Storm Babet may have arrived in Derbyshire at the same time as CSS, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying three days of exciting caving.
With six of the team arriving early to do a bonus Friday trip while Storm Babet was busy pelting the Peaks with extreme rain, it was clear that we needed a drier caving option than our intended objective of a Knotlow exchange. So we headed for the safe ‘dry’ passages of Carlswark Cavern, which on this occasion had a proper flowing streamway and numerous unusual water features. Finding the lower series sumped, the higher levels were explored to the possible limits before embarking on further explorations in the small mines and caves nearby.
With much sunnier weather on Saturday we headed to Oxlow Cavern and Maskhill Mine to do an exchange trip. This is an SRT classic, with an abundance of interesting pitches and a mix of both mined and natural scenery. We split into two teams, each rigging one entrance then de-rigging the other on the way out. Though somewhat wetter than usual, an excellent time was had by all and the trip was successfully completed with plenty of time for a quick visit to Wetherspoon’s in Buxton before heading back to the Orpheus hut then going out for a meal in the excellent local pub, the Bull's Head at Monyash.
The Sunday trip was to Water Icicle Close Cavern, with a 30 metre mined shaft leading to a mix of mined and natural cave below. As there was quite a number of us, two ropes were rigged on the entrance shaft to speed things up. We also split into two teams for the explorations below, which included a visit to the well-decorated 2010 extensions beyond the locked gate and an extra dose of SRT to reach the bicycle powered dig.