6th January 2013 - Allan Berry - SK 350 623
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Caves of the Ashover Inlier – 6th Jan 2013 – Allan Berry, Simon Dillon
On an unusually warm January day we decided to look at some holes in a small limestone outcrop called the Ashover and Crich Inliers. This area is completely surrounded by later Namurian rocks and so the potential for caves of any significant size is small. However there is potential for a system of limited size. The known caves and mines are listed very briefly in the “Caves of the Peak District” guide but very little information is given.
The first caves to be visited were the fall gate caves. There are 4 caves in a row in a cliff face and the guide book hinted at some potential. Indeed, the entrances to these caves were fairly large and showed signs of past water flow in the accessible passages. There were also some shot holes indicating some man-made enlargement at some time in the past.
Fallgate Cave no.1
Fallgate Cave no.1 was a very short walking size passage to a roomy chamber. The continuation from this chamber was a flat out crawl at roof level through to where daylight could be seen and an exit could be made by squeezing between boulders. The crawl contained many spiders and a roosting bat. There was no potential for further cave here.
Fallgate Cave No.2
Fallgate cave No.2 was very similar to No.1. It consisted of a walking size passage which turned a right angled bend and then gradually lowered to a flat out crawl over earth fill. The spiders in this one were much bigger! The guide book says that there is potential here but we did not see it. There are certainly better places to dig in Derbyshire! Simon actually crawled over the earth fill (beyond where the guide book stops) but this ended without much potential for further cave.
Fallgate Cave no.3
Fallgate cave No.3 involved a very tricky climb up the cliff face. Not so easy on wet rock with willies on and I fell off it at least once whilst we attempted to get in. This lead via a tight meandering rift passage to a chamber near the surface. Again, very little potential for further cave here.
Fallgate Cave No.4
Fallgate cave No.4 involved a squeeze under fractured rock into a very small chamber absolutely full of large Spiders. Not a nice place to be. Again, very little potential.
Old Woman’s Well
Old Woman’s well is a rising just outside of Ashover. We took a quick look for completeness on the way past.
Dumble Hole Swallets
Dumble hole swallets are a series of three swallets taking a small amount of water. This water has been dye tested to Old Woman’s Well 0.5km away and 46m lower. This one actually looked interesting but unfortunately we had just got changed from out fallgate trip and this one was very wet. The guide book gives very little information on this potential cave but the photograph shows a barrel entrance leading to a drop which takes water.
It may be worth another look here in drier weather. Some research on the web when I got home talked of a small pitch to lots of tight crawls. Sounds more promising than the others we visited today.
We also found, what appeared to be, a mine level that is not mentioned in the guidebook. This was capped with concrete but had tramlines running out of it. We took a picture for the record: