Rowten to Valley Entrance - and back again!
After enjoying the Langstroth trip, the Rowten sumps seemed to be the natural aim for the following week. After feeling nervous prior to Langstroth, I had no worries at all about diving the Rowten sumps.
With Ed up for a week finishing his work in Durham, the plan was for him to de-rig, whilst we would exit through Valley Entrance. When he didn’t show at my place for the drive down, I called him to find out that I had woken him up, so I set off for Ingleton alone.
Arriving at Rowten, finding we had the pot to ourselves, I stashed a spare set of down kit over the lip, in case another descent was required and rapped down to walk over the bridge to the P-bolts along the ledge. Descending straight down via the very impressive pitch, we then enjoyed the fine free-climbing section and 2 short rope sections, bringing the sump pool into view.
Finding the water pleasantly warm – honest – we left our jumaring kit here and put on a couple of weights each, as well as our hoods and masks. Simon went first, rolling over as he pulled down and after about 15 seconds, tugged the rope for me to follow. Feeling calm and looking forward to the experience, I pulled down, again facing the roof, with the addition of weights making progress easy away from the roof. With perfect visibility and warm water, I thoroughly enjoyed the dive, popping up in the spacious cross-rift to meet Simon. The next dive was easy and short and the final sump was in fact only a duck. Dropping our weights, masks and hoods, we continued on through the deep-water passage and cobbled oxbows to meet the superb, high streamway.
Meeting some very young cavers by the roof tunnel pitch, I resolved to do the free climb, bridging up the corner and then traversing right to make the â cheval move onto the arch, before reaching the sanctuary of the ledge. A quick blast along the passages above and we popped out of the pipe for a breath of fresh air, before returning to the roof tunnel pitch. The leaders of the junior caving team offered us their ladder for the descent and we were soon back at our diving gear. The return dives were an absolute joy and on the long, final section I took my time to enjoy the view of the beautifully clear sump. It all felt so easy, unlike my distant memories of the head-bashing, lung-busting Swildon’s 3.
Jugging up the big pitch was nice too, with the halo of light growing as height was gained and leaving Simon to de-rig, I emerged to meet his mates arriving for their SRT trip. A superb outing and only about 4 hours underground – fantastic!