Eyam Dale House Cave

Saturday, 12 September, 2009
Present: Elaine Hill, Wayne Sheldon, Angus Sawyer (cameo role)

It started off as ?one of those days?. Elaine had arranged the key (the entrance is in the grounds of a residential home) but the member of care staff who answered the door wasn?t aware of the cave?s existence. Wayne then took a while to get going due to domestic spider problems and Angus didn?t feel up to caving so went shopping instead. This turned out to be a wise move as when Elaine and Wayne followed the path that he had indicated it turned into the Derbyshire equivalent of a tropical jungle, sporting 5 ft high nettles, vicious brambles and unexpected saplings ? a machete would have been useful. Not wishing to be deterred by something as silly as vegetation we pulled up our oversuits tightly and bushwhacked through it, using ladders to defend ourselves! Having undone the entrance lock we then found that the scaffold bar had no intention of budging. Undeterred we walloped it with the padlock and the metal lock-cover plate and it eventually submitted.

Having dragged the ladders this far we now decided to go down on SRT and the entrance was duly rigged and Wayne despatched downwards, followed shortly by Elaine. A short crawl leads to the second pitch where we realised that we hadn?t got any slings (they were back at the entrance) so some intricate rigging was undertaken using rope and naturals. Once down the pitch there is more crawling through some very low, but pretty, areas and finally through the Pearly Gates. These are a couple of stal pillars positioned close enough together to be inconvenient for most people ? Elaine slid through with ease and space to spare, Wayne?s manoeuvres were less graceful and roomy. There follows a climb down and then a fine, high rift (with some superb chert nodules), eventually leading to chokes. Back we came then explored in the opposite direction from the bottom of the second pitch into more fine cave.

We headed out and derigged and then had the fun of reassembling the entrance cover and bar. Having been disturbed once the latter was in no mood to be replaced and had to be coaxed with the aid of a small rock! At least the nettles were less of a hazard on the way back.

A short but fine trip. It?s a shame that the puddles are muddy as the formations have been coated brown in many places. On returning the key I found that the care assistant had learned all about the cave in our absence and was really curious about what it was like. However, he doubted whether it would make a suitable outing for some of the residents. I believe that Angus had a successful shopping trip.