Saturday, 8 July 2017

There's nothing more dangerous than sunbathing! A trip in to Longwood Swallet

Jess and I had offered to help man the bars for this year's Priddy folk festival and so put out an email asking if anyone fancied a trip down mendips way on Saturday.
We had a good number of takers and were joined by Keith,  Tony, liz, Mark and Chloe. Chloe asked for a trip on to Longwood, I remembered the entrance series as being tight and as I've put on a bit of weight over the summer months put thoughts of the squeeze to the back of my mind. The gang met for the usual breakfast stop at the priddy cafĂ©, with Chloe and Mark joining a little later. Permits and keys were obtained and we headed off. Due to numbers I would head in with a group of 3 first  and the others would form a separate party. The lid lock was as awkward as usual and it took Mark's dodgey lock picking skills to coax the thing open.  With the squeeze at the forefront of my mind I dove in first to get it out of the way and found the entrance series more awkward than I remembered. Soon I was diving head first down to the letterbox and found it as snug as I'd feared. I exhaled and wriggled to find the widest part, exhaled pushed, wriggled and popped gratefully through. I was soon joined by Jess and then Tony. As Tony is a skinny whippet and could comfortably lie in the squeeze he had the honour of being my model for a quick photo before we thrutched on to the first pitch. Here I called for the ladder only to find logistics had gone our the window and both ladders had been left with the other party! I could hear the others coming down behind us and called to Keith that we'd need a bag moving forward. There were some mutterings and swearing but eventually the bag appeared and the first obstacle was rigged. Our group descended and we're soon joined by Keith,  Liz and Kay.......we had already lost Mark and Chloe who weren't 'feeling it'. As we were now 6 the group elected to stay together for the rest of the trip. We headed straight to and down Swing Pitch and first headed up stream to check out the choked passage and take a couple more photos and video before following get the crawls and cascades down stream to the sump. On our way back I popped in the inlets passage but gave up after ten minutes of samey hands and knees crawling to rejoin the others. Whilst the gang made their way back up swing pitch I grabbed another photo opportunity before joining them at the head of the pitch. We dumped the cameras at this point to do the August route out and headed through a surprisingly dry series back to the foot of the pitch in. At this point Kay and I went back to grab the camera boxes and tackle bag and regretted it most of the way back as everything caught and snagged as we heaved it back towards the entrance. Once again I wanted to get the squeeze out of the way and so shoved through a tackle bag ahead of me and then dove in to join it. I made the mistake of not finding the widest part and instead pushed on wedging myself completely, face full of tackle bag and legs flailing unable to find purchase to push. Jess had a go at pulling me back out but it was obvious there was only one way to go and so braced herself for me to push off. It took a lot more effort to get through than it had on the way in but with relief I gradually felt the constricted grip of the rock release me. The dog leg proved bloody awkward with a tackle bag ahead of me and Jess and Kay would also find the same as they exited. All that was left was to have the usual 5 minutes play trying to coax the lock before heading back to the vehicles. As Jess changed I noticed a large bruise on her side and asked what she'd done....."what I've done" she snorted, "that was you flapping your boots about trying to push off of me!" Karma would get its own back the next morning. I rolled out of the van on the hall green to the sound of church bells. Popped a towel on the grass and sun bathed and had a snooze.  10 minuted later I thought I felt someone stepping on my arm and opened my eyes to find an elderly lady just run me over as she had reverse parked! Who'd have thought of all the hobbies I have that sun bathing would be by far the most dangerous!
Tony in the letterbox squeeze
Tony and Liz at the upstream chokes
Keith and Jess at Swing Pitch
Jess sports a boot shaped bruise....ooops sorry honey!

Present: Jess, Keith, Liz, Tony, Kay, Mark Burkey & Fleetingly Chloe and Mark Burgess ;)

A Video of the Trip







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