Swildons 12
Sunday, 4 April 2010

The final trip, and highlight of the mendip trip for me. I had been keen to visit the end of Swildons since a trip to sump 9 with Tom and John Worden a couple of years ago. The forecast for sunday was looking good and so after a fairly relaxed morning getting gear ready i set off, accommpanied with John Worden and Neville Lucas. Underground early afternoon and quick progress made down to sump 1. After kitting up all three of us passed sump 1, and john and myself continued to sump 2 and 3 as John wanted to have a go at freediving these. Soon in swildons 4 and John headed back through sumps 2 and 3 while i continued on. Water levels were higher than normal, and a very muddy and murky streamway was followed to sump 4, passed in zero-viz. Steady progress was made down swildons 5 and past the ducks to swildons 6. Sump 6 was also passed in zero viz to gain swildons 7 – a fine stretch of cave with a particularly impressive chamber where the vertical bedding can be seen. Some short climbs and scrambling over boulders soon led to the sump 7 bypass, swildons 8 and finally the 30-40m long sump 9 – a large and impressive sump pool, but today looking very, very murky and possessing the Sam Allshorne zero viz. This surfaces in a rift, and the very short and unlined sump 10 is found by feeling along the wall for airspace. This surfaced in the continuing streamway and after de-kitting a short climb led up and down and back into the streamway. Sump 11 was soon reached, and a exposed handline climb bypassed this. A pleasant but short section of streamway was followed to where it disappeared into sump 12 – the current limit. After a few minutes rest to savour the moment, i headed back to my kit and re-traced my steps through the cave enjoying the cave and sumps a second time. The viz also started to improve and by sump 6 i was once again able to admire the underwater environment i was in, and by sump 5 i was able to admire the silt bank i inadvertedly ploughed into on the way in. Quick progress soon had me back at sump 1 where kit was bagged up, a quick snack was had and i headed out to find a very pleasant sunny evening. An excellent and really enjoyable trip. Definitely one to do again!!