All the latest news from the club, including older news that is no longer news, but could perhaps be better described as olds. Previous years can be found from the links below.
Read what we have been up to over the last few months among other things.
Crewe CPC has carried out its now annual clearing of the vegetation from the cavers car park for Waterways Swallet. Alan Brentnall is writing a full report for the next Newsletter. In the mean time, here is a captioned photo.
Waterways Swallet Car Park Gaffer. © Alan Brentnall 2019
A trip report by Jenny Drake
Six members were underground on Saturday visiting Water Icicle Close Cavern, near Monyash. We met at The Forge cafe, aka Ed's Cafe, in Monyash, where most of us opted for the cooked breakfast. A real belly buster. We met a couple of other cavers there, including a former Crewe member, who were off to Knotlow. Once the team had assembled, and been fed and watered we changed and set off for the cave. We hadn't got round to getting permission to take vehicles up Derbyshire Lane, so it was a mile long walk to the cave through the mist. The wet weather had made the end of the lane impassable to anything other than a full on off-roader anyway.
A 38m rope took us down the single pitch entrance mine shaft in through the roof of a natural cave T junction. Three ways lead off from here. We had Alan with us, who has a key to the Orpheus extensions to North West Passage. The padlock on the gate at the top of the aluminium ladder climb proved tricky, despite the can of WD40 Alan had bought with him and the can of oil left nearby. Eventually it opened and we were through in to the post 2010 extensions. The old miners never found this part of the system and the formations have been well preserved. This includes many of the recently discovered cold calcite crystals. There are also shattered conventional calcite formations, possibly from frost expansion during an ice age. We pushed ourselves to the ends of all the current dig faces we could find, before heading back to the surface.
After walking back, we got changed and paid a visit to the Bulls Head for a drink and warm ourselves from the roaring fire they had going.
Present on the trip. Steve PA, Dan, Ruth, Alan, Grace, Jenny.
Our planned trips for next year are now on the Meets page.
The continuing very wet weather meant our visit to Poachers Cave in North Wales on Sunday 10th November had to be canceled. Instead, on the Saturday, four club members were involved in the Derbyshire Caving Association project to clean up Snelslow Swallet near Castleton of old ladders and digging equipment. Access arrangements for this cave are still being worked on between the land owner and DCA.
The club visited these vast slate caverns in North Wales. Some pictures from Des here.
Alan Brentnall captioned one of the pictures.
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.
Five members had a very sporting descent of Birks Fell Cave in Wharfdale. We met for breakfast in Kettlewell, before driving the few miles to Buckden and parking in the village car park. After changing, there was a roughly one mile walk to the cave, crossing the valley floor and climbing the opposite hill side. Steve PA stopped by at the farm with our permit.
There had been some rain overnight and more was forecast for the afternoon, so we had a time limit for the trip. Those who had been before found it hard to recognise in many places as the water levels were higher than on the previous trip.
The cave is reckoned to be one of the most sporting in the Dales, with water accompanying visitors for much of the time, down cascades and climbs. A couple of low crawls tested out larger team mates. We decided to turn round at Shooting Box Aven, where a spectacular waterfall drops around fifty feet in to the cave. There is plenty more cave to do beyond this, but we were concious of time passing and the wet weather heading towards us. The journey out was swift and uneventful. No one obstacle is especially hard, but they follow each other in constant succession. Once in the flow of caving it is a joy to make progress through this cave.
Back on the surface, we returned to Buckden and got changed, before wandering over to the pub for a post caving drink. All agreed that it is well worth returning to this cave for a trip without the time pressure and hopefully see more of it.
Des, Rob, Steve PA, Pete S and Jenny underground. Des has published some pictures from the trip.
Three club members did a Tough Mudder race at the weekend. Well done Neil, Steve PA and Dan. Some pictures from Des.
There was an really good turn-out yesterday for our trip into Mandale Mine, in Lathkill Dale, with eleven Members and friends getting underground. It was especially good to see those Members who don't get out as often as they would like (young and old). Thank you all for your excellent company.
Doubtless there will be a write-up, with photos, in the next CCPC Newsletter.
This was an ad-hoc trip organised to take a relative beginner underground, who was interested in caving with the club. Giant's upper series was chosen as no SRT was required, but there was caving of a variety of difficulties available, from a bimble down to the head of Garlands Pot, through to a tricky thrutch and climb in the tight, winding rift of Upper Stream Passage and the climb up in to Upper West Passage. Seven people underground in total, including some who don't come caving very often. Steve PA rigged a rope overlooking Garlands Pot so people could peer over the edge. He also rigged the short, but awkward climb in to Upper West Passage.
This trip was supposed to be to Dan yr Ogof, but the weather prevented a trip to this flood prone system after a week of rain had filled the local rivers to the brim. A last minute change of plan took the club to Ogof Craig a Ffynnon, under Llangattock Mountain at the eastern end of the main South Wales limestone, with the entrance overlooking the Clydach Gorge. Five members were lead by our guide Stuart in to this well decorated cave. Some photos from Des.
Another trip that had to be rearranged at short notice due to the weather. We decided against the planned Death's Head Pot - Boxhead Pot exchange in the Dales. We were not convinced the low section in the master cave streamway would be passable. Instead we went to Eldon Hole in the Peak, with the intention of visiting Miller's Chamber and Damocles Rift. Steve P.A. reports:
So the weather up in the dales was playing havoc with deciding which trip, if any, we should do. Was it worth the journey up there only to be disappointed? Eventually it was decided amongst the group ( Dan, Rob, Neil, Jenny and Steve P.A. ) that a trip down Eldon Hole was the preferred choice.We made our way after picking up Neil en-route and arrived shortly after 10 a.m. The boot was quickly unloaded and so the 4 musketeers began to tackle up. Neil had been doing quite well as of late with not forgetting any gear but alas that came to an end today having forgotten his wet socks (unlucky Neil) not they were really needed for this trip. A few jibes were uttered with me recalling having left on white pants when caving, Big mistake. Once up the hill we united with Jenny (sure she was a Roman centurion in a past life) as I don't know any other members of our club who would hike for an hour and 30 minutes up Cave Dale traversing Eldon Hill to get to Eldon Hole and then do the trip. I can only say OUTSTANDING Jen !!!!
I got on and rigged East route while Rob busied himself rigging southwest pitch. Soon all were safely at the bottom, some recalling the snow drift that was present on our previous visit. Into Main chamber, which doesn't fail to impress, Neil, Jen and Dan arranged the rope to access Millers CHamber which requires a 22 m prusik up to gain the chamber. Some nice speleo and calcite flows adorn the wall of the climb, with a nice view back into the main chamber below. This was my first visit up into Millers and Damocles RIft beyond,and may I say well worth it! Jenny opted to brodge around Millers while the 4 musketeers ascended the rift. Soon after the first rebelay an awkward move is required to negotiate the calcite constriction and it was here that sadly and with much regret 4 became 3 as Neil's progress was hampered, something to do with being overweight? This gave rise to some amusement amongst the successful 3. Jenny made for the surface as the rest abseiled back into the main chamber, up the ladder and into the bottom of the shaft readying themselves for the prusik out to glorious sunshine. A short walk back down the hill to the car, change of clothes and we were off to Castleton for a refreshing libation and chunky chips in the Peak Hotel. General chat about the trip followed with some focus on our next weekend away in South Wales in a fortnight. Once again a good trip, 3 hours, and great company enjoyed by all.
Our meets list for today said Penyghent Pot, but since the thunderstorms on Friday and the forecast rain for Saturday, this was canceled. The forecast for the Castleton area was kinder, so a trip to P8 was organised, with the aim of exploring Ben's Dig. Five members went underground. We ascended Ben's dig and had a look at the various avens near the top, as far as our confidence in the fixed ropes allowed. Some of us returned using the low route, visiting the P7 water sump along the way and meeting up at the base of the old iron ladder pitch, before returning to the surface. A more detailed trip report has been prepared for the next newsletter.
The club visited Ty Gwen Mine in Llandudno, North Wales for a look round. Some pictures from Alan. Some more from Des.
The latest club Newsletter has been published. Read what we've been up to in the last few months and a sneak preview of what's to come.
A trip report from Des of an unusual trip. Descending a cascade waterfall. Caving with the roof off!
We had a great day with it being a little overcast whilst we made our way to the top of the falls and the sun making an appearance whilst donning our wetsuits ... great timing. After the toughest part of the trip ( squeezing into the wetsuits ) we started to descend the first cascades. This proved to be more difficult than it first looked with an abundance of moss both on the exposed rocks and on all the rocks just below the surface making it quite treacherous in places. A graceful abseil was definitely not the order of the day, with most of us floundering about trying to keep from having more of a shower than was necessary. A fabulous addition to the meets list which should prove popular in years to come. Thanks to Neil for adding the trip and for rigging on the day.
Some photos from Des.
Some CCPC members were up on Saturday 8th, but the very wet weather that day limited the possibilities. The beck in Kingsdale was in spate, though not breaking its banks and a lot of water was coming out of Keld Head. A quick trip was taken in to Yordas Pot via the Middle Entrance and the Chapter House traverse. A rather aquatic experience. Grace did a couple of pitches of the nearby Rowten Pot with some student cavers. The rain eased off in the afternoon and water levels started to fall. On Sunday we all met up in Inglesport Cafe for breakfast and a discussion over what to do. Eventually, it was decided to abandon the initial plan for a Swinsto - Simpson's Pot exchange trip and to split in to two groups. Roughly half of us did a Swinsto to Valley Entrance trip, the other half a trip down Jingling Pot, rigging two of the routes in this vertical cave. Actual sunshine was seen in the afternoon as we all returned to the surface! We finished up at the Marten Arms, enjoying this sunshine in the garden, before heading home.
A busy weekend overall for CCPC as other members were involved in a DCRO exercise on the Saturday, simulating a cave rescue from call out to completion.
Some photos of the Swinsto trip from Des.
A couple of members have dug out copies of the report from the club's expedition to the Gouffre Berger in 1983. This has been scanned, OCR'd and added to the web site. Why are we suddenly interested in a report from 36 years ago? That would be telling!
At the start of the Bradford Pothole Club 2019 Winch Meet, we took advantage of the other rigged caves in to the system. Jenny reports:
Thanks everyone for an excellent trip yesterday. 11 club members underground, plus loads of other cavers taking advantage of the rigged routes and plenty of members of the public doing the winch and wandering around the passages near Main Chamber. The car parking in Clapham was rammed, but eventually we all managed to get parked and changed for the walk up in the sunshine. In the end, we did a Corky's Pot to Marilyn Pot through trip. Corky's was a new one to all of us and is a bit of a collectors piece. Lots of squeezes and crawls, often leading directly to the head of drops, but some fine pretties and a spectacular final pitch in to Mud Hall. With our numbers we were slow and it was soon obvious that this was going to be a looonnnnggg trip. Main Chamber was all lit up, giving us a chance to see it in a way that you can't with just head lamps. Heather had a tag for the winch, so we left her to join the queue for the quick way out. We passed cavers going up Flood Entrance and met another group at the base of Bar Pot. Rob and Dan decided to join them. The rest of us carried on through New Hensler's Crawl, in to Hensler's Master Cave and the junction in to Disappointment/Marilyn Pots. We met another party of cavers there and another group were soon behind us. The last pitch of Marilyn, that drops in to the Disappointment passage, is long and very loose at the top. We went up one at a time, waiting for each person to clear the top before risking another. Coming out in to a gentle drizzle we were very late. We sent people to sign us out at the Bradford Pothole Club's control tent at GG and others rushed down to Clapham to call concerned partners and cancel prospective call-outs. I was trying an experiment in going to the Dales caving by train and Heather managed to drop me off at Clapham station with minutes to spare for the last train that could get me home that day. Thanks Heather!
Lessons: We miscalculated the effect of numbers on how long it takes to get through difficult passage and pitches, particularly ones that were new to everyone. We should perhaps, have done the trip as an exchange, or split and done two different routes. Marilyn is a relatively easy route out, but not a fast one. More of us should have joined the queue at Bar Pot.
Other than that, a most satisfying day out. My legs will be sore for a few days to come!
Some pictures from Des.
Read the latest club newsletter. For those, like the web site editor, who didn't know, argillaceous refers to minerals containing substantial amounts of clay-like components.
Crewe CPC went further afield than usual, with a weekend in the Mendip Hills of Somerset. Accommodation was the Shepton Mallet Caving Club Hut, which has an adjustable squeeze box in the common room that can be modified to make it more, or less tricky. The team had a lot of fun with this, perfecting their technique and also enjoyed the caving, with a trip down Swildon's Hole.
Neil trying out the squeeze. Photo © Steve PA.
Helen PA inside, threading her way through the adjustable obstacles. Photo © Steve PA.
Heather makes it through! Photo © Steve PA.
Ade organised a weekend in the Dales, staying at a YRC hut. This included a trip down Ireby Fell, as well as walking and climbing. Here is a brief report from Ruth.
Thanks everyone for making this weekend so much (totally exhausting) fun. You all epitomise the nature of CCPC and constantly confirm that you are the best club there is full of the nicest people. The walk was around the most stunning scenery; the climbing was fun (so proud of those who were new to it!) And Ireby didn't disappoint - beautiful and varied. Special thanks to Ade for organising; Steve for cooking and Alan, Mark and Adam for patiently accompanying me out of the cave. See you all in 2 weeks!!
Just in case you don't use Farcebook, Andy & Antonia Freem have made a very interesting film about the innards of Speedwell Cavern.
You'll see a few familiar faces, including some Crewe members.
Dukes Barn in Beeley Derbyshire proved an excellent indoor venue for the SRT rescue day which Mark had arranged through Daryl Godfrey of Aclimbatize. The day started with an introduction of who was who, what individuals were hoping to get out of the training, their caving history and any "near misses or mishaps experienced in the caving environment.
We then had a scrutiny session of personal SRT kit, condition of SRT kit, setup, suitable knots to use, mallions versus krabs,fine tuning kit for maximum proficiency.
All ready to go then, first session up prusik then change to abseil, passing a knot in both directions. This was followed by a blind fold session whilst up prusiking, abseiling, traversing and exiting from a pitch head (certainly focuses the mind and very useful) should you ever be left, quite literally, in the dark while mid rope.
The group then moved onto assisting fatigued caver up a pitch by hauling one to one using spare rope (carried in the safety bag?) Setting 2 and 3 to one systems for hauling as well as counter balance. Mini and micro traction devices were also employed in some of the set ups and how to release them when weighted. Daryl could not stress enough how important it was that whichever the set up option they all need to be reversible. Counter balance was also included in this session.
To finish the day Daryl set up sacrifice ropes to practice "snatch and grab" rescue, abseiling on a second rope to the caver in need, securing them to you using their cow tails clipped into your d ring mallion ( ensuring short cows tail is taking their weight) then cutting their rope.You can then abseil to safety with them attached to you if all has gone to plan. Safe to say this was for all the most exciting session of the day.
Grace, Nicola, Clare, Des, Pete, Mark and Steve spent a great day at Dukes Barn, gaining insight into some very useful and valuable techniques delivered in a balanced and well structured way under Daryl's expert eye. All that's left to say, on behalf of those who attended, is a very big thanks to you Mark for arranging such a brilliant day!
A murky and misty morning in the Dales was the setting for the club trip into Meregill Hole. Seven club members negotiated some tricky traverses and pitches to reach the bottom. A great trip was had by all and also welcoming Steve PA back after his recent operation. All followed by the obligatory trip to the local after for a liquid refreshment ....and chips
Here are some pics from the trip.
A great trip into Peak last weekend by 6 members, Grace has some good photos of the trip up Block Hall , through the White River series and exiting down via Ventilator. We were joined and passed along the way by Ade and 2 companions who came through on a pull through trip from JH. A tiring but thoroughly enjoyable trip, followed by a quick gargle in the local.
The new web site now has an RSS feed, giving you the latest additions and updates. Put this link in your RSS reader.
Lots of club members underground in Cucklet Delph, near Stoney Middleton on a very mild and pleasant day. We explored most of Nickergrove Mine, then did a Hope Shaft to Level 7 through trip.
Keyboards have been pounded. Ones and zeros have been wrangled and chivied in to place. The new club web site has gone live. We hope you enjoy it.
Read about our first organised trip of 2019. Oxlow Cavern in the Peak District.
The entrance of Uamh a Bruthaich Chais Fhada in Appin, Scotland. Photo © Jenny Drake 2013.