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Swan Dike Pot

Swan Dike Pot,


Ian Cummins, Simon Beck.

Being exiled to the Home Counties for a few days at the start of the week, I had plenty of time to peruse guidebooks in the hotel during the evenings and plan a trip for the weekend.  Swan Dike Pot in Penyghent Gill sounded good, promising to pack a lot of interest into a relatively short cave and Simon was enlisted for the trip.  I called in at the superbly situated Penyghent House Farm to ask for permission and we parked up at the cattle grid past the farm, on the road to Holton Gill.  It’s only a very short walk to the covered shaft and a climb down the elaborately constructed shoring.  A crawl at the bottom soon leads to water and a traverse over a blind wet shaft to the first pitch.  Placing the only bolts needed in the whole cave at the top of this nice pitch, we landed in a small chamber and were faced with a blasted crawl and the crux squeeze.  I approached the crawl headfirst, passing a dogleg after about 15 feet and was soon facing the squeeze down to the intersected streamway.  However, headfirst was not the way to proceed and removing my helmet for progress, I soon found myself stuck in the narrowing passage.  My helmet then fell down from its perch into the water, floated downstream a little and sank.  With Simon on my heels with the rope bag, I had to request him to reverse and used arm bars to force myself back into the passage.  Fortunately I managed to extricate myself and with Simon’s spare torch for illumination, reversed the crawl sufficiently to turn round and do the squeeze feet first.  This way, keeping feet high, it was tight, but not too difficult to slide down to the stream and recover my helmet.  Keeping Simon’s feet high, he quickly got through too and we followed the narrow stream past some fine formations to the wet rift pitch, following the water all the way down, with all the belays and re-belays from slings on spikes and flakes.  Even in the dry conditions, there was a nice spray of water here and I imagine in wet weather this cave is very intimidating, with a lot of narrow, low passage to negotiate.  At the bottom of the rift, the way on is a low bedding and a long crawl follows on very sharp, rippled rock – agony on my unprotected elbows, since I was so sick of my loose elbow pads, I stuck them in the tackle bag left at the top of the rift!  This crawl seemed to take forever and we were drawn to the sound of falling water at the last pitch.  Abruptly arriving here after rounding a corner, there was a little more room to fix the short pitch to a couple of knobbles and a decent spike.  I reasoned that these would be great runners on a climb, so I had no fears as to their security as belays, anyway, at least the pool at the base looked good to land in.  This short steep pitch landed in the sump pool of relatively warm water (compared to Langstroth) and I had a wallow here before climbing up to an inlet above and crawling in for a while until I had to use my elbows for progress and reversed back.  The crawl back to the rift was agony, even though I tried to make progress on my side, back or by using my palms in a kind of press-up traverse motion, so it was a great relief to get to the rope.  Having only my chest jammer on me, I free-climbed the first part of the rift, with a self belay – a nice climb on the clean, grippy rock – and waited for Simon to come up with my hand jammer for the rest of the pitch.  Leading out along the narrow crawling in the stream to the squeeze, I made the same error that I did in Quaking Pot, traversing past the squeeze, brain in neutral, pushing the bag, until I could go no further.  Lying in the water, wondering why I was stuck, I had to wait for Simon to arrive and tell me where I had gone wrong.  Going up the squeeze was easy, but I had to go along the crawl, turn around at the end and reverse to pull the bags through – very involved.  After 6 hours we were out to enjoy the fine views of the valley below and Penyghent above, feeling well satisfied by a very sporting pot.

Trip Date: 21st April 2007
Added: 22nd April 2007
Reviewer: Ian Cummins
Hits: 2329


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