Cavers: Chris Scaife, Chris Sharman, Dan Jackson and Carol Smith
After a week away and not having done any SRT since November, the original idea of doing Hurnel Moss Pot seemed less appealing than it did a month ago. Luckily my suggestion to do something a little bit easier was well accepted and, a few messages later, we had a new plan: Swinsto Hole to Valley Entrance with a stop in Turbary Pot first.
Turbary Pot is very close to Swinsto, just by Turbary Road, in a fairly large shakehole that should be easy to spot. Unless you go to the other side of the field like we did. There’s a short crawl and then you are at the top of the first 16-metre pitch, which is followed by a rebelay on a ledge and another 11-metre pitch. Although, according to the riggers, the rigging guide did not match the bolts in the cave, so they rigged the top pitch from the big bolt, using a tackle bag as rope protector, as all the bolts are on the horizontal ledge.
It’s nice (some white calcite decorated the pitch), easy and perfect for someone who needs some SRT training after 3 months without doing any decent caving. And, coming out of a cave to find snow is not as nice as a bright and warm sun, but still has some charm.
Next, Swinsto. This cave had been in my to-do list since I moved to the UK, so I was quite excited I was finally going, but the water on the first pitch was so cold I had second thoughts. But, after being assured that it was unlikely that the water level would rise, and the promise of a sporty trip made me change my mind. So, on we went, first the Long (and freezing) Crawl, 2nd pitch, 3rd pitch, 4th pitch and Main Pitch (I did find the second drop slightly awkward, and the rope you clip on to not very reassuring, anyone else thought the same?). Two more pitches and we continued through the pools and cascades (have I already said the water was freezing?) to Swinsto Great Aven and the Final Pitch to Master Cave. At this point my feet were completely numb and the current in the stream was fairly strong so I kept thinking I was going to fall, which meant I really did not pay much attention to what looked like a very nice passage. Anyway, we were soon in the Roof Tunnel pitch, which was already rigged (although Dan free climbed it) and after a (rather annoying) stooping passage and wet crawl, we were out through Valley Entrance.
All in all, a great fun trip. A perfect day out if it wasn’t for the (have I already said it?) freezing water. Specially thanks to Sharman, Dan and Chris, who took care of all the rigging and de-rigging.
A cup of coffee by the fireplace at the pub never tasted so good.
I think I’ve been in Swinsto when it’s been wetter than that, but never colder. My feet (and hands, and knees) were also completely numb.
There was so much snow in the entrance to Turbary Pot I had to clear some out of the way before I could get in. I’m glad we did that one too; it’s definitely a worthwhile addition to the day.
Agree entirely – good trip.
And yes, the “safety” line at the ledge isn’t much good – a P hanger to clip into just back around the corner from the two for the bottom half would be much better.