Notts II

Dave, James, Scott, Tom

Blighted with yet more damp weather and with enthusiasm running low for Low Douk, a reschedule to Notts II for an easy pre-Christmas trip was made. 

On getting down to the streamway it was flowing pretty hard, and with rain still falling we didn’t fancy spending too much time in it. We headed up to Digby Spode’s, then up to the flood escape route.

James led the way having been through on the last trip, followed by Dave for his first squeezy stuff which he thrived on. I made slow but steady progress right until the very end with the sound of the stream tantalisingly close – a rib in the ceiling stopped me in my tracks. James bravely returned with a digging rock and we hacked at the muddy floor to create just enough room to slither through while kicking at Scott for foot purchase. 

A quick rinse in the main streamway and Scott’s measuring rock showed the water had risen a couple of centimetres in the time it took us to do that short loop – definitely wise to have not gone any further. A speedy route for the exit (entrance series was super drippy) and out for 8:20 – must be a recent record for a Weds evening trip.

Photos by Dave

Heron Pot

Dave, James, Matt, Maz, Pete, Scott, Tom

Nice little exchange on the two routes. After heading down the streamway we broke off into two, with Scott rigging the High Level route followed by Pete, Tom and James, and the classic route rigged by Matt with Dave and Maz following.

After a chat in the bottom chamber and a quick wander along the lower streamway, we decided it really wasn’t a night for the through trip and headed back out – Matt and Dave doing the High Level back up, and the rest of us heading up the classic.

Well done Pete for his first de-rig, and nice work everyone else for handling the icy conditions like champs 💪

Lost Johns (Dome-Centipede exchange)

Tom, Scott, Pete, Matt, Claire, Dave, Ray

A great evening making new acquaintances and renewing some old ones. Matt was making a return to KCC after several years away. Claire, who is an experienced caver, was on her 3rd KCC trip. Dave was on his 2nd ever caving trip.

The 1st order of business was to split into 2 groups. Luckily Claire is a dab hand at organising 😉 Team Centipede consisted of Scott, Pete & Claire. Team Dome was Tom, Matt, Dave & Ray. Due to the wind chill, the various riggers set off sharpish (Scott for Centipede, Tom & Matt for Dome) while the rest of us got changed. Eventually getting underground was a very welcome break from the bitter surface conditions.

Everyone romped across the traverse in fine style and the teams parted ways at the top of Dome. Dave & Ray caught up with Tom & Matt on the 3rd pitch. The descent of Dome went very smoothly indeed, with Tom doing a fine job of rigging the whole thing. There wasn’t even any audible whimpering when it came to swinging into the window on Dome pitch.

Obviously Team Centipede were waiting at Dome Junction when the other team arrived. We had a sociable few minutes of chat before making our way out. Everyone exchanged. Matt derigged Centipede, while Claire derigged Dome. It all seemed to go smoothly and we were all back on the freezing cold surface in no time.

Thanks to all riggers and deriggers who made the trip go incredibly smoothly indeed. Special mention must go to Dave. He absolutely smashed it, given that this was his 1st real SRT trip and 2nd cave overall.

Peak District Weekend

Chris H, John, Miranda, Ray, Scott, Sophie, Tom

Well well well. 

We chose to ignore the weather warnings of snow for the weekend and head to a remote cottage in the Peak District. 

Everyone except Tom headed down on Friday night for hefty amounts of F.R.O. and Sloe.

After Tom arrived on Saturday morning we headed to Knotlow. Both the climbing shaft and the engine shaft were rigged and we split into two teams and headed down for an exchange. The Engine Shaft was a fantastic 64m abseil and just as we arrived, John dropped down from the Climbing Shaft route after a minor rigging headache. We swapped shafts with John heading up the engine shaft to de-rig solo, and the rest of us headed up the Climbing Shaft route to the bitterly cold outdoors. 

After getting back to the cars for lunch, John, Miranda and Chris ‘accidentally got changed’ and decided a walk/pub were a better option for the afternoon. The rest of us headed to Hillocks Mine round the corner. It was luxuriously toasty indoors and we headed down the big entrance chamber and dropped into a nasty little flat out with a convenient puddle to dampen the spirits. A quick drop down a shaft then more rummaging led us to a bit of a rigging puzzle as Ray tried to figure out the way down a multiple choice pitch using a soggy topo (thanks, puddle). At this point spirits began to fade as we were cold and mildly fed up, but Scott, Ray and Sophie pushed downwards with Tom wussing out. They returned 10 minutes later with tales of 50-foot long straws and formations as far as the eye could see. But the thought of dry clothes and a stove were far more appealing, I’ll leave those for next time. It was lightly snowing as we got back above ground, a taste of things to come…

Sometime in the evening the snow started falling harder, and as we popped 50p coins into the drying room meter and showered ready for the pub, we wondered whether it was the right decision driving a mile and a half for food. We had some great grub at the Jug & Glass and hopped back in the cars to get back before the snow got too deep. Sophie’s idea of leaving the cars at the end of the track were ignored (or even chuckled at), and so we drove them down the slippy and steep track to our cottage, wise move.

We woke up to 3 inches or so of fresh snow. For some reason we got cracking with the shovels at 7am, wildly hoping we might still be able to make it to Peak Cavern for our 9:45 keyholder meeting time. It quickly became clear that we were facing a major engineering challenge, with all hands on deck taking shifts to shovel, grit and sweep to create a route up the steep track. Some southerners who were also staying at the hut watched the whole thing from the kitchen windows, grumbling about how we were ruining the track and how they’d probably have been able to just drive up it, using their extensive knowledge of snow driving in Peterborough. It took over 2 and a half hours to clear a couple of hundred metres of track but eventually we moved the cars up one by one with a bit of pushing and towing. 

We headed to the Tradesman’s Cafe in Buxton for a well-deserved brekkie, and made our ways home caveless. One for the story books, if not the record books. And also not one for the photo albums – our only pics were of our shovelling struggles.