Mark R, Mark W, TomTom
May the 4th be with you! (2015)
Despite my many many travels to the Peaks it had become a bit of a faux pas that I had yet to do Eldon hole or worse, P8. This was all about to change though as we were scouting out Eldon Hole for some digging potential (due to some old tales telling of grandeur below) and then there was a potential for a quickie into P8 afterwards. Sadly we were caving on a bank holiday Monday and so a spot of mad max driving was required to navigate the sum population of England visiting Lyme park. I met Mark R in the P8 carpark and followed him for the short drive to Eldon farm.
Mark W joined us just a few minutes later and we got changed in the somewhat recurring sunny conditions, I could get used to this. The walk to Eldon hole is only 5 minutes but there is some uphill involved and so I was tempted to call it all off there. Fortunately the hole wasn't at the top of the hill and so the day was saved. Mark W quickly got into rigging the 'West Wall' with the mildly nettle potted rope (essentially 90% mud, 5% tuffed, 5% rope) as I tried to savour the last few minutes of sunshine. Mark R followed Mark W down (they really should consider changing their names, it gets confusing) and then finally it was time for me to leave summer.
It's quite a nice little drop into Eldon hole, 55-60m if the internet is to be believed, with plenty of light to go around down there. It would probably make for some fun photography if ever I need an excuse to skive off any potential future muddy digs down there. It's a fairly simple drop with a rebelay and deviation and then if all goes well the floor.
Once all three of us were down we ducked through the little squeeze and popped into the main chamber which had obviously seen many digs in its time. The one we had come to look at was the one that followed the rift on the right hand wall. It needed a little bit of housekeeping but it does look quite promising, It had a few frogs in it so that must be a good sign right? Mark R went off to the bottom first to have a look since it's currently only 1 at a time standing space down there. Sadly theres no obvious draft down there but neither was there one in Gin shaft in Rowter until the final few feet.
Once we had all had a nosey we reconvened in the main chamber to discuss our thoughts. The important item on the agenda was cleared up pretty quick, yes a kitchen would be possible down here. Better try and find my Rowter stove out the attic! We all agreed that in the long run it would be best to open up the rift a bit more so that removing spoil would be easier, the slope at the top lends itself perfectly to a tension line if we could cut back the floor a bit more. Before we were tempted to work however we decided to make a dash for the surface.
The climb out showed another good reason to chose this spot as a dig, it's only a 10 minute slog to climb out, if we chose a route with a few more rebelays we could probably get three people from floor to surface in 15-20 minutes, win.
Once we were all out we decided the day was young, in a turn up for the books Mark R said no to more caving today (BBQ apparently, a likely story) but Mark W and I were going to go and do P8. Given how dry Eldon is limited changing to drive across was required and in 15 minutes we were walking across a different field heading for P8. A few months ago I had vaguely tried to do P8 with others but due to lack of preplanning we ended up doing (guessing here) P2, P7, P6? Luckily Mark knew where P8 was since it was a date location for his early years and we headed on in in a flash.
It's been pretty dry recently but P8 was still pretty damp. We powered our way through the streamway with Mark barely pausing to rig the two short pitches. I'd say the interesting part was traversing the water of unknown depth but soon and almost out of nowhere we came to a halt at the sump. A sharp about turn was made and we scampered our way out and up the first pitch. I'm sure there's an elegant way to do the second pitch on the way out but I didn't really care and so prussiked directly up the centre of the waterfall, my suit needed a clean anyway. I would describe it as most refreshing and given it was just the two of us we weren't likely to get cold waiting around at all.
Mark took his turn in the shower and with a quick spot of derigging we could make out last few zigzags to the surface. I didn't look at my watch on the way in but the bottom of P8 back to the surface was 25 minutes, my sort of cave.
Good day all in all, two new caves for me and my gear is now spotless. Eldon looks like a promising dig and with Eldon PC working with us hopefully we'll have the joint man power to tidy it up and get digging very very soon.
As the going says, watch this space!