Speedwell Long Bypass Surveying - Wayne Sheldon

Saturday, 8 August, 2015

I have been picking up parts of the Peak Speedwell System that needed re-surveying, as we are missing line data. The aim of the trip today was the Long Bypass, John Sharp accompanied me along on the trip.

The Long Bypass is rarely visited by cavers; Moose pushed Backwater Choke (upstream) into some new extensions several years ago. He surveyed from the Lower Bung Streamway to the first junction, then he went into the new Backwater Choke Extensions. I picked up the survey from the first junction, where a short dry section reaches a small stream running left to right. Left is a further route to Backwater Choke. We surveyed right and downstream; the passage has a vadose trench in the floor, which gradually develops into a 3 m high rift-type passage, with rocks jammed at various points. Part-way down this passage, a large inlet comes in at the top of the passage from the left.

I was quite surprised with the amount of water that was coming in, especially as Speedwell Far Canal was very dry and this is where most of the water comes from. Water that sinks in the Pit Props area, apart from coming out opposite Block Hall must have a route around to this point as well. I wonder if this has been dye traced.

We surveyed downstream from here, the passage continues as a 2m high rift; it winds down but gradually reduces in height to stooping and it meets a 1m high phreatic passage running left to right, with the water making its way off to the right. From this point, myself and John surveyed left in a flat-out crawl eventually leading to a choke. The other side of this choke can be reached if you take the passage off the Far Canal opposite the gate that leads into the Assault Course / Pilkington's Series. Was this a miners route into the system prior to the Level being driven? I'm not sure of the gap between both sides of the choke yet, I won't know until the survey is drawn up.

Right from the previous junction, is a mixture of hands and knees crawling and stooping that eventually leads after 90 m to a 3m high waterfall into the Lower Bung Streamway. The climb down is slippery so care is required, the water joins the main stream and heads off down to the Downstream Sump. We completed the survey here.

To save us having to return via the Long Bypass, we followed the main passage upstream. From the bottom of the climb, to the right is a 30 m long stooping height tunnel that leads into a chest deep wade; this reduces to a duck, and is Puttrell's Pool. A sharp right turn in the pool eventually comes out into Rift Cavern, and climbing up the boulders eventually brings you to the bottom of the Egnaro Aven ladders.

As I said at the start of this post, the Long Bypass is rarely visited so maybe cavers undertaking Titan/JH through-trips might want to add variation to the route; rather than taking the Short Bypass, taking the Long Bypass instead and approach Egnaro Aven from the other direction. The Long Bypass is a nice section of cave.

Good trip, thanks to John for helping and John Harrison for access.