16th December 2012 - Allan Berry - SK14516723
On a fairly chilly December day, myself (Allan)and Simon had promised two prospective new members a caving trip. They were two climbers from Nottingham named Jim and Ash. They had dabbled a bit in caves on their own but had not done much. After racking our brains for a suitable trip in the wet weather, we decided on Hillocks. It has some squeezes and tight stuff, remains dry in wet weather, and has some interesting pitches.
We passed through the entrance chamber to the first tight squeeze into the coffin level. This was half full of water and the most tricky part was getting all the gear through. Jim and Ash seemed to enjoy this so we pressed on to the first pitch which we laddered as it would have been awkward to teach SRT whilst lying down! Some short climbs down lead quickly to the next pitch which we used SRT to descend. We spent a bit of time teaching here but, being climbers, they picked it up quickly. We were soon down in the main mine levels.
At this point we had a wander around the large mine passages, but then I decided to show them the connection with Knotlow (carefully as it is well known for bad air quality). This proved exciting. The passage has many poised boulders and tight squeezes before you even get to the worst piece. The worse piece being a body sized tube half full of water that you need to go into feet first. Since we couldn't complete the through trip without more rope, there was little point in going through this constriction. However, Simon had never been though so he went for a look. After much cursing he made it backwards down the tube until the water got so deep that his nose was in the roof - he then decided he had had enough and returned to where we were waiting. At this point he persuaded Jim and Ash to have a go. Hats off to them, they both gave it a good go.
We returned to the surface and exited to a fairly nice day for December. And to the pub for a pint.