By Rosie Hadfield& Jane Rigby

I ran a guided tour of Castleton pointing out the local sites of interest and noticed a SPSI(1) near to the “3 Roofs cafe”. The River Castle, that runs thrhought the picturesque village of Castleton, Derbyshire, England, Europe, The Earth (SK66 TSG) sinks into 2 isometric phreatic tubes; and resurges some 10m away.

We rushed back to the Chapel to kit up…we checked our dive cylinders, but alas they were empty. So we thought, being hard core cavers, we’d beast it without air.

We recruited publicity, many photographers and a support team consisting of 2 divers on standby. We then set a call out for 5 mins 37secs later.

Checking out the passages

We hugged our support crew goodbye, signing all of our life’s possessions away and entered the River Castle. It was flowing quite fast- so we tested the flow using the well respected procedure called Poo Sticks (2). We deemed the river to be safe, although it may well be touch and go.

Finally, we psyched up – Rosie taking the left (Fieldrig) and Jane took the right (Rigfield)…It was time to enter the moist, tight passages.

Fieldrig passage starts with a tight (560kevins(3)) tall & 560 kevins wide crawl. The water takes up approx. 220kevins of this passage. The darkness was quite oppressive as I ventured forth into the unknown void. The “mud & sh*t”(4) started building up and water levels began rising to approx 380kevins. Air became pungent and I could feel a headache coming on. My danger radar started beeping and I decided to abort. Back crawling was treacherous as the water was building up- I emerged, just 1min30secs after entry – but it felt like a lifetime. The next exploration of Fieldrig must be done in low water levels & with breathing appraratus.

Rigfield passage starts in much the same way as Fieldrig passage with a cylindrical phreatic tube 660kevins in diameter. A flat out crawl in flowing water through this passage, approx. 6231 kevins long, leads to a wider bedding plane approximately 660kevins high and 1087 kevins wide. This bedding plane takes the water for approximately 11621 kevins after which it meets another phreatic passage, much the same as the entrance. After 7528 kevins of flat out crawling I emerged out of the resurgence into the lovely fresh air and bright sunshine.

The publicity crew captured the moment and the call out was cancelled. Rosie had to follow through Rigfield and confirmed it to be one of the most impressive isometric phreatic tubes that she’d seen.

We were both elated to have entered and exited Rigfield Passage safely… A top through trip.

Glossary

(1) SPSI – Sight of Potential Speleological Interest

(2) Poo sticks – The art of measuring water velocity by using arboreal appendages. Method:

  • Select a suitable appendage smaller that that shafts girth
  • Release appendage into the dihydrogen monoxide
  • Make haste to the resurgence
  • Watch for re-emergence on the appendage

(3) Kevins -A measurement of distance. 1 kevin = Twice half the length of a piece of string

(4) Mud& Sh*t – Silty residue consisting of klarts, leaves, detritus, spiders, plastic, general insects and bugs.