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Winnats Head Cave - 03/09/2011

Saturday September 3rd 2011

Members present: Caitlin Brumby,  Kevin Francis,  Mark Sims,  Steven Spall,  Toby Buxton

Report by Caitlin Brumby

So, turns out Peak District caving isn’t as bad as Mark would have us all believe :P

The start of the cave is stupidly loose, but that’s not really a problem as any rocks you knock gain much momentum before they hit the person in front. There’s some crawling, and slotting yourself down slots (down some mucky cord thing), then across a traversy thing – tad bit exposed, but it is the right way on. All pretty easy, following your nose really. Until you get off this traversy thing and down another very loose slope, you end up in a fairly large chamber with a boulder slope and a rope heading up into the ceiling. No idea where this goes – but you can ignore this and head to the back of the chamber and down a slot, give this a change and it’ll then leads to a fixed rope that leads you down a vertical squeeze ish thing, just let gravity to the work. Round another corner, following some red twine if I remember correctly, then down a bit of a scary drop. A bit of careful positioning and you slip down the slot, but grab hold of the rope tight or you’ll slide down a few metres and need to be shoved onto ground like I did – scary stuff. Anyway, the drop is worth it as you come out into a really nice sump :)It looks gorgeous actually – very round and blue (and deep by the sound of a rock we threw in).

The way on is nothing to do with the sump (even though I managed to convince Toby we had to go through it :p ) It’s off to the left as you look at the sump through a flat out crawl – which unless you are Toby involves a wet chest and careful shoulder placement.

I can’t remember much of the rest, but I think you pretty soon come out at a little chamber (after popping under a very precarious boulder) which is full of boulders – and a pretty nasty potential dig, anyway you pop up a rope in this chamber and do some more caving. To a second rope up – this goes up well far (about the same height as entrance) to Gynn’s ex dig, its ex because you can hear cars from here. Pop up here for an extra little bit though, fairly nice formations at the top. Anyway further on than the upwards descender destroying rope, straight forward, starts the P hangers, (some formations behind anchors). 3 quite nice pitches get you to the rather anticlimactic bottom and the second, much lower down, less inviting looking sump.

The way out is a lot more challenging than the way down. The two vertical squeezy bits after the first/nice sump on the way out are a little bit tricky. The second one on the way out was quite hard especially, not much to stand/reach, and little room for hip/leg manoeuvrability :s There’s a few boulder routes climbing out where height is an advantage – and make sure if you stand on someone they actually mean it when they say ‘Yes go for it’. You may risk getting stuck hanging on your chest unable to breathe. Eeeek!

Good cave – very muddy/gritty though. Worth a trip, but beware the way out is a tad more challenging.