Weekend Trip 1/2 November 2003
Report and photos by Andy Jurd
More photos here
What's this? Clewin drinking tea? Well I never.|
Anyway, had a nightmare journey to
Derbyshire. Bought a nice cheap ticket to a tiny station called Hope near Castleton. This
involved changing at Sheffield, 8 minutes allowed for the connection. As we all know, trains
are always late, so I watched the train to Hope pull out of the station as I came in. So I
spent 2 hours in Sheffield station for the next train. When I finally got to Hope (only 30
minutes from Sheffield) I then had to wait another two hours for the minibus in a tiny station
with nowhere warm to sit, so probably good I was delayed in Sheffield. All the lights in this
station in the middle of nowhere were switched off about 11pm, and I was then repeatedly scared
by high speed trains randomly appearing, and also trains with no lights on silently passing
through. Creepy. I thought about walking the 2 miles to the TSG in Castleton, but then the
minibus turned up. Unfortunately the Orpheus caving club is in the middle of nowhere so took
about another hour to get back, cheers to Shed and Darryl for picking me up.
Left: Here's a piccy of Rik getting confused over his kit again.
Right: The Orpheus may be miles away from anywhere and miles away from the caves
but at least the views are nice.
Saturday: Managed to blag my way onto a trip with Rik, Tim (Orpheus member, not Shed)
and Poles Martin and Maggie. This was nice are there were a fair few freshers, but they ended up
going down Giants. Maskhill Mine is a seriously nice cave. The only thing I didn't like is that
it's almost completely devoid of water for carbide. I thought it was a bit like M16, fairly dry,
lots of loose gravel to kick down pitches, about the same dimensions, smallish at top, and fairly
large at bottom. It's an old lead mine which means you're not allowed to whistle in it (raise
the dead ghosts of miners apparently). There were pick marks on the walls and wooden 'stemples'
which the miners stood on to remove the veins of rock from the ceilings. The West Chamber at
the bottom is apparently all mined out. SRT was a bit like Slov too, a large numbers of well
placed rebelays (this cave, like most others, is over P-hangered) pitches area bit smaller. There
is an easy Tyrollean traverse at the bottom, perhaps good for training? This cave joins up with
Giants via the Chamber of Horrors. This doesn't really sound like a realistic trip, but an
exchange with Oxlow sounds brilliant.
Left: Sorting out kit.
Right: Getting changed on the road below Maskhill mine.
You need permission from the farmer, and it a short hop up to the entrance (similar to walking up
Had a bit of a problem at the entrance to the mine. I found out that Maggie had never been caving
before, and had only done SRT on a climbing wall. When she asked me if she'd put her descender
on the rope correctly I thought this isn't the cave for you (she had done it properly by the way).
I don't mind teaching people SRT in caves, but 1) I like to see what they're like in the trees,
and 2) I like to vet the cave first to see if it's suitable. Sadly I had to ban her from going
down the cave. Martin came back out and I went down to meet up with Tim and Rik. I quickly picked
up the car keys from Tim at the top of the third pitch, prussiked out, ran down the hill to give
them the car keys to get changed, ran back up the hill and speed descended down to find the others
had rigging the forth pitch. You have to be fairly careful at the top of this cave as there is a
shonky dry-stone wall. Geting out of this cave was a nightmare; Tim and I both had 2 tacklesacks
each. Note, you need about 30 hangers for this cave.
Left: Rik and Tim kitting up. It was quite windy up here and cold. I was looking forward
to going into the mine where I could warm up.
Left: Seriously nice views in the Peak District. I think this is Mam Tor.
Left: Cool (vertical) caves have covers on them to stop sheep falling down them. This one
is heavy, and quite hard to get out of when it's shut. I would recommend one of those jammers
which straps to your welly.
Remaining Photos: Getting ready to go down Maskhill mine. Polish Martin and Maggie
Sunday: Managed to get myself on another SRT trip down another mine. I think it was Hillock's
mine, but I'll have to check this with Darryl. Most people went in the 'Oil Drum' entrance, but
Clewin and I walked up to the top of a knowle where Darryl had earlier shown me an engine and climbing
shaft. I'd heard it was a 60m free-hang, not something I wanted to do with 3 freshers, so yet again
I was bit apprehensive. I sent Clewin down to investigate. In the end this tiurned out to be an
excellent cave for practicing SRT. It's a 40m pitch with easy rebelays about 10m apart. It's not
big and airy, quite tight sometimes. At the bottom is another 4m ish pitch into the mine. Didn't
stay long at the bottom, didn't meet the others, and headed out. Quite pleased to watch everyone
prussik out, with successive 'rope frees!' being called out. Had to make a combat dive down a small
passageway when I heard a large rock bounce down the shaft. Not much space to hide, it would have
hit me. A 'below!' call would have been nice too. Oh well they're only freshers. I was a bit
shaken so hid in my tiny hole while they exited. Use of foot jammer meant my escape took place in
Got dropped off in Chesterfield on the way home which was nice as it meant I was
tucked up in bed by 7pm. That has to be a record?