We are an active and friendly caving club that welcomes both new and experienced cavers. Despite our name, we are mainly a caving club, though some members do climb as well. We are mostly based in Cheshire and Staffordshire, but some members live further away. Our caving and mine exploration takes place locally in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales and further afield in this country and abroad.
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This was scheduled as a trip to Peak Cavern. Unfortunately, the rain again stopped play. The stream coming down from the cave was over the step that we use as an indication of safe levels underground and more rain was falling and forecast. We decided to abandon that trip. Some members and novice cavers went for a play in Giants upper series above Garland's Pot, just to get underground. After that they went to Carleswark Cavern for a wet and sporting push to the sump and back.
We really have had a run of atrocious luck with the weather on our scheduled trips since August. Here is hoping it improves.
Report by Jenny Drake
King Pot is the hardest trip we have done as a club in a while. A descent to the Master Cave and back takes a long time, so we had decided to meet up at Inglesport Cafe for breakfast as soon as they opened at 8:30. There were eight of us in total. Again, due to the likely long trip, we decided to split in to two parties, with a rigging group going underground half an hour or so before the derigging team. After parking by Braida Garth, we walked up the east side of Kingsdale. There had been a fair bit of rain over the previous few days, including on the drive up and more was forecast that evening. The beck in Kingsdale was flowing, doubling in size where the water from the Keld Head resurgence joined it. King Pot is reputed to not have a flooding problem until near the lower reaches and the master cave.
Ade, guest caver Andy and Jenny made up the rigging team. Unfortunately, we had problems finding the entrance and were joined by the derigging team of Des, Steve PA, Rob, Dan and Nicola. Eventually we found it, but it was now 11am. So much for the early start! The rigging team forged ahead. We rigged the first pitch, but found all subsequent pitches were rigged, which speeded up this aspect of the cave considerably. We still had to carry the tackle sacks though and these accursed items gave rise to some less than genteel language in the tighter sections of the cave.
The most infamous feature of this cave is a T shaped squeeze that goes on for around 10m. The hardest bit is right at the end, where you have to project yourself out of the slot over a 7m or so drop and reach a hand line rigged to one side. This feels very precarious in a situation where you are struggling to work out how best to handle the narrow and winding squeeze that is simultaneously very exposed! Ade talked me through this as I was rather unhappy. I’ve done this cave before and hadn't liked it then either. This section defeated the derigging party, who made their way out.
There was more water in the cave than on previous visits, though no sign of flooding, like high tide marks of foam and flood debris. We continued to make our way cautiously down. The rarity of flooding meant that some delicate formations could form in the stream passages. There is a lot of variety in this cave, with stream passage going from crawls to rifts and short cascades. Sometimes you need to climb out of the stream through boulder chokes, leading to halls, with pitches back down in to the streamway. Around ten minutes from the master cave we reached a chamber with Crystal Inlet coming in on the left. Here we could see evidence of flood debris and the stream went in to a low narrow crawl that would form a restriction to flow and could lead to water backing up and filling the crawl. Ade and Jenny decided to stop here. Andy went on and reached the master cave which, as suspected, was rather wet. On his return we started to make our way out.
The return was rather taxing and showed that this cave fully deserved its grade 5 rating in the Northern Caves guide book and inclusion in Not For The Faint Hearted. I found the rock unusually slippery and polished in places and experienced poor traction in situations I wouldn’t normally expect. The T slot loomed as a gateway to the entrance series. I negotiated the hardest section with an unusual set of contortions and ended up on my back. We reached the daylight after around seven hours underground and walked and slipped our way back down the steep hillside to the cars.
The days difficulties were not over for me as I couldn’t remember where I’d hidden the car keys! Several folk helped me look for them until Rob found them. Thanks Rob. Thanks also to Ade and Andy for their patience with my slow progress and for doing most of the tackle bag hauling.
Some photos of the trip from Des.
The latest Newsletter has been published. Read what we have been up to and what we have planned next.
We can arrange supervised caving trips for individuals, or for small groups, with all equipment provided. Our ability to do this was initially funded through a National Lottery grant. If you are interested, then please get in touch.
Unsure of the state of play regarding P-bolts? Contact us or buy the guide!
Our guidebook covers all of the worthwhile SRT trips in the Peak District. Profits from the guides were used initially to fund the eco-hanger bolting project. Since its completion sizable donations have been made to Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation.
The guide is available from Starless River, Caving Supplies, or Inglesport.
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As a club we aim to minimise the impact we have on the cave environment by following the BCA Caving Conservation Code.
As a club, Crewe Climbing & Potholing Club (C.C.P.C.) recognizes that the activities undertaken by Club Members may involve a danger of personal injury or death. As participants in such activities, all adult Members of C.C.P.C. (including Temporary Members) must be aware of, and accept, these risks, and must be responsible for their own actions, and for their own safety. [CCPC Risk Statement. 01-01-2015]
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Des Kelly in Ireby Fell Cavern. Photo © Grace Chu 2014.
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