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Trip to Nickergrove Mine -- 19th July 2012

Group: Roger, Dave

The weather wasn't wonderful as we set off for Derbyshire and it hadn't improved when we parked up opposite Eyam Dell to change while standing in a sea of mud. Finding the adit took a couple of attempts as we didn't have a GPS, but it was eventually found and a bit further along and up was the grilled cover to Palette shaft. Searching for Didsbury shaft took a bit longer and we didn't find it - we found a shaft that might have been it on about the same level, but further north, however we subsequently discovered was not it!

Progress wandering around the hillside was painfully slow due to the wet vegetation complete with waist high nettles, but we got back to the adit and headed inside out of the rain.

A stooping height passage turned right near a hole in the floor (we didn't bother descending) and carried on for a few hundred feet to a junction with a passage on the right and another hole in the floor. The passage led to a small hole which only the most anorexic caver could hope to fit through but there was a draught and the passage continued. It would be pointless squeezing through as it would just lead to Palette shaft. Back at the main passage, the small hole in the floor was blind after a few feet.

Carrying on the main passage reached the internal shaft crossed by a big baulk of timber and in-situ P anchors and a large ring for pull-thru rigging. After rigging a rope down the shaft we headed along the level and down to rift chamber. The passage carried on, passing an old digging tub and a hole in the floor which used to be a winze. The passage floor had the remains of an old track (from an ancient dig) and a lot of mud. Eventually it closed down at a collapse and so we retreated back to the shaft.

After ab-bing to the bottom of the shaft, a short flat out crawl over rocks leads to the NW lead to a little grotto which quite nice formations. Back in the shaft a passage to the NW led to clay chamber, which is well named as it was floored with gloopy material which threatened to remove wellies. There was a vertical shaft with a fixed ladder and water visible at the bottom. Sadly the ladder stopped well before the bottom and if you slid down without rigging a rope then you probably wouldn't get out. Not having a spare bit of rope we chickened out, anyway given the volume of rain which had fallen it would be doubtful if the stream passage would be accessible. Crossing the gloop lead to a horizontal passage with a bit of pack-wall on the LHS and a very low section which looked a bit dodgy. We backtracked and prussiked up the shaft.

Stopping off about 8m below the shaft top we manoeuvred into a side passage and headed along. After a wet section there was a climb down of about 20'. There were P hangers for a safety line, but we didn't have any spare rope and given we were coated in slippery mud we decided not to risk broken bones. We headed back to the surface and wandered over to what we thought was Didsbury shaft. After rigging a rope from a tree and ab-bing down Dave decided it was far too deep and there was no horizontal passage and so this was not it. We de-rigged and wandered back to the car, it was still raining, but not enough to wash off the mud.

Total trip time about 3 hours