Met Larry, Fabian, Sean, James and Thomas at Yondermanns cafe. Regrouped above Bradwell, where Batham Gate Roman road descends towards Navio, the Grey Ditch marked the Mercia-Northumbria border and Hope cement works looms. Blue sky and snow on hills. A good start.
It was like something out of Doctor Who. The small hut concealed a bizarre entrance to a massive natural cave system. Bagshawe Cavern was found by lead miners in 1806, whilst excavating Mulespinner Mine, later becoming a show cave. 102 steps down and we were into it.
A fabulous place. Also known as crystallised cavern. Winding passages, decorated flowstones, stalactites, avens. The water flow added to the atmosphere. The stream pounded into the Dungeon and sank in tumult. Thoughts of Xanadu. The lower levels inaccessible for now, though Fabian took a good look at it.
Further in, the passages became more flooded. Three storms in quick succession. Wading up to the groin. Lovely. More beautiful geology, not least a wonderful grotto. Pure magic. Plenty of squeezes and crawls. Stumped by the sump? Not likely. We gave the upper levels a kick. Sean, James and Thomas couldn’t resist the Agony Crawl. Evidence of mining too. Stacks of barytes. More speleothems.
102 uneven steps back out. Were we finished? Not likely. A lung-buster of a hill and we found ourselves in a scarred, pock-marked landscape, where the lead veins close to the surface had been worked. Moorfurlong Mine, said Larry, lifting a lid. We peered down. A 13m metal ladder led into the mine. Superb rope work from Larry and Fabian and we were down. Another short pitch and we were in. Really interesting place. Plenty of squeezes, crawls, climbing and generally sliding about in the mud.
Another great day out. Thanks to everyone, especially Larry and Fabian.