All of you are aware of the rescue in March from Prov-Dow and unfortunately as a result of this, I lost my love of caving and haven’t been since ☹. I had been toying with the thought of never making a return and talking myself out of getting back into it again but Rob (Middleton) gave me a good push in the right direction after a chat at CHECC. Since this, I have already been on my first caving trip since – Gautries.

As it was just myself and Helen, there was very little faff and we were at the Perryfoot layby for 7. Fees were paid, we donned our kit and were quickly underground. The lid over the drainpipe had already been removed so there was no wait for the water to drain out of the entrance passage and we soon realised that the mechanism had been taken apart and placed to one side.

We were mainly heading to have a look at new gautries because although I have been down Gautries many times, I have never been to the end. As the entrance had been unblocked for seemingly some time, the usually wet section before angle chamber was unusually completely bone dry. We decided to leave the bothy in angle chamber and headed on through the refreshing muddy duck and into pool chamber.

Before heading into new gautries, we decided to head down to see the sump where we had helped Rob in previous visits with carrying diving gear to the base. We thought because it was so dry leading up to the sump that it may have lowered but it turned out to be the same muddy pool of water it had been before. The lack of water flowing through this area made the mud very gloopy to walk through.

We walked back to the point where you take the handline into new gautries proper and made quick progress through the rabbit warren of gravel/mud/water-filled passages. There were a couple of sections which I looked at and thought ‘that looks fun’ but at the end of the day, it is exactly that what makes caving fun! Sump 1 and 2 did not need bailing and there was a reasonable amount of air space for us to crawl through. We took a quick look at the ‘worst dive base in Derbyshire’ and I could understand why it gets that name. It is quite a lot of effort to reach this part of the system in the first place, never mind actually doing the dive. Back to the main passage, we shuffled up an awkward muddy slope to reach poundland – the end of the known system. We had a quick photograph before making our way back. The way back was definitely a bit more fun with the muddy slopes turning into slides so I basically ended up slithering back out.

We had managed to do the cave fairly efficiently and was out of the cave by half 8. As soon as we were underground, those preconceptions that I had built up in my head over the past months faded away and I was happy to be back. I like Gautries and so it was a good choice of cave to introduce myself back into the caving world.

10/10 would cave again and I already have my next trip sorted!