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Pot Bottomer's Delight

by Chris Falshaw.

Having spent two years in Nottingham learning that Bass can be either mild or bitter and that the river Trent contains some of the smallest fish in England, I decided that it was high time I did some caving, Derbyshire being on our doorstep as it were.

Accordingly I have made contact with the Four Days Club here in Nottingham and have been on a couple of trips with them.  Last week we “did” Giant’s Hole together with five B.S.A. chaps from Sheffield.  We entered the cave at 7 pm on Saturday and after a short trudge along the Stream Passage we were forced onto hands and knees, then stomach, into nine inches of water. Two hundred feet from the entrance we came to the first sump, but a short climb up the left hand wall led to the most obnoxious crawl I have met for a long time.  Pillar Crawl is not very tight and not too wet, but there is a series of gours containing the blackest and foulest water imaginable, similar to coal dust soup with a dash of sump oil.  A descending passage then leads to a short crawl - with water - to the infamous "Bypass Passage Sump".  This sump was then transferred by a complex baling operation to a series of three dams leading back up the passage we had just descended and in the process creating a sump in our rear (don’t you mean at our rear? Ed). The baling apparatus consisted in hurling water about in junior oil drums and wetting as many people as possible. After an hour's baling, we were able to pass through a crawl into a fair sized chamber, which contained some fine stal flow of a whiter then whiteness colour.  From the lower edge of the chamber we descended a fifty foot permanent steel ladder - Garland's Pot - singing the praises of Messrs Dunlop and Frankenstein as the main stream was with us once more.  The base of the pitch led into a small chamber where the party stopped for fags.

And this is where the fun really starts.  The Giant's Crab Walk.  'The crabs down here jump six feet high mainly because they can't jump sideways, I suppose.  This passage consists of three thousand feet of “Random Hole Distribution" and this is the main trouble - the constant change of direction.  It is something like an insane eel crossed with a whale’s intestine.  The passage itself is not uncomfortably tight, but it is narrow enough to have to go sideways for the main part.  The walls through the passage show fine scallop marks about two to three inches across and occasionally on the vertical descents there are some fine groovings.

At the end of the Crab Walk we came to a tight bit, the Vice - which, of course, we passed with consummate ease – and which was shortly followed by the second sump, which we bypassed via a series of Rabbit Warren type passages (hence this part becomes a little hazy).  Eventually we reached a sixty foot drop - Geology Pot - which, in contrast to the rest of the cave so far, was dry.  This pot was followed by a twenty five foot drop with the   stream.  The ladder hung in the stream and a right bashing by the water was unavoidable.  So were unable to proceed much further than this, as the rest of the system was flooded.  This meant that there was about eighty feet of flood water in the cave.

He  retraced our  steps to the Bypass Passage  Sump and then climbed up into the roof to have  a look at  some formations and a  high level  sump that  the B.S.A. are working on.  We eventually reached open air at 3 am to a high wind and the sound of snapping guy lines from out tents.