March 17th:

A & B parties assembled in Castleton at the TSG (Technical Speleological Group) Chapel HQ roughly 9am, Martin having just driven up from London. The Grayson brothers’ looked under dressed - Bob as if he was going shooting. Various bits of kit were handed out to the needy.

The TSG organiser was very helpful (Martin Grayson – no relation) and after he escorted us up to the cave entrance and B party streaked off to complete the technical and time consuming White River Series, he gave the A party a guided tour of the historical cave entrance, after which the T’Owd Man got his team together and headed off through the show cave system and then crossing a fence, into the ‘wild’ interior.

A wet taster in deep water was followed by the Mucky Ducks, the original limit of exploration (and hence DPC exploration) until it was passed in 1949. The initial low stoopy arch brings your head uncomfortably close to the water and then after a couple more not so bad, you were back onto dry land. And then it was easy walking in the large passage, past Pickering Passage which leads to the infamous Moss Chamber, to arrive at the splendid view point of the Surprise View, and a 20 feet ladder climb down to the Main Streamway.

 

Everything was big in the Peak/Speedwell system: one of the longest in the country; the largest cave entrance; the largest stream passage and the deepest shaft (Titan) in the country. And all this only 15 minutes drive from the Club Hut.

We walked and waded downstream through the fine Main Streamway eventually to arrive at our limit of Buxton Water Sump. Reversing our steps past the ladder we continued on to Squaws Junction, where a brief stop was had for a quick sandwich. T’Owd Man rushed Jon and he stumbled in a pool of water, but the yell was because he nearly lost his flapjack, not for his safety.

After further wading and boulder slope climbing we arrived at the opposite end of the Main Streamway – Far Sump, a 385 metre dive to the far reaches of Peak into the base of Titan. Returning to Squaws Junction, we entered the higher level passage to Lake Sump, where Jon (will he, wont he?) looked hard at the easy sump, but stories of Graham Barnes some years before banging his head and bleeding profusely may have put him off.  A look around the workshop/camp of the divers going into nearby Ink Sump was an eye opener.

A waist deep wade returned us to Squaws and a scramble up the water course passage with some interesting pipe work led us to Wigwam Aven. A muddy climb under the hinging water bucket and earnest shouts from the rear members of “It’s going – it’s going!” and then a flat out crawl (which did not prove as intimidating as some thought it was going to be) took us to Galena Chamber. Poor Martin got his foot caught on the dodgy, slippery traverse and hanging from the rope he tried to free it whilst slipping down. Thank goodness all turned out OK! And then the final sting in the tail, the squeezes and crawls until we arrived back at the top of the Surprise View. As a bonus before the return, T’Owd Man took them into Treasury Chamber and the fixed ladder into the Speedwell crawl that the B Party went through a few hours ago. Wonder how they were getting on?

And then it was out, through the Ducks - not so intimidating this time – and then, after a scrub down before passing the paying customers in the show cave, a change of clothing at the Chapel, and then shower, tea, beer, wine and Bob’s dinner at the hut. A successful caving trip – I hope the first timers come again after healing their wounds and bruises and resting their aching muscles.