DCC website

Switch to narrow mode (if available)

Where am I?  DCC > DCC INFORMATION > REPORTS AND ALBUMS > CLUB LOG DETAIL

CLUB LOG DETAIL

return to main list of entries return     

There are 142 reports on this page.

REPORT

Bagshawe Cavern and Jugholes

30 November - 1 December 2019 - Nigel Dibben - SK 172 681

This was designed as a joint meet with Shropshire Caving and Mining Club (SCMC). We met up on Saturday at Bagshawe on a foggy and cold day but with the nice idea of a trip down a warm cave/mine. From SCMC there were, Mike C, Alan R, Margaret R, Julian B and Stuart (?) and from DCC there were Nigel D and Rob S.

Rob picked up the keys for the New Series and we were soon down all the steps and into the cave - impressed by the distance the show cavers used to go. Rob (Garmin) S showed his skills leading the party through the tighter wet way to the Hippodrome. Then it was down to the stream passage through a ducky sort of pool that got us really wet for the first time. From there, it was a short trip to the main stream which was running quite fast from one sump to the other. Afer taking a few photos, it was back to the Hippodrome.

From there, Nigel and Rob climbed down into the passage to the Glory Hole but we stopped where the passage is flooded - a duck in normal weather. Then back to the others. Next stop was the gated New Series where some but not all the party crawled and squeezed up to the point where it was getting a bit boring and muddy. Turn round, out!

We all went back to the Dungeon where a ladder was rigged but at the bottom it was found that the passage was flooded up so it would have been a duck to go on to the end. We left that for another day and started out stopping to look at the mined stope and Calypso's Cave (?). Then it was out and get changed before stopping for a debrief in front of the fire in the Shoulder of Mutton.

With light failing and fog descending we all managed to find Magpie Mine where we stayed the night. Evening meal was at the Cock and Pullet where Steve H joined us. Tom and Chralotte also met us at Magpie because Tom was off to Maskhill in the morning. Magpie was cold that night!

On Sunday, the fog lifted and we got a few good pictures of Magpie in the frost before cleaning up and heading for Jugholes. This time, We had Steve in place of Rob and Alan and Margaret went elsewhere for the day.

After checking the bottom exit from Jugholes (don't forget to bring a Derbyshire Key that opens wide enough), we had a mooch in the Mined Series before heading into the Upper Cave. After a bit of route-finding difficulty in the boulders, we reached the stream and then got up onto the Beehive Formation. This was enough so we turned back and after even more route-finding difficulty, we made our way back to day. Next, a ladder (and rope for Steve) were dropped down into the start of the Lower Series. I had forgotten just how tight and awkward one or two bits of this were! Nevertheless, after a bit of thrutching and grunting, we got down to the Fifth Water Chamber and the pleasant but steep walk back up the hill.

After recovering the tackle we set off back to the cars in sunshine - very nice despite the cold.

It was a good weekend of pottering and good to meet up with the SCMC members, some of whom I knew and some of whom I met for the frst time. 

Below 1: Margaret in the low section leading to the stream in Bagshawe   Below 2: In the streamway   Below 3: Rob emerging from Gloryhole passage   

Picture 1: Margaret in the low section leading to the stream in Bagshawe Picture 2: In the streamway Picture 3: Rob emerging from Gloryhole passage

Below 1: Magpie Mine in early morning mist   Below 2: And after an hour and a half on Sunday morning   

Picture 1: Magpie Mine in early morning mist Picture 2: And after an hour and a half on Sunday morning

Below 1: Jugholes in 1972 - the rails are still in place   Below 2: Upper Series formations   Below 3: The tub on the rails in the Lower Series   

Picture 1: Jugholes in 1972 - the rails are still in place Picture 2: Upper Series formations Picture 3: The tub on the rails in the Lower Series

REPORT

NAMHO Conference - Mid-Wales

4-8 July 2019 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

VENUE
The conference in 2019 was held in mid-Wales at a village called Llanafan. The village is not far inland from Aberystwyth and a short distance south of Devil’s Bridge and the Rheidol Valley. The well-known Cwmwystwyth lead mines are not far to the east. The conference was arranged by Roy Fellows of Cambrian Mines Trust. Roy, working very much on his own, booked the halls, the camping area, toilets, showers and car parking in the village and organised leaders for a great variety of trips. He also commissioned the Hafod Arms of Devil’s Bridge to supply meals on Friday and Saturday nights and a bar as well. My contribution was to manage the booking website and then run the reception over the weekend in conjunction with Emma from Wealden Cave and Mine Society and Pete and Joyce Jackson from Nent Head.
Roy’s plan was to extend the trips over a long weekend so I travelled across on Thursday morning arriving about 2 in the afternoon. The rest of the day was spent setting up reception and the hall, and dealing with the first delegates arriving that evening.
Friday
On Friday morning, I got away from the site and paid a visit to Henfwlch mine located near the Nant-y-Moch Reservoir, not too far from Tal-y-bont. The drive there was interesting, six or seven miles of single track road up a beautiful valley. At Henfwlch, I met Mike and Eileen Worsfold and we were soon wading in along the adit. (I think all of the trips I did involved water over wellie depth and sometimes chest deep.) After passing some side passages and a shaft to a lower level we arrived at a “Roy” dig down through a collapse into a decent-sized stope. Here, there was a nearly complete wheelbarrow. From the stope, a passage turned back towards the entrance but dropped down following the ore body which here, as in the other mines I visited, seem to be more like pipe workings. We dropped down a crawl emerging in a steep stope with a fixed handline on one side. This went on down through a section with massive fallen timbers, presumably once thought necessary to support the hanging wall. A short traverse led to the bottom of the shaft we had seen before and a blind passage containing a kibble. This was the end of the trip so we turned back, re-ascended the handline and worked our way out to sunshine.
Back at Llanafan, the afternoon was spent checking in more delegates and then in the evening there was a meal, some talks and the bar to keep us occupied.
Saturday
On Saturday morning, I decided to stay at the hall and then have a trip in the afternoon. For this trip, I travelled with Rick Stewart of Tamar Mining Group up to Tal-y-bont where we went down into the Allt-y-crib Deep Level via an open stope and another “Roy” dig. We were led by Paul Smyth. The Deep Level is not just deep in the altitude sense but also deep in the wet sense. In the floor there were some convenient trip hazards left from the days when a set of flatrods ran along the level to operate a pump. At a cross-roads, we met a stope on one side and a dig on the other. Beyond that the passage ended at a flooded shaft with a pumping arrangement driven by the flatrods. This appeared to involve the rods pulling a chain attached to a rocker (possibly part of a balancing arrangement) which presumably lifted a plunger down the shaft – the chain appears to have run over a sheave at height although this might have been part of a hauling system. Next to the shaft was an unusually large diameter chamber with the remains on the floor of a one-horse driven hauling engine. That was enough excitement for the day so we headed back to the surface up the rather worryingly rigged stope to day.
Saturday evening passed fairly rapidly with a sit-down meal for about half of the delegates followed by the bar until late.
Sunday
On Sunday morning, I chose to go to Bwlch Glas so leaving the afternoon free to clear stuff out of the hall. Once again, the journey involved a very narrow road which although tarmaced and on the OS map is not even on my SatNav! Bwlch Glas mine was worked in the twentieth century so there are a lot of concrete remains outside and the ladderways are still more or less intact. We went up through the remains of the works to the Upper Adit which led to the top of the ladderway (second point of exit?). Here we were able to use the ladders with a self-lifeline for safety. After two long ladders, we ended up abseiling the last 20m into the main stope. A massive collapse had not only wrecked the ladders but also blocked access to the Lower Adit even though a strong draught showed that there are devious ways through. In the main stope there are the substantial remains of the internal shaft consisting of two cages and the lifting gear but without the winding motor. We pottered around for a while taking photos and then headed out up the rope and ladders. Outside, we did not stay on the surface long but headed into the Lower Adit where we were chest-deep in water after a short while. The adit is straight and has only one junction with two short blind headings before the end. Here it hits the main vein where we had been earlier in the day. The collapse is obvious but just before this, there is a side passage leading to a hauling shaft which was later used to extract water from below. The water was lifted in a barrel which “automatically” filed at the bottom and then was tipped out at the top of the shaft. Despite our attempts, we could not quite work out the emptying system! Returning to the surface, we changed and warmed up in the in typical Welsh sun before driving back to base.
Sunday afternoon was used to clear the reception and the hall except for a couple of tables that we used later when the bar opened. At 10pm, the barman left with instructions to us to empty the last barrel – which we duly did.
Monday
On the last day, I had arranged two trips in the Rheidol valley not far from Devil’s Bridge. Our leader was Ioan Lord who had recently published a book about the mines so we were better prepared than for the other trips. The first mine entered was Taylor’s Adit at Pant Mawr containing, you guessed, chest-deep water. After a while, the water became just a few inches deep when we met the first vein and workings which Ioan and others had explored to considerable depth, eventually achieving a through trip to the adit. In the first stope on the left there was a shaft down known as Shaft Glas (blue) after the blue hydrozincite deposit at the top. Opposite the shaft on the other side of the adit is a drive along the vein with an older passage gradually rising above it. We had to be content with staying on adit level, exploring stopes on the same vein. At the end of the adit, there are blind headings as the miners were clearly fishing around for continuation of the vein. Again, the vein only seemed to be rich over short distances.
After returning to the surface for a couple of hours while Ioan led another trip, he then met us again to go down to Rhiwrugos mine and No 2 Adit in particular. This was close to the Vale of Rheidol railway so we waited for a few minutes until the train had passed (carrying amongst others Pete and Joyce Jackson!). This adit was not quite so deep in water so our feet remained dry. Again there was a cross-roads when the adit reached the vein and on the left was a winze down to a lower level and some passage beyond that was inaccessible without a substantial bridge being constructed. On the opposite side was a high stope where the timbering is “interesting” but provides excellent examples of how such a mine would have been worked with platforms many meters above adit level. Back on the adit, it continues to a blind heading again.
After leaving No 2 Adit, we climbed back up through the woods and then down a precarious slope to No 6 Adit (they are numbered upwards from the bottom). This was of interest because it appears to be totally hand-picked and Ioan was interested in our views on it compared with other coffin levels in Derbyshire and Cheshire. We soon completed our visit and returned to the cars to changes.
After this, the only remaining thing to do was to drive home.
Not having been to mid-Wales for some time and not having been down any of the five mines I visited, it proved to be a very interesting weekend. Roy was rightly congratulated on the organisation he had carried out preparing for the conference. Oh! and the weather was really kind to us – something not that common where we were.
 

REPORT

Great Douk Cave - Yorkshire

17th February 2019 - Robert Stevenson

James Booth, Phil Lilley, Callum Ewan, Lucy Platt , Yvonne King, Andy Collins, Robert Stevenson

SUNDAY Crack of Noon start in true DCC style - though to be fair James had a 0 minute drive to get here …. Nah its no good, templates for trip report simply don’t cut it - every trip is different. All except Andy were at BullPot farm so we had a very very human wake up call at 9am with a slow gradual rise and we made it IngleSport café for 10 (ish, very ish). Another fine cuisine driven chat about what to do - this, that , the other and finally back to the original plan of Great Douks Cave.

Off we went in convoy on another fine Yorkshire day , crashed our cars and vans into the layby (well given that the layby is six inches lower than the road crash is more appropriate than park). Whatever anyone says I was NOT lost we found the entrance very quickly and without (whatever anyone says) incident – look the guides don’t say anything about a footpath over a walled barbed wire enclosure. You can just about avoid SRT in Yorkshire but never water a quick climb up the middle of a waterfall and we were into the phreatic tube that makes the bulk of this cave – extremely bimble, well you can up the challenge and play the game the floor is water and try and not get your feet wet – it is a very beautiful and quite long walk through meandering tubes and flow stones.

Phil got his 3 quid ultraviolet light out and we proceeded with minimal lighting to follow the route guided only by the glowing green of the calcite – we eventually reached the low crawl. At this point we split and Phil headed back out the way we came because the survival pack he had brought wouldn’t fit the stream bed and Yvonne accompanied him so he wouldn’t be on his own (see I told you guys I wouldn’t mention that you don’t like crawls Phil and Yvonne you didn’t want to get freezing cold and completely wet). Its not all really a flat out crawl it is very low and very hands and knees and a total bugger if you don’t have knee pads (and none of us had knee pads) but hey we persevered and got to what calamity Rob thought was a dead end till I looked up and saw the hole above that leads to a continuation.

We made it out in good time and order, headed back to the layby – we decided NOT to grace the ice cream van with our trade but opted for free hot Chocolate from the back of Uncle Phils van then back to The Wheatsheaf for beer, nosh and a loooooong wait for a Meringue and Blue Berry pudding (Phil)
 

REPORT

Alum Pot Yorkshire

16th February 2019 - Robert Stevenson

Crack of Noon start in true DCC style – though to be fair James had a 4 hour drive to get here, and anyway what can be more humane and enjoyable than brunch in IngleSport café to discuss ropes and routes down that Yorkshire classic Alum Pot. Very quickly we decided to the full Monty and go in via Dr Bannister so we finished up our nosh (when it eventually arrived) hit the cars and headed for the Selside lane – the Gods were smiling on us today gorgeous day and amazingly absolutely nobody else at Alum (it can get a bit crowded in there) – a quick nip to Selside farm to pay our dues (4 quid) then I and Pete emptied our respective car boots of rope like so much, neatly arranged, intestines and worked out the lengths and bagging sequences (gotta say I’m amazed how much small 9mm is compared to the monstrous coils that the equivalent 10mm makes). Counted out the carabineers - holy carp Alum uses a lot. The trip ran as smoothly as a new babies bottom, nice and peachy with the occasional poo from me on those ruddy handlines (I really do need to learn how to grip a rope). We reached the first pitch down to the chamber with the window and I must say I thought I rigged it quite well (thanks to Kieran that lesson on the last pitch in Oxlow paid off). The reaction of Yvonne and James when they saw the window was exactly what I was looking for – Pete and myself of course know Alum very well but the awe of the place never fails to move us. Yvonne rigged the greasy slab – well truth be told she rigged the entire rest but I could have done it (said Piglet). It was then simply a matter of abseiling down the slab and the bridge – gotta say I was very pleased with myself (a couple of years ago I couldn’t even go up step ladders) this was the first time I properly abseiled with my feet at right angles to the wall and James tackled them too like a trooper. We did decide after the bridge that it would be better for myself and James to head back given that James is novice to SRT and well his leg loops and ascender were not at all ideal. Yvonne and Pete carried on to bottom out Alum. Myself and James headed back truth be told a little inelegantly we both have a lot to learn on ascents at 45 degrees but hey SRT like there is no-one looking right? The final proper SRT ascent, a little struggle getting off the top of that pitch – everything seems to be in not quite the right place and then a pleasant wade out up the hand ropes (thank duck for handjammers) and we headed to The Wheatsheaf for a well earned dinner then on to a variety of amounts of alcohol and the company of Glasgow University Pot Hole club in Bull Pot farm and a snore laden sleep in the communal bunk – you know who you are Calum, Lucy and Phil joined us for the night read for Sunday’s fun.  

Picture 1: Picture 2:

Crack of Noon start in true DCC style – though to be fair James had a 4 hour drive to get here, and anyway what can be more humane and enjoyable than brunch in IngleSport café to discuss ropes and routes down that Yorkshire classic Alum Pot. Very quickly we decided to the full Monty and go in via Dr Bannister so we finished up our nosh (when it eventually arrived) hit the cars and headed for the Selside lane – the Gods were smiling on us today gorgeous day and amazingly absolutely nobody else at Alum (it can get a bit crowded in there) – a quick nip to Selside farm to pay our dues (4 quid) then I and Pete emptied our respective car boots of rope like so much, neatly arranged, intestines and worked out the lengths and bagging sequences (gotta say I’m amazed how much small 9mm is compared to the monstrous coils that the equivalent 10mm makes). Counted out the carabineers - holy carp Alum uses a lot. The trip ran as smoothly as a new babies bottom, nice and peachy with the occasional poo from me on those ruddy handlines (I really do need to learn how to grip a rope). We reached the first pitch down to the chamber with the window and I must say I thought I rigged it quite well (thanks to Kieran that lesson on the last pitch in Oxlow paid off). The reaction of Yvonne and James when they saw the window was exactly what I was looking for – Pete and myself of course know Alum very well but the awe of the place never fails to move us. Yvonne rigged the greasy slab – well truth be told she rigged the entire rest but I could have done it (said Piglet). It was then simply a matter of abseiling down the slab and the bridge – gotta say I was very pleased with myself (a couple of years ago I couldn’t even go up step ladders) this was the first time I properly abseiled with my feet at right angles to the wall and James tackled them too like a trooper. We did decide after the bridge that it would be better for myself and James to head back given that James is novice to SRT and well his leg loops and ascender were not at all ideal. Yvonne and Pete carried on to bottom out Alum. Myself and James headed back truth be told a little inelegantly we both have a lot to learn on ascents at 45 degrees but hey SRT like there is no-one looking right? The final proper SRT ascent, a little struggle getting off the top of that pitch – everything seems to be in not quite the right place and then a pleasant wade out up the hand ropes (thank duck for handjammers) and we headed to The Wheatsheaf for a well earned dinner then on to a variety of amounts of alcohol and the company of Glasgow University Pot Hole club in Bull Pot farm and a snore laden sleep in the communal bunk – you know who you are Calum, Lucy and Phil joined us for the night read for Sunday’s fun. 

James Booth, Phil Lilley, Callum Ewan, Lucy Platt , Yvonne King, Andy Collins, Robert Stevenson

Crack of Noon start in true DCC style - though to be fair James had a 0 minute drive to get here …. Nah its no good, templates for trip report simply don’t cut it - every trip is different. All except Andy were at BullPot farm so we had a very very human wake up call at 9am with a slow gradual rise and we made it IngleSport café for 10 (ish, very ish). Another fine cuisine driven chat about what to do - this, that , the other and finally back to the original plan of Great Douks Cave. Off we went in convoy on another fine Yorkshire day , crashed our cars and vans into the layby (well givne that the layby is six inches lower than the road crash is more appropriate than park). Whatever anyone says I was NOT lost we found the entrance very quickly and without (whatever anyone says) incident – look the guides don’t say anything about a footpath over a walled barbed wire enclosure. You can just about avoid SRT in Yorkshire but never water a quick climb up the middle of a waterfall and we were into the phreatic tube that makes the bulk of this cave – extremely bimble, well you can up the challenge and play the game the floor is water and try and not get your feet wet – it is a very beautiful and quite long walk through meandering tubes and flow stones. Phil got his 3 quid ultraviolet light out and we proceeded with minimal lighting to follow the route guided only by the glowing green of the calcite – we eventually reached the low crawl. At this point we split and Phil headed back out the way we came because the survival pack he had brought wouldn’t fit the stream bed and Yvonne accompanied him so he wouldn’t be on his own (see I told you guys I wouldn’t mention that you don’t like crawls Phil and Yvonne you didn’t want to get freezing cold and completely wet). Its not all really a flat out crawl it is very low and very hands and knees and a total bugger if you don’t have knee pads (and none of us had knee pads) but hey we persevered and got to what calamity Rob thought was a dead end till I looked up and saw the hole above that leads to a continuation. We made it out in good time and order, headed back to the layby – we decided NOT to grace the ice cream van with our trade but opted for free hot Chocolate from the back of Uncle Phils van then back to The Wheatsheaf for beer, nosh and a loooooong wait for a Meringue and Blue Berry pudding (Phil)

 

REPORT

Stoney Middleton Dale and Oxlow

26th January 2019 - Nigel Dibben

Anton and Tom organised a weekend of caving and pottering in Derbyshire partly to celebrate Charlotte's birthday during the week before. We met in Stoney Middleton Dale and decided to have a look at the Middleton Dale Mine levels and caves. As far as can be remembered, we visited 13 sites starting at Keyhole Cave and covering Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, Gin Entrance (didn't go in!), Eyam Dale Shaft (not descended), Crackpot Cave, an unknown cave in Eyam Dale, Flowerpot Entrance (not descended), Fireset Shaft (also not descended), Carlswark Resurgence cave, an unkown phreatic tube near the resurgence and finally Bossen Hole through trip. A great day out. Antion and Nigel were kitted up for mucky caves so went in most and Gina, Tom and Kieran also had a look in the cleaner ones. Tom and Charlotte were with us for a while and then went for a walk at Monsall Head. After that, we had a debrief session at the Bull's Head, Monyash before starting to get the OCC hut warmed up. Later, we met Rob and Louise in Hartington for a meal at the Devonshire Arms.

Sunday was colder but dry so we headed to Castleton and then up to Oxlow where we met Callum and Lucy. We made a fairly quick descent in two smaller groups: Tom rigging with Kieran and Nigel, and Anton following with Gina, Callum and Lucy. The last rope was a bit short so Tom, Nigel and Kieran went for a look in East Chamber instead of West Chamber. The others got down to the top of the last main pitch and then started out. The entrance shaft was pretty cold with a strong draught coming down (I wonder where that goes?) but we all made it safely to the surface and got back to the cars as quickly as possible to change as it was bitterly cold outside. Gina and Lucy even returned to the shaft with extra coats to help to keep us warm. After this, we had of course to have a debrief session in the Wanted Inn before going home.

A good weeekend, well worth repeating as the OCC hut makes a good base - even if the loos are outside and a bit cold when it's sleeting. 

Below 1: Western end of Keyhole Cave with Ivy Green and Level 3   Below 2: Route checking in Middleton Dale Level 3   Below 3: Looking out of Middleton Dale Level 5   Below 4: Fireset Shaft   

Picture 1: Western end of Keyhole Cave with Ivy Green and Level 3 Picture 2: Route checking in Middleton Dale Level 3 Picture 3: Looking out of Middleton Dale Level 5 Picture 4: Fireset Shaft

 

Below 1: Anton in Carlswark Resurgence Cave   Below 2: Unknown tube below Carlswark   Below 3: Kieran on the Windy Ledge   Below 4: Gina emerging from Bossen Hole   

Picture 1: Anton in Carlswark Resurgence Cave Picture 2: Unknown tube below Carlswark Picture 3: Kieran on the Windy Ledge Picture 4: Gina emerging from Bossen Hole

REPORT

Mouldridge Mine

16th December 2018 - Nigel Dibben - SK 1935 5957

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Where shall we go for the Christmas Cracker Trip? Rob decided against Yorkshire so we went to Mouldridge Mine in the Peak instead. Mouldridge was a lead mine worked for at least 200 years, on and off, ending in the 1950s. The Club had an interest in it when Stan Gee, founder member, and others thought of making it into a mining museum. However, this never happened and PDMHS removed the machinery and it is now regularly visited by Scout groups and activity centres. Our trip was planned as a bit of light caving before Christmas with suitable refreshments in the main chamber during the trip.

After meeting up at 11, we started by exploring the south western end of the mine up a few crawls and scrambles looking for the "Banana Slide" but failing - from both ends. Our excuse is that it has been blocked at some time. Then we went back to the main chamber for the Christmas lunch including Rob's homemade Christmas pudding and home-warmed Ambrosia custard. Mulled wine, sausage rolls, cakes and chocolates added to the festive feeling. After a group photo for posterity, we explored the area on the north western side of the adit which is known as the Playground as it includes a number of entertaining crawls and squeezes. That kept us amused for a bit and then we moved off to the eastern side of the adit and dropped down to the most recent workings. Here there is an air pipe leading to the forefield as well as the winze from the main adit level. There's no round trip there so it was back to the chamber to clear up and then head out with a final team photo at the entrance.

Debriefing took place in the Bull's Head in Monyash before we all headed home at about 3. Great little sporting trip - thanks to Rob and Phil in particular for organising and leading and thanks to all for making it an enjoyable day out. The trip members were Anton, Gina, Alison, Phil, James B, Mark, Yvonne, Rob, Richard, Dan and myself. 

Below 1: The group in the main chamber   Below 2: Rob prepares Christmas Pudding and custard   Below 3: James in the mine   Below 4: After the trip   

Picture 1: The group in the main chamber Picture 2: Rob prepares Christmas Pudding and custard Picture 3: James in the mine Picture 4: After the trip

REPORT

Cwmorthin Slate Mine

27th October 2018 - Callum Ewan

I have been working in Glasgow for the last few months which has meant that trips underground have become few and far between. Yvonne and I decided a few months ago to organise this trip for the end of October when I was back for a weekend and she was available.

Yvonne and Will were already at the Conwy Falls café above GoBelow’s base where, as ‘cavers/mine explorers’ we put a £20 deposit down for the keys. After a ‘light’ breakfast and Will expressing his concern about Yvonnes wayfinding skills, we headed to Tanygrisiau to begin our adventure!

The Cwmorthin slate mine was worked between 1810 and 1970, and is split into three main workings, the Cwmorthin old vane workings, which has been mostly destroyed by layer works, the Cwmorthin back vane workings, which is the area we explored, and the more recent Oakley workings, which are strictly off limits - They have even used skulls on the survey to tell you so.

Clothed and suitably dressed in assorted metalwork, we headed to the mine entrance which was relatively easy to find. The incline was interesting – very steep with a lot of the rails still in place, and a couple of old carts. We took a left which opened out in the top of a chamber – a traverse line was in place which took us around to the opposite wall where we abseiled down an 11m pitch.

From this pitch we continued to two tyroleans - between us we had one pully which we pulled back using fishing line which slowed us down slightly (I have since bought one myself!). From here we continued to the bottom of the incline where the passage becomes semi-submerged. A bar in the water and a chain to hold onto has been installed which makes passing this area nice and dry.

We reached ‘9 East’ chamber where we climbed to the top for another tyrolean – I skipped this one to have a quick look around the adjacent chambers. We crossed the bridge next to ‘9 East’ which I must admit, terrified me, and was not any better on the way back!

At this point we had hoped to continue to the caban further on – but we had misunderstood the levels on the survey we had and had to return over the bridge, after which we decided that the alternate route would take too long if we hoped to return to surface in time for our call out!

With this in mind, we continued up to Floor C and then B which had a number of exciting tyroleans and traverses between chambers! Our fishing line snapped on one of the tyroleans, luckily when someone was still on it.

The walk back to the car was short and cold, and I decided to keep my undersuit on for the return journey much to the amusement of the workers at the McDonalds I stopped at on the way home!

If you are going to visit Cwmorthin, make sure to take big carabiners as all of the traverse lines have rubber tubing over them which makes it very difficult to take your carabiners on/off! Also the ziplines and tyroleans require a pully, no steel crabs!
 

Below 1: At the entrance   Below 2: At the entrance   Below 3: A bridge of death   Below 4: Main workings   

Picture 1: At the entrance Picture 2: At the entrance Picture 3: A bridge of death Picture 4: Main workings

 

Below 1: Another bridge   Below 2: Successful trip   

Picture 1: Another bridge Picture 2: Successful trip

REPORT

P8, Derbyshire

6th October 2018 - Nigel Dibben - SK 10790 81790

I don't know when I mentioned it to Anton but some time in the last twelve months, I told him that my first proper caving trip was down P8 on 5th October 1968. We thought it might be a good idea to recreate, to some extent, that original trip. So P8 went into the calendar for 6th October 2018, the nearest Saturday to the 50 year anniversary. At 10 in the morning, we started to assemble at the P8 car park and, sure to form, the last people arrived some time after 11. In the end, there were ten of us, Nigel, Anton, Gina, Jock, Kieran, Séan, John C, Pete C, Dave W, Tom (in no particular order except that Tom was last to arrive). To make the trip a bit more 60s, I was in wetsuit, steel toe-cap boots, Texolex helmet and Nife cell while carrying an ammo box. The krabs, ammo box and Nife Cell were probably even more than 50 years old!

After paying our dues (£1 a head), we were off to the entrance in reasonable weather even though it had rained quite a lot overnight. As a result, the entrance and first pitch were quite wet but not likely to get any worse during the day. There was a preliminary surface picture then we were off underground. Dropping down the two laddered pitches was reasonably quick and then I decided to follow the low wet route through (laying the ghost of a trip in 2005 - Simon and Allan will remember it). Meeting up with the others in Mud Hall, we soon reached the sump. The level had obviously been higher but just to prove my wetsuit, I went for a quick dip in the foamy water. On the way out, in Mud Hall, we stopped and out came the refreshments: sausage rolls, scotch eggs, flapjacks, sweets and even some rather soggy onion bhajis! All this was washed down with a (small!) glass of bubbly.

Returning out was reasonably uneventful as, although everyone had to go up ladders on the two pitches, the second pitch was made easier with a bit of help from below. For the first pitch, the traverse route was used so we hardly had to climb through the water. A short ladder on Idiot's Leap helped as well.

It was out into sunshine for another photo and then back to the Wanted to meet up with Liz, Mary and Charlotte and talk over the high points of the trip.

My thanks to everyone who came, it was a great event for me. I know there are others who have been caving longer but it was quite something to return to P8 - and to actually find the trip easier than the first time! Experience must count for somthing. Nigel 

Below 1: At the surface before we entered   Below 2: Descending the first pitch   Below 3: At the sump   Below 4: Testing my wetsuit   

Picture 1: At the surface before we entered Picture 2: Descending the first pitch Picture 3: At the sump Picture 4: Testing my wetsuit

 

Below 1: At the sump   Below 2: Celebration 'meal' in Mud Hall   Below 3: Relaxing in the sun outside   Below 4: Thanks, Anton   

Picture 1: At the sump Picture 2: Celebration  'meal' in Mud Hall Picture 3: Relaxing in the sun outside Picture 4: Thanks, Anton

REPORT

Matienzo 2018

29 July - 19 August 2018 - Nigel Dibben

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

Members of the DCC were in Matienzo from the end of July to mid-August. With Steve Martin (who was of course out for considerably longer), those present for shorter times were: Bill Booth, Richard Bullock, Pete Clewes, Nigel Dibben, Dave Dillon, Tom Howard, Charlotte Meakin, Liz Taylor and Paul Willman.

Dave had a grant from the DCC’s expedition fund and his report is included in the report that can be downloaded as a PDF.

The report can also be read on-line in the caving pages of this site at https://www.derbyscc.org.uk/caving/expeditions_matienzo_2018.php. 

File 1:

REPORT

Polish Trip

22-27 June 2018 - Nigel Dibben - 34U 424420 5545577

There is an  view offline report (PDF) offline report     related to this event

Damian Skrzelowski organised another superb trip to Poland to visit two salt mines, a natural cave and a coal mine. He arranged the accommodation and transport in advance that enabled nine of us (well, eight most of the time, but that’s another story) to stay and travel together. Ed, Phil E and John C travelled from Manchester while Damian, Phil L, Terry, Nigel, Jodie and Jakob travelled from Doncaster/Sheffield airport.
By the early hours of the first morning, we were all together in Krakow, the Doncaster crew having successfully woken the Manchester crew at about 2am on arrival.

Saturday

The first day was a visit to the salt mine at Wieliczka. The trip arranged was the miners’ route down into the mainly non-tourist area. We were provided with overalls, helmets, lights and CO self-rescuers in case of fire. Our leader spoke good English and was very patient with the photographers as we went round the mine. The descent started down the Regis Shaft for 57m and we then travelled underground around the area between there and the main tourist shaft (Danilowicz Shaft) before ending in the restaurant 135m underground. Afterwards, we saw a bit more of the tourist area before returning to surface up the Regis Shaft from -101m. The whole trip lasted about four hours.
 

Below 1: Our guide and three of the team   Below 2: A slightly less secure bit of roofwork   Below 3: Reconstructed horse gin   Below 4: In St Kinga’s Chapel surrounded by tourists wondering why we had helmets and boiler suits   

Picture 1: Our guide and three of the team Picture 2: A slightly less secure bit of roofwork Picture 3: Reconstructed horse gin Picture 4: In St Kinga’s Chapel surrounded by tourists wondering why we had helmets and boiler suits

Above ground, we had a look at the “Graduation Tower” and a steam loco parked up on a siding (you get in the cab through the roof).

That evening, we went to visit a 19th century fort on the outskirts of Krakow. Later, we ate in town but missed the concert in the main square! 

Below 1: Outside the fort   Below 2: Internal corridor   Below 3: Meal for about £4   Below 4: Old fortifications on the bank of the river   

Picture 1: Outside the fort Picture 2: Internal corridor Picture 3: Meal for about £4 Picture 4: Old fortifications on the bank of the river

Sunday

Another day – another salt mine. Sadly, we lost Jakob for the next few days as a result of slight over-indulgence on Saturday night (lamp shades have more than one use). After dropping him at Damian’s cousin’s house, we went on to Bochnia salt mine. This was a different experience as it is less busy than Wieliczka but again we had a trip into the tourist areas. Again, we had boiler suits, lamps, helmets and even gloves and we had to sit through a Polish language video on how to use the CO self-rescuers. Three signatures later, we descended the Campa Shaft with our miner-leader and a geologist interpreter on her second trip with tourists.

The trip was no less interesting than the day before and we got a better appreciation of the working areas of the old mine. To start with there was a trip on the mine train. We seemed to be going up and down including a descent of the Sutoris Shaft from the second level to the fourth level. Eventually, we arrived in the main tourist area with restaurant, games room and of course the slide. Finally, we returned up from the fourth to day. A visit was made to a restaurant in town before we headed off to Zakopane.

Anyone interested in the geology of the salt deposits in Poland might want to look at the English language article at https://www.pgi.gov.pl/images/stories/przeglad/pg_2008_08_01_17.pdf.



 

Below 1: The intermediate level of the Sutoris Shaft   Below 2: Travelling on the train   Below 3: Salt working in a narrow section of the deposits   Below 4: Salt-ictites   

Picture 1: The intermediate level of the Sutoris Shaft Picture 2: Travelling on the train Picture 3: Salt working in a narrow section of the deposits Picture 4: Salt-ictites

Before eating, we headed off for a bit of Urbex up the hill behind Zakopane. In the end, two went into an old hospital grounds while the rest of us admired the views of the Tatras Mountains. The hostel was a typical four storey building on the outskirts of Zakopane. We ate in Zakopane off wooden platters (can’t they afford plates?) in a restaurant on the main street of the town. 

Below 1: The public areas of Bochnia mine   Below 2: On the slide   Below 3: Restaurant/bar in Bochnia town   Below 4: The hostel in Zakopane   

Picture 1: The public areas of Bochnia mine Picture 2: On the slide Picture 3: Restaurant/bar in Bochnia town Picture 4: The hostel in Zakopane

Monday

The weather was threatening rain again (it had rained every day so far) so the first stop after breakfast was Mountain Warehouse to buy coats and a local souvenir shop for umbrellas! Suitably re-equipped, we headed to the Dolina Koscieliska in the national park. After paying our dues (£1 for adults and 50p for pensioners), we walked about 5km up the valley admiring the views of the mountains and river. The entrance to the cave we were going to visit is well sign-posted – or so we thought. Following a steep path up the hillside, we came to an entrance, prepared and went inside. It was odd to find a low crawl just inside followed by a chamber and another squeeze but we all pushed on despite bruised heads and knees. After a little while and a bit of map work, we realised that it was just possibly the wrong cave! Back to the entrance and a few more metres up the track we came to the right cave, easily identifiable by signs and red/white paint markings. Oh well, we’d better do this one as well as the route is one-way. Inside, there were still low sections but the route was easy to follow. We caught up with another group who seemed to have even less kit than us (one light between two) but were being led by a National Park guide. We let them stay ahead and of course we were soon back out to daylight at the second entrance.

There is a good map of the cave with detail on the website: http://www.czarnadziura.net/2016/01/19/jaskinia-mylna-trawers-mylna-raptawicka-oblazkowa/.

After that exciting trip, we went back to the main path and then took a side path up a gorge and a fixed ladder to another cave, Smocza Jama. This little through trip could be by-passed by a bit of via ferrata. Beyond it, the path took a steady descent back to the main path. Back at the river, Damian decided to cool off in the river. That was enough for us (and the other visitors) so we hastily left the Park before the wardens caught up with us.  

Below 1: Walking up the valley   Below 2: Jaskinia Oblazkowa – the wrong cave   Below 3: Jaskinia Mylna – Otwor Południowy – the right cave   Below 4: Fixed aids on the tourist route   

Picture 1: Walking up the valley Picture 2: Jaskinia Oblazkowa – the wrong cave Picture 3: Jaskinia Mylna – Otwor Południowy – the right cave Picture 4: Fixed aids on the tourist route

That evening, we walked from the hostel to a local bar/restaurant for a good meal. 

Below 1: Mountain views   Below 2: Damian cools off   

Picture 1: Mountain views Picture 2: Damian cools off

Tuesday

We had a fairly early start and long drive to get to Zabrze and the Guido Coal Mine. However, we were in good time to get on our trip at 1pm and have some refreshment beforehand (having a Lidl next door was useful!). Before we started, we went into the winding house to see the machinery there. The start to the underground trip was down to the 170m level using the Kolejowy Shaft with its triple-deck cage. We toured around that level and then dropped down to the 320m level for a further tour including seeing some of the mining equipment in operation. This included conveyors (belt and chain), a road-header and two face cutters. Finally there was a trip on the mono-rail railway and a visit to the pump room and bar! Our leader was a young lady electrician from a nearby working mine who clearly enjoyed operating the machinery, even when the battery in the remote control had run flat. We had half an hour or so in the bar before returning to the surface. All in all it was a very interesting trip, far better than Caphouse Colliery in England.
 

Below 1: Guido mine surface – Kolejowy shaft   Below 2: Winding machinery   Below 3: Stables at 170m level   Below 4: The 170m level shaft inset   

Picture 1: Guido mine surface – Kolejowy shaft Picture 2: Winding machinery Picture 3: Stables at 170m level Picture 4: The 170m level shaft inset

This was the last underground trip so we drove to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) where Phil E, Ed and John were dropped off at the Krakow bus as they were staying the night there and flying back to Manchester the next day. The rest of the party stopped in a guest house in Oswiecim. 

Below 1: Road header   Below 2: Long wall face cutter   Below 3: Monorail railway   Below 4: The restaurant/bar at 320m down   

Picture 1: Road header Picture 2: Long wall face cutter Picture 3: Monorail railway Picture 4: The restaurant/bar at 320m down

Wednesday

For the final day, Damian and Jodie stayed together and visited Damian’s family while Nigel, Phil L and Terry visited the Auschwitz museum and sites. These were interesting but thought-provoking sites consisting of the Auschwitz I concentration camp and Auschwitz-Berkenau extermination and concentration camp. We had a six-hour guided tour with a very good American-Polish guide. Afterwards, we met up with Damian, Jodie and Jakob (who had re-emerged from alcoholic hibernation) and made it to the airport for the return to the UK.

It was a great trip and went very well thanks to Damian’s excellent planning. Pity about the weather at times but it did not make a great deal of difference to our underground experiences. 

Below 1: Auchwitz I camp entrance   Below 2: Auschwitz II Berkenau camp entrance   

Picture 1: Auchwitz I camp entrance Picture 2: Auschwitz II Berkenau camp entrance

REPORT

NAMHO conference in the Forest of Dean

1-4 June 2018 - Nigel Dibben - SO 57691 08201

There is an  view offline report (PDF) offline report     related to this event

The NAMHO conference was held in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. It was hosted jointly by the Gloucester Speleological Society, Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club, Hades Caving Club and South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group. There were a great variety of trips along with talks and a “faddle” on Saturday night which was also attended by BCA people who came for their AGM. This report only covers the trips that the Nigel went on. The conference was also attended by Warrington Pete and Sally from the Club. Les Williams was also there for the Saturday night. The conference ran from Friday 1 June to Monday 4 June.

Friday

Most people travel to the conference on the Friday evening but there are usually trips laid on during the afternoon. I went to the Great Doward where there are several iron mines in a small group with evidence of fire-setting in them. The area was investigated by archaeologists last year joined by Pete and James. We went into seven small mines, three of which are connected and one a through trip. There was a good turnout for the trip which was led by a caver/miner from the Forest.

After the trip, I made my way to Clearwell where delegates could camp with larger tents and motorhomes then cycled to Parkend. (Parkend is about 100m lower than Clearwell and it is downhill nearly all the way – so it is uphill nearly all the way back.) There were some introductory talks and then a bit of drinking and renewing friendships. 

Below 1: One of the many entrances   Below 2: Entering the mine   Below 3: A typical bit of fire-setting   Below 4: Looking at the evidence   

Picture 1: One of the many entrances Picture 2: Entering the mine Picture 3: A typical bit of fire-setting Picture 4: Looking at the evidence

Saturday

I had pre-booked two trips for the day, an iron mine in the morning and a coal mine in the afternoon. The morning trip was to Noxon Park, an area of iron mines dropping down dip to an adit known as the Oakwood Mill Level. We had planned to do a through trip in the first mine but high water levels prevented this. Therefore we (that is myself, Roy Fellows and the leader James – no one else turned up) had an enjoyable scramble down to the flooded level in Jetty Mine and back out the same way. The second mine we went into is called High Rift and here we went down dip to the flooded level again than crossed sideways into another section of mining and emerged from another entrance. All in all, the mines are short but interesting and the area would repay a visit some time. We were out in good time as all trips were planned for about 3 hours and we had spent less than that in the two mines.
 

Below 1: The entrance to Jetty Mine   Below 2: Water at the bottom   Below 3: Climbing down to High Rift Mine   Below 4: The rock bridge in High Rift Mine   

Picture 1: The entrance to Jetty Mine Picture 2: Water at the bottom Picture 3: Climbing down to High Rift Mine Picture 4: The rock bridge in High Rift Mine

The afternoon plan was a visit to Hopewell Colliery, a working coal mine that also has a tourist route. Sadly, the organisation had gone pear-shaped and the mine was not expecting us but three of us decided to stay and book on to a tourist trip at 3pm. We then spent the first hour chatting to one of the proprietors. Our trip was with other tourists but Rich Daniels still made it interesting to us as well as keeping the attention of the visitors. The route is down an incline (in Forest jargon, a “dipple”) to the working level from where we walked out along a beautifully walled drainage adit past a few relics and a ventilation furnace. The route back over the surface was along a tramway with stone block sleepers. Despite the cock-up, it still made for an interesting afternoon.  

Below 1: Hopewell coal processing plant   Below 2: Rich displaying a drill in the level   Below 3: The furnace in the adit   Below 4: The last section of the adit   

Picture 1: Hopewell coal processing plant Picture 2: Rich displaying a drill in the level Picture 3: The furnace in the adit Picture 4: The last section of the adit

That evening, the main social event of the weekend was a “faddle” in Clearwell Caves (iron mine). The main dish was a spit-roasted boar and local beer was provided, all in the Barbecue Churn. By the way, a “churn” is a large chamber in the iron mines and a “faddle” is a drinking/eating/musical evening. A number of delegates took the opportunity for a snoop around the rest of the mine during the evening! 

Below 1: Roast boar   Below 2: In Barbecue Churn   Below 3: Christmas decorations (the figure on the left)   Below 4: The folk singer in Barbecue Churn   

Picture 1: Roast boar Picture 2: In Barbecue Churn Picture 3: Christmas decorations (the figure on the left) Picture 4: The folk singer in Barbecue Churn

Sunday

On Sunday, I had arranged a trip to a stone mine at Blakeney near Lydney just in case I wasn’t up to anything more severe. In the event, the night before must have been milder than I expected and it was just a good trip round a small mine worked for the sandstone. The mine is on quite a dip but there were two levels and an incline to explore. Some relics remained such as chains and rails as well as a stone slabbed floor in one place. Good little trip.
 

Below 1: Just inside the entrance   Below 2: Timber post and chain used to move the blocks onto carts   Below 3: Some of the supports are a bit dubious   Below 4: A block awaiting removal from the incline    

Picture 1: Just inside the entrance Picture 2: Timber post and chain used to move the blocks onto carts Picture 3: Some of the supports are a bit dubious Picture 4: A block awaiting removal from the incline

For the afternoon, I went over to Westbury Brook Iron Mine in the north east corner of the Forest. With me, were Pete, Sally, Lyndon and another delegate plus the leader. In fact we had two leaders to start with as one was showing the way to the other! Here, the dip is steeply down to the west so a lot of the trip involved climbing up very muddy slopes and in old near-vertical workings. We descended through new pipes installed to keep the mine open (there are alleged to be bats in it) and dropped into the upper level of workings down a series of very slippery climbs. Once on a sort of level, we worked northwards and climbed up to the first “proper” level where the remains of a tramway could be seen. This was followed for a while but with only three hours for the trip, we turned back before going too far and started out. (It turned out that we had gone further than the group the previous day doing the six hour “hard” trip!) Despite the slippery climbs, we were all out safely into sunshine after a thoroughly enjoyable trip. 

Below 1: Typical Westbury Brook chamber   Below 2: Phreatic evidence on the roof   Below 3: Climbing up to the First Level   Below 4: Westbury Brook mud   

Picture 1: Typical Westbury Brook chamber Picture 2: Phreatic evidence on the roof Picture 3: Climbing up to the First Level Picture 4: Westbury Brook mud

Monday

For my last day, I went to two coal mines. The Forest of Dean has unusual mining laws in that although some mines used to be run by the NCB, small mines can be run by Free Miners. They are people who have been born in the Forest and have worked in a mine for a year and a day. There are still a few free miners around and on this trip we met two of them at Wallsend Colliery. However, the first trip was down Morses Level. This level works coal in seams which are flooded for part of the year so the visit kept to the highest level. The workings are very low, a common feature of the small FoD mines and dip down towards the centre of the Forest. When we reached the water, we were able to continue in a dry level above it for a distance. After Morses Level, we walked through the woods to Wallsend Colliery, a mine which was on an altogether much larger scale. The current workings are limited to the drift down into the mine and a level which is believed to lead to some decent reserves of coal which were identified in the early 20th century but never exploited. The level is being driven through fallen ground and is very small, even by FoD standards. At the end, we turned back and headed to surface where we chatted with the miners for a while and watched their improvised screening plant in operation. I even bought a couple of souvenir bags of coal to take home.

Morses Level 

Below 1: Cabin to left and compressor house to right   Below 2: The coal seam   Below 3: Relics found in the level   Below 4: Top of the final incline. Note reused electricity pole   

Picture 1: Cabin to left and compressor house to right Picture 2: The coal seam Picture 3: Relics found in the level Picture 4: Top of the final incline.  Note reused electricity pole

Wallsend Drift 

Below 1: Entrance   Below 2: Bottom of the drift   Below 3: The new level   Below 4: Forest of Dean coal   

Picture 1: Entrance Picture 2: Bottom of the drift Picture 3: The new level Picture 4: Forest of Dean coal

Conclusion

There were some organisational hitches but that apart, the Forest offers an excellent all round venue with a variety of mines (and of course caves) with the addition of the Clearwell Caves as an evening venue. Camping was a bit broken up as some people camped near the lecture venue at Parkend and some at Clearwell. Anyone who has not been to a NAMHO conference (and that is quite a high proportion of the Club membership) should try to get to one. Next year, the conference is in Mid-Wales based around Cwmystwyth and other mines in that area and in 2020 it is likely to be in Cornwall.
 

REPORT

Caves of Assynt

7-12 April 2018 - Nigel Dibben - NC 21342 11105

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

SATURDAY 7th
Everyone arrived safely at the GSG Hut (Taigh nan Famh) during Saturday after the 9 hour drive from Cheshire and Manchester. The full team was: Anton Petho, Gina Lewis, Olly King, Rob Stevenson, Nigel Dibben, Pete Johnson, Phil Edge, Tom Howard and Charlotte Meakin. Tom and Charlotte slept in their van while the rest slept in the hut. Gina and Anton cooked a meal for all.

SUNDAY 8th
The day was planned for the Traligill valley. We decided to start at the cave at the end of the walk and then work back to the cars. The first site was therefore the Cnoc Nan Uamh system (NC 276 206). Walking up the valley, the entrances were soon visible as they are conspicuous caves. First is Uamh an Uisge (Cave of Water) with a steep slope down to the water followed by the Pothole Entrance. These were left as there was a very heavy flow of water in the bottom and we moved on to Uamh an Tartair which is the main entrance. This open cave has a small entrance to one side leading in to the river. We all went in and split up to explore around the stream area. After a while, the party split up and some headed south, upstream into Landslip Chamber. From there, part of the group went on to passages leading to Far Passage, a muddy passage with a lot of worm casts in the floor and ending in a sump (Sump 1). After meeting up outside the cave, the rest of the group also went in and followed the upstream route to Far Passage.
Heading back down valley, the Uamh an Uisge was investigated and a short section of upstream passage explored although the downstream passage leading to the Waterslide was ignored as the water level was dangerously high.

We then continued down to the Lower Traligill sink looking into Inclined Rift Cave (NC 2710 2092) on the way; this was a low gravelly crawl. At Lower Traligill (NC 2706 2091), the stream was sinking in both the normal and the Flood Sink and there was no way that we would have been able to explore Lower Traligill. After taking some more photos, we headed down past Tree Hole (NC 2695 2097) which was briefly explored. After this, we carried on down the valley to Glenbain House.

At Glenbain Hole behind the house (NC 2650 2169), we descended into the stream and Tom looked on down but the cave was getting tight and very wet in current condition. A retreat was made. Finally, we went down to Firehose Cave (NC 2635 2160) which is a significant resurgence into the river just below a powerful waterfall. Again this was impenetrable because of the high water level.

We returned to the hut and enjoyed a meal cooked by Olly.

MONDAY 9th
For Monday, we chose to look at the Allt nan Uamh valley and Rana Hole (NC 26895 16768) in particular as Tom was planning to leave the same night. Caving was a bit delayed as the previous day, Anton had found that his car had a broken spring and it (the car) was picked up and taken to Ullapool for repair. Caving therefore started at about 2pm.
The walk up to Rana was shorter than the walk on Sunday but seemed to be colder and windier but everyone in the group made it to the entrance. At the cave, we rigged a rope on the entrance (50m total) and descended, not knowing quite what to expect as the only survey we had consulted was a topo for the rigging. However, it turned out not to be too difficult a cave to navigate and the second pitch was soon rigged and most of the party reached the bottom of Rana Hole which joins into Uamh an Claonite beyond the sumps. A short exploration was made down the streamway before we started the return trip out. All exited safely and returned to the cars and home to the GSG hut but the cave was left rigged for a further trip the following day. This night, it was Rob’s turn to cook tea for all.

TUESDAY 10th
Rana was the target to de-tackle it but first of all we decided to visit Allt nan Uamh Stream Cave (otherwise known as A.N.U.S. Cave). This was located easily in the northern branch of the valley and we poked around in most of the passages. The Rana de-rigging team of Olly, Pete and Nigel left slightly before the others and headed back along the footpath and up to Rana Hole. The cave was quickly descended as far as the second pitch which Olly de-tackled. The Rana team made its way out easily, the trip seeming to be somewhat easier as a result of our knowing the cave better. After this, the Rana team followed the high level path past the Bone Caves and down to the road and the cars. From Allt nan Uamh Stream Cave, the other group returned to the cars with Rob and Phil visiting the Bone Caves as well. Because we had a slightly earlier start and an earlier finish to the caving day, we had time to go down to Ullapool and have an expedition meal in the Frigate restaurant.

WEDNESDAY 11th
After most had left in the morning, Nigel and Anton went up Knockan, behind the GSG hut, to look for various holes marked in Caves of Assynt. Started walking from the hut up the road to the hamlet of Knockan and followed obvious track up the hill to the south and east.
1. At NC 21847 09739 found a fenced hole to the north (left) of the track. The hole did not have any passage off but was partly open in frost-damaged limestone and then continued with earth roof. This hole takes drainage from a ditch on the other side of the road. No obvious prospect.
2. A fenced hole at NC 21973 09561 with two holes, one taking a stream and the other which looked like a slight rift but filled with gravel.
3. A huge shakehole was passed at NC 21791 09328 but he bottom was filled with rocks. There was plenty of evidence of slumping around the sides.
4. Uamh an Tartair was found at NC 21660 09150 as recorded on C of A. The pothole entrance was seen first and then we descended a short way into the sink cave lower down the hill. Photos were taken. The stream was not followed underground as we were not equipped for the trip.
5. Next target was Uamh Cul Eoghainn which we think we found at NC 21162 09277 (c.f C of A as NC 2115 0925). Spotted as a small cave in the rocks.
6. At NC 20991 09247, a small cave was found. We thought this was Un-Named Cave.
7. Next to find was Elphin Hole which we think we found at NC 20872 09321 (about 40m from the location in C of A. We also found a curious feature of a car battery semi-sunk in a depression at NC 20831 09352 where the ground seemed to vibrate as if a wooden shaft cover but this might be a pure coincidence.
8. Next, we tried to find Uamh Poll Eoghainn but the coordinates used were a long way out and we could not find the cave. The coordinates in C of A are NC 2066 0933 which is in the river bed rather than on the hill.
9. Black Finger Pot was found (we think) at NC 20952 09826 where there is a distinct depression. The coordinates in C of A are NC 210 098. The pot has been back-filled.
10. We did not find Calcite Cave (NC 2082 0995) despite the accurate grid reference.
That concluded the search for caves on Knockan. Afterwards, we went to Ullapool to collect Anton’s car and watched filming of a Jeremy Clarkson programme at the garage!

CONCLUSION
In every respect, it was an excellent caving mini-expedition. Apart from Pete, it was the first time any of us had been underground in the area. Anton and Gina had been there on field trips and their knowledge added a great deal to the enjoyment. And then there were the meals!

 

Below 1: Trip report with pictures of Knockan sites   

File 1: Trip report with pictures of Knockan sites

REPORT

Flower Pot to Not quite Dynamite

20th January 2018 - Robert Stevenson

A small group (Olly King, Dave Woolam and Rob Stevenson) with the intention of giving Rob some squeeze practice – face the demon as it were. The skin smooth piping of an entrance is a lot more vertical than we expected , absolutely vertical to be frank– short enough to belay down on an Italian hitch but no way are you climbing out of it unless you have spider sticky powers (speaking of which at the bottom is a total arachnid cornucopia of the fattest gorgeousist cave spiders you could hope to meet , or in Dave’s case avoid).

Actually it’s a through trip but just in case we took some ascenders and foot loops down ….. which turned out to be a lucky thing because that demon that Rob was facing stared him right back in the face and he never made it past the first squeeze.

Getting out was a challenge. If you rig the rope purely on the scaffold above the tube then you can’t ascend high enough so getting off at the top is a lot of arm work. Also ascending was a right royal pig in a poke if you try to short cut and attach the chest croll with a karabiner … wrong height so the prussic did naff all - still once I did it properly ascending was a breeze – lesson learnt... set the kit up right don’t try shortcuts.

Following this we recovered a pleasant bimble around the area – there are tonnes of entrances, which we poked into. Talk about mud, some very fun slipping and sliding in what with a bit of flavoring could easily pass for a Nuttella mine - and some small tricksie holes the navigation of which Rob redeemed himself a little hum!

Finally after a quick pint in a pub that didn’t serve food a walk around Stoney Middleton and the most excellent box of chips and battered sausage from what must be the worlds cutest smallest fish’n’chip shop – judging by its name “The Tollbar Fish and Chip Shop” it probably used to be a Tollbar and converted to a Fish and Chip Shop.

We will be back - maybe the Jin entrance and creep up on that demon whilst it isn't looking.
 

REPORT

Sell Gill & Bull Pot of the Witches

6 - 7th January 2018 - Olly King

NPC New Year Yorkshire weekend.

Well a New Year has come around quickly, and as is traditional with the DCC a New Year trip is essential to get rid of the Christmas gluttony; and boy was it needed!
The plan, to stay at North Pennines Caving Club in Yorkshire. Anton and Gina swung round my house on the Saturday morning, where I was just getting ready for our weekend away!
Our first port of call, McD’s for a sausage and egg breakfast along with a strong coffee, and so away we went!

Saturday’s trip was meant to be Irby Fell. One I have previously only partially completed, but was still eager to return and bottom!
It turns out weather had been fairly wet, and for the fact we had a newbie with us we decided on Sell Gill Holes in Pen-y-gent instead. Far friendlier pitches and little threat of being flooded out.
We made our way through the Dales, amongst the snow-capped hill tops that surrounded us. It was cold, very cold. We finally all met in the Pen-y-gent cafe for (in our case, a second) breakfast. Can never have enough food prior to caving!
Now full, we made our way past Top farm and to the entrance of the pot. Costas wowed us all with his ultra-shiny kit. Never have I seen so much new stuff on one person at one time! We were determined to see it look used by the end of the day!
Andrew and Pete sorted the first pitches out Costas, Rob, Anton, Gina and myself decided to make full use of the warm winters sun that was just about keeping us thawed out.

Our entry was via the ‘dry route’, a small pot carved in to the hillside. This was Gina and Costas’ first experience with a rebelay, although with a ledge, so ideally suited to first timers!
We finally got inside and on the way down the cave revealed some rather lovely Avens and generally very nice cave on the way down.
The next pitch was rigged by Gina, under the watchful gaze of Andy. She did a great job.
After some more challenges for the newbies we finally hit the river cavern at the bottom. We followed the river down in to the further reaches of the system where we found ourselves in much smaller calcite-formed passages that meandered and weaved from side to side. We were finally confronted with a tight and extended duck. There would be no going on today, but with large chambers beyond this will be worthy of a return trip some day!
On our way out we had a look at the wet route in to the river passage. Andrew said he would attempt this if it had not been for lesser experienced cavers present. It was too wet for anyone else today, and probably borderline for all.
We all made out way out with relative ease, and of course the one thing on our minds was the pub. Off to the Helwith Bridge Inn we went and were greeted by a nice fire and a very cute miniature Jack Russel. Filled with chips and beer, we then made our way to the NPC hut for the evening.
We all pitched in and were handed jobs to do for our main meal. It seems we had picked a busy weekend to stay as the NPC were having their general meeting. They all took meals in to the library and disappeared for an hour, while we sat down to a huge plate of some sort of bolognaise we had conjured up under Gina’s guidance. Very nice though!
It seems the NPC dine in style on their meeting nights and they all finished the night off sat round the table eating fancy cheese and drinking wine!
Rob had to unfortunately leave us, and so after dinner we had a rather frustrating game of ‘cards’. Early to bed we were, a new cave was calling!

Next day there had been another change of plan. Firstly, we assembled in Ingelsport café to meet up with Yvonne and Callum. Costas and myself had the ‘Fill your boots’ breakfast option. It certainly did that! We then set off for another new cave for me, Bull Pot of the Witches. “It’s only a 20 minute drive” said Anton. Seemed like 2 hours! We finally got there and after much frustration of not being able to gain access to the Red Rose facilities at Bull Pot farm we finally persuaded ourselves to brave the sub-arctic conditions and man up. It was bitterly cold!

Off to the pot. I had a quick natural break to make. Not what I wanted in this weather but when nature calls! The moss was lovely and soft as it partially defrosted though!
We got to the main entrance. Andy rigged again and we were all soon on our way down.
This was another nice pot. The pitches were interesting, although smaller, and perhaps not as impressive as yesterday’s offering. Again, Gina had a go at rigging some of the trip. We got to the bottom of the first three pitches and we suddenly realised we were running short of time. Nothing new there then!
Yvonne and Costas and myself continued on using the in-situ ropes to reach the bottom bedding plain. It was clear here the cave continued, but it was very wet and we had all agreed we would all stay as dry as possible today and so we turned round!
Great weekend, superb facilities at the NPC with perhaps what is the best drying room I’ve used yet!
One last thing that has to be said - Costas still looked like he had barely touched a cave, so we’ll have to take him somewhere particularly gruesome in Derbyshire and Yvonne definitely looked like she hadn’t, and never does, so if mud don’t stick a new nickname might, I think Callum or Anton suggested Teflon-Von :-D

Thanks to Anton, Andy, Pete, Gina, Rob, Costas, Yvonne and Callum for a great weekend; looking forward to a few more trips to Yorkshire this year!

 

Below 1: Entrance to Sell Gill Dry Route © Robert Stevenson   Below 2: Sell Gill final pitch to streamway © Robert Stevenson   Below 3: Costas and shiney! © Robert Stevenson   Below 4: Gina Rigs © Robert Stevenson   

Picture 1: Entrance to Sell Gill Dry Route

© Robert Stevenson Picture 2: Sell Gill final pitch to streamway

© Robert Stevenson Picture 3: Costas and shiney!

© Robert Stevenson Picture 4: Gina Rigs

© Robert Stevenson

REPORT

Matienzo 2017

31 July - 20 August 2017 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view offline report (PDF) offline report     related to this event

2017 MATIENZO EXPEDITION REPORT

Members of the DCC were in Matienzo from the end of July to mid-August. With Steve Martin (who was of course out for considerably longer), those present for shorter times were: Bill Booth, Richard Bullock, Pete Clewes, Nigel Dibben, Dave Dillon, Tom Howard, Charlotte Meakin, Pete O’Neill, Liz Taylor and Paul Willman.

As usual, we tended to work as a group but on several occasions, DCC members were working with others on the expedition including Juan Corrin, Phil Pappard and Pete Smith.

Dig at 1189 (Dairy Dig) and 1253 (Dead Fox)
We found that the Dairy Dig had collapsed badly after the previous year’s digging, rather as we expected might happen. We left it and moved back to Dead Fox. Here there was no change, but not much draught so it too was left for another year.

Above the mushroom field
Following instructions from Phil P, we went to look at some holes above the mushroom field on the northern side. These were listed as 2709, 1552, 1553 and 4180. We found 2709 and 1553 which were descended on ladder but with no obvious way on or place to dig. 1552 did not seem to have much draught. 4180 is a short rather pointless cave so we explored, surveyed and photographed it. A little further on, we found a draughty shakehole which was later numbered 4594. This was dug briefly on one day and then more intensely the next. However, the dig was basically down through boulders and no obvious way on was found by the end.

Las Cosas (0084)
We found it! After spending many hours, actually days, in 2016 looking for Las Cosas, one of the largest single chambers in the valley, we found it first time in 2017 using coordinates that Juan had provided following a search by him in the winter. On the first day, we explored and photographed the chamber and then on another day we produced a new survey which lengthened the cave by 20m.

415 (0415)
Tom and Nigel had a chance to visit 415 cave for a photographic and surveying trip with Carol and Chris. We went to what seemed to be the end but route finding seems quite tricky, particularly as there is currently no decent survey. However, in the course of the trip, Carol and Chris managed to do some useful surveying and Tom and Nigel took photos.

Llanio (3594)
Tom led us into Llanio, the recent find made through a new entrance into a known cave. Like Big Mat Calf Hole, the new entrance right by the road down to Riaño has made further exploration of this cave much easier. We went into an area that Tom had been asked to survey and explored some small linking passages, reluctantly leaving the main wide-open route which has been reserved for the Dane’s next visit! We probably added about 50m to the known length. The entrance proved interesting as it was very muddy and has a sharp bend at the bottom. However, it seems that it has now been enlarged and also secured with a length of plastic tubing.

Rascavieja (0077)
This trip was with Lloyd from MUSC and was aimed at going further into the boulder choke at the end that was still being pushed. The trip to the end was uneventful and made easier by putting handlines on some of the slippery and loose slopes. At the end, some of us had a look in the boulder choke while others took photos and had a general nose around. That evening, we had the now traditional DCC sub-team barbecue at the apartment.

Valley tour
James came for a long weekend so for the first day we organised a tour around several of the caves in the valley. For the next day, we took him to Coventosa and the Fantasmas followed the day after by a trip to the abandoned zinc mine at Udias.

Caves visited on valley tour:
Jivero I, II and III (through trip of Jivero II), 1298 dig, Molino (a.k.a. Agua: to end of first chamber) & Reñada (to blow hole)

Dig at 3318
After James had left, we resumed the dig at 3318 at Sel de Suto but did not each any useful conclusion. Next year it will go!

Coreano (0137)
Nigel had a brief visit to find and explore Coreano with a view to a look next year. The cave is half way between The Baker’s and German’s on the east side of the valley.

Resurgence (4328)
For the last day, we went to drain and explore the resurgence 4238 at the north east corner of the valley. Exploration did not prove possible but we also had a look in La Cuvia (0086).

Conclusion
As well as the trips above, we had a few days out of the valley on Liz’s “culture days” including Santander museum, Espinosa market, the fort at Medina de Pomar and Ojo Guareña. A day was spent helping Johnny and Jude with their house. Despite these days off, we still managed 14 out of the 21 days digging or underground including surveying and photographing.
 

REPORT

Moss Chamber, Peak Cavern

March 2017 - Lauren Griffin

A hastily arranged trip to Derbyshire saw me and Richard up early and wolfing down bacon butties at the TSG, many thanks to Alan for his patience with us! It wasn't the best of starts to the day, I forgot my knee pads, which is an incredibly stupid thing to forget on this trip.

As it has been a few years since I've been to Moss Chamber, I asked Alan to remind me how far down the main streamway it is until you get to Pilkingtons Crawl. Alan also reminded me to take the turn off in the crawl. Of course we forgot that bit, missed the turning and ended up doing the Cohesion Crawl. During the crawl I was saying to Rich, "I'm sure I don't remember it being this long". After an hour of crawling we reached the Toadstool Aven and spent a while climbing around the boulder choke, looking for routes down and ending up in circles.

So back we turned, to find the junction for Moss Chamber, both of us feeling rather unfit and cold at this point, not very much in the mood for the photography session we had planned for Moss Chamber. Anyway, I managed a couple of half decent shots. Thanks to Rich for helping with lighting.

By the time we had got back to the main streamway I hadn't warmed back up from the crawl, apart from my thumping knees. My feet were more numb than they have ever felt, and as I noticed in the showers at the TSG, the tips of my toes had turned grey, (they have since made a full recovery). All in a good days crawling, although I fear that Richard's first trip to Derbyshire could have been chosen better! 

Below 1: Moss Chamber   Below 2: Moss Chamber   Below 3: Ouch!   

Picture 1: Moss Chamber Picture 2: Moss Chamber Picture 3: Ouch!

REPORT

Kraków, Poland

March 2017 - Lauren Griffin

Damian has had this trip in mind for years, so many times he told us about the salt mines in Poland; the size and grandeur of them is a must see for underground enthusiasts. The cheapest flights available to us northerners was Doncaster - Katowice, and ten of us ended up on this particular flight. There were also five others going from Luton, and two from Liverpool. This made our group in Krakow eighteen, as Damian's lovely cousin Karolina would also be joining us on our excursions. The weekend started well, with me passing my driving test the day before, I would be driving to Ed's house on Friday afternoon, and leaving my car there for the weekend. Five of us would be going to Doncaster together to meet five more at the airport. The rest of the group would be united at Katowice airport; Joel in true style, appeared lying on the baggage collection conveyor. Our transfer minibus had the world's angriest driver. He shouted at us for singing the wheels on the bus go round and round, he shouted at us for singing along to Michael Jackson on the radio, and he shouted at Tom for needing a wee and trying desperately for ages to ask him to stop the bus. He didn't speak English, but a very patient Polish lady eventually took pity on us and made him stop. He did pull over at an actual serviced toilet, however this fact was sadly lost on Tom, and more unfortunately Emily. We did finally get to Krakow, and our hostel at around 1.30am on Saturday morning, successfully pissing off more angry/sleepy Polish people.

The next morning we were up at a not unreasonable hour to find breakfast, and catch our train to the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine. On the train out of Krakow centre, a few of us were spying old locos and tons of retired rolling stock, getting excited about the prospect of taking a closer look at these. Wieliczka is about 30 minutes away from central Krakow by train, interesting to note that Wiki says the first settlers in the town were probably Celtic, later driven out by the Slavic population. However the town very quickly became known for it's huge deposits of salt, with the mine becoming a key focus of "white gold" as it was once considered. Wieliczka is one of the oldest salt mines in the world, and is absolutely bloody massive. You could not fail to be blown away by the sheer scale of the place. 1.2 million people visit this mine every year, and it's easy to see why. The tourist trip started with a walk down a long wooden staircase shaft, if our tour guide told us how deep this was, unfortunately I don't remember. Our tour guide then led us through a series of air lock doors, passages and chambers dating from the 11th to 14th centuries. The chambers were quite amazing to us, decorated with salt rock sculptures by the miners, plus various models and artefacts to illustrate the methods of working through different time periods. Our tour guide was excellent, very knowledgeable, and it has to be said very patient with the more childish members of our group, and I don't mean Damian's children! 

Below 1: Rynek Główny Market   Below 2: Casimir the Great Chamber   

Picture 1: Rynek Główny Market Picture 2: Casimir the Great Chamber

We descended further down more beautifully crafted wooden stairs, through shaft bottoms, past winches, equipment and more big chambers. One of Wieliczka's main attractions is the huge Chapel of St Kinga, the patron saint of mining. This is the main chapel of many in the mine located 101 metres underground, and it is possible to attend mass, concerts, or get married in the church. It is quite jaw dropping, big, detailed sculptures, reliefs, the floor, and the altar all carved out of the salt rock. We were allowed around 15 minutes to photograph and wonder at the marvel of St Kinga's Chapel, before being ushered onwards to more impressive chambers filled with too many marvels to try and describe on here. The photographs and videos we took simply do not do this place any kind of justice, it must be seen to truly appreciate the scale and majesty of the chambers.

After we had been underground in this wonderland, it was time for dinner. A three course dinner to be precise for some of us! We were shown to a table in the restaurant already laid out to seat 18 in the Budryk "Miner's Tavern" Chamber. We were all surprised to find free wifi popping up on our phones, and some of us took this opportunity to call and facetime family members back at home in Britain. Quite a novelty 125 metres underground! We were served wine, beer, and traditional Polish cuisine, with plenty of time for the mineral collectors among our group to go and buy some crystals from the well stocked souvenir shop. Our guide then led us on to the museum, which houses historical artefacts and documents, artwork, specimens of very large coloured salt crystals, and more salt sculptures. As the tour was coming to an end, our guide said to the group "You have the option here, there is one more chamber to see, or you can choose for us to end the trip here..." Of course we chose the latter and she led us into a chamber with the biggest horse gin I have ever seen, and I am willing to bet will ever see. Our trip down Wieliczka ended with a modern elevator ride back to the surface, and many thanks to our (now slightly harassed looking) tour guide. 

Below 1: Chapel of St. Kinga, Wieliczka   Below 2: Michalowice Chamber   

Picture 1: Chapel of St. Kinga, Wieliczka Picture 2: Michalowice Chamber

After our trip, a few of us were feeling tired, I was still recovering from a bad flu and aching, needed to lie down for a couple of hours, most of us retreated to the hostel. In the evening we went for pizza and a few beers, then walked around the city, taking in the sights. I was most impressed by the statue of Smok Wawelski outside the castle, the seven headed Wawel Dragon of Polish folklore. As I approached the dragon there was a ticking sound followed by an explosion of fire spat from it's mouth! Woooow, I loved this! We stood and waited around 20 minutes to try and catch the fire breathing on camera, but sadly it didn't do it again and we couldn't stand around all night. It is only later after some googling I found that you can trigger the natural gas fuelled fire by sending a text to the dragon! On the way back to the hostel me and Phil found an open door into a empty apartment block. We had a quick look around and concluded it would be a perfect squat. I loved the buildings in Kraków, there is very little modern architecture to be found, and it gives the city quite a unique feeling for me, compared to other cities I've visited. Apart from some of the group getting chased by the police for jay walking, and a slight issue for three of our group involving a power station, most people we encountered were very friendly and happy to help us.

It was a case of early(ish) to bed, early to rise for all but 5 of our group. Bochnia Salt Mine on Sunday was an altogether different experience, we would be surprised and amused by this mine and our fabulous tour guide Jakub several times during the course of our day underground. This started with a cage lift down to 70 metres deep, I love these lifts, the darkness and swoosh of air gives a real sense of speed descending the shaft. Then the real fun started as we discovered we would be going on a train ride, the excitement among our group built as we waited, listening to Jakub's warnings safety information. The miner's man-riding train carriages are basically just wooden benches that you straddle, with a bar that comes down on either side. It's very loud and rattles your bones, but so much fun we had to contain ourselves; we were warned don't scream too loud or the driver might think there is a problem and stop. At the end of the train ride we were shown another access shaft, not normally used for public trips, and inside the air lock doors, a deafening multimedia exhibition about the beginnings of Bochnia and the mine. The mine trip took in various exhibits about the history and methods of working the mine, as we worked our way through passages, stairs and chambers. Bochnia is one of the oldest salt mines in the world, and certainly the oldest functioning salt mine in Europe. 

Below 1: Bochnia Salt Mine   Below 2: Bochnia Main Passage   

Picture 1: Bochnia Salt Mine Picture 2: Bochnia Main Passage

In Bochnia Mine there is another Chapel of St. Kinga to be seen, which must surely be the only functioning church in the world with a real live railway line running through it? Jakub told us that they hold mass in this chapel every Sunday for up to 200 worshippers. We were led on to an attraction in this mine which was completely unexpected- the world's longest underground slide! It's made of polished wood, looks much like a bench, is 140 metres long, and 65 metres high! After listening to the supervisors translated safety instructions, it was time to dump our bags, grab a mat and go for it... Some of us definitely went further and faster than others! Afterwards I had a quick spot of footie on the sports court, and we grabbed burgers and chips from the excellent cafe. The last adventure of our day underground would be a boat trip 250 metres deep, floating down a brine flooded passage that's saltier than the dead sea. This was easily the most atmospheric part of the mine for me, Damian and Karolina translated the boatman's narration for us, as we passed petrified sculptures and half sunken vessels in the quiet dark. After this it was time to start making our way out, and have a good look at the steam engine housed on the surface. Once back at the lift shaft, we waited with 2 other groups of visitors for around 40 minutes watching the engineers go back and forth making phone calls and looking slightly worried. We realised that there was a lift full of people stuck in the shaft, and were told with apologies by our Jakub that we would have to get back on the train and use a different shaft to get out. We thought this was an excellent idea, another train ride, and a new shaft! Win win! Off we went, crammed onto the train this time, and up the shaft which I gather is normally used by staff and the miners. Upon exiting the lift out into a different building, 2 sad facts became apparent to us; we weren't seeing the steam engine and we wouldn't get to thank our guide Jakub properly and tip him for being awesome. Damn.

Back in Krakow, Damian had a table booked for us all at a cool basement restaurant serving traditional Polish food. We had a bit of a mooch around the city again but the rain soon saw us back at the hostel happily drinking cherry soplica wodka. Monday morning came around far too early and quickly, the majority of us looking worse for wear and fighting the wodka induced haze. Most of the group would be going to visit an underground market before heading off to the airport. However, me, Emily, Joel, Phil and Rob would be heading in search of disused trains. The rain was not enough to put us off, and after a 10 minute train ride we found oures walking amongst hundreds and hundreds of abandoned trains and carriages. Most of the doors were welded shut, but there were a handful of accessible carriages. We also went up an old concrete tower of some description, right next to the railway lines. I don't think any of us quite worked out what the tower was for, it had the look of a silo about it, and offered a good vantage point to watch the trains, and rail workers doing a spot of welding below. 

Below 1: Chapel of St. Kinga, Bochnia   Below 2: Freight   

Picture 1: Chapel of St. Kinga, Bochnia Picture 2: Freight

For me the highlight of Monday was finding the steam locos. We had spotted a couple from the train on Saturday, but weren't sure where to find them. Thanks to Joel-nav and google maps, we found them just as the rain stopped. Massive, old, rusty, dirty, beautiful things! I wonder when they were last used. After playing on the trains, and some new(ish) tampers, we headed to the nearest station and back to the hostel. Time to meet the others, say goodbye, and reluctantly make our way to Katowice airport.

What a properly amazing weekend! Damian was an absolute star in organising this whole trip- the airport transfers, hostel, trips to the mines and meals too. I found myself wishing for more time in Kraków, to explore the beautiful city, for the extended mining trips, and to visit Auschwitz. Sadly money and work constraints meant that a return trip is most definitely in order at some point in the future. Thank you so much, in no particular order to: Damian, Karolina, Magda, Filip, Tom, Ed, Max, Joel, Emily, Jodie, Phil, Matt, John, Robert, Anton, Gina, and Jack.  

Below 1: Choo Choo Motherfucker   

Picture 1: Choo Choo Motherfucker

REPORT

Wretched Rabbit to Lancaster and Bull Pot of the Witches

28-29 January 2017 - Nigel Dibben - SD 662 815

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Saturday: Easegill to Lancaster

The trip started with eight of us until Andy went to Lancaster to rig and to meet us half way. So seven of us went down Wretched Rabbit entrance: Tom, Anton, Nigel, Alex, Matt, Yvonne and Callum. After a fairly brisk trip down the climbs, meanders and crawls of Wretched Rabbit passage, we got down to Stop Pot and started to enjoy the larger passages. A brief stop was had in the Minarets for a bit of snap and a couple of photos by Nigel and Tom. On then along the main top passage through Stake Pot (good thing there are fixed ropes there!) to Fall Pot. Both routes were taken up Fall Pot – the SRT route and the free climb. On to Lancaster entrance but Nigel and Anton diverted briefly to photograph the Colonnades. Then it was just down to the ascent of Lancaster which everyone did fairly quickly given that we had novices in our party. Then back to Bull Pot Farm.

Pete and James went down Lost John’s as far as BattleAxe where the water level seemed a bit too high to continue safely.

At the farm, we all celebrated Charlotte’s 30th birthday into the small hours by which it had started snowing – leading to a bit of a battle between DCC and RRCPC!

Sunday: Bull Pot of the Witches

There was a certain amount of reluctance amongst those present to get caving again on Sunday but in the end three of us made it. Nigel, Pete and James had a trip of a few hours in Bull Pot of the Witches doing the easier passages. It was still sunny and snow was still lying about when we got out but the journey home was not affected by the weather.

Good weekend of caving and socialising.
 

Below 1: Wretched Rabbit team   Below 2: Scylla and Charybdis   Below 3: Bull Pot of the Witches in snow   Below 4: Burnett's Cavern   

Picture 1: Wretched Rabbit team Picture 2: Scylla and Charybdis Picture 3: Bull Pot of the Witches in snow Picture 4: Burnett's Cavern

REPORT

Yorkshire Dales - the Chairman’s Chill-out Weekend

10th - 11th December 2016 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Saturday

Some of the group went up on Friday night but most of us arrived on Saturday morning for the planned trip down Bar Pot via Small Mammal. After getting ourselves sorted, the Small Mammal group turned out to be Anton, Rob, Gina and Nigel. We set off at a fair pace up the hill overtaking the parents and kids heading to Ingleborough Cave to admire Johnny Dingle’s legs dressed as an elf – but that’s another story. At the entrance at quarter past one (yes, it was a Crack’O Noon start), we got ready to go with Anton in front to rig the pitch. Dropping the first pitch was fairly rapid if a bit hairy and then we looked for the way down to Bar Pot which took a couple of attempts before we found the flat-out squeeze through to the main route. Then it was on down to the second pitch where we had to wait for another party to come up. Once down, progress to the main chamber was fairly rapid. A few pictures were taken and mince pies eaten (it is nearly Christmas after all) before we started out. Climbing the pitches took a bit of time for Rob and Gina for whom this was probably their first serious prusik underground. However, we got to the surface at about 7.30 and stomped back down to Clapham so as not to miss Steve’s Curry. Steve, Charlotte and Tom had had an easier day mooching around Diccan Cave and Long Churn although it seems Tom was giving Steve a hard time making him stand in cold water while Tom took photos.

Saturday night

“Steve the Curry” is clearly aiming to take over from “Lennie the Stew” by producing a very tasty curry followed by cheese and biscuits provided by Rob. Things never got out of hand and we were in bed not long after midnight encouraged by Tom producing Cola Caos con Wobble (if you want to know what these are, ask Miguel at the Baker’s Bar).

Sunday

Heads weren’t too bad so a trip was planned for Old Ing and Birkwith caves. Steve left for home but Yvonne arrived and we went over to Horton-in-Ribblesdale and up the lane to Higher Birkwith, fortunately without meeting any cars on the way. A quick change as it was getting colder and three of us, Yvonne, Rob and Nigel set off up the track to Old Ing. A little bit of map-reading later (a wall had vanished - which didn’t help) and we were in the easy entrance of Old Ing and following the stream down. It’s a short cave but the streamway is sporting with a couple of deep pools, one in particular which required some interesting acrobatics to cross it dry. Finally at the sump, we had a quick look at the Guinness-type head on it and turned back. Outside, it was down the track and into Birkwith cave, the resurgence for the area. It took a few moments to work out that the start involved a flat-out crawl in the stream but then we reached the cascade and soon climbed up to reach the canal on the right and muddy crawls on the left. Thinking that the canal would be exceptionally cold, we left that for another day. Yvonne and Rob looked up the muddy crawls and then we all turned and went out, reaching the cars in daylight. Three caves in a weekend were enough so we all headed home.

A great weekend – pity there weren’t more of us there but the small numbers did mean we could get around quicker. There are some pictures on a linked album.

A footnote

Nigel couldn’t remember going to Old Ing or Birkwith. It turned out he had not done Old Ing but had visited Birkwith only 43 years ago. Clearly his memory is starting to fail if he can’t remember that.
 

Below 1: Preparing to go down Small Mammal   Below 2: GG Main Chamber   Below 3: Old Ing Sump   Below 4: Birkwith Waterfall   

Picture 1: Preparing to go down Small Mammal Picture 2: GG Main Chamber Picture 3: Old Ing Sump Picture 4: Birkwith Waterfall

REPORT

Matienzo 2016

Late July - Mid August 2016 - Nigel Dibben, Lauren Griffin, Anton Petho, Pete O&

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Members of the DCC were in Matienzo from the end of July to mid-August. With Steve Martin (who was of course out for considerably longer), those present for shorter times were: Bill Booth, Richard Bullock, Pete Clewes, Nigel Dibben, Lauren Griffin, Tom Howard, Charlotte Meakin, Pete O’Neill, Anton Petho and Liz Taylor. We were also joined by Scott Bradley and Alex Ritchie.

As usual, we tended to work as a group but on several occasions, DCC members were working with others on the expedition including Juan Corrin, Phil Pappard, Pete Egan, Rupert Skorupka and Pete Smith. Numbers in Matienzo were down considerably, probably because of Eurospeleo and the absence of a MUSC team.

Three members had assistance from the Expedition Fund: Lauren, Charlotte and Anton.

Dig at 4407 in Garzón area
With directions from Phil, we went to an interesting dig near Garzón, up the hill west of Solórzano. The dig is in the bottom of a depression which looks as if it is a collapsed chamber. We dug down capping and removing several boulders which had been left during a previous dig. After two days’ work, we could get into a narrow passage at the bottom but it did not continue. The draught appeared to be coming from the right under a rock roof and Phil cleared a few boulders but it would need another concerted effort to make more progress.

Surveying and photography at Cueva de la Iglesia, Navajeda
Charlotte went with __ to survey Cueva de la Iglesia (4463), a recent find.
The next day, she took Pete, Bill and Nigel to the cave and we photographed some of it. Charlotte completed a section of the survey notes. The cave appears to be largely phreatic with a lot of orange mud.

Dairy Dig (1189)
Having looked at the dig at the end of the 2015 expedition, we decided to return and have a serious attempt to push this draughting cave in South Vega. Two days were spent on the dig into sand, mud and boulders including some capping of rock in the floor. Twice, the wall of clay collapsed so we decided to leave the dig to stabilise. The draught was strong from the floor but appears to be coming up immature rifts below the main phreatic passage. After the second day of work which was Richard’s first day in the valley, we relocated Dairy Dig 2 (1252) and Dead Fox Cave (1253) – see below. One interesting find was the presence of cave bear claw marks on the wall in the cave.

Dead Fox Cave/Dig (1253)
Two and a half days were spent in Dead Fox. The entrance is a walk straight into a phreatic passage of good height. At the end, it bends left and hits a blockage of material that has probably come down from a surface shaft. There was a slight draught which seemed to come down over the blockage but a gap could also be seen underneath. We dug down below the jammed boulders and clay and, over three days, cleared about 3m of passage. It’s a bit tight at present because the phreatic walls close in but at the end can be seen a clean washed wall of limestone.

Orillón (0023)
Pete, Nigel and Bill had a trip with Pete S and Juan C into one of the early caves, Orillón, to try to clear a blockage at the bottom. Water from the cave has been traced to Riva on the other side of Cruz de Usano so potential exists for another kilometre or more of cave. The cave narrows down at the present end and blocks to the extent that flood water backs up hundreds of metres into the cave passage. The dig was worth a try but really rather futile as the depth of fill is probably massive.
Vaca photo and tourist trip via BigMat Calf Hole (2889 and 3916)
To give Richard a chance to see a bit of real cave and for Pete and Nigel who had not been beyond the BigMat Calf Hole dig, we had a trip along one of the main passages for Vaca. We dropped in down the dig and the short rope pitch below then went north along meandering passage leading to Ed’s Birthday Passage until we reached the chokey area where we turned back. Several photos were taken of the passage and the gypsum crystals.
On the way home, the Euromedia Bar was opened up for us.

Cueva Las Cosas search and finds on the Cueto hillside
This was Nigel’s bright idea for a “quick look” at an old site, Cueva Las Cosas, a 60m diameter chamber just up the hillside. Armed with GPS and grid reference we found – nothing. Instead, we relocated 0616, found that 1247 represented two caves (now numbered 1247 and 3619), found a new rift (4470) and re-found 3930. Nigel found 0616 top entrance when he dropped his helmet and light into it by accident and then had to retrieve it in the dark while Pete went into 0616 bottom entrance following the draught. We proved the connection and adjusted the GPS coordinates for these a couple of days later. Richard went down the new rift (4470) and between us we found the two caves which were previously logged as one. All in all, it was a hot and sweaty hillside! The one thing we failed in was finding Cueva Las Cosas – it is obviously not where the coordinates put it. We even tried further round the hill in jungle but failed. It looks like we were not far off but maybe we need to go back in winter to get an accurate fix on it.
0616 and the two caves were surveyed for the expedition records.

South Vega (3980)
Juan recommended this undescended shaft to us. After cutting away the holly bush, Pete got down to an earth and boulder floor. A shaft a few metres away proved to be the same with no draught in either. Bill found a draughting hole a hundred metres or so away and got quite excited until Nigel spotted a bolt – it was Hammered Hole.

Cueto area (3004 and 3640)
To finish off the trip, we were taken by Steve to an old find which needed further research as it allegedly contained a bottomless sump of huge dimensions which Jim Lister was planning to dive. The shaft, 3004, was just off a track by a green bath not far from La Cuvia. After getting the wrong track and then finding the green bath had moved, we found the entrance and soon had it opened up. Charlotte volunteered to go down first which was just as well as she was the only one who could get down on the first day (Nigel got stuck). The following day, we returned and Bill capped it open so we all went down (Pete, Nigel, Charlotte, Steve and Phil) and took some pictures and a quick survey. The sump turned out to be a muddy pool which dries up in the summer!

Cueva de La Loca II (0020)
Continuing with Pete Smith’s project to resurvey the entire cave, we surveyed approximately 135m of passage, part of which appeared on older surveys where the original survey data had been lost, but there was some newly surveyed passage as well. We found the station “0” at the previous limit of resurveyed passage and then explored further in with the aim of surveying our way out. After a long flat-out crawl including one very tight squeeze, we dropped down a hole into a dry stream bed which led to the main streamway. We headed upstream to a convenient place where another inlet joined and started surveying back downstream. Charlotte took the readings and Richard took notes and tried his best not to get the notebook too mucky whilst crawling along the streamway. After a short while we found a downstream sump, which our new survey suggests is at more or less the same altitude and only 30m away from the upstream sump in the Cueva Oñite (0027) end of the Risco system (0025) and had been dye traced through. Pete has suggested that it might be possible to lower the level of the sump at the Risco end to make the breakthrough. Surveying back up the dry stream bed we then had to survey up the flat-out crawl, which made things a bit tricky in places. We also found a couple of unexplored passages which were a bit too snug to fit in, but must lead somewhere.

Site 3627 Seldesuto
Site was visited first by Lauren, Phil, Hilary & Pete O’N.
We dropped several shafts on this first visit to the area; Site 3627 was by far the most interesting, described as a climb down a slope to a sharp right hand bend leading onto an undescended 4m pitch. The 4m pitch was free climbed and led to a 10m pitch with a good draught. Later on the same day, Lauren and Pete descended an 18m shaft which had been dropped before but not surveyed, we surveyed and pushed some passages to a conclusion. (Site number to be added.)
Two more visits were made to site 3627, with Phil & Hilary, Pete Clewes, Pete O’Neill, Pete Smith, Alex. Anton, Tom, etc.
The fine 10 m shaft was descended, and led round a corner to a tall rift passage, too tight to pass at the moment. The rift leads on to the head of another pitch which is presently too tight to descend. Rocks thrown drop a debated 10-20 m. We started snappering our way too this next pitch, but a cock up with the equipment, and a faulty snapper meant we ran out of time.
This site is in a very good position in the blank area beyond Cueva Vallina, it also draughts and is well worth a re-visit.


Shafts at Alisas (0722, 4239, 4240) freefall practice
Pete O’Neill, Phil Pappard, Hilary Pappard
The three of us went the Alisas area to drop the undescended shafts at sites 4239 and 4240. Phil had walked the area previously and located the entrances. Walking down the steep hill from the road, the first entrance we came too did not locate with any known cave on the oryx GPS map data. The cave had a spit bolt just below the 15m entrance, so we knew it had been descended, but the question was what happened at the bottom. It was decided Pete would go down, so Phil tied the rope round a dodgy flake and thinking this wasn’t good enough drilled and fitted a stud bolt to what looked like limestone pavement. Pete described his experience: “I descended. About 5m from the floor of the 15m shaft, the base could clearly be seen to be blocked with the rotting remains of many dead animals: cows, sheep, etc. so noticing a parallel shaft I dropped down the 5m to the floor. A gap could be seen over boulders so I de-kitted and dug, until the overpowering stench of dead animals became too much. Setting back off up the shaft, I’d got about 3m off the floor when I plummeted back down hitting the deck, immediately. I realised that the rock the bolt belay had been attached to had detached from the surface and made a mad scramble to hide from the large TV sized block which was plummeting towards me. The rock hit the sharp arête edge separating the two shafts and split with a loud crack; luckily I only got hit by a dinner plate sized piece of rock, the main bulk of the boulder went down the other side of the shaft. Eventually the rope was re-rigged (the damaged section of rope cut out) and then, somewhat sore, I re-ascended. The hanger plate was too distorted to get a bolt back through, and the rope was badly deformed, the full weight of the boulder dropping had pulled the bolt clear out of its hole. The original belay round the dodgy flake had taken all the weight.”
This site turned out to be site 0722 which had been placed on the map in the wrong position (pre-GPS).
Having used up enough lives for one day, it was now Phil’s turn. He dropped the previously undescended site 4239 which was about 8m deep and blocked. Then we went in search of site 4240 which took 1/2hr to find, despite being only 2m from where we’d dropped our sacks. Site 4240 turned out to about 20m deep in a rift and blocked at the bottom.
The pub in Arredondo beckoned.

Yoyo (3812)
Work by Tom, Anton and Alex
Tom and Alex had visited Yoyo a year ago. Tom had bravely climbed 30m up an aven and reached a phreatic tube carrying a small stream. The plan for the day was to re-bolt the main 90m pitch so that there were a few rebelays to it split up and then push this phreatic tube. Big Steve and Charlotte tagged along too to lend a hand. Heading down we made it to the top of the 90m pitch, where Anton decided due to the effects of the night before that he would stay at the top along with Charlotte and Big Steve. Tom and Alex then began taking it in turns to re-bolt down the main pitch. This proved more difficult than initially thought and so it was decided that rebolting the main pitch would be the main objective of the day. Due to talk of a meal at Bar Thomas and time pushing on Big Steve, Charlotte and Anton decided to head out taking the old rope from the 90m pitch back out. Tom and Alex would carried on re-bolting the pitch. They then detackled the rest of the pitches back to the entrance as the ropes had been in there for three year!

Shafts near TV Mast (4416 and 4417)
Anton writes: "Due to the long drive through the night , although I slept for most of it, we decided a chill day was in order. While a group were planning a return to TV mast hill to descend an undescended shaft, Alex was keen to look at a few holes he and Tom had found at Easter. I was sold when the word strong draft got banded about. There were two holes we looked at, the first was a non-starter and was boulder choked rift that would require some serious popping to get into it. The second was more promising, which after having an argument with a large boulder we manage to open up the entrance and were looking down a narrow sloping rift. This again was too tight to enter but had a strong draft and with some capping would be accessible."

Mostajo (0071)
Tourist trip into the beautiful Mostajo, one of the better decorated caves in Matienzo.
Lauren, Charlotte, Scott, Big Steve, Richard, Pete O’N. At the changing area we were met by two bored and very friendly dogs who wanted to follow us up to the 22m entrance pitch. They had to be chased off for fear of them falling down the entrance. Once we were all down the entrance pitch we carried on in the impressive large entrance passages for 200m to the pit. The pit is bypassed by a 60m long rope traverse which is great fun with 30m drops below. The ongoing passage is superbly decorated (the cameras were out already) with the odd crawl and walking to a 3m climb up. Beyond the climb the passage lowers to a 20m, very strongly draughting, flat out crawl (the breakthrough dig in 1983). At this point Scott and Big Steve turned round Scott has back problems and didn’t want to push his luck in the tight crawls. As soon as you’re through the crawl, the passage becomes large again and the formations are great, easy walking carries on for 300m to another pit, which is very near the end of the main drag at this level in the cave. The Golden Void pitch is passed shortly before the final pit. (The extension below the Golden Void pitch was first dropped by members of the DCC.)
Plenty of more photos were taken on the way out.
Great trip followed by beer in the Baker’s Bar.

Fresnedo II (0841)
Lauren with James Carlisle – new cave exploration
We got to "The Howling" mud duck in record time (every bit as lovely as it sounds!), and on to where the current survey ends to start new exploration and surveying. Crawled into a small yet high chamber, which initially looked to have good potential with ways on. James climbed the C.10m loose boulder pile while I hid under a ledge avoiding any likely rock fall. Once James was up, I crawled out and found a short climb down into a lower section, and heard water. I shouted up to James that I had a streamway in a rift and was climbing down to it. The rift passage is very loose in chossy limestone, I started chimneying down to the streamway, around 8-10 metres or so below. I gingerly placed my toe on a boulder wedged in the rift, which started moving so started backing up looking for a better place to climb down, when suddenly without any warning the boulder came crashing down and the whole passage collapsed around me. At this point James had climbed back down the boulder pile, deciding it was unsafe to continue alone, and he found me climbing out of the streamway looking and sounding rather shaken. Fortunately I came out of the fall with a couple of scrapes only.

We started surveying the small chamber, and then both climbed up the boulder pile one at a time. At the top were two big slopes, slippery looking and very loose, it reminded me somewhat of the slopes filled with deads I have seen at Nenthead. James started climbing/crawling up the first one, and was almost at the top when he shouted "BELOW LAUREN MOVE" or something to that effect. I jumped out of the way in time to look up and watch a TV sized boulder come rolling and sliding down the slope, with all the loose sandy stuff running in behind it. It tumbled down the boulder pile we had just climbed up, and took some of it out on its way. After obtaining a survey point, James told me to come up, as it was safer up there. At the top we were presented with a large chamber, and more loose climbs. We decided it was too much like "death on a stick" and cautiously climbed back down the pile, and went back to survey the streamway passage. This proved quite difficult as everything seemed to be on the move, and we did our best before calling it a day, and started heading out. The way out proved to be a lot more difficult than the way in, once covered in mud from The Howling duck, there is no dry sand on the other side to roll in and get the mud off, as is the case on the way in. The protected traverse was a comedy act of slippery feet and hands, then a long slog out with a stop for some food and water in the "Ecstasy Chamber".
Once out we met everyone at Bakers before a quick shower and typically fantastic meal at Bar Tomas.


Vallina (0733)
Pete O’Neill, James Carlisle, Phil Pappard, Pete Eagan.
Trip to end of downstream Rio Rioja sump bypass. This new extension bypasses the first 5 sumps, and provides a pitch down into the streamway between sump 5, and the not yet passed sump 6. Strategically it’s important, as the bypass continues above and beyond the sump 6 and the window into the area between sumps 6 and 5 provides dry access for diving, this water has been dye tested to the Reñada system.
Phil and Pete Eagan bolted and rigged the 10m pitch down into the streamway between sump 5 and 6, then they surveyed the section of passage between the sumps. Pete O’Neill and James continued onto the dig at the end of the new passage. Approx. 20 minutes later Pete O’N managed to squeeze through, soon followed by James; we then surveyed on into new passage for approx. 150m, in a complex area with many open leads and some climbs down which need tackle. It’s difficult at the end to know where the main way on lies. Concerned that the others may not get through the Squeeze we had dug through and for time constraints we returned back to the pitch head into steam between sumps 5 and 6 only to find they hadn’t returned yet so we pushed another side passage, near the pitch head which was small and awkward for approx. 20m to a conclusion.
When the others returned, Pete E took me and James to another lead left by himself and others at Easter which ended at an iffy traverse across a large drop needing protection. The traverse didn’t look too bad, so sensing that if I didn’t do it first James would beat me to it, we went across with no protection climbed up a ramp and came to a short drop down into a large chamber were we called a halt for the day. There is clearly plenty to do in this area.
Great 10.5 hour trip.

Tom, Anton and Alex Ritchie
The final day for this team, as is always the way with expeditions, was spent finding some cracking leads in Vallina that unfortunately were just out of reach. Ali, who sadly was unable to make it out this summer, had told Pete about some promising avens upstream of the first downstream sump. It was also a good opportunity for Tom, Alex and Anton to learn the route into Vallina. Having found some French cavers confused about their route choices we helped navigate them to the start of the climb leading to the pitch that drops into the streamway. Having made our way to the pitch head we all headed down this truly awesome 37m pitch and landed in the main streamway. After following the water down until we reached a junction where downstream leads to the first sump, we instead headed up stream and reached the avens we were looking for. The first looked truly promising with a 10m bolt climb with visible passage at the top. The second carried a stream and although looking promising didn’t look anything as good as the first. After pushing the end of the passage we made are way back down stream inspecting all the possible leads. This resulted in two further avens being located that looked promising for a project next year. Pete O suggested we go and have a look at the new sump bypass. After making are way up the ladders we arrived at a truly awesome but horrible bit of passage. The whole passage is angled at 70o and can only be described as feeling like you are doing a consistent push up along it. After getting a third of the way in we decided we had got enough of a feel for the passage and decided to head back.


Trips out for the wrinklies
As well as the caving work, Liz, Pete, Bill and Nigel had trips out of the valley to get a bit of culture. We went to Santillana del Mar, Altamira prehistoric cave, Bilbao (the Guggenheim) and Cabárceno (zoo in an old opencast iron mine – Charlotte also came on this trip).
 

REPORT

Vercors caves including the Gouffre Berger

30th July to 6th August 2016 - Anton Petho

Vercors Report

This summer Tom and I took part in Federation Francaise de Speleologie (FFS) last ever clean-up of the Gouffre Berge organised by Remy Limagne. We were also joined by Alex Ritchie (Black Rose), Laurel Smith (FFS), Shezzi (Yorkshire Subterranean Society) and Mark Dougherty (Northern Pennies Club). As well as doing the Berger we did lots of other caves in the area as well which are detailed below. We spent two days travelling down and the first day when we arrived getting food and exploring the area.

Grotte de Roche (30/07/2016)
After meeting Laurel and her friends early in the morning we consulted the helpfully prepared guide book by Remy. Having done some research before travelling out I had seen the Grotte Roche was recommended as a cracking first time trip in the Vercors. Remy’s helpful guide supported this and so it was decided this would be the first trip of our adventure. Having parked in the layby and got changed we walked the short distance to the impressive railway tunnel esc entrance. Following the entrance we climbed up a boulder pile until we reached a short hand and knees scramble uphill. This used to mark the end of the cave until a major digging effort diverted a stream above this climb to wash away the sediment to get access to the next section. After making our way up this moist scramble. Well, the majority of us did, Tom engaged his brain and found a much easier, dryer way around. From here a short passage dropped us down into a slightly angled rift passage which led to a short hand and knees crawl that brought us to a small chamber. After regrouping we emerged in a glorious stomping passage lined with pretties. At the end of the passage we climbed up through boulders to be greeted by a chandelier esc pristine white stal. Behind which was a short iron ladder which led up to a flatout crawl sloping slightly uphill. This brought us to a t-junction, left (downhill) takes you back downhill and to the start of the first stomping passage. Right is the way we wanted to go uphill which after a short while reaches a pitch. This has a short traverse line that goes out to the pitch head proper. This is followed by a 45o slope with rope loops in the roof and metal plates in the floor to aid ones return. Having slid down this I reached the top of the next short vertical slot pitch with more iron rungs to aid the return leg again. After descending this I reached a traverse with a slightly worse for wear looking rope. Which on closer inspection by Laurel showed it was from 1998! After we all made our way across and we had discussed French and British caving terms, we began exploring. Laurel, Alex and I made our way down the very impressive passage, very reminiscent of GB in the Mendips. This passage, like GB, ended in a lovely muddy sump. After we had climbed up very pretty boulder choke on our return, we headed for the exit. Stopping for a group shot at the exit. Unfortunately Alex had gone off exploring so Deloris, Tom’s Sheep mascot stood in for him! After washing our gear in the river by the cave entrance we made our way to the camp to toast our first Vercors caving trip!

Antre De Venus (31/07/2016)
For today we decided a trip in the valley was in order. It was recommended to us that a trip to the superb Grotte de Venus with its excellent formations was a good shout. After following Laurel and Paul to the recommended parking space. We packed our gear and headed up the hill, making our way to the cave entrance which we did with relative ease thanks to the guide book and Laurel and Paul who could read it. The plan was for me to rig the one and only pitch. However, on arrival at the cave we found two bags signalling cavers where already inside. After kitting up I made my way through the metal trapdoor the marks the cave entrance and down the entrance crawl. It was at this point we met the other cavers. They informed the rope was insitu and therefore didn’t need us to rig it. Once stashing the bag in an alcove I followed Alex along the traverse and down the pitch. Regrouping at the bottom of the pitch we headed on down the passage. This has to be the most beautiful cave I have ever seen. There is simply too much to photograph as Tom put it. After walking down the passage until we reached the start of the crawling section, were the cave is meant to become decidedly less pleasant, we turned around. On the way out we photograph this superb cave, including calcited former river beds and strange “Paint me like one of you French Girl” poses. After exiting and making our way down the hill Alex realised he had left his pantin by the cave entrance. So me and Tom bravely sat in the van during the forthcoming thunder storm and waited for him to return.

Grotte de Bournillion (01/08/2016)
As Tom was going to pick up Chris and Shezzi from Lyon airport. Laurel, Alex and I were without transport. Fortunately Mark was planning on going to a show cave down the Bourne gorge with his daughter and this was close to the impressive Grotte de Bournillion. Famed for having the highest cave entrance in France! Having been dropped off by the hydro-electric plant we started the walk to the cave. After kitting up and traversing our way round the entrance pool without embarrassment. We climbed up the imposing rubble heap and into the fine fossil passage. Passing through some beautiful red stalagmites along the way. We carried on until we rejoined the river at a large cascade. After Laurel had tried out her wetsuit and Alex had done some exploring we headed for home to meet the others back at camp.

Gouffre Berger (03/08/2016)
The main event of this adventure was the awesome Gouffre Berger. It is rated as one of the finest sport caving trips in the world, and perhaps because of the history of its exploration it could arguably be the greatest cave in the world. The preparation for the Berger started the day before, sorting out tackle bags and equipment ready to hike up to the entrance so that the next morning we weren’t waiting around. After ditching our bags we headed back to camp, where after some take away pizzas to build up our carbs, we went to bed. The next morning we had decided on a fairly late start, when I say late I mean head up to the cave at around 9ish. Which when compared to other groups setting off at 4:30am was late! We decided the day before that based on who we caved with before we would split into two groups. The first was Alex, Shezzi and Chris, our group consisted of Tom, Mark, Laurel and myself. The plan was to let Alex, Shezzi and Chris go first as they were a smaller group so should in turn be a faster group and we would follow them half an hour later. After driving up to the plateau. We eagerly started the 45 minute walk from the car park on the plateau and made our way over to the entrance. Which after kitting up and descending down the first pitch and sliding down through the old entrance gate I quickly backed up. As on the next pitch, Puitz Ruiz, a caver was coming up (one of the rules of the Berger clean-up was any caver coming up had priority going down, except on the very last pitch, Hurricane), having successfully gone down 15metres and up 5metres, I began my descent proper. Unfortunately the plan of splitting up into two groups never happened and so we made our descent as a team of seven. Other than Alex dropping his go-pro in the meanders and Mark swearing at the amount of rebelays on a pitch we made it to the bottom of the entrance series without incident, 220 metres deep at this point. After sliding down a short climb down into a meandering rift passage and climbing over two boulders we emerged into what can only be described as an awesome bit of passage. The walls can be seen but looking up is just blackness. At this point cavers law of physics of down down deeper and down were completely abandoned. As for reasons unknown we started heading upstream up Petzl Gallery soon realising: “Shouldn’t we be following the water downstream?” we promptly turned around and headed down the main stream proper. The nature of the passage in the Berger after the entrance series, up to 640metres, can be thought of having a series of breakdown sections. Which has subsequently be calcified and form the pretty halls such as hall of the thirteen. These make you lose the stream only for you to re-join it again at the end of the breakdown. The first pitches after the entrance series Puits General and Pool Traverse are good examples of this. After making are way through Bourgin hall and down the pitches mentioned in the last sentence, we reached the truly awesome Giant Rubble Heap. Which as the name suggests is a giant heap of boulders some the size of a small terraced house. Now we have all seen big chambers but then there’s big chamber and then there’s the Giant Rubble Heap. As with my lamp on its normal running mode of ~500 lumens I couldn’t even determine where the walls or the celling where! Handily reflective tape guides you through this mass of boulders in a black void and you emerge on the other side at a steep 100metres descent downhill to camp 1 at 495metres. After refuelling with food and water it was, at this point that the bottom for me would be saved for another day. As having only ever been as deep as 178metres and never having done 220metres of rope work, I decided that was enough of a challenge in itself! I decided to push on to my primary objective which was the start of the canals which is at a depth of 670metres, as I was reliably informed by various people this is the nicest part of the cave. We made our way down from camp 1, down a short slope to the beautiful hall of the thirteen with the infamous thirteen stalagmites looming large in the distance. Followed by a short boulder climb down to the Salle de Germain and then the top of Balcony Pitch. Once all safely descended we made our way down the passage and after a short distance we reached the start of enormous cascade where the water is seen to emerge through a stalactite, awesome! The enormous cascade should really be treated as a handline climb and not as a pitch as I saw it as, one for future note! After this we re-joined the streamway which after only a short distance were forced up another breakdown and this time into St Mathieu’s Hall. Which after passing through we reached the top of the calcite slopes. Which is easier said than done as finding the path of least resistance is tricky. As we ended up doing a short free climbable section only to find on the way back there is an easier way round. After making it down the calcite slopes we arrived at the small window at 640metres that marks the start of the Vestiaire pitch (French for changing room), this is the point where there is a sign warning you the next section to the bottom is the most tiring section and prone to flooding. It was at this point we decided that we should split into groups depending on who wanted to do what. Tom, Mark and Laurel were the A-team and were going for the bottom. Chris, Alex, Shezzie and I formed the B-team. After making are way down the very pretty Vestiaire we re-joined the streamway. Which after following down a climb we reached the start of the canals. At this point we were joined by some French Cavers returning from the bottom. I decided at this point it was time for me to head out and this seemed like an ideal opportunity as I could join the French group and allow team B to carry on. After Chris asked if I could joined the returning French team and they agreed we started heading out. After being fed bread, cheese, parma ham and chocolate I surfaced from the Berger into a pleasant evening after spending 10 hours underground. It was truly unique and awesome experience and I learnt a great deal about deep caving.

Grotte de Gournier (06/08/2016)
Are last trip to the Vercors was the truly epic Grotte de Gournier. We had booked the expedition boat for this day and so we travelled down the Bourne gorge and parked at the Choranche show caves car park. After kitting up we walked to the entrance where we began to inflate the boat. This was in order to cross the beautiful entrance lake. After I had been pumping for a while and the boat was still very much uninflated we discovered I had connected the pipe to the wrong connection, so that it was drawing air out! After correcting the idiots mistake we promptly inflated the boat and began are journey across the lake. After some interesting rowing techniques from me with Chris the kayak instructor winching in the boat with me, we all made it across. Reaching the other side we found another boat moored up indicating that some other people were in the system. At this point we climbed up a short climb and across a traverse on what we believed to be an in situ rope. After regrouping on the other side we made are way down the stupidly large fossil passage. Grotte de Gournier is 15km long and on this trip we would only get to see a small part of it. While we were walking down the passage we met the other explorers. The question was raised by Laurel that; “Should we ask if it’s there rope”. The rapid response was; “Noo they look like they are out for a hike”, as they were dressed in normal walking clothes with backpacks on. After wandering down this awesome passage we arrived at a series of very pretty gour pools. After I had had a bit of a ferret around and discovered the passage kept going we decided to head for home. On are way out a weird attempt to do kung fu poises for a photo was attempted with little success. Reaching the traverse I unclipped my cowtails and then I thought that’s funny I swear there was a rope here. What had happened was the rope was the hikers and they had derigged, bullocks! Cobbling together a weird array of footloops slings and safety cord Tom manage to traverse out and climb down to the boat. He quickly ran back to his van were 30metres of rope was waiting. He quickly got back and rigged the traverse so that we could make are exit. We headed back to camp to pack up and toast are Vercors adventure.

This was a truly awesome week and is definitely place I need to get back!


 

REPORT

Bagshawe Cavern

3rd July 2016 - Callum Ewan - SK 1714 8088

Myself, Yvonne King, Steve Mills and Robert Stevenson headed to a bustling TSG hut in Castleton on Sunday morning where we met up with two tired but triumphant Titan conquerors, Anton Petho and Lauren Griffin.

After a chat and breakfast (priorities!) we headed up to Bagshawe Cavern, about 10 minutes from Castleton. Bagshawe Cavern was discovered in 1806 by miners and was named after the landlord and 'Apostle of the Peak', Sir William Bagshawe.

Lauren had a fight with the lock on the stone building above the cavern, but eventually put it in its place, and we descended the steps and reached The Dungeon. Anton rigged up the ladder and we started our decent to the lower series – but before we all climbed down we heard a few loud gasps and splashes from Lauren – and quickly decided to take a different route.

We continued to the Hippodrome and unfortunately, as per previous DCC trips, there were still no hippos. Further down we had a quick visit to the Glory Hole, and continued on to a stream until we could go no further! There seems to be a lot more to see and explore, so a further trip may be necessary in the future!

Epilogue

Following the trip we drove over to The Wanted to meet up with a number of DCC members including Olly King, Andrew Farrow, and Tom Howard. We watched a cow playing in the children’s playground and then decided to have a go ourselves!
 

Below 1: 1. Robert Stevenson – Kitted up for Bagshawe   Below 2: 2. Robert Stevenson – Playing with Ropes   Below 3: 3. Robert Stevenson – Lauren Griffin   Below 4: 4. Robert Stevenson – Playing on the park   

Picture 1: 1.	Robert Stevenson – Kitted up for Bagshawe Picture 2: 2.	Robert Stevenson – Playing with Ropes Picture 3: 3.	Robert Stevenson – Lauren Griffin Picture 4: 4.	Robert Stevenson – Playing on the park

 

Below 1: 5. Olly King – Looking over the wall   Below 2: 6. Olly King – Group shot   Below 3: 7. Callum Ewan – Portrait of a Cow   

Picture 1: 5.	Olly King – Looking over the wall Picture 2: 6.	Olly King – Group shot Picture 3: 7.	Callum Ewan – Portrait of a Cow

REPORT

Titan and Peak

2nd July 2016 - Lauren

I have wanted to descend Titan ever since I heard about it, but as a newbie caver 6 years ago, I presumed this was going to be out of reach for a very long time, and wondered if I would ever be capable of such a caving trip. For those that don't know and are interested, a brief bit of background and history:

Titan is the deepest natural cavern that has been discovered so far in the UK, previously thought to be Gaping Gill. Titan forms part of the huge Peak Cavern cave system in Castleton, Derbyshire. Also known as the "Devil's Arse", the huge entrance (the UK's largest) known as the Vestibule, is also the entrance to the popular show cave. Also connected to the system is the Speedwell Mine; another public show mine which you can take a boat trip into (I still haven't done this!).

It's been known since the 1980s that there was 'something' beyond the Far Sump Extension connecting Speedwell to Peak Cavern. In 1992 extracts were published from a newly discovered manuscript, written by the 18th Century academic James Plumptre. He describes in fascinating detail his trip into Speedwell. But also large caverns and mine workings long thought to be in existence, but were supposed as blocked past the Boulder Piles. Cave divers had explored the far Sump extension, however the elusive dry route the miners must have used continued to elude modern explorers. After reading Plumptre's account, there was renewed interest in James Hall's Over Engine Mine Shaft found by the TSG in 1963; Plumptre describes what is now thought to be surely JH Mine: "There was another way out, by climbing one hundred and fifty yards farther to the top of the hill, but, as the way lay through another proprietor's mine, the miners never go by it, unless insisted upon by strangers..."

So Moose led a dedicated team of Derbyshire cave diggers to JH in search of "Caverns Measureless". They discovered and excavated the workshop area of the mine, finding many tools and relics left in situ. The team spent a further 3 years removing boulders the bottom of the huge Leviathan chamber, before achieving access to Speedwell in 1995. This area of cave was previously accessible only to cave divers from the Far Sump extension.

After years of grafting, Moose and his team finally found their way through a huge boulder choke near the piles, and discovered the gigantic cavern of Titan from below in January 1999. They then proceeded to climb it over 6 days. Following reaching the top and surveying, 4 years was then spent digging an access shaft down to the chamber from the surface. The existence of Titan was finally revealed to the wider caving community in November 2006. The entrance shaft is 46 metres deep, and Titan itself is split into a 62 metre pitch down to a landing point called the Event Horizon. Then a few metres down this ledge and onto a hanging re-belay point 58 metres from the bottom.

Fast forward to September 2013 and after a lot of SRT practice, I felt almost ready. We booked the trip for the first weekend in October, planning to do the James Hall over Engine Mine through trip- out of Peak Cavern on the Saturday. Then go down Titan and back up JH de-rigging along the way on Sunday. The JH trip went well, we completed the through trip and got out of Peak Cavern in 4 hours 45 minutes. Sat in a pub in Castleton afterwards though it dawned on me how much I was aching, and what a mission getting out of JH would be the next day. I realised this was beyond my limits at this time, and with difficulty pulled myself out of the Titan trip. This was upsetting for me, and I struggled with the decision I made for weeks afterwards. Next year though... next year I would do it.

The next year another trip into Titan was planned, which I unfortunately missed due to a family occasion. I was hoping for another trip last year which never materialised. Then late last year it was announced that there were some apparent problems in the entrance shaft, and the fibreglass rings needed replacing, so it had to be closed for repairs. Many thanks to the team who stabilised the shaft and installed new concrete rings. Finally it was announced in March this year that Titan was "back open for business". As soon as I heard this I wasted no time in asking our chairman Tom Howard to book the trip, and so we had a date - Saturday 2nd July. This came around very quickly, but I was more than ready for it this time... or so I thought.

On Friday Pete and Beth Knight of Peak Instruction asked if they could tag along on our trip, but only halfway... they didn't plan on 'bottoming' Titan with us. We were really happy that Pete brought his camera along, as none of us had one - taking pictures of this trip was the last thing on our minds. Titan is notoriously difficult to photograph, requires a lot of fire power to light even half the shaft up, and none of us fancied carrying any unnecessary kit this time. The whole of the UK has seen a lot of rain this last 6 weeks, and there was a worry that the bottom would be sumped with water, in which case the only option would be to climb back up and out of Titan. None of us much fancied that idea either, the trip was planned as a through trip out of Peak Cavern, but going back up was something we had to be prepared to do.

After a short while of wandering in the fields over Hurdlow, we found the completely innocuous looking lid to the entrance of Titan. Anton cracked on with rigging the 50 metre entrance shaft while we discussed what to do about the key. Seeing as Pete and Beth would be coming out, but we also needed access in case the bottom was flooded and we had to come back out. After this had been sorted, Anton and Olly descended the entrance shaft, with me following. By the time I got to the window into Titan, I found a nervous looking Anton, and Olly had rigged the first pitch. I asked Anton if he was ok and he sort of mumbled something like "just look at it". So I proceeded to clip into the line and peek out of the window for a look. Never before have the lines from my favourite poem had so much meaning:

"Into this wild Abyss, The womb of Nature, and Perhaps her Grave. Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire, But all of these in their Pregnant causes mixed. Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight, unless the Almighty Maker them ordain. His Dark Materials to create more worlds, Into this wild Abyss the wary Fiend, Stood on the brink of Hell and looked awhile, Pondering his voyage; For no Narrow Frith, He had to Cross."

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Titan is simply massive. 130 metres deep and unfathomably wide from the beam of my headlamp, I could just about make out the far wall in the distance, but when I looked down, my light was swallowed up by the black void below. Beth was the first to bravely abseil down to the Event Horizon, 62 metres below, followed by Tom to go ahead and rig the last 60 metre pitch. During all of this Anton was talking himself out of going any further. I could see why. We have all been down much deeper underground places- mainly mine shafts and the like, but nothing like this. The exposure is like being high up outside, but you're underground and it was somehow worse for once. I don't normally feel exposed on rope underground, you can't see much in the dark! We told Anton he was going next, not to think too much, just to do it, and to not look down, because he would be able to see Beth and Tom's lights down on the Event Horizon. He bravely heeded Andy Farrow's eloquent advice, "man the fuck up" and went for it.

Then it was my turn. I really enjoyed the first pitch, and specifically wore my glasses which I don't normally take caving. On the way down I marvelled at the beautiful formations, the echo of my exclamations of delight at what I was doing, but mainly the amazing size of the gigantic cavern. I struggled to get my head around placing myself in the context of this chamber, dangling inside it on a rope, I hope that makes any sense, it's difficult to describe. I enjoyed the pitch very much, although landing on the Event Horizon was quite weird. I bellowed up to Olly that the rope was free and watched Anton preparing himself to go "over the edge". Once again, my turn...

This is a very good example of why testing your descender with a cows tail still attached is a sensible practice, and one I have always followed on re-belays. As soon as I went to unlock my Stop I realised the problem, locked it again, attached my hand jammer to the top rope, and then had more than a slight panic when I realised all my weight was hanging on a stop rigged through one bobbin 60 metres high. After a shit shit shit shit shit shit, no no no, I stood up and managed to compose myself enough to stick my croll on, stick my short cowstail in the knot, sit back down on the croll, take a deep breath and sort the damn thing out. Then when I sat back down on the Stop it was loaded on the corner of my D-ring rather than the middle, so I had to then sort that out too. Shook me right up, wasn't shaking at the top, but by 'eck was I trembling after finally getting off at the bottom! At first I had no idea what had happened - never been in that situation before, never rigged my stop incorrectly before. It dawned on me that the weight of the wet rope pulling the stop downwards had pulled it away from the top pin, despite me knowing I had rigged it correctly. So when I closed the stop and locked it off, was clearly not paying enough attention to realise the rope was not fully underneath the pin. Anyway I didn't die, just gave Olly and Beth above me a bit of a scare!

At the bottom of Titan you get cold pretty quick, there is spray from the waterfall, and it's not a nice place to stand around for too long. I was glad of the extra base layer and balaclava I had stashed away in a dry bag. Once everyone was down we didn't waste any time in looking for the connection, silently praying that it wasn't sumped, and also that the "Cow Arse Worms" duck wasn't too full of the nasty wriggly things. After some questioning of our route finding, we were very pleasantly surprised to find our wishes had been granted, and we could get through. Although Cow Arse Worms duck was absolutely rank to crawl through and smelled foul, we were all happy to finally find our way into the Speedwell Streamway and have a good wash off. Seeing the old mining stemples on the way to the Streamway, and passing through Leviathan in JH, serves as a stark reminder that cavers were not the first to find Titan, and we are all indebted to their hard toil.

Despite me having been in Speedwell Streamway twice before, found it a bit disorientating wearing glasses, and kept tripping over the boulders. I'm also very grateful to Olly for the piggy back through the deeper bits! What I should have done was taken my glasses off at the bottom of Titan, ah well. I found colostomy crawl much easier than last time, mainly due to not dragging a bag behind me and instead wearing my little personal 5l bag clipped to my hip, and also probably due in some part to it seeming slightly bigger than when I last tackled it 3 years ago. Each caver that goes through must bring a certain amount of mud with them right? I think we were all happy to see the bath in Peak Cavern, signalling the time for well deserved beer and BBQ was nigh. The trip took around 5 hours to complete, for five of us (with 7 starting at the top), fairly good going. It's always fun to pass the tourists in the Devil's Arse, sopping wet and muddy, with no indication of the horrors endured to traverse underneath the hillside and emerge, triumphant into the sunlight of the Vestibule. They all stare at us, the look on their faces confirming the truth - they must be mad!

The Sunday de-rigging team of Tom (sleeping beauty), Olly & Cow (surface "support"hum!, and Andy Farrow (ROPE FREEE), encountered a few issues with the next team along who had rigged over us instead of choosing from the extra bolts. But it seems they would have had enough to worry about at the time with knot passes! Despite me offering to help de-rig on Sunday, I went to Bagshawe Cavern with some new club members instead, which I will tackle in a separate little write up at some point.

Many, many thanks to our Titan team - Tom Howard, Olly King, Anton Petho, Andrew Farrow, Pete Knight and Beth Knight.

Thanks to the Technical Speleological Group for their usual fantastic hospitality, their much improved Club Hut, and of course the BBQ on Saturday night. And Charlotte who came to get drunk with us!

Also thanks to Steven Mills, Robert Stevenson, Yvonne King and Callum Ewan for coming down Bagshawe Cavern on Sunday haha!
 

Photographs 

Below 1: Diagram by Olly King   Below 2: Rigging the Entrance shaft, photo by Pete Knight   Below 3: Looking worried at the window, photo by Pete Knight   Below 4: Looking down Titan, photo by Pete Knight   

Picture 1: Diagram by Olly King Picture 2: Rigging the Entrance shaft, photo by Pete Knight Picture 3: Looking worried at the window, photo by Pete Knight Picture 4: Looking down Titan, photo by Pete Knight

Photographs 

Below 1: Titan mural by SUSS in the TSG   Below 2: Help De-rigging, photo by Olly King   

Picture 1: Titan mural by SUSS in the TSG Picture 2: Help De-rigging, photo by Olly King

REPORT

Jugholes and Goodluck Mine

4th-5th June 2016 - Nigel Dibben - SK 2797 5959

As part of the Magpie weekend, this trip was billed as a TryCaving trip and we welcomed three novices. Starting at Sainsbury’s in Matlock, the group took several cars by two different routes up to the cave. Nigel led one group the direct way while James chose to go via Matlock Bath, Cromford, Ashbourne, Buxton and Monyash, or so it seemed. Anyway, we eventually all met up at the entrance and got going underground.

The first little trip was round the workings in the main open chamber and then we went into the Upper Series which we explored to the end. Route finding was interesting in places and a lot of it seems to be just a huge boulder choke. At the far end which is actually downstream, we came to the sump. James went up into a further section where he looked for a connection to the Lower Series and we then came out to daylight again.

The next part of the trip involved a ladder climb down into the lower series where we saw the five main caverns connected by crawls or climbs and eventually emerged to daylight again through the adit exit.

A grand time was had by all with the photos showing that we spent about 3 1/2 hours underground altogether.
 

Below 1: The main chamber on the way in   Below 2: The group in the Beehive chamber   Below 3: Descending the pitch into the Lower Series   Below 4: After the trip   

Picture 1: The main chamber on the way in Picture 2: The group in the Beehive chamber Picture 3: Descending the pitch into the Lower Series Picture 4: After the trip

On the Sunday, six of us went to Goodluck Mine which was holding an open day, a regular feature the first Sunday each month. At Goodluck, we met John Wilmott who acted as our guide for the day. It would be impossible to say precisely where we went as we went up and down ladders and chains, through crawls (and back again sometimes), down natural rifts and up an ore chute. Altogether, it meant a lot of stooping but being with John made it a very interesting trip.

After Goodluck, four of us went down the valley a bit to look at Groaning Tor Level which is partly a coffin level and has some interesting features where levels are uncompleted as the mine changes direction. Pete spent some time examining and photographing the level. 

Below 1: Initials carved in Goodluck Mine   Below 2: James emerging from a crawl   Below 3: Groaning Tor Level   Below 4: Forefield in a coffin level   

Picture 1: Initials carved in Goodluck Mine Picture 2: James emerging from a crawl Picture 3: Groaning Tor Level Picture 4: Forefield in a coffin level

REPORT

Yorkshire Weekend

28th-30th May 2016 - Anton Petho

Gaping Gill - Saturday 28th May 2016

After all settling into the Dump (Bradford Hut) and having an excellent chilli courtesy of Big Steve and Susie on the Friday night we woke on the Saturday to a strangely organised breakfast. Even more strange was we were heading over to Clapham by 10:30! After meeting Pete O’Neil in the Clapham Bunk Barn we packed are bags and got ready for the trudge up the hill to Gaping Gill. After checking in at the winch we headed over to Stream Pot and after making it through the squeeze and down the first pitch we headed down the crab walk esk section. We soon arrived at the top of the first of three big pitches. These are three classic Yorkshire pitches all ~30metres high in beautifully washed round pots one after another with some pendulum deviations for added excitement. We regrouped at the end of Stream Passage and made are way to the main chamber via Sand Cavern. After stopping for a group photo in the main chamber we headed out via bar pot and thankfully there wasn’t any major traffic on the big pitch. And after I briefly forgot that females’ upper anatomy is different to males and was promptly reminded of that fact while helping Charlotte off the top of the first pitch we all headed back downhill to the New Inn for a rather expensive pint and bowl of chips before heading back to the Dump.

Simpson Pot – Sunday 29th May 2016

The plan for the day was to head up Kingsdale and have a play in a few caves. Due to a few people still feeling a little tired from the previous days trip we decided to split into two groups. One group planned to go and have a play in Yordas and rig the pitch at the end of Valley Entrance so that the Simpson Pot pull through trip could avoid a dodgy free climb. The trip into Simpson Pot consisted of me, Tom, Andy, Terry and Nigel who had come up for the day (he later checked his log book and discovered last time he did Simpson was in 1979!). Simpson is a cracking trip with glorious Yorkshire pitches one after another and a duck (this one didn’t go quack!) after four pitches down. Possibly due to the slight hysteria of getting into the cold water to get through the duck the next series of pitches was followed by anecdotes from Monty Python. After a further three pitches we avoided Aven and Slit Pot as the latter is a tad snug, so we climbed the insitu rope to get above Aven pot and descend down Swinsto Great Aven, which is an awesome pitch which starts off as a narrow rift that opens out in a massive aven ~30metres high. After me and Nigel had pulled the last rope through we headed down into Kingsdale Master Cave. After I failed to notice a dry bypass route through the second wet crawl we reached the Kingsdale Master Cave. After heading down stream we arrived at the sump and pitch up to the roof tunnel and out of Valley Entrance into a glorious Yorkshire Summers Day. We then met the others heading back from Yordas and went to the Marton Arms for a well earned pint, followed later by a visit to a chippy in Settle before we retired to the bunkhouse with a game of Cave Name hangman before bed.

Hut Pot – Monday 30th May 2016

After two days of cracking caving we decided we would have a more chilled day and go and look at an old MUSC dig that Big Steve was interested in pushing again. The dig was last dug well over 20years ago and the timbers covering the shaft were looking a little worse for wear. After Big Steve had descended the pot last week on a ladder rigged to a bit of old water pipe he felt it wise to put some proper bolts in. He delegated me and James to put the bolts in as we had never done it before and it proved a thoroughly good learning experience for us both, after both descending the pot and putting two further bolts in, one for a ladder for the second pitch and the other for a haulage anchor for hauling buckets up from the dig, and James had tried out his capping gear for digging we prusicked back out. After de-rigging we headed back to the cars and set off home.

This weekend had an excellent turnout and thanks to all those who came along and made it a memorable weekend.

Anton
 

REPORT

Ireby Fell Cavern (Ireby 2)

13 & 18 April 2016 - Pete O'Neill - SD 673 773

A small extension to Ireby Fell Caverns, Leck Fell

The following is a brief report of the two breakthrough trips in Frink Chamber, Ireby 2. Although not a DCC dig, it does involve a DCC member and, hopefully will be of interest to any club members who cave in the Three Counties area.
Prior to the break through, many digging trips (only two of these earlier trips involved me) have taken place over several months during the winter period, commonly in very wet conditions. For the uninitiated, a trip to Frink Chamber in Ireby 2 is an excellent day out, involving 13 pitches, numerous climbs, waist deep water, a 160m long crawl and some excellent and varied cave passage; it really is a great trip. We had the cave permanently rigged to allow fast access when carrying gear for digging, one way from the end to the surface with no derigging was taking about one and a half hours and two hours.

Wednesday 13/4/16
Frank Pearson (RRCPC), Geoff Yeadon (NCC), Mick Nunwick (NCC), Tim Allen (NCC), Pete O’Neill (DCC/NCC)

A wet trip down with much water on some of the pitches. Frank was abandoned at the end of Ireby 1, muttering about chest pains, pins and needles in his hands and feet and generally feeling like he might die. He did actually make it to the end of the skylight crawl connection with Ireby 2. Tim and I waited for ½ hour at the start of Escalator Rift for him, before deciding that if he had keeled over and died we’d deal with it on the way out.

By the time one has climbed all the pitches up in escalator rift, then the two final up and down pitches to Frink Chamber where the dig is situated, you do feel like you’re quite a distance from home. Geoff and Mick (who had decided not to wait for a dying man) had already done a fair session at the dig face by the time we arrived. Just before the dig is a tight flat-out section that Geoff has to strip off to get through, some of his thermals are left hanging from the ceiling at this point for the return journey, not bad commitment for a 65 year old.

After Geoff had finished his stint at the front with hammer, crow bar and chisel, it was my turn. We could now see gaps between boulders and a possible way on. The boulders are glued together in calcite and are pretty hard to remove, despite having a 36v Bosch SDS drill with chisel action on hand. Tim’s was to be the final stint of the day; by this time both Mick and Geoff were pretty cold having been at the digging face for nearly 3 hours and there were murmurings of pub time. However, the boulder chock finally started to give in, and right at the end of the day having used all 3 batteries for the drill a way on was opened up. Tim being at the front, was first through a slightly awkward downwards slot, closely followed by me; we found ourselves in a small rift chamber approx 4m long by 2m wide and 3m high. The chamber dropped off to the left side down a slope partly blocked by boulders into a low passage going off. Tim set to removing the boulders whilst I set to making the downwards slot bigger for the other two. In no time the boulder blockage was cleared by Tim and the two of us shot off to explore approx. 20m of muddy hands and knees crawling passage; we decided to turn round leaving it wide open and return to Geoff and Mick.

Geoff was unable to get down the slope that had been partly blocked with boulders so, from below, I removed more boulders to make it passable for them. Mick and Geoff then pushed the end for few more metres to a short section that needed digging but, beyond the 1m of digging, they could see into a chamber estimated to be 7m across with possible passages to right and left and a boulder slope at the far end.

A perfect spot to call it a day, knowing we’d be in new passage on the next trip. The trip out was even wetter, particularly Well and Bell pitches and the duck: it had obviously been raining heavy. However, on the plus side our gear was now spotless.

In the ‘Orange Tree’ at Kirkby (steak night), plans were made for a return on Sunday.

Sunday 17/4/16
Frank Pearson (RRCPC), Geoff Yeadon (NCC), Mick Nunwick (NCC), Tim Allen (NCC), Geoff Crossley, Mark Simms (BBPC), Pete O’Neill (DCC/NCC).

Water levels were high but, unlike last time, at least the cave wasn’t flooding. I stayed at the rear of the party with Frank, who was still complaining about feeling ill, but had decided that he just could not miss out on some virgin cave.
By the time we had reached Frink Chamber, stripped off SRT gear, and had a quick brew, then progressed to the end of the previous breakthrough, it became obvious that the others were through the end dig and had run off into new cave.

The 7m across chamber was more like 4m across. A passage to the right was ignored, as voices could be heard from a sandy crawl to the left which the others had dug through. The sandy crawl led up to a T-junction with superbly scalloped stooping height phreatic tube going left and right. To the left, we followed the passage for approximately 70m, the end being walking size with some good formations (one large formation has been called Frank’s Heart) to a silt and calcite blockage with a gap over the top.

In the opposite direction from the T-junction, the stooping size passage was followed for approx 30m to a boulder choke, with some gaps going up, but no clear view into open space. Below the choke, a gap in boulders was pushed into a space with no visible way on. A short rift passage to the left of the choke was also entered with no way on.

We returned to the original 4m across chamber and entered the passage to the right which was stooping height but wide, this we followed for 10m to a choke, on the left up into the choke may well correspond with the base of the choke in the T-junction passage (survey should reveal all). Down to the right in the choke is a gap against a wall dropping maybe 2m which at present is too tight. There is little discernible draught at this point; however, you cannot tell if a passage goes off or not.

Elated at getting into new passage and deflated at not romping off for miles we had a quick brew and set off out. This time there was no flood pulse; despite the distance, it’s still a cracking trip and works up a good thirst for the pub.
Plans are now afoot for a surveying and photography trip. Whilst waiting to get this sorted, we’ve been back in Ireby 2, having a go at the main upstream choke which is a lot shorter trip than going up Escalator Rift.

Since the above was written, the extension has been surveyed, 185m of new passage in total.
 

REPORT

Notts 2

28th February 2016 - Kieran Rooney

Kieran Rooney, Charlotte Meakin, Anton Petho, Rob Stevenson

We left the bunkhouse in an untimely DCC fashion before 12.00 despite the drinking and food consumed the previous evening! An unfortunate set of circumstances (from the previous day) meant that despite having a permit for Lost John's we got lost and fell down Notts 2. A quick change in the winter sun, well for most of us - Anton had to sliver into his still wet undersuit and cried about it. The climb down the shaft was more 'interesting' then we were lead to believe and it was at this point Charlotte started threatening Anton with death. However we all made it to the bottom unharmed and alive. On entering the impressive main stream way we headed upstream. Beyond the main upstream sump through pools of water we found very beautiful formations Rob has some photos. As we were admiring the pretties we encountered some members of Bradford Pothole Club who Charlotte is currently forging closer links with. Starting the return trip through a clean washed gorge it was a refreshing change from my recent Derbyshire trips. On the climb out Rob discovered the truth that climbing up really is easier than climbing down. Charlotte swore a lot at everyone and everything due to her shoulder not been 100%. We breached surface to glorious sunshine and a cloudless sky, why didn’t we go walking?

A really good trip and worth a longer return trip, also great for improving your free climbing skills as great lengths have been gone too to avoid SRT.
 

REPORT

Robin's Shaft

30th January 2016 - Kieran Rooney - SK 1355 5276

Kieran Rooney, Tom Howard and Olly King

Planned an early start at the TSG and into Peak. Had breakfast and buggered that idea off as been to early to start caving. Chatted speleo bullshit for a couple of hours and decided to do Robin's Shaft. Left Castleton got so far as Buxton and realised I'd left my gear at the TSG. Returned to Castleton picked up my gear and returned to Buxton to pick up Tom and Olly. Finally left for Wetton and Hill Top Farm.

A quick change in a cold windy farmyard and a short walk to the shaft top. An interesting descent on a slope and according to the rigging guide 110m of rope is needed Tom's 2 ropes were supposed to be 120m but we ended short 15m. I think Tom needs to re-measure his ropes (he did bring a spare). Lots more to see then we anticipated. At the very bottom of it, the mined levels break into natural cave with lots of promising digs. Solution pockets and small avens with beautiful crinoid fossil bands and mineralisation. Several photos of this and the hanging death held back with the original miners stemples. We retreated up the shaft, an interesting climb some SRT and some just climbing the shaft and hand jammer.

Total time below ground 4 hours and just avoided our call out time by 10 mins, oops. Pints in the Watts Russell Arms, a cosy pub that's a decent pint.

 

REPORT

P8

24th January 2016 - Kieran Rooney - SK 1079 8179

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Jock Rooney, Mary Rooney, Séan Rooney, Tony Brocklebank, Pete Clewes, Tom Howard, Nigel Dibben, Kieran Rooney, Claire Walsh, Olly King, Sophie King, Dan Hibberts and Matt

This particular trip was planned 4 years ago but the universe conspired against us until now. Jock's birthday trip is one of the stories Jock has always liked to tell, of him going caving and having battenberg cake from an ammunition tin in P8 or Giants, this combined with his love of electron ladders gave me the idea of recreating this experience. A cast of thousands gathered at Perryfoot fashionably late in true DCC style. Dan and Matt pressed on ahead to rig the ladders while everyone else was still sorting gear and I was scratching my head trying to work out if the ladders were going to be long enough and there were marked in feet not meters. I asked Nigel to take a spare ladder as a just in case as we set off across the fields.

We descended a slightly wetter than usual stream way sliding down the cascades, no need to rig the rope I brought as there was already a rope in, straight through the water, everyone got wet. I noted that some bag chess had gone on with the tackle sacks and Tony was carrying a bag! At the bottom of the second pitch Dan and Matt appeared claiming to have been to the bottom but this may have been a ploy to get to the pub early.

Getting into Mud Hall past the Sick Bowl was tighter then Jock remembers or as he claims its calcited over. Everyone pressed on to the bottom while I unpacked the banners, balloons, bunting, cake and "Ribena". A Party was had, snacks and cake was eaten and the "47" candles were extinguished, Jock had lost the battenberg cake he bought the day before so it was chocolate and ginger cake. Returning to surface Tony rigged the traverse on the first pitch so as little time as possible was spent in the water unless you took the Jock approach who ended up upside down in the water on the ladder, Tom had the dignity not to photograph that bit.

Back to the Wanted where we found Dan, Matt, Sue Morton and Collette Cadwell. Jock has decided SRT isn't that bad and a good day was had by all.
 

Below 1: The team in Mud Hall (TH photo)   Below 2: Jock   Below 3: Climbing the first pitch (TH photo)   

Picture 1: The team in Mud Hall (TH photo) Picture 2: Jock Picture 3: Climbing the first pitch (TH photo)

REPORT

Show caves on the Costa Blanca

28/12/2015 and 5/1/2016 - Nigel Dibben - 30S 0725663 4265615

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

Having to suffer a few weeks on the Costa Blanca over Christmas, I managed to fit in a couple of local show cave trips. Much of the area is made of cretaceous limestone, similar to Matienzo, and there are a number of caves on the maps. Amongst these are two show caves, Cuevas de Canelobre (caves of the candelabra) and Cueva de las Calaveras (cave of the skulls).

Cuevas de Canelobre

The first is fairly high up a mountain at about 700m and consists of one huge chamber with plenty of evidence of a phreatic origin. The chamber is some 50m in diameter with a 25m descending passage below the main chamber making it something like 75m overall vertical range. The trip involves going down and back up the chamber on rather rotten wooden steps with a guide. After that, you’re allowed to climb up more steps to a grilled upper entrance, the original way into the cave. The main feature of the guided trip is the rather gaudy lighting (just look at their website at http://www.cuevasdecanelobre.com/2.0/) but at €7 for an adult (half that for a pensioner) it was not bad value.

The pictures show the interior, the main entrance (which was partly made in the Civil War) and the valley below. Some caves can be seen in the hill above the entrance. 

Below 1: The formation know as the Helmet. Note lovely colours!   Below 2: General view of the chamber from above the viewing platform.   Below 3: The entrance with more caves in the cliff above.   Below 4: Looking north-westwards from the entrance platform.   

Picture 1: The formation know as the Helmet.  Note lovely colours! Picture 2: General view of the chamber from above the viewing platform. Picture 3: The entrance with more caves in the cliff above. Picture 4: Looking north-westwards from the entrance platform.

Cueva de las Calaveras

The second cave is a little way north of Benidorm near a village called Benidoleig. This one is called Cueva de las Calaveras because skulls of Palaeolithic and more recent inhabitants have been found there. The trip is self-guided with information available in English at each stopping point. Again, it is formed in the cretaceous limestone but this time is more linear. All the evidence is that the cave is entirely phreatic although it had obviously been dry and filled with formations at some time before going back below the water table. Some of the formations are corroded away to look just like phreatic pendants.

We were in there for the best part of an hour and met no one else so photography was easy. There is plenty of information which is of high quality providing geological maps, cave plans and sections, and a sensible description of the cave and its history. At the end, the system drops down into an active level but the water there is extracted through an artificial drainage tunnel for use in local agriculture. The cave was even cheaper at just €3.90 for an adult (less than £3, Speedwell is £10.50) and there is a very convenient bar and gift shop at the entrance.

You have to put up with a couple of dinosaurs at the entrance but they were around when the rock was formed too. The pictures show the entrance and some passage as well as one of the display boards provided by the Alicante provincial council showing the high quality of information they provide.

If you want to find this cave on the map, it is at 30S 0759057 4298015. 

Below 1: The entrance to the cave.   Below 2: Typical passage in the cave.   Below 3: Phreatic pendants and pockets in the roof.   Below 4: Display board of regional and local geology with a map of the cave.   

Picture 1: The entrance to the cave. Picture 2: Typical passage in the cave. Picture 3: Phreatic pendants and pockets in the roof. Picture 4: Display board of regional and local geology with a map of the cave.

REPORT

Pippikin - Mistral trip.

7th/8th November 2015 - Tom Howard

Another report from the farm.
A wild, wet, windy and somewhat miserable weekend was in the making and finding I had no plans set yet, I wangled my way onto a Red Rose Link Pot trip (Easegill System) to fill my Saturday. That morning, I had planned to travel up bright and early - until an angry misinformed lady decided she'd take parking laws into her own hands and clamped me for parking on a public road during the night! After a few raised voice discussions and threats for me calling the police she backed down and I set off for the Dales! Good start to a weekend...

Driving down the Bull Pot road (two hours late), I could see clearly across the beck a group of cavers heading toward the Mistral area. In my mind I had hoped they weren't RRCPC members and the trip I was supposed to be on.. Yep, they were. 6 RRCPC members headed down Pippikin with the aim of leaving Mistral.

Upon arrival, I bumped into Carol who I'd known from Matienzo and within 10 minutes I was kitted up and ready for a Manchester Uni Pippikin to Mistral trip!

For those who don't know, Pippikin to Mistral is relatively tight and awkward consisting of 6 small pitches (Largest of 13m) and a few acrobatic style moves. I'll add, it's not for fatties or those who don't do tight spaces. But if you want something that shouts "fun" and "sporty" then it's definitely the one for you!
It was a wet weekend to begin with, seeing several teams fail playing down County Pot attempting to traverse along to Lancaster Hole and Wretched Rabbit. The entrance to Pippikin pot on this particular trip seen us soaked through on just the entrance pitch with remarks from others saying it's the wettest they've ever seen the cave... Again, good start!
We moved on down and through the meandering passages, slowly losing height and closer to the exit in the Beck. Full SRT kit wasn't really required and I definitely came to understand why a quick release "D" ring would come in handy.
The pitches were small, and even I found a way to become stuck without SRT kit on!
Out and at the farm, 4.5Hrs later we settled down to a beer, some food and getting the bonfire ready...

I would love to tell you more about the goings on that night, but I can't remember! Vague memories show firecrackers erupting in Gregory's pint, Rockets being fired at eachother from Janes crutches. and scaffold rocket launchers! Lots of fireworks, lot of fun!

Come play out in the Dales!

Tom.

 

REPORT

Wretched Rabbit to Lancaster Hole

1st Nov - Tom Howard - SD 6763 8064

I can't say I like Halloween. It's like that pre-warning alarm you set in the morning, half an hour before you actually have to wake up. Halloween is almost the pre-warning before the supermarkets and local shops turn festive and start shoving mince pies down your throat whilst playing 'I saw mommy kissing Santa Clause' on the trumpet!
Anyway, in order to avoid said commercially prompted festivities we had a plan. A plan to visit one of the more remote cavers' bunkhouse's in the Dales, Bullpot Farm. Home to the Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club and conveniently sitting on top of the 66+KM Easegill system it provides the ideal getaway and an extremely inexpensive weekend!
Friday saw various travel itineries, Andy would travel the relatively shorter distance from Clitheroe up to the Dales to collect and aid Anton to complete his journey by train from Leicester to Clapham. I would arrive 2 hours later at near 2230 to a quiet hut and only a few people about, unusual for this time of year.
After a few beers, we decided to hit the hay and get a good night sleep ready for what the morning had to offer. Wretched Rabbit to Lancaster Hole.
Woken at 0800, a quick brew and cooked breakfast saw us fit and ready for the day ahead even if we were 4hours early for once. By the time we'd faffed, kitted up, rigged Lancaster (SD664807) and walked to Wretched Rabbit entrance (SD676806) it was now 1100 ... Still too early IMO! We headed down and made our way toward Stop Pot reading from a guide and trying to reverse the instructions to match - this was made slightly more difficult as the guide was to various areas in the system that we'd assumed linked and we had added them to create the through trip. Therefore, once or twice we found ourselves confused as to where we should be heading. May I add, we forgot to print a survey!
It took just short of 2 hours to reach Stop Pot due to a few confused moments trying to exit chambers and work out when the right time was to leave or rejoin the streamway. We emerged from the boulders of the Wretched Rabbit streamway welcomed by the menacing roar of the ajoining streamway from the upstream sinks. The way on was up a boulder climb to the left via a ladder in the top left of the chamber. We decided to take a detour and head upstream (confused by the guide) until Andy thought it wise to express his concern for why we were following upstream when we ALL knew that our objective was quite clearly downstream. A quick U-Turn and we headed back to Stop Pot, where, tucked away we found the short ladder taking us to the beautifully decorated roof level passage and after a few minutes Monster Cavern. From here we followed the guide pretty well and then the rest seemed to follow swiftly without the aid of the guide. It did prove useful at a junction or two, and it helped myself and Anton win arguments in terms of what direction we should be going - I think the guide nearly always would win in all honesty.
At Fall Pot we knew we were less than half an hour to the base of Lancaster Hole and so took some pictures and had a quick food stop and drink. Off up and out we were back in the hut in no time and to be greeted by the singing Manchester Cricket team BBQ'ing all sorts of spicy curried chicken legs. Excellent and most random I must admit!
Beers and food went down well and another tame night followed. Andy was in bed after 3 beers whilst I gave up at a disappointing 0100.
The next morning, we had no real plans as such as we knew we'd be a little tired and achy. I woke to a bad back again and thought it wise to avoid caving (My physio, she's not one to mess with!) and so I waved Anton and Andy goodbye as they strolled across the fell toward Lancaster Hole for their trip to the Graveyard series. You'll have to get a report for that from Anton or Andy, but it sounded good.
I felt a little annoyed that I didn't feel fit enough for a second days caving and so headed Clapham way to see if any of the Earby walkers were about. Just in luck, Clapham Bunkhouse was hosting the Big Earby Breakfast it seemed, and so after a brew and a chat I decided to join Tony, Lugger, John S and Geoff B up at Norber Scar and help dig.
Much more civilised. A relaxed day and followed by a pint in the Bunkhouse I headed home disappearing into the thick fog around 1930.
 

REPORT

Moel Fferna slate mine/quarry

31st August 2015 - Nigel Dibben - SJ 1247 3972

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Bank Holiday trip arranged by Apprentice James

The small but select team was made up of James, Warrington Pete, Steve, Anton and Nigel. We met at the Tollgate Café and then just about managed to get up the steepest part of the slippery hill from Glyndyfrdwy to the end of the road (we found later that there is an easier route about half a mile further on towards Corwen).

Predictably, it was mizzling as we set off along the mile long path to the dressing floors and then up to the air shaft above. Rigging and descending was quite quick with just five in the party. At the bottom, we took some pictures and then headed into the mine along the adit, call it the third level, as far as the main stopes. We started by exploring east until the end and then went west but went up the incline to the level above, the fourth level, for a while, heading west. Dropping back down one level, we came to the wooden ‘crib’ and then dropped down below that to the second level below. From there, we went east again for a bit until we found the remaining bridge and looked across that but had to return after finding the way on either blocked or a steep climb. We left the lowest levels for another trip.

Back on the second level, we traversed east again and passed under the adit on the third level we entered. Climbing up in a stope, we regained the entry level and started out.

On the surface, we were surprised to find the sun shining and some superb views across the valley so the cameras came out again and a few more snaps were grabbed. After changing, we felt obliged to support local commerce so we dropped in the Berwyn Arms for refreshment.
 

REPORT

Matienzo, Cantabria, Spain

August 2015 - Nigel Dibben

Matienzo – Summer 2015

This is a report of some of the activities by DCC members in support of the Matienzo Caves Project. The expedition was joined by over a dozen members of the DCC, some for one week and some for two and of course Steve is out there for longer still. Accommodation ranged from tent to apartment and there was plenty of socialising with the rest of the expedition in the Baker’s, Pablo’s and Bar Tomás.

Digging, exploring and recording

Lennie’s Cave

Lennie’s Cave was our first call for Pete O’N to carry on work at a rift on the western end (marked “gap may open up” on the survey). After a bit of drilling and snappering by Pete O’N, Pete C, Billy, Tom and Anton, the rift was enlarged slightly but did not lead on any further. While this was going on Dave, Lauren and Nigel were taking photos elsewhere. After a while, Pete O’N gave up on the rift and Tom used the drill to attack a vertical rift in the stal’d boulder choke just to the east of Pete’s rift. No success. Then Pete O’N pushed Lauren into a rift off the main passage (between the fork to the second entrance and the streamlet) where she managed to gain another 2 m before risking getting stuck. Tom and Anton had another look in the muddy grovel in the eastern boulder choke (the Frenzy) but could not get further. It looks like it would be useful to enlarge the Frenzy so that more people could get in and dig. That was about it for the day so we retreated to a bar in Badames.

To see the survey, go to http://matienzocaves.org.uk/surveys/3721-current.pdf.

Cueva del Espino (0489), Cueva Chica (0083) and Cueva de las Bardalones (0094)

Having planned a trip to 489, to pay our respects to Roy Hayes, we decided to try our luck at descending the Risco waterfall path and also taking a look at a couple of caves on Cueto which needed photographing and surveying (0083, 0094). We had also spotted what looked like a cave entrance from the apartments and wanted to check it out. The team was Pete C, Billy, Nigel and Dave. We reached 489 by a different route – again – and had a quick look around and then crossed the valley below it to attack Cueto from the Matienzo valley side. It turned out that recent fires had tamed a lot of the gorse so the walk was not too bad. Round at Cueto, we contoured down until we reached first 0083 and then 0094. After scaring a few horses out of 0094, we went in and up to the end where we found that it was possible to go a bit further through an easy squeeze between stal. Inside the extension, there were some bear scratches on the wall. Returning out and photographing as we went, Dave looked up a side passage to a second entrance. We found that 0094 was the cave we had seen from the apartment and its alternative name: Cueva del Triangulo is a pretty fair description of how it looked from below.

Turning to 0083, again we went in to the end but this time Nigel and Dave surveyed out as there was no decent survey in the expedition records. In an alcove off the first branch of the cave, we found bear paw marks again, this time on soft clay on the wall. A number of photos were taken and we left the cave.

Dave had a look at a black hole on the hillside above 0083 and 0094 but the climb too it was too challenging without aids.

On the way back down, which again proved to be fairly straightforward, we spotted a shaft right by the track which had not been descended. This is covered in the next section.

Above Risco (Shaft 4215, Cave 4216)

We went back up the footpath from Sedo to the top of the Risco waterfall. Leaving for the moment the shaft we had found previously, we looked in the field above for a shaft (0185) which was supposed to be near the barn and had not been descended. After a good look around, we could not find anything and thought that maybe the farmer had filled it in or covered it. Meanwhile, we found a small cave, about 4 m diameter chamber with a faint draught, which was later numbered 4216. Giving up 0185 as lost, we went back to the shaft found previously – now numbered 4215 – and after clearing a load of gorse, Nigel got into the top of the shaft on a pile of horse bones, plastic bags and barbed wire fence. A few bashes with a spade cleared enough space to drop a ladder and a descent was made of the 8 m shaft landing on more bones and plastic bags. The site turned out to be a rift with some formations but no way on wide enough to follow. At each end and in the floor, there were narrow ways on – but too tight for any normal human – even for Lauren. After taking more photos and some measurements, Nigel came out and the shaft was left.

BigMat Calf Hole (3916), Torca la Vaca (2889) and Cuba Libre (4182)

The plan was to help Phil and Juan install some support into the horizontal section of the dig at BigMat Calf Hole. Phil set up a generator and power drill which he used to break off rock at the bottom of the dig in order to fit segments of a plastic tube. The work was slow and he resorted to using caps instead of the drill. Meanwhile, Anton, Tom, Lauren, Dave and Pete O’N went in via BigMat Calf Hole to explore and survey in Vaca, particularly aiming for Deep Rifts Passage.

After some time on the dig, we were surprised to find Anton returning over the surface with a big grin on his face saying that he and Lauren had just emerged from another entrance to Vaca, not previously known. They had had to push a couple of boulders out of the way but otherwise it was quite an easy route in to Deep Rifts Passage.

Phil, Juan, Anton and Nigel immediately set off to look at the entrance which was found after some time in woods – fortunately, Lauren stayed there to give us some help finding it. Anton and Nigel went back down to take some pictures while Lauren and Juan looked at the obvious pot in the same depression (3470). Obviously, this was an important find but it did leave Phil a bit peeved to find that his work at BigMat Calf Hole might have become unnecessary. In the end, though, it was agreed that BigMat Calf Hole still provides an important entrance to the system and still needs to be reinforced. The new entrance was named Cuba Libre in honour of what had become the staple drink for certain members of the expedition.

Digging at 1438

Pete O’N dragged us off on a misty evening to have a look at an area near but not over 415. Some work had been done at the site about 3 years ago but Pete felt it warranted another look. So the next day when the mist had turned to rain, we set off armed with digging tools. The team was Pete O’N, Pete C, Billy, Lauren, Dave, Anton, Tom and Nigel. Initially, Nigel, Anton and Pete O’N concentrated on 1438 but Tom got excited about a dig a few metres away which was blocked by a large boulder. Some capping work eventually got rid of the boulder and Tom, Dave, Billy and Pete O’N went down into a new cave/shaft that was given the number 4189. The bottom of the new cave draughts slightly and will warrant a return trip some time.

Valline

Originally, this trip was billed as a working trip to take in a rope to a pitch near the streamway. However, for a number of reasons (such as leaving the rope with the wrong person), it developed into a photographic trip for Tom, Lauren and Dave with Nigel and Bill in support (i.e. holding flashguns). Pete C was also there but had to turn back after a while to help Donna and Sheryl out of the cave when it became a bit too technical for them.

Reñada

This trip was a mixture between tourist and working. Nigel, Lauren and Sheryl went in with Ali who wanted to do some surveying in the Stuffed Monk area. He was also keen for Lauren to take some pictures in a side passage that runs parallel to Stuffed Monk Gallery. We also had a group of three French cavers with us who wanted to see further in the cave. After the usual route-finding mistakes, we got into the main section of the cave relatively quickly and Lauren took a number of pictures. Sheryl was getting a bit cold so we exited with Ali after about 3 hours. After coming out, we walked along to Comelliante to wash of the mud and also for Ali and Nigel to have a look in some side passages. The same day, Bill, Dave, Anton, Pete O’N, Pete C and Tom went shaft-bashing.

Digging above the Mushroom Field (4131 and ????)

Led by Phil and with Juan, we went up to two sites above the Mushroom Field which draught a bit with the aim of opening up routes into the back end of Uzueka. Both digs took a hammering but clearly would need more concerted effort so we abandoned them after a few hours.

Tourist trips

As well as the working days described above, we also did a couple of touristy trips to Jivero II, Coventosa, Arenal, Agua and Comelliante.

Other activities

Apart from the caving, Nigel, Liz, Billy, Dave and Pete C had a day out at Castro Urdiales along the coast towards Bilbao. Lovely sunny day but it was windy and the beach was too crowded so we stayed on dry land. There were also the usual trips to Bar Tomás and a BBQ at the apartments as well as an expedition dinner of Russian salad followed by goat stew.

In conclusion, it was a very productive fortnight with caving and digging almost every day adding at least four more sites onto the Matienzo index.

 

REPORT

Forest of Dean - BCRC Conference

12th - 14th June 2015 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Friday

Travel down to Parkend in the Forest of Dean for the British Cave Rescue Council AGM and Conference. A little bit of beer was supped in the evening.

Saturday

Rather than sit through the BCA AGM, I went down Wigpool Iron Mine with Mole and three other visitors for a general trip around. We saw the early and late workings and also some nice formations that have developed over the last 500 years. Exit was via a different way than the entrance we used.

Saturday night

There was a meal and entertainment in the Barbecue Churn [chamber] in Clearwell Caves courtesy of the Wrights who run the caves as a commercial venture. The whole affair was cleaned up by 10.30 and drinking then continued back at Parkend.

Sunday

A practice rescue had been arranged in Old Ham Iron Mine for all the teams, from all over the country, to take part in. There was First Aid, stretcher carrying and communications and I worked on the Nichola Phone with Dave Linton from Wales and Ivan from Scotland. The exercise also tested out the text-based CaveLink system.

After the practice, we cleaned up the venue at Parkend and then dispersed after an excellent weekend organised by the GCRO. 

Below 1: 19th century workings in Wigpool   Below 2: Formations   Below 3: Stretcher carrying in Old Ham   Below 4: Stopes   

Picture 1: 19th century workings in Wigpool Picture 2: Formations Picture 3: Stretcher carrying in Old Ham Picture 4: Stopes

REPORT

NAMHO conference at Nenthead: Carrs, Smallcleugh, Brownley Hill, Rampgill and Haggs

22nd - 26th May 2015 - Nigel Dibben - NY 7814 4382

The 2015 conference was based on the Village Hall at Nenthead and was on the topic of War and Mining although the two lectures I managed to attend between trips were about a steam loco and the Cleveland iron mines! The rest of the time (5 days) was spent on trips starting Friday afternoon and ending on Tuesday. Pete, James and Daggers were also up but apart from seeing them at the dinner and at other odd times, our paths barely crossed.

The trips I went on were all well organised and of ample length to get a really good look at the mines, better than I have managed before.

On Friday, the trip was to Carr's Mine beyond the tourist section. We went in the normal tourist entrance and then branched off left into the limestone flats via a short upward climb. We traversed along these to near the end before back-tracking to the drop down to Carr's Level again. The trip was only about 3 hours and provided a welcome introduction to the area as well as some nice formations of hydrozincite including encrustation on fungus. The leader was Helen Wilkinson.
 

Below 1: Helen Atkinson outside Carr's Mine   Below 2: Hydrozincite deposits   Below 3: Deposits of calcite on fungus   Below 4: Tub in reasonable condition   

Picture 1: Helen Atkinson outside Carr's Mine Picture 2: Hydrozincite deposits Picture 3: Deposits of calcite on fungus Picture 4: Tub in reasonable condition

Saturday was an opportunity to explore to the far reaches of Rampgill with Alan and Vicky Robinson leading. After a brief look at Brewery Shaft (lit up for the weekend), we went forward to Whiskey Bottle Junction and turned left along Rampgill Vein. When we reached the County Gate (Cumberland to Northumberland), we doubled back a little and climbed up into some flats above the level using old Norpex rails as ladders. Some samples of Witherite were found and having a geologist on the trip proved very useful. The flats have been badly smashed around by mineral thieves (i.e. those who take the mineral for profit) but we were soon through to another dodgy wire-rope ladder. Dropping down this, we were back on the main level on the other side of an engine shaft where we stopped for a snack. Afterwards, we went back through the County Gate for another look around then started out. 

Below 1: Rampgill entrance   Below 2: The County Gate   Below 3: Crossing the engine shaft   Below 4: Typical double arching   

Picture 1: Rampgill entrance Picture 2: The County Gate Picture 3: Crossing the engine shaft Picture 4: Typical double arching

On Sunday, I took the option of a half-day Brownley Hill trip going in the Bloomsberry Level to the Wellgill Cross Vein. Part way along, we went up into an interesting area of flats (name not known) which gave a very clear picture of the working methods. After roaming around for a while, we went back to the Wellgill Cross Vein and looked at the descent to Hagg Level (left for another day). A short detour took us to the "Blue Lagoon", a flooded sump with distinctly blue water in it. This was as far as we could go in the time so we reversed the route out to day. Our leader was Nick Green. 

Below 1: Bloomsberry (Brownley Hill) Level   Below 2: More hydrozincite in the stopes   Below 3: Stone arching   Below 4: High stope on the vein   

Picture 1: Bloomsberry (Brownley Hill) Level Picture 2: More hydrozincite in the stopes Picture 3: Stone arching Picture 4: High stope on the vein

For Monday’s trip, I joined Steve Holding on a trip to the further reaches of Smallcleugh. Entry was via the normal route, Wheel Flats and Hetherngton’s cross-cut. At Gypsum Corner, we went a way down the Middlecleugh Vein including seeing a short section of wooden air trunking. Going back to Gypsum Corner, we avoided the Ballroom Flats and carried on down the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein. Shortly after Carr’s Cross Vein, we climbed up into Mitchell’s Flats and had a good look around at the workings on the flat and also on the vein. Steve pointed out a pile of waste which had come from a dig of his in Middlecleugh mine. At another point, a short detour was made into a sub-level before continuing the exploration of the main level. The turning round point we chose was where the level changes from stone-arched to concrete and we started the long journey back. After Wheel Flats, where we met another group who were doing a through trip from Middlecleugh to Rampgill, we continued to Smallcleugh Flats and looked at some old workings above the level. We also climbed a temporary ladder up into New Fan Flats, a painfully low section of the mine, which was briefly explored before we returned to the main level. From there, we followed the trade route into Incline Flats and down to Hard Cross-cut and back to day.  

Below 1: Climbing the old man's ladders   Below 2: Wooden trunking for air   Below 3: Looking up an ore chute   Below 4: Team photo at the exit   

Picture 1: Climbing the old man's ladders Picture 2: Wooden trunking for air Picture 3: Looking up an ore chute Picture 4: Team photo at the exit

Tuesday was my last day and having been camped at Haggs Bank, I chose a through trip from Brownley Hill to Haggs led again by Alan Richardson. Although I had to walk to Brownley Hill (a pleasant walk along the fields on the north side of the Nent river), I could at least walk almost straight from the entrance into a hot shower! As before, we went in Bloomsbury Level but having more time, we started by turning right at the end into the Wellgill Cross Vein, following it until it met the Gudhamgill Cross Vein. There, we turned sharp left and followed a railway track north until after a bend to the left, we were back at the junction with Wellgill Cross Vein. We went straight along this vein and had another look at the flats visited two days before. Back to the tramming level and then on past the Haggs link to the Brownley Hill Vein where we climbed up into the Italian Stopes. These provided some interesting photo opportunities with a barrow, nearly complete, and a set of miner’s tools leaning against the wall. Returning down (involving a climb up and then down again into an ore chute), we started out towards Haggs. The descent to the water is not difficult even though the ladder is hard to see when you approach the connection. We were soon on our way along the partially flooded horse level towards the entrance beside the road at Haggs Barn. Eventually, we emerged to daylight and sunshine. 

Below 1: Fairly well intact barrow in the Italian stope   Below 2: Abandoned tools in the Italian stope   Below 3: Arch in Haggs Level with former still in place   Below 4: Emerging from Haggs Level   

Picture 1: Fairly well intact barrow in the Italian stope Picture 2: Abandoned tools in the Italian stope Picture 3: Arch in Haggs Level with former still in place Picture 4: Emerging from Haggs Level

Throughout the weekend, the weather had been kind to us with sunshine on most days, not too much wind and NO RAIN. The local leaders were extremely helpful and although there were a lot of other tourists around (it was Bank Holiday weekend), I don’t think we got in their way or vice versa

REPORT

Matienzo

Easter 2015 - Tom Howard

Matienzo Easter 2015
As usual, a small DCC team headed out for the Matienzo Easter 2015 Expedition – And to what a great success! Just short of 500m was surveyed of brand new cave passage above Torca la Vaca (2889). The DCC team (Andy, Anton and Joel) were joined by Alex Ritchie (BRCC) and Darren Jarvis (MUSC) leaving no space in the car for Tom, so he did his own thing until the excitement worn off a tad. Reports came back each night to Bar German which kept everybody well informed and the ‘new discovery’ was the single project for many this time round. (See description below). Apart from the new cave find, various other trips were held to some of the more explored caves in the area you could say.
Other project trips:

Cueva Vallina (0733) – Dye testing.
Tom joined Ali Niell, Pete Eagan, Pete Smith, Steve Sharp, Jim Davies and some French guy for a trip down to the streamway to place some dye.
Four litres of Leucophor were placed in the river just upstream of the confluence of the waters from Vallina I and II. Detectors were placed in Cueva del Comellantes (40), Cueva del Molino (resurgence) (791), Fuente de Barcena Morel (3278) and the Bustablado river just down stream of the main resurgences on the south side opposite Molino. Detectors were also placed in Cueva-Cubío de la Reñada (48), at Sump 1, Squirrel's Passage and the stream below Castle Hall. After 8 days of negative detectors, the detector in Cueva del Comellantes went strongly positive. Subsequent checks on the other detectors showed them all to be negative apart from Sump 1 in Reñada which was also strongly positive. This test confirms that Vallina and Reñada are part of the same system, and that Squirrel's Passage water is an inlet and not part of the main river that flows out of Reñada II and into Reñada I via sump I.

Cueva Vallina (0733) – Top entrance to Pot Entrance Sport trip.
Not forgetting his place, Tom carried bags for a sporting trip from the top entrance of Vallina to the Pot entrance with Jude Latimer and Jenny Corrin.

Cueva de los Campizos (3812) – Pushing.
Tom, Alex and Andy visited this site to see whether the current end could be pushed. It was, and we managed to push a tight rift into a large chamber with a 33m aven. Tom then climbed to the current ‘end’ and due to lack of rigging and support turned back leaving it wide open for summer! The Easter extension will need resurveying when we return and surveying into the final rifts. Note: Gloves melt when used on Petzl Stops after abseiling 90m on 11mm dry rope!

Torca la Vaca (2889) – Pushing.
Tom, Paul Dold, Steve Sharp, Bill Sherington, Dan Hibberts and Imogen Dold revisited the pitch that Tom, Paul and Ed had left in 2013 due to lack of rigging gear. We rigged to -37m to a definitive end (all tackle removed afterward). We then rigged a traverse along the rift and entered a passage on the opposite side with a howling draft. Size 2m x 2m. Wide open ready for summer.

Child Minders Cave (4046) – New area. Pushing.
An afternoon spare seen Tom, Johnny Latimer, James Carlisle and Bill Sherrington explore a new cave over in Solorzano (new permit area). Managing to survey 114m to a current conclusion. Leaving a dry sandy and drafting dig along with diving potential in clear blue flowing waters.

Members involved:
Andy Farrow
Anton Petho
Joel Colk
Tom Howard
Steve Martin
Susie Martin

4117: Ciervo, Cueva del
Hornedo 30T 448502 4800345 (Datum: ETRS89. Accuracy code: G) Altitude 168m
Length 491m including The Langdales, site 3034
Area position

A complex maze site that lies about 35m above Ed's Birthday Passage close to the Wasdale Screes in Torca la Vaca
Cave description as of 05/04/2015 - Alex Ritchie
The cave is located about 50 m north east of the cow barn on the left-hand side of the first wooded shake-hole. Note in summer it may need heavy bushwhacking.
The excavated entrance is an almost flat out soil slope which opens out into a small chamber with calcite formations. The way on used to be through a squeeze over boulders to the right, but a route has been forged through straight ahead. Follow the calcited crawl round the corner to another chamber with a blind pit. Traverse across this into a boulder ruckle, turn left and then straight ahead (left is another previously descended blind pot of 11m). Two windows lead onto a now very muddy flat-out crawl for about 20 meters, before the passage enlarges to well decorated walking passage.
Left and through the rifts leads to the current Y-hang for the top of the main pitch which is 70m deep broken by a spiral of ledges. The pitch is unfortunately blind. However there are leads off at -40m which have not been fully pushed and will require bolting.
Back at the top, ahead leads to a roped traverse round the main shaft of the pitch. It is possible to step off at the beginning and turn right. This leads to a choke near the surface along with a series of bones and some possible ancient leather. (Should only be entered with care). The traverse leads round the pitch into a rift, the last half of which is currently un-protected but is easy enough. From here the passage enlarges to form a large, well decorated chamber on the left with a 10m deep hole in the floor (blind). Right leads through a short crawl to another choke near the surface with a possible crawl off to the left (un-pushed). A traverse around the chamber passes close to some very important bear bones. (These should not be crossed). To go around the bones step across the boulders on the left taking care of the formations and then by turn right again to follow the rift to a sandy slope, with evidence of claw marks on the right-hand side.
At the other side of the slope, most ways on choke or lead to small un-descended holes in the floor. Left is the only way on. This leads to a T-junction with shallow muddy pools. Taking a left turn here leads back to the main chamber; a right turn leads to a roped traverse over a deep hole (which becomes too tight). Continuing forwards, the passage develops into a rift where, at the end (straight ahead) is a hole in the floor that connects down a 6m drop into the Langdales cave, an easier way in.
To the right just before a hole, is a round trip that will take you through boulders and back to the chamber this side of the traverse, where as a left turn about 20 meters further back leads to an interesting and decorated passage which heads back towards the main 70m pitch and has a visual connection across a drop to the passage on the left of the pools. Before the end of the passage you have to go up a short climb into a chamber, if you turn right here, this leads to a volcano-like formation, beyond which are choked passages. One ends at another interesting un-descended hole at the end of the passage.

 

Below 1: Er?   Below 2: Some of the team hard at work   

Picture 1: Er? Picture 2: Some of the team hard at work

REPORT

Derbyshire Weekend

21st-22nd February 2015 - Anton Petho

Derbyshire Weekend

Saturday 21st Rowter Hole

Apologies in advance for the length of this trip report as I am ensuring I covered everything in enough depth so I don’t have to go back down this hole for a good while!

Now according to Newton’s third law of motion what goes up must come down, however I have recently learnt that for cavers it’s more like what goes down must come up. But the success upon which one surfaces from the depths is dependent on Newton’s second law of motion which defines the law of gravity. These facts become particularly prevalent for a trip down Rowter Hole, as people have stated that getting to the end of the new stuff in Rowter, is easy on the way in as gravity helps to pull you down, but coming back out is a lot more challenging as the same force that pulled you into said hole is now working against you as you try to wriggle out!

For those of you have not seen the article in Decent magazine, last May the Buttered Badgers Pothole Club (BBPC) had one of the biggest break through’s into new cave in Derbyshire for a good while. Rowter is one of the countless lead mines in Derbyshire, the BBPC took up one of our digs from some 20 years ago. They were digging down an old stope which broke out in a small natural stream passage only for it to close down again at a boulder choke, however the sound of rushing water could be heard not so far away and after a bit of perseverance they emerged in a walking stream passage on the other side of the choke, which quickly dropped down into a chamber they named Decision Decisions which has two sumps at either end. Above one of these sumps is a tight narrow rift which is carved out of a mineral vein, rich in galena and calcite, this has been named the Ice Cream Trail, as the climb up above the sump is covered in white calcite and looks like a tub of ice cream has been poured down the slope. The Ice Cream Trail leads to the Father Day Series which bottoms out in the Crystal Orechasm and the Awechasm above, which leads to a well decorated chamber named Sunrise. The main aim of this trip was to get to the end of the Ice Cream Trail and into the Crystal Orechasm, but for me personally I have reached a point where I want to do more trips out of my comfort zone and from the reports of the Ice Cream Trail Rowter would be well suited for this task.

Due to me being limited on transport and other factors we decided on a leisurely meet time of 12:00pm up a Rowter Farm. The trip would include Tom, David Duncan and I, although I invented an extra person for this trip as I thought David Duncan was two people! We quickly got changed and underground as there was a small snow flurry and some sheep were taking a particularly keen interest in us. We shot down the 70 metre mine shaft and set off towards the news stuff. We made excellent time and reach Decisions Decisions in just under an hour and after taking off our SRT gear, we got ready for the Ice Cream Trail. Going down the trail isn’t bad as gravity pulls you into most of the squeezes, except the one I gave up on before, where you have to go from head first to feet first up an steeply inclined tube and then pull like buggary on a rope to drop over a lip and into the next section and onto the last squeeze, which we all got through and reached the top of the Wizard Sleeve, so called because it opens out like a Wizard’s sleeve. Straight after this is a small chamber at the end of the Ice Cream Trail, where in one corner a hands and knees crawl leads to the top of the Orechasm pitch head, it is an interesting pitch head as you emerge feet first into the chamber and the y hand is directly below you, luckily it is made easier by the presence of an etrier. I rigged up my stop and began my descent and met Tom on a traverse line on a rock ledge which leads to another rope going down a short distance to the bottom. Once we had all grouped up on the ledge we went down the final pitch and looked at the next dig the Badgers want to do, which is to make a passage through the boulders at the bottom of the Orechasm. Water can be clearly seen a few feet below and this is believed to link into the Whirl Pool Rising inlet in Speedwell cavern, as you are only 40 metres away from it at this point. Tom wanted to get some pictures while he was down here as there aren’t that many at the bottom, so I prusicked back upto the rock ledge, clipped in and held a flash so Tom could get a picture of the Orechasm in all its splendour. I had decided at the bottom not even to attempt getting up into the Awechasm as I was feeling a bit worse for wears, and also having had a look at how the rope was rigged, in the mother and father of all closed loops I decided I wouldn’t even nowhere to start to get onto my up gear without getting hung up. I therefore decided to go and wait back at the small chamber at the end of the Ice Cream Trail while Tom and Dave went and had an explore. I wasn’t there very long as both Tom and then David got hung up in completely different ways, both decided to abort a trip up and join me back at the end of the Ice Cream Trail. I began my way back up the Wizard Sleeve and got to the bottom of the first electron and climbed up to the first proper squeeze, but it proved to be a lot lot harder for me then it had been on the way in, as that old foe gravity had helped me in. The squeeze is awkward as you first have to climb up an electron and then step off, bend into the squeeze, kick off and thrutch into it, I had several stabs at it only to become what it must feel like to be a beach whale, I decided at this point I may need a bit of assistance and so I let David get through, annoyingly he made it look very easy and so I quickly had another go only to encounter the same problem. In the end it ended up with Tom up the electron acting as a solid place for me to kick off and David pulling me through in a Chuckle Brothers style to me, to you. It was the same story when I came to the next squeeze and had to rely on the kind help of Tom and David to help me through, the problem I was having in both these squeezes was my inability to thrutch enough to be able to get into them. Depsite this and me having a few clatters and bangs we made it to the end of the Ice Cream Trail and back to Decisions Decisions and began the journey back up to the surface.

After de-rigging, we all headed down to the TSG hut in Castleton where we had a shower and warmed up and met Lauren and Purdie, we all then headed to the Castle Inn for a well earned pint. We then retired to the TSG but before bed we set up a small rave in the kitchen and saw if it was possible to play Jenga with a strobe light on!

Sunday 22nd Peak’s Cavern (Devil Arse)

After the events of the previous day and too some degree the night as well most people were feeling quite delicate, so seeing as a Peak key holder was about and Purdie had never been in Peak before, we decided on a leisurely trip round the tourist route and take a few photos. We quickly made are way through the show cave and arrived at the mucky ducks, they were the highest I have ever seen them, particularly the third one which had just enough room to keep your head out of the water, we cracked on upto surprise view and made it all the way to far sump, which compared to when I was there in summer where there was a nice beach and the sump was fairly low, was completely flooded. We then made are way back out of the cave, with Tom and Lauren taking a few nice photos along the way, we emerged to find it a tad nippy on the surface with a snow flurry to go with it. We then headed back to the TSG for a well earned brew and a bit of food before a snowy drive back through the Peaks to home.

Thanks to all who turned out,

Anton
 

REPORT

Carlswark Cavern

18th January 2015 - Olly King

A trip organised by Lauren, a visit to Carlswalk would start a late new caving year for some of us! A rather nice winters drive took us to Stoney Middleton where we met up with Colum, Gary, Phil, Charlotte, Kelly, Alistair and Dave in the lay-by opposite the curry house. A quick discussion to devise some sort of plan, a shuffle of cars, and then we set off for Eyam Dale shaft.
Now Kelly was not trained with Single Rope Technique so we dropped an electron down the shaft and sent Lauren down first. This is where, it would seem, we hit our first snag! The guide suggested an 11m ladder was required, so naturally, I thought there would be no problems using a 10m ladder. However, when Lauren shouted up and suggested the ladder was short by a fair bit more than a meter it was clear something had gone slightly wrong! Never mind, being on a life line I lowered her the rest of the way without issue.
After about 4 others descended, including Kelly who, despite making lots of noise, did very well at this point! The rest of us got a bit fed up with life-lining so being the only one with a stop I decided we could all descend without the hassle of a ladder and pull my stop up for each person thereafter. Job done in half the time!
Back in to the small constriction from the shaft (which I do not remember from my previous trip for some reason!) everyone was waiting in the first small chamber, and were keen to move on!

So off we all crawled. I had asked Colum to take me back to the Start of Dynamite, which depending on my mood once I got there would determine whether I would brave the leg braking bendy squeeze in to Dynamite series proper. So I shouted ahead to anyone who might want to join us. Lauren, Alistair, David joined us on our diversion.

Lots of crawling, and we found ourselves in the eternal circle, a stream way that has many confused! Basically a circular route where people seem to struggle to find the exit from which they had arrived, a small opening obscured by a boulder. We then got to Dynamite passage and after a couple of squeezes found ourselves in Dynamite chamber, a rift with the first technically awkward squeeze (for tall not so thin folk!) I had conquered some months previously. Lauren poked her head in, but there was a fair bit of water so decided not to attempt it. I decided not to even bother looking, and I don't think any of the others were really in the mood either! We decided to complete the eternal circle and head back towards Eyam passage and towards the exit. I was surprised, upon arriving at Oyster chamber to see the others were waiting for us! I honestly thought they would be in the pub but clearly Kelly hadn't had enough water yet!
We took it in turns to check out the sump (resurgence) and a small calicite feature then of course there was the obligatory welly wetting!
From here we headed in to a rather nice walking height Phreatic tube and then some old man workings to the gin entrance.
A walk along the a tiny path half way up the cliff overlooking the main road, and a rather nice winters view, dropped us down back to the sub station and some warm clothing, coffee.
It would be rude not to have a drink in the local pub, so a drive to the miners arms, followed by a quick snowball fight finished off a rather nice day out!
 

Picture 1:

REPORT

Coniston Copper Mines

1st January 2015 - Ed

Attendees - E Coghlan, L Griffin, D Purdie, T Stockton, A Petho, J Johnson + P Johnson.


After a lot of deliberation and discussion a date was finally set for a "DCC do Coniston" trip. the plan was to meet by the old copper works and then head up to do the Leverswater to hospital level through trip. When Terry and I made it to the parking area we noticed a bit of a "change" in the weather. After a few minutes we were getting changed in the snow! After a short wait the rest of the group turned up and started getting kitted up. With the group complete and ready to go we headed up the mountain in the falling snow. At leverswater we headed down into the open cutting and found our way to the first ladder. Halfway down we took the side passage and headed over the CATMHS cat walk to explore the lower level. We then headed back to the ladder way and down to the first of the pull throughs, at the bottom your very swiftly onto the second pull through dropping you onto the main level. A quick wade through n** deep water saw us admiring the green pool and after stopping for a few pictures we made our way to the blue rock. After a quick bite to eat we headed down through the hole in the floor and followed the ropes down the stope till we hit the 3rd and final pull through. Once everyone was down we made our way along the level and out into glorious sunshine with no sign of the earlier snow! All in all a good trip and always very interesting. Time to head back to the cars and get changed before a swift pint in the pub. 

Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4:

More pictures 

Picture 1: Picture 2:

REPORT

Shuttleworth Pot, Yorkshire.

19th October 2014 - Tom Howard - SD6621479777

This was an Earby led trip for if you didn't recognise members' names.

Shuttleworth Pot – 19th October 2014. Post Earby PC Dinner trip.

After a jolly night spent in the Red Lion, Settle. We were up and ready for utilising the permit (Yes, that’s right, a permit!) for Shuttleworth pot up on Leck Fell. Until 1997 it was only accessible by divers and what lay beyond the waters of Witches cave was something that everybody should see at least twice!
As most of us stayed in or around Clapham bunkhouse, we met for breakfast in the café at the reasonable time of 10 and after a mug or two of tea, a cooked breakfast and another mug of tea we set off for the fell. Stuart led, being the responsible permit holder and rigged with Kenny whilst Tony followed, fag in hand of course. Then Hilda, Pete and Tom. Pete, it’s worth mentioning made the schoolboy error of leaving his SRT kit at home and therefore was doing it minimalistic using a borrowed harness and stop. He would worry about the ascent back out afterward. Mo followed me with Bob and we all met again at the bottom of the main pitch/ the top of the divers pitch. Whilst the last few tackled the rebelays and dropped down to us I took the opportunity to get the camera out.

We moved on through a low section into the rest of the cave which happened to get better as we progressed to find calcite curtain formations, gour pools, helictites and hundreds of calcite straws!
Anyway. We took pictures, gawped at formations, had a chat and headed back up on out leaving Kenny and Stuart to de-rig and meet us at the top.
Lastly, with any trip report must come a weather report and time check:-
• On entry: Weather – Dull but dry, not much wind. 1130(ish)
• On exit: Weather – Dull, Side on rain, strong wind and a little bit chilly. 1746.

Back to Bunkhouse to catch last orders and wish Sue and Simon a good holiday and then off home.

Thanks all for a great trip, and especially Stuart for organising us with a p***it.
Tom.
 

REPORT

Derbyshire Weekend

4th October 2014 - Anton Petho

Derbyshire Weekend

Saturday 4th October

The trip lined up for this day was Moss Chamber in Peak Cavern. This was a trip I had always fancied doing partly due to the well-known history of the chamber itself but also I had heard that the trip to the chamber itself was a superb trip.

The day started with Charlotte, Terry, Olly and I all catching a lift with Damian to get some brekky at Pervil Stores in Castleton before meeting Andy, Richard, Allan and Colin at the TSG hut in Castleton where we all got kitted up and headed into the depths of Peak Cavern.

Leaving the lights of the show cave we descended the Devils stair case via the slide and walked along the concrete walkways of the former extension to the show cave in the Five Arches passage. At the end of the old show cave the real caving commenced with the first obstacle being the three ducks, the last being known as the mucky ducks, which was a rather refreshing but cold wake up call for 9:30 in the morning.

After walking down Ecstasy Passage for a little while we reached the small climb on the right hand wall, upto the entrance of Pickering’s Passage. After crawling on our hands and knees for a good way the passage closed down to the first squeeze which was closely followed by a second squeeze. After these squeezes the passage opened out again, but quickly was the next challenge that Allan described as the climbs of death, these climbs started with a walk up a very muddy, slippery slope which then leads too two awkward climbs due to the lack of foot and hand holes.

After these climbs we reached a small aven where a quick glance of the survey lent from the TSG showed that we were approaching the main squeeze, the Eyehole. The squeeze is not so much tight more the fact that getting into it is awkward as you have to climb up, then lie on your side and it is difficult to find any good place to kick off to get into it, despite this everyone made it through, help greatly by Olly having gone through and guiding us all through, and after negotiating two more climbs we arrived at the static pool just before Moss Chamber.

After passing through the static pool at the entrance too Moss Chamber we spent some time having a look at the superb formations and then had a peer down the shaft that Neil Moss became trapped in, which was a very sobering experience. From here Richard, Andy, Terry, Olly and I all manage to get through the even tighter squeeze to get through too Anniversary Aven were after a quick mooch around we rejoined the others and all started the journey out.
Once we had all changed in the TSG we headed upto The Wanted for well-earned pint before people headed home.

Sunday 5th October

The plan for this day had been to go down Rowter Hole but due to only Andy and I staying the night and Andy having done Rowter twice already this year, we decided to go for something neither of us had done before and so we choose to go and have a mooch at Water Icicle. The entrance is via a 32metre mine shaft in the corner of a field. The shaft itself has some rather nice pic marks pretty much all the way down the shaft. The shaft bottoms in The Three Ways Aven, so called because there are three ways on. Each way has been extensively dug at by the Orpheus Caving Club and most of these digs are ongoing. We spent a while having a mooch down each of the passage and looking at the digs, the main event in Water Icicle is a section that has very impressive formation so much so that it is now gated off and a trip with a key holder is required who we didn’t have with us, so it means we have unfinished business and a return trip is required. After a bit more mooching we made our way back up the entrance pitch and then got change and headed home.

Thanks to all who showed up and may it a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.
 

REPORT

Bagshawe Cavern

Sunday 31st August 2014 - Olly King

Bagshawe Cavern

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! 

REPORT

Matienzo, Cantabria, Spain

August 2014 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album      and an  view offline report (PDF) offline report     related to this event

An outline report has been prepared and can be read here by clicking on the box above.  

REPORT

Gentlewoman's - Youd's

Saturday 19th July 2014 - Olly King

Gentlewoman's – youd's

After our last failed attempt at finding the shaft for Gentlewoman's, Gary Bertola, Terry Stockton, Andrew Farrow and myself decided we would not fail on this visit. Armed with a more accurate NGR, we all met up in Matlock Bath to plan our trip.
We parked in the car park adjacent to Youd's exit, and then made our way up Mason hill above Matlock to find our way in to this elusive system.
The good news is that we soon found the shaft, and so we proceeded to send a rope down and without any delay descended the 30 or so meters to the bottom of a fairly narrow and undulating shaft!
Upon reaching the bottom, and being careful not to disturb the huge spiders (some of Britain's biggest, M menardi), along with their egg sacs hanging from the ceiling) found spread across the small chamber, I waited for the others to arrive ..
We would not need our kit from here on, assuming a route was found through the mine, so we tied everything to our rope and made our way forward.
We followed a passage round and soon found our way in to the main stope of Gentlewoman's Pipe. This is a part of the trip that I had been rather perplexed by, as descriptions vary, but one thing they all have in common is that there would be a lot of high exposed climbing at the end of the stope with little room for errors, so I was rather intrigued to know what we were letting ourselves in for!
When we got there, the best way I could describe this stope, was that of Swiss cheese really! The initially part was spacious, but it was clear to see it was not typical of what you might see in Derbyshire. The miners had clearly found pockets of mineral and removed on those rich veins, whilst leaving behind much of the host rock. This meant there were a few holes to squeeze, and a few possible ways on in some circumstances. One thing we did know, is that shortly following some bones, after a duck, we were to make our way up into the roof of the 'Swiss-cheesey' stope.
Our path was found (more like guessed) so up we went. There was much scrambling and the way on was awkward, whilst every effort was made to hold on to features within the rock you were also looking for your next step. Occasionally there was a short drop below our feet, but other times you got a nice clear view of the floor 30ft below with very little in the way of rock to hold on to. It was all easier than I had imagined though, and after a couple of wrong turns we realised we were on the right track!
One thing that is worth noting before I move on, was the 'Dog tooth' spar we encountered in this part of the mine. Never have I seen such large and impressive specimens, they were very impressive!
Our next stop was the bit I was waiting for, that being some graffiti left by the old man sometime in the 18th century.
A quick picture and we were off to the bit I was not waiting for, a nice tight squeeze through a very wet section. I had remained largely dry until this point, and so after some time attempting to enlarge the squeeze with supplied shovels and scrapers, I had to resign to the fact I was about to get rather wet!
We all scraped through this section and now we were mostly hands and knees crawling. The geology had changed at this point to what I think might have been Basalt, leaving the limestone behind, the environment was much looser and darker, gloomier than before.
We were now following the stream way in Old Jant mine and heading for the sough. A quick detour to have a look at an old jigging box used to wash the lead, and some further exploring, before heading for the sough and our way home..
The sough really is quite impressive. All hand picked and only enough rock removed to allow minimal access, things were fairly tight. While this made for a rather uncomfortable trip at times (bent double, twisting sideways) you could really appreciate the effort the miners went to to carve this passage out of the rock. I think it stands as being the longest 'coffin level' (named for its shape) in Derbyshire.
We were nearing the end now, and as we checked out some shafts and other features, a light ahead caught my attention!
Upon reaching the source, we found one of our colleagues setting up to dive one of the shafts within the sough. We had a chat, watched him disappear underwater, then made our way to the end.
The exit to Youd's is in itself quite interesting, as the lid opens up in to a public playground! As the weather was rather poor on this day we did not get any surprised onlookers, so we made our way to the car to get dressed, and then we could head back to Gentlewoman's to collect the gear.

A superb trip was had by all, one of my favourites to date. A really interesting mine both for its history and Geology. Andy described the place as “Bonkers” - I can find no word or term to better describe it myself, so Bonkers it is!
 

Picture 1:

REPORT

Peak Cavern 'Let's try Caving'

14th June 2014 - Olly King

June 14th 2014

Let's try Caving – Peak Cavern

Attended: Charlotte Meakin, Gaz Kinersley, Tom Howard, Olly King, Anton Petho, Joel Colk, Dave Dillon, Allan Berry, Pete Clues, Allan's son, Amy Rabson, Arthur Warrick, Alley James, Terry Stockton and 'Lee'.

Quite a turnout, far better than I expect, I was beginning to think people would be disappointed with the trip I had planned, but it was just a taster after all!
So this was a taster trip designed to explore the main stream way, nothing too taxing, but a taster of what a sump would be like was in order for those who wanted to get thoroughly wet!
We all met up at the TSG. Weather was good, which is always a plus point. We all headed to Peak Cavern (sorry, Devil's Arse as it is now known!). We made our way to the main stream way and through the muddy ducks and 5 arches to find our way in to the stream way proper. There is something I had failed to tell everyone on this trip, in that there was it would seem, an ulterior motive! It wasn't really that, but after speaking to Jim 'Aquamole' Lister the week before, it turned out he had left a number of items above surprise view that needed lugging down to ink sump. It would be rude not to offer our help, in fact unforgivable! So I had to break the news to everyone but did so just as we got underground! We all collected various bits of wood and scaff tubes to carry to ink sump which just so happened to be our first port of call. This led to much cursing, but was for a good cause after all!
We dropped the gear off at the junction that leads to Ink, and continued on to the end of the streamway until we found the sump. On our way back we picked up where we left off and dragged everything to ink sump. Here there was a small duck that can be treated as a sump. There is a guide rope that you can grab hold of and in doing so fully emerge yourself in the freezing water and pull yourself through to the chamber beyond. A small diversion allows access to those who do not want to do this however, but there really is not a lot to see beyond this point, the only access being for those equipped with diving equipment and nerves of steel!
After having a play in the water we made our way back and had a look in the M50 series. At this point one or two of us were feeling a little on the cold side, so I had to make the decision to leave other parts for another day and head out.
All in all we had a fun few hours playing around, and it is always entertaining seeing the public's faces as you make your way out of Peak completely soaked from head to toe, they must wonder what they are about to let themselves in for!
The day was complete with a visit to a local ale house, where we enjoyed a well earned pint! 

Picture 1:

REPORT

Nice 'n' easy SRT - Hillocks Mine

11th May 2014 - Olly King - SK 1449 6729

A trip organised by myself as requested by a couple of members, I had never done Hillocks but it had been on my list for some time.
Myself, Phil, Gareth and Anton all made our way up to Monyash triangle to meet Amy and Gaz, whom had recently treated themselves to some new SRT kit which needed a little bedding in...
After a quick bite to eat at the cafe, and a little procrastinating as we waited for the rain to pass, we decided to make our way over to the mine 1 mile away.

The plan, basically to rig the Wharf Engine Shaft, then enter via the barrel and descend to the bottom where folks would then have a choice of which way they wanted to return...

After rigging the shaft, we all headed for the cutting that would lead to where the miners probably intercepted the vein and initially worked the place out.
A small barrel shaped concrete entrance led in to a stope, slightly larger than expected. Some stooping and crawling then led to an awkward heads-first drop to our first challenge, a little wet squeeze that would lead to a rather nice hand picked passage..
This led to the first pitch, about 8 or so meters down to a tiny little hole at the bottom.
Amy came through the crawl followed by Gaz and Anton, whilst Phil and Gaz went round and decided they would drop the Engine shaft and meet us at the bottom!
We continued on in the little labyrinth of pipes and passages to the next drop of a few meters. I dropped to the bottom not realising that I had missed the passage, and really tried to get through the hole below, and being unconvinced it went on got Anton to check it out as he was smaller than me!
I was relieved to find out it was not the continuation (as this would have marked the end of my trip!) and so I retraced my steps and finally found the way on a couple of meters above us.
I crawled through the small passage and noticed the flash of another lamp... This turned out to be Phil which was good timing!
We all descended in to the passage below and so had a little look around the place. After sitting down and chatting for a while, we decided it was time to make our way out. I was surprised that most wanted to climb the Engine shaft, so as Phil and Gaz had already come down, we decided to make it a bit of an exchange trip so that they would return the way we came, de-rigging the ropes as they went back, and we would climb the 58 meter shaft!
This would be Amy's first major ascent. I know I would have been very nervous when I was at her level but she was really keen and I was not going to stop her! I decided to ascend the first ¾'s of the pitch which would allow me to sit on a ledge and encouragement should she need it. Gaz and Anton would follow behind.
I have to say I was genuinely surprised how well she did! For someone who says she is not fit she climbed the rope in a very respectable time, and was soon clipped on to the ledge alongside myself!
At this point I made the last 12 or so meters out of the shaft so would be there to assist anyone getting off the rope (it is awkward!) if they needed it. As Amy was making her way up Phil and Gaz appeared and so we were all re-united again.
Gaz was next up, followed by a very quick Anton!
We all finished off with a pint in the Duke of York Inn and discussed a very successful and fun days trip.
Hillocks is a super little mine. You could actually be mistaken for thinking it was largely natural, apart from the coffin levels and blast holes strewn about. A real fun place regardless of whether you like mines or caves, and one I will return to and explore further in the future.  

Below 1: Amy makes it to the top!   Below 2: Gaz glad to see daylight   Below 3: Anton at the top of the Engine Shaft   Below 4: A happy Gaz and Amy   

Picture 1: Amy makes it to the top! Picture 2: Gaz glad to see daylight Picture 3: Anton at the top of the Engine Shaft Picture 4: A happy Gaz and Amy

REPORT

South Wales Meet over the Bank Holiday

3rd - 5th May 2014 - Nigel Dibben - SN 9295 1339

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Friday 2nd May

Tom had fixed accommodation for us at Croydon Caving Club’s hut in Ystradfellte. We arrived in three groups in time to fix the trip for the following day which was going to be led by Chris Crowley. Neil, Annette, Charlie, Sue, Claire and Andy from the CCC were also there so it was decided there would be two groups into Dan-yr-Ogof on the Saturday.

Saturday 3rd May – DAN-YR-OGOF

We set off from the CCC hut in good time and were getting changed and ready to enter DYO by about 1030. Chris took four of us and Neil the fifth along with the three other CCC cavers. The trip was for conservation purposes so we carefully checked the condition of the formations and the marking tapes during our trip. We also observed how the water level dropped while we there (compare the trip report 093 three years ago with Allan!). We took the usual round trip route through the show cave and lakes and up to the Long Crawl. After some thrutching and squeezing we were all through although Tom couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Beyond the Long Crawl, we went round by Flabbergasm Chasm and up to the Abyss near the end of DYO 2. Here we started to return out via the Washing Machine and Bakerloo Straight. The Long Crawl didn’t seem as long on the way out so soon we were back into the sunshine and changing in the car park.

Back to CCC hut and we joined in the village celebrations as the New Inn had just re-opened under new management following its winter hibernation. A good night was had by all.

Sunday 4th May – OFD II Top Entrance to Cwm Dwr

Neil thought we might be able to get on a trip to the Columns but in any case was happy to lead the whole group, less Chris, from Top Entrance to Cwm Dwr. We got up to Penwyllt by about 1030 and found that we had missed our chance to go the Columns but we carried on with the rest of the planned trip and set off walking up to Top Entrance. Once in, we took a fairly conventional route through the Big Chamber Near the Entrance and on towards the Columns but turned off when we met the ‘official’ group from SWCC who said that there was no question of us visiting them. We headed back towards Arête Chamber and then down Corkscrew Climb into a crawly route leading to the Judge. After a quick look up Swamp Creek, we carried on to Maypole Inlet and down into the Main Stream. As usual, the Main Stream was quite exciting although the water was relatively low. After a long stretch, we reached Piccadilly and headed back towards Cwm Dwr entrance via the Smithy and Dim Dwr. All got out safely and in good condition!

After showers (very nice!), we got back to the CCC hut, arranged a meal in the New Inn and then stayed there for the rest of the night.

Monday 5th May – OFD I

The day before, Nigel said he might go for a walk on the Monday but rapidly changed his mind when Neil kindly offered to lead us into OFD I. So we set off again for the Tawe Valley and Penwyllt to change for OFD I. It’s a long walk down to the entrance but it wasn’t long before we reached the way in to the cave. Inside, the route is fairly comfortable caving having once been a sort of show cave and we headed along the dry sections to the Wire Traverse. We were soon across this and on to the Dugout and Rawl Series where we took some photos of the pretties. This section led after a flat-out crawl to the descent into the streamway via an inlet passage. From there back to the entrance passage was a similar experience to OFD II although the water seemed to be even lower than the day before. We climbed out of the stream and were soon on the way back to the entrance, stopping briefly for a team photo. Then it was out to the daylight and the long slog up the hill.

Another shower and we were ready to say goodbye to Neil and Annette and head off home. A great weekend made even better by the hospitality of the Croydon CC without whom we would probably not have seen half of what we did.

The DCC Team was Tom, Nigel, Anton and Emma with Andy from UCET.

PS Nigel’s last visit to OFD I was 40 years ago!
 

Below 1: The team after OFD II trip   Below 2: Rawl Series in OFD I   Below 3: Formations   Below 4: You do have to crawl occasionally   

Picture 1: The team after OFD II trip Picture 2: Rawl Series in OFD I Picture 3: Formations Picture 4: You do have to crawl occasionally

More pictures 

Below 1: More pretties   Below 2: Neil in the streamway   Below 3: Annette in the streamway   Below 4: Team picture   

Picture 1: More pretties Picture 2: Neil in the streamway Picture 3: Annette in the streamway Picture 4: Team picture

REPORT

Cae Coch

11th April 2014 - Paul Stubbs

We had decided to do an evening trip as this would allow people who are working a chance to go with us, Steve Dalglish, Gary Beech, Gary Ryan and myself set off to Wales at 6:30pm and arrived at 7:50.

This was a return trip for Steve but a first for the rest of us, the steep grassy bank and trip down the even steeper woodland entrance is interesting to say the least but we managed with the help of a hand line which Steve had taken knowing it was bad if wet on the hillside. The mine has 6 entrances but only 2 are open and the way in is easy access, Steve had taken his camera to get some shots so told us to go and explore on our own as he felt we should be more than ok so we set off up inside following well trodden paths. After about 200 yards we noticed a crawl under a ledge and followed it up to a stope full of loose shale and managed to get to the top, this led us along a path to a collapse that we managed to climb up and get into a very long section going ever higher inside the mine.

After finding lots of minerals we started to come across a few artifacts that made for good photos and an intriguing working level with much timbering and remains of a hauling level, we had a good look around and started back towards where we had left Steve to his photography, he had come looking for us as 2 hours had passed and he mentioned that he hadn't been that far up before so seems like another trip is in order, we eventualy got out at 12.45 am. 

Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4:

REPORT

Devonshire Cavern and Spinney Level

8th March 2014 - Gary Beech - SK 290 584

Yesterday saw the unholy union of Gaz B and Gaz K! We headed for Matlock to look at a familiar mine, Devonshire Cavern.

The idea was to descend a hidden shaft and to see what was down there. I rigged the pitch whilst explaining to Gaz how you don't use figure of eights any more because they are deemed as dangerous and don't look as good as a load of jangly Petzl stuff hanging from your harness. Any road! With me trusty and not rusty figure of eight loaded I descended into the unknown! Upon reaching the bottom I found it to be very Derbyshire like I struggled for 20 mins and barely made 3 foot of progress. I think it was something to do with limestone shrinkage due to all the rain we have had! Dejected I made the climb out and had dinner while we we discussed where to go next.

We decided that Spinney Level was worth a look so Gaz and Gaz the unholy union headed for the Spinney Level. A quick change into our non professional caving overalls fury suit and wet socks and we were in past our waists in some nice cold water. There is some nice formations as soon as you enter and flow stone that resembles icing sugar that flows 40 or so foot from roof to floor and the floor is a mass of cave pearls! The mine looks to be worked on a fault and the passages follow a nice angle.

In all it was great trip with a lot of new stuff found ready for another day 

REPORT

Eyam Dale House Cave

15th February 2014 - Simon Dillon

Twas the morning of the 15th day of second month of the year, the hairy warrior arose early collected his gear for the quest into the realm of the underworld, he did jump aboard his sturdy steed. A boxy beast of great thirst, it came from the land of snow and trolls and was named Volvo. The winding road to the Shire had seen much destruction these past days as the great wind god, Gale had sought much destruction upon the trees. The rain god Peindoon had flooded much of the track and fields.
The Hairy one met with his partner for this quest in the ancient dell of Eyam. His companion known as the smooth one arrived upon his sturdy sleek beast which came from the land of the Gauls his beast was known as Mercedes. They parked their trusty beast in the House of Eyma Dale a great stone building with large impressive doors. They pounded on the doors and a buxom wench came forth. The pair enquired for the key to the underworld, but where told their quest had come to nought. We would need to seek the holder of the key a man known in these parts as Squire John Beck.
Their quest in the village was met with success when they found the humble abode of the legendary Beck. He however was in hospital and they met with his squire, he did inquire from whence they came. When they told him from the great Shire caving club he was in awe and did hand over the key for their quest.
The Hairy one did don his armour known as Warmback and many jangling shiny things for his descent down into the depths. The smooth knight did don a yellow suit of armour; it has seen many other battles in the underworld with rock demons and was tattered and torn from the jagged beasts. The smooth one did unfastened the lid to the underworld. A steel lid no doubt to keep the cave trolls and beast trapped within a rope of one chain in length was rigged to a staff at the top of the shaft, the smooth one did descend first. Both men laughed in the face of danger as they did have what they called the Krab for braking on their D ring, but other gear was in front of it to so as their stop would not be caught in it. The smooth one had descended into the depth a great cry was heard from below, ‘Rope Free’ no doubt this would have sent every cave troll and beast scurrying into the tightest of recesses. The hairy one soon arrived at the bottom, both men agreed there were many rub point on the rope on the way in but the protectors of the rope should save the day.
The pair got out some ungodly magic that captured moving pictures. They were in a natural Chamber there was hole in the floor a further half chain deep into a rift, but the quest was not for this today. A scramble and crawl over boulder soon lead to a further free climbable shaft, the height of 3 good men. This could be climbed with care, and much use was made of the magic boxes here. At the bottom of the climb the pair followed an ever enlarging passage that lead to the roomy North West Chamber, where a magic elixir of coffee was had. The smooth one noted a flat out crawl at the base of the climb they had just descended, could this be where the Pearly Gate was? The smooth one lay in the cold water, followed by the hairy one and his magic box and a metal tin that contained what seemed to be a piece of the sun shining bright. Much shouts of ‘O damn that’s cold could be heard’, and the hairy one laughed and followed. The pair quickly arrived at the pearly gate, for sure this is a ‘fat man filter’ the smooth one did say. A climb down was had just beyond the Pearl Gate, which was the height of the tallest of men. It opened up into a large boulder strew chamber with a deep rift heading off to the left. The pair first headed to the right climbing through a choke of boulders some held back by rotting stemple’s of wood. The hairy one followed a flat out low muddy hole. Both the pair noted the geology was like that of a dig they were doing in another underworld place known as Carlswalk, and the passage was very similar. They wondered if one day there quest might join both sections of the underworld? The smooth one followed close behind but got told to wait back. What looked like a dead end with a muddy pool, upon closer inspection twas not, there was a slot in the roof. The hairy one spun onto his back, wiggled up through the slot which was the height of a man, with the passage continuing but the passage soon closed to an end chocked with mud. The pair back tracked and the smooth no noted a way on. It was extremely tight the smooth one edged his way in slowly, it was very tight and was like inserting a pin in a gnats back side, but this underworld did not know the smooth one was called the secret weapon and could flatten himself out like a slow worm. Upon getting into a tiny chamber the smooth one said it twas dead end. The pair did know that at this point in the cave they were very close to a place known as the Dynamite Series in the underworld of Carlswalk and one day a connect may be made. The hairy one and the smooth one had done many other leads in the cave looking for the demons of the underworld. They had pushed many tight slots and leads, they even went back and looked along the rift but nought were found. They packed away their magic boxes and flask of elixir kept warm by the god Thermos, and headed out of the underworld.
They had spent 6 hours of day light in the cave and a great quest was had. The hairy warrior and the smooth night did travel to the local inn of the Wanted and did drink nice ale. The people in the inn did stare much at the pair for the hairy one was covered in much mud from his quest.
 

REPORT

James Hall Over Engine Mine, Derbyshire.

8th February 2014 - David Purdie

It was a very wet weekend in Derbyshire. We had planned to descend James Hall Over Engine Mine, and carry on through the Speedwell Streamway into Colostomy Crawl and exit via Peak Cavern. However on the Friday night as myself, Tom and Lauren were sat drinking a couple of beers, we received a heads up that the water levels may be too high to do the through trip. Another plan then was to do an exchange trip with a group that were going down Titan. This plan never materialised, so we would be going back up JH.

So, Saturday morning. We got up in good time to meet in Castleton at 9am. However, in usual fashion we somehow managed to run late, and after a number of missed calls from Andy we made it to Peveril Stores at around 9.45. It was time for a bacon butty - you can’t go caving on an empty stomach! Next it was onto the TSG hut to meet the others. We eventually made our way over to Rowter’s Farm and finally started rigging the JH entrance shaft at just before 11am. Tom was to lead and rig the trip. And so he should, being the ‘Chairman Of Holes’ and all.

The first pitch is a mine shaft with a descent of around 50 metres. After everyone was down the six of us started to move through the 200 metre long Cartgate Passage. This involves a variety of crawls, stoops and traverses through narrow wet passages - moving over false floors, bridging along flooded passages with deep holes in the floor, and crawling underneath piles of ‘deads’. This brought us to the rather aptly named Bitch Pitch. A short traverse leads to the start of a tight, deep pitch with water running down the rock in places - which is particularly annoying when performing the final rebelay with the water running onto your head. The pitch is around 50 metres deep and involves three rebelays and two deviations. Descending this wasn’t too much of an issue. However coming back up later on when tired, cold and soaking wet was somewhat more of a bitch. This gives you an idea of what was to come…

By now the group had become spread out between various points, so we slowed down at The Workshop to let the others catch up. Andy, David and Richard made the decision to turn back and leave at this point. Myself, Tom, and Lauren pressed on. After The Workshop the mine breaks into natural cave, and the next point on our trip was Leviathan - a huge and very impressive natural cavern. As we approached the sound of rushing water could be heard. This is the first time I have been through JH, but I have been told that Leviathan is normally dry. However today it was a waterfall. We were going to get wet, but we had come this far and were keen to make it to the bottom. So with no hesitation, Tom began to rig the line for the first 40 metre descent. He went down first, followed by myself, then Lauren. The first few metres were dry, and I had time to turn my lamp onto full power and take in the impressiveness and vastness of the space that I was about to descend. Then came the water. It poured down from above, drenching me and soaking straight through my oversuit. Tom had the same experience. I dare say Lauren had a slightly more pleasant one, as she was wearing a Meander suit. Although she did moan about the water pouring down her back, so it was nice to hear that she got a little bit wet too!

So now wet we were keen to keep moving. We progressed along the next traverse, down a short pitch to the bottom of the dam, and onto the final pitch - a 30 metre free hanging descent into The Tea Rooms at the base of Leviathan. Water from the dam is diverted into the Speedwell Streamway via a large green pipe, which was pulsating with the high flow of the water. Curious to see how high the water level was in the Streamway we carried on out of The Tea Rooms, through the draught door and down a series of awkwardly placed ladders which lead to a crawl and a descent under a choke, and to The Boulder Piles. The boulders were all completely submerged, which again I am told is not the norm. The water in the Streamway was flowing with great pace and force. We carefully moved downstream for a short distance, but after dropping down into the path of an inlet stream we found the current simply too strong to continue on any further. Tom stepped into the current and was nearly swept off his feet, luckily he was close enough to quickly clutch onto the wall. Myself and Lauren had the same issue, so it was time to retreat to The Tea Rooms for a spot of lunch.

The route back out of the system was the same way we came in, so we didn’t hang around for too long before beginning our 180 metre ascent. Lauren led the way this time, with Tom bringing up the rear. I wasn’t much looking forward to prussiking up through the waterfall. Listening to Lauren shouting in rage most of the way up provided a bit of entertainment for myself and Tom though! It was just a shame that we had to follow! Arms, legs, stand, arms, legs, stand, don’t look up. Feeling and hearing the water bouncing off my helmet like the sound of heavy rain on a tent. Despite it being pretty grim it went quite quickly. It was a relief to get off the rope, although after the ascent we were all twice as wet as we had been before. Myself and Tom hauled kit up the pitch with the aid of a progress capture, then de-rigged. We caught up with Lauren in The Workshop and started our ascent up Bitch Pitch. I think it’s safe to say it was a right pain getting back up. It’s not fun while soaking wet and cold, and with a big bag of rope hanging below you, getting caught on the walls all the way. And again, waiting on that damn rebelay getting trickled on!

We picked up the pace a bit and eventually got back to the entrance pitch. We got out to be met by gale force winds and sideways rain. So after getting dried off and changed we shot off to The Wanted Inn for a brew in front of the fire. No beer (which, yes, sounds like a bad effort) but we were in need of some warmth!

All in all then, it was an excellent trip. Good fun, a good laugh, and a couple of problems that we came into were dealt with accordingly! Would recommend! 

Below 1: At the bottom of Leviathon   Below 2: Lauren ascending Leviathon   Below 3: Lauren near the rebelay.   Below 4: Looking up.   

Picture 1: At the bottom of Leviathon Picture 2: Lauren ascending Leviathon Picture 3: Lauren near the rebelay. Picture 4: Looking up.

REPORT

Giant's Hole

30th November 2013 - Oliver King - SK 1162 8202


Let's try caving – Giants Hole

A trip intended to give potential new members a chance at caving with minimal fuss, but also to get current members out to Derbyshire too.

Gareth, Myself, John-Paul and Anton arrived at Castleton with enough time to get some breakfast at Pevril stores before heading straight up to Giant's Hole. Upon arrival John & Danny Capper, Helen and Owen were already waiting. Soon after Phil arrived along with Jordan, Richard, Darren, Sara and Gary, and finally a rather hung over Tom and Purdie!
As there were three potential new members with us, we decided that while Phil would still look after them, it would be a good idea for them to try the round trip instead of remaining in the upper series.

We all got ready and made our way into the cave. John went ahead and rigged the ladder.
After we made our way through the entrance series to Garlands, we slowly but surely belayed everyone down the 5 meter drop to the start of the crabwalk. I was surprised how quickly we made our way through, and for the first time I remained on my two feet throughout the entire length of the crabwalk! Jordan was unable to make the vice, and despite many attempts at getting him up through and under he decided to call it a day and so Phil very kindly offered to take him back.

We moved on and caught up with Tom and Purdie at the eating house, and so headed on up. Some how Tom persuaded us to take a little bypass which was rather tough on the knees and completely pointless, but I guess we can say we have done it now! Soon came across the Giants Wind pipe, today it was quite low which was probably not a bad thing, but still bloody cold! Lots of cursing and people saying “watch the bow wave it's coming!” which I found rather amusing!

We came to the Phreatic tube that is the top of the crabwalk and whilst some decided to move on through the eye hole, others preferred to be life-lined down from the top. This was a slight problem as Phil had left before he had the spare rope that would have come in handy at this point! I went back to collect the rope, luckily there was a second in situ and so we were able to lifeline the remaining people from the top of crabwalk. John Paul had started to feel the cold at this point so we sorted him out with some drink and Owen very kindly donated his oversuit to try and warm him up a little bit.

After about 4 hours we came back out to a rather pleasant day once again and I think the overall verdict was that we all enjoyed ourselves, even the ones that had the odd moment looked back with a smile on their faces!

Off to the Cheshire Cheese for a well earned pint and then straight home for some grub haha! 

REPORT

James Hall to Titan Exchange

Sat / Sun 5th & 6th October 2013 - Oliver King

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Suspense above a dark abyss

I have wanted to descend Titan for as long as I first heard about Britain's deepest natural shaft. So naturally, when Tom and Ed invited me on a trip organised for an online mining community I heartily accepted.
This was to turn out to be an epic weekend. Tom had planned a trip to rig JH for the Saturday. It would be on the Sunday that we would rig Titan, then come out of and de-rig JH. This would have been quite a trip, as it would mean de-rigging JH on the way out after a 6 hour stint, and then walking back to Titan to descend the entrance pitch and pull the 140m of rope back up and haul this another 50m to surface...

As time went on, more and more people couldn't make it for whatever reason, so in the end there was a team of 4 of us, that being Tom, Lauren, Damian and myself.

So the weekend started with a very sleepless Friday night. A mixture of nerves and excitement meant my mind was far too active for a mundane task such as sleeping. I think I last looked at the alarm clock at 5 a.m. Saturday morning, and the next hour and a half of sleep would have to do; not a great start!
The plan was to meet at Castleton's TSG hut Saturday morning at 8 a.m., but due to various factors this did not quite work out, and as usual we found ourselves eating bacon butties miles away from where we should have been and at a time we should have been making our way underground!

We arrived at Rowter farm at about 11.00a.m. We were blessed with a stunning autumn day with a nice warm sun beating down over the rolling hills above Castleton. Nothing is better than this sort of weather before and after a hard trip, and this day, it really set a good mood!
After sorting the ropes, getting into our gear and picking the key up from the farm, we made our way over the many mottled remains of the old man lead workings of New Rake to the lid of James Hall over Engine shaft.

Tom Rigged the entrance pitch, this being an original haulage shaft driven down into the vein by the miners; and so the trip began.
For whatever reason I am unable to fathom, I volunteered to carry the rope bag that would get us down the last three pitches. This was a decision I would very quickly regret, as it weighed a fair bit and was pretty awkward to drag along the narrow passages, especially when there was no room to sling over your shoulder, and that was before the rope managed to soak up whatever water it could find along the way!

The way down the first pitch was accomplished with haste and left me enough time to look around. It is an interesting shaft, a short section contained ginging until the stable limestone secured a nicely driven rectangular shaft. Toward the end, the shaft opens out into the worked veins, where the keen eye might see the first remnants of miners gone by in the way of climbing 'stemples', that being bits of timber that bridged the gap of the vein here and there.. At the base of this shaft led into the main haulage level, known as the cart-gate.

We meandered, stooped and crawled along this 200+ meter 'passage', which whilst low in places was just about comfortably wide. The vein clearly continued down much further where we were walking, as there were various openings in the false floor, filled with very cold, deep water that needed some careful traversing! We continued onward until we finally found our first internal pitch, aptly named Bitch Pitch. Bitch? Because it is fairly tight and requires a couple of re-belays and deviations down this 50m vein. Bitch incidentally, does not adequately explain waiting at this pitch when you are carrying one rope bag full of rope and another kit bag slung over your spare shoulder, and after only an hours sleep the previous night! Thoughts of actually completing Titan the following day were quickly slipping at this point in time, but this was something to worry about another day, and for now, determination would keep me marching on, if only at a slower pace than the others...

By the time I had reached Bitch Pitch, Tom had rigged and already started working on the first re-belay. This part of the cart-gate comes to an end and is where we start heading down the still narrow vein.
Tom called up after the first re-belay had been set, and as he worked somewhere out of sight below, with only the occasionally reflection of his torch light giving any clue as to his proximity. Lauren then started on her way down, followed by Damian, then myself.
This part of the trip was a relief for me, as I was able to hook the bags to my harness, transferring the weight to my belt hooks. This left my upper body free to concentrate on manoeuvres. It was a well earned rest from the horizontal drudgery and allowed me to recuperate some of that expended energy on the way down!
At the bottom of Bitch Pitch, we hit the workshop. This area considerably opens out and is where mined rock meets the naturally carved underworld leading to the back end of Speedwell.. In case you had missed so previously, it is at this point you notice obvious evidence of miners gone by, in the shape of various mining tools and other artefacts such as an old wagon. This congers up images of the old Man 200 years previous, protected only by his leather cap, tallow candle for light, simple studded boots and wooden stemples for ladders, and their daily commute to the bottom dark wet ends of the earth... and we weren't even there yet!

With no time to rest, we continued on to the next pitch through a small crawling height passage - this was the first pitch of Leviathan, which meant we weren't too far from the bottom now!

The top of Leviathan was quite large, but with not a great deal of room for many to gather safely. I clipped in to the main anchor point and then proceeded to approach the edge using my stop. There was an interesting fixed deviation that had to be clipped into, in order to maintain distance from the edge of the chamber. It was then a case of dropping down the 40 odd meter shaft and starting the rigging on the next pitch, which involved a small traverse and a drop of about 10 meters. My bag was getting lighter now!

All the while Damian was doing a great job of recording our progress on camera!

Finally, we got to the last pitch which would drop us 45 meters into the workshop and see us into the back end of Speedwell's main river system. This was my favourite descent, as I had previously seen the large miners stemples disappear into the roof space on my first trip here a couple of years ago to the bottom of Leviathan, but had never come from JH itself. Again this chamber is quite a large natural chamber and would have been quite wet at one point, but some previous diggers had installed a pipe to control and divert water into the speedwell system, I am guessing, to allow the connection with Speedwell and Titan!

At this point we hung around for a while to take in all we had done so far, and then promptly made for The Boulder-piles. This section is in itself quite fun, basically a vertical boulder choke that had been painstakingly cleared by diggers 15 years earlier. This you have to descend on fixed iron ladders. What makes it different however is the fact the ladders are placed only where it was possible to fix them, located on every which side of the choke and with fairly large gaps between some sections. Longer legs certainly help out here!

We dropped into the speedwell stream way. This stream way is really quite interesting, as it is mostly phreatic but also in places has vandose modification, which makes for some impressive passageways! The water was generally quite low, with boulders, both large and small strewn around. Before heading east toward Peak, we had one place we just had to check out first.

Heading west up the stream way a few hundred or so yards, we climbed up into a small passageway known on the survey as Cliff passage, to reveal what can only be described as the most significant piece of mining heritage in Derbyshire... It is not often you come across 200 hundred year old graffiti that survives so well intact, and I am sure the old man, who originally inscribed a picture of a Gin bottle filling a tall goblet shaped glass, along with his initials, verse and date 'JLB A health to all miner's and mentainers[sic] of mines 1781' didn't expect modern adventurers to be admiring his work so long after; but indeed here we were doing just that. Again, there was little the old man had not previously seen down these dark depths, that only modern adventurers have been able to recently appreciate so easily once again!

It was about this time we decided we should make a move. We really intended to be out of Peak Cavern in time before they locked the gates, although our call out was substantially later at about 7pm. Still, we were aware time was marching on, so back we headed to where we came out of JH, and then off to our next challenge!

We passed the whirlpool, our first deep encounter with water. I decided to wade it whilst the others sensibly walked the traverse. It was inevitable that we would all get wet though, and sure enough not much further, we were all releasing shrieks as we submerged ourselves into the ice cold water of the speedwell stream way! It was quite a relief when we soon found our way to the 'Bung'. This would be our way on.
Ahead of us, a clue that we were getting close to the Speedwell Show cave was marked by the first of two locked gates, this would ordinarily lead to the show cave proper, but no access is allowed except under exceptional circumstances.
The bung is basically a huge dam holding back the natural course of water, in order to originally provide the miners with an underground canal in the speedwell mine. It is responsible for maintaining a constant maximum water level in the above system. Quite a lot of water can rush down the ladder here but today it was fairly tame.
A quick peek at Block hall (a different route we will take on a future trip!) and a crawl along 'short by-pass' and we came across 3 other intrepid explorers! Yes, there were more lifeforms underground with us that day and we weren't the last men out.
They were actually taking a Fresher from Uni on a mammoth first trip to the Bung, and his face really said it all... Pale, Cold, frightened, fresh new patches of stress-related acne, I am sure wondering what he had agreed to before going on this mad mission! We all had a quick chat then went our separate ways. We now found ourselves in Rift Cavern, about to tackle the bit Lauren in particular had been looking forward to for a long time, and that I had been dreading in equal measures!
Before we continued however, we all sat down at Egnaro Aven (I believe it is neva orange for those who are wondering ;-)) and had a bite to eat in order to gain some more energy, before climbing the ladders to our next challenge - Colostomy Crawl..
Well this really is what it says on the tin.. If there was ever a valid reason to practice crawling through the bowls of a giant I doubt there would be any more suitable training ground! This passage meanders and twists for what feels like a kilometer (probably a couple hundred meters at most!), a fair bit of which you spend flat on your chest or side, and at best you might get to speed along on all fours! The passage is also coated in thick clay, which if wet can really assist at times, but more often than not only hinders progress due to the sticky nature of the orangey brown stuff..
As I still had a bag, I decided to set the pace through the crawl and led the way up the ladder. No way was I being left behind! Lauren followed, and then Tom and finally Damian brought up the rear.
There was quite a draft at the entrance to the crawl, and there is a unique feeling when entering this passage, a sort of dread, just as you prepare to almost dive in to the maze of tight muddy and wet twists, wondering if it will ever end or not...
I am still not certain if Lauren or Damian came away from this experience in a positive light, neither said a great deal about it, neither have they said much since. At the time, I think we were all looking forward to the warmth of the local pub and a well earned pint!
So after negotiating the Colostomy, and then the trenches, and finally dropping faulty towers into treasury we were finally on our way home!
We were now headed down the Peak stream way towards the cavern entrance. We still had a few ducks which meant we had to fully submerge ourselves in that cold water once again, but upon reaching the Buxton Baths it was time to scrub down to make us look shiny and respectable for the public, and make our way out of the Devil's Arse show cave. It was now about 5.30, and the last trip had just finished for the day. We could smell the fresh air and could see the sky was still blue beyond the cavern entrance. A quick photo opportunity at the gates, we signed ourselves out and we could all start to think about the days accomplishment, and actually how quickly we had managed to achieve the trip too!

There was one more problem, it would seem we had all left our dry clothes in the car at Rowter farm, and our only option was to pile in Damian's car, wet kit 'n all, and drive back up. Myself and Tom squashed into the boot like freshly caught sardines; Lauren taking the comfy option in the front of the car and so Damian drove us back to Rowter. Much fun was had pulling faces and waving to bemused drivers and ramblers as we made our way back up Winnat's pass, at least a few found this particularly funny!

That night, dry and warm, we decided to head over to the Peaks Inn and get some food and a well earned pint. It was at this stage that Lauren made a very difficult decision and decided the next days trip into Titan would be too much, so she called for a lift home. It was a very difficult decision to make for her as she had looked forward to Titan for a long time, but it is a decision she should be praised for under the circumstances. I wasn't entirely sure I would be doing the trip myself yet, as my knees looked rather bruised and I was worried this would be rather painful the next day!

Back to the TSG, myself and Tom stayed up until there seemed to be few others around, and so decided to call it a night. Up to the visitors room and find a gap in the communal bunk, where we could squeeze in and get ourselves some well earned rest.

Titan amongst Avens

Well this is what the weekend was all about, it is the very thing that I had spent a a good month looking forward to, and then only to find I could not get a wink of sleep only one night previously. There was no turning back now.

After a good nights sleep in the TSG, I made my way to the kitchen where Tom was cooking breakfast. Paul had also turned up by now too. So far then, I figured there would be three of us, one more would be required if we were to split and de-rig JH that day, either way we were doing what we had come to achieve!

The search for extra help was getting a little desperate as time marched on, but then help came by way of a chap called Jack from the Sheffield University Speleological Society. He had never done JH nor Titan so was eager to abandon his arranged trip to Giants Hole and follow us – all was good!

We finally decided to make our way up to Hitch & Hike to collect the key, then on to Rowter farm in Paul's motor.
So the plan – in order to get everything de-rigged that day, we would split into two groups. Tom and Jack would move through to JH and de-rig, whilst myself and Paul would re-ascend Titan and de-rig as we go... At least that was the idea!

The lid of Titan is quite literately across the field from JH at the top of Hurdlow, but still we parked as close as we could, as the 240m of rope we would be using was not exactly light! Every bit of energy saved would be a bonus right now!

The mood was pretty good amongst us all. After a trek up the fairly small hill, we came across the lid. Tear shaped and hinged at the point, the lid slid aside like the brass cover over an old door lock, which revealed a very sturdily built concrete lined shaft, about 2 meters to a second locked lid.

The first shaft was rigged by Tom, and we then descended the 47 meters of man mined shaft to the bottom. This was an amazing engineering effort that had been completely mined in 2004 to allow access to the top of Titan. I believe it took about 4 years of hard work, it looked like it should have taken a lot more!

At this point I think it would be a good idea to put into perspective how far we would be descending from the surface to the bottom of Titan, and doing so with just 3 lengths of rope. So let's just imagine a tall structure, say the Blackpool Tower. If all three ropes were stood end to end representing the lengths of the pitches; at approximately a third of the way down the first rope, you would be passing the top of the Towers flag pole – This is a hell of a hole!

We bottomed the first pitch to find ourselves in a small passage, round the corner of which I new the great abyss beckoned. So I moved along, a huge amount of rope in hand, The realisation was starting to kick in now...

After moving round the corner, I could see the end of our passage, it was obviously the end, but what it ended into I could not see, as on the other side of this sudden boundary lay nothing but blackness. Only the constant sound of water echoing in a large chasm gave any clue as to what lay ahead...
I clipped into the traverse and carefully moved to the edge of the first pitch.... Wow! My lamp just about caught the other side of the chamber, and looking down I could just about see the Event Horizon way below, revealing a pitch black hole that would lead beyond this, the mid point, to the bottom of Titan. It somehow seemed quite surreal and so far away; and yet only a few minutes of descent on a single rope.
Back to our tower analogy, we were currently stood at about the height of the towers glass floored 'walk of faith', and this was a trick I would shortly require in order to progress much further!
I had volunteered to rig the next two pitches. I kind of saw it as a good challenge, but I would want to be sure that Tom was happy with my work before anyone descended.

When I actually saw the first pitch however, I was all of a sudden not so sure! Looking above the drop, there was a small overhang with two bolts; with no ledge to stand on below the bolts, and an 8ft reach up - this would take a nerve the like of which I have not had to call upon before. To add to this, being petrified of heights in general, only the perpetual darkness around me maintained the required level of pretence that allowed me to get on with the job in hand.

The only way, clip the rope into the first traverse, then make my way to the bolts with only a small foot loop to boost myself up to the Y hang. It was absolutely necessary to prepare the rope before hand so that I was able to clip it directly into the hangers without further need to adjust, as there was nothing to hold onto, and the least I could think about that which lay between me and the bottom of the chamber, the more quickly I would be able to complete the task!

After a nod from Tom, I was the first to descend. It was a pleasant descent, with calcite pretties above and around the pitch head, and a passage, although out of reach on this trip, but showing clear signs of an active dig by others. The trip down was otherwise fairly ordinary, but for the sheer open space around me which made for an extraordinary experience!

I finally reached the Even Horizon, a small rocky outcrop like the edge of a small island dropping off to a lagoon in the middle of nowhere. A traverse disappeared off round the cavern side in to the distance.
I immediately started to sort the rope out for the next pitch whilst Tom was next to make his way down.
After attaching the next length of rope to the upper hanger, it was time to descend to what I thought would be the easiest bit to rig, not that it was technically simpler, but the fact it was half the height of when I was at the top, and thus should not be as much a head wrecker right? How wrong could I be?
I clipped onto the top rope, and slowly made my way over the edge to the next set of hangers. However, I was not sure where they actually were, and when I finally did see them, they were approaching rather quickly and it was clear I would struggle to stop in time. Just as I predicted, with 60m of rope above and now being stationary relative to the rope, I watched helplessly as the hangers shot past my field of view as I continued to descend like what felt an eternity... This was purely in the stretch of the rope, and sure enough, before I had time to worry about having to re-ascend, the hangers were once again approaching at a fair pace as the rope reigned in what was owed back to it.. I quickly clipped my cows tail in, and this was now one less thing to worry about.
It was at this point, legs dangling, no passage to escape to and with the sound of thundering water, that all of a sudden I felt very exposed, very isolated and for the first time, felt a tangible fear running through my veins, I froze.
It would take a little time to compose myself at this point, and this included taking a deep breath and closing my eyes. I cannot describe the sensation, I felt a little dizzy, and just wanted to be on firm ground again. However, I got a hold of thoughts and concentrated on the job in hand.
The next issue was that we had already thrown the next rope over the side. 58 meters of 11mm static rope is heavy, and so rigging like this would prove rather difficult! I managed to clip the rope in to my crab on my harness, which gave me a large enough loop of rope to enable me to rig the re-belay. I changed over, called for Tom to retrieve the top rope, made a deep sigh and finally I was making my way down to the base of the cavern.
We all eventually reached the bottom, and I was finally able to take things in.
The chamber was slightly bigger at the bottom than I had expected, and was quite wet with a suspended mist from the spray of the waterfall. No obvious exit as we were basically stood on a huge pile of boulders that had fallen down long ago.
Due to the length of time taken, and our usual late start, it was decided we should all make our way out the way we had come in. The ropes in JH could wait for another day, it would have added a considerable amount of time to the trip and it was already approaching 3pm in the afternoon, it would at least be 6pm before we would make our way out and our call out was for 8pm!
Tom made quick progress, and so before I knew it I was next to go.
I was rather eager to start making my way up, as I was starting to chill and the idea of having to ascend 157 meters back up a rope was leaving me with only thoughts of dread!
This would, unexpectedly be the worst part of the trip so far for me.
At about 30 meters up, looking up and seeing a rope disappear into a sort of grey darkness along with spray descending from the waterfall, looking down and seeing a tiny pin-prick of a light from a fellow caver below, and with that and a moving wall, some 7 meters or so in front of me in near constant yo-yo-like motion from the bounce of the rope, the level of vertigo that hit me reached new limits. At times I simply could do nothing more than to close my eyes and continue ascending, oblivious to all but noise and the feeling of my stomach turning as I hit the troughs and peaks as the rope bounced up and down. As if this was not bad enough, I would start to feel tired as I raced up the rope in an attempt to get the whole experience over and done with!
It was not long until things started easing, as the bounce got less and less I could get into a nice rhythm, and once again start to enjoy the experience.. Before I knew it, I could see the ledge above and this would be the mark of a well earned rest!
Jack was next, and he disconnected the Y hang so that we would be able to pull the rope up behind us.
Paul was already on his way up the next pitch at this point, and Tom followed. There was a fair amount of rope to bag up and sort out here, so I volunteered to stay till last. Before this however, while Jack waited for a free rope, I decided to follow the traverse around the cavern and so keep myself warm and occupied for the time being. I also stopped to get a drink from the canyon-like river that had originally carved out this chamber! That was worth a view in itself...
Jack started making his way up, and while he did this I tidied up and ensured things would be as easy and hassle free as possible when it came to hauling the rope back up.
My wait seemed to last an eternity, the rope now lay fairly still, with only the odd clue, in the way of a twitch or a whip of the rope, that someone might still be ascending.
It is a very quiet and surreal experience sitting there on your own, with only your own company and a myriad of noises that occasionally play tricks on an overly-alert mind. It only gets exponentially worse when you shout up and there is no answer, no sign of light, nothing – You start to question how you got here and what you were doing alone!
It was a further 5 minutes (but felt like 20) before I heard "rope free", and with that signal I spared no time in hopping on the rope and making my way up. This time I handled things much better and actually enjoyed the ascent, with only tiredness demanding a break from ascent from time to time.
At the top, Tom and Jack were waiting. With little time to rest, we clipped a shunt and pulley on to the Y-hang and started hauling the 160m of rope back up the main pitch. This was quickly achieved and we could then move to the last 47 meter pitch, where we would get our first taste of daylight in six hours once again.
We finally gathered for a well earned pint in the Cheshire Cheese, before I headed home to an eagerly awaiting and rather weekend-long nervous Cath and kids.
We had done it, Titan ticked off my list and tamed! I felt quite a sense of achievement as I had not expected to climb out the way I came in that day, and neither had I originally wanted to until I could increase my stamina. However, I am so glad that I did!

Simply awesome haha!
Olly. 

REPORT

Cow Pot/Fall Pot - Easegill System

6th May 2013 - Thomas Howard

To make the most of the bank holiday weekend and the glorious weather, I decided to be really cheeky (or a typical caver) and get in with a trip down Cow pot of the Easegill system (not far from Lancaster Hole). This included some excellent rebelay practice and a lovely pitch that began at about 2m wide only to abseil down into a 30m wide chamber, Fall Pot.

Two of the team carried on out to Wretched Rabbit whilst we re-ascended on the alternate ropes de-rigging. i.e. I came down Direct and went up Sneaky as did the others but in reverse.

It's definitely a system where you always want to go again and again!

A nice early dart back down the M6 hitting the dreaded holiday traffic and I was home safely by 9 ready for work that night at 10... at least I had time for a shower and a little grub wow!

Adventures continue next weekend... expect a report in a few months time!  

REPORT

Sell Gill Holes - Dry Route

5th May 2013 - Thomas Howard

On the May bank holiday Sunday, Pete Whetham and I rolled out of our cars in the busy Clapham village with the motivation to do Sell Gill. After walking into the cafe for breakfast we then realised it was going to be a "crack o'noon" start as it was just sooooo busy.

We finally got to the layby in Horton at about 1230 where I pulled out the ropes and rigging tackle. This gear consisted of a 70m rope and a 50m - I had far too much! So out came the knife and split the 70 into two; perfect! Whilst cutting said rope however, two cars turned up full of BPC members and realising there were only two of us they offered for us to jump on there ropes.... even better.

So, Pete enjoyed his first trip down Sell Gill, although didn't manage to get any rigging practice done - There's alway next time!

Off to the Crown Inn for a shandy and Pete headed home whilst I made my way to Bullpot farm (home of RRCPC - see next report)

Tom.  

REPORT

Smallcleugh mine - Nenthead

April 6th + 7th 2013 - Edward Coghlan - NY 7876 4286

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

After the last trip to Nenthead I was itching to check out some places we had found so a plan was hatched to have a day exploring and then the second day taking UCET on a tour round.

John Capper and I headed up to Alston to the bunk house and dropped gear and headed to Alston village for food and drink. Next morning we headed to Nenthead and met Tim, Mick and Phil from UCET. After kitting up we headed on up the valley to Smallcleugh and found that it was now a bit of a squeeze to get in the entrance due to ice!

Once in we headed down the main horse level to check out a cross cut, I had been told about, that had only recently been reopened. This was found at the back of the Wheel Flats and after a bit of chucking rocks out we managed to squeeze in and off we went. The cross cut led into some nice old workings with barrow boards in situ.

It then eventually led into some nice arched levels with an ore shoot disappearing down! I have since been informed that the ore shoot is blocked but would break out into the Hanginshaws branch of Rampgill.

After heading out of the cross cut we headed to the Ballroom for lunch and a few quick pictures and then headed off to the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein and off down the horse level to the junction for Barrons Sump and the lower sub level. We then rigged off the rail and abseiled into the level to go and check out the fairy grotto.

After spending a bit of time getting some video and pictures we headed up and back towards the Smallcleugh horse level. We decided to take the short cut through the crawls and regretted it after realising how tight they were. After what seemed like an age we found ourselves back on the horse level. Once at Riadshaws Sump we rigged the rope off the rails and headed down. I had been told it was interesting down there but had no idea how big the workings were! It led into numerous arched levels and flat workings. We then headed back up the sump and out to day light and food.

The next day we left the bunk house a little later than planned due to people not getting up on time and insisting on full breakfast! However we eventually made it to Nenthead and headed straight for Barrons Sump. After negotiating the 2 squeezes we finally made it and spent a bit of time taking pics before heading back to meet Mick and Lew who didn’t fancy the crawls.We then headed back to Prouds sump on the main horse level and abseiled down into the flats. We spent a while exploring the flats and taking pictures. I thought I had explored these thoroughly previously but then found my way into some workings I had never seen before. Due to time restraints we then headed down the ore shoot into Hangingshaws and then out through Rampgill and back to the cars.

All in all it was a great weekend and yet again it has left me wanting to plan another trip……
 

Below 1: Ice in the entrance adit   Below 2: Arching in the horse level   Below 3: Sump heading down to Hangingshaws   Below 4: Gypsum in the fairy grotto   

Picture 1: Ice in the entrance adit Picture 2: Arching in the horse level Picture 3: Sump heading down to Hangingshaws Picture 4: Gypsum in the fairy grotto

Below 1: The Ball room   Below 2: Arching on the cross cut   Below 3: Down Riadshaws sump   Below 4: Down Riadshaws sump   

Picture 1: The Ball room Picture 2: Arching on the cross cut Picture 3: Down Riadshaws sump Picture 4: Down Riadshaws sump

Below 1: Flats in Riadshaws sump   Below 2: Level in Riadshaws sump   Below 3: Tallow Candle   Below 4: Ore shoot   

Picture 1: Flats in Riadshaws sump Picture 2: Level in Riadshaws sump Picture 3: Tallow Candle Picture 4: Ore shoot

Below 1: Arching and deads in Riadshaws sump   Below 2: Barons sump   Below 3: Explosives tins in Prouds flats   Below 4: Naughty Tin in Prouds flats   

Picture 1: Arching and deads in Riadshaws sump Picture 2: Barons sump Picture 3: Explosives tins in Prouds flats Picture 4: Naughty Tin in Prouds flats

Below 1: Dressing floor in Prouds sump   

Picture 1: Dressing floor in Prouds sump

REPORT

Yorkshire Dales - new cave

12th-13th January 2013 - Tony Brocklebank (via Yahoo group)

Well as weekends caving go this one was pretty good. It's rare to be able to report a new cave in West Kingsdale. This weekend we've found two.

Friday night Dan, Collette, Si, Di and Tom joined us for Big Steve's birthday curry and we once again impressed the Baltistan staff with our red wine talents, before enjoying a shattering midnight game of basketball in Steve's lounge.

John Southworth called last week to say he'd found a draughting slot on a line from Duke Street through Large and Rift about half way to Keld Head, so on Saturday Dave Milner, John, Sue, Tom and I headed up and began digging and joined later by Steve and Susie (both looking much better than first thing).

Dave and I got on with the hard work while Tom, as he does, went for a walk and promptly turned over a boulder to reveal a shaft. Even though the two caves are at a similar height and just twenty or thirty metres apart the one we were digging was sucking in icy air at an unbelievable rate, whilst so much warm air was pouring out of Tom's that you only needed to stand over the entrance to warm up despite a strong cold wind outside. Tom, John and Steve shot off down the shaft, Dave and I tried to follow before realising that Tom had nicked my helmet and Steve was wearing Dave's. As Steve climbed out the sounding of rumbling boulders hitting soft Welsh legs drifted back to us, Tom claimed he was OK (although he's now moaning about sore fingers and legs), Tom came out, I started in and John announced he'd hurt himself as well. He made his own way out and X-rays have since confimed he's broken a rib.

At around the same time as all this excitement Dave and I had got about two metres down in the dig and uncovered black space below, which by the end of the day we were just able to insert Tom into, who announced it was a chamber and then came back out.

All plans for a quiet Sunday lie in and roast beef dinner were promptly cancelled, we booked into the Bunkhouse for the evening and invited Si and Di to join us.

Sunday saw Dave, Sue, Tom and I back at the dig with Si and Di surveying as well as Chris Camm and Gordon with Lugger supervising.

Si and Di have surveyed 55m in Tom's cave, two passages radiate off from the entrance, and both end's draughting cold air (I'm not sure which way). The source of the warm air hasn't been resolved but it was still pouring out of the entrance.

The second cave entrance was enlarged and this drops into a slanting chamber, with lying down and turning over room only, dropping to a hole through which small rocks rattle a bit. Si managed to shoot a 4m survey leg through this.

Is it all one cave? Well not exactly. Smoke set off on Saturday was sucked into the dig and wasn't seen at the second cave entrance, although some did emerge from boulders further up the field more or less on the line of the last survey leg of the cave. Smoke set off at the bottom of the shaft on the Sunday did emerge from the dig, so they are somehow connected, the survey has revealed that the two passages in the cave head away from the dig, whilst the passage in the dig heads away from the shaft, so it's all a bit of mystery!

More to come no doubt!
 

REPORT

Caves of the Ashover Inlier

6th January 2013 - Allan Berry - SK 350 623

There is an  view offline report (PDF) offline report     related to this event

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.

Unknown Mine?

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:

 

REPORT

Giants Hole

30th December 2012 - Allan Berry - SK 1194 8268

There is an  view offline report (PDF) offline report     related to this event

Allan Berry, Tom Howard, Peter Clewes, Peter Whetham

On 30th December 2012 on a cold, damp day, we met up at Giants Hole for a caving trip. It was absolutely freezing with a wind blowing along the valley so we got changed as quickly as possible and got underground into the relative warmth of the cave. We didn’t know what to expect in terms of water levels as it had rained for the past year pretty much none stop! But the levels were pretty low, surprisingly. After passing the large avens in the entrance series we stopped to put on our SRT gear.
We then made our way to the top of Garlands where I took a few pictures as Tom and Pete Whetham rigged the pitch. We had to rig out of the water a little but the pitch was not too wet by Giants standards. After abseiling down we removed SRT gear and headed down the crab walk towards the vice.
On reaching a tight piece before The Vice Peter Whetham had a moment where he thought he was stuck and decided he didn’t like Giant’s much at all. So after trying a few times to get him through this squeeze, we decided to climb up into the upper series and go through the Giants Windpipe to enter the main cave from above. We made our way back up the crab walk until we could climb up and then along to the windpipe. Water levels were pretty low again and you could get through without taking your helmet off.
Once through the windpipe we had a look at the tight connection to Oxlow and then decided to have a good look up Maggins rift. This proved to be interesting and lead up and up for ages until eventually high level passages were entered that lead to digs. I followed some bang wire along one such dig for a long time and eventually turned around simply because the others were waiting for me. It was still going though.
We then returned the way we had came, back through the windpipe and back to Garlands Pot. By the time we got to Garlands pot it was getting very chilly after two trips through the windpipe. We made a very fast exit and ran back to the cars. It was so cold out here that I climbed into my car boot to get changed!! Then down to the pub to meet Kieran and Claire for a pint.
 

REPORT

Hillocks Mine

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.
 

REPORT

Giant's Hole, Derbyshire.

9th December 2012 - Thomas Howard - SK 1194 8268

Today, 4 of us met at Peveril Stores in Castleton for breakfast. Unsure of the reason we were meeting so early I headed over to find Damian and Terry both waiting there .. at 0845? Shortly after my arrival Pete C arrived and we demolished a good bacon barm - and a lettuce leaf for me, or course. We set off to the car park for Giants and not surprisingly we found no other cavers there.

After getting changed we made quick progress into the cave and straight to Garlands Pot where I rigged the traditional route down (couldn't reach the further bolt) which did mean we got a little soaking but nothing too murderous. We, de-kitted at the beginning of the Crabwalk and secured the bag up high - Damian chose to take his camera bag through, this ended not so well.
Stomping through the sporting, meandering passage of said Crabwalk and after several climbing attempts to find the climb where we'd usually drop following the Giant's Windpipe we reached 'the Vice'. This proved a little unsuccessful to the point that neither Terry nor Damian could get through. Pete then suggested we did the trip in reverse, through the windpipe and to the Eating House from the other side, this also didn't prove successful as the Windpipe looked (from where we were) exciting and wet meaning we'd head back toward Garlands and make a quick ascent out.
Excellent.
A great trip followed by a hot Chocolate in the Wanted Inn before the drive home.

So, as usual. What's next?

Tom. 

REPORT

Gaping Gill

24th November 2012 - Nigel Dibben

Last Saturday, I had arranged to meet up with the MUSC and the SUSS to do one of the many entrances to Gaping Gill.

The morning began with a reasonably relaxed pace up to the Dales so not to slip on the ice and die, ultimately missing my trip. Tony, Pete and Simon were sat waiting in the reading rooms cafe expecting an extra digger for the day, until I told them I was pre-booked haha!

Tony has told me off for not asking permission to gallivant and yes, I have redeemed myself.

So, we waited in the cafe for about an hour longer than we were expecting but then found a few cavers pass and then about 30 students followed - I had a feeling this may be them. Before I could introduce myself to those I'd not met prior or even to say hello to those I did, Tony Pete and Steve thought they'd make use of the many students and each gave them a plank of tanalised timber just over 2m in length ... you can see where this is going, yep. LEGIT! A few had a quick look down the hole and at the dig whilst the rest of us meandered over to GG main shaft for a look before the daylight dropped. We went for a trip in via Small Mammal and out of Bar (hardly an exchange but hey ho) whilst others did Jean? Car? Bar & one or two others haha!.

I won't bore with details but basically:
Small Mammal, Greasy slab, Big Pitch, past Flood, Main Chamber, Mud hall and back via a wet crawly way.

Not sure about the diggers, probably went to the pub hum! How did it go? Brief update to entice some new/keen diggers?  

REPORT

Mendip and Swildons Short Round Trip

18th November 2012 - Thomas Howard - ST53125131

In addition to Nigel's 'Mendip and St. Cuthbert' trip report I thought I'd add the parts he unfortunately missed. On Sunday the 18th November after a good night in the Hunters at J Rats digging award myself, Ali Smith (Tacklebury) and Sam Drake went down Swildons, a classic mendip cave and possibly the most popular within scout groups and schools. We did what's called the 'Short round trip' which involves no SRT at all but an excellent mixture of crawling, ladder pitches, climbs, general fannying about in water, 4 ducks and 1 very short but roped sump. This trip, none of us were feeling too good due to me having bruised hips and chest (Long story - Squeeze box), Ali being hungover and Sam having not been underground for several months but we all managed it in good time and returned to the Wessex for cheese on toast and a brew before the cast of thousands slowly disappeared and we made our way home.

I would definitely recommend a trip to the Mendips, shall be my request for a club trip next year (if not two).

Tom. 

REPORT

Mendip and St Cuthberts

17th November 2012 - Nigel Dibben - ST 5430 5050

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

Tom and I went down Friday late afternoon so we could get to Wells for the Carnival (if you've never seen the Somerset Carnivals in November, then you really should make an effort to get there). After the carnival, we went to the Hunters where Nigel spent the next couple of hours reminiscing with old friends. Then to Upper Pitts for a good night's sleep.

Saturday morning was fine but cold. Our leader, Alison Moody, turned up at about 10 and we were soon on our way via the Belfry (BEC hut) to sign in and then to the manhole entrance of St Cuthberts. A light shower in the entrance rift (a vertical squeeze for about 25 feet) and we were on our way down. The trip is quite quick as the pitches have fixed ladders starting at Arete Pitch onto a large block. Gradually we sloped down through the cave diverting to look at some superb curtains on the way and then down to the main stream. Following this, we walked, crawled, thrutched, climbed down past the huge gours until we reached Sump 1. Just before this are two dams which we plugged to make the trip from thereon drier (relative term). Through the gravelly crawl we went into Cuthberts 2 down to the final sump.

Coming back, the water was released from the dams which had filled about 4 ft deep. Very impressive flow! Onwards and upwards to Plantation Junction then through a series of sloping bedding planes and down to the stream again. Up again (yes, it's a bit like that) and into Rabbit Warren and the Railway Tunnel. More superb formations. Soon we were back at the Arete Pitch and started the climb out. After the entrance rift and before we left the cave, Alison let the main dam go outside and the effect of the stream was incredible flowing full force down the entrance. Someone once decribed it as a vertical sump. Finally, we climbed out into daylight after an active trip of about 4 hours.

Back at Upper Pitts (WCC) we changed and warmed up. Liz turned up later so I (Nigel) left Tom to stay for another day. On the trip, there was Ali Moody, Alistair "Tackleberry" Smith, Tom, Steve Muckross, Beth and me. Great day out in good company.

It wasn't the best place for photography on a led trip and it's quite steamy in places but there are a few snaps below. 

Below 1: Stal curtains, sloping ceiling is typical   Below 2: More curtains   Below 3: At the entrance to Sump 1, now drained   Below 4: Tom at Sump 2   

Picture 1: Stal curtains, sloping ceiling is typical Picture 2: More curtains Picture 3: At the entrance to Sump 1, now drained Picture 4: Tom at Sump 2

REPORT

Legit Pot Dig

17th-18th November 2012 - Tony Brocklebank

Saturday saw myself, Big Steve, Simon Cornhill and Di Arthurs tramping up Ingleborough with Sue and Susie.

Big Steve removed the rebar ladder from the entrance pitch climb, which in reality is now a 8m pitch, and replaced it with an electron ladder which reaches the base of the pitch – much more convenient.

We made pretty decent progress at the bottom, completely filling a builders grab bag in the chamber above, and as a result turned the bottom climb into a hold free zone, making climbing out very difficult without a rope.

After gatecrashing the Burnley AGM on Saturday night we recruited an extra couple of willing volunteers, so on Sunday Big Steve and myself returned with Bob Riley, Simon Latimer and Conrad Batemen. Big Steve went faulty at the entrance. The remaining four of us sent the rebar ladder, extra planks and scaffold crashing down pitch, where the scaffold was set up to hold back the ever growing spoil heap, which had started to resemble a mud avalanche. The rebar ladder was split back into two sections, and bolted directly to the wall above and below the ledge half way down what has now become the third pitch, although not before our newest recruit (claiming twenty years caving experience) fell down bottom section of the pitch, fortunately more or less missing Dingle in the process. More scaffolding is needed as we have already backfilled the new space.

A few stats – Legit is now three pitches, an 8m, followed a 3m climb down, through the eyehole to the second pitch 22m, split by a deviation on a ledge 10m down, and the third pitch is around 6m currently growing by around a metre a week.

The exit was then delayed by well over an hour by the aforementioned new recruit having a bit of an epic on the way out. Moral of story being that if you have done three caves in twenty years don't pass this off as having been caving for twenty years, it gives the wrong impression. Fortunately he got out before I ran out of cigarettes and the situation became critical.

A return is planned for Saturday, 24th November.

 

REPORT

Clive Mine, Shropshire

11th November 2012 - Nigel Dibben - SJ 5139 2387

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

This trip was with two other NAMHO representatives, Dave Linton and Kevin Baker. Shropshire Caving and Mining Club had Clive Mine open for other visitors and they kindly allowed us to explore on our own. We started by dropping down the 30m ore chute to the bottom level and crawling/walking up that in each direction from the Well Shaft. Then back on the main level we explored to the far end and back including climbing up some rather dodgy ropes to an old level running over the 19th century working. There's another trip report about Clive Mine but I've loaded a couple of representative pictures from that trip here. 

Below 1: South of Rubbish Shaft   Below 2: Some of the colour banding in the walls   Below 3: The west wall of the workings   Below 4: Looking north on the main level   

Picture 1: South of Rubbish Shaft Picture 2: Some of the colour banding in the walls Picture 3: The west wall of the workings Picture 4: Looking north on the main level

REPORT

Alum Pot

11th November 2012 - Pete Whetham (via Facebook) - SD775756

Yesterday 11/11/12 saw a DCC trip down Alum Pot take place, included were myself, Pete C, Tony, Tom, Damian, Gaz, Olly, and young Mark Robinson. After a good breakfast at The Bunkhouse, Clapham (highly recommended), we made our way over to the parking place for Alum. There were a few parties out, but it was nice to see the place wasn't over run with school parties. We therefore made quick progress and were soon down to the Cheese Press, where Olly pulled off a brilliant bit of caving and got himself through, well done Olly. After a little play we made our way to the first pitch. We had taken a large amount of rope so we were able to rig more than one pitch to save people from standing around getting cold. At this point Tom, Olly, Damian, and Gaz descended the wet route where as myself, Tony, Pete C, and Mark opted for the eye hole, we then rigged the traverse through the rift and descended to the window. This was my first opportunity to be at the sharp end and have a go at rigging, obviously under the watchful eye of Tony. After making our way into Alum Pot both groups met up again over the bridge. Unfortunatley at this point both Gaz and Damian were feeling the cold and decided to return to the top. The rest of us pushed on through the next two pitches. After taking in what must be the most dissapointing end to such a spectacular trip we made our way back out. A brilliant trip, great fun had by all, and finally, Well done to Mark Robinson, a brilliant effort for a young man. So as we always say; where next?
 

REPORT

Legit Pot Dig

10th November 2012 - Tony Brocklebank (via Yahoo group)

Saturday saw Pete Whetham, Simon Dingle and myself at the bottom of Legit Pot, raring and ready to go in the gloopy mud whilst Peter Clewes, Paul Dyson and Tom Howard skived off to swing around the roof of Rowten for a few hours R & R. Several hours of hauling buckets, mainly of liquid mud, the floor was dropped three feet or so and we started to dig out dry sand - never thought I'd be so pleased to see dry sand! We dug until we eventually ran out of energy but at least with luck the predicted drainage problems should be a thing of the past!

 

REPORT

Cwmorthin Slate Mine

28th October 2012 - Nigel Dibben - SH 6794 4629

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Steve “Daggers” Dalgliesh had invited club members to a trip round Cwmorthin. For a variety of reasons, people couldn’t make it but in the end Olly and I went down with Steve and Mark from the Masson Caving Group. With just four of us, we made good progress round the mine seeing a great deal of it on the way. Steve’s round tour took in a route through numerous huge chambers, waist deep water, over bridges, up and down inclines and miners’ staircases. There is plenty of industrial archaeology to see as the mine was last worked in the 1980s but there are remains from the 1930s, 1880s and even earlier. It was a cold wet day and the draught seemed to come from the Arctic, down the Oakley workings and straight back to the Cwmorthin entrance via every passage we used but despite that, we were able to keep warm by keeping on the move. With help from Olly, Mark and Steve, I got a few snaps which are below and I’ve set up an album with a load more pictures.

A really good trip which easily compensated from the drive over and walk up the hill. I’d strongly recommend anyone who can to get a visit in there some time.
 

Below 1: Crane/hauling winch at the top of an incline   Below 2: One of the flooded inclines, going down from chamber 1 west floor E to floor G   Below 3: Chamber 35 where we stopped for lunch in the Caban   Below 4: Crossing a bridge on floor C somewhere around chamber 4 east   

Picture 1: Crane/hauling winch at the top of an incline Picture 2: One of the flooded inclines, going down from chamber 1 west floor E to floor G Picture 3: Chamber 35 where we stopped for lunch in the Caban Picture 4: Crossing a bridge on floor C somewhere around chamber 4 east

REPORT

Speedwell Cave System

7th October 2012 - Kieran Rooney - SK 1392 8274

In Attendance: Kieran Rooney, Tom Howard, Pete Whetham

Never listen to a drunk caver and under no circumstances agree to go caving the next day while drunk you will regret it, but this is what happens all the time and it happened again on Saturday night after P8. Tom and Pete had come from The Wanted to mine for the night where we drank we ate Chinese we went to the pub and drank whisky till two in the morning. At some point in this session we had decided that we didn't want to do a SRT trip the next day so I suggested getting up really early and going to speedwell to see if I could blag us entry through the show cave.

At 8.30 the next morning I regretted this suggestion. So with dry caving gear we piled into my truck and went to Pevril Stores for breakfast and Pete couldn't mange to finish his bacon, sausage and egg bap. On chatting to the manager I got us the key through the show cave and a lift down on the boat. Excellent!

On entering the far canal I noticed a slightly stronger current then usual and the overflows were taking a lot of water. This was unexpected as P8 the previous day the water level had been normal. On reaching the gate I could really hear the bunghole roaring, we passed through the gate and went and had a look at the bunghole and promptly reclassified this as a sporting trip due to the amount of water! We continued up the main stream way to the whirlpool which was just stating to spin a little across the traverse line and up the boulder piles down the other side and on to main rising which was no where near as clear as usual. Had a quick look up a the miners toast. Then back along the stream way to secret sump and bathing pool, nobody fancied a swim today. Back to the boulder piles and up to the workshop at the bottom of Leviathan admiring the new pipe work, and the miners old timber stemples. Back down and along the stream way we crossed the whirlpool again and made our way up a lovely bit of clean washed passageway all the way to whirlpool rising. Back to the Bung Hole it was wet coming down the ladder no way to keep out of the water but down deeper we went stopping briefly at Egnaro Aven and debating exiting through peak via Colostomy Crawl.

Deciding to make the decision later we headed for the Lower Bung Series and it was really wet and sporting, all the water from the overflows in the main canal and bung all ended up here. It was so wet that in places you could sit in the stream way and get washed down stream for quite away and if you went careful you could easily have your feet washed from under you I was at the very front and kept on finding all the big holes so the others could avoid them but that didn't always work so well and by the time we reached the upstream side of treasury sump we were a bit battered very wet and very happy cavers. Going back upstream was nowhere near as bad as we though it was going to be we made steady progress all the way up and were back at Egnaro Aven in what seemed a very short space of time. Here we decided due to time constrains to exit via speedwell as I had, in no uncertain terms, to get the key back before the last tour of the day. On reaching the staging to join the boat we were greeted by some very odd looks from tourists and some odd questions too. Unfortunately we had apparently come at just the wrong time as there was no room in the boat for us, no problem I said we’ll just peach on the back however this was a bit too tight and I was too big so Tom and Pete sat on the back of the boat while I ran the 3/4 mile back behind it. Wow my arse was numb by the time I got out of the water.

Then back to The Wanted where we ran into Simon and Allan fresh from there excursion into Ivy Green. A good trip enjoyed by all!
 

REPORT

P8 Cave System

6th October 2012 - Kieran Rooney - SK10798179

In Attendance: Kieran Rooney, Tom Howard, Lauren Griffin, Olly King, Pete Whetham

They abandoned me! We were all supposed to meet at the P8 lay-by at 10.30 at 10.45 I got a sheepish phone call from Tom asking if I had left my house yet I said yes of course I was here at 10.20 and all kited up are ready to go, then I asked where are you? …. Couple of seconds of silence…Tom, Olly, Lauren and Pete all had bugged off to the café near Hitch N Hike without telling me and had just sat down and ordered breakfast. I thought I lot of very nasty things at this point about all of them considered going home, considered going and doing another cave without them, considered going ahead and rigging P8 for them but I decided id at least wait awhile before doing anything to rash so I checked and repacked my ropes and double checked my rigging guide.

An hour late I was just about to set off for to start rigging when they all turned up I let them know the extent of my displeasure with a few well chosen words mainly aimed at Tom as he was the main instigator. Tom may have been feeling a bit guilty as this point as he asked me to wait so he could carry my bag. I promptly agreed to this as an acceptable apology. We wondered over to the entrance discussing how to avoid keeping our gear clean on the walk back.

Pre trip photo taken we descended. ‘Insert girly scream' from most as the water went down the back of the neck. We descended down to idiot's leap where I think Lauren was the first to get a face full of water, continuing down I got hit in the face with a tackle bag floating at head height! It turned out that said tackle bag was attached to a caver going up the rift before the first pitch to take the high-level route down the first pitch, this seemed a bit silly to me but each to his own down we went. Arriving at the first pitch I had a complete mental block on how to rig it or how I'd done it on previous occasions, some trial an error later I managed it and the swing in to the traverse to take the higher level route to the old fixed ladder second pitch. There was some kafuffle getting everyone down the pitch but nothing was impossible I had rigged the rope well out of the water just in case it rained, this turned out to be a pointless exercise as for once the weather report was right and it was a glorious day up top. Taking the high level route we ditched our bags at the bold step and went for a wonder up stalagmite passage.

On returning to the bags we found the couple who had taken the high level route on the first pitch were now below us at the bold step doing the true second pitch. We continued on down the second pitch where everyone bar Tom, because he's a show off, took there SRT kit off to go past the sick bowl. Down through mud hall and into the main stream passage canal. ‘Insert girly scream' as cold water was at chest height, and I may have forgotten to mention that you could traverse this bit without getting so wet, oops, and all the way down to a very foamy Sump 1. then back up the stream passage to Sump B Lauren and Olly went to look at someone's dig and I decided against doing the overflow series as I should have already been back on surface. Went back up without incident just a bit of a log jam at the head of the second pitch with the other couple of cavers that were down there. Olly, Pete and Lauren left me and to de-rig and I expected them to wait at the top of idiots leap but we exited without coming across them so concerned that they had missed the entrance and continued up to the old entrance we sat around and waited for ten minutes before deciding to check the cars.

Turns out they'd gone back to the cars and everyone bar me went to the wanted I had to go home to pacify a slightly pissed off girlfriend who I told I would have been back on surface by 13.30 it was now 15.30, oops!
 

REPORT

Gaping Gill via Bar Pot

29th September 2012 - Oliver King - SD 751 727

Ireby Fell?

The day started with a lift from Nigel Dibben at 8-30 that morning. Along with Colin Davison and Lauren Griffin, we set off toward the Clapham bunkhouse where we would meet the rest of the crew, consisting of Tony & Sue Brocklebank, Tom Howard, Pete Whethem and Pete Clewes.

The journey was nice, the weather was fair, and Nigel Mansel kept up the pace regardless of what the road presented us with.

This was Lauren and my own first trip to Clapham, a beautiful little village situated under one of the three peaks of the Yorkshire Dales, Ingelborough mountain.

On arrival, we spotted our crew sitting outside the bunkhouse, coffee and fags in hand and looking a little worse for ware, they had obviously had a good time the night before!

We joined them in the bunkhouse for a much needed breakfast, and then discussed getting ready for the trip. The trip was supposed to take us to Ireby Fell, a nice SRT trip in Leck Fell, Lancashire. However, there had been torrential showers on previous days that had left a number of low lying fields in the local area flooded, and as this system is said to drain all the water from the area, the wiser and more experienced cavers of the group decided this would have to wait for another day...While lapping up my bacon butty (which was my second breakfast of the day) and (5th?) brew, I asked “So, where are we going then”? “Bar pot” Tony replied. “Hmmm.... isn't that part of the Gaping Gill system”? I asked, “Yep” came the reply, and at that moment I think my jaw might have dropped a bit!
Time was moving on, it must have been approaching mid-day, so we headed to the car to get ready for the trip. The sun was out, and I didn't fancy wearing my furry suit for the walk up to the pot. This thing I can only describe as an inside out, deep shag-pile carpet - far too warm in all but the colder systems but even then the choice is a very fine line between that and a wetsuit! A quick chat with Tony and I managed to borrow a 'Monster' fleece, slightly damp from the previous day, but I figured this would keep me cool on the 2 mile hike up to the pot, and besides, how could I resist something plastered with pictures of monsters from head to toe?

The walk was pleasant, and very photogenic. Ordinarily I would have my camera out at every opportunity, but unfortunately I would have no camera on this trip, as the previous trip had seen it tumble 40ft down a mine shaft after the tripod failed, this event left my camera rather broken.

We finally arrived at fairly level ground, where a large shake hole opened up, with the summit of Ingleborough mountain looming in the background. This was Bar Pot.
Tom and Nigel quickly disappeared down a tiny boulder choke in the floor to rig the first pitch. Myself and the others nervously got our kit on, not quite knowing what to expect, although we did know this was going to be quite a trip!

Before I knew it, nearly everyone had disappeared down this little boulder-ridden rabbit hole, and so I got in at the back of the queue, just in time to see Lauren disappear down a very tight squeeze...I think she managed ok without encountering any issues, but I wouldn't say it looked an absolute breeze for her! Next was Pete's turn; However, Tony decided to show Pete and myself how it was best done by sneaking in front and descending first. Concentrating intensely, we watched as Tony descended.... To be honest I can't speak on behalf of Pete but I didn't really feel that confident after watching, considering the difference in girth between Tony and myself!
Pete was next, this was his second attempt already that morning, being slightly bigger framed than the rest of us (and me being somewhere between him and Tony!) at least I knew that if he could make it then I shouldn't encounter too many problems!

After a few minutes, some grunting and maybe even a bit of cursing, Pete was free and descending the 20 meter (65ft) pitch!

By this time we had a second large team of cavers waiting around to descend, as often is the case at pitches such as this, so that added a little bit of pressure to get things just right and look cool in the process!
Now it was my moment, previous thoughts of getting stuck and 3 hours waiting for cave rescue in some awkward position soon subsided, I clipped in my cowstail and proceeded to get myself into the widest section leading up to the pitch. To give an idea of how narrow this part was, my hat jammed at one point, so I had to reposition myself to free it. Also the rope goes a slightly different way through a narrower hole above, so each initial move had to be thought out before committing oneself.
Finally ready, Stop on, double check, lock off and slip into the squeeze proper. A little awkward unclipping the cowstail, but with weight on the stop I was now free to attempt the descent. Maybe not quite free, as being pressed against two walls either side and not knowing what I am descending into, I think I was descending slower than my stop at one point!

To make matters worse, all the time I am wondering how the hell I am going to make it back out of here after a tiring trip with my ascending gear on and a heavy bag in tow!
After wriggling and repositioning, maybe a bit of cursing, I get free of the squeeze and all of a sudden I see the welcoming lights of my fellow cavers and I am on my way down the pitch within quite a nice chamber! All previous thoughts subside and I look forward to moving on.

After climbing down some rocks and various sized boulders, we came to the gateway to the greasy slab, basically a small hole with a large flat boulder sliding down into the next chamber. It was fun sliding down that although some fleeting thoughts of going back up bugged me for a second!

We continue through another chamber, all the time admiring some of the natural features, including some small but well formed stalactite and stalagmites.

Before I knew it, we were descending into the next big chamber, through a hole, and into the head of Big Pitch. I knew this was the biggest descent we would be making that day, a total height of 37 meters (120ft). Lots of large boulders to clamber over before I could get close to the edge, as I was keen to look over and see what we where letting ourselves in for!
Tom and Nigel were busy tweaking the y hang, and once completed we all took our turns to descend through the aven. Whilst waiting, the leaders of the group behind once again caught up, and one of them started playing music with what I later discovered to be a recorder:- my childhood memories of playing London's burning on one of these instruments did not match the subtle tones and complex rhythms coming from this instrument, until he passed it to someone else who had clearly never graduated beyond primary school level!
My turn on the rope, and this I did at great speed, although the rope was a little dirty, as Tom had not had a chance to clean it since the last trip, and my stop being nearly new so the descent was not as smooth as it could have been. It was at this point that I suffered a little bit of vertigo, the adage 'Don't look down' really applied here!

We hit the bottom and quickly moved on. The next chamber of note was Flood exit, a large continuous pitch to surface. There was a rope hanging here, which had been rigged for the party behind us as an alternative exit.

After passing through Flood Exit, we came to some small passages known as the South East passages, mostly mud floors with some rocks scattered about. Hands and knees crawling, although on occasion we had to get a bit lower to get through the tighter spots. Generally easy going though.
We continued on through to Sand Caverns, where our club have famously had fun and games during Bradford open days, including table tennis championships and a 4 hole golf course, they ran out of room for the 5th though!
Now there was only one place left to go, so, following a steady but light breeze back through the crawling height passages, and turning up into the South Passage, a faint rumble could be heard in the distance...

Main Chamber.
The breeze steadily increased, and the rumbling noise of a what was clearly a waterfall increased to leave no doubt there was something very big not far away. I could see an opening in front, and as I raised my head over a pile of rocks, my jaw continued its drop from the previous point at the bunkhouse (I don't think it had closed up to this point!).
Wow, this is where words and pictures fail to describe precisely what I saw – a soft filtered natural light that fell into the main chamber through the largest waterfall I have ever seen. You couldn't see the mouth of the pot at this point, as the chamber descends as a shaft before opening out into something that is said to be the same volume as York cathedral. I think we just stood and stared for a good few minutes, as we took in the sight and sounds (not to mention the weather – damp and windy!) of what lay before us.

After a short pause we moved closer to the bottom of the pot, the surface and bright daylight above soon appeared... Quite strange seeing the sky in a chamber so far underground! The water, in total free fall was an invitation to move forward and submerge myself, but I used a tentative approach, the sheer force of which I had not seen before; I was unsure if I could cope with the force such a drop would create.

I eventually plucked up the courage, placed a hand in to the downpour – it really wasn't that bad, a bit like standing in a hail storm! However, I didn't stay there long, as someone reminded me that all the pebbles I was stood on had come in from only one direction, and that was up – so after completely submerging myself I made a hasty retreat!

After looking round the main chamber for a good while, and spotting features such as the brackets used for the public open day lifts, we decided to head up a steep bank and in to West Chamber. Not a great deal to say about this one, not after being blown away by the size and sheer awe of main chamber - so after a quick look round we went straight back into main and slowly started the walk back. We discussed diverting to Mud Hall but no one seemed to be very keen, and so we left this for another day.

The way back was fairly routine. We found ourselves taking a slightly different passage with cobble sized pebbles which weren't good for the knees, but before I knew it we were back at the foot of Big Pitch. This was the first obstacle I was a little nervous about. I had not prusiked a 37m pitch before, and I was wary of saving energy for the final ascent through Bar.

After deciding which of the now two ropes were ours (the dirty one!), Pete C was the first to clip on. He seemed to make it look very easy, and so while a few of the others disappeared to the smoking room (another chamber) I decided to put myself at the top of the queue!

Pete made it to the top, and Tom somehow sneaked in front, and as usual he shot up the rope in record time!



I heard a faint voice shout down “Rope free”, that was my cue to clip on and start the long ascent...

Bouncy! That is how I would describe the trip up.. The rope was clearly living up to its dynamic nature! Also a little awkward as I was rubbing against the pitch wall and while others seemed to see this as an advantage I found that it only slowed me down. I guess, it must have been a good ten to fifteen minutes before the top of the pitch came into view, and of course I just had to look down.... I really should have learnt from the last time....

After a 10 minute rest, I decided to start making my way up the boulders and other obstacles to the next pitch. This is when I really started to feel a little tired, my legs a little achy, so another rest and some drink would be the order of the day before attempting the next bit... Of course, I forgot all about that greasy slab that had been so easy on the way down!

Pete was waiting for me at this point, and he was first to scramble up. After some wriggling, bracing and heaving he finally made it up and the slab was clear. I took the opportunity to pass him my bag, and started the wriggle - brace - heave manoeuvre, grabbed an old bit of rope and after some effort, hauled myself up and popped up out of the slope!

Bar pot beckoned....

The next thing I knew, I can see a rope dangling, disappearing, not into a nice hole or to a ledge, but a slit, the size of which (from where I was standing) could have been no wider than the gap between the cushions of the sofa I am sat upon whilst writing this journal.... This was the real test of the trip, and one that had me full with anticipation...

Pete made it up and through the gap without much of an issue, so now it was my turn. I decided it would be a bad idea to take my bag up with me so Pete offered to haul it up the pitch before me.
The rope sent back down, I clipped on and started my ascent. The initial climb of maybe 15 meters or so seemed to fly by as I was consumed in thought about what was to come next... With some wise instruction from Pete, I got into the squeeze and proceeded to plan my trip up the narrow rift.
Something was different this time, on the way down it was a blind descent. I had to feel for the best route and gravity took over. This time I could see exactly where I was going, and hence plan each step and pick the widest route available, not that there was much difference between wide and narrow, but the marginal choice was only a good thing to have!
This actually made a huge difference, and while I still had a heck of a squeeze at some points, I seemed to gain height with 'relative' ease. Of course, it got a little tougher, and there came a point where I had to remove a foot from my loop and ascend in a position I had never been in before, then to make things more challenging I had to remove my Croll, this left me a little nervous. The remaining 2 or so meters was interesting, but whilst I made good progress I wasn't terribly worried.
I finally manoeuvred myself onto a small ledge, clipped my cowstail and removed my hand jammer, wriggled out of the pitch and shuffled back into the rabbit hole that had welcomed us all here 4 hours earlier.

Lauren was next to emerge, and while the others were on their way up, and in an attempt to stay warm in the cool breeze, all three of us decided to trek over land to retrace our steps and find the various holes that open up to the subterranean world from where we had come. Just as we were headed off, the second group of cavers were also emerging from Flood Exit about 10 meters before us, this being a very long ascent but without the squeeze, I think I would have a hard choice between this and Bar, although a round trip might be something to consider for the future.

After a 10 minute walk, we finally found ourselves at the river leading to the Gaping Gill entrance. We walked down to the pot, and as much as I wanted to peer over the edge, the slippery nature of the stream bed meant that only the most foolish would attempt such a thing... Lets just say that I ended up on my arse on my way down and that wasn't even in the stream (but close enough!)!

After returning to Bar, we waited for word that everyone had made it out all right. I think Pete had really struggled at this point (I am sure the night before had a lot to do with this), but as everyone was in the hole leading to the pitch, I was unable to go back in there and give any moral support.
We decided at this point there was no point in waiting round to chill, so we started the long walk back to an eagerly awaited set of dry clothes.

Pete and the others soon caught up, and still in total awe of a great trip we exchanged experiences and thoughts before getting in to our dry gear and heading off to the pub for a well earned pint.

It was an amazing trip, I can't thank everyone enough for their hospitality, company and guidance on this awesome day. I am aware Yorkshire has a lot to offer in the way of caves (and scenic walks to boot, maybe mines too?), and it is a place I will visit much more in the future.

Thanks to Nigel I was home within 12 hours of leaving that day, felt like the trip of a lifetime.

Oliver King. 

REPORT

Bagshawe Cavern Birthday Trip

25th August 2012 - Lauren Griffin - SK 1714 8088

There was supposed to be a DCC trip to Gaping Gill on this date, also being the winch meet weekend but it was put off again for various reasons, and so I proposed another caving trip somewhere closer to home. It was my birthday on this weekend, and so I thought we could go caving then celebrate with a few drinks in the evening. Everyone seemed keen on doing Bagshawe Cavern and I had never been there before.

The wonderful Tom Howard picked up me and Gareth Goodall, then we drove to the car park at Bagshawe to meet Colin Shepherd, Angela Ward, Graham CaveUK and Bill Edge. Also met two new faces, Sarah and Gary who I think are also from Chesterfield Caving Club. We signed into the Bagshawe Hut for 11am, and began the descent down the 102 steps into the cavern.

We went straight into the cave system, no leader was really decided on for this trip but Graham seemed to know it better than anyone else who had been there before. We followed a passage which led to an aven with excellent formations. I started to freeclimb up as there seemed like an obvious route along at the top, about halfway up the tricky climb I could see the passage, but some were not so keen on climbing up there so it was left for a another trip. We continued down the main passage passing a short flight of stone steps into the Dungeon, being used at this point by caving instructors with some visitors.

Past the Dungeon, we saw some more good formations with cave pearls trapped in a cascade. We stopped for snacks and a group shot in a fairly large boulder strewn chamber, climbed through then continued to follow the streamway, with Graham looking for the Hippodrome. Met two friendly chaps from a Welsh caving club who I think helped us to work out that the boulder chamber we had just come from was the Hippodrome as Graham had suspected. We went through a muddy passage to a small chamber that ended where the water was a couple of feet from the roof to continue on I think to a sump which Graham had a look at. A few of us turned right at some diving weights into a sloping crawl to peek over at a resurgence making an awesome noise for it's size just below us. We turned back at this point with no further to go without diving, and met the few who had not come through the water that were waiting for us in the muddy passage.

We tracked back to the Dungeon and whilst waiting for the instructor to de-rig his electron and lifeline, had an unsuccessful attempt at trying to find our way through the squeezes down to the lower series. I think there were a few too many of us to have done it comfortably anyway. At this point we should probably have paid more attention to how the instructor had rigged his lifeline, as when it came to us rigging one we all had different ideas and ended up hopelessly confused about how to lifeline the last person safely down and up the pitch. I am not sure we had enough rope for it either. It was probably a good thing that we ended up leaving it for a return trip with SRT kit next time!

So we headed out back towards the entrance, where there is another large passage with the "no entry" plank. Of course we ducked under this to have a look, and walked straight into the stope with some dodgy looking timbering, and bits and pieces of boulders still hanging on by fractions of rotten old wood at helmet bashing level. Some lovely calcite formations over the walls of the old mine workings, creating the most beautiful stope I have ever seen. I was gutted I had left my camera back at the junction but I would very much like to organise a return trip here soon to descend into the lower series and see the rest of this fine system.

Back up the steps out, pausing for breath and photographs along the way, then another group shot outside the hut, we were in a pub in Bradwell village for around 3pm, enjoying the first of my birthday drinks. Went out in Stockport that evening with Paul, Vicki, Gareth and Kate for a good few drinks then some 3am birthday cake courtesy of Paul and Tom. What a top day, thanks guys! wow!
 

Below 1: The Hippodrome   

Picture 1: The Hippodrome Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4:

REPORT

Giants Hole

5th August 2012 - Lauren Griffin - SK 1194 8268

Last minute trip suggested by Owen Thomas, as I have never been before and need to do more caving trips! Olly took some pursuading to do Giants again after his trouble at the Vice last year. Olly picked up myself, Owen and Gareth and we went straight to Castleton for Bacon Butties, trying to decide on the best time to avoid the hoardes of tourists that would inevitably be heading into Giants. There were a couple of minibuses in the car park god knows how they get down the track, many people kitting up in neat clean matching suits and helmets.

I think we got in for 11am, we had brought SRT kit to descend Garlands Pot, but had to wait what felt like ages (probably about 10 minutes) for the instructors to bring all their visitors back out from the top of Garlands, being lifelined on belts to go and have a look down the Pot then come back out again. When they had finished, Owen quickly rigged the 4-5m pitch and we were down and contemplating the Crabwalk. We left the bags at the bottom of Garlands and went for it at full speed. Owen blazed the trail with me just behind. Olly put in a valiant effort, not far behind me at all considering he had to go under some of the tighter parts, including the Vice. The rest of the trip up to the Windpipe passed in a blur as we were going so quickly! I remember climbing up a cascade with some rope already in place to help, and I vaguely remember pausing for breath at the Eating House. Then onto the Windpipe, where I was informed that the water level was thankfully quite low for this trip.

Out of the Windpipe and back to the top of Crabwalk, to begin the climb down to the bottom. This was pretty hairy in places for me and Gareth, being the smaller members of our group... (Gareth informed me a couple of weeks later at his wedding that he had dislocated his finger doing the Crabwalk climb.) Back to our bags to put our kit back on for the prusik up Garlands, and we were out for 2.30pm. In The Wanted for 3pm, then I was in work at 5pm!
 

Below 1: In the busy car park after our speedy trip   Below 2: Making the most of the beer garden weather in The Wanted   

Picture 1: In the busy car park after our speedy trip Picture 2: Making the most of the beer garden weather in The Wanted

REPORT

Lennie's Cave - Matienzo

31st July 2012 onwards - Tony Brocklebank - 30T 455388 4799668

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

On Wednesday 31st July Big Steve directed a cast of thousands including Tom Howard, Bob Toogood, Ed Mason, Diane Arthurs, and others to site 288 – La Bodega, in Secadura, where we were met with a short walk to an obvious hole with a great draught which Steve had ideas we should be digging. As all the water passing through the Matienzo valley resurges in this area it sounded promising.

We had a quick look upstream, and decided it was squalid, before inserting Tom into a short side passage just inside the entrance which appeared to run downstream to an obvious tiny resurgence just below the entrance.

I had a quick look around and above the entrance and spotted a small draughting hole slightly above and to the right of it. Within a few minutes I could see Tom below excitedly yelling that it got bigger and continued, and he'd found a pot, and it went off to the left. Then all went quiet. Had he gone grabbing? Realising we couldn't get in the same way as Tom, it was simply too tight, Ed went down for digging tools but before he got back I'd managed to open the top entrance and was almost in. It did get bigger, but consisted of lots of squalid small tubes, Tom returned and I managed to get nearly as far as he had, with tight passages going off in three directions from a junction. Not Bottlebank sized, so time for a thinny style team. I exited and Tom and Di went in pushing. Not a bad start to our first full day in the valley – perhaps thirty or forty metres of new passage. Shame about the size.

While Tom and Di were busy pushing even further Ed and I got bored, and decided to have a wander. We set off and Ed asked what we were looking for, by this time we must have been nearly twenty metres from 288. I suggested a draughting hole would be good – a bit like the football sized one I was pointing at. Digging fever set in for the second time and again within a few minutes we’d opened up a hole to a slot which dropped into a chamber, perhaps 4m high, with small holes in the floor, a passage to the right and a second passage straight ahead ending at a blank wall. The passage to the right ended at a smaller chamber, with a few uninspiring holes at roof level, the holes in the floor may lead to La Bodega, and a tiny hole at the top of the 3m high blank wall appeared to be the way on. Backing and footing up this revealed the 'blank' wall was actually a vertical sand blockage in a 4m or so high canyon like passage – with cold air blasting from a small final flow hole.

Ed came in with digging weapons and we set to work cutting steps up the wall until we could dig the top, Di, Tom and Bob soon joined us and taking it in turns we revealed an small awkward crawl at roof level, with a nasty looking drop on the far side. After an hour or so the spoil heap both sides had grown to the point where Bob felt confident enough to attempt the climb down and after turning a corner entered another chamber, on a cross joint, with a climb up in the roof to the left and a howling draught emerging from an awkward and disappointing looking narrow and twisting floor slot (the continuation of which may again lead to La Bodega). Maybe Tom could get through – no – he was cold and he’d gone for a walk. The Plumbers bar was beckoning and we called it a day.

Bob and I were both pretty excited about the draught, but not too optimistic about the prospects – it looked like a big job, but despite that there was no trouble recruiting a team for the following day. Pretty much everyone returned, along with Liz, Sue, Nigel and Dan Hibberts. Dan, Bob, Nigel and I headed underground with Nigel surveying behind us with Tom (we thought) and Dan reached the slot first but announced he wasn’t grabbing and was simply going to have a look. We’d decided capping would be worth a try and after half a dozen shots Bob (as the smallest -Tom is never there when you need him – he’d gone for a walk again) was inserted. He confirmed he could probably get through, but was too old or something, and would like more rock taking off. Dan and I were happy enough about this and so more demolition took place. After an hour or so Bob was shoved in again and we could hear him disappearing, 'it gets bigger', 'I’m on hand and knees', 'I'm standing up', I followed, then Dan and at some point Nigel gave up surveying and joined us.

The slot broke into a short crawl and then out into a chamber, where Bob was busy ferretting in the roof. Dan and I spotted a small hole low on the left (much bigger now after some attention with a lump hammer) and through this the cave quickly enlarged to a junction with what seemed at the time to be a never ending 10m high, 10m wide passage. In fact it did end, with draughting chokes at both end, side passages at the end of the left hand branch led to a crawl up into a fairly extensive high level area and also led to a complex of phreatic tubes with daylight and the new entrance at the end of one, after a couple of hours digging this provides a much easier way in.

More work has been carried out at various digs with some extensions and there are good draughts at four spots or more. Di and Simon Cornhill took over surveying and so far the cave has around 350m of passage surveyed with, at a guess, enough to survey to take it to around half a kilometre length. The strength of the draught hints at big passage further into the hill.

The breakthrough and initial exploration all occurred during Lenny’s funeral and wake – and over several glasses of Selecta in the Plumbers Bar the cave was named in his honour, and in memory off all his hard work in the Matienzo over the last thirty odd years.

He’d have loved it!

We then returned to the valley where we held an alternatve wake, but I can’t remember the details (or even which bar) so it must have gone well.

Tony

 

Below 1: On the day of opening up the cave   Below 2: Tom emerges from the new entrance   Below 3: The main passage in the cave   Below 4: Climbing out of a rift extension   

Picture 1: On the day of opening up the cave Picture 2: Tom emerges from the new entrance Picture 3: The main passage in the cave Picture 4: Climbing out of a rift extension

REPORT

Giant's Hole, Derbyshire - Round trip + Geology and beyond.

22nd July 2012 - Thomas Howard - SK 1194 8268

A weekend report. This weekend, although I originally said I wasn't caving, I decided I'd be cheeky and ask Andrew Peace if I could join him on a trip down Giants, Derbyshire with the Chesterfield CC. So, 1030 on Sunday morning I arrived slightly late to a very busy Giants car park and realising I knew none of those I'd to go caving with I thought it easier to ask for the CCC, and so it turned out they all were. Simple wow!

4 of us set off to rig down to the further reaches with ambition to do the East Canals beyond the far curtain. After squeezing past a group of students in the entrance series Mike rigged Garlands and down we went on to the Crabwalk, after a few tight spots we progressed down to Geology via a knotted rope or two. However, having rigged Geology, descended and the next we decided we didn't quite feel like having a paddle in the Far Curtain duck and turned back de-rigging as we went. Avoiding the crabwalk we went over the top via the Giants Windpipe and the traverse.
Just over 7 hours below ground and I for one had an excellent trip - Obviously for those slightly larger may have different opinions.

Thank You to CCC for letting me tag along. Until next time haha!

Tom. 

REPORT

Marilyn to Small Mammal (Gaping Gill system) - Tony's stag do trip.

30th June 2012 - Thomas Howard - sd752723

Tony's northern stag do went well in most respects and there was in fact a caving trip done! Given that there were two DCC members on said trip I thought i'd call it a DCC outing.
Me (Tom), Pete Whetham, Paul 'Footleg', Paul Dold, Simon Cornhill, and Tony Radmall (Badger) set off with lots of camera gear, plenty of rope and ourselves to tackle Marilyn to Bar pot but then Pete remembered reading about a fairly snug entrance bit on Bar pot and so we changed it to Small Mammal (The next hole nearer the stile).

Having rigged and dropped the first few and fairly snug pitches we reached, mid-pitch, the end of one rope and found a thick blue one tied on to the bottom. This meant that Pete had the pleasure of learning how to pass a knot in a real situation rather than on practice - and yes, it definitely adds a bit of pressure. He also practiced his rebelays, his groaning and awkward stuff.
There are plenty of people in the club now who have witnessed and undergone a fairly lengthy photographic session underground now, Pete hadn't (A new concept - never cave with photographers, especially the perfectionists) and so learnt how to be a slave for almost 2 hours whilst I, with ultimate precision got placed under a waterfall with one - See the picture, you'll understand.

We then headed down to the Henslers master cave and on to the bottom pitch of Bar, up into Small Mammal. Out in time to join in with the celebrations at Big Jane's barbecue - A pint, and then to get changed!
 

Below 1: The Excellent photography work of Paul Dold on Niagra Pitch - Gaping Gill.   

Picture 1: The Excellent photography work of Paul Dold on Niagra Pitch - Gaping Gill.

REPORT

Legit Pot dig

Sun 3rd -Tues 5th June - Tony Brocklebank

Not one, not two, but three days of digging at Legit and we’re getting somewhere!

On Sunday after much deliberation we decided to dig rather than head for Bar Pot, leaving the delights of Gaping Gill for Monday. Tom Howard, Allan Berry, Pete Whetham and myself were joined by Tony Llufriu on his first Dales digging trip and at some point Bill Sherrington turned up. Things started pretty normally, digging in the bottom of the hole, below the regularly collapsing ramp. It became pretty obvious that some larger boulders in the ramp we’re going to make people cry when they fell in, so Allan and I turned our attention to removing another large section of the ramp. Very quickly a small hole opened in the wall about six feet or so from the bottom. As we exposed this it appeared to be taking water and running away from us back towards the shakehole. We could feel wisps of draught.

An hour or so later and with three or four feet of wall exposed the hole was growing, around a foot high and stones pushed down it appeared drop away over a lip. There’s a rumour that if a dig is about to go you’ll suddenly find a Dingle behind you, and sure enough Simon Latimer appeared behind me, took one look, and began his human mole impression. Allan had to leave at this point, which was a shame, because an hour later we not only had an eyehole into a shaft, with a huge echo, we also had a six foot deep tube opening up below us.

At this point the first of many arguments broke out. I wanted to cap out the eyehole, Bill and Dingle wanted to dig down. I was right, they were wrong, so we dug down and got nowhere, but we could hear stones dropping for fifty feet or more (through the eyehole). A bit of hammer and chisel work towards the end of the (very) long day let us look down a bit further.

The next day, Monday, saw quite an impressive turnout. Gaping Gill and Bar Pot were forgotten about. I counted fourteen “diggers” at one point but I’m sure there were more. The Earby Grabbing “A team, Simon and Bill, with Dave Gledhill and Simon Wilson, had headed off on an early morning grabbing mission and continued the dig in the tube before the eyehole. I was right, they were wrong. By the time the rest of us got there the early morning grabbers were tired, although they had created an impressive twelve to fifteen foot deep hole in the floor just about where you’d need to stand to work on the eyehole. After drilling half a dozen shot holes rock remover was applied to the eyehole by me, Bill , Johnny and Andrew Latimer. Three Dingles on one dig is too many. The shakehole resembled a Roman arena, as the assembled crowd sat with fingers in their ears and a bang was heard.

The hole filled with smoke. And didn’t clear. This triggered a comedy of four or five hours where burning oil, plastic bags, bits of paper, hay bales, and who knows what else were lowered into the hole to try and create a draught, a fifteen foot high chimney was built. Mats and tarps were flapped and all to no avail. Simon Cornhill spent hours lowering a bucket in and pulling it out full of smoke, emptying it, and trying again. It was comical, depressing and farcical. Too many chefs and loads more arguments. After hours of buggering about all we had was a hole full of smoke, but now it stank of burnt oil, plastic and bush fire. The audience began to thin out, and as evening drew near we suddenly realised that the hole seemed to be sucking in. A few attempts at waiting patiently were aborted as one person after another climbed down to emerge choking announcing they couldn’t see a thing. Finally it began to thin, Simon Wilson made it down to the eyehole and insisted the bang had done nothing, a few minutes later I got to the front and confirmed that this was because the left hand wall wasn’t there any more. The right hand wall was shattered. Back to the hammer and chisel for an hour or so, dozens of missiles clattered down the shaft but we finally had a man sized hole to the pitch. Looking down the pitch was like looking down a missile silo full of smoke so we gave up for the day.

Tuesday. The Earby Grabbing “B” team decided they were going early this time, John Latimer, Simon Wilson and Dan Hibberts. I snapped. It was time to reassert control. I informed them that if when we arrived there was a rope flapping loose down the pitch with a bunch grabbing bastards at the bottom they ‘d spend the rest of the day trying to work out how to free climb out, because I was simply going to chuck the rope down the pitch and go home. Simon said I wouldn’t do it, and continued to make setting off noises. Dan and Johnny know me better and decided to play nicely leaving Simon no choice but to wait, he called me some other names, including reckless, dangerous, lunatic etc but all behind my back, and I didn’t care anyway and got on with breakfast.

Anyway, the end result. The pitch was rigged, dropped, and lands on a ledge about thirty foot down, with a deviation to a chamber in a rift after another forty foot or so. (I suspect this may shrink slightly when surveyed, but should be at least sixty foot in total. Below this is a climb down for about fifteen foot, to a dig. It’s a very nice bit of cave, and hopefully will go a lot further, we’re at least one hundred foot below the surface, hopefully near one hundred and twenty. It’s mostly clean washed once you get through the eyehole, and although several other bits of shaft come in it appears the two original shafts haven’t joined yet and still have potential – giving us three digs.

Everyone’s help is much appreciated! Good job (so far)!

Thanks,

Tony
 

REPORT

Titan & White River

19th May 2012 - Thomas Howard - SK14868259

Along with the trip to Long Rake mine, I was given an opportunity to do Titan shaft with some of the Eldon. Tony originally was set to do it (although I don't think ever had intentions of doing it) and so I took his place. An excellent trip allowing me to get to know some more people and to test everybody's theory that Dan caves fast! The group was Rory, Phil Burke, Bob Toogood, Dan Hibberts and Me.

The trip took us down Titan and through the Speedwell streamway (Just under chest level) and up block hall into the White River series, which unfortunately is looking a bit off colour, we then descended via the pull throughs into the sidings near colostomy and out into Peak Cavern sparing plenty of time for food, a shower and a good chat before going to the pub ready for the do.

This was the only real trip I did over the weekend, but it was worth it! haha!  

REPORT

Oxlow Caverns

13th May 2012 - Nigel Dibben - sk12418218

This was a trip to cheer up Tom after a 'family' day on Saturday. We went in one car to the farm and changed in sunshine but a bitterly cold wind for May. Tom tried to get out of the trip by forgetting his helmet and light but was forced to come anyway with a handheld torch and balaclava.

Our trip in was uneventful with plenty of rope and no problems. We were soon in Pilgrim's Way heading for Mecca Aven - trying to keep out of the puddles (see later). After Mecca Aven, we walked down a passage that Allan reckons is the best in Derbyshire and Nigel was convinced he had never been in before (see later). The pitch at North Chamber was soon rigged and we were on our way to the end. The inlet was flowing well and we looked at the cascade but decided not to climb it. Downstream looked very wet and Allan declined it but Nigel pushed through and we got down to the end of the cave at the dams and sump. Nigel was still convinced he had never been here before but in fact he had 40 years before! 30 years before, even Liz had made it to North Chamber with Colin and Len! We had some butties and turned back, thoroughly soaked now so Pilgrim's Way was quicker on the way out.

We left the rest of West Chammber for another day and carried on out of the cave exiting after a bit over five hours. Good trip - ideal for three or four cavers but would be slow and cold for any more than that. 

Below 1: Tom at the entrance - note ideal kit   Below 2: Allan at the second pitch   Below 3: Descending into North Chamber   Below 4: In the stream passage between Mecca Aven and North Chamber   

Picture 1: Tom at the entrance - note ideal kit Picture 2: Allan at the second pitch Picture 3: Descending into North Chamber Picture 4: In the stream passage between Mecca Aven and North Chamber

REPORT

Welsh Weekend - Cwmorthin & CRTT

14/15th April 2012 - Thomas Howard - SH681459

Just for record.
Ed had organised a meet in Blaenau Ffestiniog in order to explore the slate workings of Cwmorthin, Croessor and Rhosydd. A great weekend was had by all (They were all smiling when I left anyhow). John bribed the farmer for a fire safety permit, Ed broke his car, Joel... well, is in the process of getting ridiculed.

A good number turned up (me last minute decision). Ed, John S, John C, Damian, Owen, Lauren, Llion Meredydd, Joel C, Vicki C and Tom.

haha!  

REPORT

Votty Slate Quarry - Bleanau Ffestiniog

April 2012 - Edward Coghlan - SH707468

This was a quick initial trip into Votty Mine via the drainage adit. The untopping of local mines has caused most other entrances to now be blocked so the only access is by the adit.

the mine is largely flooded but after a bit of poking about we found ourselves at the top of the Old Robey Inclines. This chamber used to open to surface and has since been blocked off. There are many buildings and the remains of the winder but we still couldn't grasp the scale of the flooded workings till we happened upon the pile of cable from the incline!

There is only a few chambers still accessible here so its only a short trip however its well worth a trip. 

Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4:

Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4:

REPORT

Water Icicle Close Cavern

1st April 2012 - Nigel Dibben - SK16106460

We met up with Paul Lydon (OCC) in the café at Monyash and drove all the way to Water Icicle as the track was so dry. Paul kindly provided a rope as none of us had brought one! The trip in was quite quick with the 30m entrance pitch followed by a short walking passage to the breakthrough point. Here, Paul led and opened up the gate at the top of the fixed ladder climb. The passage beyond is similar to the entrance passage but in better condition because of the protection from the gate. It is very old cave, over a million years old, and part of a system that is no longer related to ‘modern’ features such as Lathkill Dale. At the end, we looked at a couple of digs. On the way back to the gate, we went off to the side through a second breakthrough point in Cherty-Two passage and on pasty a pit in the floor to another dig. There stills seems to be potential in the cave.

On the way out, we looked briefly at the rift which is thought to have been the miners’ original entrance. Then it was a case of plodding back up the entrance pitch to sunlight and cold wind.

Good trip even if it is not all that long. On the trip were Nigel, Allan, Pete W and John S. Thanks to Paul for leading and lending the rope.
 

Below 1: John and Pete before we start - rare Derbyshire weather   Below 2: In the new passage - typical shape and size   Below 3: John at the top of the Elevator   Below 4: The group at the bottom of the entrance pitch   

Picture 1: John and Pete before we start - rare Derbyshire weather Picture 2: In the new passage - typical shape and size Picture 3: John at the top of the Elevator Picture 4: The group at the bottom of the entrance pitch

REPORT

Peak Cavern - Moss Chamber and sumps.

18th March 2012 - Thomas Howard - SK 1486 8259

This weekend Tom Howard, Allan Berry, Owen Thomas (Oggy) and Anthony Nickson disappeared into Derbyshire's Peak Cavern. We met at the TSG Chapel just after 9, and disappeared into the dark just before two groups of about 8 (who we met later as we were leaving Moss Chamber). Firstly through the mucky ducks in the Peak main passage, and pretty much straight to Moss Chamber along with exploring the further reaches of the chamber (top of the flowstone - leading to a mystery aven that I forgot to ask about). After a good look around we made our way back and went on to explore/show Anthony the main drain of Peak along with the 3 sumps including the fun Ink sump duck.

Having got out in good time, got changed and headed to the pub for a quick one before we all headed our seperate ways.. Thanks everybody for a great trip.

Where Next?
Tom  

REPORT

Short Drop Cave - Leck Fell

Sunday 4th March 2012 - Thomas Howard - SD670789

First Sunday of March seen Tom Howard, Pete Whetham,Pete Clewes and Allan Berry all meet in Bernie's for 10. We had our original intentions to do Ireby Fell Caverns but instead chose upon Short Drop. Following breakfast we made our way up onto the fell to get underground. Getting changed was made a lot quicker as snow and cold winds were against us, that made up the time we took trying to find the cave (it wasn't lost, just Allan nor Pete had been there in the past 5 years at least).
Underground we realised it was rather wet, which made it a tad more interesting; Dry hands and knees crawls turned into damp thrutches and the pitch made fun haha!
We decided to turn back at the climb up to the traverse as we realised we couldn't do the through trip as we'd have to go back for the rope on the first pitch (couldn't be rigged easily as pull through due to the excess of water and awkwardly placed bolts).
Excellent trip, followed by a hot chocolate and soup in the pub/hotel on the slightly skewed cross roads there - you know where I mean.

Next?  

REPORT

Box Mine, Swan Mine and Brown's Folly

3rd - 4th March 2012 - Nigel Dibben - st795661

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

For this trip, I joined up with a group of friends from the Wealden Cave and Mine Society who visit Box about once a year. We met at Box on Saturday morning and did a through trip from Jack’s Entrance to the Back Door. The route included the normal sights such as the black horse graffiti, Brunel’s railway tunnel shafts, the start of the Wind Tunnel and the Cathedral. We also looked into the northern series as far as the last working face. The whole trip took about six hours and was very capably led by Robert Hall.

On the Sunday, I first visited Swan Mine which is much smaller than Box but just as interesting as it is in much better condition with very little modern litter or graffiti. It is very much a classic tree-shaped plan so easy to see virtually all by just following the left hand wall. In the mine, there are sights such as ,loading bays, hoofprints, tools and two cranes, one in good general condition (although very fragile) and one which has been crushed by a roof fall. There are pictures in the linked photo album.

After Swan Mine, I went into Brown’s Folly through the Muddy Hole entrance and had a quick circuit covering some of the main passages including Clapham Junction.

A good weekend and all three mines are well worth further visits. Route finding may appear daunting but I found it quite easy to follow the SMCC maps once you get an idea of how quickly you move across them.

My thanks to the WCMS for the trip.
 

Below 1: The Cathedral in Box Mine   Below 2: Crane in Swan Mine   Below 3: Clapham Junction in Brown   Below 4: Cartway and open workings in Brown   

Picture 1: The Cathedral in Box Mine Picture 2: Crane in Swan Mine Picture 3: Clapham Junction in Brown Picture 4: Cartway and open workings in Brown

REPORT

Giants

19th February 2012 - Allan Berry - SK 1194 8268

It was a cold crisp morning on Sunday when I met up with Richard, Glyn and his son Mark for a trip down Giants. But at least it was a fine day with no cloud. The recent snow melt and loads of rain the night before made for an exciting trip from the outset. And we weren't disappointed!! It was awesome. Nearly 7 hours of it!!

We got changed quickly (some of us having come half dressed for caving) and since the bags were prepacked with the ropes etc from the last aborted trip we got straight into the cave at 10:30am. Water was coming in everywhere. Even the usual dry parts such as Geology pot were running with water! We quickly made our way to a wide passage close to Garlands where we stopped to put on our SRT gear before rigging the pitch and decending in a waterfall to the floor of the chamber and the start of the Crab Walk. We made good time down here, the 4 of us being able to keep up a fast pace all the way to the Vice. This was passed with ease (no fatty's on this trip !!!) to reach the entertaining cascades which had an exciting amount of water going over them. We soon arrived at the eating house and the junction for the round trip - but we weren't planning on the round trip and so we once again donned our SRT gear and crawled through tubes and into the rift with the aerial traverse on the way to Geology pot. The traverse was quickly followed by a short freeclimbable pitch (knotted rope) into a small chamber that was like a shower - there was water coming in from all directions. I had my doubts at this point as to whether the duck would be sumped below Geology. Anyway we pressed on at a good pace to the head of the 12m geology pot and rigged this for a rapid descent into the wettest section of the cave.

At the bottom of geology pot we crawled through to the main stream and on to the next pitch. This pitch is quite small but the amount of water going over it meant that we had to rig it quite a way out from the wall and use a second line with a short cowstail to draw us away from the water as we descended. And we still got wet !! But not as wet as what was still to come......

Immediately following the pitch we came to the ducks which are often sumped. I went to have a look and after lying in the water I soon reported that there was around 2 inches of airspace - Sporting !! I backed out to let the others have a look. All had a look and then we looked at each other, waiting for somebody to declare it a bad idea so we could all go to the pub !! But unfortunately Richard said "Lets just do it" and that was that - no backing out now. So it was helmets off, lie down in the water, deep breath and then right under to get through and emerge in a smaller chamber before the next duck. This was the first time my new caving light had been completely submerged and I was happy to report that it still worked !! Wow - that was cold. Glyn followed us through but Mark had more sense than the rest of us put together and declined the duck - very sensible chap !!

The second duck was much easier than the first - thankfully - and we were soon in the last section of the cave. Glyn returned to sit with Mark whilst myself and Richard made a dash for the end of the cave - East Canal. This was a little further than I remembered and we soon came to another obstacle - Spout Hall. This is a small hole that you have to climb through - but with water blasting through it like a firemans hose. It was easy enough on the way in..........

Soon we reached the end of the cave where the canal necessitates swimming and there was around 3 metres of foam on the passage walls showing where the water levels had been recently. I was starting to worry about getting back through the duck !! On the way back we came to Spout hall and had some difficulty in passing back through it against the flow of the water - great fun !! And then came the duck - no worse than on the way in - but OH! so cold!! The wet pitch again required some interesting techniques to keep out of the main flow but we soon got back to Geology pot and ascended back up it and across the aerial traverse back to the eating house.

At this point - in my defence (your honour) I did offer everyone two options - either return up the crab walk - or go for the full round trip. The full round trip was voted before - although I was a little worried about the windpipe since Mark hadn't liked the earlier ducks. Anyway we set off in this direction and it soon became evident that Mark was tiring. I though it was impossible to tire him out but I think we were succeeding at an alarming pace by this point. We made our way up the many rope climbs to emerge at the daunting entrance to the windpipe. I hate this piece of passage at the best of times - not least because it lures you into a false sense of security by starting out almost dry. Then just when you are beginning to think its not that bad.........bang....... you round a corner and see a long piece of passage with not much airspace. This is how I found myself with a very big bag of heavy rope - staring at around 6 inches of airspace for as far as I could see. I quickly realised that I did not want to try to push my heavy bag through in front of me (the waves created would have drowned me) and I had nothing to tether it to me with. So I used a short length of rope and I took one end of it through the duck whilst Richard tied the bags to the other end. I opted to keep my helmet on and was breathing out of one side of my mouth at the worst point - speed was of the essence !! I made it through and then pulled the bags through using the rope. Richard then followed with some spluttering and splashing. Now it was Mark's turn.

I went back partly into the duck head first in order to talk Mark through. Soon I could see his light as he started to come through. My worries were unfounded as he came through with no problems - but I wish I had a camera - He did not look amused !!! Glyn quickly followed and we were into the top of the Crab walk.

We had all had a thorough soaking for many hours now and not stopped moving for more than 5 minutes on the entire trip. Mark was getting cold quickly and running out of energy but he pressed on regardless with great resolve. We soon came to the free climb down the rift and after dropping my bag - only to watch it start to float off down the crab walk - upgear and all ! I had to make the most rapid descent of that rift than I have ever had cause to do before. I slid down the rift finding every painful bump on the way down with my teeth chattering like a typewriter - but managed to rescue the bag before it floated too far. Mark then made the free climb without too many problems and soon we were all back in the crab walk and soon back near to Garlands.

At this point we donned out SRT gear once more and I seriously thought about a hauling line in case Mark couldn't make it up Garlands - he was very tired and very cold at this point. The only thing that changed my mind was the fact that another party had a left a rope in next to hours and I knew I could quickly abseil down to him if he got stuck. However.....once again my worries were unfounded as he grit his teeth and made it all the way to the top. Richard followed and then Glyn and we soon making our way out to daylight.

It was 5pm by the time we exited - 6 and a half hours after we went underground. The trick now was to get changed before we froze to death !! By six we were all in the pub with a pint (well not Mark obviously !!). Mark's teeth were still chattering with the cold but otherwise we were all in good spirits. I enjoyed it - don't know about everyone else !!! We had pitches, ducks, aerial traverses, waterfalls, squeezes, crawls, freeclimbs, and a thorough soaking. What better way to spend your Sunday !!

Looking forwards to the next one.
 

REPORT

Friday digging team

17th February 2012 - Tony Brocklebank

An active weekend for the Friday crew. Steve and I were at Legit Pot again on Friday, but were let down by failing drill batteries. Despite this we managed to shift quite a bit of rock by the old fashioned method of hitting it long and hard with a hammer and chisel, and by the end of the day I managed to lift the first of debris out of bottom of the small but enticing hole that has kept us occupied for the past few weeks, so much so that Steve went back on Sunday and capped out quite a bit more. Next trip we'll have a few bucketfuls to clear and may have a better idea of where to go.

On the walk up I noticed a hole in an adjacent shakehole had opened up since the last trip. This turned out to be a six foot deep new 'cave' behind a mud and earth bank, with a fresh dead rabbit at the bottom. It didn't look too exciting but is worth keeping an eye on. Of more interest in the same shakehole a sizeable stream is also (now) disappearing down a new hole which seems to be bigger every time we go up there. It must take a lot of water as the rocks seem to be jumping up and out of the hole as well as falling down it.

Not to be outdone Simon Cornhill (not DCC any more but a Friday digger) was loaned to Johny Latimer as a sort of birthday present, and they spent two days digging a hole near Crummack which Diane spotted while walking Saturday.
 

REPORT

Legit Pot dig

12th February 2012 - Tony Brocklebank

Friday's dig was called off due to the presence of large areas of frozen water everywhere – clear, shiny, slippy stuff it seems we spotted a full seventy two hours ahead of the International Rugby Board. Sunday was chosen for the rematch and Big Steve, Susie, Sue and I wandered up through fog which swathed everything from Preston to Clapham to emerge in glorious sunshine above a sea of cloud with Ingleborough and Penyghent rising island like above, like two huge white cruise ships stuck on a reef – you get the idea. It really was a very pleasant day on top.

After slogging to Legit Pot through ten inches of snow we got to work. Sue and Susie headed off to Little Ingleborough summit and Spike, Big Bill and Dingle 1 joined us to provide criticism and verbal abuse. Spike is without a doubt more use than the latter two put together.

After last week’s poor performance with snappers (the rock is very fractured and the fractures stop the blast spreading) we switched to capping with much more success, and managed to remove a reasonable pile of rock and permafrost, it's now possible to see down the hole, which is blocked with debris a foot or two down. Hopefully next time we'll be able to shift this. The draught was heading in, which made sense considering the obvious inversion layer weather conditions.

Big Steve entertained us with his new capping song and dance routine which although not very tuneful goes roughly like this – 'Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, Bank, OUCH!' – and is accompanied by a wild, frenzied unidexter style dance. Very entertaining.

We were also to witness the first demonstration run of the new Dingle Hurling event. I'd like to request that if more members intend to take up Dingle Hurling, in which teams compete to see who can most artfully toss a Dingle head first down a shaft of choice, they please first check I'm not at the bottom of the hole focussed on rock removal. I'd hardly had time to register the clattering noises when I was suddenly speared to the rock face by an inverted and very confused Dingle. Next time I'd like to be at the top of the shaft please, where I'd be more than happy to act as judge and award style marks. Fitting the Dingle with a helmet next time might be a good idea too.

All in all an enjoyable, if somewhat painful, day out on the fells!

Tony

 

REPORT

Nenthead Mines

28th - 29th January 2012 - Ed Coghlan - NY787428

Well after much deliberation yet another return trip to Nenthead was in the making.

The plan was to explore some of the flats and workings close to the entrance of the mine as every time we visit we always end up storming past.

Saturday morning saw us meeting up in the car park in Nenthead and kitting up ready for action. We headed up through the snow to the Smallcleugh portal and off we went down the main level. The first port of call was Old Fan Flats as a warm up explore. This has some classic examples of flat working while making use of every inch of space for backfill, leaving some superb dry stoning. We then ventured off into Whartons Sump and after a bit of wandering we soon found our way back into the Gullybeck cross cut and down to the Whispering chamber. At this point we decided to carry on down the cross cut and into the Smallcleugh flats. These are very extensive and run nearly the entire length of the mine. We continued along the level exploring every nook and cranny along the way and eventually found ourselves at the bottom of High Zinc Flats and an ideal time for a spot of lunch. After lunch we headed up into the High Zinc Flats and after a lot of wandering we eventually found ourselves in Incline Flats. We very quickly found out why it's called Incline flats!! After heading back up the incline we headed back down through the Smallcleugh flats and joined the main cross cut heading back to the main horse level and out to enjoy the lovely hot sun and warm summers day (ok the snow!).

After a few pints in the Miners Arms the decision was made to spend Sunday heading to the far Middlecleugh Sun Vein and exploring the various sub levels and upper flats around Bogs Shaft. 

Below 1: At the entrance to Smallcleugh   Below 2: Gullybeck Crosscut   Below 3: Ore chutes in Incline Flat   Below 4: Smallcleugh flats   

Picture 1: At the entrance to Smallcleugh Picture 2: Gullybeck Crosscut Picture 3: Ore chutes in Incline Flat Picture 4: Smallcleugh flats

Sunday saw us heading back into Smallcleugh and pushing straight down the horse level and through the collapses to Gypsum corner. After a quick breather we pushed on down the Sun Vein and down the ladders for a quick look at the sub level and large stoped out working. Heading back up the stope we stopped for an early lunch and rest. We then headed back out of the level and squeezed through into the incline level dropping towards Middlecleugh. Here we found numerous ore chutes to climb and some very nice vaulted stone work. After stopping for a few pictures we headed back down to the level and out for an early finish. 

Below 1: Bogs Shaft vaulting   Below 2: Tub in Incline Flats   Below 3: Wharton's Sump   Below 4: Snow Angel!   

Picture 1: Bogs Shaft vaulting Picture 2: Tub in Incline Flats Picture 3: Wharton's Sump Picture 4: Snow Angel!

All in all a good weekend was had but yet again everywhere we explored opened up new place to look at next time. Time to plan yet another return trip.

Ed 

REPORT

Legit Pot

27th January 2012 - Tony Brocklebank

Fridays dig was aborted when blizzards arrived at Newby Cote thirty seconds after we did and reduced visibility to about two feet.

Returned Sunday with Big Steve and Simon Latimer. Tent worked well in Arctic conditions, although fingers and toes didn't. Four snappers exposed more of the hole we found last week. Although the top is only about twelve by six inches it's getting bigger all the time and is draughting, so it looks as though we are in the top of something. Return planned with extra strong rock dissolver, probably next weekend.

Tony 

REPORT

Legit and Illegit Pots

13th - 14th January 2012 - Tony Brocklebank

The Friday Diggers are growing, with Pete Whetham the latest addition to what is fast becoming a crack team?


Friday the 13th saw us up at Newby Moss, for the first (official) days work to Legit Pot. Natural England have given us two years to dig this, but with luck it won’t take that long.


The weather was horrendous, we got lost on the way due to a very big cloud and very low visibility. When we eventually found the shakehole Big Steve diverted the water away from the dig whilst I set up the new sunroof. Proddling in the floor led quickly to a few gurgling noises and the dig was soon empty of water letting us dig down for an hour or so. At this point it blocked up again. I opened up a small hole near the top of the bedrock which also seemed to take water and this could be heard dropping for some distance, presumably bypassing whatever sumps the dig, which means we can bail the dig next time. Some water was also escaping towards this point via a narrow bedding about two metres further down. Looking good for this weekend, although a warm sunny day would be nice!


Saturday Tom and Pete joined us for a session in the newly named Illegit Pot. Obvious reasons. Fortunately since we inherited this from the Earby all the work is underground.


After a couple of hours the bottom of the dig, which is now about three or four metres down from the top of the shoring, dried out – and we were briefly digging in dry soil and boulders which is encouraging. This now needs the right hand bank clearing and the scaffolding extending down a metre or so. It might be a good idea to clear all the digging gear, pipes etc from the shakehole (and perhaps store it in the Legit Pot shakehole), so no one knows we’re there.


As always if you need some exercise we’ll be up there again this weekend – everyone’s welcome!


Tony

 

REPORT

P8, Derbyshire

Sunday 8th January 2012 - Nigel Dibben - SK10798179

This was planned at fairly short notice to fill an empty weekend. The weather had been wet but showed signs of breaking for a day or so making P8 possible. We met at 10 am and six of us went down (with one ladder and two ropes - oops) finding the cave wet but certainly not too wet. It was quite cold so we kept moving and went to the main sump via Mud Hall then back out again the same way. Novice Anthony did well and Colin improved his ladder skills. Good trip all round - reached the Wanted at about 2 pm. 

Below 1: Changed in the car park   Below 2: Pete at the entrance - water not too high but very cold   Below 3: Pete gets out his snap   Below 4: Group picture at the sump - apologies for steamy effect   

Picture 1: Changed in the car park Picture 2: Pete at the entrance - water not too high but very cold Picture 3: Pete gets out his snap Picture 4: Group picture at the sump - apologies for steamy effect

REPORT

Bagshawe Cavern

27th November 2011 - Nigel Dibben - SK 1714 8088

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

This trip was arranged as an antidote to the dinner the night before. The dinner, arranged by Sue Morton, was a brilliant affair at the Masonic Hall in Stockport, marred, only slightly, by some idiots breaking light fittings in the gents toilet. (When we find out who that was, they will receive the bill.)

On the Sunday, a strong team turned out to do Bagshawe with fourteen in total, ten of whom had been at the dinner and four others who could not make it the night before. Starting at the crack of noon meant that Tony was there on time.

Inside the cave, we soon got to the top of the Dungeon and half the group decided to go down and explore there wile the others carried on along the main level as far as the Hippodrome (no hippos were seen there today). When the first group had explored most of the lower levels, they also went along the main level to the streams and sump at the southern end of the cave. The first group left the cave after about two hours and retired to the warmth of the Wanted where the others joined them later.

A good time was had by all even though there was water where Nigel said he had not seen it before and it reached to parts it shouldn’t have done.
Another trip will be planned in 2012 as there is still stuff to see and it’s an ideal cave for novices.
 

Below 1: The team before starting underground   Below 2: Admiring formations   Below 3: At the top of the Dungeon pitch   Below 4: Returning up the entrance steps   

Picture 1: The team before starting underground Picture 2: Admiring formations Picture 3: At the top of the Dungeon pitch Picture 4: Returning up the entrance steps

REPORT

Bonfire Spectaculars - Titan to Peak / Peak Cavern

5th/6th November 2011 - Thomas Howard - SK 1486 8259

Bonfire night this year, rather than staying at home and doing the norm of watching a display and a toffee apple, I had an offer I simply could not refuse!

John Smith, after talks early October decided to organise a trip through Peak descending down the rather large Titan Shaft (Imagine bolting up it! Moose did it, Must've been fun). Most of us met on the Friday evening up at the TSG hut, to then have Ed, Kev and Owen arrive in the morning. A bacon/sausage sandwich was scoffed and then we set off up the hill.
After the lovely/speedy entrance pitch we sat for a while whilst Jim Lister and Ed rigged the big pitch down to the Event horizon. Even Ed said it scared him, Sorry Ed!
John Capper told us of how he'd come out of retirement just to do Titan whilst I still worried about the knot pass (until I realised the were joking and there wasn't one)

Two and a half hours later, all seven of us were safely to the ground and after Ed took a few shots we made our way toward the Workshop (Below Leviathon where JH enters)and into the Speedwell Streamway. The trip was a huge success even if I did forget how awkward Colostomy Crawl was..

Now, Sunday.
Saturday evening in the hut was a little quieter than Friday as the 3' x 3' super speakers got turned off and we all got a good night sleep ready for a trip back into Peak in the morning.
Eleven of us turned up at the TSG, signed forms, paid and then got on with it. Until we realised we were missing Pete who said he'd meet in the Devils Arse' car park where Lauren and a few others went to his rescue.
John was pleasantly surprised as to how many people he got go under the 'initiation slab' whilst I think many others were pleasantly surprised that we were not going to be doing the Buxton Spring Sump and holding our breath for 200m (relieved even)

A trip then to the Wanted ended the weekend nicely and we all dispersed in our different directions.


Thanks everybody.
Tom.  

REPORT

Mistral Hole, Yorkshire Dales

9th October 2011 - Neil Garrard - SD66708030

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

As had been predicted the whole of the Dales was a misty washout on Sunday with only a very few caving options that would be; not too dangerous, not too technically problematic, and not too short. On the way up as I drove passed where Ingleborough hill should have been and realised the gloomy weather had completely engulfed it; the choices became desperately thin. Over breakfast at Bernie's we discussed a very short list of possibilities and decided the best option was to head over to Bull Pot Farm with a view to descending Mistral Hole to the Dusty Junction area of the system; or if this threw up any problems to take a trip down Bull Pot of the Witches. Our plan received overwhelming endorsement from the 30 or so other cavers in the café as we meet most of them at Bull Pot Farm on their way down Bull Pot of the Witches or Mistral. As we passed Bull Pot of the Witches it was already looking like a busy day at Swildon's with two sets of rope in situ already.

After a drizzly romp over the fell and a relatively unproblematic search for the entrance we were glad to get ourselves underground and out of the weather. We descended the 6 metre free climb entrance to a narrow boulder strewn rift passage that quickly reduced to a low, twisty hands and knees crawl for about 20 metres. The passage then opened out into a boulder choke to a junction where Nigel correctly identified the left turn that lead to The Hobbit, the first of a number of impressive sized chambers. This cavern exhibits the changes in characteristic that were typical of the entire trip, beginning in an area of breakdown and turning into a muddy slope. A few muddy stals and a small inlet high up in the left wall conclude this chamber which then becomes a modest sized passage with a decent squeeze to make it memorable. The continuation for a further 40 or so metres is a mixture between stoop and muddy crawl until Dusty Junction is reached. From this low chamber there are three ways off; one being an uninviting wet and muddy crawl, one being the route to White Wall chamber and the third exit takes you through to Hall of the Mountain King and beyond. We decided to take each route in turn beginning with the Hall of the Mountain King which is the trade route for most parties entering via Mistral.

We followed this last route out of Dusty Junction and after a reasonably short passage came to the impressive Hall of the Ten another huge chamber that is almost 20 metres high and similarly wide in places. Thanks to an impressive array of lights between us we managed to illuminate this immense chamber to its full glory. The huge passage eventually reached a large mud bank that descends into the Hall of the Mountain King. There were five cavers who took five different approaches to descending the gelatinous mud bank to the base of the chamber; it is safe to say that none of these methods of descent had any grace or technical merit. Again the chamber had an impressive scale and some striking mud formations that Nigel managed to capture; John kindly posed for the photo to give a sense of perspective. We concluded that perhaps the student group from Glasgow had beaten us to the chamber!

At the base of Hall of the Mountain King the mud funnels down to a small passage that John and Kevin pursued; this descends eventually into a much higher rift passage of Leck Fell Lane where a series of fine formations made our efforts well worth while. Again Nigel captured some of the straws and fine helictites that adorn the walls of this impressive passage. A little further along we were reminded that water was an ever present danger in this caving system as we passed the very lively waterfall that marks the entrance to the Cigalère; a canyon stream way with many cascades, which we elected to save for another and considerably dryer day. A short way beyond the water fall we found another aven with water inlet that marked the end of the passage; at least for today.

Our return journey to Dusty Junction was interspersed with a few photo opportunities and an unfortunate bad step on Nigel's behalf that twisted his knee lending a rather painful exit. On returning to Dusty Junction we found a few members of Crewe Caving Club on their exit to the system. We took a brief foray down the remaining passages that left the chamber. The passage to Red Wall Chamber and White Wall Chamber is quite lofty, dry, bolder strewn and fairly unremarkable. A very brief and final look down the final passage, Trowell Passage; was followed as far as Muddy Wallows where airspace was in short supply so we beat a hasty retreat.

A very good days caving and certainly a good option for wet days in the future. A return during moderate conditions would also be worthwhile as there are trips to Gour Hall and the Cigalère that can be followed to a 60 foot waterfall; these would make good additions to another day. After a wash in the beck, during which Tom made every effort to start a water fight; we concluded the day with a richly deserved drink at Whoop Hall Inn, a fine Sunday's caving. 

Below 1: In Dusty Junction   Below 2: Formations in Leck Fell Lane   

Picture 1: In Dusty Junction Picture 2: Formations in Leck Fell Lane

REPORT

Nenthead

19th - 21st August 2011 - Paul Stubbs - NY787428

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

We have had a very good turn out for the latest trip to Nenthead, consisting of Lauren, Bennett, Damien, Terry, Jack, Olly, Paul(young), John Capper, Paul Stubbs.

The weather was reasonable and we had a good breakfast each day before we set off. The first day we went into Smallclough, the water level was so low I can say that I ever never seen it so dry but still it was knee depth.

As per normal we heard a lot of wow, ooh, and look at that, this seems to be the normal reaction and the dry stone passages certainly draw alot of attention.

The second day saw us go into Brownley Hills, this seems to be the favorite with people and I must admit I have a soft spot for it myself, going into the upper levels we came across some rock that has been recently blasted!! leaving plenty of samples scattered about. After a lot of scrabbling in the upper levels I took them to a geode which if you are slim! and flexible! you can with a bit of a struggle climb into it! and they all went WOW!!

Back on the lower levels we went to the Blue Pool before going even lower to the Canadian level which was a lot drier than usual but still a good entertaining trip, it takes nearly 1 hour but well worth the effort, plenty of hanging death! and wibbly wobbly walls!!

We stopped at a section that you can climb up into another mine, this proved to give us some entertainment as we climbed up we made the very steep slpoe into a woderful slide!! which we had to come back down with great difficulty, this was Damien\'s chance to shine, he managed with spider like quality to climb down to a slope and with his help get myself onto the slope with him, we then got the rest of the group down by letting them slide off onto us.

All said it was a great trip with plenty of good memories yet again, October seems to be mentioned for the return trip!! 

REPORT

Matienzo, Cantabria

4th - 20th August 2011 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Once again, the DCC was in Matienzo to support the expedition. This year, the Club was represented by Tony Brocklebank, Sue Morton, Geoff Standring, Bill Booth, Len Gee, Nigel Dibben, Liz Taylor, Steve Martin and Tom Howard. Tony, Sue, Geoff, Bill and Len stayed in the Daughters' apartments, Nigel and Liz in Dibben's Diner and Tom maintained true tradition by tenting it. Tony had his eye on the Hornedo area (nearest caves to Arkwright's Bar) but various other trips were undertaken in the main fortnight of activity and these included teaming up with other expedition members including Ali, Pedro, Phil and the Dingles.

As well as caving, of which there was a good deal, and surface exploration, members went to a local show cave, climbed a vía ferrata at Ramales, attended the local horticultural show, took part in art classes, beached, barbecued and ate out at local restaurants.

The trip saw Tom enter his first piece of virgin cave, Tony open up at least two new entrances, the Club surveyed about 150 metres of passage for the expedition and numerous photos were taken and added to Juan's archive.

 

Below 1: Matienzo 2011 report   Below 2: Tony in Cueva de Regato   Below 3: Bill and Len at 489   Below 4: Tony and Bill in 3564   

File 1: Matienzo 2011 report Picture 2: Tony in Cueva de Regato Picture 3: Bill and Len at 489 Picture 4: Tony and Bill in 3564

REPORT

Speedwell Mine - Peak Cavern

2nd July 2011 - Nigel Dibben - SK 1392 8274

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Kieran arranged this trip from Speedwell to Peak using his excellent connections. We were able to hitch a ride on a boat to the Bottomless Pit and then waded in shallow water from there to the Whirlpool (what Whirlpool?). We carried on to the bottom of Leviathan and went up as far as the Workshop and then returned to the stream to go up to Main Rising. On the way back down, we took a look at the Miners\' Toast and then up to Bathing Pool Rising.

Feeling a bit sadistic, Kieran took us through the crawl to Whirlpool passage and then down to the Whirlpool before we set off down the Bunghole to the Lower Bunghole streamway. By the time we got to the upstream Treasury sump, some were getting a bit tired so when we got back to Egnaro Aven, there was a break for 'lunch'.

Going up Egnaro didn\'t seem too bad until we got to the top and were straight into Colostomy Crawl. Yucchhhhh. Anyway, after a lot of thrutching and sliding and slurping, we emerged at the Trenches and were soon out into the downstream end of Treasury Sump. The picture on the album shows how dirty we had got by then

From Treasury to the main Upper Gallery in Peak did not take too long and fairly soon we were through the Mucky Ducks and past Victoria aven to reach the Buxton Water dam. There, we gave back the mud to the Peak Cavern management (we didn\'t want to be charged for removing it from the cave) and proceeded past awed visitors to the entrance. It was nice and warm in the main chamber!

Not totally satisfied with that trip, five of us had a quick look in Peaks Hole Sough and up at the first vein working. This place still has timber flooring in it that is over two hundred years old.

Then it was the long squelchy walk back to the cars. Fortunately, it was not too warm. Then down to the Wanted for a debrief and home. Thanks again, Kieran. 

Below 1: Before we set out   Below 2: In the Bathing Pool Rising   Below 3: Lunch at the bottom of Egnaro Aven   Below 4: In Peaks Hole Sough after the trip   

Picture 1: Before we set out Picture 2: In the Bathing Pool Rising Picture 3: Lunch at the bottom of Egnaro Aven Picture 4: In Peaks Hole Sough after the trip

Below 1: The boat trip in   Below 2: Beyond the showcave - Far Canal   Below 3: Paul navigates Leviathon    Below 4: In the main streamway just below Main Rising   

Picture 1: The boat trip in Picture 2: Beyond the showcave - Far Canal Picture 3: Paul navigates Leviathon Picture 4: In the main streamway just below Main Rising

REPORT

Hillocks Mine and Bagshawe Caverns

11-12 June 2011 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

A weekend in Derbyshire was arranged at fairly short notice (about two weeks ago) with camping at the Bull i' th' Thorn outside Buxton. Liz, Tom and I arrived Friday night and as no one else was coming until later on Saturday, Tom and I set off for a trip down Hillocks. This is an easy walk from the pub so saved moving the 'bus. We took three ladders and one rope (35m) which reached from top to bottom of the pitches and also acted as a handline in places - quite useful. Taking a few pictures on the way in, we were soon at the bottom of the pitches and exploring the main workings. The place hasn't changed much so there is not much more to say about it! The exit was easy and after the (unnecessary - surely) soaking in the entrance to the coffin level, we were back on the surface and walked back up to the pub in full kit. 

Below 1: Approaching Hillocks   Below 2: The upper chamber   Below 3: In the cartgate   Below 4: The Wharf Pipe chamber below the Engine Shaft   

Picture 1: Approaching Hillocks Picture 2: The upper chamber Picture 3: In the cartgate Picture 4: The Wharf Pipe chamber below the Engine Shaft

Picture 1: Picture 2:

Below 1: Approaching the entrance   Below 2: In the natural cave   Below 3: Formations   Below 4: Team photo   

Picture 1: Approaching the entrance Picture 2: In the natural cave Picture 3: Formations Picture 4: Team photo

REPORT

Dan-yr-Ogof and Bridge Cave

28-29 May 2011 - Nigel Dibben - SN83801600

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

The trip to South Wales was one of the weeekends organised early in the year by Allan. We had accommodation at the Croydon Caving Club Hut, Godre Pentre at Ystradfellte. Our host was Chris Crowley who also led the trip on Saturday and we found the atmosphere very friendly. The New Inn, just down the road, served evening meals which were not cheap but were certainly substantial. Allan, Nigel and Tom travelled down together on Friday and we were able to get well prepared for the Saturday trip.

Saturday started with a bit of drizzle and there had been rain in the week so we were a bit concerned about Dan-yr-Ogof but went there anyway, arriving mid-morning. After changing and going down to Lake 1, Chris decided to check with another leader who was just coming in as the level seemed high but had been higher recently. After a bit of deliberation, we decided to go ahead and went through the partial swims into the cave proper.

The Long Crawl didn't seem too bad and we had a round trip visiting Flabbergasm Chasm, the Green Canal, the Abyss, the Washing Machine and back to Gerrard Platten Hall where we went back up into the Long Crawl again. Near the lakes, the river seemed a bit wetter and sure enough, the lakes themselves had risen by some 5 inches or more. At this point, Allan revealed that he really did not like swimming at all! However, we were soon through and on our way out through the show cave. After this, and taking a few pictures of dinosaurs (for Allan's Callum), we walked up to Tunnel/Cathedral Cave which is also a show cave and went to the end of the public section and back again. Chris and Allan were seen being photographed with two kids, clearly the member of the public thought they were representative examples of cavers!!

After changing and going back to Ystradfellte, we had some time to kill so walked over the hill into the Little Neath River valley, a pleasant walk over dryish moors. Little Neath River Cave looked fairly wet (water nearly over the dam) so we knew we might need to change Sunday plans. After that it was pub, meal, sleep, listen to the rain.

Sunday saw a damp start but it dried up later. Neil had arrived the night before and we explained the situation to him. Plans were to go to Little Neath River and see how it was - if too high then we would go in Bridge Cave and take some photos. Sure enough, it was flowing well under the bridge so we started with Bridge Cave which was fun but wet. All of us were nearly swept off our feet at different points in the cave. When we came out, we carried on down the river checking Cwm Pwll y Rhyd and White Lady Cave, all very wet. Then back to Little Neath River Cave entrance and the water was now higher than 24 hours before. So it was change and back to the hut when we decided to head home. Two good trips (one longer, one short) and good company made up for the damp weather although we never got any really heavy rain.

Thanks Allan for making all the arrangements. 

Below 1: Allan emerging from the cold water in Lake 1 of DYO   Below 2: Dinosaurs   Below 3: Bridge Cave   Below 4: The entrance to Little Neath River Cave   

Picture 1: Allan emerging from the cold water in Lake 1 of DYO Picture 2: Dinosaurs Picture 3: Bridge Cave Picture 4: The entrance to Little Neath River Cave

REPORT

Cambrian Slate Mine, Glyn Ceiriog

14th May 2011 - Thomas Howard

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

A nice easy trip into Cambrian Slate Mine was organised by Ed this weekend where a good turnout was seen. Although said to be a bone dry mine Tom and Ed managed to find waist deep water and almost everybody found there feet wet. Ed found a dig at a collapse at the very end, turning his overalls from orange to grey whilst Pete C tried his new camera out. An interesting trip had by all and then a quick picture share was had down at the pub (forgetting the name). Thanks everybody.

Tom  

Below 1: The dry entrance   Below 2: Out in the sunshine   Below 3: Lovely and clean   

Picture 1: The dry entrance Picture 2: Out in the sunshine Picture 3: Lovely and clean

Nigel adds: We revisited the mine on 25th June and tried to see as much as possible following the old plans. Unfortunately, a quarter is flooded and about half is beyond the blockage that Ed was digging. However, we managed to get a few half-decent photos which are shown below and in the album. 

Below 1: Flooded workings in the eastern section   Below 2: Large workings in the western section before the blockage   Below 3: Err, I think we're here!   Below 4: The metalwork which is (supposed to be) holding up the entrance to the western section   

Picture 1: Flooded workings in the eastern section Picture 2: Large workings in the western section before the blockage Picture 3: Err, I think we're here! Picture 4: The metalwork which is (supposed to be) holding up the entrance to the western section

REPORT

Nenthead Mines

April 2011 - Paul Stubbs - NY787428

Took a group of 10 members to Nenthead in April, Ed, Bev, Andy Brown, Bob Brown, Jay, Ben, Gareth and Nick, Dan, and myself. This was a bit of a refresher for Gareth as it was 12 years since his last visit with Todge and myself, the new lads seemed to enjoy them selves very much as it is totaly different from the mines at Alderley.

We did a trip into Brownly hills on the second day which 3 people missed due to Drinking and staying up to late the night before! Not to mention the fact that the friday night they had been drinking and chatting and running about till 5 am, then they wondered why they had been so tired! We did the now famous Heathers ore shoot, so called because she fell down it! Any way after you climb it this takes you into a large stope with a climb up a plie of deads, we used a rope to make it easier and you then slide down a pipe on the other side. After a good look around the place we started back and Andrew showedus how to get to the top (almost) and then slide back down and land sitting on the floor, quiet funny how he sort of tisted around the pipe. Any how good time was had by all and we are returning in August for the next adventure. 

Picture 1: Picture 2:

REPORT

Engine Vein and West Mine

13th-14th March 2011 - Nigel Dibben - SJ 8604 7747

This weekend was a busy one for Alderley with a visit by NAMHO representatives on the Saturday and visits by two other clubs on the Sunday.

On Saturday morning, the NAMHO AGM and council meetings were held in the village at the Festival Hall, and club members provided the refreshments and lunch to the reps. These were highly appreciated by all present. That afternoon, most of the attendees had a quick trip down Engine Vein with some doing an in and out trip and others going through to the Hough Level.

On the Sunday, we hosted members of the Westminster Speleological Group and Goodluck Mine group for a mammoth trip down West Mine. Again, both clubs were very grateful and the Goodluck group has invited the DCC to make a reciprocal visit.
Also on Sunday, Pete J, Pete C, Nigel, James and Tom went into Engine Vein and Pete J recorded the (lack of) movement in all the areas where cracks had previously been developing. In response to our request, the National Trust have prevented the water pooling over the mine and this seems to have had the desired effect of drying up the area where the rock was losing strength. 

Below 1: NAMHO members including the chairman and treasurer about to go down Engine Vein   Below 2: Members from the Goodluck group at the Pin   Below 3: WSG members at the Cottage Floor Ceiling   Below 4: Pete in the levels near Plank Shaft   

Picture 1: NAMHO members including the chairman and treasurer about to go down Engine Vein Picture 2: Members from the Goodluck group at the Pin Picture 3: WSG members at the Cottage Floor Ceiling Picture 4: Pete in the levels near Plank Shaft

REPORT

Croesor Rhosydd Through Trip

5th March 2011 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

This excellent trip was arranged by Ed. The party was six with Ed, Tom, Tony, Nigel, Steve and John. Liz, Sue and Susie came along as well for a walk as the weather seemed reasonable. The walk up was dry but the tops were misty but it didn't seem to take too long to reach Rhosydd and then Croesor over the top. A few pictures were taken and a lot of speculation was made into how the mines were operated.

At Croesor, we prepared at the entrance and were soon in to the top of the flooded incline and up to the first pitch.
(Croesor was worked from about 1846 to 1878 and then 1895 to 1930. It was used as an explosives store by ICI between 1949 and about 1977.)  

Below 1: Entrance to Croesor   Below 2: Looking down Croesor incline - Rhosydd incline to right   Below 3: Croesor drum house   

Picture 1: Entrance to Croesor Picture 2: Looking down Croesor incline - Rhosydd incline to right Picture 3: Croesor drum house

The first and second pitches are ways to get down from the upper levels into the massive worked out areas. As the main level is called the A level, the first might be described as a drop from D-upper down to C-upper and the second pitch from C-upper down to B-upper. From the second pitch, we went down the chamber to the A level where we met the water and crossed the zip wire. Everyone got across safe and dry despite Tony having to go back to take the pulley to Ed.  

Below 1: Descending first pitch   Below 2: Approaching the zip wire   Below 3: No caption required   

Picture 1: Descending first pitch Picture 2: Approaching the zip wire Picture 3: No caption required

After the wobbly metal bridge, recently repaired by Ed and friends, we had a lunch break and then set off on the walking section to the first real tramway bridge. Things seemed to be going well when we had a nice wide timber to cross and we were soon on the other side. However, the next bridge was completely absent and required a tyrolean traverse. All right until your bag catches on the middle supoport and you lose momentm, as Nigel found out. Then there was a reasonable walk until an even worse one with a rail to get halfway across and then a zip wire for the rest. Interesting stuff!!  

Below 1: Mild Terror   Below 2: Slightly More Terror   Below 3: Quite Considerable Terror   Below 4: Brown Trouser Stuff   

Picture 1: Mild Terror Picture 2: Slightly More Terror Picture 3: Quite Considerable Terror Picture 4: Brown Trouser Stuff

The next Terror was the lake, an abseil onto a very unstable raft (as was proved) and then to be pulled across to the other side, some 100 feet away. It would have been quite spectacular when the bridge was in place but it was still quite impressive.
One slight problem showed itself in that if someone gets into difficulties at the bottom of the abseil, then there is virtually no way of helping them. Perhaps there should be a dinghy for a 'marshall' to wait at the bottom of the rope.
After the lake, we prusiked up a short pitch and were soon on level 6 of Rhosydd. A bit of time was spent looking at the impressive inclines in Rhosydd before we headed, by an up and down route, to level 9 and the adit. The obligatory team photo was taken at the start of the journey out.  

Below 1: The end of the lake   Below 2: Rhosydd   Below 3: Rhosydd   Below 4: The team   

Picture 1: The end of the lake Picture 2: Rhosydd Picture 3: Rhosydd Picture 4: The team

Back on the surface, it was mistier than before but still dry so we got back to the cars in a pretty good dry clean state.

The trip is a superb sporting one and we did a bit of sight-seeing on the way but it does make me want to go back into Rhosydd and explore a bit more. I'm not so sure about all the bridges in Croesor although I admit it was a great experience, one to remember. Thanks again Ed and all the people who have helped in previous trips to set up the traverses and safety lines.  

REPORT

Giant's Hole, Derbyshire

26th February 2011 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Giant's Hole in February seemed like a good idea ... but it rained the night before. So the trip turned out to be entertaining but not impossible (except for Steve).

We all set off down to Garland's and had a fairly easy trip in (except for Steve) and down to the vice. Nigel managed to get himself stuck for a while in the stream but got out when he removed his belt. Onwards and ever downwards. Geology was an easy abseil but, below there, the First Cascade was very wet and after Allan and Glyn had gone down and found the Second

Cascade very wet too, we backed out and headed for the Eating House. The decision was taken to go up to the Giant's Windpipe to avoid having to do the vice again. However, it turned out to be very wet and Allan reckoned it was as good as sumped. So we turned back and returned up the Crabwalk. Garland's was made interesting by the need to rescue a couple of novices from a university club (it was really much too wet for complete novices) and then it was out to change and warm up.

The group was Allan, Nigel, Glyn, Tom, Steve and Tony and everyone went down Geology (except Steve, oh, and Tony). Anyone wanting to know Steve's side of the story should contact him.

Good trip. Warmed up in the Wanted before leaving for home. 

Below 1: In the entrance series   Below 2: Steve and Tom   Below 3: Lunch before we tried the Giants Windpipe   Below 4: Lunch before we tried the Giants Windpipe   

Picture 1: In the entrance series Picture 2: Steve and Tom Picture 3: Lunch before we tried the Giants Windpipe Picture 4: Lunch before we tried the Giants Windpipe

REPORT

Moel Fferna Slate Quarry

5th February 2011 - Nigel Dibben - SJ 125 399

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Another of Ed's mining trips, this time to Moel Fferna slate quarry (i.e. mine) in North Wales. It was a dark and stormy night ... well, day, actually when we met up by a green tree in a lay-by in darkest North Wales. The group was Ed, John, Tony, Sue, Nigel, Tom, Lauren, Sam and Michael. Transferring to two cars (I'm glad I didn't have to drive up there!) we were soon on the hillside getting much wetter walking to the mine entrance than we were going to get in there.

The entrance is a shaft that looks much like a cave entrance in the Dales until you get to the bottom and into the railway tunnel leading to the main workings. Once in, and after going through an awkward hole in the wall (why didn't someone make this bigger - said Tony), we were soon at the bottom of the incline from level 5 to 6. However, we stayed on level 5 for a while exploring west and then down to levels 4 and 3 including a look at the bridge of death or BOD as Ed called it. The workings are massive but not too difficult to move up and down and of course easy to move from side to side because of the well built levels and lack of any rock collapse. Coming back up from levels 3 and 4, we went on up to level 6 and eventually 7 after stopping for the team photo by one of the brake drums. At level 7, you could see the top end of the last phase of slate workings, as they seemed to be working up hill. At each level, there were tips of waste down to the level below but various walls stopped the railway levels from getting blocked.

After about four hours romping around, we headed back to the entrance and the miserable weather on the surface where the steams seemed to be higher than when we went in. However, downhill and with your back to the wind, the walk wasn't too bad and we soon reached Llangollen for a drink, a meal and a discussion about the trip.

A good time was had by all. There are more of my pictures on the photo album and Ed's and Lauren's pictures on Flickr and the aditnow/mine-explorer websites. 

Below 1: A view down the worked out stopes   Below 2: Climbing up to the highest working face   Below 3: The 'Bridge of Death'   

Picture 1: A view down the worked out stopes Picture 2: Climbing up to the highest working face Picture 3: The 'Bridge of Death'

REPORT

Boulby Potash Mine

18th January 2011 - Nigel Dibben - NZ 7618 1829

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

Nigel Dibben

On the surface with the rock shaft behindEd had arranged a visit to the North York Moors and Cleveland for DCC members and friends. There was Ed, Bev, John, Heather, John C, Kevin and ?.

On the Monday, the alum quarries near Staithes were visited and an iron mine, Spa Wood Mine, descended in the company of Simon Chapman, local expert on the ironstone mines. Neil Rowley of Cleveland Potash kindly lent an oxygen monitor for the safety of the exploration of the iron mine. They all returned safely!

On Tuesday, Nigel joined the group for the visit to Boulby. Neil gave a very informative introduction to the mine, it’s method of working and it’s history and then we changed into underground gear: shorts, tee-shirt and hi-vis jerkin. The descent was via the man shaft using the smaller (northern) cage designed for twelve men but a tight fit for seven and two women. At the bottom, it was strangely dark (no, I know what I am saying!) as there were some problems with the main power feed to the mine. We walked to the transit van and started off on the journey to the face. Unfortunately, the power problem meant that work had ceased at the face and we were obliged to turn back and make do with a visit to the workshops and pumps.

All of this was of course still interesting but meant that we stayed in the halite beds all day. Later, we returned to the shaft and took the cage back to day where we added an extra layer of clothing before taking a tour round the surface plant. Without the plant working, we were able to visit the winding house, the treatment plant and the various storage facilities. Then it was back to change, to have a brief word with the mine manager and a final chat with Neil before we set off home.

My personal thanks go to Ed for giving me the chance to join the group and of course to Neil and Cleveland Potash for hosting the visit. I’m now looking forward to the next time when hopefully we will be able to see the ‘sharp’ end.

While we were there, Neil spoke about an article in the Daily Mail about Dark Matter and if anyone wants to read this, the article is linked from this report. According to this, Neil is an astrophysicist. It also includes a picture of the Dark Matter skip, placed, it is said, by the miners ready for the lab to put in their dark matter when they find it. 

Below 1: On the surface with the rock shaft behind   

Picture 1: On the surface with the rock shaft behind

REPORT

White Scar Cave

9th January 2011 - Nigel Dibben - SD 712 745

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Nigel Dibben

After an abortive attempt to go into White Scar towards the end of 2010 when the heavens opened, a fresh attempt was made in January. The first signs were not good as the weather was cold, wet and slushy but the cave had not been adversely affected to the trip went ahead. In all, there were 18 DCC members and friends plus Sue who came to the end of the show cave to see us off.

Simon coming out of Big BerthaStepping back a bit, the first challenge was changing in the snowy car park followed by getting Bill out of bed in time to make the numbers up to 18. Bill made the mistake of changing in range of Colin's snowballs but survived. At about 11, we were able to go in en masse through the show cave and into the cold water of the swimming section. This kept most people quiet and made them cold before we warmed up again going through Big Bertha. The last time I went through here was 35 years ago and I don't even remember the squeezes - this time my ribs were still remembering them two weeks later!

After the boulder choke, we had a bit of a breather and then on towards the end of the stream cave. Traversing in the streamwaySome turned back at around Carrot Hall and others carried on a bit further.

We were a bit more spread out as we came out but most people surfaced quite close together and we soon got changed in the fresh cold air. Somehow, it didn't seem so cold by now! Anyway, this was enough of discomfort so we all headed down to the Marton Arms to relive the best bits of the trip and to plan the next.

There were a number of potential new members on the trip as well as at least one miner who had very rarely been in a natural cave before. All in all, it was a good trip in good company and made a good start to the year underground. There are a range of pictures in the Club album, just click HERE. 

Below 1: The car park at 10 in the morning   Below 2: Simon coming out of Big Bertha   Below 3: Traversing in the streamway   

Picture 1: The car park at 10 in the morning Picture 2: Simon coming out of Big Bertha Picture 3: Traversing in the streamway

REPORT

Giants Hole, Derbyshire

21st November 2010 - Tony Brocklebank - SK 1194 8268

Fantastic turnout, especially considering the wear and tear some members had suffered the previous evening, with around thirteen people turning up for the trip and defying the sceptics who said no one would cave after the dinner.

Paul Quin, demonstrating true leadership skills - i.e. supervision and delegation, walked to the entrance with us and then buggered off. The rest - Allan Berry, Pete Clewes, Tom Howard, Keiran Rooney, Sue Morton, Ash Morton, John Smith, Colin Davison, Bill Booth, Glyn Robinson, Glenn Costin, Mike Burtonshaw and myself set off underground. I think that's everyone?

This was Sue's much vaunted return to caving after she injured her leg skiing very badly in La Thuile in Italy earlier this year. In fairness she'd also had a few years off before that so was a little out of practice. Colin and Billy considered this situation carefully, and with great self-sacrifice came up with a plan to ensure her safety. They felt that it was possible her dodgy knee would lead to her falling, landing on one of them, inevitably injuring that person in the process. This meant that a fourth person would be required to wait with the casualties whilst the uninjured member of the team headed out to call DCRO. Reluctantly I volunteered.

We reached the ledge at Garlands, and settled Sue down ensuring she didn't go too near the edge. Mike Burtonshaw regaled us with stories of how as a young lad, working for the farmer in the sixties, he spent days trundling a wheelbarrow through this section of cave dumping bang debris over the pitch as part of the failed attempt to open Giants as a show cave. We pointed out had he worked a little harder the pitch could have been filled in saving everyone a lot of trouble.

Once everyone else was safely down the pitch we headed out, and I'm glad to report Sue made it without incident.

We were now faced with a long wait for the rest of the team to catch up with us. Fearing Sue get may cold if we simply waited outside the cave, after much soul searching, the four of us headed for the Wanted Inn. Hungry and dehydrated after our experience we settled down by the fire, where we were joined by Jock and later, Mary Rooney, and proceeded to replenish our battered stomachs. Roast Dinner, and pint after pint of Unicorn seemed to do the trick. Hours later the first of the B team was spotted heading back, and soon we were all safely reunited and ready for the long journey home.

They really were very slow.

In all a highly successful incident free trip - and a great birthday!

Thanks to everyone who made the effort!

 

REPORT

Kingsdale Valley Entrance

19 September 2010 - Nigel Dibben

This trip to White Scar started well with everyone meeting in Inglesport at 8.30 am (yes, that's before midday!). However, it had been raining all night and all the morning and on the way up to White Scar the amount of water emerging from the hillsides and resurgences showed that a trip into the cave was becoming unlikely. They wouldn't let us into White Scar so we decided to give up and go to Kingsdale instead. One group went straight there and others went round via Dent to have a look at the rivers feeding Kingsdale. Some spectacular photos were taken of rivers in flood.

Nigel and Tom looked into Yordas on the way but it was full to the brim with foamy water and you couldn't even get into the main chamber.

At Kingsdale Valley Entrance, it was still raining so we reckoned it had to be drier underground than on the surface - how wrong we were! Inside, the ducks were still just a wet crawl but from there to the end of the Valley Entrance series, there was deep water and a strong current. At the Master Cave, the water was about 2 m below the passage exit.

Tony, Pete, Neil, Allan, Richard and John went up Toyland to pop some rocks but when the water had been seen to rise two inches in half an hour, they made a strategic retreat.

It was cold and wet but interesting nevertheless to see just how aqueous the Valley Entrance can be in bad weather. We all decided to continue the discussion about the cave in the Marton Arms.

It was good to see two old friends on the trip, Chris Gilley and Paul Dyson. Maybe they'll rejoin the DCC now they know that we still exist and still go caving.

 

REPORT

Matienzo expedition 2010

August 2010 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

This is a copy of the description that appeared in the 2010 newsletter with contributions from Nigel and Tony. 

Below 1: Football at the Fiesta   Below 2: Renada   Below 3: Expedition report for Matienzo 2010   

Picture 1: Football at the Fiesta Picture 2: Renada File 3: Expedition report for Matienzo 2010

REPORT

West Mine to unveil Granville's plaque

18 July 2010 - Nigel Dibben

This was our opportunity to pay our respects to Granville in an environment that he would have known and enjoyed. At Granville's funeral earlier in the year, his close family said they would like to pay a visit to West Mine where some had not been for over 50 years when Granville and his father used to visit the mines. Paul arranged a visit and we also bought a plaque to commemorate Granville's life underground. The plaque was installed earlier in 2010 and then in July a trip down the mine was arranged for his family and friends.

Over 40 current and previous members of the Club and their close friends and relatives came down to the Sphinx Chamber in West Mine, some 100 feet below ground, to remember his life. The plaque was unveiled and many memories of Granville were shared. I am pleased to say that everyone got out again safely and without any real difficulty and we retired to the Wizard Tea Rooms for a cuppa. I think Maureen was very pleased to have been able to make the trip. 

Below 1: Granville in Wood Mine   

Picture 1: Granville in Wood Mine

 

Below 1: The group arrives in the main chamber   Below 2: Maureen makes it to the main chamber too   Below 3: Going down the Canyon passage   Below 4: Maureen, Margaret and their family look at the plaque   

Picture 1: The group arrives in the main chamber Picture 2: Maureen makes it to the main chamber too Picture 3: Going down the Canyon passage Picture 4: Maureen, Margaret and their family look at the plaque

 

Below 1: The group in Sphinx Chamber   Below 2: The Sphinx   Below 3: Margaret with Ed   Below 4: The Plaque   

Picture 1: The group in Sphinx Chamber Picture 2: The Sphinx Picture 3: Margaret with Ed Picture 4: The Plaque

REPORT

P8, Derbyshire

11th July 2010 - Tony Brocklebank - SK10798179

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

It was fun.

When we got to the entrance Neil said Allan was in charge so obviously we gave Allan all the gear to carry. This ensured the Tackling Team were properly equipped for all eventualities. I offered to go last which allowed me a ciggie break for a while on the surface.

After a fairly lengthy rest at the top of the first pitch, and a bit of a snooze, I found myself at the back of a queue in the upper series traverse – not really what I was expecting. I got bored and went for a wander up Stalagmite Passage (the best bit of the cave in my opinion) and spotted a couple of potential digs I hadn’t noticed before which are now for sale if anyone would like to buy them, I certainly don’t want them, and had another ciggie break. When I got back the queue was still there. This wasn’t going to plan.

I didn’t immediately recognise the site they rigged as being the site of the old fixed ladder – but as it was taken out nine years ago and I probably haven’t used it for ten years or more I suppose it’s not surprising. It used to be somewhere you quickly passed through on the way to wherever you were going. I hadn’t spent as much time there in all the times I’ve been down P8 combined as I did yesterday.

Allan and I had a conversation last week during which we discussed him and Neil going in early to rig. I said there was no point, only two pitches and only takes two minutes to rig each. It turns out I was thinking of the true, second pitch, an easy twenty foot climb with nice simple rigging and an easy take off. Allan and Neil were planning to rig the high level traverse, which to be honest I’ve never seen rigged before, although I’ve done it many times. He was also planning to rig for both ladder and SRT. So he was right – we should have sent him and Neil in two hours early. Never mind.

Anyway, only just over two hours after entering the cave we were all safely at the bottom of Allan and Neil’s alternative second pitch. I think this may be a record?

To my mind if the old ladder wasn’t safe then the two P hangers sticking out of the wall where it used to be need cutting off with a grinder, they produce the most awkward and horrible beginners pitch for ladder or line I can think of in any cave.

Everyone then split up, two groups went to the sump. One didn’t. Everyone got back to the second pitch where most of them had trouble getting back up it. One actually fell off the ladder more times than I’ve ever seen anyone fall off a ladder and yet still got up it undeterred!

Nigel, Richard and I got most of the beginners up the first pitch and managed to run away just before Pete brought any gear out thus ensuring the Detackling Team were properly employed. Nigel even managed to get the ladder off Idiots Leap just before Pete arrived with two bags – an excellent piece of work. I think Nigel and I may have got a bit giggly by then.

Anyway, fun day out. Highlights included Alley’s Double Safe Descender – the principle being you fasten it on the rope and then to go down attach an extra caver to either leg – this is now for sale on Facebook if anyone would like it, Richard and I leaving all our gear at the bottom of the cave ensuring Allan and Neil carried it out for us, Nigel not having a heart attack (and forgetting his oversuit and furry suit Ed.), and of course I’d better not mention Pete not falling down any pitches.

Thanks to everyone who turned up to make it a good day out! 

Below 1: Ready to go in   Below 2: Second pitch   

Picture 1: Ready to go in Picture 2: Second pitch

REPORT

Cae Coch Sulphur Mine

10th July 2010 - Nigel - SH 7745 6546

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

Ed organised the trip to Cae Coch which was moved to the Saturday so as not to clash with P8. We met in Betws-y-Coed in the rain (!) and drove up to the area to change. There was Ed and Bev, three of his friends, Tom and me.

After a long slog up the incline, we reached the entrance and started on a tour round the mine in a clockwise fashion. First we looked down at some very red pools and sticky mud at the bottom of the workings and then gradually climbed up to the higher levels. Several of the pillars looked quite dodgy but nothing fell off so we carried on. At the higher level, we found an internal incline and then a partly blocked level which was easily passed through some higher stopes. Dropping back to the level, we found another incline this time pointing out of the mine.

Following this down, there were a few bats flying about so we kept well clear of them and then at the bottom a side chamber had a huge ore chute coming down from another higher level. Up there, we found a particularly dark and evil looking pool which Ed sampled; even his brightest torch couldn't penetrate the gloomy water.

A few more pictures were taken including the video of a splendid snottite stalactite which can be watched on the report in the external link.

The entrance was never too far away and soon we returned to daylight. A brief visit was made to the quarry to the south and then back down the incline and off to the cars to change.

A good trip was had by all; thanks, Ed, for taking us there and showing us round. 

Below 1: On the incline   Below 2: The entrance from inside   Below 3: Red pools   Below 4: Snottite flows   

Picture 1: On the incline Picture 2: The entrance from inside Picture 3: Red pools Picture 4: Snottite flows

 

Below 1: Some timbering from the last phase of working    Below 2: More red pools   Below 3: Pillar and stall working   Below 4: More stal   

Picture 1: Some timbering from 
the last phase of working
Picture 2: More red pools Picture 3: Pillar and stall working Picture 4: More stal

 

Below 1: Timber supports   Below 2: Collapsed level   Below 3: The ore chute   Below 4: Timbers in the entrance   

Picture 1: Timber supports Picture 2: Collapsed level Picture 3: The ore chute Picture 4: Timbers in the entrance

REPORT

Matienzo celebration at Dalesbridge

11th - 13th June 2010 - Nigel Dibben

The Matienzo expedition was started by MUSS in about 1970 so 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the first real expedition and also 50 years since caving started seriously in the valley. To celebrate this, we went to Dalesbridge near Clapham in Yorkshire for a weekend of fun and frivolity mainly focused on the Saturday when there were talks, a raffle, a meal, live band and a great deal of drinking.

A number of members arrived on the Friday to set up tents and caravans or take up B&B and bunkhouse places. In total, there were nearly twenty DCC members or partners. On Friday, the first task was obviously to set up the rocket (what else would the DCC do?). This was up by late afternoon and soon attracted the curiosity of the other campers. Amazingly, none of them drove into the wall on their way to the main camping field. After most had arrived, we hit the bar at about 8 and were told it was closing at 9 so the party continued outside and everyone had a drop or two more than perhaps they should have (see picture right).

Any way, all settled down later and most people were up at a reasonable time for a slow start to the events on the Saturday. First, there were practice runs through the squeeze machine and on Steve's Splat The Bat game just to get in the mood and then at 1100 the bar opened and at 12 there was the first talk by Juan on the prospects in Matienzo for 2010 and future years. 

Below 1: The Rocket   Below 2: Strange behaviour after dark   Below 3: Sheryl tries to splat the bat   Below 4: Kieran nearly stuck at over 9 inches gap   

Picture 1: The Rocket Picture 2: Strange behaviour after dark Picture 3: Sheryl tries to splat the bat Picture 4: Kieran nearly stuck at over 9 inches gap

There were four talks on: the area by Juan; diving by Phil; the geomorphology by Andy Quin; and the archaeology by Steve and Pete. Between these, there were suitable breaks for lunch, looking at the displays, buying raffle tickets and so on. After the first talk, there was a demonstration of the Earby pump used to drain siphons. This was turned by Tony into a giant washing machine which Steve found useful to clean his overalls. After the talks had finished, seven hopefuls watched as Jane judged the tortillas and decided that Lank's was best (he cheated by using garlic) followed by our own Sue. 

Below 1: Andy Pringle opens the conference   Below 2: Juan talking about potential caves in Matienzo   Below 3: Phil talking about dives in Matienzo   

Picture 1: Andy Pringle opens  the conference Picture 2: Juan talking about potential  caves in Matienzo Picture 3: Phil talking about dives in Matienzo

The evening started with a meal of sorts laid on by Mr Grumpy and his mates followed by the welcome (???) return of the Fluffies after nearly 17 years, their last appearance being at Pindale at the Cavers' Fair. Granville's place was taken by Paul who did an admirable job of leader while the team was infiltrated by Bolton member Steve. For reasons best known to the choreographer, her husband was kept well out of the way! Lugger kept himself busy trying to get a picture up Steve's skirt but he needn't have bothered if he had just followed the team round to the rocket. Use this link to go to the Fluffies page where the videos of Pindale and Dalesbridge can be viewed. 

Below 1: Testing the Earby pump in a closed loop   Below 2: Steve doing washing his dirty linen in public   Below 3: Jane judging the tortilla contest   

Picture 1: Testing the Earby pump  in a closed loop Picture 2: Steve doing washing his dirty linen in public Picture 3: Jane judging  the tortilla contest

After the Fluffies appearance, the evening turned into the stomp with the two-piece folk and blues band who did two sets up to about 11 pm. During the interval, the raffle was held and the quiz was scored. Many fantastic prized had been donated, no that's a bit of an exaggeration, various lofts had been emptied and we won some prizes including Nigel getting back a bottle of whiskey he had been trying to get rid of. The evening went quickly and it seemed (to me at least) that people drank a bit less than the night before so there was no party in the field. This probably wasn't helped by Mr Grumpy running out of all draught beer by the end of the night - something it seems he has a habit of doing (Matienzo Gold ran out by about 8.30). 

Below 1: Sue winning a bottle of wine for her tortilla   Below 2: The Fluffies under the leadership of Paul   Below 3: Posing by the rocket ...   Below 4: ... and showing off their assets   

Picture 1: Sue winning a bottle of wine for her tortilla Picture 2: The Fluffies under the  leadership of Paul Picture 3: Posing by the rocket ... Picture 4: ... and showing off their assets

The next morning, Sunday, saw people starting to leave and the rocket coming down to go back into its box until next time. The Dingle's van seemed to suffer some sort of mishap but was left happily wrapped in plastic. Tony and Allan threatened to actually go caving which meant that they might get to Bernie's before midday for once.
All in all, it was a great weekend and well worth attending. A particular mention should be made of the Alderley miners who made the trip despite not knowing all that much about Matienzo but mainly so that they could support the Fluffies.
If anyone wants to know more, we have pages about Matienzo on this site or go to Juan's excellent expedition site.
 

Below 1: Andy getting into the mood   Below 2: Juan reading out the answers to the quiz   Below 3: The grand raffle, some lucky person wins a stethoscope   Below 4: Andy continues with Keith when the music resumes   

Picture 1: Andy getting into the mood Picture 2: Juan reading out the  answers to the quiz Picture 3: The grand raffle, some lucky  person wins a stethoscope Picture 4: Andy continues with Keith  when the music resumes

REPORT

NAMHO Conference in South Gloucestershire

4th - 6th June 2010 - Nigel

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

The annual NAMHO conference was held in an unlikely area, South Gloucestershire. I had been down there in March for a NAMHO meeting and I had visited two of the coal mine sites so in June, I chose to visit some stone mines, a coal mine in the Forest of Dean, Old Ham iron mine and a grotto folly in Bristol. The venue was the Miners' Institute in Coalpit Heath (sorry - no pics!) but before booking in there, I went down Whittington Quarry (Mine) near Cheltenham. The first set of pictures were taken in March and show the sites at Coalpit Heath. 

Below 1: Archaeological work on the surface at Serridge Pit   Below 2: In a tunnel at Serridge pit linked to the engine house   Below 3: Display board at Ram Hill colliery put in by the council   Below 4: Building remains at Ram Hill colliery   

Picture 1: Archaeological work on the 
surface at Serridge Pit Picture 2: In a tunnel at Serridge pit 
linked to the engine house Picture 3: Display board at Ram Hill 
colliery put in by the council Picture 4: Building remains at Ram
Hill colliery

The Whittington Quarry trip was led by an old friend, Maurice, so spent as much time catching up on old times as talking about the mine. The mine is an easy walking height almost throughout and follows a simple branching plan from the artificial entrance dug by local cavers. It was operated by local men with simple horses and carts, no railway, and was hand dug throughout. Grooves were cut into the rock on one or both sides and the rock was broken out using wedges in V-shaped cuts. The pieces were loaded straight onto carts and processed outside the mine. 

Below 1: Typical gallery in Whittington Quarry   Below 2: Evidence of carts rubbing against the wall and the groove left by the axle   Below 3: Another typical view at a junction   Below 4: One of the working faces with V-slots for wedges on the left hand side   

Picture 1: Typical gallery in  Whittington Quarry Picture 2: Evidence of carts  rubbing against the wall  and the groove left by the axle Picture 3: Another typical view at a junction Picture 4: One of the working faces  with V-slots for wedges  on the left hand side

On the Saturday, I went over to the Forest of Dean and the first trip was into a working small coal mine, Monument Pit. These mines are limited to an output of 500 tons a year and sell to the local market for house coal. We were led round by one of the two operators and shown the current face and his plans to open up a new face. Equipment inside the mine is limited to trucks and rails and a chute to send the coal down to the trucks. The height of sophistication is an old coal cutter which, like everything else, has done duty elsewhere. We were made very welcome by the owner and had a thoroughly interesting trip. 

Below 1: Ray outside Monument Pit waiting to take us down   Below 2: The lower level, at the bottom of the worked out bed of coal. The chute is in the background   Below 3: The face where working was ending as the upper clay is too thick to justify extracting the coal belo   Below 4: Returning to the entrance up the main incline   

Picture 1: Ray outside Monument Pit waiting to take us down Picture 2: The lower level, at the bottom of the worked out bed of coal.  The chute is in the background Picture 3: The face where working was ending as the upper clay is too thick to justify extracting the coal belo Picture 4: Returning to the entrance up the main incline

In the afternoon, we went over to Clearwell and down Lambsquay with Jonathan Wright, emerging from Old Ham. Jonathan knows the mine very well and pointed out many features, such as the firesetting which I had never noticed before. Lambsquay is quite restricted in size and includes a couple of interesting climbs and crawls so the change into Old Ham was very welcome. We saw down to Railway Churn in Old Ham but time prevented us from further exploration. Well worth a return. 

Below 1: In Lambsquay with restricted height   Below 2: Looking at evidence of firesetting in the eighteenth century in Lambsquay   Below 3: Crossing a sump in Old Ham   Below 4: Sophisticated roof support in Old Ham   

Picture 1: In Lambsquay with restricted height Picture 2: Looking at evidence of firesetting in the eighteenth century in Lambsquay Picture 3: Crossing a sump in Old Ham Picture 4: Sophisticated roof support in Old Ham

Sunday morning meant another change of scenery as a small group visited a grotto in the gardens of a Bristol house. The grotto is rarely visited and the 'behind the scenes' sections that we were able to see are even less often seen. The folly was build in the eighteenth century and has a waterfall which was originally fed with water from a miniature Newcomen engine in the tower folly in the garden. The house belonged to a wealthy Bristol businessman but it seems he rarely invited people to visit the grotto. It all belongs now to the university of Bristol. 

Below 1: Inside the grotto looking towards the waterfall   Below 2: The statue at the head of the waterfall   Below 3: In the tunnel that led to the base of the tower   Below 4: The tower that housed the Newcomen engine to pump water from a well   

Picture 1: Inside the grotto looking towards the waterfall Picture 2: The statue at the head of the waterfall Picture 3: In the tunnel that led to the base of the tower Picture 4: The tower that housed the Newcomen engine to pump water from a well

Last but not least, on the way back to the M5, I visited Nailsworth in the Cotswolds and the quarry known as Balls Green Mine (Lower). I had been in the upper mine some years ago so it was interesting to visit it's near neighbour. This mine turned out to be a fascinating mixture of different periods and different activities including mushroom farming at one time. It had much larger passages than Whittington and the far end contained a fascinating area of worked stone waiting to be shipped out. On the way through, we passed Jubilee track and wagons linked to the 20th century phase. 

Below 1: Discussing working techniques in the outer part of the mine   Below 2: A jubilee wagon trapped by a major rock fall just to the left   Below 3: Graffiti and candle soot marks on the wall. The graffiti is a series of measurements   Below 4: The working platforms at the far end with blocks waiting to be chipped out   

Picture 1: Discussing working techniques in the outer part of the mine Picture 2: A jubilee wagon trapped by a major rock fall just to the left Picture 3: Graffiti and candle soot marks on the wall.  The graffiti is a series of measurements Picture 4: The working platforms at the far end with blocks waiting to be chipped out

Glancing back through the pictures it is interesting to see how the colours change: sandy yellow and orange in the stone mines, red in the iron mine and grey in the coal mine. By the end of the weekend, my boiler suit had examples of them all.

The weekend was tiring as there was little spare time and I was sad not to have attended any lectures but the trips were all fascinating and led by people who really knew their areas. Another good area for a club trip some time.
 

REPORT

Nenthead

June 2010 - Ed Coghlan - NY787428

Several members.

A visit was made over three days to Nenthead. On Saturday, the team went into Smallcleugh to Baron's Sump which is situated in a remote part of Longcleugh vein. On

Sunday, it was a case for wetsuits and the group went into Caplecleugh to check out some rises seen on a previous trip. Some really good artefacts were found (and left

in place) and pictures were taken. On Monday, the team had less time so went into Haggs Level and up High Raise Vein. This was new territory to the group and return

visits are planned.
The fuller report (available by the link below) contains a number of superb photographs and more details about the trips and the history of the mines. 

Below 1: Report of this trip   

File 1: Report of this trip

REPORT

Bull Pot and Yordas Cave, Kingsdale

8th May 2010 - Nigel (pictures by Anthony)

We met at Bernie's in Ingleton at the unheard of early time of 1030. Driving up to Kingsdale, it looked as if the whole of Yorkshire had turned out for a trip to Bull Pot but it was actually a fell race and loads of vans and cars were parked along the narrow road. The climb uphill was easy in the cool but sunny weather and we rapidly descended Bull Pot with no one else around, just a few sheep to keep us company. The trip was done on SRT and as far as possible we avoided the highly acrobatic routes suggested by the P-hangers. At the bottom (or near bottom), Nigel explored the southward passage while Allan and Anthony went down the last tight pitch. On the way out, Anthony took the pictures (below). Getting out was fairly quick considering we had three novices on the trip but they were learning fast.On the surface, we decided to go over to Yordas and through there for a bit of additional fun. The top entrance pitch was quickly rigged with a pull-through and we all went down. The crawl puzzled Pete and Nigel a bit as we couldn't remember the long low wet bit but the second pitch was quickly reached and we dropped into the main Yordas cave.After a quick look around, we all left and went back to change in sunshine! Then down to the Marton Arms which was busy - but of course it was Saturday. General feeling that it was a good day out and that Saturday is a good day for caving as it still leaves Sunday free.The party was Allan, Tony, Pete, Nigel, Anthony, Glyn and Charlie. 

Below 1: At the entrance to Bull Pot. It was sunny but there was a very cold wind.   Below 2: Tony in Bull Pot.   Below 3: Allan returning out of Bull Pot.   Below 4: Abseling down a very dry but sporting Yordas.   

Picture 1: At the entrance to Bull Pot.  It was sunny but there was a very cold wind. Picture 2: Tony in Bull Pot. Picture 3: Allan returning out of Bull Pot. Picture 4: Abseling down a very dry but sporting Yordas.

REPORT

Nenthead

12 - 14 March 2010 - Ed - NY787428

Several members.

Being the first trip for one member, the visit included a trip into Smallcleugh on the first day, Saturday, going up to Ballroom Flats. A through trip to Rampgill was abandoned as the wrong rope was brought. Sunday saw the group in Rampgill going right up to the Boundary Gate on the old county boundary within the mine.

There are some good pictures in Ed's report. 

Below 1: At the entrance   Below 2: Report of this trip   

Picture 1: At the entrance File 2: Report of this trip

REPORT

Peak Cavern

28 February 2010 - Nigel - SK 1486 8259

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Allan decided that one trip to Peak was not enough - and he was right. Seventeen members and friends turned up for the trip on a cold Sunday at the end of February. Although the week before had been wet, the day was dry and water levels in the cave were relatively low. After changing and signing in, we all went into the cave together as far as the junction to Moss Chamber. There, Allan and the hardy ones went off for a trip to Moss Chamber and the rest of us carried on. At Surprise View, the group split again (a bit unevenly but to my advantage as a photographer) and nine went upstream and three went downstream.

The smaller group of Colin, Bill and Nigel went rapidly down to the sump taking a couple of pictures on the way. We had to quickly relearn how to take pictures in cold wet and steamy passages. Bill and Colin demonstrated that the sump contained water by wading in and we then turned round to go to the inlet sump, Far Sump. On the way, we met the other group coming downstream and for some reason, Tony and Colin decided to have a water battle. Colin won - he had a wetsuit on.

Up at Far Sump (which seemed to us to have got farther away now - or is it advancing years), Bill demonstrated the water depth and we turned back. Meeting no one on the way, we decided to head out, ignoring the arrangement to meet the Moss Chamber bunch at the junction, but it was just as well because everyone else had left the cave by now. They ignored us too! Anyway, we met the 'rescuers' in the show cave and soon got out to change.

A short stop in the Wanted followed and we shared a few crisps and chips. Tony shared all of my crisps but then I had emptied a wellie of dirty water over his car so he thought it was reasonable revenge.

A good trip was had by all and many thanks to Allan. For those who are interested, six out of the ten (!) committee members were down there so we could have had a quorate meeting at Squaw Junction. 

Below 1: Most of the team at the end of the Five Arches   Below 2: The superb main streamway down from Surprise View   Below 3: Bill in Far Sump - up to his neck in it   Below 4: Nigel enjoying the main stream   

Picture 1: Most of the team at the end of the Five Arches Picture 2: The superb main streamway down from Surprise View Picture 3: Bill in Far Sump - up to his neck in it Picture 4: Nigel enjoying the main stream

REPORT

Speedwell to Peak

14 February 2010 - Ant

Ant's report:
"It was Wet and Muddy - The End"

Later amended to:
"Colostomy Crawl, I just remember climbing up some ladders and Kieran saying something about having a break at the top, at the top of the ladder everyone seemed to have gone so I just followed the tunnel in, every now and again I would hear the shout "are you ok Anthony?" from in front, which just kept getting fainter. I was dragging my bag with a stone of camera kit which seemed to get stuck at every bend I came to which was about every twenty foot or so, I kept having to crawl back to free it, it was difficult as I could not turn around in places whilst in other places it was a total effort to turn around at all. I went from crawling to on my hands and knees to flat on my chest to flat on my back, even upside down at one point. I shouted out "how long is this?" and the shout back was "about a kilometre", towards the end I was fighting clay, mud, bag and even my knee pads. At a few points after this I just lay back to chill and get my breath, I eventually made it through."

Photos are by Pete Clewes. 

Below 1: In the Bottomless Pit   Below 2: The miners' toast   Below 3: It can be wet   Below 4: And even wetter   

Picture 1: In the Bottomless Pit Picture 2: The miners' toast Picture 3: It can be wet Picture 4: And even wetter

REPORT

News of the death of Granville Shillito

Friday, 29th January 2010 - ND

The sad news has come through that Granville Shillito died in his sleep on Friday 29th January.

His funeral will be on Friday, 12th February at St Matthew's church Stretford at 10.15 to be followed by interment at Stretford cemetery at 11.00.

In the meantime, here are few pictures to remind us of Granille, as if we needed it with so many good memories to recall.  

Below 1: In Wood Mine   Below 2: With the Fluffies at Pindale   Below 3: At the Berger.   Below 4: At Engine Vein   

Picture 1: In Wood Mine Picture 2: With the Fluffies at Pindale Picture 3: At the Berger. Picture 4: At Engine Vein

REPORT

West Mine

17 January 2010 - ND - SJ8509 7763

The trip was planned for novices and non-members as well as to have a good look around. There were nine of us including one complete novice, Helen, one caver from another club, Jeff and Frank who has recently joined.

We did the normal sort of round trip but with a few twists. Pete and James went across the traverse at Nigel's Nightmare and Helen did the Laundry Chute (with some assistance - but really she loved it). Nigel couldn't get up the Hourglass but James could - that's the difference between 59 and 13.99999 year olds (and he was pushed up, I heard later NJD).

There is a small selection of pictures below which gives a taste of the trip. If anyone wants copies or to see them all, let me know. Anthony also took some pictures during the trip using light painting.  

Below 1: Pete about to start the traverse   Below 2: The original entrance   Below 3: Twentieth century passages   

Picture 1: Pete about to start the traverse Picture 2: The original entrance Picture 3: Twentieth century passages

This is some more text about West Mine 

Below 1: Water flowing in from one of the shafts near the green river   Below 2: Frank at the eyehole   Below 3: Helen comes up out of the laundry chute   

Picture 1: Water flowing in from one of the shafts near the green river Picture 2: Frank at the eyehole Picture 3: Helen comes up out of the laundry chute

Below 1: James emerges from the hourglass   Below 2: Anthony taking photographs   Below 3: A candle on the wall above Lion Chamber   

Picture 1: James emerges from the hourglass Picture 2: Anthony taking photographs Picture 3: A candle on the wall above Lion Chamber

REPORT

Greater Nenthead Traverse

9 December 2009 - Ed Coghhlan - NY787428

Ed Coghlan

Well the time finally came. After some amazing work clearing the blockage of the Nentsberry Haggs level the full traverse was back again. I have wanted to do this trip ever since I first heard of it a year ago and finally found a willing guide. The trip entails a 9.25km 7 Mine and 8 Sublevel Traverse. The Mines are Caplecleugh, Longcleugh, Smallcleugh, Rampgill, Scaleburn, Brownley Hill and finally Nentsberry Hagg's. The day started by meeting in the car park and Nenthead. Quickly changed and 2 of us set off to leave a car by the exit (to save a long walk back in the dark). The others headed off into Rampgill to drop a few ropes off to save us the hassle of carrying them through the full traverse. Then came the customary pic at the beginning.

Once in Capelcleugh we headed past the stables and up the incline.

A short abseil down Prouds then takes us to the sub level and then a short slippy slide down to a lower sub level.

From there we decided on lunch and climbed up into Prouds Flats for a dry place to sit.

This is where I took my last photo of the trip as I decided I was delaying us to much and we were in for a lot of water so the camera went away.

After a long walk we finally came to Hangingshaw Branch Level of Rampgill mine.

We finally reached Whisky bottle junction and a short distance after we found our ropes. We then turned right up Scaleburn Cross Vein and up through the famous steps. A bit of poking around finally took us to Browns Sump and a short pitch took us to the lower sub level. Then came the fun abseil.

A 40m pitch down a narrow stoping took us to the lower cross vein and a loooong section of deep cold water. One lad was nearly swimming at this point lol. We finally reached the Engine Shaft junction. Bearing right took us then up into Brownleys hills North Middle Vein and onto the connection to the final leg of the Trip.

A narrow hole and ladder took us down to the Haggs Level and a long slog out in varying depths of water. Finally we hit the exit gate and out into the open air. 

Below 1: The team   Below 2: Ore chute   Below 3: Old tub   Below 4: Graffiti   

Picture 1: The team Picture 2: Ore chute Picture 3: Old tub Picture 4: Graffiti

 

Below 1: Another tub   Below 2: Stone arching   Below 3: Tub and rails   Below 4: Bate time   

Picture 1: Another tub Picture 2: Stone arching Picture 3: Tub and rails Picture 4: Bate time

 

Below 1: At the exit   Below 2: Area map   

Picture 1: At the exit Picture 2: Area map

REPORT

Middlecleugh and Rampgill Mines, Nenthead

14 - 15 November 2009 - Nigel Dibben - NY787428

After the NAMHO Council Meeting at Nenthead, opportunities were taken for representatives to make several trips around the area. On the Saturday afternoon, I visited Middlecleugh and on the Sunday Rampgill. The pictures show these two trips. Brewery Shaft was rigged for the weekend by the Wirksworth Group.
Below are a couple of shots taken in Middlecleugh which was interesting to a point but we never got out of the main haulage level. There are sumps and winzes which I know lead to other parts of the system.
There are more pictures from this and the Middlecleugh trip in the gallery.  

On the Sunday, the trip was in to Rampgill. The first part was down Brewery Shaft on the winch for a look around the bottom. Afterwards, I went into Rampgill level with Matt Clarke as far as the horse gin. The pictures show these two trips.  

Below 1: The pelton wheel at the bottom of Brewery Shaft   Below 2: The horse gin in Rampgill   

Picture 1: The pelton wheel at the bottom of Brewery Shaft Picture 2: The horse gin in Rampgill

REPORT

Box Mine, Wiltshire

7th November 2009 - ND

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

I went with a team from WCMS for a five hour trip around the perimeter of Box covering most of the important sites. This included the uqarryign areas and the edge of the MOD area as well as The Cathedral. Good trip. There are a number of photos in the gallery.  

Picture 1: Picture 2:

REPORT

Nenthead

30th April - 4th May 2009 - Paul Stubbs - NY787428

Well off we went again into the wild and wet countryside of the Cumbrian mountains, the weather was fine for the first couple of days, then we hit a very wet and windy period that flattened my caravan awning a treat!

The group consisted of Dennis, Edward, Heather, Pernilla, John Capper, John Smith (helped out at open weekend and wishes to join) Paul Stubbs (chief cook and bottle washer) plus a young lady called Joanne (alias Smurf)

The first day was as per normal a trip into Smallcleugh, and as we had been in late last year it was evident that a lot of places in the mine are now starting to collapse.

Without doubt the faces on the people who had never been before was a picture, they could not believe the amount of shiny ore that lay strewn about the mines and of course the usual I will take this bit and OOH! no I think I will take that bit carried on all the way round the mine. After a long tour of about 6 hours we came out to a nice sunny afternoon all well and truly ready for tea, we ventured out for a beer later on and came back to a drinking session that lasted into the early hours.

We found out that day why smurfs are always painted blue, as Joanne never stopped going on about how cold it was! and even in her sleeping bag at night. The second day we went into Brownley hills which has suffered more than the other mines from collapses and it is not going to be long before the place becomes a lost cause, the Canadian level is now a complete loss due to a large collapse just near the entrance. That night was a very musical evening as we downed large volumes of beer and hotpot, the music left a somewhat funny smell in the caravan and I am at this moment in time still trying to get rid of it!

The next day we went into Rampgill of course to see the famous Brewery Shaft and also to see the stone stairs that are built in the wall quite a way in the mine; after a fruitful search we found what appeared to be the shaft to the Horse Gin which had always eluded us in the past. Edward rigged the shaft for his decent aided by a pole placed across the top of the shaft and belayed around me as no other suitable anchor point could be found.

After he had got off the rope and gone in search of the Horse Gin, we thought it would be fun to turn off the lights and pull up the rope, as we did this we commented that he would wonder where the rope had gone ' no I won't', said a voice behind us .

Turning round we saw Ed had found a way round the passages and appeared back up the stairs behind us!, we then went on a mission of looking around all the passages we could see and after a tight crawl through some bars and bits of wood BINGO!, we found it at last.

We thought that night we should have a curry and more beer (bad idea) I think the smell has actually penetrated the very fabric of the caravan! On the last day we went to Alston on the narrow gauge railway and all sorts of fun with a flat tyre, you should always carry the locking wheel nut key, it does help when things go flat!  

REPORT

Box Mines, Wiltshire

29th-30th November 2008 - Paul Stubbs

Paul Stubbs, Ed Coghlan, Dennis Mayer and John Capper
We set off on Friday 28th November in what can only be described as pea soup, the fog was terrible and very patchy. We left camp Manchester at 7 pm and arrived at Corsham at 10.30 pm, unlike our last trip we had to Nenthead this camp site was quite civilised. Edward Coghlan, Dennis Mayer, John Capper and myself settled down in a very frosty night at the caravan park, refreshed next morning we had a good breakfast and set off to meet our guide for the weekend.

Chris the founder of Dark Places met us at the Quarry Man pub and took us to Box mine, firstly the shear scale of the place is awesome. The main mine is divided into 3 main areas, and the amount of artefacts is astounding tools are just left where the miners left them. Saws for cutting up stone are found all over the place, and the files used to sharpen them are still present, as are the benches made of stone on which to cut up the blocks. The most outstanding feature has to be the wooden cranes used to move the blocks of stone, we saw at least a 10 of them and they varied in condition from perfect to in pieces. When walking round Chris pointed to the ceiling and you could see a black band running along the entire length of the mine, it turns out they had steam trains going direct in the mine to remove the large blocks of stone. We came to one section of the mine known as the drying room, this is where the stone blocks are stacked up to allow drying out before removing them from the mine, and how sick they must have been when the roof collapsed trapping a large quantity of blocks. After 4 hours or so we came to a passage that is full of barbed wire, this is the entrance to the M.O.D. part of the mine, in the last war the mines had been used to store Munitions and this part of the mine is still used. After passing through a large hole you can look round the parts no longer used by the M.O.D. but a large door prevents access to the part still in use, we then came back into box mine and spent another 3 hours or so looking at more cranes and plenty of 19th century art work done by the miners. Saturday night we took in the local beer and had another cold night, next morning after the usual breakfast we set of to meet our guide again.

This time we went to Browns Folly mine, this was by far more interesting to us as it had been worked into bigger chambers, although it did not have any of the cranes and tools we saw the day before. After 2 hours or so we came to what seemed like a blank end, in the very corner our guide pointed out a little hole which we had to crawl through. This had taken us into Monkton Farleigh, now this is the biggest M.O.D. site in that area and we felt disappointed to hear we could only get into area 19 and 20. Well let me tell you we started at area 19 holding pen 1 and finished at holding pen 500!, the shear size of the place is amazing and we still had area 20 to check out. We went round the switch rooms and the air conditioning plant, the whole of the place has conveyor belts to move Ammunition around, but alas the vandals have smashed the whole place to pieces to remove any copper wire they could find. We even came to a shower room and if you see the pictures we took, yes that's me in the shower! well it's a laugh. Parts of the old M.O.D. site have been taken over by other companies and we had been warned that trouble awaited if we got caught, some lads had tried to dig into a secure area and are still on bail after 7 months! I can say that we will be going back next year for another trip into a different mine that promises even more adventures.

(PS The pictures shown are by Nigel Dibben from a separate trip.) 

Below 1: In B12 route   Below 2: Stacked blocks near B12 route.  There is a saw sharpening bench behind   Below 3: Roof supports in the ex-MOD area   Below 4: One of the abandoned cranes   

Picture 1: In B12 route Picture 2: Stacked blocks near B12 route.  There is a saw sharpening bench 
	behind Picture 3: Roof supports in the ex-MOD area Picture 4: One of the abandoned cranes

REPORT

Mining in Shropshire

8th - 9th November 2008 - Nigel Dibben

There is an  view album related to this report album     related to this event

Nigel Dibben, members of Shropshire Caving and Mining Club and the Wealden Cave and Mine Society.

As a distant member of the WCMS, I was invited to join them on a trip to Shropshire to be hosted by the SCMC. As it turned out, only two Wealden members turned up so with three from the SCMC, we made six cavers on each trip with two novices added for Clive Mine.

After we met on the Saturday, Steve and Kelvin from the SCMC showed us around the surface features of Snailbeach before we changed to go underground.

The usual entrance to Snailbeach Mine is through the Perkins Level which is at about + 20 yards above the datum for the mine which is Old Shaft. Hence, although we were only going down to the 40 yard level, the actual trip was nearer to 70 yards deep. Inside, the first part is an easy walk that is used for public trips but soon you climb down a fixed ladder and start to drop down quickly in the stopes. The pitches are not difficult but they are a bit messy being on steep slopes and in some cases it is easier to use the rope as a handline.

On the way down, you switch over to a parallel stope for a section before dropping onto the obvious 40 yard level which still has rails in place. The mine was last worked above adit in the 1950s when barite was extracted on a relatively small scale. Along the level, we turned off to visit Chapel Shaft, one of several shafts on the sett, still open to the surface although grilled for bats. On the main level, we came to two trucks (see photo) and a stopping point with several tools and other items. The junction appeared to be a messing area because there were the remains of a wooden bench. After a short break, we headed down the side passage and across a precarious bridge towards Black Tom's Shaft. The bridge is made of two rails but the SCMC have installed fixed traverse lines over these obstacles.

We did not go as far as the shaft as there is a blockage but we turned back and started out. Getting up the pitches was not difficult and most of them could be climbed with the rope as a handline. Finally, we emerged in darkness after a trip of about six hours.

That evening, we visited the local Stiperstones Inn (good simple food and beer) and the Horseshoes in Minsterley.

On Sunday, we met our hosts again at Clive Mine north of Shrewsbury and went in through a manhole entrance, very like Alderley. The mine is dry and sandy so only a cotton boiler suit is needed. The whole of the Clive Mine is developed along a pair of faults in Triassic sandstone that come together in a V. The ore deposit is very similar to Alderley Edge although not as dense and with more cobalt. The striking feature of Clive Mine is the banding of iron and copper in the rock, as can be seen in the photograph. We went to the far north east end of the mine in a more or less straight line looking in a couple of side passages on the way. At one point, the mine has been filled with concrete, except for an access tunnel, where it passes under the road. Turning back, it did not take long to reach the entrance and we were out within three hours or so.

Both mines are well worth the effort and the SCMC are very hospitable. 

Below 1: Taking a break in Snailbeach Mine on the 40 yard level   Below 2: In the main stope in Clive Mine   Below 3: Copper and iron streaking in the sandstone in Clive Mine   

Picture 1: Taking a break in Snailbeach Mine on the 40 yard level Picture 2: In the main stope in Clive Mine Picture 3: Copper and iron streaking in the sandstone in Clive Mine

REPORT

Brightgate Cave and Jugholes, Derbyshire

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   

Picture 1: Entrance chamber Picture 2: In the last chamber Picture 3: At the edit exit File 4: Extra report on the trip

REPORT

NAMHO Conference, Scotland

11th - 13th July 2008 - Nigel Dibben

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

The conference was held at Lady Victoria Colliery, just south of Edinburgh. On the Saturday afternoon, I went to visit Levenseat limestone mine. For the rest of the weekend, there were talks and we had the free run of the museum.  

Below 1: At one of the entrances to Levenseat limestone mine   Below 2: In Levenseat limestone mine with Mark from the Grampian SG   Below 3: In the conference room, the old powerhouse   Below 4: The mock coal mine at the colliery museum. Well worth a visit   

Picture 1: At one of the entrances to Levenseat limestone mine Picture 2: In Levenseat limestone mine with Mark from the Grampian SG Picture 3: In the conference room, the old powerhouse Picture 4: The mock coal mine at the colliery museum. Well worth a 
    visit

Report follows 

Below 1: Report   

REPORT

Good Luck Mine, Derbyshire

9 September 2007 - Nigel Dibben - SK 2690 5660

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

Nigel and Liz visited this lead mine when the club who run it were having an
Open Day. The mine would be a good place to visit when we have our next
Derbyshire camping meet.  

Below 1: An ore chute   Below 2: Stone stempling in Goodluck Mine   Below 3: A longer report of this trip   

Picture 1: An ore chute Picture 2: Stone stempling in Goodluck Mine File 3: A longer report of this trip

REPORT

Matienzo 2007

31 August 2007 - Nigel Dibben

A good time was had by all. New discoveries, old friendships
renewed, some fun trips. 

Below 1: Kieran in Renada   Below 2: Coventosa   Below 3: Trip report: Matienzo 2007   

Picture 1: Kieran in Renada Picture 2: Coventosa File 3: Trip report: Matienzo 2007

REPORT

NAMHO Conference, Devon and Cornwall

15th to 18th June 2007 - Nigel Dibben

There is an external link . The Club cannot be responsible for any content of an external website.

The conference was held at Morwellham Quay, the industrial museum based on a copper port on the river Tamar near Tavistock. The conference ran from Friday to Monday with tours of the site, local mines and even as far as Geevor in Cornwall. There was camping on site and a pub - excellent facilities all round!  

Below 1: The river Tamar with part of the Morwellham Quay site on the right bank   Below 2: Wheel which used to drive a manganese mill at Morwellham. The docks are to the lefty and in the ba   Below 3: Rick in Virtuous Lady, an Elizabethan copper mine in the neighbouring Tavy Valley   Below 4: The entrance to George and Charlotte mine, the show mine on the Morwellham Quay site   

Picture 1: The river Tamar with part of the Morwellham Quay site on the right bank Picture 2: Wheel which used to drive a manganese mill at Morwellham.  The docks are to the lefty and in the ba Picture 3: Rick in Virtuous Lady, an Elizabethan copper mine in the neighbouring Tavy Valley Picture 4: The entrance to George and Charlotte mine, the show mine on the Morwellham Quay site

 

Below 1: Surface remains of the arsenic mill at Devon Great Consols   Below 2: Underground in Geevor Mine, Corwall   Below 3: Report   

Picture 1: Surface remains of the arsenic mill at Devon Great Consols Picture 2: Underground in Geevor Mine, Corwall File 3: Report

REPORT

West Kingsdale System

April 2006 - Tony Brocklebank

Simon Dillon, Allan Berry, Neil Garrard and Tony Brocklebank

We had an interesting day Sunday. Headed into Valley Entrance with a view to showing Simon, Allan and Neil how to use snappers, thinking we'd fire one or two off for show but we ended up taking six or seven foot of wall out of a slot on the right just before Cascade Inlet, using just six snappers, to reveal a narrow passage dropping gently away for ten or twelve feet and possibly trending off down and right. Using two at a time about a foot above each other is giving a comfortable working passage and a big pile of bits of rock.

There's even a Billy's Vision style little hole leading to black space at the end of it!

Years ago I diverted the stream down it in wet weather and it took it happily, without any sign of it backing up, so whilst it is obviously heading towards the sumps you never know something exciting might happen on the way. A return trip is planned by Simon and co. Peter and I may have another look when we get back from Mallorca.

Thanks,

Tony 

REPORT

Carlswark Trip

13th January 2006 - Allan Berry - SK22077580

There is an  view offline report (PDF) offline report     related to this event

Allan Berry, Simon Dillon, John Berry

We met once more for a trip down Carslwalk Cavern, this time the trip was for the purpose of surveying our dig, to see where the hell we were heading. 

REPORT

Report on West Mine, Sphinx Chamber

12 June 2005 - Malcolm Bailey - SJ8509 7763

June 1005: Geof, Chris Gayter and myself had a go at the water in the haulage level, possibly around 2 tons of sand have been bagged and moved further into the passage covering a plastic pipe some of the bags are below water level so take care if your "paddling" we've managed to get water flowing again, next visit will mean we can get under the hole and clear the debris, this will allow the water level to be dropped considerably. All the silt that is being dug out is being bagged, this means that eventually the existing silt will stop slumping, all this will take time, so if any one is down there and fancies a dig Do not let me stop you!!!! just, please, if you do let me know that you've used some bags and I can get some more.

Later: Currently the dig is about 40 ft down the bottom of the incline in Sphinx chamber. we have encountered water which we believe is coming from the flooded haulage level. we have a cunning plan to relieve the water but I need about 40,000 diuretic pills. A better plan is to place a plastic pipe in the water upstream from the blockage and using the sand from the blockage fill sand bags and place them over the pipe. this gets rid of the sand and allows the water to flow under the new "dam". if necessary we can at a later date move the pipe further back up the passage. hopefully this will allow the water to drain down the incline and give us a drier dig. 

Below 1: One of the diggers spent too long there!   

Picture 1: One of the diggers spent too long there!

REPORT

Disappointment Pot

28th May 2005 - Simon Dillon - SD75007260

What a Disappointment Trip

Our plan this weekend was to do Disappointment Pot into Gaping Gill. Myself and Alan drove to Bernies to meet up with John and Neil to do the trip, and then camp over at Bull Pot farm, I bet Alan that Neil would not stay over. John arrived late at Bernies, the punishment was to get the first round in after the trip, which was looking more like being abandoned due to the big black clouds threatening to dump all it had down on our heads, and also the fact that if we did do the cave the likelihood of us making it back for last orders was slim, that made our minds up quick, lets pick another cave.

We decided that as none of us had done Bull Pot of the Witches, that we should do that and also you could spit from the farm and hit it. I won the bet with Alan, Neil made some excuse that he would not be camping, we all put our fingers in our ears, but I am sure I read his lips and he said he was "having his bikini line waxed, so his Knickers don't chafe". At the farm as we were getting changed, a land rover full of 70s throwback hippies pull up and came over, "yo man what you going down?", "Bull Pot of the Witches" we reply, "you wont need SRT man there aren't any pitches dude just some short drops you can free climb, I've never found any".

After last weeks you will never find the second pitch, we took our SRT gear and 4 short ropes. We were soon free climbing down the first pitch and interesting little climb down, a turn to the right at the bottom, a short crawl and guess what? The first pitch, you could have pushed us over with a feather, I suppose if your last name was Bonnington first name Chris you could have free climbed it. With no bolt to be found we did a natural rig, much more fun. We have also taken up a new way of caving don't read the guide book trip, just look at the bottom see how many ropes you need and explore where we will.

We had soon found pitch 2 and then 3 and after a short while we found a slot in the floor a P bolt above it, a very strong draft was issuing from the hole, it was rigged and down I went. I found myself in a low stream way which soon opened up to walking height, I called the others to follow, a dammed good exploration took us down many passages however we ended up in one with a free climb up. Alan attempted to climb the rift, but decided he had far too many brain cells working to attempt it, what we needed was a bloody fool who was stupid enough to give it a go. After a bloody difficult climb up a very slippery vertical wall with a large over hang, I shouted to Alan to come up, the others hung back which was a wise move it lead to a dig, great!

After a fun climb down (always harder than going up I find) we call it a day and head out, going up the pitches that we would not need our ropes or gear for!

We soon bumped into a University caving club, Oh what fun, after half an hour of waiting for the first girl to get up a very little pitch, the lad on the team heads out, for reasons known only to himself he decided to hang around 15 foot of the floor, I think the game was lets see how long it takes for me legs top go dead. Neil by this time thought he would try and free climb past the young lad but was held back by an overhanging slab of rock, right near the young mans head, John looks up to give him guidance and shouts up, "you'll be able to do it if you can get past the knob!" (Meaning the rock). The student soon moved after that remark.

A short while later we exited the cave got changed and made it to the Wheatsheaf pub, far too busy for food we went to the Italian restaurant near Bernies had a slap up meal and lots of beer. We can't wait to do our next trip, to be told as we do Blackshiver by some nutty Yorkshire caver, "EEEE Lad tha nose tha won't need t' take tackle thas never found t' pitch in t' cave yet".-

Simon Dillon, Allan Berry, Neil Garrard, John Berry

Freelance Underground Cave & Karst Endurance Race Specialists (work it out for yourself) 

REPORT

Number One Shaft

21 July 2002 - Malcolm Bailey

Malcolm and others

21/07/02 No 1 Shaft

Sunday at the Edge. The good news is that we are almost at the bottom of No. 1 shaft, the not so good news is that it doesn't seem to go anywhere, the passage is only alcove depth. However it is at the correct depth for the clay beds on the hanging wall side. No idea of the date of the original dig, perhaps dating the timbers may help. Doug
This weeks digin report Well all does not bode well, the passage that we found last week tis only about 4ft long if that, its still full of infill and the silt falls down to the back. Its had quite a bit of water in it over time. I'm just hoping that there is a way on that isn't visible yet. Ah well such is life. Still look on the bright side we've now got an electric winch wot we didn't av b 4 and we know how to satisfy the guys at English Heritage bless there little trebuchets! Malc

14/07/02 No 1 Shaft

At 14.7 m from the surface the top of a passage has been located, its difficult to see into it at the moment, but next week should reveal more. We found it just as we where finishing, and Doug had a trip on for the Trust. We now have an electric hoist (there's posh isn't it) I've told them winders don't blame me when you get fat????? Malc

07/07/02 No 1 Shaft
Latest update: Its still going down, depth to date is 13.70 m. Shaft section is 700 mm x 1600 mm and the prodder has been pushed in another 8ft (or what ever that is in metric?) Malc 

REPORT

Wood Mine lid

16th June 2002 - Malcolm Bailey

Many members

Sunday 16th June saw the Alderley "Diggers" like flies round a jampot at the wood mine entrance. A few days earlier the entrance lid had sustained some damage from vandalism. The new lid was in the surgery, awaiting fitting. A date had been set in August for the operation. The plan was to cut off the old concrete and fit the new lid into the vacant space with some fresh concrete. Due to the vandalism though the operation was brought forward. Doug came to rescue by obtaining all the sand, stone and cement well before hand. There was an excellent turnout on the day, Steve Mills, Nigel, Billy, Paul and Geoff Morrison, Chris Wright, Paul Stubbs, Mike, Phill and Elaine, Shaun, Dave, Me and even Doug turned up on his way home from a wedding in Peterborough. The cutting off of the old concrete was a difficult task. Hats off to the guys who put it in, it took us nearly 6 hours to remove it and that was with a Stihl saw and sledge hammers. In all approximately 1.5 tons of concrete were mixed in Steve's trusty mixer (that is trusty not rusty) (bless its little rubber wheels). The lid is fixed and cannot be removed except for maintenance. To open, remove lock, then push the locking bar away from the hole. This will release two large steel pins from the rim of the frame pull the lid up and it will pivot back into a resting position, there should be no danger of the lid falling back down on you as you enter. The plan is to fit a second ladder immediately behind the new one which has been turned anti clockwise by 90 degrees. This is to provide protection - should someone slip off the ladder they will not fall down the hole. The bottom of the second ladder will be movable for Open Weekends. - Malcolm Bailey

11/06/02 Wood Mine entrance was broken into and Sand Cavern was vandalised. Repair work will be carried out on the entrance on 16 June. 

Below 1: Old entrance during an Open Weekend   Below 2: New entrance lid two months after replacement   

Picture 1: Old entrance during an Open Weekend Picture 2: New entrance lid two months after replacement

return to main list of entries return     



This website requires cookies for certain operations.  To find out more, see our  Privacy Policy  I accept cookies from this site:   Agree
©Copyright DCC and Nigel Dibben: 2019
Last updated: 20/02/2017
DCC on Facebook (public site) DCC on Twitter Larger text  |  Smaller text  |  Site map

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict

Valid CSS!