9th August 2008 - Nigel Dibben - SK 265599
Simon Dillon, Allan Berry, Nigel Dibben
It was a dark and stormy night and the Captain said to the First Mate " find us a cave to have a look down on Saturday morning." So we decided on Brightgate Cave which none of us had been in and Jugholes which Nigel last visited a mere 36 years before.
After a bit of a problem finding Salters Lane at Matlock as the roads have changed a bit since Nigel's last visit (and his map is a few years out of date), we got to Jugholes and had a brief chat with some other cavers who gave us useful directions on to Brightgate cave. At the farm, we found the farmer, paid our trespass fee and got further directions to the cave so it didn't take us long to get underground. Given the weather, we were glad to be below ground for a few hours.
The entrance is quite small but leads into a small chamber from which a dug route leads into the rifty maze that is the bulk of the cave. You zigzag down and along towards the east until eventually dropping into a fairly roomy chamber with a sloping floor. We followed this down the obvious route and found it narrowing down towards the end. There was evidence of digging haven taken place and a few tools before Simon got to the end, a clay and sand filled crawl. However, off to one side, we found a draughting passage. This turned out to be an awkward squeeze and a crawl leading to a small aven where Simon and Allan were able to take a couple of photographs. The draught came in quite strongly. On the way out of this bit, a few more pictures were taken of Allan coming through the tightest part.
As we started out, we took a different route out of the 'main chamber' and went up into a nicely decorated section. Near the end of this, which is blocked with stal, we found a side passage with a traverse and climb down that took us back to the route we came in. After a fair bit of thrutching, we eventually made it back to surface where, at least temporarily, it had stopped raining.
We had a quick walk around the surface and reckon we probably found the passage where the draught was going in. Then back to the car to partly strip for the short journey to Jugholes.
At Jugholes, we parked where a footpath leaves the road and we followed the path into the Jugholes wood. Quickly we found a massive hole but soon realised that this was not THE Jugholes. Not to be disappointed, we found an even deeper hole leading off but this too was not Jugholes. Don't panic! At the bottom was a hole through to yet another chasm and Simon started to climb down but had to give up as it needed tackle. However, we were encouraged by daylight below us showing that we were looking in to the real Jugholes.
We climbed out again and followed the path a bit further to where we found the true Jugholes entrance. An easy walk down the slope (where Nigel remembered rails many years before) led into the daylit chamber. Off to the west was the hole we tried to climb down and below that were entrances into a spar mine. We explored this first and then came back to the entrance to go down into Jugholes Lower. We missed the upper cave altogether but we probably would have needed some tackle for it anyway.
In Jugholes Lower Cave, the route down is narrow and slippery but soon leads into quite a decent chamber with an old mine shaft in the roof. There's quite a bit of stal around and it is difficult to tell what is mine and what is cave. We followed the route on down through the floor and quite soon came to a mine level that gave a bit of relief from the climbs. This led to a chamber with quite a cold draft, an old mine tub (see picture) and a shaft. Nigel remembered the shaft and thought that this would be the end of the trip but
-- hoorah -- someone had dug out the adit and we were able to crawl up a corrugated iron tube and out to surface.
It was a steep climb back up to the entrance but it made for a pleasant through trip.
Back at the road, we changed (in what felt like winter weather even though it was August) and headed down to Sainsbury's at Matlock to stock up with barbecue food for the night. After the trip, we went back to Magpie and met up with the others who had got a bit wet walking in the pouring rain. We had an entertaining night (until someone got his violin out). On Sunday, most people got off home early as the weather didn't look any better than on the Saturday.
Were the caves worth doing? Definitely yes. There is certainly scope for Brightgate to go further but it's probably pretty well choked with clay. Also, Jugholes has an Upper Series which we didn't visit this time so that's worth a return visit. I'll probably put some picture in from Brightgate when Simon sends them through.
Below 1: Entrance chamber Below 2: In the last chamber Below 3: At the edit exit Below 4: Extra report on the trip