Streaks Pot Trip Report – 11 Mar 2017

Streaks Pot, Sat 11.3.17.

Those attending: Mike Smith, Mark Gration, Ann Soulsby and Robin Stiffin

Must have been on form today. I had that nervous apprehension feeling whilst looking forward (why was I looking forward?) to Streaks Pot. Having read through some descriptions I was possibly pondering my sanity.

Anyway, met Mike , Mark and Ann in the Yondermann for breaky, we joked that perhaps big breakfasts weren’t the best idea seeing as we were eyeing up a thrutch fest, but the fortitudinal qualities of a big calorie intake proved the wisdom of our unintended foresight eventually. Mike photo-journaled most of the event, Mark did some excellent rigging and navigating, reading through an increasingly soggy description numerous times, Ann was good back up, picking up and carrying my bag through on quite a few occasions. Me – usually Tail-End-Charlie, which I was to begin with, enjoying having everybody else test the rope, water, landscape etc before me.

Into a narrow adit type entrance. Across a slightly exposed traverse and down a rope, and clambering on in a generally down wards direction through miners deads and stemples and then along bits of more roomy stream passage, passing Telescope and Alexander’s Avens, and with a few diversions left and right (don’t remember what order) until we got Mikes tick of the Lu-Blue Sump, a rather pretty and slightly turquoise pool down a natural shaft. But we were still only half way through our ordeal. Now we had to try and find our way through the part we had little or no knowledge of. Turns out Ann had been through this part before, but a long time ago.

Accidentally, I managed to find myself in the lead. So knowing we had to find our way through, as I don’t think any of us were relishing the return trip back UP that lot, I forged ahead, with the only thought in my head of ‘don’t go down anything you cant get back up’. This said I find myself up to my cheekbones in running water for the second time trying to find a hole in the stream passage roof. This just about made itself evident, just as I would have gone no further, really; the roof in the stream passage getting ever lower. Nervous Breakdown passage then unsued, meaning more clambering up and down boulders in and out of the stream passage, getting wet, trying more ‘hopeful’ windows etc etc. After a warming chocolate break, thankfully a through route was found, though what we now had to suffer was more crawling down wet stream passages. One turning left went to a very wet stream passage where I really wasn’t going to go this time, thankyou very much. Back a the last T Junction, it was the low sandy crawl we should have followed, which I did and which eventually got more roomy and lead to the lower mined part of the cave and the way out – if you could manage just one more squeeze……

After all that nice clean stream passage, we emerged all nice a mucked up. Good thing there’s a thoughtfully excavated cavers cleaning pool been created recently on the bend of the road, Ann and I got ourselves cleaned up, Mark went to get the rope, and Mike was already getting changed when we arrived back at the cars, he had work soon, AAAH!, would I, after that lot. I’d still be reminising. Funny how hindsight can make you believe you’ve had a more enjoyable time than when what you were really thinking and having to suffer at the time. Still in a perverse way I suppose its what we get out of such caves. I smiled all the way home. Until I found out I’d lost a Maglite in there. Anyone fancy going back to help me find it…….Robin Stiffin

Brightgate Cave – 17/02/2020

Members present: Ben S., Peter W., Sam M. and Fabian E.

A very calm evening with wonderful views of the sky which allowed for various star constellations to be identified… This sounds like the perfect camp fire adventure but this was not what was planned.

Our Leader Ben had the task of exploring Brightgate Cave to see what condition this cave was in as well as undertake some conservation with the help of the other members.

After getting kitted up and removing the two railway sleepers out of the entrance which presents animals from entering we began our descend into the darkness. Luckily everyone managed to pass the first challenge being the entrance squeeze.

Peter, Fabian and Sam in the entrance squeeze

Once we established the path towards the main chamber we made a plan and Ben suggested we explore to the deepest part of the cave first before heading off in all sorts of direction to explore where else it could lead.

Ben lead the group to the lowest/furthest part of the cave in just under 30 minutes where we found a potential active dig which lead into a funnel where we could hear some water dripping which produced a rather loud echo – maybe there is something big to find?

“Dog Bones”

Once we completed our exploration at the lower part we decided to start working backwards towards the top and taking every potential turn to see where it could lead.

Fabian emptying the duck

I found a rather promising looking squeeze into a potential chamber and continuing funnel which he couldn’t reach.
Ben with his caving experience tried to squeeze himself in all sorts of positions to try and get through yet was unsuccessful at first.
Peter tried too but also didn’t manage to get through.
I mean I had a go but couldn’t even get my chest through the gap… wait! What’s this puddle beneath?
Do you think we could empty it slightly and get through the duck?

After about 20 water buckets full of muddy smelly water it was exposed enough to start squeezing through!
Fabian tried first and managed to get through shortly followed by Ben who pushed onwards and found an incredible enlarged area where we could stand and admire a crystal clear pool surrounded by some interesting formations.
There was a very strong draft which could lead to believe that there may be a way onwards…

Fabian squeezing through the duck

Once everyone had a look into the pool we returned through the duck onto dryer paths although covered in slurry with Sam deciding to dip the back of her head into the pool just as she exited.

We explored a few more little crawls all of which ended up in digs and no way on. We grouped up before exploring the labyrinth which was disorientating but very exciting to adventure through.

As we’ve been underground for nearly 3 hours by now we started our ascend back towards fresh air whilst still exploring different paths to see where they lead.
Ben managed to find an interesting alternative exit towards the free climb which leads up to the top level.

Once we reached the top we secured the cave with the railway sleepers again before heading back to the vehicles to pack away our gear.

This was a very interesting trip and Bens infectious thirst of exploring and finding different ways has kept the whole group entertained and keen to see every possible part of the cave.

Whilst in the cave we managed to clean up some rubbish as well as record some graffiti which varied from different time periods.

Alderley Edge 15-2-20

Wood Mine to Hough Level

Meeting Larry, Dave, Helen, Jude, Ian, Mick, Angela, James and Thomas at the Wizard Tea Rooms, in the landscape of Alan Garner, with storm Dennis hovering, this had the makings of a cracking trip.

The Romans were here. So was Blaster Bates. The impressive entrance to Wood Mine led into the Triassic sandstone deposits. So much to see. Fault lines, geological formations, green waterfalls, a beautiful blue lake, triangular shot holes and much evidence of mid-19th century copper mining.

Surreal catering in Sand Cavern. Dining doesn’t get much better. Followed by more chambers, caverns, tunnels, squeezes, crawls and ladders in abundance connecting many different levels. A real maze eventually leading to Hough Level and Brynlow Mine.

Dave saved the best till last. What a boat trip! Helen set off into the flooded passage in a floating bath tub, closely followed by Mick and Angela. Dave ferried two parties by canoe through the long tunnel. An amazing experience.

With true accounts of people fatally losing their way, a schoolboy drowning in a deadly underwater shaft and an eccentric poisoner, the whole place packed quite a charge.

Locked in? Never mind. Dave, as gatekeeper, did his magic and we passed into the dark evening, through a palimpsest of a landscape and into storm Dennis.

Days are rarely better. Thanks to everyone, especially Dave and Helen.

Andy H

Tearsall Pipe Caverns 9/2/20

Pool Series

Jude, Peter W, Larry, Nigel-

After an exciting drive to Cromford during Storm Ciara, through flooded roads strewn with branches, 4 of us met at the Old Tor Cafe, then drove in convoy to Brightgate. After collecting the keys from the farmer, we headed up the hill in the gale, then kitted up before walking down the hill to the shaft.

Larry rigged up the descent and then we all lowered down, following Nigel into a shallow pool of water. This was my first SRT trip so was grateful to be loaned the kit.

Larry, Pete and I then went exploring for a couple of hours into many narrow passages and found lots of natural features (many taped off to protect them) and plenty of squeezes and water underfoot. We found one potential digging site worth further exploration.

When we returned to the pool below the shaft there was a raging torrent of water to negotiate to get to the rope, and by then it was well over knee-level.

Soaking wet with boots full of water and covered in mud we then slogged back up the hill and checked out the entrance to Brightgate Cave before getting dry by the cars and warming up with tea and cake at the Fountain Tearooms in Bonsall.

My route home was blocked by a fallen tree on the Via Gellia so I had to turn round and find another route north.


Water Icicle 2/2/20

Five explorers rendezvoused in Monyash, with a cosy corner in the Old Smithy Cafe providing a comfortable spot for a hot brew and review of the entry pitch and survey of the new(ish) southern extensions.  Larry, Ollie, Tom, Sam and Fabian, with suitable preapproval arranged by Larry from the Park Authority, headed in convoy up Derby Lane. Carefully avoiding ruts , puddles and potholes we were eventually defeated by a deep pool spanning the bottom of a small valley. Quickly gearing up alongside a narrow strip of woodland, which provided scant cover in the blustery conditions, we were soon underway to the entrance.

Larry and Fabian rigged the shaft and we had soon assembled at the bottom. Ambience was provided by subtle candlelight and after a check for CO2 we proceeded South.

The route followed a wide section of arched phreatic passage with flowstone and broken fragments of speleothem to the “Great Rift“ which bisects the passageway rift, the way on was through a crawl through a shallow puddle, the “Welsh connection” which was reduced with some bailing. Beyond the rift the passage continued with taped sections protecting the floor and after clambering over some slabs fallen from the roof, we reached the beginning of the dig site. A slippery section of conveyer belt on the floor was traversed with the aid of a hand line through a timbered section to the end of the current dig. On the return progress was quicker on the conveyor belts with the help of gravity.

Larry, Fabian and Sam then explored a side passage ‘Olympic Stroll’ the remainder of the group saving some reserves for the return prusik.

The group returned to the entry shaft and explored the north passage, initially in welly sucking mud, following phreatic passageway until closing down in a rift chocked with sediment.

The final passage way to the northwest was followed through sections of passageway with speleothems and scour features in the top of the passage to a fixed ladder leading up to the gated section.

Returning to the shaft the team had a quick wash utilising the provided scrubbing brushes and water buckets before ascending the shaft , rapid progress by some , steady progress by others and laboured progress by one (Thanks for the patience and encouragement), with a mid rope overtaking manoeuvre by Larry, had the shaft cleared after 45mins and the explorers back around the log burner enjoying a deserved slice of cake in quick order. Tom C.


Holme Bank Chert Mine 26/1/20

Paul C, Paul B, Peter, Dan, Sean, James, Andy, Larry, Ahmad, Radvin, Ronika, Najmeh

A good turnout for an early Sunday start at the edge of Bakewell. A quick look at the locked Entrance Number 1 was followed by a Paul C fascinating talk in the Block Works area outside the mine. We then entered the mine through a curtain or blanket (novel) and romped down some roomy passage.

We stopped to look at some of the old carriages on tracks and some hand winding gear both loved by the kids present. There were also a couple of Roman style communal toilets to kid about and a chamber were a display had been made in a long-failed show cave venture.

We were all fascinated by the flooded section of mine, crystal clear and perfect for diving with a 2ft plus diameter pipe going into it that was apparently capable of clearing the water in minutes.

Paul then led us along the M1, the working face, so we could see the undercutting technique used to extract the stone. Through a collapse and down more romping passage led us to the boldly named “New Year Pot” which is an impenetrable natural slot sinking 3m.

There was a bit of consternation when the combo provided failed to open the quarry entrance but of course Paul instigated plan B and quickly led us out of another entrance back into the Block Works area.

Refreshments were enjoyed at the Castle Inn, Bakewell. Many thanks to Paul C for a lovely morning out/in.

Hope Shaft, Level 7 & Merlin’s Mine 19/1/20

On the morning of Sunday, the 19th January 2020 Larry, James, Dennis (+Christine), Dave, Peter, Sam and myself met at Grindleford Station Café for a tasty breakfast and brief from Larry about today’s trip down Hope Shaft, Level 7. Larry suggested to add Merlin’s Mine to allow us to experience another mine nearby.

Once parked, we headed up the hillside through brambles and up slippery slopes to reach our destination, the mine shaft leading down into Level 7 of the Middleton Dale Mines.

Larry had pre-rigged the day before allowing us to quickly get organised and start heading down the rope and get exploring.
Dennis went first making sure we passed the re-belay correctly before landing approximately 25m below the shaft entrance on solid ground and being able to start exploring followed by another quick 10.5m abseil to land on the final level. Sam and I tried to explore further into the hillside which lead to a dead end, so we turned around and followed the passageway out into the open and waited for the rest of the group to emerge.

As this journey didn’t take very long Larry and Dennis decided to rig a further abseil at the Merlin’s Top Entrance allowing us to get more SRT exposure down a 10m shaft followed by a small crawl back out the Main Entrance of Merlin’s Mine.

Larry took us through every possible path and cavern in Merlin’s Mine showing us artefacts of mine workings which felt like a step back in time. Knowing that we were entering areas which were excavated my miners using just candlelight was mind-boggling.

After navigating over some exposed drops and abseiling down a little shaft at the end of a passage we decided to push on through a little squeeze and see where that leads. James and Larry tried to push on, but their path seemed to close up making it difficult to reach any further.

Larry jokingly asked me to explore a further level which was just down from where they were stood which involved a little slide down your back side into a tiny room which had two exits, a crawl on your front through some standing water or a crawl on your knees down a little passage… wait! Is that a stream I can hear?

“This could be Merlin’s Streamway!” Larry shouts from above. “It looks like this passage could be passed” I shouted back but noticed that the rest of the team was ready to ascend back up the rope to exit the Mine, so I decided to get out of the squeeze and join the rest of the group.

After what felt like hours we emerged from the main entrance of the mine into the open and were allowed to have a rest on the hillside before descending down the slopes back to the cars.

This was a great SRT trip followed by an exploration of a nearby mine which had so many little surprises on offer. I certainly want to return to Merlin’s Mine to explore the streamway and find “Gimli’s Dream” which supposedly leads into Carlswark Cavern, but this is a trip for another day.


Slaley Sough/Dunsley Spring Level 11/1/20

Slaley Sough and Dunsley Springs Level

Sean, James and Larry met for a pre trip fuelling stop in Cromford prior to a planned trip into Slaley Sough/Thunder Mine and a ‘while we’re passing’ trip into Dunsley Springs Level.

I met up with them at the Goodluck layby and we promptly set off down the hill to avoid the welly gobbling mud slide route. A brief detour into Bonsal Leys level was limited by the height of the group’s wellingtons and we were soon scrambling up the valley side heading for Slaley. Sean soon brought us to the entrance, which lies below an overhanging slab of rock capped by a tree and a has a tell-tale spoil heap.

A crawl into the entrance and short section of cloying mud and we were on our way.  The trip proceeded within a stooping sized shot blasted passage, eventually tightening to an awkward section seemingly just too low for crouching but feeling too roomy for crawling. A firm clay floor was welcomed by the knees. The passage intersected the Great Rake with passageway heading left and right. The right route leading to a winze in the floor, which could be easily bypassed by some stemple supported deads and a further short section terminated at a forefield. The left route forked to the northwest with a slot in the floor leading into some old workings, James explored a squeezy opening which sloped downwards, the recce indicated a space to turn around and a low onwards passage with a muddy floor. The remainder of the group declined the sporting challenge and once regrouped we followed the main passage which eventually opened into a small chamber. The walls of which contained much graffiti, possibly associated with the original miners and with the usual additional spattering from later visitors. A helpful carbide inscribed notice on the wall indicated that Thunder shaft lay to the right fork. A brief inspection and then the onward passage to the left, which led to a short crawl over some collapsed material and a raise in the roof, presumably once leading up to the surface. No connection to the surface was however obvious and no strong draft felt, although a draft was felt throughout most of the mine. The passage led on to the end of the workings. Our steps were retraced at a leisurely rate discussing the health benefits of sugared plums and a short stop prompted an attempt at some Turner Prize winning sculpture.

Upon exiting the mine, a return route to confirm the entrances location relative to a nearby field boundary was proposed and we trooped upwards following the route of a stream. The return route allowed a brief stop to examine some interesting hillocks and a ginged shaft in the nearby fields. A carefully selected route picked through an area of sodden ground was successfully negotiated without anyone losing a boot, as had befell the leader during his recce. After a brief paddle and inspection of the rusting pipework at Dunsley Springs, we were soon all heading downhill, over a wall and into a small valley containing Dunsley Springs Level.

A wide entrance led to a short but impressive section of gour pools, flowstone and embryonic curtains, dogteeth and short straws, after carefully negotiating the delicate floor and admiring the flowstone on the walls. The passage cuts through the lower lava/toadstone becoming drier and without decoration. Some ornate handwritten pencil graffiti was observed on the wall of the passage covered by a thin veneer of flowstone. The passage follows the route of the Yule Cheese Vein and heads generally towards the northwest. Not far from the entrance the passage splits either side of a large lozenge shaped pillar, the passage was followed to its termination after about 300m. A short descent through the woods took us back to the cars and then onwards to Whatstandwell for a brew, a chat and baked delicacies.