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Present: Jenny, Al, Katherine, Mark O, Martin, Chris F, Mark F, Melanie, Richard, (guest appearance by Chris R and Katrina)

It was 8:00am and the intrepid adventurers assembled. Spirits were high, the heavens blessed us by coming down. We split into two expeditions and set off: Jenny, Chris, MarkF and Melanie in the Jenny Mobile (it passed its MoT last week – I wonder how large a bribe was required?) while Al, Katherine, MarkO, Martin and Richard travelled in comfort in Al’s company car. After ~2 hours the travellers reached the meeting at Grindleford cafe. The heavens were still with us, so we decided that P8 would be too wet and decided to do the supposedly ‘dry’ Carlswark Cavern.

After a further 10 minute driving (including a game of chicken by Al with some friends we bumped into) we found the parking. Crossing the road and climbing a short hill we reached the entrance; a 30ft pitch down a chimney (Eyam Dale Shaft) with a narrowing 2/3 of the way down due to a ledge. After breif excitment caused by a trapped safety rope (it caught itself on the bottem of the ladder) and a short rescue (Melanie lost her footing and required to be hauled up a few feet before continuing down). At this point it was discovered that MarkO (who arrived in his usual full regalia including painted nails, but who are we to question his prefered mode of dress) found he was missing a crucial component of his lamp; he had no nuts to hold his plug in, so he remained behind.

The remaining adventurers moved on, untroubled by that first ominous loss before even reaching the bottom of the first pitch. The cave was dry at this point and scrambling under boulders hindered the party not at all. At this point Richards knee went, but fortunately he managed to manipulate it back into it’s correct position, so he continued. After a short distance the cramped tunnel opened out to a small cavern 2/3 of a man high. During a brief rest, we made a small tribe of mud men to commemorate our passing. At this point we had a choice; either go out by another passage to an alternative entrance, or go down to a sump to see some famous gnomes.

We went on, undaunted by the sump, to see these gnomes. We marked our trip by leaving a trail of mud men (a fortunate practice as you shall later see in this tale). The tunnels ahead varied from stooping height to sections so low that some of us were forced to crawl forward on our stomach. This was the part of the trip were we discovered exactly how wet and muddy our ‘dry’ cave was. This was not encouraging for the sump, but we cleared out minds of any doubts and crawled forwards.

You may have gained the impression, gentle reader, that we had beated the worst that the cave could place in our way, but at this point the tunnel roof came down and the water rose. A near sump, about 3m before the main one opposed the travellers. After some thought and a discussion, all went forward; oh such a folly arrogance is in the force of opposition. Finally as Mark Fuller crossed the duck, did our fate strike. All had conspired to place us deep within the Earth before the cave made its resentment to us, the interlopers known. A cry was heard from MarkF, “Oh no, I’m being deadly serious now; I’ve dislocated my shoulder and may need to go to hospital!”

Jenny, a vetran at putting dislocated shoulders back in, rushed forward to our casualty. With her help, Mark managed to put his shoulder back in and was then able to move without help. Seeing wisdom, the travellers chose to return to the surface. The defeated adventurers never saw the gnomes, and were forced to retrace their steps to the mud men village. This sounds easier than it was. The air was saturated and with every breath a fog filled the tunnels. It may seem like presentiance (sp?) but the mud men we left on our trail were pointing us back to their village when we became lost.

Rather than return back to the pitch, the group went on to explore for the alternative entrance. The roof was consistantly higher, the water consistantly lower and the gourps spirits rose. In fact the mood became so jovial that Al took to compering around; as part of a dive into some water, he nearly castrated himslef on his camera gear tub he had about his person when it moved into an unfortunate position. (This in fact turned out to be pre-emptive justice for a trick he pulled). Al, well known to be the club jester, was soon limping on his way and the group progressed swiftly. Al, now having recovered somewhat from joining the sopranoes, was soon ahead of the rest of the group until he came into view standing in water that reached to above his knees declairing that there was a causeway across the middle of the water. Amazingly the group found this causeway on the first attempt and crossed carefully in a conger line. At this point Al got off his knees and re-joined the party. (As was said, his near castration was pre-emptive justace and now he had committed his crime, all was accounted for).

After little incident the other entrance was found, only requiring a short climb (~6 or 7 m) in convienient steps. This was the first sighting of the land the group had, so now the overall path could be charted. Each entrance was a little way up hills on opposite sides of the road (which ran along the trench between them). The travellers had gone down through one hill under the road and climbed back up through the other hill. This is the story of Carlswark Caverns in all its glory.

Your Narrator, Richard