Chris A, Tom H in Oxlow
To quote, "A fine "vertical" trip, relatively dry and relaxed, deep, and mostly in big passage formed within a mineral vein". Never have I been in a relatively dry cave so full of many waterfalls to climb up through.
The day started well enough, planning to do Oxlow some 12hrs earlier and meeting at roughly Rowter at roughly midday. Neither of us was entirely sure where Oxlow was but I knew it was in a field somewhere in Derbyshire so we were more or less sorted. A quick lunch in Chris' car (so we could marvel at the view, my Skoda) and we decided to battle the 4 gazillion mph wind and get changed. We visited at what we assumed was Oxlow farm and had a lovely encounter with a dog desiring flesh. Fortunately his chain gave us a gap to squeeze past and we were eventually able to find a farmer who could point us towards a hole in the ground.
After 10 minutes of aimless wandering we finally found a capped hole with a handy plack telling us that we were indeed at Oxlow. The way down looked suitably tight so I sent Christoph first, who kindly replayed my gesture by rigging the first pitch somewhat tight to get onto. I was in quite a rush to get in as the sky had got suspiciously dark. My suspicions were confirmed when it started to thunder and hail on me. The way down basically involved smearing ones self down walls until things started to open up. A second rope was used to get past a bit of a ledge and then we were in chamber that appears to have no name. Chris went scampering off up some sort of hole that looked like a dig and after a short battle of wits returned to head onwards.
I took over rigging since I've not really done its since most probably the last decade. After a y-hang of mild success and a deviation of full success I was at another floor which ran off to what appeared to be a fixed rope and another drop. Chris followed on and I started to rig the next pitch, undoing it at least once to try and get our final rope to reach the floor. It wasn't happening, despite the not at all messy bunny ears, so we accepted defeat and returned to 'chamber of no name' for lunch.
After much pork and a read of the guide we worked out our third pitch was actually the second, so since we still had many hours left we decided to have another stab. I went and derigged pitch 1.5 and climbed down with a new rope to use. Chris went ahead to rig again and after a much neater looking y-hang we were back at the ledge we got stuck on last time. This pitch went completely through a waterfall despite the deviation, so we both got a soaking on our way down.
We used our 'spare' rope to descend into 'East Chamber' and then had a look around at the various dig paraphernalia. We ummed and arred about going on past the ladder that made Rowters ladder look OTT but decided it looked more dodge than it was probably worth. We climbed back up and headed through the waterfall (joy) towards 'West Chamber'. This was a very fun slide with a handline to keep you mostly vertical. If the map is to be believed we jogged down 125ft before the way got decidedly steeper and required a rope we did not have.
After several attempts it was now home time so back we went. I derigged back to 'Chamber of no name' and was soaked so the skin after taking much waterfall down my neck and wrists. We finished off the Pork pie and then took the backle tag of unreasonable weight to the pitch of awkward dimensions. I went up first and was surprised to see daylight as I exited. I think Chris enjoyed the inches at a time ascent that the limited leg bending room allowed him. Soon we were both out into the fresh darkening hillside and slipped our way back to the road. I bumped into little Nic of past LUPC fame on the way down, apparently they had been in hillocks.
Kindly more hail added to the hurricane wind as we changed so my wind dried oversuit was suitably soaked by the time I packed it in the car. A very pleasant afternoon out in a new cave for both of us. I'd be very much up for a second stab sometime so we could reach West Chamber, maybe even a through trip if theres enough of us.