It’s MY Choice, Not Hobson’s! by Gary Rhodes

Dow Cave: Ian, Abby and Gary (20th April 2008).

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. That’s bollocks!… me!…wise?… and wealthy? – I’m just too lazy to work!… but back to the wise bit… Dow Cave, Hobson’s Choice… For some reason people make out that it is something to be left alone. Great tales of using matchsticks to see i the boulders are on the move, or was it  to prop them up?? Many an occasion have I gone with people to show them this place, only to turn around and see a light disappearing into the dark depths of Dow with the resounding echo of running feet sploshing into the distance. Oh well, the tales people like to tell. Me too!  But the truth is, its not a bad place and the best of Dow Cave is on the other side.

The day after the dinner Ian, Abby and myself passed this way on a little trip to get to the very back of Dow. Ian has done a write-up on this trip. The saw blade that he mentioned was used as some form of device from The Raiders of the Lost Ark by Steady Eddie to chop up this pirate digger trying to steal his glory! And as for the part about Abby getting stuck (I’m sure he put her up to it so he could get an eyeful of her voluptuous, PVC-clad arse! Although after five minutes of tugging and pulling, Winnie The Pooh started to come to mind. Anyhow, after this, and on the way out I noted for the can’t remember how many number of times a muddy climb leading to miners levels before you start to enter Hobson’s. The bit where there’s a lamp of four by four wood jutting out. So, as we were wet and a little hung-over from the night before I thought a little return trip must be done, soon, before I forget as per always. So…

A fine following Saturday and an early start saw Abby and myself on our way up to Dow to go on a mine hunt. As mines tend to be geologically fixed this prevents them from moving around so they are usually where you last saw them. Not really much of a hunt! So anyhow, I got up trusting this lump of wood and Abby found another way, but both up we got. A short steep muddy climb led onto other steep muddy climbs and passageways with more mud. Not a lot to go on about, a lot of pick marks and mud and that’s about it in this mining section. So dissatisfied with this off we went on a proper hunt. Now Steve Warren had mentioned to me something about a miner’s chamber complete with waterfall and a moving staircase! And all this above Hobson’s!!! So off we go into this boulder choke. Box of matches in hand to use as props…well I’ve heard that’s what people use in Hobson’s! Abby noted a climb and said that it was really horrible, so I had a look. Yes it was – best to leave that alone! Spent a good twenty minutes/half an hour going down, looking up and always going back to this thing that Abby found. And always coming away thinking that’s not wise! But in the end curiosity must be satisfied! So to this thing/climb I tentatively approached. Right here I had just better get into my reminiscence mode, put my stick-on beard on and get out the corn cob pipe and sit ye self down for I have tales to tell. Of days of yonder, when men were men and not afraid to dance around in their wives underwear, and beer was a mere £2.50 a pint and you could go out, get pissed, have a curry and still have change from two £50 notes! Ooo arrrh! listen ye well!! Bugger, forgot what I was on about now. Yes, so up we went into this doom above our heads. Boulders as huge as cows, and not the soppy milky ones you normally see, no, really huge ones with horns! Boulders with clean scrape marks and bits missing. Mud soft and fresh, as no feet have passed this way! And the smell you get from freshly fallen rock so strong that it almost overpowered the one coming out of my suit! Up went and into this mess of chaos. Every foot forwards made a very earthly sound under our feet as things went tinkle, tinkle down below.

Carefully we worked our way across this steeply climbing chamber into its middle towards some large blocks. Once on these boulders all seemed a happier place as we could see old and faint boot marks – a path! Up we went towards the sound of water. Turning round and looking back I noticed that somebody had scratched an arrow on the roof of this chamber. They must have been 10ft tall to do this. More probable is that the floor has slumped several feet! Back on up we finally came to a chamber proper. With a real floor, a waterfall and mine-workings. Looking at the debris brought in by the waterfall I reckon that we can’t be too far away from the surface. Bits of twigs, sheep ribs and grass. Spent a little time here looking in the mine workings. Did not lead onto anything great. A bit of natural passage as a very flat-out crawl to?? My bum’s too big! So after a good look around carefully we picked our way back out, looking in nooks and crannies. By gum, were we glad to get back into the safety of Hobson’s Choice! So that’s a little trip out in a not so bad a place as people make out! Took a little rubbish out with us. So that’s a bit of conservation work to report on Mr Rockett. Oh, the sun has come out and it has stopped raining. Time to go out to play!

Laird Rhodes