St Cuthbert’s/Swildon’s
Friday, 15 July 2011 – Saturday, 16 July 2011

I took the opportunity of a lift down to Mendip and was duly deposited at the Belfry. After a day of walking, Iain from Preston and Mad Phil from the BEC turned up. Phil mentioned that he was digging in the terminal sump of St Cuthbert’s Swallet and asked if we would mind carrying cement there.

At around 8 in the evening we reached the cave entrance, which Phil unlocked and dammed. The entrance rift is entertaining, as is Stalagmite Pitch much further on, but both are more entertaining on the return journey. The cave has many climbs, traverses and crawls, and there are some nice formations to admire as well. Ultimately sump 2 is reached at a depth of 145m. Despite the depth, the cave, being on Mendip, requires no tackle. We exited the cave two and a half hours later and found the remaining Preston cavers in the Hunters.

The next day myself and the Preston lot set off to Priddy. Soon afterwards we were dropping through the floor of the Swildon’s blockhouse accompanied by very little water entering the cave. Several other cavers were encountered in the entrance series and lots of tackle was dumped at the top of the pitch. The double pots were easily traversed over and we turned left at Tratman’s Temple.

After establishing the correct way on we were confronted by Mud Sump. This was not a sump or even a wet crawl. Up an annoyingly greasy chimney was the route to the double troubles. Water here was expectedly high so the siphon was started. Not long later we headed through. The first trouble is a pleasant float through on your back and the second is barely noticed. A squeeze and a duck lead to an amusing slide down into Swildon’s two. There are supposedly some ducks along here but water levels must have been low as these were not noticed. Sump one had a very small airspace through which it was possible to shout. Soon we were up the ladder and back out.

Many thanks to Phil Rowsell and everyone from Preston for taking me caving!