Giants Hole entrance series prior to blasting

JB

Member
I would like to know what the Giants Hole entrance series looked like before it got blasted etc. I'm using various sources including Barker's "Classic Caves of the Peak District", Beck and Gill "Caves of the Peak District" and a few old journal articles. Would be grateful if someone who knows could have a look and let me know whether this is correct:

It looks as though there was a low bit ("The Curtain") after entering the cave and then the passage was bigger down to what we know as the First Sump. According to Barker the CDG almost broke through the "Main Stream Sump" in 1949. I assume he means the First Stream Sump i.e. the other end is at the top of the wet inlet. Would be interesting to know what sort of kit they were using for that. I guess they were probably pumping air through a hose to the diver. The way on from here was a climb up the rift and through small passage to enter the area of the big old stal column. This section has obviously been blasted to create the entrance to the Blasted passage. Beyond this there was "The Shingle Shuffle" (or Pillar Crawl) and "Backwash Sump". It would seem that the main protagonists in passing these obstacles were Ken Pearce, Les Salmon and other members of the BSA.
 

Stu

Active member
JB said:
I would like to know what the Giants Hole entrance series looked like before it got blasted etc. I'm using various sources including Barker's "Classic Caves of the Peak District", Beck and Gill "Caves of the Peak District" and a few old journal articles. Would be grateful if someone who knows could have a look and let me know whether this is correct:

It looks as though there was a low bit ("The Curtain") after entering the cave and then the passage was bigger down to what we know as the First Sump. According to Barker the CDG almost broke through the "Main Stream Sump" in 1949. I assume he means the First Stream Sump i.e. the other end is at the top of the wet inlet. Would be interesting to know what sort of kit they were using for that. I guess they were probably pumping air through a hose to the diver. The way on from here was a climb up the rift and through small passage to enter the area of the big old stal column. This section has obviously been blasted to create the entrance to the Blasted passage. Beyond this there was "The Shingle Shuffle" (or Pillar Crawl) and "Backwash Sump". It would seem that the main protagonists in passing these obstacles were Ken Pearce, Les Salmon and other members of the BSA.

http://w01-0504.web.dircon.net/pdc/cave_article_giants_1947.htm

In case you hadn't seen it.
 

Mrs Trellis

Well-known member
I grew up with Giant's in its unblasted state and baled Backwash Sump many times.

To flesh out the description below:-

"At that time the entrance passage was blocked by "the curtain" (now blasted away). The stream passed through an opening some 15" high and about a yard long. Passing this meant holding ones breath as the stream backed up when ones body plugged the opening. Getting a plate camera and tripod through was something of a problem as I recall. Beyond this the passage rose to its full height and ended with the stream disappearing under the rock face. This sump could be bypassed by "chimneying" up the cleft and reptating into and along a smooth tubular passage with a thin stalagmite floor. The holes therein contained small pools of water. This passage went a number of yards and entered a cave several feet above the floor. This cave contained the stalactite pillar in the photograph. Beyond this the passage continued to a stagnant sump. A couple of years later there was a dry spell and one could get past this and reach the top of a boulder filled hole which I believe has now been cleared but was too formidable for us."

The curtain was a low crawl in the stream - its main nuisance factor was in chilling you to the bone on the exit in cold weather. It was just after the climb up to Upper West Passage. The smooth tubular passage was called "Pillar Crawl" and had been lump hammered wider (including the pillar blocking the entrance ). It was in the roof of the main passage and was an easy climb up the ledges. The floor had a number of gour pools on which you banged your knees frequently. The pools of water provided some fun if you had novices with you. A lump or two of carbide in the pool and then light the acetylene in the pool gave a satisfying "whoomp" which terrified the newbies. As the bloke says the crawl ended about 6 feet above the floor at the start of Backwash sump.

This was a gloomy place with two (or maybe three) concrete dams with exit pipes and associated bungs, paint tins or buckets to bale with, and usually a "dead" boiler suit floating in the water like a corpse. The key thing about baling was that the space behind the dams had to be as dry as possible because the sump was basically a syphon into Base Camp chamber. If the previous party had failed to let the water go after exiting then one had the heartbreaking task of letting the water go, stopping the pipes and baling again - about an hour and a half with a party of four. Normally with a dryish start it was about forty five minutes baling. You would get a reasonable air space and then plough through quickly on your front or more slowly on your back and up the slope into Base Camp chamber. Ellis Brigham's self-heating soup usually restored some circulation and you set off for the bottom always hoping that seepage wouldn't close the sump behind you.

Another couple of snippets from those far off days:-

Mrs George Watson would give you a mug of coffee on surfacing and a barn to change in for the princely sum of half a crown - 12.5 pence.

The winters were much colder then and your ganzies would freeze after you'd changed out of them. Try folding a frozen boiler suit into a rucksack!!!

We schollboys walked in from either the Wanted Inn, the bottom of Barmoor Clough or over from the railway station at Edale. Edale railway station on a Sunday evening was full of Sheffield "cowboys" all wearing miner's compressed cardboard helmets and giving us on the Manchester platform the "menacing grimace". They were often slightly muddy from squeezing through the Cathole or Suicide in the Winnats.

It was so cold waiting at Barmoor Clough that I took up pipe smoking to warm my hands on the bowl.

On a weekend you would have the cave to yourself. In winter you'd often have to dig the entrance out from behind a snowdrift. I got nearly snowed in waiting for some mates at the Froghole quarry and had to retreat to a b&b in Castleton. The night was the stormiest of a cold winter and my parents were beside themselves with worry. I was watching Match of the Day in front of a roaring fire.

Happy Days. 8)
 

JB

Member
Thanks loads Mrs Trellis. That's just what I was after. Interesting that you used to go uphill into Base Camp Chamber when you look at that section of cave today.

I'm going to do a bit of research later in the week to find out the details of the 1949 dive. I'll post anything I find on here if anyone's interested.
 

Mrs Trellis

Well-known member
I may be wrong but I imagine the downstream end of Sump 1 is too tight - the water seems to issue from more than one immature bedding plane.

Backwash sump was U shaped in X section - hence the need to empty the dams completely before baling. We are talking inches not feet here of incline.
 

Armchair

New member
Downstream sump 1 is an impassable boulder-filled bedding at about 2-3m depth, or at least it was last time I looked.
 

SamT

Moderator
JB said:
Thanks loads Mrs Trellis. That's just what I was after. Interesting that you used to go uphill into Base Camp Chamber when you look at that section of cave today.

I have noticed that there is "tide" line on that section of passage so I guess that was back wash sump.
 

Mrs Trellis

Well-known member
That's right Sam - that'll be old sump level.

I may have underestimated the distance from the end of Pillar Crawl to the start of the dams. About 20m I'd say. Of course the stal in the 1947 picture had gone by the the late 50's early 60's.
 

langcliffe

Well-known member
I know that this is resurrecting an old topic, but I have come across these pictures of Brian Edey negotiating The Curtain, and Brian King negotiating the Backwash Sump in the old Giant's Hole entrance series. They were taken about 1958. 

These pictures come from Barry King's collection of predominantly Derbyshire caving material that was donated to the BCA Library. We hope to add much of it to the BCRA Online Archive in the not too distant future.
 

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Mrs Trellis

Well-known member
T pot 2 said:
Them were hard in them days  :eek:

T pot

.....especially when armed only with a front bicycle lamp.

I just shivered looking at the "curtain" pic.

That's more airspace in Backwash sump than I remember.
 

Mrs Trellis

Well-known member
The text is that I quoted above in my post above:-

"At that time the entrance passage was blocked by "the curtain" (now blasted away). The stream passed through an opening some 15" high and about a yard long. Passing this meant holding ones breath as the stream backed up when ones body plugged the opening. Getting a plate camera and tripod through was something of a problem as I recall. Beyond this the passage rose to its full height and ended with the stream disappearing under the rock face. This sump could be bypassed by "chimneying" up the cleft and reptating into and along a smooth tubular passage with a thin stalagmite floor. The holes therein contained small pools of water. This passage went a number of yards and entered a cave several feet above the floor. This cave contained the stalactite pillar in the photograph. Beyond this the passage continued to a stagnant sump. A couple of years later there was a dry spell and one could get past this and reach the top of a boulder filled hole which I believe has now been cleared but was too formidable for us."

There was a photo of a boy in swimming trunks (!) iirc by the stal pillar.

If you google images of "Giant's Hole 1947" this is one image you get:-
1071863b98a34b9e3f361ffb9ecb5824.jpg


She'll catch her death in that caving suit.

 

Gollum

Member
If you're all talking about this link - stuart posted it in 2005 - 11 years ago - so I suspect the link is no longer current!!
[/quote]

They just don't make links like they used too  :-[
 
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