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Trip to Grand Turk Passage -- 23nd Oct 2011

Group: Graham, Dave

On a recent fossick around Minera quarry Dave noticed that the NWCC access door to Grand Turk Passage seemed to have been left unlocked. Previous trips to this natural cave passage had involved a long complicated trek from Minera Cabin Shaft which was both tedious and muddy. The prospect of an easy trip without the mud was very appealing and so it was arranged for the following sunday.

We headed off to minera quarry and parked near the barrier. Sadly a lot of changes have taken place over the last few years and the flat area a bit further on which was used as a car park is now inaccessible. After changing into caving gear we headed long the track, through the gate and then worked our way up to the footpath behind the houses. After a short search the hatch was located and was found to be unlocked. We slid down and inspected the shaft. Dave found an old split for the safety line on the RHS of the shaft and then realized he had left the hangers at home. Graham spotted that the two anchors for the Y hang were still in place and so it turned out to be just a matter of rigging a safety line from a boulder and then rigging the Y hang with a bit of careful balancing.

Graham wasn't too happy with the takeoff to get onto the rope and so a ladder was fetched and rigged down the front edge so Graham could get on and off easily, Once this was done we abseiled down and commenced the crawl along the narrow passage leading to Grand Turk.

At the end of the crawl lay the somewhat roomer Grand Turk passage and turning to the left we went to look at the rather meagre collection of 'pretties'. Once these had been done we turned around and followed the main body of the passage. This shows evidence of the miners as there are quite a few pieces of timber against the walls as if to hold up the roof. They are completely unnecessary as the rock is absolutely solid and they look very weedy in comparison. After a small step down the passage continued as a wide low arch with a scalloped roof and, in places, mud banks at the side. The is very little water around and so some of the mud banks have cracks and are very reminiscent of poachers cave in the Alyn Gorge.

Eventually a slightly roomier section is reached with a couple of holes in the side of the roof and a low crawl under a lip. Nearby are more timber 'supports'. After the low crawl the passage opens out a bit and water enters from an inlet on the right. The passage descends more steeply and meanders a bit before a pool with a sump is reached. This is the end of the cave for mere mortals although divers have searched unsuccessfully for a way on.

We returned back through the low crawl and inspected the other passages. One was a mine shaft which had a ladder part way up and a rope to what looked like a passage off. We had a look up the ladder, but chickened out free climbing the rope as we had left the SRT gear at the bottom of the main shaft.

It definitely looks like worthwhile explore as there is a strong draught. We headed back to the crawl, up the shaft and de-rigged before driving to a pub. Sadly the Moors Inn had no decent draught beer and the barman said he was closing up next week and so we headed further afield. Still a good trip and even better for avoiding the minera mud...

Total trip time about 2 hours