Stanley Moor Caves - Alan Brentnall
After last week's really dry trip into Mandale on a really wet night, tonight was dry (weather-wise) and clear, but only five turned out. But five's plenty for what we had in mind! We started with Plunge Hole. COTPD implies you need two ladders, so I took two, but one 10m ladder was more than enough. After we all dropped the pitch, we went into the chamber, and explored both ways on before returning to the surface.
Axe Hole, now complete with its "lid", following DCRO's visit with Crewe's black powder expert. Super climb down into an intricate little system which I sort of know my way around, but not that well, as I took the first right-turn, which is the really muddy crawl which would lead to the link to Plunge Hole, if it wasn't filled with mud!! Back on track, and now well-mudded, we continued into the cleaner Axe passages and chambers, following through to the short pitch down. Here we climbed into the well-decorated upper series, and followed it back to the awkward down-climb to the entrance crawl, and climb. Great little trip is Axe!
As it was dark, we headed on the wrong trajectory and failed to find Perseverance Pot the first time. Back tracking we got back to the old railway track and Plunge, and I tried again, and soon found the Wiggly Tin covering the entrance to Perseverance. Removing the corrugated stuff and the grids beneath, we entered the tight shimmy and soon popped out into fairly big and beautifully scalloped passages. These led downwards to an "Eldon Hook" which marked the start of either an interesting free climb, or a ladder pitch, depending on your outlook. I hung a ladder on it, and we all did a bit of both.
At the foot of the ladder, we scrambled down into the large mud-filled phreatic passages, and marveled at the fact that these actually exist here beneath the moor. We examined quite a few old digs; you can understand why this was so well-dug, but it's hard to see why they stopped digging, and why they didn't get anywhere. It all looks so promising. Back on the surface, we retreated to The Duke, as the Duke of York pub is now called, and discussed all sorts of things, including last Saturday's shout, and, of course, next week's venue - and decided on Streaks. Let's hope that the weather holds.