Sam, Ben, Peter and I met on a cold Sunday morning at the lay-by near Stoney Middleton with a view of exploring Carlswark Cavern. As Ben was familiar with the cave, he led us on the 3-hour round trip.
We accessed the cave via the Gin Entrance and headed towards the next big chamber to take off a few layers as it was surprisingly warmer than expected.
Ben lead us down the huge Eyam Passage which was big enough to stand up in at certain points towards the North West Passage where we were met with a T-Junction. Ben advised that if this one is flooded accessing the dynamite passage is usually not possible.
Ben had us gathered together at the entrance of dynamite passage with a massive grin on his face “Now the fun starts!”. In his terms that means tight squeezes, weird acrobatic manoeuvres and usually a definition of hell in other people’s worlds.
The day before I watched some videos of Carlswark and was very nervous about this first squeeze into the series. On your back, on a wooden plank, headfirst superman style with your helmet off. As soon as you are in there is a 90-degree left turn before exiting into a bigger chamber. Very close to comfort but I loved it.
We pressed on ending up in another chamber where we had a rest and explored the different crawls into other directions. One of them took my interest but didn’t think it would lead anywhere. Ben shot off and shouted, “guys this is worth looking at!”. Peter and I followed and ended up in a narrow chamber with fantastic stalactite formations. Ben even managed to find the Flowerpot Shaft which would allow for an amazing SRT through trip from there ending up at Eyam Dale Shaft.
Conscious of Time we decided to turn around and head back via the narrow squeeze and after a quick look into the stalactite passage continued down the cockle passage which gave us a final soaking before exiting again through the Gin Entrance.
This trip certainly showed Carlswark in its trickiest form but nevertheless it was an incredible trip. We de-kitted back at the lay-by which at this point was very busy with climbers and walkers which meant we got there at a perfect time.
Thank you Ben for leading this little early morning adventure.