I met Larry at the Yondermans, which is now open for food, and can you believe it we
didn’t have breakfast.
I followed Larry to the Fireset lay-bye in Eyam Dale, on left just after the electric
substation, kitted up, which wasn’t without interest as my harness had twisted into
unfathomable knots & eventually I had to strip it, re-buckle and refit all the SRT hardware.
Anyhow we headed up a twisty jungle bashing track, which is the DCA negotiated access route and is marked by red reflective discs, and eventually reached the grid. The bar over the grid was
stuck fast & it took quite a while to get off (we sorted it when we came out so should be easier next time). Rigging is easy, tape round the scaff bar & back up to a tree, entering the shaft is an awkward affair & I would want much more than my 42” Chest!
Once in it’s an easy, but snug 20m abseil down the shaft, landing at the head of a blind pit. A bit of easy ground brought us to an awkward but not too tight, short crawl BUT the
exit is right over a steep drop, so watch out for this. We rested here to read the guide we had with us, which didn’t exactly describe the way as we found it. However, we pressed on with some easy crawling to the head of the second pitch, it’s free climbable but we rigged an 8mm hand-line to a natural belay, which was enough (we had taken SRT gear off as we were expecting some flat out crawling) There are 2 ways on at the base of the pitch, back under the pitch is an awkward & then flat out crawl to the Pearly Gates (more on this later) and onward is a pleasant amble along the floor of a significant rift, terminating in the very well decorated large North West chamber.
After a few photos & poke around a couple of digs we returned to the base of the second pitch. Awkward crawling brought us to a point where it becomes a totally flat out crawl to
the Pearly Gates (two stal that have to be squeezed through). I didn’t fancy the flat out crawl, so we decided to leave this for another day.
The prussicking up the first pitch is easy as was exiting through the tight rectangular entrance ironwork – however this is quite a sharp rub point which can’t be avoided, so I would bring a rope protector next time I visit, as there was no possibility to rig a deviation to avoid it.
That wasn’t the end of the adventure though!! I stepped back from the entrance and pulled the camera out of my top pocket to photo Larry’s exit, and pulled my car key out with it, I watched in slow motion as it hit a rock, bounced to the lip of the entranced, teetered, then fell into the abyss. Larry shouted up something had flown past him, I shouted down it was my car key, so Larry abseiled back down the few metres he’d climbed, poked around &
reported it must have fallen down the blind hole. On the way back up he chanced upon a key, balanced on a tiny finger ledge, phew. Based on this level of luck, I did the lottery & sure enough won, only £25 though!
After changing we had a brew in a glade opposite & I committed to return & give the ‘Pearly Gates’ a go – the guide says there’s another well decorated chamber ‘Room with a View’ beyond, & a further large 60m rift.
All in all a very worthwhile trip, be warned the entrance is snug!