Caving and Gorge Walking – 28th July 2013

Attendees from Cogs n Crags  today were Guy, Ginette, Marv, Emma and myself (Chris).

Setting of to meet our guide ( Malc of  the skies were overcast but at least today it wasn’t raining (so far), it had come down very heavy in the night though and some of the roads in the Peaks were strewn with debris that had washed over them … it was clear it had come down very heavy.

Arriving at the car park at ‘Outside’ café in Calver we greeted our guide and when everyone had arrived he led us to our first activity location. Caving was first, and we made our way to Giants Hole, which is on farmland just above Winnats Pass (Castleton). On arriving we all got into our caving gear provided by Malc and I also donned my new ‘GoPro 3 Black’ so I could capture some footage. As we were getting ready a group set off before us, but on our walk to the cave we passed them again on their way back. Apparently there was a lot of water in the cave system, but we carried on so Malc could judge for himself, and after a bit of deliberation and being advised if the water doesn’t kill us the radon gas could (it proved throughout the day that Malc had a very dry sense of humour), we set off into the cave, we only walked about 10 minutes and Ginette turned around (she felt the guide was rushing off ahead more than she was comfortable with, she was directly behind and in hindsight maybe if she was behind other members of the group she wouldn’t have felt the way she had; this was after all her first time caving. However moments later Malc the guide stopped and turned around anyway, he wasn’t happy about the amount of water already backed up into the cave, so we all turned around and went halfway back to the cave entrance where there’s another small system branching of the main passage which had a small climb to get to it. Malc went up first and set up a belay for the safety of the group, and one by one we went up. Once all up there he spoke to us about the situation and then sent us off on our own, telling us which way to go as we got to junctions, Emma and myself had sussed that he’d only do that if it was a short dead ended route, and so we all set of. Having done caving a couple of times before, Emma and myself felt confident up front; I could hear those behind saying that we were already out of sight, so as we got to each of the couple of junctions I waited for them to come into sight so we all headed off in the same direction and nobody got freaked about which way to go. Eventually we got to a chamber that we couldn’t go ahead any further, we sat and waited for everyone to turn up and invited each to pass us and duck into the small chamber left. We all did the lights off see how dark it is thing ….. well who’d have guessed, it was pitch black! Although I’m sure I saw the bioluminescence eyes of cave creatures lurking behind some of the group …. Honest !!!! Anyway lights switched back on and no sign of the cave creatures we went to retrace our steps, those at the back weren’t confident to lead us out so Emma and myself moved to the front again and I lead the way, as we got to a junction I stopped the group and went off in the other direction to see what it was like, Marv had actually rushed ahead of everyone and I could see his light shining through a small gap, but I wasn’t sure that some of the group would have been happy squeezing through so I said to go back the way we came, this at least gave us the amusement of sliding down a short chute. When we got to the junction I told Emma what I’d seen with the gap (not cave creature) and she decided to crawl through it and joined the group again at the back ….. much to the surprise of Guy. Anyway, Malc was waiting for us all at this point and we headed off back out that passage and one by one we climbed down into the main passage, and then we made our way back out the cave. We walked back to the cars, got out our gear and then had some lunch.   

Half hour or so later we were all ready setting off to our next location Fairbrook, which is a brook/grough off of Kinder Scout leading down to the A57, just down from the Snake Pass Inn. Once there Malc did a runner, but only to go check out the conditions at Fairbrook. Five minutes later he was back and he gave us all wetsuits to put on, and then we put the caving overalls and helmets on again, along with wellies. We all walked to Fairbrook, and after a short chat to us, Malc invited us to get into the brook and start walking up it, now some might be thinking ‘WHY?’ well let me tell you, it’s was fun and quite challenging, way more than you might expect. I’d got my GoPro on again as I’d got it mounted on my chest  in its waterproof casing, I tried to be creative, dipping below the water level, however this proved too much for Marv to resist the temptation of pulling me completely over as I dipped down …… but revenge was sweet a short while later. We navigated our way past various obstacles on the way up the grough, and then we got to our first decent waterfall, OK it wasn’t huge by any means but it was fun and interesting to get up, a few of these were approached and at times the water level we were in was no longer calf  or even thigh deep, it was neck deep or above depending how tall you were, at one point I tried a swim but it was shaking my wellies off so I had to stop. We all got over them, some with a bit of a pull up from Malc, one was high enough that Malc threw down a rope/screwgate I was first and attached it to my belt and climbed up, one by one we all went up, but I realised the rope was optional so I went back to the bottom and went up un-aided, although I had to add a bit of style (ahem), pretending to be a commando (not to be mistaken with going commando). As we reached the last fall of the day it had the deepest pool at the bottom that we’d experienced so far, and once we were all up and over the fall Malc told us our way down involved jumping from the top to the bottom. One by one we jumped down, Guy had been wearing my GoPro for a short while so he filmed me jumping off, I then went back to the top to collect it so I could film him jumping off from below. Only one person seemed nervous to jump off but she did so in the end, and did so with a big smile on her face.

We all walked back to our cars, where we got changed whilst trying to avoid the midges that were now starting to appear due to the time of day. We decided to go off to a pub, two people from the group had already left, so ourselves and the remaining three went, we’d invited Malc, but he had to get back and sort all the gear out and get it dry/clean for the next group. We headed for the Millstone Inn above Hathersage, but a last minute change to the Plough at Hathersage was decided. We all chatted about the day and how much we’d all enjoyed it. Time was getting on so eventually we all headed our way back home, and Emma and myself sat down to watch some of the footage captured, I was mightly impressed with the pickup from within the cave as I’d doubted how much it good it would be due to the dark environment even thought we were wearing helmet torches.

( I will be adding some photos and some video footage soon )