Christopher Adams, Thomas Thomas
It was a cold, wet, and windy Monday afternoon when the high performance supercar left Liverpool. In truth it was neither cold nor windy but it was pretty wet and the car (Skoda) was there. I left Liverpool at 15:.15 for an evening of caving, planning to meet Christoph(er) at his work in Warrington. I arrived at quite a large business park and decided that just turning up and guessing wasn’t going to work. Some text faffage later and I was parked next to Chris’ Ghetto Sled Mk2, looking somewhat out of place in shorts and t-shirt. After some exchanging of gear and the placing of my car in a directors parking slot, we were off to Derbyshire in Chris’ car. The weather was still that lovely rain you get where everything gets well and truly soaked, but with only minor traffic issues we were soon in Derbyshire, and then at Peakshill farm a little after 17:30.
After the minor shock of the trespass fee now being £3 per person and deciding that the misty rain was dry enough to get changed in, we headed for the boot! It’s only a short walk to the cave and by 18:00 we were standing at the entrance to what was the first cave I have done in what seems ages. Strangely I have never done Giants before but Chris was a veteran so I had absolute faith that we would only get mildly lost. The going at the start is pretty easy, downhill and basically dry, and in a matter of minutes we were at the waterfall pitch (Garlands pot).
The rigging at Garlands pot was done by Chris and took a while since the purpose of this trip was to prepare for taking 9 newbie’s down at the weekend, so a ladder and belay had to be rigged rather than a quick SRT down. After some adjustments to make the stretch out onto the ladder as friendly looking as possible, it was my turn to be the dummy and to be belayed down the ladder. A few minutes later we were both at the bottom and stripped of most of our kit to save it scraping all over the shop in the following squeezes. The way on from here involved following the stream and much crab walking which isn’t the most rapid way of caving in my case. We were soon at ‘The Vice’, a particularly tight part of the crab walk that required lying in the stream to go under. Chris was most displeased that I could get through without lying in the stream but there were sternum issues and it certainly wasn’t comfortable. More crab walking followed except for the odd climb down or descending an iron ladder placed perfectly in a waterfall. Not long after the fixed ladder the passage opened up to more pleasant caving conditions, and we were able to rapidly get to the lowest part of our journey, the aptly named ‘Chamber at the end’.
After the required pictures at the end of the cave had been taken (always a lengthy task in our case) and the remains of a Casio watch had been collected from the stream it was time to head for the exit via the ‘’Upper series’ route.
The Upper series started quite pleasantly with plenty of standing room and relatively flat ground to walk across but we were soon ducking through a waterfall and using hand lines to climb upwards. After a bit more up, downing, and mild crawling, we emerged into an open passage again. This was short lived as we were soon at ‘The Giants Windpipe’ with the ominous warning sign cheering us up. Chris went first and described it as strangely dry but was soon lying in a pool of freezing water with his face pressed to the ceiling for the commodity that is breathing. Next it was my turn and I to would agree that the water was quite cold and the ceiling was close enough to almost require going through on my back to be able to breathe. Onwards from here was a crawl through more lovely cold water and past a right hand turn. As it turned out we wanted this right hand turn but it was decided that first we should go on for 5 minutes to inspect a mud choke. After spinning round and going back the right way it was nice to be back on my feet again and off now mildly battered knees.
The passage onwards was somewhat lacking in floor as it involved crisscrossing and jamming yourself as you walked along the crab passages again, only this time we were around 10m from the floor. The traverse wasn’t difficult but if you have issues with heights or confidence, it may not be the most enjoyable passage for you. The traversing went on including having to squeeze through a bit head first whilst trying not to go down head first, actually easier than it looked. It wasn’t much further before we were using a natural staircase to climb back down to the crab walk, coming out a minute or so from the pitch. We both SRT’d up the pitch and Chris got busy de-rigging whilst I sat and watched. I considered working out a solution to the European economic crisis in this time but decided I’d let someone else have the glory.
In no time we had all the rope, the ladder and a selection of shiny metals packed into the bag and we headed to the surface. The final walk out was steeper than I remembered from the walk in but I knew it was only short. Being “Summer” it was still light when we got out at 8:40 and the rain had gone. It was also pretty warm considering how bleak it looked with mist and cloud literally only meters above us. The change out of wet gear was manly as ever and soon we had a inglesport bag full with a good metric tons worth of wet caving gear (1.102 tonnes by the way). After a hearty meal of a sausage roll and blue charge, we were ready for home.
A successful trip and an evening well spent.
# 1800 Entrance
# 1810 Garlands Pot
# [Messed about with rigging and ladders]
# 1840 Bottom of Garlands Pot
# 1910 Chamber at the end
# [Messed about with photos for 10 mins]
# 1940Giants Windpipe
# 2010 End of Windpipe
# 2030 Top of Garlands Pot
# 2040 Out
Needed for novice trip:
# Belay & karabiner
# Cows tails/harness20m rope
# 6 maillonsOval karabiner for ladder
# Karabiner for belaying off P-bolt
# Spare karabiner
# Sling and karabiner