Dates: 18th -20th May 2018
This club meet saw new and old club members travelling from far and wide to descend upon the TSG in castleton. With excellent weather forcasted the sensible thing would have been long walks in the Peaks but instead we all headed underground to be cold and wet!
Richard and Duncan arrived a day earlier as Richard was keen to refresh his SRT skills in preparation for his summer visit to the Berger. We decided to do two caves near Monyash: lathkill head cave and knotlow cavern.
Lathkill Head Cave, top entrance was located with the GPS and the entrance is locked with a nut so you need an adjustable spanner to open it.
|Richard at the entrance of Lathkill Head Cave - Upper Entrance|
|Richard rigging the upper entrance pitch in Lathkill cave|
|One of the more spacious crawls…|
After a spot of late lunch in a cafe in Monyash we drove to the nearby knotlow cavern. This has two entrances, a monster 70m pitch and a less intimidating 2 pitch entrance which I pushed for. Rigging guide can be found here.
|Richard rigging the Climbing Shaft entrance to Knotlow Cavern.|
Climbing shaft entrance is also locked with a nut (so don’t forget your adjustable spanner!). The first pitch is fairly easy going and was quickly descended.
The second pitch is much more technical starting with a traverse line leading to a Y-hang to avoid the waterfall. Richard spent more time on this pitch head and wisely put in a long leg loop in just before the Y-hang to aid getting on/off it. He eventually descended.
|Richard rigging the second pitch in Knotlow.|
So we turned around walked the 2m back to the rope and then ascended popping out into a glorious evening.
We had dinner in the popular Bull Inn in Monyash then headed over to Sheffield to pick Claire up at the station. We returned to Castleton and thinking the others may have settled in for the night we went for a last orders pint at the Peak Hotel. Claire sent a text and to our delight Ariana, Lee, Neil and Lesley turned up and a few more drinks were sunk.
Much to Duncan's horror, we needed to be ready and changed in time for 9.30am, ready to walk over to Peak Cavern for 10am. No lie-in for anyone this weekend!
We quickly split into 2 groups. One was to be an SRT epic to the White River Series and the the other would be a tourist trip around Peak taking in the streamed, Galena Circuit and Moss Chamber.
The tourist trip
Then we motored down to Surprise View and went for a splash around in the spectacular streamway.
|Derek traversing just before Surprise View.|
The water was incredibly low, but I still couldn't resist taking a picture or two there. No-one managed to fall in, but wet feet still abounded.
|George, Derek and Lesley in The Tube.|
We went to the bitter end, Buxton Water sump and then turned around to go to the bitter end upstream (Far Sump). En route we managed to lose Les and George as their enthusiasm for exploration took over and they disappeared up a side passage. We waited a while for them, but got fed up and after looking at the map and seeing the passage they disappeared down re-entered the stream further down, we headed that way. No sign of them when we got there, but barely 2 mins later there were shouts behind us. They'd noticed we weren't behind them and had retraced their steps. We then all continued to the sump.
|Derek, Claire, George, Lesley and Duncan at Far Sump.|
A knotted rope had been spotted on the left on the way down. Claire and Duncan explored this to the bitter end (a dig face) via a series of crawls, then caught up with the rest. Following this, it was straight in to the Galena Circuit. Several short and fun rope climbs ensued, along with a miserable section of flat out crawling through mud. We emerged back at Surprise View somewhat muddied than we left off.
|George and Lesley in Peak Cavern Main Stream (a corner in the The Tube).|
I'd promised there would be some formations today. So our next stop was Pickering’s Passage and a trip to Moss Chamber. Lots of crawling ensued. Much more than I remembered from my last visit here, so I’d obviously blanked out a section of that. But it was good fun- George even said that it made the trip for him!
It is a fairly strenuous trip up to Moss. Derek’s knees were hurting and so we left him at the entrance to the passage and estimated we'd be back in about 40 mins. How wrong we were! We more than doubled that time and returned to find a cold friend (though he didn't hold it against us. Thanks Derek!)
The initial crawling is replaced by some scrambly moves up mud slopes with steps cut in them and slightly awkward climbs. I enjoy this sort of thing. It’s a good challenge. It was George and Lesley’s first go at the Eye-Hole and they stepped up to the challenge excellently.
|George looking determined in the Eye-hole.|
A couple of easy rope climbs followed the eye-hole and then a short crawl brings you out in to the pool at the bottom of Moss Chamber. This was definitely deeper, and colder, than I remembered. Though being the first to arrive at it I was amazed at how clear the water was. As you can see from the photo, this did not last long.
|Claire in the pool in Moss Chamber.|
The SRT trip
After all that crawling, it was certainly a welcome sight to see the ladders heading down Egnaro Aven. After descending these we set off along the streamway, taking the bypass route crawl to get to the bottom of Block Hall.
Block Hall provided some top SRT practice, with lots of technical ropework to refresh with. We weren't sure how long the pre-rigged pitches actually were as we set off - there's about 80 metres to get to the top.
|Ariana passing a rebelay near the top of Block Hall.|
|Prussiking up a bit more...|
From the top of Block Hall, a rather unassuming looking crawl takes you to the start of the White River series, which Neil and Richard headed into whilst Ariana and Lee began to negotiate their way back down the rebelays of Block Hall.
|Neil descending on the way back from White River series.|
|Richard making his way back down Block Hall (note the mud, that oversuit is actually red!)|
After regrouping following our descent, we made our way to where the streamway meets the end of the Speedwell boat canal to see The Bung. This is a choke point where nearly all the water from Speedwell flows into Peak Cavern - although water levels were low today and there wasn't much of a waterfall.
We then stomped on back down the streamway, up the Egnaro Aven ladders and back into Colostomy Crawl for some more writhing through the mud. It seemed somewhat longer the second time around!
As we made our way back down to the entrance, luck would have it that we intersected with the rest of our party as they emerged from the entrance to Moss Chamber! Perfect timing.
We started to make our way back out to the Cavern entrance - this time the cold water of Muddy Ducks was quite welcome in order to rid ourselves of some of our muddy coating. However, we still needed to give ourselves a good scrubbing down before making our way back through the show cave! It was lovely to emerge into a beautifully warm and sunny May afternoon - and even better to hit the hot showers of the TSG hut!
SundayRichard was tempted by the sunny weather and went for a walk whilst the rest of us took on the challenge of doing the round trip in Giants Hole. Neil had not been in it for over 10 years, whilst it was their first time for Lesley and George. We knew it was only going to be a shorter trip as we all intended to finish early today to go home or, in Neil’s case, paragliding.
|The team at Giants Hole Entrance.|
|Lesley descending Garland's Pot.|
|Lesley in the Crab Walk.|
|George at the Giant’s Windpipe.|
|George about to abseil as Neil looks on.|
|Looking directly down the Crab Walk- route of the abseil.|
|Duncan helping George with his knots.|