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Hungerhill Swallet - 30/10/2007

Written by RobEavis.

Report by Jules Barrett
Cavers: Pete Pollard (EPC), Dan Hibberts (EPC), Nige Strong (EPC), Jules Barrett (EPC), Chris Schofield (EPC)

I'd been halfway down Hungerhill Swallet's 40m Deep Space pitch before and turned around when I couldn't find anything to rebelay the rope to. I'd heard that there was a Spit somewhere but couldn't find any evidence of it (or any decent rock in which it might be placed). This was frustrating but when Pete said Dan was keen to get back in there I assumed that Dan had some clever way of rigging the pitch that I'd missed. Anyway, Dan, Pete and Nige went in around 7:30 p.m. under the impression that me and Chris were going down Streaks Pot and would meet them in the Miner's afterwards. In fact me and Chris had a last-minute change of plan and followed them down Hungerhill Swallet (although they didn't know that). We didn't have a description or any information about the route from the bottom of Deep Space but we'd work it out as best we could. We did have to be careful that we didn't go one way whilst they came out of the other and pulled the rope up leaving us stranded at the bottom of Deep Space. Anyway, we climbed down the entrance shaft and into the muddy crawl at the bottom. Through the squeeze and into the short section of streamway that leads to the top of Deep Space. A big (11mm) rope was tied to the one big thread and hung over the lip of the shaft in a textbook example of Indestructible Rope Technique; absolutely no mincing around with rebelays or deviations. Chris abseiled down first and I followed him trying to position the rope on the smoothest bit of limestone as I went over the edge. Deep Space is a tremendous pitch and there are a number of ledges as you go down. The walls are a very black limestone and a thick layer of calcite covers them where the water runs down. There's a lot of black mud on the walls and a fair bit of this heads south every time someone abseils. Once at the bottom we had a look at the small sump and then a climb up into the rift that leads to Elbon's Kram. Didn't climb far enough to see if Elbon's Kram is still open. Then climbed up into the Bag of Worms and had a poke around in the nice chambers up there before returning back to the bottom of the rope. Once on the rope we both prussiked very carefully back up then organised a bit of rope protection with a tackle bag for the other three. Just as we got that sorted we heard Nige's voice at the bottom of Deep Space and before long we were all on our way out of the cave.

Hungerhill Swallet is a memorable cave and it's great to do a 40m pitch so near to Stoney Middleton Dale. There is a big problem with rigging it for SRT, namely, that you can't avoid the massive rub point as the rope goes over the lip and it also rubs at various places down the shaft. Some of the rock in there is as poor as I've seen in a Derbyshire cave and that's almost certainly why Deep Space hasn't been properly bolted for SRT.