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Sidetrack Cave
Report From: Ed.
Report Date: 11/2002.
Published: 11/2002.

Back in 1994, Alsop's Cave was discovered in Eldon Hill Quarry after blasting intercepted a major fossil phreatic passage some 4m in diameter. This passage, later named Gracelands, was filled with sediment almost to the roof but was explored and pushed for 60m, passing some fine formations and a smaller passage coming in from the right. This smaller passage, named the Escape Route, was heading east and as with the main passage sediment blocked the way on, although a strong and consistant draught showed this to be the one to push. Blasting soon resumed and access to the cave was lost.

Alsop's Cave, Eldon Hill Quarry, Derbyshire.
Photo: Dave Nixon 1994
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Early in 1998 some "after hours" trips took place to evaluate the effect of the quarrying operations, which by then had reached their eastern limit. Most of the cave explored in 1994 had gone. The last section of Gracelands, the main passage, was accessible and a number of digging trips were made to see if a way on could be pushed. Progress was slow and halted at a point where chemical persuation was required. Further along the terrace to the south, the continuation of the smaller "Escape Route" was found. The outline of the passage could be seen but it was completly filled with sediment, no air gap, no draught. When the quarry face was blased the sediment had effectivly been shaken up and had expanded. Access restrictions meant further digging would have to wait.

The following years saw the quarry decomissioned and the diggers (the cavers that is, not the big yellow ones...) occupied with other projects, namely Titan.

Along came August in 2002. Wanting a break from hollowing out the world on Hurdlow, Dave Nixon (Moose), Robbie Shone and Dave Clucas went for another look. A number of digging trips focussed on "The Escape Route", soon revealing an air space over the sediment and as in '94, a strong draught. This passage was showing all the signs of being ascociated with the western extremities of the Peak Speedwell System. Blimey... just think... Digging continued. Finally, the sediment floor dropped, only a bit, but enough to be pushed. The dig had "gone".

The first section of open crawl was desparately low but after 30m or so the going became marginally more tollerable. This flat-out crawl continued with only occasional releif provided by the odd small bell in the roof or dip in the sediment. After 130m the roof began to rise and what looked like a junction could be seen ahead. 30m further on, 160m from the entrance, the Escape Route poped into the side of a big passage, in places 6m wide and 3m high.

Dave Nixon in "The Escape Route", the entrance passage to Sidetrack Cave.
Photo: Robbie Shone, August 2002
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The Litton Stroll, as it was named, headed of to the left and right. Right was explored first, downstream. Walking and stooping soon turned into a crawl with the passage terminating at a silt and stal blockage. A small passage on the left draughted and looked interesting but was blocked and would require digging. Turning around, the upstream continuation was explored, but this too was terminated in similar fasion. The open length of the main passage was around 240m.

Adam Warren in "The Litton Stroll".
Photo: Robbie Shone, August 2002
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Adam Warren in the upstream section of The Litton Stroll, Sidetrack's main passage.
Photo: Robbie Shone, August 2002
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Adam Warren in the upstream section of The Litton Stroll, Sidetrack's main passage.
Photo: Robbie Shone, August 2002
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Dave Nixon in the upstream section of The Litton Stroll, Sidetrack's main passage.
Photo: Robbie Shone, August 2002
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The cave was named Sidetrack Cave, and on a later trip, photographed. The draughting passage on the left before the downstream termination was dug and on the 27th of September another 100m of open passage was explorred. This brought the total length of the cave to 495m. Since then it's been surveyed and... that's it so far...

Dave Nixon in the dig, on the left downstream from the main junction in The Litton Stroll. This "went" on the 27th of September to enter another 100m of open cave.
Photo: Robbie Shone, August 2002
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previous report 10/2002

Water Icicle Close Cavern Air Analasys Report
Report From: Ralph Johnson.
Report Date: 11/2002.
Published: 11/2002.

Air quality poor in Water Icicle. CO2 levels taken on the 30th of October were again, well above "recommended levels"
previous related report - October 2002
next related report - December 2002

Malc Whitehead in the North West Passage of Water Icicle Close Cavern, Monyash, Derbyshire.
Photo: Shaun Puckering 04/2002
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