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Wapping Mine and Cumberland Cavern with Hannah (04/03/17)

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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 Bath.

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.

We 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.

In 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 had.

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 do'… this was also followed by chips.