Peak District Caving

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August 2000:

Report from John Taylor -

Clive's Mine, Back o' th' Brook, Waterfall, Derbyshire.

Excavation of a shaft at Back o' th' Brook Farm, Waterfall, began in May 1998 when Allen Rawlinson and Dan Hibberts of the Eldon Pothole Club managed to persuade the owner to let them loose with his JCB. The lead looked promising with 2.7m deep, 1.5M diameter ginging around the top of the shaft and for three weeks they spent almost every evening at the dig. When the shaft became too deep for the excavator they used a hand winch and a milk-churn kibble to haul out the years of debris. Holes in the ground can and often do get filled with the most unsavoury rubbish and this shaft was no exception, It was soon named Texal Shaft, Texal being a breed of sheep, which suggests how grim the digging must have been. Mike Salt also of the EPC joined them on occasion but not being of farmers stock, he found the digging nauseating, to this day he curses the place. On one such occasion, about three weeks into the project, Mike had spent ten minutes digging when, much to the chagrin of Allen and Dan, he broke into a cavity ten metres down the shaft. From there a mined level was explored and yielded 20m of part mined, part natural, passage. This discovery spurred the team on and after a couple of months the bottom of the shaft began to bell out at around minus sixteen metres. In the bottom of the shaft a small passage led to a natural chamber almost totally filled with debris while three metres from the bottom a series of part natural, part mined passages ran upwards at an inclination of around forty degrees. Two hundred meters to the south and thirty five meters lower than Texal Shaft is a wet weather resurgance that is reputed, in flood, to push out a half meter high pillar of water. Local legend tells of a mine entrance in this area that once produced a flood powerful enough to sweep away the surrounding dry-stone walls. Suspecting that the water may come from an old sough driven to drain the mines higher up, Dan and All investigated the site in July 1999. They reached a depth of around six meters, until the arm of the JCB could make no further progress, but found neither cave nor sough. Interest waned for a year until three months ago when work was resumed and the chamber below the shaft was excavated further. The debris in the floor of this chamber now slopes away to a depth of around five metres. We have recently surveyed seventy meters of passage in the mine and estimate that, at present, there is around another twenty. Digging continues. The farmer wishes access to the mine to be controlled so interested parties should contact either Dan or Allen.