January to March
January 1st Considine's Cave (South End)
TB, CC and PC
Bright, cold, rain showers, ground very wet, large stream. Among the festivities the previous evening involved reviewing the video taken by CC of the potential way on. Unfortunately Northward has no development, the stream can be seen flowing to the south. The decision was made to commence preparatory work clearing the area of the rift which extends some six metres to the south from the present working platform. Once completed the six metre long by some metre wide rift will have all the deposits removed. Whilst CC dug down through the pile of stones; spoil previously deposited there, PC and TB cleared away the foliage exposing the rift in its entirety. CC eventually located the edge of the previously noted pot and began to construct a dry stone retaining embankment off the bedrock. The level of the bedrock is not deep below the soil. An area along the rift edges will be cleared upon which a secure cover will be placed. Future photos will better explain these comments. To the Roadside for New Year Pints.
Hours 8, (Total 1069), South end (8).
January 4th Considine's Cave (South End)
TB, CC and PC
Cold, bright spells, showers, ground very wet, large stream. The plan; to prepare the area around the southern surface end of the rift.. While CC continued building the dry stone buttress, TB cut away the remaining foliage, PC dug away the soil along the edge of the rift to expose beautiful limestone fluting beneath in readiness to install a temporary cover over the open rift to stop adjacent steep debris slope producing items which may injure to those digging below. Tea drunk, bread pudding eaten. Much achieved, (photos). To the Roadside for some really fine pints.
Hours 10, (Total 1079), South end (18).
January 4th Knotlow Cavern
SG & AS
We arrived at Monyash at 12noon. Sam was very keen to do a bit of SRT. I was feeling pensive but willing as I was relying on Sam to lend me SRT gear (full set) and clothes suitable for holes. Anyhow...the trip was Knotlow main shaft, 210ft so I'm told. Sam down first, rebelay at around 100ft and deviation at around 180ft. Highlight was the amount of water coming in and the impressive spot at the base of the shaft. Me heading out first, I visited Masson CC who were exiting Krief Mine? And looked in the entrance to Hillocks. Lots of pleasant memories of trips in there! Cheers to Sam for the late notice idea of Derbyshire SRT...great day out. Oh, our return to the car included 110 mile ice-cold wind and horizontal precipitation! All good fun.
January 8th Considine's Cave (South End)
TB & CC
The main danger to the team was frostbite! Work started on the removal of the overburden along the West edge of the rift. This is much more difficult than the East side as all the spoil has to be put in kibbles, taken up to the barrow and disposed of. Stone of any size was added to the dry stone buttress at the South end.
Hours 5 (Total 1084), South end (23)
January 8th - February 9th Panama 2018 expedition
Team; Roger Day, James S Cobbett, Dig Hastilow & Pat Cronin.
Pleased to inform the Club of the discovery of Limestone, and first caves ever recorded in Darien province.
Report will be written asap and submitted to the Pegasus website and UK, National Geographical Society.
The Panama Cave Database is an ongoing/forthcoming project.
January 11th Considine's Cave (South End)
CC & TB
After nearly two inches of rain the previous night the site was extremely slipping and sticky. A large section of the East wall which had detached itself was broken up and lifted on to the buttress wall, after which the two lumps that appeared at the back of my ears turned out to be my balls. A one metre length of the rift at the foot of the buttress was covered over with short lengths of telegraph pole. To have excavated this area to accept the proposed plastic pallet cover would have involved the removal of too much material and could have de-stabilized the buttress. To facilitate a level platform over the new shaft part of the existing barrow way needs to be lowered, started today by TB, the spoil being added to the buttress.
Hours 4 (Total 1088), South end (27)
January 15th Considine's Cave (South End)
CC & TB
Work continues preparing the ground around the top of the South end of the rift. Conditions are 'mucky' to say the least where the top soil has turned into mud with the never ending rain, but we are seeing progress.
The accumulated boulders along the side of the barrow-way which posed a danger are gradually being removed and added to the buttress wall. We hope to retrieve all equipment from the bottom at -25 metres on Thursday.
Hours 6 (Total 1094), South end (33)
Overburden removed from the East side with the partially built North end retaining buttress.
The South rift emptied down to the origional level with the almost completed retaining buttress.
January 18th Considine's Cave (South End)
CC & TB
The last of the unstable rocks were removed from the top of the west side of the depression and deposited at the back of the buttress wall. There are some quite large boulders to be moved from the dig but until the tripod and accompanying infrastructure is in place it is not possible to lift them out. A trial was done to see If these could be split using the gads but after breaking one gad and the 14lb sledge bouncing of the other we gave up. A trial with plug & feathers was partially effective but the rock (not limestone ) is so hard it broke the head of a nearly new 14mm drill bit. Hours 5 (Total 1099), South end (38)
January 22nd Considine's Cave (South End)
CC & TB
Another 5 man hours shoveling shite and rocks but the site will soon reach the stage where further progress will need the rearranging of the tripod, working platform and winch. So only come back from Panama if you are fit, well and roaring to go Pat.
Hours 5 (Total 1104), South end (38)
January 26th Considine's Cave (South End)
TB & CC
We have now reached a point were further progress will require the moving of the tripod and associated infrastructure.
Hours 6 (Total 1105), South end (44)
February 15th Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Bright, bitter cold wind, sleet showers, Site meeting to design changes to the infrastructure for digging out the southern extension of the rift. Decided to install a scaffolding frame system, re-jig the sentry box, re-locate the tripod and reposition the winch. Most likely start Saturday evening.
Hours 3, (Total 1108), Southend (47).
February 17th Youd’s Level
Malc Scothon, Roger Hall & Ian Gould ( currently, non member )
There were 2 trips on the day, The above and an intended through trip from Gentlewomen’s by Sam Garrad & Co.. Sam’s Trip is under a separate write-up.
Both groups met up at Artists corner, Matlock Bath around 10:30am. We opened up the manhole cover to Youd’s Level, sited in the children’s playground, of all places, adjacent to the car park. With the exception of Kelvin, who was playing on the swings, we looked down the hole and discussed the mechanics of the trip.
Roger, Malc ,Sam, Kelvin, Ian, Dave, Nathan & Paul
Between us the two groups agreed that the Youd’s group would try and reach the furthest point 2 hours into the trip, leaving cairns, before turning back. Hopefully, by that time Sam’s party would meet the Youd’s party underground and both would come out together. Like all good plans, Pegasus didn't fail us, by coming-up with a totally different outcome!
Sam’s party left in vehicles, and headed upto Masson Hill, parking at Jug Holes lay-by. They left a couple of cars at Artists Corner car park, in order to get them back to the start.
Malc.S, Roger and Ian waited for about 10-15mins before descending into Youd’s to allow Sam etc.. travelling time. We started the climb down the short entrance drop of about 3metres at 11:10am, dropping into a short hands and knees crawl to the start of the (in)famous coffin level. Water level was above normal due to a lot of rain in the previous days but nothing to concern us. Before reaching the coffin level and going upstream, it was nice to see the wall and roof still retaining some of the Tufa stone used in the soughs construction near to the entrance and leading under the A6 trunk road. We passed through the collapsed Toadstone area and into the hillside, towards Masson Hill.
Note: Dave Gough enlightened us as to how Youd’s got its name. Folk doing the through trip from the top of Masson ,in the past, came out in someone’s garden on the opposite side of the A6 to the one we entered today. The then owner of the property was a Mr Youd of German nationality.
Both parties hanging around Youd’s entrance in the playground, whilst Kelvin is practising his swinging. Sam in the foreground. It must have been a strange sight to the passing public!
Roger and Malc.S with Gentlewomen’s shaft entrance in the background.Our first visit on the day, to check where Sam’s party had got too. Note: Rope back-up now on slab as apposed to using tree.
The coffin level is about 1000feet in length, and it’s stooping or hands and knees all the way with shoulders in. We passed a couple of flooded stopes in the floor, giving off a lovely inviting blue image. We took a mental note of their location for the return journey due to the water turning murky quickly and the flooded stopes taking on the same appearance of the passageway’s floor area. Just over half way along the coffin level, we reached a branch passage on the right , this led into a small chamber with a flooded shaft in the floor. The rectangular shaped hauling shaft continues to the surface, now capped. We had a 5 min rest whilst taking in the colours of the flow stone left on the shaft wall. The passageway beyond the chamber closes down quickly. Retracing our steps to the coffin level we carried on upstream, eventually reaching the end of the level, and entering Jant Mine workings.
The passageway now deteriorates, climbing into the hillside, switching between hands and knees and crawling on or between constant moving rocks whilst trying to keep most of your body out of the streamway. We continued along the upward sloping passage, negotiating two short squeezes, previously enlarged on our last visit. Enlarging was for the benefit of those of us who share a FB size (Fat Bastards).
We continued crawling along the obvious upstream passage, occasionally entering larger pockets where we built cairns for the benefit of Sam’s party. It was clearly evident that looking back downstream from where we had come from, the way on, for them, would not be obvious.
We reached a stope and a passageway ahead led to the miners jigging box (see photo). Retracing our steps, we climbed the stope to the left and continued along a low passage for another 15 minutes. We were well over 2 and a half hours into the trip, and expected to meet Sam by then at the latest. Its meant to be a 3 hour through trip,and classed as ‘a minor classic through trip in Derbyshire’.
Note: Just before you reach the stope, look out for small pockets of standing areas downstream, where miners inscriptions and dates going back to the early 1700s have been chiselled out.
Manhole cover, revealing the start of Youd’s level.
The jigging box in Old Jant Mine. Photo Richard Bird
We decided to make our way out, knowing that something must be amiss with the other party. We made good time and exited 1 and a half hours later.
It was my fourth time doing the coffin level, and a first for Roger and Ian. Whilst we were all glad that we did the trip, we all agreed never to do it again. However, as we all know, that doesn’t always happen, mainly down to having short memories or senility creeping in!
When we exited, we noticed the cars from Sam’s party were still in the car park. Once changed I dropped Ian off at Winster, leaving Roger waiting in the car park, expecting when I returned Sam’s party to have turned-up. It was getting-on for 5pm and still no sign of them. Roger and I then started to deliberate whether to got to the pub (The Bell, Cromford, previously agreed) or go up-to Gentlewomen’s Entrance. We decided not to do an Al.Steans and headed-up to Masson Hill. The entrance pitch was still rigged and we hung around for a short while, shouting down the shaft, hoping to get some attention; no joy. We took a photo of our visit (see photo) and returned back to Artists Corner Car Park and waited. Just after 7pm we returned to Jug Holes car park area, and to our relief, we met Kelvin and Dave Gough who had just got out, the others were still making their way out. Kelvin said they just couldn’t find the connection.
Knowing all was well, we quickly departed to the pub, Kelvin and Nathan joining us around 8:20pm.
What started out to be a 3-4 hour max trip(s) turned out to be nearly double.
February 17th Gentlewomen's Pipe to Youd's Level
S Garrad; D Gough; Nathan; Kelvin; Paul Richardson
Attempt to undertake through trip from Gentlewomans Pipe to Youds level. Shaft located swiftly and party entered the mine around 12pm . The shaft was a little tight, particularly for the more rotund . It transpired that only Dave Gough ( some thirty years ago) and Paul had ever entered the system before and therefore we relied upon them to undertake navigation duties though their memories seemed a little hazy.
Sam rigging shaft at start of trip
Nathan entering shaft to retrieve jammed bags
Progress was a little slow and involved climbs down and some dodgy climbs up ably led by Dave whom then provided a rope for the rest of us. Once up the last climb a muddy traverse led on to where you once again climb down a number of awkward drops until a steep slope is met which then enters the Overseer’s Chamber where there is a cartoon left of the Overseen by the o’wd man plus other dates inscribed on the walls one of which appeared to be 1703! Its worth getting this far for that. The squeezes are then next Nathan managed to get through the first but no one could follow so reluctantly we turned round and headed back out. Needless to say I was not looking forward to the prussic out of the narrow shaft which proved to be quite challenging for me at least. It took around 20/25 mins on average to ascend the shaft though I think Nathan did it in 15 ? I was last out and carefully tied on the bags .
Nathan entering shaft to start bag retrieval operations
Hauling team waiting for the bags to be tied on properly
Once out at the surface around 8pm we commenced hauling the bags but …. argh they were jammed! My heart sank a little at the prospect of going back down but sense prevailed and we decided to reconvene the following day whereby Nathan admirably volunteered to retrieve the bags despite the fact that he also had to drive to the airport to pick up his Missus he had to be back out and dressed for 11. The team met around 9am and we duly sent Nathan down – I managed to throw my pulley down the shaft whilst Nathan was at the bottom which pleased Nathan no end despite he retrieved the bags and my pulley so we still have some ropes and bags for future trips and I have my pulley.
February 17th Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Becoming increasingly cold, clear sky, good size stream. The plan; to clear the shaft of tools and equipment. CC to -25m, PC hauling and winching. Even though a swift set up of ladders and lines was achieved the task of collecting the various bits of digging accessories, and sending them to surface, took some time. During which PC enjoyed the climate, basking in the near freezing conditions; thoughts straying to recent poolside revelries at Cobbett’s place in down town Panama City. Phone and signalling cables were released, with difficulty, and recovered up to the Plank; nothing now remains below this point other than the Rebar steps, which will be removed once surveying and photography is complete. Prior to TB’s departure surface preparations for digging the “Southend” had been significant. TB and CC’s efforts have reduced the overhanging edge from the barrow way and removed our recently constructed dry stone wall. Much of this stone used to supplement the retaining wall at the south end of the rift; its shape and bulk now likened to a WWII Atlantic Wall Bunker. TB and CC also exposed the top of west side of the south rift; the stability of some sections possibly suspect. So, to the Roadside for renewed abuse from Billy the Barman and fine pints accompanied by excellent Appalachian music.
Hours 5, (Total 1113), Southend (52).
February 19th Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Overcast, mild, good sized stream, ground very wet. The plan; begin to relocate the infrastructure. Within an hour most of the weather canopy was stripped down and stacked away and tripod dismantled. With two reassembling the tripod became somewhat of a circus maneuvering its five metre legs down the slopes into the narrow depression was a real ball ache. Underfoot muddy slopes and loose fitting pallets covering the open rift added to the fun likened to dancing on ball bearings. Eventually an hour after the rain began the tripod was erected, at the second attempt, pretty much in its final position; only minor adjusts are required to complete this task. Soaked to the skin the Team covered the remaining site equipment and squelched off to the Roadside. A grand, damp day out! No digging Thursday night, Next proposed session is Friday at 10:00 for Part 2 of the great relocation saga.
Hours 8, (Total 1121), Southend (60)
February 23rd Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Bitter south-east wind arriving from Siberia, small stream, ground drying, dam cold. The plan; continue re-locating the infrastructure. Balancing on the top of the ladder application of a lever to release the jammed tripod bracket proved unsuccessful. However several whacks of an eight pound sledge hammer did the job. Now straightened, a plumb line was suspended from the pulley bracket allowing the new hauling shaft arrangement to be built around this vertical guide line. Much work involved releasing, replacing, dragging and lifting pallets into their new positions. The “Sentry Box” was swiftly dismantled and moved eastward some ten inches, also extended southward with the addition of a second pallet to position the new shaft collar centrally below the tripod pulley: forthcoming photos will clarify these ramblings. Work required to complete the support of the farthest pallet here. The proposed location for the winch is at the northern end of the rift. The shoring suspension cable was released to allow the “Sentry Box” to be dismantled. Some of the boulders previously removed by CC and TB weigh twice what limestone does….? A significant amount of the shaft walls were bone dry. On a recent cold day CC popped down to check on the site; opening the shaft cover he experienced a howling gale of very warm air. The shaft is not sealed, gaps around the platform are manifold, no restriction of flow can be present. This volume of draught cannot surely be issuing from the small gap at the bottom of the shaft, it must be supplemented through the gaps in the boulders remaining in the southend of the rift. Late finish; commitments = No Bar.
Hours 9, (Total 1130), Southend (69)
February 26th Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Temperature falling steady as predicted severe snow event approaches, dubbed, “The Beast from the East”, meanwhile Storm Emma approaching from Biscay. Small stream, some thaw to frozen ground. The plan; to continue re-positioning the infrastructure. Railway lines and sleepers lifted, shaft collar timber work removed and shaft covered by installing fresh pallets, “Sentry Box” stripped down, again, and rebuilt to slightly different design. Wiring stripped. Winch moved to new location, aligned and secured. More pallets required. Another movie made of the work. The caravan previously used for changing is due for scrapping; permission to use adjacent shed granted; just in time to avoid impending weather systems. Another good session, likely another two should see the task complete. To the Roadside.
Hours 10, (Total 1140), Southend (79)
February 28th Considine's Cave (South End)
Amid snow flurries went to pick up more pallets for the dig. Of the forty odd previously left most had vanished from the yard; apparently some local eastern Europeans have found pallets a useful heat source, bugger. Managed to find two excellent ones for the railway supports and three lesser ones, to protect the winch from weather. Encountered contractor removing caravan, so unable to drop pallets in lower field; contractor offered to complete this errand.
Hours 1, (Total 1141), Southend (80).
March 1st Considine's Cave (South End)
Around two inches of snow, dark overcast, some drifting, second day of sub zero temperatures, significant wind chill, frozen ground. The plan; to move the pallets. Once the brakes were freed on the Hilux the road trip was hampered by slippery sloping sections. The contractor, (28th Feb), was better than his word, depositing the pallets over at the stile; what a nice man. Moved pallets to work platform. Cut and cleared the bushes directly behind the winch, installed a pallet to receive the winch counter balance weight; rather than stone or pallets perhaps use the stock of telegraph poles: they do need storing somewhere. Released and temporarily relocated the telephone wire, Positioned a very good pallet beneath the tripod and hung a Mk 4 kibble to centre the hauling line in preparation for cutting open the shaft collar. Vertically erected several pallets as an experimental housing for the winch. As limb articulation became increasingly difficult “Plan B” was adopted; Part 1, head for truck, Part 2, make for fireside, Part 3, drink tea, thaw out. Hours 2, (Total 1143), Southend (82).
March 5th Considine's Cave (South End)
Thaw well underway, mild. The plan; continue with the infrastructure. Having scrounged enough timber to complete “engine house” sped off. Route through snow bound lanes made for eventful driving. Upon arrival at the final section of lane leading to the dig progress halted by succession of extensive snows drifts > five foot: no camera. Sod. Landowner to carve route through later today using eight tonne digger.
PS. Happy Birthday James, many happy returns!!
March 7th Poulnagollum
The plan: scamper to the base of Branch Passage cascade. En-route noticed resurging stream in high flow at the road bridge: though thawing much snow remained above the five hundred foot contour. Abseiled in: secured a ladder for exit. Good sized waterfall from upper series. Melt water obviously bitter cold. From confluence of first waterfall average stream deep; just below welly depth: the draught from the waterfall stunning. All the way to Main Junction, the stream, though in high flow, was crystal clear; conditions similar in Branch Passage streamway. Normal visibility in such flow rates normally less than one metre. From water mark stream level had fallen half a metre. Water so superbly clear found submerged, but knackered, aluminium karabiner, (red gate): placed same on ledge for owner to find. Crawling in dry gear along the streamway to the cascade chilled the extremities, somewhat; great fun.
March 8th Considine's Cave (South End)
Mild, ground wet, small stream: the plan; continue rebuilding infrastructure. With CC unavailable assembled prefabricated side frames to fix atop pallets. Fixed spar to tripod to support weather cover. Phaffed about thinking how to hold frame while securing in place.
Hours 2, (Total 1145), Southend (84)
March 10th Considine's Cave (South End)
Mild; bright; ground very wet; good size stream. The plan; continue with infrastructure. Completed assembling two shed sides, secured all three canopy supports in place to joist. More work required to complete canopy.
Hours 3, (Total 1148), Southend (87)
March 12th Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Bright: wet ground: cool breeze, small stream. The plan; continue the rebuilding task. Took over more timber to build rear side of “shed”; a bit of head scratching needed arranging the winch counter balance through what will be the northern weather proofing. No. 2 battery for PC’s Bosch 24VDC drill finally died; bugger. CC prepared the power supply cables for winch and sockets. JN has kindly donated several lengths of scaffolding, nice man. No Roadside.
Hours, 4 (Total 1152), Southend (91)
March 15th Considine's Cave (South End)
TB and PC, later CC
Overcast; mild: small stream. The plan: press on with rebuilding. Fitted lower half of weather cover around the three sides of the winch shed, secured the roof canopy, completed securing roof spars to shed frame for improved stability in high wind. Secured both scaffold bars through rear of shed to accept pallet and counter balance weight. Canopy completed just as light rain became torrential. To the Roadside for some nice Black and Gold:
Hours 6, (1158), Southend, (97)
March 17th Considine's Cave (South End)
PC and TB
The plan; continue rebuilding, still! An early start, 09:00), as PC driving IRCG vehicle in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade at 13:30: Finished securing the canopy sides; completed enclosing the winch shed; only minor areas of the covering to be secured with timber lathes; secured emergency winch stop; reviewed shaft collar area beneath tripod. Set shelf up for communication equipment. Outstanding tasks; complete area below tripod; install two remaining pallets for wheel barrow way; install scaffold support frame around shaft collar; install rails for truck. Perhaps another two sessions, or so, and digging can thankfully recommence.
Hours, 4, (1162), Southend (101).
March 18th Shuttleworth Pot
Arron Smith & Geoffrey Haywood
Pegasus trip to Shuttleworth Pot and Witches Cave. Sunday 18th March 2018. ......Due to the harsh weather conditions in the South and Derbyshire. (Another snow storm). Unfortunately only myself (Aaron Smith) and a friend of the club, Geoffrey Haywood, could make it. We met at Booths car park and headed straight to Bull Pot Farm for a brew. There we found the road a bit skiddy in places and Sam Lieberman, Toby Speight and girlfriend. We exchanged a few stories with a brew and landed at the cave entrance for 1230pm. Toby had to go back into Magnetometer Pot to retrieve some gear from the previous day. (This sort of thing might be familiar to some Pegasus members!).
Entrance is well built up and an aluminium ladder is supplied for the first 10ft.
The final pitch requires a 60m rope but there are numerous rebelays.
The snow was falling but not settling. Underground was nice and warm, a challenging entrance series, mainly vertical, but not tight was aided by another clubs gear rigged on the second drop and the main 60m drop. All pitches are made relatively easy by many rebelays and good foot holds and ledges.
At the base of the final abseil is an unstable slope and a huge main chamber. Descending the slope takes you to the inlet sump and outlet sump and a huge decorated sloping passage to the left. Another smaller passage to the right wasn't fully explored today.
Back at the base of the final pitch and up the slope is the really amazing stuff! Huge passage way then a crawl and then more huge passage. All the way through this section are masses of 'pretties'. ....3m And 4m straws ...helectites, curtains and stals all over. Tape on both sides of the passage guides you along and keeps you off the best bits of floor.(many good floor formations too!). Lots of photos and Go Pro footage and a return to the foot of the entrance pitches. 'My Newt' chamber was spotted but the awkward entrance and exit made it a passage to explore another day... (a 10m rope would be a safe option here).
The formations in the floor are some of this caves 'best bits'.
The stals, columns and helectites are some of the best I've ever seen.
Our exit was steady and helped by the use of the second set of ropes on the main pitches. The whole trip took (30min walk each way and 3 and half hours underground) 4 and half hours. Super day, blonde ale in the Royal Hotel, Kirkby Lonsdale and then home. What a super place, I could not recommend it any more highly! Amazing.
March 21st Considine's Cave (South End)
TB & CC
More building, battening on winch shed continued & added some hooks. Started bringing some scaffold down the hill. Light installed in the shed. The winch will need moving as the cover is fouling both the drum and the wall.Need to take a sledge next time to free lengths of scaffolding before carrying down, and a magnet or grabber to retrieve some lost screws when the box disintegrated!
Hours 4, (1166), Southend (105)
March 23rd Wapping Mine to Cumberland Cavern Trip. Matlock Bath, Derbyshire
Malc Scothon, Dave Walker & Ian Gould
Besides showing Ian an easy cave/mine,Dave had never been and I’m never tired of the place, it has extensive, interesting passages and caverns which have an abundance of minerals and crystals. A magnet for the collector which is now becoming a problem for English Heritage. Both the site and the surrounding land are now a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). it may not be long before access becomes restricted (my opinion only). Both Cumberland and Wapping was mined for lead in 17th and 18th Centuries. However, Wapping was further mined for Fluorspar from the 1920s to 1950s.
Directions to Wapping Mine Entrance.
Note: Cumberland Entrance into the cave is not accessible.
I’ve provided the following details due to some of our members having had difficulty, in the past, locating it.
We parked in an unrestricted area to the right of The New Bath Hotel, see map of location marked with an ‘x’. We then took the ginnel ( marked with an arrow on the map) which pinches between a large Victorian property, currently painted white, and the wall to the gardens of a more recently built property. This leads to a road with a school on the opposite side. Continue up the road for a short distance and as the road bends to the right take the track on the left, this is a public footpath. The track takes you onto a nature trail. Continue to the end of the track where you reach a footpath. Cross the path and over a collapsed drystone wall which has a metal gate to the left. This takes you into woodland, bear approx. 30 degrees to the right. After a short distance, you will get to the not so obvious entrance which is tucked under a lip of rock at the base and to the right of a cliff face. A small plaque has been installed by English Heritage identifying the area as having SSSI status. Entry to the mine involves climbing through the top of a thick stone wall built in the 1970s to deter general walk-in access by the public.
Note: Entry head first but feet first on Exit. Exit method will quickly become evident, to avoid head-butting a large boulder at ground level.
Once into the mine workings you are immediately in high worked out stopes. These follow the Moletrap Rake. Progress switches between walking at the bottom of the stopes and easy climbs to higher levels where collapses have occurred. Less than 100metres in you reach a couple of areas where flowstone has covered both walls and miners deads. Look out for the cave pearls forming in small pools.
Carrying on for another 50 metres you reach an area where progress can either be an easy climb up a left hand slope or taking the walkway to the right where there’s evidence of trackway. The right takes you more quickly into the start of the Wapping maze.
L to R Ian Gould and Dave Walker. Wapping entrance area. Photo by Malc.S
Ian Gould in Wishing Well Chamber. Must have been an interesting meet when the Trogs and Skins were there! Photo by Malc.S
Note: Although it’s an easy system, Do not underestimate the Maze. To negotiate it, you can quickly disorientate yourself if you’re not familiar with the routes and can extend the trip more than what you had planned for. In Wapping Mine alone there are over 1500 metres of accessible passage.
We took the left hand slope, and climbed under a large dodgy boulder which makes you wonder how long that will remain in situ, alternative is to take the climb to the right. Both lead to the same area, a boulder strewn chamber known as Funnel Chamber. This is where Wapping meets Cumberland.
To gain quick access to Cumberland an easy climb to the right leads you into the first of the natural chambers. However, we wanted to do the circular trip and and explore more of Wapping. We took the second entrance into the maze on the left from Funnel chamber. Descending a slope we reached a passage which crosses left to right and has several passages leading off. Looking to the right there is a large deposit of toadstone. Retracing our steps, halfway up the slope we took a small passageway on the right which quickly reduced to a small squeeze leading to a stooping passageway. This opens-up into a high stope. Continuing along the obvious passageway we descended a slope. Where it levels out, we reached a cairn and several examples of rock minerals broken and left by previous visitors. From there we took the left hand climb up into a natural Cavern known as Selenite Chamber with evidence of selenite (gypsum) on one wall together with carbide inscriptions.
Back to the cairn we continued along the obvious main walking passage until it begins to reduce in height to hands and knees. Immediately before that we climbed up on the right into a small pocket where in the left hand wall there is a vugh (pronounced vug) where you can see nice examples of dog tooth spar and fluorspar staining. Retracing our steps back to the squeeze, we sent Dave through it and unbeknown to him, the passage beyond, where there’s a corrugated metal sheet door, took me and Ian with ease back to the sloping passage at the start of the second entrance to the maze from funnel chamber. Dave was not a happy bunny.
At the bottom of the slope we turned right, passing the mound of toadstone on our right, and on to the end. Right took you back into the main stopes and to the exit. This was the first entrance I referred to earlier that led into the maze. We turned left, quickly reducing to hands and knees. Eventually, the passage opens up. Looking for a window style opening on the right hand wall (peering in, you should see the remnants of an old roadworks lantern) we entered this area which again opens up having 2 passages leading off and a climb in the roof. This is called ‘Props Chamber’ for obvious reasons.
More Carbide graffiti in Cumberland.
Wishing Well, Cumberland. At the back of the pool a low passage leads to a climb where you can see pretties and small blue pool.
L to R Dave Walker and Ian Gould in the Chamber where the first set of stairs start in Cumberland.
Note: At this point we are running below Cumberland passages.
We took the passage which continues beyond the main prop. Reaching another junction, we turned right (piece of rotten timber with fungi growth on a shelf) then immediately turned left along a stooping passage taking care to avoid calcite skins in the puddles. The passage reduced to hands and knees again with a sandy floor. On the right, we took a passage that opens-up into a large boulder choke (Normally, a cairn is left here to aid route finding). A climb up through the boulders led us into the main passageway of Cumberland, known as ‘Devils Pit’. Turning left took us along mainly walking undecorated passageways connected by chambers with large breakdown of boulders.
Note: Whilst exploring these chambers it’s worth taking some time to look at the Victorian Graffitti as well as the more recent 1960s graffiti made by the ‘Trogs’, a mixture of Hippies and bikers. In another 100 years I’m sure the 60's graffiti will be equally valued as the Victorian Visitors who once visited the Show cave. Apparently, it was the first show cave in Matlock Bath to be established in the late 1800s , closing in the early 1960s.
We climbed a staircase, passing a toadstone seam at head height with a wide spanned bedding plane roof. Shortly after, we reached steps leading down to the left and the wishing well chamber. We didn’t go through the low passage sited at the back of the wishing well, due to time restriction. It’s well worth a trip though, beyond the low passage you can climb up into the roof space to what is called the Secret Chamber where pretties and a small blue pool can be seen. We took photos of the ‘Skins Rule Ok’ graffiti and the floating orbs! and carried on up a staircase to the left leading back to the main route and the spiral staircase. The staircase originally took you to the Adit entrance which is now blocked and gated. The staircase is a work of art, cut out of solid rock with nice examples of pick work. Halfway up the spiral staircase, we took a passage on the right with makeshift steps leading down into another chamber called North Chamber, with a downward rubble slope. Looking down the slope, the passage takes on the form of a keyhole.
Cumberland. Bikers insignia ‘The Deaths Head’ taken by Ian Gould
Ian Gould on the climb into Cumberland from Funnel Chamber. To his bottom left the 2nd entrance into the maze
First of the staircases in Cumberland. Taken by Ian Gould
At the bottom, what was once another climb down in the floor amongst dead’s and into a small chamber, was now totally flooded. Must have been all the snow and rain we’ve had of late. Never knew this flooded! It must be a good 5 to 6 years since I climbed down there and explored it with Terry Wheatley. At the end of North chamber it closes down with a short phreatic tube in the roof. In this area, the roof also shows evidence of natural scalloping.
As we returned up the slope, on our left, we climbed up into a small pocket with a climbing shaft in the roof. A small amount of water entering the area from the shaft had created some nice flowstone formation. We then retraced our steps crossing the Devil’s Pit to the last natural chamber where more Victorian and carbide graffiti can be seen. We continued, at the far end of the chamber, into a short low passage entering the top of Funnel Chamber climb in Wapping, completing the circular trip. Before we climbed down to the right we took in the sheer size and depth of the stoped out passages. Exiting Wapping about 8pm, we all enjoyed the trip without incident. Ian and Dave went home whilst Malc.S retired to the Bell Inn at Cromford.
There is in excess of 500 metres of passage in Cumberland Cavern and together with Wapping Mine, we are talking in excess of 2000metres of easily accessible passageway. So there’s plenty to see which can be achieved in such a small timeframe. Time In: 6pm, Time Out: 8pm
March 23rd Considine's cave (South End)
TB and PC later CC
Overcast, bright spells, light breeze, small stream. The plan: guess what; determined to finish as much of the infrastructure as practicable today. Laden with scaffold clips, adjustable scaffold feet, scaffold poles and timber, had to make several trips to assemble all kit on site; therefore knackered before starting work. Began installing and securing the remaining platform pallets to create the barrow run. Installed the rail supports, rails and truck, Cut out opening to create shaft collar. Relocated generator and support pallet six metres closer to the winch providing another discreet area to deposit spoil. Installed pedal control to winch. Installed more hooks in winch shed to hang ropes etc. from to dry. Ran up generator, tested winch and lights; all OK. Tasks to do; Shaft collar requires several minor touches to complete, kibble receiver to be secured to truck, fit weather cover over top of tripod, install scaffolding to support far end of hauling platform. A weary trio plodded back up to the trucks. To the Roadside; gasping for drink after a, superb day, great progress. The Roadside is now our source for very good quality pallets.
Hours 10, (1176), Southend (115)
March 26th Considine's cave (South End)
TB and PC
Overcast: misty: small stream. The plan: to assemble the scaffold frame as extra support for the extended hauling platform. Drilled 16mm holes in the limestone edges of the rift for 16mm galvanized steel pins to fix scaffold verticals in position on the uneven surfaces; each leg fitted with an adjustable foot. Fore and rear frames were erected; these now require horizontal poles to tie them together to make the entire scaffold a solid frame. Two horizontal bars threaded through the hauling pallet and adjusted to support, and take any shock load, during hauling, in this precarious position above and on the edges of the rift: to the Roadside for well some deserved pints.
Hours 4, (1180), Southend (119)
Almost ready to start digging again
March 29th Considine's cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Bright spells; ground still wet; small stream: The plan; complete tasks to get back digging again. Completed scaffold frame; extended platform to help unload kibbles; completed cutting out, and supporting, lower shaft collar; recovered signalling cables to surface; prepared poles as winch counter balance. Secured rails, installed rope to act as position location control for shaft lid kibble receiver. Some minor tasks remain; almost there: to the Roadside for pints.
Hours 10, (1190), Southend (129)
March 31 Ease Gill. Wretched Rabbit, Pool Sink & the Assembly Hall
Aaron Smith, Geoffrey Heywood and Predz Alan
The group of three headed north and south to Bull Pot Farm. After meeting and eating in Inglesport Cafe at 10-10:30am, we paid our pound and changed in the relative warmth of Bull Pot changing room. Another group were off down County Pot so we decided to keep out of their way and entered and exited WRP (Wretched Rabbit). 10 mins into the cave, which had a collapsed boulder sitting in front of It, we dropped down into Spiral Staircase passage. This took us through a number of squeezes and on into Green and Smelly Passage where we met the water from Pool Sink entrance. Off to Holbeck junction and the Ease Gill main drain. We left our bag here and ate Geoffrey's Mint Aero between us. A search for Gypsum cavern was our next mission. We found a number of other passages up stream and had a good look round Inc photos of many pretties. We returned down stream and eventually found a passage over the top of a watery choke and on to Stop Pot. We got our bearings and wriggled down into The connection to WRP. An hour later and we were in daylight. Out side the entrance Sam Lieberman and Ray Duffy (RRCPC leg-ends) were making that previously mentioned dodgy boulder, and the smaller ones around it, a safer place to negotiate. Five hours underground, fish and chips and mucky beer in Kirkby Lonsdale and a great time had by all.
GH & AS standing up after the 'awkward' sideways squeeze in 'Spiral Staircase'
Impressive formation in the main streamway near Holbeck Junction
March 31st Considine's Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Some cloud cover, bright, ground drying; very small stream: first actual digging session since the 22nd January! Re-positioning the infrastructure has taken at least 94 man-hours. The Plan; to DIG; hooray: CC winching, PC digging TB barrowing. A slow start gained speed as the tumble from the preparation work was cleared away and new ground broken. The exposed stratigraphy of alternating different coloured clay beds; Marl like in form. Working back and forth along the rift each pass removed the soft deposit to spade depth, (250mm). Some 500mm down the ringing of the spade heralded the expected arrival of boulders. The rift “floor” is now almost level for its length. This large volume so swiftly moved tonight was due to PC filling the kibbles to their capacity, the winch’s design ability to lift great weight and TB swiftly emptying the kibbles and running the barrows over to the spoil tip despite being regularly subjected to Carbon Monoxide poisoning when passing the merrily chugging generator: my he did have a lovely red complexion. To the Roadside for some cracking pints.
Hours 9, (1199), Southend (138), (Kibbles 40), (Nets 4)
Observations; though the rope occasionally creaked under load the winch itself did not move. The signalling system requires re-installing for clarity of commands. Handles required to the kibble receiver for ease of movement. The extra loading area adjacent the shaft makes for easier handling of kibbles. The lower shaft collar needs 100mm cut away to avoid swinging kibbles catching its edge. Though the majority of the southern stream source has been captured by surface drainage work, by the owner, potential flooding of the clay floor requires the south end of the rift to be kept lower. Both aluminium shoring support cables require securing. The main central steel can now be recovered. A detachable deviation to facilitate dragging boulders from the Southend of the rift is needed. A limestone joint below the topmost bed offers the potential to install lintels to safely close off the rift to curious cattle.