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.