29/08/2015 Eldon Hole
Danial Jackson, Chris Shaman, Alex Ritchie, Don Miller
Not knowing what is was like we set off for Eldon hole, thankfully Don had done some research on Google earth so we knew where to go. We rigged the south and West routes, with Don and Dan rigging East and me and Chris rigging north, under what turned out to be in-situ rope.
We all gathered at the bottom with a couple of other cavers already down there before entering into the main chamber. The up pull though into the aven series caused us some confusion and our first attempt failed with the rope clattering back down. Eventually we figured it out and nervously went up the 20~m high pitch. At the top we were greeted by sparkling calcite to gaze at, and a slippery traverse.
The passage ended after a couple of climbs, however a dodgerley rigged in-situ rope led us up into more decorated rift with some strange formations, one of which was shaped a like a flying saucer suspended by a string. After much picture taking by Dan we headed back down. Getting on the right rope was easy as Shaman had thought to tie a knot to make it obvious.
We exited up the opposite routes racing on the way out, and I am glad to say team “ShaRitch” where victorious.
Trip time: 4hrs
29/08/2015 Winnets head cave
Danial Jackson, Chris Shaman, Alex Ritchie, Don Miller
It had only been a short trip so we had to do another, We planned to do P8 but could not find it, so I got us to pull over at Winnets head farm and informed them they were in for a treat, a grade 5 treat. We got permission and off we set, the cave starts off as a crawl before a small chamber provides some relief, then it goes rather quite small and a number of rocks had to be pushed out of the way. Once through that we emerged in a big chamber, I informed the group the way on was through the un-stable boulder ruckle in the floor.
In my opinion it did not look too bad at least the first choke appeared to be quite stable provided you follow the right path. Once through we were in big passage again before the second, less stable choke was reached. This one involved a few squeezes, at the top of the first squeeze had some very old and bent wooden stemples holding back a few tons of rocks. This did not inspire us with confidence so much so Don called it a day here. The rest of us bravely or foolishly slithered down and through where we met a quite a dangerous climb as you emerge over nothing and have to swing carefully into a loose rift. Once down we were greeted by a large sump pool. This is not the end of the cave but as we did not bring our SRT gear we did not continue, up the up pitches beyond the sewer series. We headed out with no real difficulty’s unless you count my whistling and singing.
Trip time: 1.5 hrs
30/08/2015 Maskhill mine, Oxlow exchange
Chris Shaman, Don Miller (In Maskill): Danial Jackson, Alex Ritchie (In Oxlow)
We were all very up for the trip this morning, despite Daz trying to get us drunk the previous night for some reason. We soon realised we had an epic task ahead of us. We needed almost 50 hangers/crabs and almost all the rope we brought along with us. We cut corners where we could gathering information from those at the TSG (more on that later), but still we ended up filling 4 tackle sacks and took an additional coiled rope for the entrance to Oxlow. I felt like we were on expedition. Not since the 10 year anniversary Gaping gill winch meet had the Black Rose used so much tackle on one trip!
Shaman and Don entered first as we knew they had a far bigger job rigging Maskhill then we did on Oxlow, so while they got changed I walked to the farm and got permission and paid £6 for the privilege (still better than getting a permit!). After some deliberate faffing for 20 minutes we set off for Oxlow, only for me to discover after rigging the top of entrance that I forgot my battery for my light. Good job I had a spare helmet in the car.
Once in it was easy going, down the 1st, 2nd and 3rd pitches quickly. Near the bottom of the 3rd I came across 3 anchors and thought that’s a bit strange why do you need all these for a re-belay hang, so I just rigged one. At the bottom the passage was huge, the roof some 60m above us at this point. However it soon closed down. Ahead the passage just ended blind so the only way on was a very loose and dodgy hole in the floor. There was a ladder but it started about half way down. Gingerly I stepped onto the rusted, bent ladder, it held, just. I slowly climbed to the bottom and found there was no way on, what the fudge?
I re-climbed out up the 45 degree bent ladder whilst avoiding the failing stacked deads at the top. We did a bit of head scratching before Dan decided to go up the pitch to the re-belay hang and have a look around. Sure enough the way on was up there, quite why this route to no-where was so prominently P-bolted eludes us. (I guess we should have brought a topo!).
The next section was the ramp which we had been told had in-situ rope, it had not! Our rope from the last pitch only did the first 10m of it. Slowly and gingerly we half slid, half climbed our way down the calcite slope, where one slip would send us hurtling down a 15m drop. We made it without dying and Dan rigged the drop just as the others arrived at the bottom.
We said our hellos and goodbyes and started the long trip out. Dan de-rigged the 100m where we swapped over and I de-rigged the rest leaving Dan with 2 bags for the entrance. We had a knot pass to get past for some reason and at a different point there was some swearing from me when the bags got stuck near the top and threatened to pull me off a climb but other than that, it was an uneventful though long exit.
By the time we returned Don and Chris had just finished an early pub meal.
Trip Time 5 hrs
Danial Jackson, Chris Shaman, Alex Ritchie
After a bit of a search and parking at the wrong spot at first we eventually found Perryfoot farm (Though we only knew it was Perryfoot by asking the farmer it had no sign. The Caves of Peak district is distinctly lacking when it comes to maps for locating caves.).
It had rained all night so we expected it to be wet, what we did not expect was all the slurry that was flowing in, what a stinky place!
The farmer had said to me when I asked him where it was “I thought cavers could smell pot holes”, in this case he was right!
Although the water levels were not actually that high, we rigged out of the water where possible to avoid immersing ourselves in the brownish water. We poked about in a couple of side passages before dropping the pitches and heading downstream.
We reached what we thought was a rather pointless rig-able traverse 5ft over the water, I guess its to avoid the slurry, however the traverse was easy with big ledges anyway, quite why you would need a rope was beyond us. We soon reached the sump, where just before the cave took on larger proportions. We exited, I went by the direct route up the pitches on the in-situ rope to save time and ended up getting wet and stinky myself, though we all did at the entrance as the water was un-avoidable there.
I guess this place is the Peak’s version of the Churns as that stinks too (though a different aroma). So with it being a rather boring place as well I won’t be making a return any time soon. But it did kill a few hours before we went home.
Trip time 3 hours.
Dan was busy, rigging 2 routes down??
I thought it was me & Alex on the North route, and Don & Dan on the East route.
And Don, did I by any chance drop my works access fob in your car (black disc + blank bullet shaped thing)?
Chris/Don do you want to write something about your trip down Maskhill?
Sharman: I vacuumed my car a couple of days ago and didn’t come across anything. That being said, I’m missing my copy of ‘Caves the Peak District’ – the larger red one. Has it turned up in anyone’s luggage, or Alex’s car?
Maskhill was fairly uneventful. The Tyrolean was fun, if short. If Alex and Dan are wondering about the knot pass and the unconventional rigging in the lower half of Maskhill… Well, I’ll let you guess who rigged that.
A sharman special no doubt, at least he rigged it!