Old Ash Mine - Alan Brentnall
The postponed trip into Old Ash was definitely on tonight, and a good group of eleven turned out to meet on the Oaker Road. Pete Dell had sorted out the access with the farmer at Lobby Farm, and we had to be careful to make sure that we found our way to the two entrances. We soon found the little wooded Northern Dale, and followed that until the obvious entranced of Lords and Ladies. The lower adit entrance to Old Ash should be obvious, and, after a bit of scouting around, we eventually located the locked door.
While Pete let some of the cavers into the mine, those of us wanting to do the "through trip" headed up the wooded valley side with ropes, slings and a scaffold bar. Topping out, we soon located the capped entrance, just below a major bend in the wall, and set about rigging it. It's a beautiful shaft, with some three metres of ginging topping the bedded limestone. Although it's 45m-50m deep, after 35m it is necessary to pendulum out onto a large ledge.
At this point a series of pipes lead through to a muddy pitch, while a bridge across the lower part of the entrance pitch took us to a series of fine stopes and more pipe, with the aptly named "Knee Wrecker" leading us through to further pipes and cavities. Unfortunately there wasn't time to explore the natural part of the cave (Old Ash Cavern) and we hope to return to look at this at some point in the future. There was just time to complete the round trip back to The Bridge, so that we could de-rig the bridge and tidy the rope away for the main shaft de-rig, before exiting via the adit and heading up to the shaft entrance to pull the rope up.
We missed the pub by a country mile, but all agreed that it was an interesting venue, well worth a return visit.