Swildons Hole – The Grand Tour
Saturday, 30 September 2006

I was lucky enough to be invited on a new Grand Tour of Swildons Hole which was to take in most of the cave in one fine trip. The team assembled on Priddy Green ready to go after previously sorting out some logistics at the Wessex Hut.

We set of down Priddy Green Sink, Mark & I losing the way within minutes of entering the cave. Once back on track the cave soon became sportingly tight. Here Mark cracked a rib in the first squeeze but valiantly carried on carrying the tackle.
After some pleasant crawling we soon had our first ‘incident’ when we were hit by a flood pulse just as we were passing ‘el crapatan’. This was quite exciting as the passage was quite small and the flow changed form nothing to a loud wall of water about five inches high. After waiting for fifteen minutes to let the water levels lower we set off and pulled through down to the bottom of Cowsh’ Avens, between sumps 3 & 4.

From here we dumped the ropes and set off upstream to enter Watergate a sporting muddy passage full of climbs, ducks and bailable sumps. At the end of this we climbed up Lower Fault Chamber and joined the short round trip where we headed for the open Mud Sump and thence on to Tratman’s Temple where we stopped for a picnic. Unfortunately Mark’s ribs where killing him so he set off out.

Meanwhile, Suntan, Alison and I headed on down the main streamway. We all free-dived sump one and arriving at sump two Suntan & Alison donned diving kit. Alison went first through sump 2 (25ft), then it was my turn to free dive ‘“ a big breath and’¦. The water was really muddy so it was hard to see the rope after a few seconds I surfaced on the far side and gave the signal for Suntan to follow. His lights soon appeared and we all headed over to the start of sump 3 (35ft), now I was scared. Again Alison went through first and gave the signal. A very deep breath and this time I dived down to seven-foot depth and crashed into a flake, ducking under I popped into a passage so decided to pull like there was no tomorrow. After what seemed like quite a long time I emerged quite a long way down the sump pool happy that I was now going to live. Suntan soon followed, and we set of down stream to sump 4 (10ft). This time I had to go last in order to pull back Alison & Suntan’s diving kit so that it could be recovered by some helpers.

Beyond sump 4 we passed sump 5 a series of ducks and then entered the damp link. We soon reached Gloop Sump where we set the four siphon tubes going, here we waited for 45 minutes until the sump was passable. Beyond we bailed the Grit Sump and then enjoyed heading up the Shatter Series. Above Shatter Pot we completed the rest of the short round trip ‘“ through the troubles and down the landing to pick up some gear from sump two and the headed out up the main streamway. We emerged after about nine hours of fun caving. All in all an excellent day out.