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Bunton Level, First Explore (16/03/08)

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Tony and Roger had been to Swaledale before, but for the rest of us it was the first time. We changed and left the car park in Gunnerside village making our way up the valley of Gunnerside Gill. Since the trip after this one was going to be wet we wore our wetsuits (sensibly Roger did not). Wearing a wetsuit for a hike is not the best idea - not only you are fighting gravity but the neoprene as well. Along the way we passed the dumps for Sir Francis Level and finally after a bit of trek made it to Bunton Level.

The stone lined adit was very well preserved and quickly gave way to spacious solid rock passage. We came across a few rises and at one had a quick climb up which led into a little bit of back filled stoping, no obvious route on, we came back down and continued along the level. Very close to the entrance I spotted a tallow candle - remarkable for it to still be there. After a short distance we came to a branch on the level. straight on, and right. Straight on, the level carried on in rock, but much lower and right stone arching started. We took the right. Very quickly we came to a left turn with a wooden drainage channel at the bottom of what looked to be a dam, but could have been a fall. Tony and Roger had a look around while the rest of us carried on. Maybe 50m further debris started to build up in the level and soon it was a hands and knees job. At first glance this looked like a collapse in the passage, but as I crawled past it, it was debris that had come from a rise, and after this the level opened up again with deep backed up water, rounding a corner the water quickly reached my chest. Shouting back, no one seemed too infused to come and look.

With time moving on, we retraced our steps back, taking photographs along the way. At one point we noticed pick marks on the walls, holes and a set of feathers in one of them - a very nice little find. Simon and myself got left behind as we took snaps along the way. Finally we exited with no sign of the others and so we started back down the valley, only to hear whistles calling us back some 200m from the adit, they had been having lunch in the mineshop.