Report by Sam Townsend
Cavers: Sam Townsend (EPC), Rob Eavis (SUSS)
Having had a quick bosch round Dr Jackson's the week before, my appetite had been whetted for a return trip - with several objectives. Primarily to have a go at the connection with Perryfoot as recommended by TPot. If that went well - then a quick jaunt round Perryfoot, seemed fitting, taking in the Iron Maiden if possible. And finally - given time a quick look at the digs and leads in Dr Jackson's, again mentioned by T pot. Time was relatively short for what seemed like a fairly full itinerary. Young Rob Eavis of SUSS accompanied me having survived my driving on the way.
We set off at 9:30am - with a call out time of 2pm (as that was the time I was meant to arrive at my desk for work!!). The cave had been bone dry the week before after a prolonged dry spell we've been enjoying. However, dark and menacing clouds were looming over Rushup Edge and it began to rain lightly as we walked to the entrance. I'd checked the weather forecast just on my way out, and this rain was indeed forecast - but only meant to be very light. Dr Jackson's is not a place to be caught out in wet weather. The connection had been described to me by Tpot as....
"Go down the entrance boulder choke & follow anvil passage to a T junction. At the T junction hang a left towards Yoga hole & just before the kink in the passage there is a left turn, follow this, take a right & follow the draft & eventually you will come to the bottom of a mud filled 30 degree rift, now the trick is to thrutch, stand on yer mates head n grab wot u can to come out of it at the top (best of luck cos its f****n tight this is where you realise you're in Perryfoot Cave"
I'd worn a wetsuit in the hope that the smooth profile was going to aid progress. We found the obvious passage on the left, dumped the bag, helmet off and I headed in. It was small and restricted - but I made steady progress - passing a couple of places that I knew I could turn round. Rob was right behind me all the way. As T described - it went in - then right, but I arrived at a junction not described by Tpot. Straight on or left , left was bigger and there was evidence of where the protruding rocks had been hammered to enlarge so I wriggled on that way. Again - arrived at another junction, 3 ways on. One way was up, a rift which looked mightily tight. then the other was dead ahead, but this required moving some rocks which looked like they'd come down from the rift above. Finally right, which looked like it would go but was committing as it required a wriggle around these fallen rocks. It also draughted like mad - which was the main deciding factor given that Tpots description was to follow the draught. In I went. I think it was here that I found a 5 foot length of wood - god knows how it got there, but it came in handy for digging out the whaleback of gravel up ahead which looked like it would hinder progress. Once I'd broken that up, I pushed on, pushing the now loose gravel in front of out of the way. this was possibly the tightest bit - but at least it was straight. I was glad of my close fitting wetsuit at this point. Things soon eased and I quickly arrived at a muddy rift where I could stand up. "By eck - tha's cracked it yoof" I said as I started to climb (hoping that the exit wasn't some hideous squeeze). The climb was relatively straight forward, if your a fan of muddy greasy slippy squirmy "use 'owt on which you can gain purchase on" type climbs (yummy - my favourite) . Before I knew it we popped out in a nice sized passage that must have been perryfoot. It wasn't that bad Tpot !! - especially for midgets like me and Rob. ( Warning - do not attempt this if there is any sign that it might rain, it all looks like it sumps, and you're not going anywhere in a hurry.)
Right, stage one completed and we'd not even been half an hour. So which way to go. Left draughted strongly in towards us. From my brief read of the description, I'd got Perryfoot down as a circular route and that we'd be coming into it somewhere on the top route, so I reckoned right would take us along to Boulder Chamber. Right it was. and we soon arrived at a junction with a rusty car jack. Right again down a muddy crawl. (I didn't remember many side passages on the survey so it seemed sensible that if we kept going right we'd get there in the end). I should have known it was a dead end when we crawled over a kibble and soon enough it ended in a muddy dig. Back to the car jack. Our wetsuits where now covered in slimy clay which made downhill progress rather exciting and uphill progress somewhat tiring. We seemed to just keep hitting dead ends - either sumps - or muddy tubes filled to the roof. We arrived at one chamber which could have been Boulder Chamber (there was a large clean boulder lay in the middle of the passage, and an iron bar that pointed up to the way we'd come. This chamber is meant to contain a sump with concrete dams - and the route back out via the Iron Maiden). However, right lead to a sump - but no concrete dams and left lead also to a sump. This one looked like a rather mean duck, It looked tight - and when I felt forward, it got deeper and wider under the water but a large lump of rock sat on the bottom seemed like it would hinder any attempt. It looked more menacing than the Chamber of Horrors in Giants so it cant have been the way on. There was defiantly no other way so back the way we came then. We ended up in another area (can't remember quite where) but it had a couple of large bee hive slopes that had been under cut and washed out underneath. I ended up head first under them - but they too were blind. Once back at the rusty car jack - we followed the strong draught - which brought us to the delicate climb down as described in the book. Here a large tyre provides a nice foothold. The way out was obvious, to the left. so the way on and to the Iron Maiden must have been to the right. Off we went. We went though a low cobbled arch (The Rack) to a junction. Up the slope to the right and round a u turn was a sump pool and black plastic pipe. I didn't look too closely and we pushed on along the main passage. I remember dropping over an interesting castellated wall that looked like ginging - but was in fact natural. Eventually we got to a very tight turn to the right up though a slot, then down. at the bottom it turned under itself to the left again which rob rather bravely got down. He disappeared under me, and I followed. he announced that it just go too small to continue. We just managed to turn round and headed back up the squeeze. It was time to give up. We headed out. On the way, I had another look at the sump with the black plastic pipe. On closer inspection - it looked like it had air space and was just a pool. However - we still had a trip down Dr Jackson's to look forward to so we headed out into the daylight. At least it had stopped raining.
Dr Jackson's was uneventful. It only took a couple of attempts by Rob to figure out Yoga hole (well I wasn't going to let on) . At the inclined rift, I had a close look at the static sump that sits at the end of the crawl on the right. It looks very interesting. Nice and clean, unlike most of the sumps in the area which resemble mud baths as soon as they are disturbed. It could well be another candidate for a syphoning project. We rigged the first pitch, easy when you know how. and just took a belt and cowstails for the traverses over the rock bridge and the chasm. We had a climb up the rift in the final chamber, it is draughty, but no sign of the rubble and miners shot holes that T Pot talked of. We could have climbed higher I guess. We raced out and into the glorious warm sunshine. Passing two very bemused looking Telecom engineers up a telegraph post, we produced the usual comments, "is this Buxton", "what day is it".
I think Rob enjoyed the trip. Its a nice and varied cave. Not exactly full of pretties - but certainly 'sporting'.