21/09/2013 - King Pot
Emma, Tom and I spent a misty Autumn day bottomming King Pot. With vague intentions to look at the Middle Sump Bypass and the Grasshopper Series, we'd packed neoprene hoods. We made fairly serene progress through the early obstacles, including the T-slot. As expected, we found that since our last trip there the whole of the cave is now p-hangered, which sped things up a bit.
As we descended and entered some of the damper crawls in the lower part of the cave (which is otherwise large, impressive and very pretty), resolve weakened and I found myself hoping that it would be too wet for the Grasshopper Series. It probably wasn't - but I was! The 1 inch airspace over the flat out crawl was enough to deter all of us. After looking at the impressive sumps that bookend the East Kingsdale Master Cave, we started the trip out, the official line being, 'we really wanted to go through the horrible ducks, but thought it was too wet'.
Prusiking up the 20m Elizabeth Pitch, I had a minor incident when my safety cord somehow got caught alongside the SRT rope in my chest jammer. This isn't supposed to happen. I'm still not sure how it did happen, but 'safety' cord didn't seem like a very apt name at the time. Some midair jiggery-pokery and swearing seemed to sort the two ropes out, and then solid ground at the top (and more crucially a pint at the Marten Arms) eventually sorted my nerves out.
T/U 7 hrs
5/10/2013 - Alderley Edge: Wood Mine to Hough Level
With Adrian, Emma and various other Red Rose members, and Nigel from the Derbyshire Caving Club showing us round. I have now been caving in a bathtub.
This was a through-trip between the two entrances, via Brynlow Mine and Engine Vein, with lots of extra loops and side passages to explore. The main mineral mined here was copper carbonate and there were still numerous blue tinged rocks on the floor and walls, and several vivid blue-green deposits where water had seeped through cracks and deposited the mineral on the walls.
The main through-route seemed to be along some adit levels at the bottom of the mine, so many of our side trips were made by climbing ricketty old ladders into upper workings. In one of these areas, Brynlow Mine, miners of old had inscribed dates on the walls, 1764 being the oldest one we saw.
Shortly after this, we returned down a ladder to the lower level, where the adit had a metre or two of water in the bottom. We distributed ourselves into a small fleet of vessels consisting of a Canadian canoe and a couple of bathtubs seated inside some tractor inner tubes, to keep them afloat. Drifting along the flooded passage for a couple of hundred metres in a floating bathtub, occasionally pushing ourselves away from the wall, was one of my more unusual but satisfying underground experiences.
T/U 4 hrs