Report by Dunka
Cavers: Dunka (EPC), Nige Strong (EPC), Steve (Stik) Rider (EPC), Jase Rider (EPC)
This article is dedicated to Tom Proctor. Although not a member of Eldon, Tom was an important figure on the Stoney Middleton caving scene, being responsible for pushing many of the recent finds in the area. Tom was probably better known for his climbing exploits, his 70’s routes at Stoney and elsewhere in the Peak still command respect today, and also his immense strength will be remembered and discussed foryears to come. Perhaps his most important attribute, one all that met him will remember, was his genuine nice guy outlook - I feel honoured to have known Tom.
The owner of Eyam Dale house is genuinely keen about the cave in his back garden - he even showed me how to unlock the padlock on the entrance - I must look stupid (no comments please).
Jase was first down the entrance. After much grunting, swearing and complaining and what seemed a long time for a 20m pitch, Jase shouted "rope free". It transpired that he had continued down the shorter second pitch by accident and run out of rope. Maybe it wasn’t me who was stupid! (note the second pitch has had the hangars removed). We all grovelled over the muddy boulders, down a short but tricky climb and up into the main rift - surely that wasn’t it?
Returning, Stick noticed a wet low passage leading back from the base of the short climb and dived in. After listening to more grunting and grovelling I followed, moaning about the grotty mud, only to contact a pair of thrashing size twelves with my face. Stick had got the aptly named Pearly Gates (a pair of stals partially blocking the low crawl) slightly wrong - get it right then it’s a slide through.
The real caving then started - a huge rift (especially big by Stoney standards) is entered after another awkward climb down. Lots of nice formations here! We climbed, slid, thrutched and wooped all over the place (take care - it’s a long way down in places!). The cave obviously continues through the unpleasant dig - no thanks!
Back to the surface - pub - what the Anchor shut?? Rush to the Red Lion just in time for the last one.
A great little evening trip (a cave everybody knows but few go down) - well worth the slight hassle of booking.