Poole's Cavern - 'Xmas Party' Trip - Alan Brentnall
Would you believe that no less than twenty one people turned out last night for the Midweek Caving session at Poole's Cavern in Buxton. Well it was the annual "Christmas Special" trip where we finish off the trip with a bit of a party, everybody bringing some sort of nibbles etc. Very sociable indeed!
Poole's Cavern was, of course, well decorated because of the season, and Alan Walker (Poole's manager, and keen mid-week caver) had left all the lights on, so the whole place looked spectacular. But this wasn't your standard tourist trip around Poole's for, once we were half way along the public walkway, Alan directed us to the right and we scrambled up a steep flowstone slope into some very pretty sections way above the lights and the streamway. A tight squeeze led through to a low crawl, which dropped you onto a slope high in the cavern. Alan had rigged this as a traverse, and the view down onto the lit sections of the cave was excellent, as were the masses of stal up in that section - some of which were oddly spotted, dalmation-style!
The slope finished in a scramble through to a wide, bottomless fissure which eventually terminated in a Y-hang, and an abseil, via a deviation, down to the walkway just before the final gate with its deep pools and white formations.
Here a different Allan took over - note the double-L, for this was Allan Berry, a DCC Caver and DCRO colleague who is currently digging at the end of Poole's Cavern on a weekly basis. After persuading us to lose our SRT rigs, Allan led the way up a handline scramble to the top of the boulder pile which terminates the public section of Poole's Cavern. This enters a chamber formed between the top of the pile and the roof, and the site of many digs over the years - folk trying to find the elusive route through to the catchment swallets on Stanley Moor. Allan's is the only active dig at the moment, and he was proud to show us around the place, which he'd recently improved with several sections of scaffolding.
For my part, I had hoped to take advantage of my trip into Buxton by using the opportunity to get a few gallons of St Ann's water from the crescent to assist with my next brew of IPA. However, to my horror, the well had been closed off and locked, with notices warning of CCTV etc - due to necessary maintenance. Not to worry, Alan Walker assured me that the water coming through from Stanley Moor was every bit as good, so I collected a jerry can full of the stuff from the deep pool by the far gate, and I'll let you know what it tastes like in a month or so's time! Caving and water-gathering completed, we retired to the Visitor Centre and feasted on pies, cakes, crisps and all sorts of other goodies, and chatted about trips past and trips still to come. By and large, it's been a good year for the mid-weekers!