout off from) will not rotate anticlockwise for 1st and 2nd. I can move it back and forth no problem and twist it clockwise to engage 4th and 5th just fine.

EDIT 2: Well blow me down! So I removed my catalist as it needed to come off anyway and would give me more room so I could try engaging the gearbox manually. For there I could see what I assumed was a broken part of the gear selecting mechanism, flopping around when I tried to engage 1st and 2nd. I removed the part, only to my utter bafflement when I discovered SOMEONE ELSE'S radiator cap! Wedged neatly in place to perfectly block the gears!

Some MOT tester in the past must have lost it down my engine bay and thought nothing of it.
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Great find! well done that man. Maybe the car had a rad done or someone was topping up and sat the cap on the top of the engine, whereby it found its way back there, just biding it's time before causing you all this grief!
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Well, not even the sharpest car enthusiast on here would have come up with a diagnosis involving a stray rad cap! Well done for getting to the bottom of your issue.
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Cheers guys Smile I've since checked and the cap looks like it is from a 306! So yeah I'm guessing previous owner or MOT guy lost it down there one day.

New catalyst arrived today, so hopefully back on the road by this evening. I'm still quite shocked by the cap, it honestly couuldn't have fallen iin a more perfect position to so neatly block the gears. It also explains why I couldn't find anyone ever having similar symptoms!
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(31-05-2018, 03:13 PM)CaptainHair Wrote: Cheers guys Smile I've since checked and the cap looks like it is from a 306! So yeah I'm guessing previous owner or MOT guy lost it down there one day.

 I think that's just classic.   If you hadn't fixed it yourself you could have gone back to the same bloke who caused it in the first place. I doubt if he would have  said  "I fixed it for free because it was my mistake".
If it can break it will. Matter over mind will fix it. Idea
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