I had been telling Hannah about my first trip down a mine and that
our whole group had slept down it, found a maze and lots of crystals - she
wanted to go, but without the sleeping bit. So for this weekend MES headed down
to southern climes compared to the usual haunts of the northeast. Karli came
down to Manchester on Friday night and on Saturday morning we headed to Matlock
Arriving around 10:30, we parked up, and started getting changed
and then realised that no one had a lighter for the stove. Arrgggghhh, back in
car and down to the centre. No shops with lighters, in desperation I popped
into a pub - or it might have been a B&B with a bar - can't remember, but
thankfully some of the staff where have a morning brew and one offered me a
spare lighter. Was that kindness or a desperate effort to get the nutter in
romper suit and wellies out of the premises? I hope it as kindness - mission
accomplished, back to the carpark to finish changing. A short walk took us the
entrance of Wapping Mine. Karli went in first over the wall, Hannah was passed
/ forced / made to climb in after him, and finally I climbed over.
made our way along the entrance stopes, up and down the uneven floor, stopping
to gaze at the bubbly calcite formations and mine pearls. A short time and we
arrived at the Forth Stope and then we climbed up higher over the fallen rocks
in the Funnel Cave, this gave access to the caves of Cumberland Cavern. Passing
through the 1st and 2nd chambers we stopped at Devil's Pit and told Hannah
that, that was the route we had to climb down to the maze on our way back. We
carried on into the 4th chamber and then entered the old show area.
the show cave I showed Hannah, where I slept on my first visit in 1987 and all
the graffiti that was done by the 'Trog's', we then made our way up the spiral
steps and further into the show cave (in reverse). We ended up by the wishing
well, and then headed for the flooded winze chamber and then back to the Pool
Chamber, where we had a very late elevenses - some toffee flavoured yum yum's.
From here we retraced our route to Devil's Pit, gave Hannah the plan of the
maze as she was keen to navigate and we climbed down.
I remember the
first time I climbed down this pit in my teens, it seemed like a major climb -
but actually doing it again it only is very shallow - maybe 4-5m deep? I
climbed down first, set up the camera and then Karli helped Hannah down.
Reaching the bottom she was amazed by the large calcite pocket that greeted
her, I then took her and Karli to see the fluorite crystals in the blind
passage opposite the pit bottom. After that we headed along the Stream Passage
and made our way to the Wooden Prop room. Here a fine lunch of spaghetti hoops,
heavily buttered bread, crisps and remains of the yum yum's was
After lunch we headed for Calcite Junction and from there to the
Main Stope to look at the large dog tooth calcite pockets. However, at
Toadstone Bank I took a wrong turn which took us to the south western part of
the maze. Only checking with a compass showed up the error, re-trace and we
finally got to the Main Stope. We had a good look around, and following a time
check, we had to get a move on. Returning to Calcite Junction the main Wapping
Mine level was picked up and we headed back out to the adit. We had a bit of a
look around the small workings around the main adit and then returned back to
the car to get changed. 'Are we going home now?', asked Hannah - 'No we are
going to the pub for a after mine trip pint - that's what all mine explorers
this was also followed by chips.