Adam, Becky, Joe, Lizzie, Luke, Maddy, Mark, Tom H
Key word: Dynamic
The day started like any normal Sunday for a keen caver, waking up at ridiculous o’clock to go somewhere cold and wet. I even had the luxury of waking up in a sleeping bag on a sofa! We had been at Joe and Lizzies the previous night for a lovely barbeque (+cat) and so had no excuse for not having the nourishment to get up. We eventually got going at 8:30am on our damp journey up to Inglethief for breakfast, arriving there not long after 10am. Breakfast was a very filling, the beans on toast had a 3 cans to 1 slice ratio so if you like beans you know where to go. We had planned to do Swinsto cave so naturally we drove there, only to find every man and his dog, and his dog’s dog going down there, buggar! After some discussion it was decided that we’d go play in Valley Entrance cave, a mighty cave where such words as 20m rope and 7m pitch where thrown about.
Once we were changed and a little damp the rain stopped, allowing the short walk to the cave to be pleasant. About half way there Mark (showing his experience) asked us where the ropes where, we assumed they were in his bag but apparently that was just camera stuff. Joe and maddy went back to get ropes, and by default, save the day. The cave was just a stone’s throw from the gate and was pretty easy to spot... a plastic tube with a door. After a little faffage we began to move into the cave, again forgetting the rope which had to be fed to the front person as the pitch wasn’t a million miles from the entrance. The pitch was 10 minutes into the cave and there where ropes and a ladder already in place, this rather got in the way but Lizzie managed to rig pretty quickly. Using this pause as an opportunity Mark decided to do some cave photography. This involved two flash guns and the word dynamic. Adam posed in many angles but seemed a little confused when Mark didn’t use a tripod or get naked, that’s another story though. Once a suitable image had been captured it was time to descend the pitch. We’d already been overtaken by 2 other guys during photography time so we decided to move on to more photography of the pitch, and then a passage just beyond the pitch. During all this photography I was able to descend and steal the flashes to take my own pictures, sneaky.
Once we were all down the pitch we could take off out SRT gear, it was all walking and crawling from here. Lizzie lead the way as she had done the best job of skim reading the description, this resulted in us soon getting wet, but not as wet as we could be, not yet. After 5 minutes of walking through a stream we arrived at a junction with more cavers in, they seemed to know the place quite well and gave us a rundown of what to see and where it was. Happy with our new knowledge we headed off down a passage that just got lower and lower, fortunately it was dry so we only got battered knees. The passage eventually turned wet again and we were crawling on hands and knees in 1 foot of water. Once we had arrived at a place where we had to flat out crawl through water we decided to send the scout team of Lizzie, Luke and Joe to investigate if there was any point going through. It turned out it went somewhere so we all got to flat out crawl through the water. There were some tight (for me) vertical squeezes after the crawling but it was jagged enough to get a foot hold and get through with relative ease. The squeezes lead to a fairly large chamber, what I assume was “Swinsto Great Aven”. This would be our lunch stop and a chance to take some more dynamic pictures. Becky didn’t seem to enjoy being a model, but then again she was taking a fictional step whilst two flashes went off around her.
Once the litre of juice concealed in Luke’s helmet had been consumed it was time to head back. We left by a different squeeze which lead to drier crawl out. The crawl lead us to an extremely muddy climb which managed to coat all our suits in mud, fortunately we knew of a nearby sump where we could go wash. The sump wasn’t far away and soon we had 8 manly cavers washing each other’s backs. There were a few other cavers in the system so we walked back to the pitch pretty slowly, hoping the traffic would be cleared by the time we got there. It turned out there was nobody about at the pitch and this allowed us to take some more pictures. I hung around on the rope looking dynamic whilst the flashes went off here and there and I was soon at the top and off the rope. The exit from the cave was quick and easy and we were out at 2:59PM.
We ended the trip with the usual, pub, crisps and tales, plus a folk band. A new cave in the book and a day well spent!