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Knotlow Cavern - Hillocks Mine via Meccano Passage - 18/09/2011

Sunday September 18th 2011

Members present: Elena Maters,  Jonathan Booth,  Kevin Francis,  Lieke Oosterkamp

Report by Jonathan Booth

A good trip. After walking round Bakewell for a while we headed over to Monyash and found the mines. I threw a rope down Hillocks (thankfully not before tying one end of it to the surface) and then walked over to Knotlow. Lieke had rigged the Y hand and we were ready to go. I clipped in and gingerly climbed below the pitch-head, taking care where I put my feet but in truth its all pretty well shored up. Looking down I could see what looked like a small puddle 20meters below me, which puzzled me. For some reason these shafts are always a lot deeper than they look, the small puddle was actualy a sump 65m below me. Abbing slowly to avoid the dry rope I put a rebelay in by a small window halfway down the shaft. I could hear another team somewhere in a parallel shaft. Then it was down again till I was about 6meters above the sump and level with another window. After a quick swing I was in and waiting for the others.

When everyone had reached the window we set off towards Hillocks. A small passage became a flat out crawl which became a grim, square cut child-sized tube half filled with water. I wasnt particulary happy. Elena was ahead of me and seemed hesitant. I spotted an oppertunity to retreat and told her it was OK if she didnt like it, I would take one for the team and escort her to the surface but annoyingly she pressed on and that meant I did. I think the others knew what I was up to.

The roof was dipping down and things were getting a bit shocking when we encountered a small constriction in the passage, Elena wriggled through after some time and then it was my go. On attempt 1 my shoulders jammed and my face was pressed into the stagnent gloop so I reversed. After a 'come on Jonny, Big Jim got through this with his kit on' from Kev I got ready for another go. I reached an arm out and scraped out some gravel to try and make things easier, and after a brief struggle I was through.

We re-grouped in a small chamber, thankful that Mechano passage was behind us. A seriese of short flat out crawls conecting small chambers lead us into Hillocks mine which we explored for a while before we set off op the Hillocks engine shaft. I nipped back down Knotlow to de-rig and met the others later.

All in all a good trip with a good mix of fun SRT, comitting horizontal bits and lots of mine intreset. This trip seems a but neglected by us, its a perfect quick (4 hours would be reasonable) and intresting, but not too easy Sunday trip. Spare a thought for the poor miners who dug out the tiny passages by candle-light!