Simpson's/Swinsto Exchange Trip - Glyn Roberts/Wayne Sheldon

Saturday, 17 May, 2008

One way ...

Present: Chris Clair (Guest), Glyn Roberts, Ann Soulsby

Having said I would organize a dales trip for May, I picked a Swinsto/Simpson's exchange. The logic being, dead good for beginners, pleasant trip for more experienced cavers. Unfortunately the only beginner to attend was a mate from work, who had been down dolly tubs (Alum Pot) before. As nobody had collected any rope from the chapel, old 9mm rope was dug out for use (all now fully measured, and all looking good). We arrived in the dales to find that one of our expected party had decided to cave elsewhere; while Wayne and Martyn looked like death warmed up, due to a late night.

Even though Wayne and I had photocopied maps for the entrance, it still took us half an hour to find Simpson's entrance. It is nearer to the road than the majority of the shake holes on the bank. Ann, Chris and I entered the cave to find that the climb downs (with P bolts on them) looked easy enough on the way down, there was some slight concern (but not much) if Martyn and Wayne would find them as easy on the way out. Chris proved himself to be a natural, not jibbing on the climb across the blind pit (unlike me), but his doggy paddle through the duck, did provide some humour.

I had decided to do the Great Aven pitch rather than Slit Pot. This is a good alternative which allows larger cavers to easily get through the cave. To get to the aven pitch, you must climb above Aven Pot, the last pitch prior to Slip pot; up a slightly dodgy hand line to get to a small decorated chamber. Falling off the fixed hand line would be bad, very bad. The Great Aven pitch itself is a very impressive 40m pitch landing on a boulder platform overlooking the start of Philosophers crawl etc, hence saving the last pitch down in to Master cave. The climb down is easy enough but loose in places.

Whilst waiting for Martin and Wayne to arrive at the bottom, Chris and I went through the master cave towards the roof tube etc to find it all very dry. We got to the base of the roof tube climb (surprisingly no ropes on it on a Saturday afternoon), and only 10 minutes from the entrance, we had to turn round to go back up Swinsto. The roof tube climb itself is a reasonably difficult free climb, not suitable for non climbers.

The exit via Swinsto appeared to be wetter than the Simpson's entrance. All was fine except for the long crawl, which was not fun. We returned to the car at a reasonable hour, only to have Chris and Ann complain that they were cold. As we had planed to wait for the others, we drove slowly along Kingsdale towards Dent, going through a few gates on the way, only to return twenty minutes later to see Wayne hurtling into the distance at full throttle to collect food from Settle. We had a gentle drive to the YSS, had a couple of beers before Martyn reappeared to cook a mega tea. Good caving trip had by all, although I am not sure if my mate will go again, will stick to climbing 'E's instead.

Glyn Roberts

... and the other

17th May 2008 - Swinsto / Simpson?s Exchange Trip by Wayne Sheldon
Present: Martyn Grayson and Wayne Sheldon

We walked up the hill together and spilt when we got to the top, as we both went to find the entrances. We actually walked directly to Swinsto but I took a while before I decided it was the correct entrance but this was confirmed as soon as got to the first pitch, as I remembered this from my previous trip here. Immediately following the first pitch, there is approx 275m of hands and knees crawling in water, which is quite fresh in places. Several short pitches follow which are well bolted and give good hangs. The big pitch is next, conveniently split by a spray lashed ledge and there doesn?t seem to be anywhere to rig deviations to pull you away from the water, well I suppose most people do pull through down this cave.

After the big pitch, a wide stream passage is followed, Turbary Pot cascades in from the right while the passages continues until it disappears down a crack, the route continues to a climb over a pool then down a parapet leads you to the next pitch. Water is rejoined at the bottom of this pitch; the passage goes on down several sporting cascades until it enlarges and Slit Pot Aven rises to the left. There was no rope down this pitch, the other party must have come down the Great Aven route. The final cascade pitch follows, landing you above the choke that has the route down to the master cave.

I forgot how much caving there was in this cave, more than I remember and some of the passages go on forever but the pitches are straight-forward, its just a shame that the lengths specified in the CNCC rigging guide aren?t accurate, we had quite a bit of rope left at the bottom of each pitch.

We had a quick chat with Glyn, Chris and Ann before we set up out of Simpson?s, we shared the de-rigging, taking it in turns to derig pitches. It was the first time that I had done the Great Aven route, a nice pitch I found but Martyn didn?t like the 9mm rope while I found it a better prussic. The start of the big aven route isn't nice, a short hand line drops you down to a ledge above Aven Pot, and there wasn?t a traverse line which is something that we got used as we went out of the cave. I rigged a traverse line across it and Martyn de-rigged it when he followed me.

The next few pitches were okay but there were no traverse lines to get off them. There were several strenuous slots to go through that were hard work especially with the big bag but team work helped out. Once at the top of this pitch, the duck was soon reached, through the duck and up the climb to the next pitch. Once at the top of this pitch, we started the trip out but the passage went on forever, and several awkward climbs on route proved to be very strenuous but it was down to good team work to climb them and get the gear up them. The blind pot was reached and crossed with the aid of a traverse line. After this it was a drag out of the cave which mainly involved crawling, a few more awkward climbs until daylight was spotted and we surfaced on to the dry fell. It was a very good trip and we knew we had been caving as our bodies were aching.