Text Box: Knotlow Caverns 2nd May 2015  

On a typical Bank Holiday weekend, the weather was cold and damp, but this didn’t deter Bill Osborne (member), myself (probationary), and our friend Matt Walker, from driving to Monyash, Derbyshire.

We had been to the area months before, to find Knotlow Mine, but had descended Whalf Pipe Mine (a deep shaft) by mistake. This time we still had difficulty in finding the right shaft. We located a grill capping the shaft, which we unbolted with an adjustable spanner, and Bill rigged the rope on some dubious looking metal bars. He had only descended a short way, when he noticed the end of the 40 metre rope was dangling in space with no signs of the bottom. He hastily retreated to the surface. Meanwhile, Matt had located the right entrance, with a plaque “Knotlow Climbing Shaft”. The grill was unbolted, and again Bill began rigging using a 40 metre rope. When he was down, Matt and I soon followed.

Below, using the rope, we descended a steep slope under an archway to a ledge overlooking the next pitch. Using a 30 metre rope, Bill rigged and descended using a deviation 3 metres down, we soon followed. From the chamber, an obvious passage lead to a series of climbable descents, leading to the final pitch. Below a waterfall could be seen entering from an inlet from the right (looking out). P-hangers had been put in place on the left wall, to give a partially dry descent. Bill, using Spiderman techniques, rigged a traverse line using several of these P-hangers, to give a free hang using a 40 metre rope.

Now it was my turn, gulp! I’m not used to such acrobatics, but by gritting my teeth, (and filling my pants), I overcame this obstacle, and joined Bill at the bottom, slightly wet. We were in a sizeable chamber with a deep pool, and a large diameter pipe sticking out, Matt soon joined us, being younger and fitter. Note: we were at the base of the engine shaft (200 ft.)We had got a bit wet on the descent, so didn’t linger too long. Following a Mars Bar break, we partially explored a coffin level. The passage was low and narrow with very cold water rushing through it. The journey out was uneventful, apart from Matt taking some photos, which held us up a bit (I was glad of the rest).

It was raining on the surface, so wasted little time packing up the gear and re-bolting the grill at the entrance. It was handy having the car park 5 minutes’ walk away.

Good trip, in good company.   Note: P-hangers on all pitches.

Les Mottram.

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