Originally this trip was intended to be Helen and Rachael escorting Tony Seddon and Martyn Grayson to a dive in Bagshawe (cave divers get all the groupies) but after no contact from either diver (great consonance there) we decided to do the trip anyway.

In an unprecedented turn of events – we had a caving trip with more females than males (entirely female if you take Rob’s assertions that I am not yet a man). Rachael, Helen, Molly and I gathered in Gertie’s Café on Saturday morning (all girly trips start with a cup of tea or a mocha, this is well-known) ready for a trip down Bagshawe. After driving round Bradwell quite a bit (why is that bloody village laid out the way it is?) we found the car park – we also found 4 other vehicles parked there. This didn’t bode well…

We got changed in the hut in the entrance, left a callout with a very pissed-off-sounding Nat and headed down the stairs into the cave. We rushed through the show cave to the Dungeon – which we had planned to rig and explore first. Alas, the best laid schemes of mice and… actually mainly women this time… often go askew; there were a party of children being belayed up a ladder out of the Dungeon – according to their leader there wasn’t enough airspace to go far beyond so we took off our kits, left the rope and went further into the main series, planning to return once the group had left.

We passed the Hippodrome and I heard voices as we descended towards the sump. Another group were about exploring, we passed them with a brief nod-of-the-head and a ‘how’d you do?’. We got into the sumps, took a look – decided it was too wet to try the free-dive of the upstream end and started back. We stopped briefly to explore an aven up a muddy slope, I braced Helen’s feet as she climbed through the slippery slot, she told us it was a crappy chamber with a puddle in it and made to leave. I slid down the muddy slope to much enjoyment (though not much for Molly, who I landed on).

We clambered back up the sloping passage to the Hippodrome where we met up with a couple of the other cavers we had passed. They were waiting for their novices at the entrance to The Glory Hole. We spoke with them briefly, they were Scout leaders in the Derbyshire area – when we told them we were SUSS they looked at us intently and proclaimed “I don’t recognise any of you from the calender” – referring of course to the 2007 and 2008 Naked Calendars produced by SUSS. I’m sure the models present in those calendars are comforted by the fact that this random bloke we met in Bagshawe has their appearances in the 8 year old calendar logged in his memory – in so much vivid detail that he thinks he would recognise them.

Once the Glory Hole was clear we descended into it, down the chained climb – up the cutest ladder in Derbyshire and through the duck. At the top of the 14m climb down the pot into the Glory Hole we stopped for chocolate, while I climbed down the rope. There’s not much point climbing down to the Glory Hole unless you’re planning on actually diving it because the climb is just straight down onto a small slippery platform next to the water, not much to see that you can’t see from right above it. I climbed back out and we set off back to the Dungeon.

Along the way Rachael took the duck as a free dive, lying on her back she decided it was too easy to use the breathing space and submerged herself, passing under the section of the duck that doesn’t have any air above it. I myself put my face in and shot through on my front, but for some reason I opened my eyes and mouth when travelling at speed through opaque gritty stagnant water. Spitting brown water out and rubbing my eyes I caught up with the others and met in the Hippodrome. I took a brief look up a passage but found it gated – it’s a shame as I was looking to get into Hollywood Bowl which looks awesome from the photos.

We got back to the Dungeon to find the kids had gone but the Scouts were now on the ladder. We waited half an hour for them to be belayed down – I rigged the rope to abseil and follow them – but as soon as I began to descend they said there was definitely no way we could get through – it was too wet. I sighed and de-rigged. We packed up and headed out – the stairway out of Bagshawe is the worst part – I was out of breath by the top and Rachael was wheezing like a SUSS vehicle on expedition.

We got changed, and ended the trip in a traditionally girly fashion by going on a shopping trip to Starless River, and then Hitch n Hike. We then went on a walk round Ladybower and got Ice Cream.