Another start of another new beginning

TomTom, Mark W, Mark R

After jump starting my van to get going I had a smooth drive through the wet and windy Peak to the layby where I found the other two already waiting. We had a drill, all the capping kit including mat and rods, a lump hammer, spade, crow bar and a great big (too big) yellow flexi bucket. We braved the cold and marched up the hill to the entrance of Nettle complaining about the slog all the way and suggesting “pub?” every few minutes in the hope that someone else would bite. Alas it was not to be and soon Tom and I were listening to Mark W swear the big bucket down through the narrows to the bottom of the entrance pitch.

I took the bucket from here and we slithered, squeezed and crawled our way to the first of three short pitches on the way to Derbyshire Hall. We had left these rigged from last time and negotiated them all fairly easily. Tom and I passed the kit through the Freeze Squeeze where I managed to snap a handle on the bucket. I’m frankly surprised that was all the damage it incurred. Mark had a go at the squeeze second so that Tom could pull him back if required. His pockets emptied and helmet off he tried a couple of times but to no avail. The cave was just too small. Tom squeezed through and we both agreed that actually, yes it is tight- there’s no use in denying it. We both have to exhale and push to get through. With helmets off we had been getting filthy hair passing through the squeeze. Tom sent me a text over Christmas which just said something like “Freeze squeeze- caving suits have hoods”. Idiots! Despite this revelation we both had hood malfunctions on the way through and ended up with liquid muddy hair- oh well, worth a try.

Mark slowly headed out and set off home while Tom and I took all the kit to Derbyshire Hall and began a mammoth capping session. We blew apart several very large boulders in the floor and began stacking them on the slope behind us. There is loads of room to stack stuff in there but the dry stone wall we are building is just founded on boulders which we will be digging through. Sadly I can’t help but feel that before too long we may have to start dragging scaffolding and boards through the tight slimy cave L

We worked for only an hour or so before heading out with only beer in mind. It’s still an hour each way, especially with kit and rigging/ de rigging the entrance 70m but I think we will improve on this in time. We did come to the realisation that there are less regular Badger diggers than we would like who will be able to get through the squeeze but that’s no excuse for not trying!!!!! (Ahem Luke, Adam, Chris, keen Adam). Im looking forward to a weekend trip or two to really get things moving down there but for now the old dig scaffolding is out and the new dig is well and truly started!

Oh yes Rachael.. “washing the cat” is not an acceptable excuse- we expect to see you next week!

Mark R

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