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Legacy Logs

All pages containing trip logs (among other things) from the old wiki have been preserved (complete with formatting) in the legacy section of the archive.

The CUCC Blog

My take on 2 more days underground: Derbyshire 25th – 27th with Sheffield

2022-02-25 Having been very sad to have missed out on the beautiful caves of south Wales I was very excited for my second caving trip, to Derbyshire. I cycled over to the Tackle Store (my cake nearly bouncing out my backet many times), and we picked up all the kit, then headed off for the relatively short drive in Alice’s car. It wasn’t long however, before we pulled off the road to a muddy spot beside a footpath sign…. time for the part one of the Three Course Drive. Forget college formals, the three course drive was the pinnacle of fancy meals: starter 5m in the air on a stack of hay, with houmous and carrots laid out on the picnic blanket. An interlude of singing in the car followed, with all the instrumental parts covered (I mostly stuck to drumming which may have resulted in some squidged pie later). For the main course in a field we set up a ring of candles to keep out unwanted spirts and enjoyed Harry’s curry and rice, with Alice’s mushroom pie (that she fabulously made gluten free), before we had a chat with the local police (a bit concerned about two cars in a dark spot with rope, though they weren’t bothered by our meal/summoning circle). Another drive singing loudly & joyously before we reached the pudding stop underneath Chesterfield cathedral’s wonky spire. I had contributed a slighlty disastrous chocolate & coffee cake to this on top of Alice’s tiffin. We approached the caving hut belting out Jerusalem (or more precisely, drove past it turned around and started again) and there met the Sheffield cavers. With this lovely lot we stayed up late – mattresses brought down to the sitting room made into a fighting ring for some very intense sock battles, including an all on all match to conclude (I found out I am terrible at sock fighting). There was dancing, and chat, before heading to bed where I snuggled into my sleeping bag on the floor. The next morning (after a 4am bedtime) we had a long breakfast and long time descending where to go. I was in Alice’s car, and after getting a bit lost (sightseeing the pretty countryside?) it turned out we were going shopping in Buxton. Here we visited an outdoor clothes charity shop (such a cool place!), and I made two fantastic purchases: a buff for 50p to replace my one that has mysteriously disappeared, and a £10 wetsuit. Then we headed up to a hilltop on a muddy lane to begin Knotlow Cave. A LOT of faff (and I mean a LOT) later and we were rigging the top. I was very happy to get to go down the 64m long descent. The rope was heavy to start but soon I was bouncing down, and Vilhelms caught me at the bottom to stop me falling straight in the water (without a clue how deep down the shaft continued). Once we were down, I went off with Alice exploring a side coffin level, up to our wastes in water and with bent knees we followed it for a distance that must have been at least 500m, though I have no sense of scale in caves. It was shoulder high and pretty regular though at the end was very tight. My wetsuit proved a fabulous choice as I stayed nice and toasty. Learning that this had been hand dug in the 1700s or sometime was mad; crouched into that space for days on end with only a candle for light. We returned (harder work against the flow) then turned around and headed back in with the rest of the group. At the end of this long tunnel there is a 4 way junction in a shaft chamber, and we followed a larger, but very silty, passage on, until we reached another big hole. I was lucky to be a bit back, because Alice went right in, over her head! Wassil threw me over the gap, but the way on was blocked, so we plodded back through the silted tunnel. Heading out the cave, with lots of prusiking – which I have still to get the knack of – though Harry was amazing and let me try his pantin foot jammer. I headed up on my own to reach the next stage, but my light started to flicker; knowing full well I might have gone a wrong way I didn’t really want to keep going on with the risk of the light going out, so headed back to wait for Ala. We headed on up and finally I was on the last ascent; just beginning to understand how the foot jammer worked when I was surprised to see Campbell’s light over the exit: I hadn’t clocked that it was of course now dark outside. It was also a bit windy so dried quickly changing out by the car, then huddled with Alice for warmth before we drove off, panicking that the Call Out hadn’t been cancelled (all was fine in the end). When we reached home, we started cooking the baked potatoes, though I felt so tired it was hard to concentrate: my tiredness mostly the result of not eating anything substantial since breakfast and it being 11pm by the time we were ready to eat. The night saw even more fun: I went from exhausted to over excited in the course as we brought out the squeeze machine. At first it was all fairly sensible by caving standards, than people started not to move from the exit of the squeeze machine producing a growing pile up and making the challenge harder. The next level, someone came up with the idea of holding the ankles of the person heading through the squeeze machine, and so began the Squeezapede: the monster grew and grew, till it had snaked at least 3 times around the room! I was sometimes upside time, sometimes head down, sometimes lying on top of other parts of the squeezepede, sometimes completely crushed beneath it. Later on in the evening I was very proud to have won the squeeze machine for the night, at a setting of ‘base +11 (arbitrary SUS units)’; mostly as a result of Wassil’s encouragement to not give up despite feeling sure I was being crushed. I returned to my snug spot on the mattresses on the floor for the night (as opposed to a certain someone who decided sleeping on the floor under the bunk bed was the best option!). The next morning(/afternoon to be honest), following another lovely big breakfast we tidied up the hut and headed off in two groups: I went with Jono, Wassil, Alice and Vilhelms to Odin’s mine. Changing in the lovely (spring?) sun among the crowds out for a nice Sunday in the Peak District, we sorted all our stuff and headed in. This cave felt very different to any I have done before: evrything was coated in thick layers of mud, and we walked on questionable floors made of dirt packed into the virticle passage, and I admired the perfect cubic forms of the galena crystals growing on the sides of the mine, as well as some lovely quartz. We found tunnels with roofs lined of big regular slabs, and at our farthest point in the mine a cavern bordered by a whole laid stone wall and roof (of questionable structural integrity). Heading back out, fuelled by the many packets of Haribo my pocket could carry, we came out into a starry night. Then all that was left was to change on the roadside, and drive south. After I’d done in the tackle store, I cycled home slowly; with more bruises than I left but happier than ever. Thanks to Alice for great driving (and her car for not breaking down), thanks Jono, Harry, and Wassil for amazing leading in the caves, and thanks to all the rest of you for your fantastic company! -02-25

-- Lucy, Jan. 17, 2024. Category: Caving