When: 8 May 2013 7.00 – 9.00 pm.
Where: Waterwheel Swallet, Charterhouse.
Who: Darren T, Rich T, Tricia, Rachel, Nicky and Chris.
We parked up and soon got changed into wet suits and caving gear, this is a very wet and sporting cave. The entrance is a steel tube with a lid on to keep the sheep from falling in. There are rungs welded to the inside to climb down. Once at the bottom we followed the passage and passed Oldmans chamber on the left. A right turn and a climb down later and we had reached some steps followed them down and then back up again and we found ourselves with a climb followed by a more challenging climb. Once the climb had been negotiated we stopped and admired the stalls which were a mix of black and white the black being lead apparently.
Not far past the pretties is the first of the Dams. These are a series of manmade pools which fill with water but can be emptied by removing a bung. When you remove a bung the pool empties and the water continues to the next pool. The first pool is about a foot deep with about 2 feet of roof space above the water. We climbed over the dam and as Rich was last to do so he pulled the bung to make the next part of the trip a little more interesting. We followed the path round and climbed down into the next pool. I was first followed by Tricia; I crawled into the passage which was full of water with only about 6 inches of space above the water level. At the next hollow I sat up to take a breather as the next part of the passage looked a bit daunting as there was only a few inches of space above the water and the passage was about 20 feet long. I could hear Tricia coming up behind me. She asked if I was ok and I said “yeah, is it meant to be that deep, it’s covering my nose and mouth?". Tricia replied "Let me take a look" a short silence and she said "I don't remember it being that deep". We had made the mistake of pulling the bung and talking for five minutes or so in which time too much water had gone into the second pool and still more was going in. Rachel back tracked and re inserted the bung and slowly the water level returned to normal. We were joined by Chris and Nicky as they had been late to arrive. We made our way through the flooded tunnels to the top of the pitch leading to the lake. After some inventive rigging from Nicky, Chris life lined us down the ladder. Rach was first and then Rich. I descended the ladder with ease into the lake, disconnected my lifeline and swam the 4 metres or so to the edge of the pool. Nicky was next down the ladder. While she was coming down me and Rich had a look down the rest of the passage which gets smaller and smaller. Nicky and Rachel caught us up and they all went on to the end of the cave squeezing through the rift onto the false floor not far past that the rift shuts down and that is the end. We made our way back to the lake. Rach climbed the ladder followed by me and then it was Nicky's turn then Rich. We were soon all up and de rigged and then swimming back through the tunnels, climbing and clambering we found our way out to a very cold and windy hilltop.
What an epic trip. To me this is what caving is all about as it reminds me of potholing in the Brecon Beacons when I went to Pencilli on a school trip many years ago.