Luke N, Liz H, Becky T
After a taxing exam period and healthy couple of hours sleep I awoke early on a Saturday (controversial I know!) and left for the presidential abode. The usual faffage ensued, rope was prepared and ribena was stolen, and off we set to Derbyshire. Once again my car struggled with a surprisingly snow covered Winnat’s pass and we met by the friendly face of Daddy Badger for a hearty breakfast and some rope borrowing.
We decided we should probably go caving, so leaving our badgery leader behind, we set off up a hill.
Some time later we decided we didn’t have a clue where we were or what we were looking for and so we drove up what to what looked like a farm to ask for help. The first farm we chose looked like a venue for an axe-murder so we quickly came about, drove over a fence, and tried somewhere else, leaving nothing but tracks in the snow and a bit of exhaust in our wake. The next house we found looked more inviting and a mildly surprised but very pleasant lady told us that we weren’t far from the cave, we simply had to turn left at the end of her drive and we couldn’t miss it.
We did miss it. But another 15 minutes or so of exasperated driving resulted in success.
The cave itself, being a former show cave, is topped by a creepy-looking stone hut which requires a code. Lizzie had thought ahead and acquired it, although after we had kitted up and gotten inside we discovered an unlocked window and resolved never to do things properly ever again.
Through a metal door and down a terrifying staircase we arrived in the cave itself, and quickly realised why Bagshawe Caverns was never a particularly successful show cave – I’d estimate the costs of bringing it up to minimum health and safety requirements would exceed the national debt of Rwanda.
The bottom of the staircase leads to a chamber with 3 other exits. Later inspection found that one appears to go nowhere, another (blocked by a ‘Do not enter’ sign) leads to a vertical shaft, which we lowered Lizzie down to poke around in, but she declared it to be unimpressive. The 3rd passageway led to the large bulk of the cave, an easy enough walk (with the occasional sign of the cave’s ‘tourist-friendly’ history...the odd light fitting, some concrete on the floor etc) led down some stairs and to the head of a pitch – we decided it was worth a look.
The 6/7m pitch dropped down to a wet looking flat-out crawl. The map (still intact at this point) promised it led to a lake and some interesting formations and possibly a Scandinavian women’s beach based sports team, so we took off the SRT kits and wriggled onwards. 20 minutes or so later our spirits broke as the flat-out became tighter than I was comfortable with (struggling with chest expansion, turning my head, not inhaling water, that sort of thing) so we wriggled backwards and declared it to be a job for another day.
Back up the pitch and we passed a pretty bit of cave that had been roped off (presumably to protect the formations) and a bit of a pool. We briefly debated as to which magical properties it might possess. I was determined that it may be a fountain of youth, and was set on testing its effects on my genitals, but Becky warned that it may be a pool of enlargement and that I might not be able to get back out the cave with grossly swollen sexual organs.
And so we poked our heads round a few more passages, one led to a dig face, one led to a sump and another was guarded by a gate – we found the key to it (we think) but the padlock wouldn’t budge and the call of the pub was growing ever stronger.
Becky then pointed out that she didn’t have enough bruises and was having too much fun, so we walked back past the pool of enlargement, and attempted what we think was “agony crawl” (the map had disintegrated by now so we’re not sure).
The crawl was surprisingly un-aganous, but didn’t look all that promising and Lizzie had a vague idea that it led to a pitch head and seeing as we didn’t fancy dragging a tackle sack along with us, we headed out.
Back up the stairs, we paid the honesty box and headed back into Hope village. Cake was consumed and I felt at one with the universe. Winnat’s pass was conquered once again, and we went home for a well-deserved sleep.
Not a bad day’s caving