Sunday 31st August 2014 - Olly King
Well two weeks holiday without any caving and I felt a club trip was in order, so I advertised for ideas and we quickly agreed on Bagshawe Cavern. This is one that has been on my list for some time now, and so I was looking forward to the trip!
Phil, Terry and myself made our way to The Wanted, where we would meet Pete Clues. Colin Shepard was now waiting at Bradwell, and Anton and James were a little held up (Students hey??) and so we agreed to meet them at the village before making our way to Bagshawe.
We all met up, and after squeezing the vehicles in to the car park, made our way to the small hut that shelters the entrance.
A door in the shelter wall opens up to reveal what appears to be a staircase leading in to a cellar, but of course with a total of 90-odd steps this was no ordinary cellar!
The steps were installed along a vertical trench-like avon and originally served to allow easy access for public tours in the mid to latter part of the 20th century.
This is now a cavers playground however, and is looked after by the Eldon Pothole Club, with visits arranged through the land owner.
We all made our way down into the cave, where natural chambers have been altered to serve miners long gone. After a quick buzz around the upper series, we bumped in to another group, being lead by Nigel Atkins and my caving friend Gary Bertola. This was a brief encounter as we were eager to get to the lower series where only Pete had ventured previously.
I had spoken to Anton the previous night and we decided it would be a good idea that he should have a go at rigging. The pitch, known as the Dungeon, is an ideal training ground for those wanting to gain confidence without having to worry about a huge drop below!
Anton did a good job and so we all made our way down to the lower series.
I was intrigued by a crawl known as 'Agony Crawl', an alternative section that connects the upper and lower series together. Phil pointed Anon and myself to what he thought was the start. Anton stuck his head in, and very quickly retreated suggesting it did not look very inviting. I decided I was fed up of giving in to these sort of challenges too easily, I have got to a stage where I want to push myself further, and so I decided to jump in head first and show everyone how it was done!
This was a flat out crawl, the limestone was fairly smooth, forming a small Phreatic tube. There were puddles every few yards, but while things were uncomfortable, there was nothing that I would describe as agonising!
I continued my crawl, forever aware that the further I went in, the more protracted and awkward my exit out would be if I had to return, especially, as there was nowhere to turn round!
This oesophagus shaped tube kept going for what felt like a skipped generation. The passage showed no sign of letting up, and all I could think of was how stupid it would be if I back-tracked now and it turned out I was only a few meters from the end! However, eventually I came to a small fork, with each passage continuing in different directions, whilst shrinking in size. Know one told me I would have choices! It was at this point that my limit had been reached, and all I wanted to do was stand up, this was not a nice moment. So my choice was now made, I decided I wanted to get out the quickest guaranteed way I knew, so was now faced with the reality I would have to push myself the 20 or so meters back to where I had started this hopeless crawl, and so the cursing began!
Anyway, after recovering from my little adventure, we made our way on deeper in to the lower series.
There were some areas with deep water, but we were able to get quite far in to the system on this day. Andrew somehow took a different route to the rest of us and appeared through an upper crawl.
I had somehow lost interest in looking for agony crawl, not sure why..
After exploring the lower reaches we decided to have a look in the upper series.
We made our way back up the pitch, where Anton de-rigged. Phil knows this section well as he takes kids on trips here, so he took us to the Hippodrome. Anton and myself decided to descend the stream way and check out the sumps, while the others moved on to the Aven series. On our way back (not finding a great deal and not wanting to further descend the rather muddy reaches of the guided rope way) met up with the others, and made our way down the Avon series.
This was my favourite part of the trip, with numerous geological features that make otherwise mundane trips interesting. We finally reached the far end, where there was a steep descent to a sump where divers are clearly exploring!
After a while attempting to get to the sump, and failing, we decided it was time to make our way out and find the others. From here we made our way out and shot off to The wanted for a well earned pint!
Not sure how I feel about Bagshawe. The company was great as always, but this cave has not been my favourite to date. I have a feeling there is more to the cave than first meets the eye, and so a guided tour complete with access to the gated sections is something that must be arranged before I make my mind up!
Certainly a super introduction to caving, and quite accessible to anyone (suitably equipped and with experienced leader of course) who is able to climb 100 steps without any problems!
Thanks to everyone who took the time to join us!