Recently I met with a group of outdoor activity instructors in the Peak District for a spot of caving professional development. The idea was to compare skills, brush up on techniques and just to meet other caving instructors for networking. Our objective was to make a trip into “P8.” To gain access we walked for about a mile over green fields to find a series of depressions in the earth. We pick up a small stream until it disappears down a small, innocuous looking hole. To the passer by this entrance is completely overlooked, but for those wishing to explore the underworld this little sink hole represents a wealth of opportunity for exploration. We sat in the stream and shuffled down under the icy shower to gain a small chamber. From here P8 opens out into a complex system of passages above, below, sideways and backwards again. Any trip into this cave is sound-tracked by the constant cacophony of flowing and crashing water, a constant reminder that this cave may flood which adds to the excitement of the cave. This cave is a great example of the diversity of Peak District caves. There are roped descents, climbs, crawls, open chambers with chandeliers of stalactites and if you are that way inclined, and you fancy taking some oxygen tanks and flipper in with you, you can go for a dive.
When I do a cave trip with other outdoor professionals it often gets me thinking why we all do this. All of the other guys are very experienced outdoor enthusiasts with a mainly climbing and mountaineering background. For many mountaineers, it’s not just the act of climbing something that’s the attraction, but mainly just being outside in beautiful places. Why then, I always think do these people enjoy being underground in the cramped darkness? It’s true, I know many a climber that would rather play marbles on the M1 than get into a cave. However, in the heart of a climber is an adventurer, an explorer. Our hills and mountains here in the UK are more crowded than in all of history. Our caves however are still places of mystery, certainly not crowded. There’s a feeling of exploration, of opening a door to the lesser or sometimes unknown. This perhaps is the draw of caving.
Want to know more? Click the Links below:
Guided caving trips
Derbyshire Caving Association
British Caving Association