Swildon's Hole, Round Trip - Wed 26 Oct 2022

Will Puddy, Rich Nurse

Will and I met at the Priddy green carpark at around 1900, after a short discussion on thermal requirements the two of us off across the fields.

Arriving the hut at around 1930, we were surprised to see how low the stream was, we had been expecting a small torrent after hearing about a recent trip Lawrence had led. My decision on thermal and fluffy may be on the warm side!

Keen to get on, we decided to head straight down the short dry way making fast progress through the old grotto, water chamber and down the top of the twenty. Although we had a streamlined ladder set up, we were pleased to find a WCC ladder and kit bag already set up for us to use.

Continuing down the stream, passing beneath Barnes’ Loop, we soon found ourselves at the base of Tratman’s Temple. Aided by the recent club trip to Shatter Pot, our route finding found us looking down towards the Shatter Series at 2000.

From Shatter Pot, the way on was all new to Will, and my first re-visit for about 10years.. we’ll be fine! The Greasy Chimney lived up to its name, proving an interesting problem with a bit of discussion and acrobatics. Onwards we made our way through the next few route choices with a mixture of survey, most obviously caved path and my memory that they all ultimately ended up at Blue Pencil Passage. It was a small relief when we did get to Blue Pencil and the first of the Double Troubles to see features I recognised.

Our “rest” for the trip involved 10/15min of bailing.. this was not restful. I took on the duck first only inhaling small amounts of water, but was at least now thankful for that thermal. Will followed on after doing a much better job than me at avoiding a self-waterboarding. We were pleased to find the next trouble open so straight on to Bang Squeeze. Another duck and into Glistening Gallery with some pretty and the tightest squeeze of the trip over a flowstone floor (Swildon’s Hole 100 years of Exploration suggest this is often mistakenly called Birthday Squeeze which is apparently actually a little further on). Next the final duck (actual Birthday Squeeze!) which we both “free dived” rather than doing our best otter impressions on our backs. A little further, down the Landing and into Swildon’s 2 at 2100.

The remainder of the trip back up the stream was straightforward, though we were certainly feeling the effects of our “resting” or lack of. The sump had an inch air gap and we were very pleased to see the WCC ladder still in place upon reaching the twenty, so we could just collect our kit and head on out, reaching the hut at 2135.

Back to the green to find Andy and Lawrence waiting, obviously pleased to see their ladder being returned although disappointed it had not been cleaned.

Off to the Hunters to meet up with the St Cuthbert’s trip and debrief. A great trip, though we were both staggered to hear it can be done in under an hour?! Those parties must miss all the good bits. Rich

— Richard Nurse 31/10/2022

Last modified: 31 Oct 2022 22:48