Participants were Emma and myself, 2 unknown people along with our instructor (Adam Evans) and a trainee instructor.
This trip was a Caving experience purchased from ‘Living Social’ (Similar to Groupon), it was only a taster but we thought why not.
Meeting up with Adam and the trainee instructor for the event, we were introduced to the other 2 people coming along and after a drink we all headed off to the mine, which was a short drive away. Parking up in the small car park, we were provided with Wellies and waterproof overalls to get into …. to be honest just trying to get into the first set was like Pot Holing (or what at that time what I along with 99% of the population believed Pot Holing to be). Eventually we all got into overall the were large enough that we didn’t get stuck trying to get into, helmets and lights on, off we went to the entrance which is actually Mulespinner Mine, oddly the entrance was a shed !! … yep, you walk into the shed actually known as ‘The Coe’, inside there’s a small door that you have to crouch to go through and just like the Wardrobe we were led into another world, but for us it wasn’t Narnia, it was the world of Lead Mining and natural caves system that the area is riddled with.
I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that there’s 107 steps, but don’t think they’re like your stairs, these steps are steep and have a low ceiling and some of the steps are about 18” high. At bottom of the steps, we get our first of many mini speeches about the rock and how it was formed, along with how the cave system that the mine broke into had formed, it’s fascinating stuff and good to learn how the caves are formed by the power of water. Turning left we walked through a passage to a dripstone waterfall, known as the “Elephants Throat”. Continuing we pass through a knee deep pool, before crouching for a low roof, and then arrive at another chamber known as the “Dream Cave, another quick speech from Adam and we move on again through to the top of some steps at what was known as the ‘Devils Organ Loft’, on the steps there’s some scaffold handrail but Adam told us that this is NOT to be used, it’s purely a visual deterent from the edge and is not anchored down enough to use as support. At the bottom of the steps is a large pothole known as ‘The Dungeon’ it’s not massively deep, only about 20ft, but impressive regardless, as you lean over the edge to gaze down it, Adam tells us more about it and how it’s possible to go down there and get back further up the cave system where we’d already come from.
The next section is a little weird, as we walk along a pathway (kind of) that natural pool known as ‘Peters Pool’ runs aside it and there’s a low rope line in place, clearly giving the instruction not to walk in there. As we walk along here the roof becomes lower, and Adam tells us we’ve got a choice of path at this point; we can go through the right of the passage where there’s a small aperture to go through it’s a crouch but is passable, or to the left where the passage would requires us to crawl along on our bellies, and then a tight squeeze at the end, he then says only Emma (with her petite frame) will get through easily and both arms first, and that if us others tried it we’d need to go through Superman style dragging an arm behind us and cocking the shoulders. The female of the other couple choose to take the easy route along with the instructors, the other 3 of us choose the crawl and squeeze, the other bloke went first, followed by Emma, who barely touched the sides, I then went to through, the first section is passed easily enough but the sides start closing in and the final squeeze is tight and at first my shoulders seemed to get wedged, Adam said just to relax and breathe out, and after following this advise my shoulders lower a bit more and I can squeeze through, it was good doing that but I don’t think I’d fancy anything tighter. Moving along and climbing into a chamber to the left, Adam tells us we’ve come as far as we’re going to go, other than the return journey out; but first he wanted us to experience total blackout, so we all switched off our lamps. Without absolutely no light source you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, and Adam explains how it’s too dark for our eyes to adjust to compensate, however, if you waved your hand in front of your face, although you couldn’t see it, you could detect that something was passing in front of you …… weird !! Switching on the lights again we lowered ourselves out of the chamber and was told we could choose our next path through the easy route or the tight squeeze again, the other bloke dived through the tight passage, but we wanted to take a photo of Emma going through the tight section so she went round the easy way and then crawled back through the tight squeeze again, although the photo I took is taken before it gets really tight, we then both made our exit the easy way, but in fairness to say easy is inaccurate, easier yes, but not easy. We were then told to follow our nose and make our way out; it’s easy to navigate within what we’d done at Bagshawe, and we wait for everyone to catch up at the bottom up the main flight of stairs leading back to ‘The Coe’ (the shed). We then walked out of there as quick as we could, egged on by the instructor to climb the steps fast, it was hard work and tiring doing that and exiting at the top we made our way to the car park.
It had been a great experience and I’d recommend this to anyone who fancies a taster in caving and if so get in touch with Adam. He also instructs other activities like climbing and canoeing, along with Corporate days out.
His website is: http://www.outdoorinstruction.co.uk/
And his email is: firstname.lastname@example.org