Bagshawe Cavern

The Eldon always have a number of active digs undergo in Bagshawe.

One that is currently receiving quite a lot of attention is the "Dead Ahead Dig" in the Full Moon Series.

[For more information regarding Bagshaw Cavern go to the dedicated page]



Ben Shannon, Jon Pemberton and Chris Hibberts

                                                            "Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro!"

I never used to entertain the idea of Bagshawe Cavern. It was always one of my uni clubs fresher trips. A small old show cave sounded like a place for punters. one evening before a cussey dig, Rob mentioned about new developments beyond the gates. the more he spoke the more intrigued i got.

Fast forward to tonight, im pulling on my furry outside the coe for my second trip here. the goal was to get to madame guillotine for some pictures and then head to the dig to put a shift in. 

Its quite strange to head into a building, open a small cupboard and see a staircase descend into the blackness. we make speedy progress to the gate where Jon marvels at the size of chris' nuts as i extract the very manly derbyshire key (not to be confused with the smaller toy derbyshire keys) and pass it over. the crawl is arduous as I help free up jons tackle sack whilst trying to free up my own or wait for chris to free me. By the time i got into the main chamber i had a proper sweat on but we pushed on down to the french connection. 

"ohhhh, its Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro" came a dejected Jon as he lay at the waters edge. the duck was almost a sump. "come and see what you think" Jon turned around in the tight tube and made his way up, i pressed myself into the wall as we intimately squeezed past each other like tourists on a cornish country road. 

last time i came here i got through the duck with half my face underwater, now i was looking at 2 inches of air space. i could just about see the air bell. jon explained the two options "fully submerge and free dive, or hug the left wall sucking the ceiling as best you can". i was weighing it up as Jon sudden realised "coming back is going to be an issue because you will drag water down from the second duck and fill up this one making it a sump"

I really wanted to see the rest of the cave and get digging so I decided i would push through to the air bell and have a look at the second duck. i slid forwards and put my right arm into to the water up to me shoulder. 

"Fuuuuuuuuuu, thats cold" wow, this pool was incredibly cold, and after being spoiled by my wetsuit in cussey i decided that it wasnt to be tonight. i span around and laughed at the sight of jon trying to crawl over the top of Chris. i made my way up the tube and had to grab on to Chris' leg to give me leverage to get by. He made his way to the pool to check it out. There was alot of nothern ranting and he too decided it was not going tonight. "Joe can tie himself some new cowstails because Im not going through that"

We were all disappointed but Jon had a plan and got into tour guide mode. we headed back to the gate. crawling down hill is much easier for obvious reasons and so in no time we were screwing up Chris' massive nut and heading to the other gate. some crawling, balancing on a wooden plank and more crawling took us to a pool. it was beautifully crystal clear. "thats the way on" but all i could see was water and 1 inch of black. "that tiny tiny gap?"  i asked a little shocked. stumped by a Sump again. 

                                            "I know this really cool Miners Rift with clay pipes"

We mooched down the main passage playing guess the entrance to agony crawl. Eventually Jon stopped and pointed out a small hold at floor level then slid into it, Chris followed and then I joined. At the constriction Chris was lying there contemplating his life choices before making his way through. Agony crawl isnt tight tight, but it does have some rocky lumps that stab you in the gentleman sausage. this lead to a vertical squeeze which dropped us into a pool of water. we followed this for a while until a chamber lead to a free climb to the next level.

The climb is only a few metres high, but you certainly dont want to take a fall here. Crawling again leads to a mud slide which drops you into a pool up to your nuts. This is a very fun part of the cave. as we push on the nature of the cave starts to change. the rock gets darker and it begins to feel alot more remote and lesser travelled. 
We stop at a small tube that is sloping upwards. "This is a tight crawl up to wards the miners rift. you will be fine Chris, just dont get stuck because this is where JT got trapped and had to be rescued" Jon said Gleefully as he headed off. Chris, well, he didnt look excited about the prospect of spending a night in this cave, but he followed on. we made our way up into montague aven which had a very enticing climb, except for the hanging chockstone that had the rope on the wrong side. we all looked up at this stone and decided that none of us fancied a headache tonight and so left it. we had a poke into claustrophobia which required a yoga style back bend to get into. This looked like a really interesting crawl, but conscious of time we headed on. 
We got to mudhammer crawl and things suddenly got alot tighter here. Chris decided enough was enough and chose to have a rest whilst we headed onwards. in hindsight i really wish i had left my bag with Chris. the crawl was so tight that in sections i had to remove my helmet. occasionally my bag was snagging. after freeing it up i would push on to get to jons bag to free him on. after what felt like an eternity we popped out into the rift.
                                              "Maybe I am spending the night here after all"
Utterly dejected, Jon raced to the end of the rift, me in tow. "well, its not exactly photogenic. im so glad to have dragged my camera all of the way here" the draft was much stronger in this rift. Jon explained that we were near the surface by the Coe. now that would make a cool through trip. after scoping to rift out, we saw planty of small ledges with black soot but no clay pipes much to the dismay of Jon. "well this was worth it" he said as we decided not to hang around and head on back. 
I like tight crawls, i really like them, and this was up there with my favourite, but i suddenly remembered i had to drag that stupid bag again. Jon set off and i followed, freeing up his bag every few metres. we got to a pool of water and i had to give his bag a few good thumps to get it through. I slipped forwards and suddenly i was stuck. i could feel my pelvis wedged hard on the rock and the zips of my furry and oversuit digging hard into my sternum. i couldnt pull on anything because it was expanding my ribs and making it feel tighter. so i put both arms down by my sides, dig my toes in and the backs of my wrists, exhaled and pushed, this took many goes with millimetre progress each time. I then employed the hip motion of a jamacian sea otter dancing (Google it) eventually i freed myself. i grabbed a hand hold, pulled hard, slide a few centimetres and stopped to hard that i face planted the pool of water. 
My bag was stuck hard. i couldnt lift my head high enough to see anything and there was certainly no way of reaching with my hand or turning around. so i sighed, slid myself back into the constriction until i could feel my bag. some irish river dancing on the bag finally freed it up again, but i was trapped again and getting very tired. i lay my head to the side into the water, i could hear my heart beat pounding hard and it felt like it was reverberating down the tube. Maybe i am spending the night here after all i thought, ruing the zwift bike race i had done in the morning to zap my energy. If i could have reached my Krab i would have unhooked and left that stupid ass bag there. realising this would not go down well i snapped out of it and pushed on and eventually caught up with the guys.
we stopped in a pretty chamber with pristine stals for a photoshoot for the MILFs of the peak district calender. then continued onto agony crawl. I pointed out an easier way out much to Chris' pleasure and finally we were back in the main passage. once back at the stair well i looked up. these are some of the steepest stairs i have done and when you are empty they are a daunting task. i had to stop twice for a rest before breaking out into the unseasonably warm october evening. We were too late for the pub, so sat in my van having a drink. I smashed 3 cakes in a oner. not the trip i had envisioned, but it was awesome nonetheless.

Team: Bog, Chris, Jim

For some time the Eldon have been tasked with holding the code for access to the two gates controlling access to the New Series and Snake’s Pyjamas gates inside Bagshawe, and for some time have felt that the relatively low number of requests were perhaps due to difficulty in understanding the process. Following consultation with the custodian, and recent loss of keys etc., access beyond the gates is now secured by the not-too-restrictive Derbyshire Key.

Chris had done a superb job of designing and fabricating some plate/chain arrangements and whilst the rest of TA were busy pushing in Projekt V

the three of us headed in to open the padlocks for the final time. Armed with a drill, impact driver, and big spanner - thankfully all carried by Bog and Chris as I was somewhat musculoskeletally challenged following one of those totally innocuous incidents involving an easy lift followed by searing pain in the lower lumbar region, the fit was straightforward, requiring 4 holes per gate and a bit of spannering.

We were out of the cave by 2000, and following an amusing time observing a Peak District sasquatch, headed to the Anchor for pints, a pile of snacks and an Eldon meet to discuss the forthcoming, new and improved, Derbyshire Explorers Forum, rising phoenix like from the ashes of a disappointing cancellation.

Stapled to the top - 20/07/2023

Chris, Joe & JRP

Armed with a drill, camera and 3x SRT kits, pre beers were quickly supped over some onion rings before gaining access to Bagshawe which proved difficult. The long drag (literally) with a bag each felt a slog having not been down these parts for a while, I was grateful for my miners knee pads. The duck in the French Connection wasn't too bad, still being able to keep your face above the water but the passage looks larger than it is thus saturating your complete torso in passing, making any idle work/time bone chilling! We passed bags through the choke, once stood at the bottom of Madame Guillotine we kitted Joe up who'd never been to these parts (at all) to rig our abseil rope so we could safely/easily staple the far side of Madame Guillotine. 

Chris and Jim had made an Awesome start a couple of months prior using the existing, rigged rope which proved difficult. Once Joe had rigged a fresh, Chris headed up to the ledge which marked our starting point for tonight. I managed to persuade Chris to head up a gully to the right rather than straight up, although the rock potentially looked better, the line I persuaded him on carried loads more natural holds which'd make for less staples and less holes to be drilled! He started on his way whilst I watched his process. Basically... Drill two "big one" holes at roughly the approximate angle of the staple then, bash the staple in to place. Although technically there was more to it than that, which I soon found out. Chris pushed on to a height of 4 metres above the ledge then offered for me to have a "bash". 

Now feeling the cold I gladly accepted, laden with gear I made my way up to his end point. My first staple went in like a banana! With reassurance from the ground crew that it sounded "ok" I continued. The second felt like it went in better then it progressively got easier, with almost perfect positioning, whilst others felt like they didn't hit the end of the drill hole. Negotiating the fractured rock, gardening en route, we moved further right towards a gully leading to an aven which Ben Bentham climbed in the mid 90's. It's crazy that since we broke through back in 2010 I'd never properly seen up this aven, it definitely needs another look. At the gully we decided to head straight up rather than to touch the large boulder slope, as anything knocked down would eventually fill up the choke below and our route out. I used the staples as a ladder system for the final few metres as it was void of naturals. After q couple more I was stood at the top of the pitch! - Yay!

I placed one more staple on the way down as one of the moves felt very bold on the descent and it made sense to do this now so we could take most of the gear back out tonight. Back down on the floor I was greeted by a chilled Chris and a freezing Joe. We made a hasty retreat back through the duck, it didn't take long for everyone to warm up. We made surface at 11:45pm having definitely missed the pub so postie's were supped in the car park chased by some onion rings. 

The Eavis approves - 26/07/2023

Rob, Joe, JRP

We returned the following week armed with a little drill, some bolts, a camera and cap lamp belt with cows tails. Our mission: place some bolts to fix a traverse line (proper via ferrata style), using our abseil rope from the previous week. All the other locations which we have placed staples we'd never fixed a traverse line as it wasn't warranted, however this is the first project that's deemed worthy of one, being an 18m pitch with a potential fall of 20m! (Even we don't wanna die that bad...)

Quick pre-beers in the car park (in the pissing down rain) followed by a boss straight towards Madame G. It felt much easier this week having not dragged in heaps of kit. Rob climbed up the staples, safely backed up and was up in no time. He switched to descent mode and commenced placing bolts for the safety chord. 

During this time I managed to convince Joe on a grovel to the boulder choke at the end of Calais Crawl. I'd previously dug this to a large drippy void after we made the big breakthrough back in 2010 connecting the Full Moon Series to the Hollywood Bowl series thus enabling easier access to this highly prospected area in the Bradwell catchment. To get to the end you have to negotiate two ducks, the second one having little to no activity over the past 7 years required a little dig after sediment had been washed through during high water levels (and it's tight!) Once through both of us climbed up into the void which was pissing down with water, strange as the whole place seemed to be dry this evening. The choke looks super promising but requires scaff as it's looks awful!

We retreated back to the base of Madame Guillotine to find Rob just about finishing up. He placed one more bolt securing a horizontal traverse near the bottom. Joe and I belted up and made our way to the top. The first proper ascent using only a belt was AWESOME! It felt so cool to move so fast up this pitch, whereas before it'd require so much faff, dragging SRT kits and passing down gear to people below. This has been something I'd been dreaming of for 10 years and for it finally to become a reality was Awesome! 

Rob followed, shortly after and within minutes we were all at the top - Crazy times! We headed back out elated, not only was it a top achievement for Team Awesome, it made the trip fun! It now opens up some serious prospects in the Hollywood Bowl Series and sporting trips alike. Shortly with the removal of key access to the gated sections of Bagshawe (replaced by a Derbyshire key) hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more activity here.

Some well deserved post beers had in the anchor with copious amounts of snacklets.

Sump luck - 03/08/2023

Joe, Sam & JRP

Ready to snap some "arf" decent photos and with a rare appearance from Sammy Whiskers we met at Baggers for pre-beers and soggy chips. With hindsight and a code, getting Into the Coe was easy and we trudged along to the main drag and Full Moon Series at a reasonable lick, now unladen with bags.

This July has been super wet but we were surprised to see the duck at the lowest point of the French Connection was within centimetres from being sumped! This was worrying as when one crawls through the duck you disperse the water into this lower section meaning we'd definitely be free-diving back out. This could quite easily be done but tonight wasn't the time to experiment. Without the appropriate gear, exiting the sump in reverse would require a struggle up a slippery ramp which is bad enough in the dry. We put a pin in it and hope within a few weeks the sump will drop. 

We retreated and headed up through the first gate for a quick look, as Joe had never been. Pool Chamber was up (Obvs) but only just. On our way out we decided to show Joe the newly discovered Mulespinner Series and had a laugh free-climbing down the pitch which was spicy. After the grand tour we raced back up the stairs and supped post beers at the cars. Photos of Madame Guillotine would have to wait for a few more weeks.