Giants Hole: Denis and Jane (15th July 2015).
We travelled from my apartment in Rhodes (Manchester) to Castleton, Derbyshire on a wet, windy day. We parked up at Peakshill Farm, where the fee had not gone up – yes! A quick change and we were on our way to the entrance, with Jane in full SRT kit and me in skeleton rig of sling, foot jammer and Croll, with only one pitch – ‘Garlands’ – of 5m, where novice trips normally turn around and in very wet conditions can be impassable. Once down it was SRT gear off and down the long thin road of ‘Crabwalk’, with its many turns and twists. We opted for the round trip via ‘Ghost Rift’, a streamway several metres higher than ‘Crabwalk’ and a lot quieter, being aptly named for its white flowstone, ghostly-decorated walls.
Crabwalk provided entertainment with ‘Comic Act Cascade’, ‘Razor Pitch’ and ‘The Vice’, which Jane found challenging on several attempts. ‘Relief Passage’ came as a pleasant surprise on our way to the ‘Eating House’, a small chamber, where I explained to Jane the morphology of the cave system. The short, awkward climb out of the chamber into ‘Maginn’s Rift’ had a lot of character and beyond, a quiet streamway led us on towards the ‘Giant’s Windpipe’, once a 20m sump, but now in all but very wet conditions, a duck with limited airspace. Two rift climbs with handlines in-situ brought us to ‘Poached Egg Passage’, named after its formations, which is the connection to Oxlow Caverns via the infamous ‘Chamber of Horrors’ – a tight, awkward duck on an incline with minimal airspace.
We had a stroll up as far as the daunting entrance passage, returning to ‘The Winpipe’, with its warning signs in place advising not to free dive if sumped. Once through this it was time for fun, sliding down the slippery cascades on our bottoms like a toboggan run. The cvae at this point becomes a rift which one has to straddle for progress until the calcite squeeze, negotiated on one’s side, slightly inclined upwards, with the roar of the lower streamway heard below.
Further progress sees the streamway rise to unite just before ‘Chert Hall’, a chamber full of interest. Just around the corner was ‘Garlands’ and our ascent, with kit on and off before a steady incline back to daylight. Back at the car a young lady called Jessica, dressed in caving kit, offered us a hot drink as she waited to take a party of Girl Guides down as far as ‘Garlands’.