Knotlow and Hillocks Sat 7 Oct 2017

Knotlow & Hillocks Mine Sat 7 Oct 2017. Six members, Jim Borrington Adrian Pedley Frances Porter Michael Ian Smith James Barradale & Christine Wilson split into two teams to attempt the double exchange of Knotlow and Hillocks. This was of course after the traditional pre descent breakfast, this time in the Old Smithy in Monyash. It’s fair to say there was a fast team, and an even faster team! First exchange was in the pump room. There was a lot of water pouring dawn the waterfall shaft so no further exploration was attempted. Meccano passage was briefly suggested but even more quickly discounted. By the time the fast team had reached the surface the faster team were already rigging the main shaft in Hillocks. Fast team then got to work dropping down the Wharf Climbing shaft. The faster team were waiting patiently at the bottom of the mine by the time Frances, James and myself were in the main cavern. An uneventful ascent soon saw the whole team back on the surface only to be greeted by a foul change of weather. It was then back to the cafe for a well earned coffee and cake (and chips). Unfortunately the photographer was not in a very creative mood so there were only a couple of useable shots!

Clean up at Holmbank Churt Mine

HOLMEBANK CHERT MINE, BAKEWELL – Wednesday 30th August 2017.
Objective of this evening trip was to undertake removal of graffiti, which had appeared in the mine, during June this year. A joint Masson Caving Group/Peak District Mines Historical Society team, comprising; Vicky Bell, Fatima Oliveira, plus Chris, Dave, Adam(PDMHS) & Paul Chandler(Project Co-ordinator) armed with wirebrushes, etc made short work of cleaning graffiti off flat bed wagon and then got busy on a trail of the graffiti through the mine. Some of the graffiti though, proved quite stubborn to remove. Not quite finished, but bulk of job done. A great team effort! Thanks guys.

Paul Chandler

SRT Training Eldon Hole – 8 Apr 2017

Members attending: Mike Smith, Jim Borrington, Frances Porter.

It was too nice a day to be going underground, but the date had been set so go we must! This was the third instalment of SRT Training for Frances. Jim was in attendance for mutual support (more of that later). For those who have not descended Eldon it is probably the lightest, and driest SRT trip you could ever wish for. In fact it was that sunny you didn’t need a head torch to get to the bottom of the pitches (more of that later).

Meeting place was once again the Yonderman Cafe, perhaps it’s time to ask them for sponsorship? or perhaps trip co-ord gets a free cuppa overtime we visit, don’t know! but they do serve a loverly breakfast.

We were soon at the hole and moved around to the North Gully. This is a relatively easy couple of pitches which lead to a balcony over looking the main chasm. Me first followed by Frances followed by Jim. I just got on with the rigging and before I knew it I was on the floor of the huge rift. There was muttering above and I wasn’t paying much attention initially. Then I heard helmet!  Unfortunately Frances had forgotten to put her helmet on, oops! Jim very kindly went back up to get it for her.

Whilst waiting for the helmet retrieval I got to know a frog and by the time Jim and Frances joined me we were on first name terms and a few more of his mates had come out of hiding. It was also at that point I realised I hadn’t charged my camera battery – this was annoying as I really love taking lots of photos and the odd bit of video.

This was also when I realised I had forgotten to ask Jim to bring the other rope down (for Damocles Rift) Guess we’ll leave that for another day then!

We then dropped into the main chamber via the now much larger entrance, fully equipped with ladder and scaffolding. No more grovelling for several metres. I’d had a look in the dig last year so was keen to see how much more progress had been made, quite a lot. It drops around 20m and is fairly easy to climb down via scaffolding and a long ladder. The dig site however is very loose! Hats off to those who are pushing this and I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

As there isn’t much else to see in Eldon, unless you have another rope, we set off back up. Jim chugged on up followed by Frances. At the first re-belay Frances unfortunately made the mistake of ‘thinking’ she had pushed her chest jammer up too high. I was able to ascend one of the fixed lines and offer assistance. This was not a rescue, merely mutual support! It wasn’t  as bad as it first seemed and we were all soon back at the top of the North Gully.

A great trip and a few lessons learned on the way. There will be another training trip to Eldon in May, watch this space.

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


A fairly uneventful training trip with one ‘new’ member attending. Hillocks was chosen due to the easy access and relatively straight forward rigging. The first shaft descended was the Walf Pipe Engine Shaft but using the alternative route via a bedding plane to a parallel shaft. This was a great introduction for Frances to a big pitch, previously having only descended Eyam Dale Shaft. Short work was made of the descent but the ascent proved a challenge (partly due to my rigging!) however the use of a sling quickly rectified the problem. Then a steady climb up to the surface.

Second shaft was the Walf Pipe Climbing Shaft – hard to believe that it is still free climbable the whole way up! This was a great opportunity for Frances to practise three rebelays in a row, which she completed without any dramas. We then dropped the last 7m into the mine. A short exploration of the main passages completed and we headed back up. This was a pretty smooth ascent although Frances wasn’t able to lift the lid at the top of the shaft. I just used my head to bulldoze it open.

It was then a quick dash back to the car before the rain arrived.

Look out for details of the next training trip on the meets pages.

Hillocks Mine – Unofficial Trip- Sat 6Feb 17

This was a hastily arranged recce into Hillocks with the aim of checking out the Climbing shaft. Can’t believe I hadn’t done this before. I’ve nearly always exited via the engine shaft in one 58m sweaty push.

I was to be joined by Alex (University of Nottingham Caving Club) and Mark. Was just finishing his breakfast in the cafe at Monyash so we wasted no time and drove to the end of the road opposite Hillocks.

My plan was simple, drop the climbing shaft and see if it was suitable for novices. We were quickly on the floor of the mine and did a little bit of exploring, start of Meccano Passage, some excellent coffin shafts, the lowest point of the mine. We then  climbed back up some pitches towards the short 7m pitch which is accessed from the oil drum entrance. So we had a good old rummage around before heading back out.

Mark had to go so he kindly derigged the climbing shaft while I dropped the engine shaft. I crossed through a bedding plane and into an alternative shaft. This gives a short but interesting deviation before going the final 20m to the floor. Apart from the fact that I was using a brand new rope, twists galore, this was a very uneventful trip but a good recce for future training!