RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 45 Number 2 Article 5

May 2008

Herbert’s Hole

Hugh St Lawrence and Beardy, Friday 11th April 2008.

A week into his new job as newsletter editor, Peter Devlin was already hassling me for an article, but what to write about? I’d not been up to much of late, I could have waxed lyrical about a recent three-day camp down Ogof Daren Cilau or of an exciting twenty minutes in Joint Hole enjoying my first proper cave dive. However, for some reason the sage words of an ex RRCPC member ‘Stanley’ came to mind, whenever he was asked which was his favourite caving trip his answer would always be “my next one”.

Having recently spent a couple of sessions trying to finish laying out the next RRCPC journal, Hugh and I were finding a worrying number of bits and pieces that still needed to be surveyed and drawn up. One such omission was the far end of Herbert’s Hole. After a bad week at work, I managed to get an early finish on Friday and headed up north to pick up the Dark Lord.

On arriving at the farm there seemed to be a lot of people getting changed in the car park and we learnt that there was a cave rescue starting for a caver who had fallen in the Manchester Bypass. As there seemed to be lots of would be rescuers about, Hugh and I set about finding a survey kit, got changed and headed off to Herbert’s.

It had been a long time since I had last visited Herbert’s Hole to help with a capping session and I’d heard many a tale about the subsequent RRCPC extensions but had until today been unable to visit them. The Red Rose have extensively dug Herbert’s Hole since the 1970’s and since the mid 1990’s I’d often hear Jim Newton trying to coax diggers into the cave to cap onwards to where the strong draught was coming from. In 2006 Johnny Baker and Hugh St Lawrence were involved in a major breakthrough and it was part of this extension that we were to survey.

On arriving at the cave we admired the impressive yet tidy spoil heap before opening Johnny’s door – a small wooden door in place at the entrance to stop stock from getting into the cave. Once inside a series of fun climbs and crawls led to Clockwise Rift, which I had looked into about ten years ago. At the end of this was an entertaining 7ft drop where the character of the cave changed from being phreatic tubes to being much more rift like. A short distance ahead we gingerly slid beneath The Fridge a large wedged boulder at the end of ‘Moonlight Rift’ just before a most unstable looking chamber. Fortunately the way on popped through the right hand wall in to a more stable parallel rift. Here there appeared to be several ways on, but basically there was an upstream series and a downstream series. Our task was to survey the upstream series, which although not that extensive was to prove to be a challenging hour or two of caving, as the passages provided a series of challenging squeezes and contortions making surveying an interesting proposition. Once every nook and cranny had been investigated a quick tourist trip to the end of the downstream series was enjoyed, to assess the potential for further extensions in this direction. On the way out the Dark Lord could not resist the urge to investigate the hideously loose area near to The Fridge and after some poking and prodding and lots of falling rock a small extension was made before we made a swift exit.

Back on the surface we replaced Johnny’s door and ambled back to the farm discussing the significance of Herbert’s Hole in the search for a dry connection between Aygill Caverns and Bull Pot of the Witches. Back at the farm the rescuers had everything under control as the RAF helicopter flew past to pick up the injured party from County Pot before long the CRO and it’s RRCPC contingent were all enjoying a brew in the Farm’s kitchen. Who’d have thought that you could have so much fun five minutes from the farm on a Friday evening.

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