Waterwheel Swallet - Wed 18 May 2022

Paul James, Peter Sanders

Peter and PJ met at the Roman Fort car park in very threatening weather, but got changed before the heavens opened (not that we expected to stay dry for long). Short walk, avoiding rabbit holes, to entrance, bringing 13m rope, ladder, spreader and spare rope. Opened very heavy, shiny new gate with CSCC key and descended 4m pipe entrance via stirrup rungs.

Look in ‘Old Man’s Chamber’ at remnants of waterwheel but not much to see. Left car keys here and spare rope brought for entrance tube safety line but not used. Quick look up Peaty Aven (10m narrow brown stal covered rift), but seemed to miss Red Curtain Rift. On past Black and White Grotto, containing (as implied by name) black stal (which features much of the way down) and white stal and straws in roof. The black stal seems to have developed through mineral (lead) rich ground water percolating over older stal since the original excavation. Past gour slope into Sump 1 for first dunking, then Sump 2 through a neat phreatic tube, all hands and knees crawling chest deep in cold water (or floating if you have enough buoyancy, but no wet suits worn on this visit). Only just enough headroom to keep heads out of the water. Eventually drop out into chamber with 7m pitch into the Swimming Pool, passing a 6m narrow rift also into the water. Rig ladder from existing eco-hangers, descend initial slope using existing chain handline and a safety line, step onto ladder and descend into the pool. Slight gasp, then swim to dam, climb over and squeeze along tall but narrow rift past suspended floors. Resist the potential delights of Sump 3 and return to Swimming Pool. This time climbed round edge of the pool to avoid another swim, following the existing traverse line, but bracing from the wall, avoiding needing to depend on this. Back up through the sumps, removing the plug from one but replaced before level dropped much and plunged in. Back out into the fading light in light rain, stumbling down a rabbit hole, and struggled out of wet kit just managing to get under cover just as the heavens opened again. Back to Hunters Lodge for a chat mostly about electric cars.

Very sociable trip down a short but interesting cave, not to mention the ‘sporting’ ducks. Passageway, decorations, dams, hangers, chain (bit rusty with unsighted fixing) all seem to be in reasonable condition.

Lawrence provided the link below in his trip report from 3/10/2018, describing the 440 digging trips that opened up the cave.


— Peter

Last modified: 30 Oct 2022 14:46