Death Series

In 2014, the Eldon regained access to the Death Series at the top of Maginn's Rift in Giants, 40 years after it's original discovery by Ben Bentham.



Wednesday 25th November – Rob Eavis, James Wood, Jon Pemberton, Sam Pemberton

I’d been keeping up-to-date about the lads’ progress at the top of Maginns and that they've made it into the Death Series 40 years after its original discovery by Ben Bentham, so I was keen to lever myself onto a trip using my surveying and photographic capabilities.

After a quick look down the big hole that’s opened up on Faucet Rake, we started getting kitted up and counting the bits of gear we’d forgotten. Only important one was the ladder to get down Garlands, so not too bad overall. On-the-stop ingenuity prevailed and we bastardised a plan to get us to the dig with just about enough equipment to complete the evening’s plans.

Me n Jon were ready first so we set off and started surveying up Maginns, starting from one of the many permanent stations now on the mainline. It had been ~8 years since I’d been up here, I think during getting lost on one of my first trips leading SUSS freshers around the round trip, and what a place! Whilst the dimensions at the bottom of the rift are average, the sides really bellow out higher up. At the top the passage splits into two, with a wet grovel to the right and a phreatic crawly passage to the left. We took the crawl toward the dig. Jams and Sam had already overtaken us, and up ahead we could hear some un-reassuring noises of large boulders falling. Once we reached them it was apparent that since the last trip the dig had slumped in again and they were hard at work felting back all the material (mostly slurry mixed with the occasional large boulder). For some reason from where I was sat waiting even quite a small rock sounded huge, so I was quite relieved when they confirmed they had finished opening it up and Jams was about to start the bolt climbing.

Meanwhile me n Jon decided to stay warm by surveying the first side passage back, a short but interesting trench passage ending in a small pot down to boulders. Having seen this passage on the 3d survey since, my guess is that it will lead back into Maginns at a high level somewhere.

When we got back, Jams was at the top and I crawled through to see his work. The dig gains access to the bottom of a reasonable chamber, of which the rubble floor is naturally about 6m above where you enter. Years of water washing through plus the digging activities has slumped one side leaving a cone of teetering rocks about to block the entry at any point. To get up to the top Ben’s old ladder was still in place but certainly no longer useable with every other rung corroded through fully, so Jams had installed another electron ladder next to it. This leads up to the continuation of the chamber, now in the form of a flat, boulder-floored passage, unfortunately only 6m long. I went and explored up a slope to the right which leads to a drippy side rift roofed entirely in large boulders. A cautiously picked climbing route at the southern end got me up through to highest point, but unfortunately it was not at all inspiring, with it starting to feel very “surface” like (although still 30m deep).

Back at the bottom of the rift a narrow passage led off into a small chamber, a section I remember reading from Ben’s reports being “dug” using a paraffin flame. Unfortunately the evidence of this is still there 40 years on, with a thick black soot coating the roof through the narrow section and the entire chamber.


All ways pushed and surveyed, I set off back whilst Jams derigged most of the tackle, leaving just one rope down hung off a thread and a stainless bolt. As we descended the slope kept moving around us, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t last the night. Meeting the Pembos it was clear they were both freezing so we made for a quick trip out, getting back to the cars at 12:40am.

It wouldn't be a big job to stabilise the dig to ensure open access remains, however the lack of enticing leads at the top, mixed with the fact that now 40 years after discovery it has finally been surveyed, probably means it's now unlikely to get done. Too much else to be getting on with.....!

16/09/2014 - James Wood, Rob Shore & Jack Loftus

After much hype we were finally ready for what we hoped would be a successful second trip.

The three boulders that were choked were reduced, and once cleared a reasonable size hole was open. The downside was that there was still a few rocks that were unstable, so entry wasn't an option. Fortunately a suitable bar was to hand, which must have been from previous digging exploits. The unstable rocks were brought down, trapping the bar and blocking the hole once again. We made an attempt to reduce this rock, but we didn't have the right technology. It would have to be left for another trip, next time better equipped.

23/08/2014 - James Wood, Bob Toogood

Bob and I were both free and up for a trip somewhere, Bob suggested he would like a more detailed look at Maginn's Rift in Giants Hole. 

With the recent Crusader discovery in New Oxlow, we both were thinking that things could also have been missed. Even without gaining any further knowledge, we would at least enjoy what turned out to be quite a dry round trip.

Bob and I started from the bottom working our way up to the top exploring the passages hoping to find something interesting. A few climbs and managed to find passages that ended up back into the rift. Nothing of major interest. Eventually we for to the top of the rift where there are two ways on. To the right, what looked a very uninspiring tight wet tube. To the left it was dry, hands and knees crawling at first after a short section of flat out crawling it opens up. With bang wire and blast debris, clearly a site of some previous interest.

Bob was the first to go along the main drag for a look, he came back informing me of a strong draught coming through boulders. I went for a look, there was definitely a good draught. At the end is timber across the passage, shoring debris from blocking the way out. On the top of this is where the choke is. A gap between a solid wall and a boulder was big enough to get head and shoulders in for a look above at the choke. I took my back up light off and managed to light up beyond the boulders, it definitely opened up. With 3 main boulders stopping the way on, i was convinced it would be easy to reduce them and gain access. 

I had seen enough to want to come back again in the near future. We both made our exit continuing the round trip.

Later after contact with a few members, Jon P confirmed that it was the Death Series. Furthermore he had a copy of a journal with K. Bentham's account. 

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