Here is a very incomplete list of some of the trips the Eldon have been up to recently.

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A good team assembled to head down Nettle, 6 in total. Katie & Jeff rigged and headed underground at 2pm along with Stick and Jase who had a nosey over Stalagtite Passage. Tommy and I headed underground at 4.30pm and after eventually finding the entrance we made quick progress with help from our friend gravity. We met Stick and Jase at the bottom and bid them farewell. We met Katie and Jeff at the pitch heading down towards Suicide Pot. After a brief chat Tommy and I continued heading up the hard rigged firebeck Hall and along the far flats. Finally at the Freeze squeeze i managed to get through with relative ease on my second attempt, helmet and kneepads off. We slowly picked our way along Gour Passage before finally dropping to the lowest point in Derbyshire Hall. After a brief admire and making point that there was no draught present we made our return trip de-rigging en route. We emerged after 2hrs total trip and headed on to Castleton for food, beer and Eldon Xmas loiterings. Good night had, much better for me as I managed to see the following day, altough possibly not the same could be said for Tommy...

Last Thursday, I went for a quick look at the recently extended section of P8 beyond the old Eldon dig (Christmas Aven) with the aim of taking some photos, improving my survey notes (adding cross sections), and having another assessment of the potential for continuation.

"No." said mother nature and my better sensibilities.

It's been a little while since I've been on a solo trip, it's always enjoyable, as I find it to be a much more immersive experience than caving with loud-mouthed friends and acquaintances.
After tearing myself off the sofa and getting over to Perryfoot I'd say I was underground for about 8.15pm - later than anticipated but never mind. Moving alone through the cave was smooth and steady, with only a small pelicase in tow I made good time.

P8 was on top form; after a long, dry summer the refreshing blasts of water from the streamway felt abnormal but nice. Sump 1 was up, and nice and foamy, the handline up into Christmas Aven was improved after a clean up from the percolation drips.

Upon arrival to the dig I was disappointed to find the breakthrough "U-bend" to be full of brown water. I sat in it to make an assessment, and found that there was no audio connection to the other side. The gravy was too thick, even for this Cumbrian - all the spoil and sides of the dig had slumped in. Knowing how unstable the slop(e) on the other side was, I didn't fancy trying the tight right-angled squeeze and ending up drowned, buried, alone. Or something like that anyway.

A quick photo, back to Sump 1 for another, and then a quick look at Sump B, all very pleasant and behaving correctly.

Water levels had risen ever so slightly for the journey out, and I duly arrived at the pub cleaner than would be expected for a "digging" trip.

I could well be back down some time this weekend for another attempt depending on how the weather behaves...

Team: Luke Cafferty, Rob Eavis

Luke was my Guide for this trip, taking me to his first ever find up Watershed Aven in Peak. At the top of the first pitch it looks like they made easy and efficient progress through a filthy boulder collapse using an upwards scaffold shaft reminiscent but tidier than my efforts in Absolution 10(!) years ago. A small and pretty antechamber leads through to a short crawl to Boom itself, and wow it is bigger than I thought! With Scurions on full we could just about see two blind avens right up in the roof. Down in front of us was a short pitch down to boulders which looks like it might once have been a phreatic rising that created this vast aven series.

Our lead was a bolt climb right by the entrance up to nice looking roof tube about 12m up. This was about 6m more than Luke had remembered, but luckily I’d packed twice as many bolt as he had suggested. Balancing on Luke’s head I managed to reach a large natural to start us off well, and 7 bolts later I’d reached the top. The Uneo performed well, getting all but one bolt out of one battery in tough conditions.

Happy Drill

Unfortunately the tube ended after only 2m, with the development looking like it headed down a small crack and back into the chamber. A bit strange but an answer nonetheless, and it was looking good for the pub so we got out of there sharpish and mulled it all over with a pint of Belgian Blue.

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