Derbyshire caving (and climbing) trip

by Jane Bradbury

2008 seems to be flashing by and already we are nearly at the longest day of the year. So, with signs that summer might have arrived, we decided to spend half this caving trip trip underground and the other half on a sunny crag somewhere.

On Saturday morning, the team (Jane Bradbury, Gordon Scott, Rob Wake, Helen Wake and Reynard Speiss) breakfasted early at the cafe in Hope and, after a little retail therapy in the local caving shop, headed for Matlock and Jug Holes. This is a novice (grade II) cave but not one the club has visited before so our trip was by way of a reconnaissance. The rough plan was to whisk through Jug Holes, then walk to the nearby Brightgate Cave, another grade II cave, before finishing the day with a short poke round Ashford Black Marble Mine, which is on the way back to Castleton.

Well, so much for the plan. We actually spent the whole day in Jug Holes. For a full explanation of why we took so long, see Reynard’s detailed report on UK caving. Briefly, we first spent some time crawling round a mined part of the cave before moving onto the Upper Series of the cave proper. This started with a tight boulder maze before opening out into a rather nice chamber with some interesting formations. Having followed the stream more or lees to the end, we returned to the entrance via Icing Sugar Grotto, a much easier route. Then it was on to the Lower Series, where we found our way without trouble to the 3rd water cavern. Here, though, the limitations of the survey made themselves felt and we took an extended detour into a heavily mined region with some “interesting” pit props and holes in the floor. Time was now running out so we returned to the surface by our descent route. Here, we walked above ground down to the lower adit entrance and very rapidly found the correct route back up through the cave. So, in effect, we did the lower series nearly three times!

A good cave to take novices into in future now that we know the way through!

Sunday dawned bright and sunny so after breakfast at Calver, we drove up to Curbar Gap and walked the short distance along Baslow Edge to Gullies Wall. Unusually for gritstone, this area boasts a cluster of low-grade, open slab climbs Here, our mixed ability party ticked off several very easy climbs (some with ropes, other soloed) before setting up a top rope on Renaissance, an HVS 5b. Most of us got up this steep slab/wall with some sort of style although there was some illegal use of the side aretes by some team members!

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