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Hillocks Mine - 08 Nov 2008

Saturday November 8th 2008

Members present: Adam Wilkinson,  Adrian Turner,  Alexander Stelfox,  Catherine Moody,  Chuck Holder,  George Bunyan,  Hannah Dade,  Ivan Alvarez,  Laura Bennett,  Louise Bell,  Mark Sims,  Matt Gosling,  Max Spicer,  Mike Rippon,  Toby Buxton

Report by Max Spicer

The trip got off to a good start, with all four cars leaving the container at 8:30am. I was in Chuck's car and we made it to Outside in easily under an hour and a half. We'd got our breakfasts in front of us as the other groups started to arrive.

After all gorging ourselves suitably, we zoomed off to Hitch n Hike to pick up the lights. The speedy departure was only slightly marred by Chuck forgetting to close his boot. Still, if any caving gear did fall out on to the road, we didn't notice, so that was all fine and dandy.

Hitch n Hike went pretty quickly, and soon all three cars were pretty close to Monyash. Hold on, all THREE cars? Didn't I say we started off with four cars? Yup, we'd managed to forget about a car. Whoops. Worse still, we then realised we didn't have the mobile numbers of anyone in the missing car, and they didn't know where the cave was. Faff points begin to accumulate. After some rather optimistic driving around Monyash in the hope of spotting a blue estate with some abandoned cavers in, we returned to the lane by the cave and resorted to technology. Several phone calls and web pages later, Chuck managed to convince the uni security office to give him a mobile number and the missing persons were found. Turned out they had a silver saloon not a blue estate, but that was just in the detail (faff points continue to rise).

1:30pm - let the trip commence! It rained quite heavily for the exact five minutes when we needed to get changed and then stopped. Thanks for that. We entered the mine via two routes - one abseiling down the mine shaft, the other going in through a pipe of oil drums at the bottom of a sink hole. I was in one of the oil drum groups. This immediately turned into crawling over some nasty sharp gritty mud - wish I'd remembered some gloves! However, we soon came to the first pitch, which went down through a narrowish hole at the bottom. Shortly afterwards, there was another pitch with an odd rebelay onto a very short drop. There was quite a bit of waiting here as we'd caught up with the group ahead of us so plenty of people needed to get through. Ade managed to make himself look extremely comfortable, lying down on the floor whilst waiting. Obviously a seasoned professional!

As we made it to the bottom of the shaft, the group ahead of us were just starting to srt up, so we set off to explore. We found quite a few alarming anti-gravity devices in operation, so decided to try and keep our heads well away from the roof! The most notable feature was a tiny squeeze, which we all considered then decided was only for the insane. Happily though, it turned out that we did have an insane member in our group - step forward Louise. After removing harness and all gear, she put in a truly impressive attempt to fit herself through the tiny gap. She got as far as getting her whole upper body through before deciding her hips wouldn't make it and so being dragged out backwards. Good effort! I still kept looking longingly at the squeeze, but decided it would be too much effort to take all my gear off. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!

At this point, Chuck decided he really needed to pee. Poor Chuck - we had at least another hour and a half before getting outside. Much fun was had watching him jiggle, sing, squirm, swear and walk purposefully around. Eventually though, the time came to SRT out. Chuck tried to man it out before finally giving in and asking if we wouldn't mind if he didn't go last. It was a long pitch out, so it still took some time, but eventually we were all out. Much relief was offered by walls right by the top of the exit shaft.

A fairly pleasant, if dark change, and it was time to head off to Pizza Hut. Once we'd pushed Ade's car up to another car so it could be jump-started, we set off in a convoy of four (count em!) cars, with only the front car knowing the way. This led to much fun, including three cars going round a roundabout in Bakewell twice, completely blocking it to any other cars. We finally got to Pizza Hut, we ate pizza, we went home.

Quite a fun trip in retrospect, but definitely a lot of faff. :)