TomTom, Chris A, Jack Loftus, Mark R
Time for a little change- instead of pulling into Rowter Farm tonight I drove a short distance further and pulled over in the Oxlow layby. Tom and Chris were already there and Jack arrived just a few minutes later. We kitted up and set off up the hill towards Nettle Pot. There are two places that I wanted to go and have a look at with possible future digs in mind- the very, very bottom and Derbyshire Hall at the end of the far flats.
We arrived at the bottom of the tight entrance shaft and re assembled just as I realised that in my haste to pack I had missed off a 20m rope, we could get to near the bottom but not to the very end so that was decision made- we headed off in search of the far flats.
Jack had been there years before but couldn’t remember anything about it so there was a little bit of route finding going on. TomTom seemed to especially enjoy the crawling and after what seemed like hours, we arrived at the first down pitch about 20m from where we set off. Everything was pretty muddy so we slithered our way along the bedding plane and down the pitch. From here we wormed through a decent sized passage and found the pull through pitch up permanently rigged. We got up this and took SRT kits off believing this to be the end of the rope work. Naturally we were mistaken and soon arrived at another put in the floor Jack and Tom squelched their way back to the SRT kits and rope and we descended to a floor with some clean water- I distinctly remember this bit because it was about the only bit of ‘clean’ since the bottom of the entrance pitch.
I had heard about the infamous squeeze in Nettle- the Freeze Squeeze but didn’t know what to expect. I arrived at it first and had a go poking my head through… a few seconds later and the helmet was wedged firmly in the horizontal squeeze- OK so it’s fairly tight! I waited for Chris to catch up and took my helmet off, emptied my pockets and went squirming through. It was pretty tight across the chest but after a bit of pushing and deep breaths out I was through. Chris had already decided that there was no way he was even going to try- I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me saying he would have struggled to fit! TomTom went back out at a leisurely pace with Chris and Jack and I continued on. The tube we followed was a cracking piece of cave passage and not particularly small. I’m not sure how far it was from the squeeze but it could be 150m or so and we suddenly arrived in Derbyshire Hall. It’s a big and unexpected space. The base of a bedding plane.. THE bedding plane forms the roof, the walls are steep sided with slabs of rock peeling off the right hand wall and the partially calcite boulder floor drops steeply to the back of the chamber where it ends. Someone (Pete O’Neil?) has had a bit of a dig in the bottom at some point in the past and it’s easy to see why. There is definitely something happening here and more cave to find beyond, this place has promise, it’s just a shame about the crawling, mud and squeezy bits to get there. Having spoken to Rob Eavis since, another trip down Nettle to get some surveying finished to the bottom may be on the cards soon.
We were out in time for a pint at the Cheese, making it another successful trip