Saturday, 25 March 2017

Behind the locked doors of Bagshawe Cavern

After meeting for the obligatory full English breakfast  in Buxton, our convoy headed in the direction of Bradwell village, in search of Ye Olde Bowling Green pub where we were due to meet our 'fixer'.
After a quick briefing of the cave system and an exchange of keys, we kitted up and headed to the entrance where some 130 manmade steps descending steeply into the cavern awaited us.
Our first port of call was Calypsos cave just off the main passage way; we spent a few minutes here scrabbling up into a small tube which ends fairly quickly at a dig. Returning to the main passageway to drop the kit bag off at The Dungeon, we continued our way down via the hippodrome to Top Stream Passage and the sumps.
We spent a bit of time here studying the survey, looking around and getting our bearings before retracing our steps in search of the glory hole and the first of the two locked gates that we had come to visit. Behind the first locked gate was Snake’s Pyjamas.  We crawled our way in, one by one, and admired the pretties seen on our left as we made our way up to the furthest point which we could squeeze up to.     
Back on the main passage we made our way towards our final locked gate of the day known as Coronation Crawl. This was a slightly bigger and more decorated passage then the last, so we split off in different directions to see what we could find. I climbed up into a tight rift on the right and crawled head first through water until I couldn’t progress comfortably any further, with the rest of the group returning from their little explores with similar result.
Before returning to the surface, and with time to spare, we thought we would rig the ladder and descend into The Dungeon, but not before we attempted to see if we could fit through agony crawl! This was short lived when it was soon apparent that I would be forced to remove my helmet to ‘maybe’ fit through! Not keen on getting stuck or having everyone laugh at me, we retreated back to The Dungeon pit and rigged the ladder.
The team did a grand job of rigging the ladder and soon we were lowering our test dummy (aka Kay) down the pitch. With the reassuring sounds of the rope being “free” it was our new recruit Ollies turn to descend. Ollie made easy work of the ladder and rope, and one by one we all reached the floor of the Dungeon.
It quickly became apparent that we wouldn’t be going too far as the water levels for our route ahead were looking too high, and after wading in to chest deep water it was confirmed that we wouldn’t be able to explore the lower routes at all, so we quickly retreated to the dry banks and made our way out.
At this point we all agreed that we had seen what we wanted to see and we made our final ascent of the 130 steps to make our way out of the cave. After a quick change of clothes we made our way back down the hill to Ye Olde Bowling Green pub’s garden for some well deserved refreshments and sunshine.

Present: Mike, Lucy, Rich, Kay, Ian and new recruit Ollie

Trip report: Mike Bonner

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