It was indeed a very misty morning as Tom1, Rachel and myself met at the SUSSplex to head out to the peaks. We drove up past the cement works, and then along some more roads, which may quite possibly in other conditions provide some excellent views of the countryside. Or indeed some wonderful views of Mordor, as there was no way of telling from this trip.
Eventually, we pulled up next to a wall, which was apparently new and very exciting. We got out and got changed, Rachel realised that despite Jethro throwing her pantin down the stairs at us, all of us had forgotten to pick it up and she would have to manage by tying Jethro’s to her foot.
We wandered up the hill, and Tom managed to find the entrance very quickly considering how invisible it is right up until you’re basically standing on it. Tom headed down to undo the lock, learning in the process that the lock comes into two parts. Luckily neither of these parts actually fell down the shaft, and the entrance pitch was soon rigged.
I followed Tom down the pitch and reached the bottom to find he’d already vanished around a corner. I picked a direction and headed off, finding a shaft with lots of scaffolding, and thinking I could hear someone moving ahead, set off down. Just as I was starting to think that it was getting a bit sketchy, and that what I thought was the sound of a person might actually just be some very convincing drips, I heard Rachel coming to find where I’d got too. I climbed back out and we headed back and went the correct way towards the top of the next pitch.
Tom rigged the next pitch and set off down. I stood on the edge and looked out into a void which, with a pixa, looked like a chamber of infinite dimensions. Then Rachel looked out too and a far wall glimmered into view. I headed down towards the tiny speck of light below me.
We traversed across the traverse, and found where the stream entered the chamber. We left our SRT kits and headed up the bouldery slope. We quite quickly encountered the first little climb, which only was about 1.5m high. This was easily climbed, with boulders still being conveniently placed and the walls still having some holds. However this was not to last long.
We then found ourselves faced with a waterfall of about 2m high with pretty much entirely smooth walls. As usual, Tom jumped up like a mountain goat. I then proceeded to basically flail around in the water for a bit whilst managing to get my feet to slip off from basically all of the patches of the wall. Luckily Tom had brought a sling and using this as an actual foothold, I managed to climb up and into the next pool. Rachel followed me with similar grace, the sling was to become a very important member of this trip.
The climbs continued in a similar manner, with the number of handholds varying from, maybe 2 with a bit of imagination, to absolutely none whatsoever. Nonetheless with a bit of teamwork (mainly Tom helping me and Rachel) we made it up the remaining climbs with only a medium amount of dignity being lost.
After the final climb the passage quickly shrunk and branched into two, equally unpleasant looking crawls. We picked the one which looked like it might not be quite flat out crawling in water, and headed down it. It quickly turned into a completely flat out crawl, and we decided to try the other route. This also turned into another tight and very unpleasant crawl which didn’t look like it was going anywhere. As none of us actually knew how long this trip was supposed to be, and none of us fancied lying in muddy water for no good reason, we decided that this was probably the end, at least for today.
The return was not so much a case of climbing but, to paraphrase the immortal Sheriff Woody, it was ‘falling with style’. Various degrees of elegance were displayed, with Rachel getting completely soaked by falling down under one of the waterfalls, and me nearly stumbling into Tom and knocking him down the next climb.
We made it back to the bottom of the pitch, and Tom vanished off up the rope. I followed and reached the bottom of the entrance pitch just as Tom shouted ‘rope free’. However, as I was waiting to take the 80m rope from Rachel, who was de-rigging, I headed back to the top of the 80m pitch just as she was reaching the top. We pulled the rope up and headed back to the entrance pitch.
By this point, Tom had decided that life on the surface was not for him and was hanging around, in the most literal sense, at the top of the pitch. I started heading up, and found that Tom had also managed to position himself such that every time he moved, he ‘accidentally’ emptied his wellies onto me. Still, I eventually exited the cave to find that the world’s draw distance setting was still stuck on minimum.
As we waited for Rachel to join us, Tom was showing off his dancing skills which I’m sure would have impressed absolutely any penguin you cared to show them to. However, having emptied his wellies already he had to be somewhat more inventive and instead emptied the water from his gloves onto Rachel. Oh, accidentally, of course.
With us all out of the cave we headed back to the car, managing to not get lost despite the fog. After getting changed and realising it was still only half 1, we decided that we should head onwards still. We considered heading to another cave but this idea was quickly abandoned in favour of the far superior destination of Buddy’s.
With this plan we headed down to Castleton, only to find half of it was closed for a Christmas market (Note: This doesn’t mean it’s Christmas yet!). We parked up and went for a wander, finding all the expected junk trinkets as well as some questionably named beers (‘Yellow Snow’, really?); evil looking bunny slippers; a few of MUSC and some Morris Dancers. After quickly escaping from the Morris Dancer’s calls of ‘Any volunteers’, we went to Buddy’s for some very welcome food and mulled wine.
Since we were giving Adam a lift back to Sheffield, but didn’t really know what he would be up to, we popped over to the TSG to see if anyone there knew his whereabouts. Turned out no-one did and, although we were enjoying being in what was apparently the only place in Castleton which didn’t resemble the tube at rush hour, I gave him a ring only to discover that he was in fact about 2m away from us, and just upstairs. We
So all in all, an excellent trip and a very good day out.