November 2000

Peak District Caving > Cave News Index > November 2000

Reports:
> Durham Edge Swallet - the latest Peak District discovery
> Durham Edge Swallet - 12th Nov update
> Peak Cavern - progress in Far Sump Inlet
> Durham Edge Swallet - 25th Nov update

DURHAM EDGE SWALLET: November 2000:
Report from John Beck -
It appears that various people had noted this swallet, about halfway between Bradwell and Grindlow, but it had never been formally recorded. I think most people assumed that the stream was culverted below the Buxo-Plas factory and Quarters Farm house to Quarters Farm Swallet. Mark Noble noticed it on a walk a few months ago, and he and John Beck went to look on Monday 30th October, the day the floods began. Ray Mycock, owner of the factory, gave permission and told us that two cavers had had a poke at it a couple of years ago*, with no results. We found a huge stream sinking into an enticing hole, but we had no wetsuits.

Two days later, an hour or so of rather amphibious boulder moving revealed an open continuation, tight but with one wall of clay. A short wriggle in the stream led to a 2m drop, where the stream sank in boulders. We were back two days later, full of excitement. We had to enlarge the entrance passage in order to get boulders out, and I dug from inside while Mark dug inwards. Most of the crap washed away and vanished, and boulders and cobbles were hauled out. I think it will be walking size after the next heavy rain!

With more room, I could see the water dropping down a slot between big flakes. The biggest flake moved, and Mark took over. He broke the flake, half of which fell down the hole. He wriggled down, and delighted shouts suggested that it got bigger. I followed, blinded by the stream. There was a floor about twenty feet down, and the stream crashed off down another drop. This was intimidating, but we floundered out of the torrent onto another gravel floor in a respectable rift about 40ft below the entrance. The stream flowed away into a tight continuation. This will be enlarged very soon! Mark said it was only short, and he could hear the stream falling again beyond. Getting out was a near-drowning experience. If we had broken through on the Monday it would have been impossible. It had been an exciting week.

We decided it deserved a proper name, and have called it Durham Edge Swallet, as Durham Edge is the stretch of the gritstone scarp drained by its two feeder streams. It lies at about 785ft (239m) OD, about 185ft (56m) above Bagshawe Resurgence. If anyone is interested please contact John Beck
johnbeck@classicfm.net or Mark Noble w.s.noble@talk21.com rather than pestering Ray Mycock at the factory, as no general access has been arranged.

Editors note: This dig first received attention in 1998 by Jim Ozanne and crew. Back then, it was dug on several occasions but it proved difficult to stop silt and debris building up during frequent wet weather, a case of two steps forward, two steps back.... until now.....

UPDATE: November 10th 2000:
On Friday the 10th work continued along with one of the original diggers, Jim Ozanne. An obstruction was passed and the stream was followed down into a rift. The current limit is now approximatly 65ft down. The way on is through a narrow section of rift, where the stream can be seen and heard falling away. This narrow section will need enlarging before any more progress can be made. A return is planned........

UPDATE: November 25th 2000:
Report from John Beck - Durham Edge Swallet - hard work, and very very active!
After the initial breakthrough Jim Ozanne appeared at Glebe Cottage, saying that he'd just been to look at his old dig! We were due to go again the next day, so invited him to come along.

We were soon gasping and spluttering at the bottom of the wet climb, and it was obvious that the plan to enlarge the stream outlet wasn't feasible. We turned our attention to a window into a parallel rift, and Mark went out for a bigger hammer and chisel, returning with hammer and chisel and Tony Revell, who was understandably curious to see what was going on. We soon shifted a huge block of bedrock from the wall, leaving an open hole and a climb down. Tony was off! The parallel rift appeared to by-pass the original outlet, but the stream flowed into another too-tight rift at about 50ft depth.

A hole to the right provided a way down, and we knocked rotten cherts off till it was big enough. It led down to a promising-looking passage which rounded a bend and ended at the bottom of a circular inlet pothole, a small stream falling from a tiny hole in the roof. This was more rotten chert, and I knocked a way through till I could climb into another little chamber above. Beyond was too tight. The stream flowed away into a tiny vadose passage, far too small to enter, about 65ft below surface.

Mark and I were soon back with modern technology to enlarge the stream rift. After trouble with the generator, the 110 volt drill did a good job and at the end of the day we could see that the rift was too tight for some distance. The working area is so wet that using any electric kit is a bit hairy, but it is just feasible with careful use of plastic sheets.

On 24th November we had another go. The place was desperately wet, but we shifted a fair amount of rock before the water going down our necks made life impossible. Mark said "Tell you one thing about this place - it's very very active!" The view ahead would not be very promising if it wasn't for the rumbling noise that comes up the rift....

Watch this space.......

Please be aware that there is no open access to this cave at present. Please do not call at or phone the factory or the land owners. Please contact either John Beck
johnbeck@classicfm.net or Mark Noble w.s.noble@talk21.com. Aproaching Ray Mycock at the factory will jeopardise the current agreement and exploration. Even the current diggers are not allowed in at weekends.
PEAK CAVERN: Far Sump Inlet, November 2000:
Report from John Cordingley
Far Sump - left hand branch - continued: There's been a 3 week delay since the last dive due to the monsoons. On Monday 6th November the Peak system suffered its biggest flood since that one in December 1991, which turned Castleton into a lake. We went in on Sunday 11th November in very high water.

I dived Far Sump and got the new passage surveyed, then laid a bit more line on the end to a T junction. Both ways on need a bit of digging to progress. Both have a powerful current emerging. At this T junction is a vein on 290 degrees magnetic - possibly associated with the mineralisation in Titan. Total new passage is now 50 metres and the furthest point is 420 metres from the Far Sump dive base. The general trend is southwards. There was no need to fin on the way back! J.N.C.

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