Nickergrove 4/7/20

Larry, James, Tom and I met up at the layby just past the Eyam village road in Stoney Middleton and kitted up ready for a Nickergrove Mine (sometimes called Great Cucklet Mine) through trip.

After a short walk up Eyam Delph, turning left up the hill at the end of the wall on the right, we came across the very obvious Adit Entrance. The plan was to enter this and explore the top level while Larry rigged internally and  Hill top shaft and  Didsbury shaft where we were going to exit.

We carefully traversed the first shaft (approx 15 m) and soon arrived at a large and impressive natural chamber. This descended quite quickly in a series of large steps probably created by waste material left by mining. Once at the bottom we noticed an iron ladder which would prove useful on the way back up! There were further mine workings at the far side of this large space which became quite narrow and very muddy. Soon we came to a hard forefield.

After retracing our steps (and making use of the aforementioned ladder), we prepared to descend the shaft we had traversed. I opted to go first and after a bit of fumbling with a deviation to the middle level, descended to the bottom, quickly followed by Tom and James.

This level terminated in a mud chamber which tantalisingly contained a timbered shaft. We were on the verge of descending this when one of us noticed that the ladder it contained only went a bout half way down and several of the rungs were missing. After deciding that caution was the better part of valour we gave continued to the end of the chamber where James and Tom showed off their climbing prowess by scrambling up a decidedly muddy bank to get a closer look at the domed ceiling of the chamber.

After arriving back at the bottom of the shaft we prussicked up to the middle level and began what was possibly the most enjoyable part of the trip. Down a small pitch and an easily missed squeeze through the top of the first narrow passage caused me a bit of a problem, but once I had thought about it logically I managed to coax my portly frame up and into the way on above.

We came to a small chamber with an abseil which again proved to be surprising in as much as I became jammed about half way down! A bit of wriggling did the trick and we only had to prussick out of the small Didsbury shaft.

Larry, Tom and James went up to Hill top shaft to complete a small through trip back to Didsbury shaft where I waited for them gently hyperventilating. They then practised negotiating a rebelay upwards and downwards before exiting and derigging.

Back at the cars we enjoyed a COVID friendly cook up on stoves.

I had visited Nicker Grove once before pre my SRT and so was only able to explore the Adit level. This was impressive but SRT brings (quite literally) another dimension to the trip and there is quite a lot more to see.  Thank you Larry for organising.


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