Up early for a drive over to Hope, (beyond Hope, actually- ho ho ho)... We stopped off in The Woodbine cafe in Hope for a quick cuppa and some 2nd breakfast. Our leader for the day strolled in and after a short chat about where we were going and what to expect, we headed off up to the top of the valley above Bradwell.
Getting changed into a polartec bodysuit and then a waterresistant over suit, and a pair of wellies, industrial marigolds and a helmet with a lamp on (petzl, if you must know) we headed down.
The cave we were going down was Bagshawe Cavern, not a particularly difficult cave, as could be seen by the 2 minibus loads of kids that preceded us down into the complex, but (as reported in the Caving guide to the area) a good beginners cave, and one that had a lot of interesting stuff, if you looked for it.
I won't go into the whole oooh wasn't it scary business, mainly because it wasn't. The guidance we were given in terms of the knowledge acquired was very good.
Information about how the caves were formed, the main types of rock around us, why and how various cracks were created, and what was mined for. The obvious stalagtites and stalagmites were encountered, but also flowstone and small helictites, (which are pretty damn cool when you look at them, and even cooler when you learn about how they end up being made- which involves capillary action, carbonic acid and evaporating water).
The knowledge that we gained about the geology of the area didn't stop at what we were experiencing underground, but encompassed the entire valley and beyond- really interesting when you consider what kind of rock you are climbing on in the Peak, where it came from and how the heck it came to be there.
There were a few deeper (but not horrendously deep) puddles that we had to wade through, and a couple fo fun crawls, but nothing too technical. The helmet was ok, but very front heavy, (obviously because of the light), and I suspect that tech has got a whole lot better since that was made, but as something that I borrowed, it worked fine, protected my head, and hey, I'm not going to complain about that.
So as a beginning experience, that was good fun- I don't seem to have a head for working out directions underground yet, though I guess that just takes time and practice.
Just need to buy some of my own kit and make it work now.
More expense on kit... just what I need!