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Swildons Hole

By Rachel Murphy

By Rachel Murphy 8 November 2001

Cavers : Dave the cave, Rachel, Robin, Annelies, Stefano and Alan.

Annelies, Robin and I arrived 15 minutes late at Priddy to find Dave (shock, horror) was there already saying that he had been waiting there with Alan and Stefano for half an hour, we doubted this very much. So we all bundled over to Andy Sparrows and picked up the gear and proceeded to get changed in the barn at Priddy. Robin and I were very relieved to be able to use our new fleeces, helmets, kneepads, wet suit socks and for Robin elbow pads. We walked over to Swildons hole being careful not to slip in the deep mud at the beginning of the walk across the fields. The walk this time seemed a lot shorter than the last time I did this cave, also perhaps in comparison to the ones that we have been doing recently. So we all piled into the cave and I led for a while, Dave commanded me to go the dry way, which was very dry. Having passed a couple of cavers(the first of many) We ended up in a big cavern which I then seem to remember started to lead us to a slightly more moist part of the cave. (From this point on there may be a couple of stories the wrong way round)

Dave then put us through our paces doing various obstacles like crawling through a low cavern that Annelies commented on looking like a bowling alley (skittle shaped stalagmites). We then did a short climb up a small rift, Robin decided to do it Martin Style and go round the outside, at the top we proceeded one by one into a weird "T" shaped tight squeeze, at this point I was bringing up the rear so didn't see how the first few of us got through, but I did see how Dave did it, which was to lay at the top of the T shape with one leg dangling down and pull himself through, I with my waif-like figure managed to just walk through it. The squeeze then got tighter and up hill, this was really fun and i just copied Daves technique of laying on his side/back and just using brut force to push/pull himself up. At this point with all of us having done this squeeze, all six of us were cosy like sardines in a very small cavern that was laced with lots of hanging down straw formations. This little cubby hole was a dead end so we all had to turn round and get out, I led at this point.

Around the corner Annelies and I found an interesting shaped rock which we proceeded to straddle and get Robin to dance around us chanting fertility stuff :) After a while of doing this guided tour like caving(viewing 40 ft drops and stuff like that), we then started hitting the wetter parts of the cave and made it down as far as the ladder pitch, which we didn't do. On the way back up out of the cave we all managed to avoid getting too wet by practicing various climbing moves. We managed to pick up a couple of guys on the way out who needed to be shown the way to the exit. This we managed with not too much problem, at one point Dave telling me that to climb up a shower bath type obstacle I had to turn with my back to the wall and pull myself up, being not the tallest of people I found this difficult and a wet way of doing it, so i said stuff it, watched how Alan handled it (more like a climber) and then copied his technique, thank god for yoga. We finally got out of the cave at about 10pm and made it to the pub for about 10.30pm, plenty of time for food and beer :).

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