Caving News - Wigmore Swallet.

by Trebor McDonald

From:- Belfry Bulletin No 466, December 1992

On 27th November '92, Ross White and Trebor McDonald carried diving gear into Wigmore to supplement a tank Ross had taken in a week before, with the aim of diving the downstream part of the main stream. This follows on from Dany Bradshaw's passing of the downstream Sump 1 last year. The entrance stream was in full flow after heavy rain over the previous week or so and a sizeable stream was running down the entire length of the cave, joining an impressive flow in the "main drain". A large bank of foam was stuck to the upstream end of downstream Sump 1. Foam and other flood evidence was noted some 1.5 - 2m up the walls beyond Sump 1.

Ross, assisted by Trebor, easily passed Sump 1 and inserted himself into Sump 2 carrying an old SRT bag full of line. This turned out to be a better method of lining than using a bulky line reel. Dany's line reel is still at the end of Sump 1 and may come in handy later - there are bound to be more bloody sumps! Sump 2 was about 8m long at about 1.5m depth. This emerged into a 20m length of passage about 1.5m wide containing water and two air-bells, a little like the air-bells between sumps 2 and 3 in Swildons, only much smaller. Sump 3 soon followed. This was some 10m long at 2m depth breaking out into larger passage similar to that part of the main drain before Sump 1. After about 25m, a 2m high cascade was descended to Sump 4, some 10m long and 2m deep. The line was at its limit at this point but the diver was able to poke his head out of the water to see a narrow rift about body width boring off, just off the vertical, certainly caveable but not with twin kit. De-kitting in this restricted area will be a little tedious. An uneventful return taking 15 mins ensued.

The next trip will involve surveying the sumps and intervening passage, estimated at about 100m long, and pushing on along the rift beyond Sump 4. Line tying will also be improved as at present they are only belayed to rather dubious pendants and nodules. Sumps 2, 3 and 4 are all quite straightforward and, although not tight, are a little "adjacent," necessitating a wriggle around pendants and nodules, similar to some of the Swildon sumps. Due to the nature of the sumps, two 28 cu. ft. tanks are a bit of an overkill and not really needed, particularly in view of the carry into the cave. On the next trip the divers will wear one 28 cu. ft. to breathe off and a small 14 cu. ft. tank as a bailout. This smaller gear will also ease de-kitting beyond Sump 4. The 14 cu. ft. tank will also be more carryable through the terminal rift to take a peek at the inevitable sump beyond.

The cave now has 4 downstream and 3 upstream sumps. Keith Savory is still beavering away at the rather unlikely upstream Sump 3. The downstream passage is not getting any bigger, in fact rather smaller, but the rock does seem to be changing to shale or perhaps even limestone so it may go big beyond the terminal rift - "Please God". Too many more sumps and the logistics will start to get silly.

Latest: On Saturday 12th December, Trebor and Ross dived again. Downstream Sumps 5 and 6 were passed. Trevor tells me that the passage trends eastwards (the wrong way!) and is heading towards large voids detected in a seismic survey done for the farmer many years ago when he was trying to decide on the best site to build a barn.

Page Created: 09-Dec-2009