Wot Dabney goes South with the RRCPC

Team: Dominic, Steve. Pete and Jason

Swildons is not a very impressive entrance, more like the manhole in my alley. But never judge a cave by its manhole cover. Dominic from Liverpool was our tour guide for the day and it was his intention to take us through Watergate passage as well as the standard route through the cave. But before we set out on our amphibious outing, or should I say Dominic, Steve and Chaz, they had to do some sump bailing. Half an hour later they returned looking somewhat worse for wear, three mud monsters from Bailsville and not a pretty site. Then off at top speed to Blue Pencil Passage, a narrow, flat out crawl with Z-bends which popped out into the roof of the main streamway. This was quite impressive with sumps at either end. Confidence in the team was running high until Dominic introduced us to the Watergate Passage (from hell).

The entrance was a narrow rift climb and was not awkward so much as very tiring indeed. Eventually the passage relented a bit just to get tight again, in fact too tight to pass at floor level so a climb up in the roof was needed in this very muddy rift. Once up and traversing it proved very difficult to stay high in the rift, one slip and you would soon know how a hedgehog on the M6 felt.

At this point Steve did his very best to get completely wedged and almost succeeded if it was not for Chaz’s shoulder and Pete’s help. Eventually, Steve got out looking a bit withdrawn but he had handled very well for a wedged man! Next was four ducks, two of the liquid mud variety. Just after the first duck I tried to blow us all up by dropping my reserve carbide in a small stream but failed miserably and merely gassed us all out instead. The third duck had sumped completely, Dominic went straight through but we all decided to bail it. Meanwhile, trying to communicate with Dominic proved to be very funny.
“What’s it like?”, shouted Chaz

“Bloody GLUB horri... GLUB...”,

Dominic replied. Chaz went for it and got through, next was Pete.

“What’s it like?”, shouted Pete.

“Just GLUB GLUB for it GLUB Pete!!”

He went for it, looking like a giant submerged Graf Zeppelin. I was next and after a few prayers was through but not completely as I did not take my head out of the liquid mud. My body bobbed up like a corpse (but headless) and when Pete pulled my head out of the liquid mud came up shouting “Flippin ‘eck, that was great - I nearly drowned, can we do it again lads?” Steve came through no problem but my carbide lamp had had a coronary and needed an urgent fettle. The last duck was no problem but a strenuous 40ft free climb proved tiring. I had about one minute to recover and then we were off again at top speed. Four more ducks followed and a short sump free-dive. An excellent end to a memorable trip, but there was just one more crawl we had to do. The Pub Crawl.
We were all very rotten by the end of the night. I was having problems in holding a conversation (so Fran says) but I don’t believe a word of it. I wasn’t that drunk, was I??

Jason Pitman.

Back to:  Contents