Swan Dike Pot
Saturday, 23 December 2006
Friday evening saw us (me, Tom & John) back in Craftman’s to collect the gear and have a look down Mouse pitch.
Saturday (today) saw us down Swan Dyke Pot, a trip I’d quite fancied doing after hearing about it from Sam Allshorn and Mike Cooper. After a healthy breakfast of chips, beans, sausage and egg from Inglesport we headed to the cottage to get ropes and onwards to Penyghent Gill.
Upon arriving at the roadside, we got changed and wandered into the field to the entrance, which in fact wasn’t the entrance to Swan Dyke, and so the next half and hour was spent looking for it. Success came at around 1pm, after a total faff-time of around 30mins, when the entrance was found.
The mostly-scaffolded entrance shaft leads to a short section of rift, and then a climb down on the left which soon leads to the stream, and a crawl over large cobbles. This gives way to a short section of canal and then a very nice, clean-washed streamway which soon leads to a pitch after a few cascades and small climbs. Stepping over this leads to a dry, parallel shaft.
At the bottom of this, SRT kits were bagged and I set off into ‘the blasted trick.’ I’d heard quite a bit about this, and was feeling a little apprehensive but was keen to have a look. After all, the NCC were responsible for the following section of cave!
A short section of narrow rift, with a ‘kink’ part way along which meant I had to go right-hand side down being tall, soon leads to a narrower section which then gets a little wider before reaching ‘the trick.’ This is a tight, and intimidating squeeze which drops you in to the stream below. Blobbing was out of the question as the big yellow craven tacklebag had been pushed through the squeeze into the stream, and so I had to carry on.
With helmet off and a bit of gentle shuffling I was through. Hooray! I shouted to Tom to come through, and soon later we were on our way along another section of small clean-washed streamway. This provides varied going for a reasonable distance with wet-crawls, traversing, more wet-crawls, squeezing past nice formations etc until the next short pitch is reached. Three slings tied together saw us down this.
SRT kits back on, and following the ledge round to the right instead of following the stream leads to the top of the next pitch. Below this, traversing to the right again past a pile of loose blocks leads to a muddy crawl into a small chamber. A hole in the bottom of the chamber took us to the next pitch, at the top of which are lots of calcited-in blocks.
At the bottom of this, the real misery began and involved a lengthy crawl in the stream to the top of the next pitch. As my knee-pads had died down Craftmans, this proved to be a bit uncomfortable as the floor is quite sharp. The next pitch is only short, and at the bottom, a short section of streamway leads to another climb and the bottom.
Very content to have reached the bottom, but feeling a wee bit chilly after the wet crawl, we set off out. Thankfully the crawl didn’t seem as long on the way back, and knees were soon given some relief in the form of the pitches. Good progress was made back to ‘the trick.’ This was slightly more awkward on the return, but we were soon through.
Then back out, with the surface reached at just after 6pm, giving a very fine 5hrs underground. One of the great advantages of Swan Dyke is the fact that the walk-in/walk-back totals around 5mins! 🙂
Upon removal of caving gear, knees were found to be swollen and bleeding….New knee pads me thinks! A fun drive back to Horton ensued, with particularly shit visibility, then the joys of rope cleaning and the drive back home.
Excellent trip, and indeed according to Sam Allshorn, “the trick to The Trick is to be as thin as a stick”…
Seen as its Xmas soon, Happy Xmas to all, and best wishes for the new year!!!!!!