Author Topic: Giants Hole  (Read 1986 times)

Offline Gritstone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Giants Hole
« on: October 14, 2019, 09:48:17 pm »
So I have a strong love of Giants Hole, I may even glow slightly as a result of my visits. Having been in again over the weekend with an absolute caving legend I started kicking myself for not probing him further on how they got in prior to the blasted passage. I've tryed to find an old survey but can't. My question is can the original route still be done and if so where did it go and is there a survey maybe that shows it.... I would be really interested in trying it without the bypass if it's still possible.

Offline Pete K

  • Pete Knight
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1489
  • Peak Instruction, DCMC, DCA, PICA, TSG, DCRO
    • Peak Instruction
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2019, 10:03:16 pm »
The current route to the broken column is the result of the modifications (widening by blasting) of the original passages, so you are already doing the old route. I guess for authenticity, you should crawl on your belly all the way from the entrance with someone carrying a rock just above your head! I'm too young to know how it really used to be though!

Offline Gritstone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2019, 11:50:05 pm »
Oh my 😳.  I'm back in there Friday, I'll let you know how get on!

Offline pwhole

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1584
  • TSG, DCA, PDMHS
    • Phil Wolstenholme website
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2019, 12:30:50 am »
There's several old surveys drawn by Les Salmon, Eli Simpson and co of the early years of exploration, and maybe copies are in the British Caving Library? Digital archiving work is also being done on the Simpson archive, and the Derbyshire section is the next to be released when completed, according to the site - under the 'Archive Release' link:

https://www.bgs.ac.uk/discoveringgeology/geologyofbritain/archives/elisimpson/home.html

Offline Gritstone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2019, 07:51:02 am »
Thanks for that, the Yorkshire stuff is really interesting. I'll have a flick through the rest when I'm back at work and can use the big screen, it takes a while to view things on a phone.

Offline Groundhog

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 167
  • Love my new light
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2019, 08:44:25 am »
Sadly I am old enough to remember Giants before the entrance series was blasted out. The current route does follow the original. Just that all the tight bits have gone. Not far from the entrance was Near Curtain, a short crawl down at stream level. The point where you now step up and leave the stream was Pillar Crawl, a roof tube about 10m long. It ended just where the broken stal (The Pillar) is. At the end of the descending passage which follows was Backwash Sump which had to be bailed. There were a series of concrete dams which have now gone.
If you look closely you can see all the blasted bits.

Offline Brains

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2276
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2019, 08:52:08 am »
Sadly I am old enough to remember Giants before the entrance series was blasted out. The current route does follow the original. Just that all the tight bits have gone. Not far from the entrance was Near Curtain, a short crawl down at stream level. The point where you now step up and leave the stream was Pillar Crawl, a roof tube about 10m long. It ended just where the broken stal (The Pillar) is. At the end of the descending passage which follows was Backwash Sump which had to be bailed. There were a series of concrete dams which have now gone.
If you look closely you can see all the blasted bits.
At Backwash Pool - the horizontal passage before Basecamp Chamber, a series of water worn etched lines can be seen, these would have been the water level. Just before emerging the walls are all blasted, showing where the passage was enlarged. Much of the floor from daylight to below Garlands is composed of blasting debris, with some concrete surfacing remaining near Upper East and West passages.

Offline Gritstone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2019, 02:13:40 pm »
Thanks guys, that's really interesting stuff. I'm very keen to find out how the caves used to be in the past and also how they compare to what I'm finding down there today. Ive just finished reading the Barry King caving logs which were also full of wow moments.

Offline paul

  • Global Moderator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4355
  • Orpheus CC, NPC
    • Orpheus Caving Club
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2019, 04:58:53 pm »
I'm not a complete idiot: some parts are missing!

Offline Gritstone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2019, 06:24:10 pm »
Wow, that's a serious amount of effort to enter a cave and with a torch like the one I had on my first bike. Now I see why they had such problems with lighting. Also amazing it looked back then its awesome now but not a patch on back then.

Offline Groundhog

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 167
  • Love my new light
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2019, 09:02:29 am »
The photo of Garlands on rope ladder took me back. The first time we got to the bottom, 1967 I think, was on rope ladders. Hard work lugging them down crab walk.
I am aware that everyone else was using electron by then but the DCC were a bit late in catching up!

Offline Mrs Trellis

  • British Jobs for British Shirkers
  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 839
  • Daft old bat
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2019, 10:05:19 am »
iirc in the mid-60's you'd have to come back up Crab Walk as the Maginn's rift route wasn't known.

Also when did Messrs Watson & Revell commence blasting operations?
Mrs Trellis
Upper Sheeps Bottom
North Wales

Offline Jenny P

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 671
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2019, 05:19:00 pm »
The blasting was done in the winter of 1967/68 and cavers didn't know what was going on until it was well advanced.  That was the year of a really bad Foot-and-Mouth outbreak so that all caving, walking, climbing, etc. was put on hold throughout the country for nearly 6 months.  Hence no-one went near Giants, which is on farm land, and Mr. Watson, who owned Peakshill Farm, and Mr. Revell, who did the actual "mining" work, were able to get on undetected.

The idea was to turn it into a show cave but they could not get planning permission for the necessary car park so, after all the damage and expense, they had to give up the idea.

Garlands is gradually returning to its original depth as the rubble gets washed away down the Crabwalk.  We were shocked when we first got in after the winter if 67/68 to find that Garlands was only 15 ft deep, instead of its original 30ft.  It seemed that once the passage had been opened sufficiently at Pillar Crawl and the sump to allow someone to get through with tools, the rubble from the blasting was wheelbarrowed down the passage and tipped over the top of Garlands Pot.  In the summer of 1967 I can remember seeing a caver right at the top of the old fixed ladder on the 30 ft deep Garlands Pot with water pouring over his shoulder as the cave was in fair flood. 

in early 1967 Eldon P.C. had chiselled a shallow channel from the Backwash Pool downstream which allowed the static sump to drain sufficiently to leave a half-inch airspace, so the dams went out of use.  However, the remaining duck was low enough to catch out someone who tried to go through with a rope round his shoulders and jammed solid, having to be hauled back out by his feet.  There was at least 6ft of flat-out crawling in more-or-less flooded passage and, once you got into the water you raised its level so effectively cut of the air-space anyway and you had to treat it like a sump and dive through.

The cave suddenly became much more popular once you didn't have to bail the dams, and that's evidently what gave Mr. Watson the idea of turning it into a show cave.  Also remember, no cave SSSIs at that time, so no worries about damaging a cave by blasting chunks of it away as there was no legislation to stop you doing whatever damage you wanted to.

The original breakthrough which passed the sump, was in May 1954, after 4 year's determined digging led by Ken Pearce and his helpers.  It was Ken and Co. who constructed the dams, the 2nd. one further back up the passage towards Pillar Crawl being required because you couldn't get sufficient water into the 1st. dam immediately in front of the sump.  The problem was that the sump was continually being filled, albeit slowly, by the backwards flow from the pool in Backwash Chamber so you had to bail the water back into the dams faster than the sump could refill and you also had to be out of the cave and back past the dams before the sump had filled sufficiently to cut you off.

That's one reason why the 25 hour Donna Carr rescue from Giants in 1965 was so epic: because the whole sump area had to be drained and kept clear for the stretcher to get through and then Pillar Crawl and the Curtain had to be negotiated.

Offline pwhole

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1584
  • TSG, DCA, PDMHS
    • Phil Wolstenholme website
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2019, 07:47:20 pm »
Wow - thanks for that excellent description. That's the first time I've ever read any detail of what actually happened  ;D

Offline Gritstone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2019, 10:55:07 pm »
Cheers Jenny, I love a good history lesson.

Offline bograt

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3546
  • Speliodecrepit
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2019, 09:56:18 am »
Thanks for the memories Jenny, I only did it once before the F&M outbreak and I was only a young sprog back then so memory is vague. I do recall revisiting just after reopening and being extremely baffled when we arrived at the pitch head without the hassle of having to bail.
Aim low, achieve your goals, avoid disappointment

Offline Jenny P

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 671
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2019, 04:54:49 pm »
There's a lot more history here!  It must have been an epic dig!

The 2nd. person through, following Pearce, was a 17 year old called Frank Maggin, who had been digging with Pearce since the age of only 14 in 1951.  He's the Maggin of Maggin's Rift - it was named in his honour after he died only 4 months later, still aged only 17, in an accident with a canoe on a weir on the Irwell.  You can read all about it in one of the early volumes of Cave Science and there is a tribute to Maggin in the article.

The reason I know so much about the history of this period is that Frank's brother, Malcolm, contacted the British Caving Library in 2012 to ask if there was any record of his brother in our books.  Malcolm had been 9 when his brother died and their 90 year old Mother was now asking if Malcolm could find out if, as was reported when Frank died, that he'd found "the deepest cave in England".  Remember that in 1954 children left school at the age of 14 so Frank was independent and earning by that age and it was one of his schoolteachers, who happened to know Pearce, who had first aroused his intgerest in caving. 

It seems Mrs. Maggin had never seen a photo of Frank in his caving gear and Malcolm had promised to find her one if he could.  Frank had also been helping with the explorations in Peak Cavern, sherpaing diving cylinders, and we eventually found a photo of Frank in a newspaper article in the Simpson collection at BGS - he's standing at the edge of the photo illustrating the article which is about Les Salmon & Co.  So we were able to scan this and print it for Malcolm to show Mrs. Maggin.  What's more, at the time of the breakthrough in Giants, the depth down to the East Canal actually did make it the deepest cave in England.

BCL does have somewhere an old coloured survey, dated 1937, of Giants Hole before the breakthrough.  It's really weird seeing the cave ending in 2 sumps only a relatively short way in: the Main Stream Sump and the static Backwash Sump in Backwash Chamber, which is actually some 50 ft. below the level of the stream sump, with the Wet Inlets waterfall coming in from the stream sump high above.  The section from the start of Pillar Crawl to the Backwash Sump originally had no water flowing down it - the blasting of the passage changed all that - so now the waterfall down from Wet Inlets is only a fraction of its former volume because it used to take the whole flow of the stream which now flows straight down the blasted passage.

Offline Mrs Trellis

  • British Jobs for British Shirkers
  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 839
  • Daft old bat
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2019, 06:43:50 pm »
We used to drop carbide into the pools in Pillar crawl and then light the acetylene giving a deep whoomph to frighten the novices. The use of Goon suits (ex-RAF orange survival suits with pee-tube included) made the whole trip slightly more comfortable than just ganzies. For some reason there was always a "dead" boiler suit floating in the water behind the dams. Also - if some group had failed to remove the bungs from the dams on exiting you had to let the water out , then replace the bungs, then bail the ****ing lot out again.
Mrs Trellis
Upper Sheeps Bottom
North Wales

Offline Chocolate fireguard

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 383
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2019, 06:46:13 pm »
The section from the start of Pillar Crawl to the Backwash Sump originally had no water flowing down it - the blasting of the passage changed all that - so now the waterfall down from Wet Inlets is only a fraction of its former volume because it used to take the whole flow of the stream which now flows straight down the blasted passage.
I have read that several times and, apart from the first 19 words, I don't understand it.
It seems to say that the entrance water now flows down the route cavers take after stepping up to the left where Pillar Crawl used to be. What am I misunderstanding?


Offline Graigwen

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 409
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2019, 07:42:23 pm »
We used to drop carbide into the pools in Pillar crawl and then light the acetylene giving a deep whoomph to frighten the novices. The use of Goon suits (ex-RAF orange survival suits with pee-tube included) made the whole trip slightly more comfortable than just ganzies.

Yes, I remember your obsession with Goon suits. Also the time in 1967 when you decided Giants and Carlswark were flooded so took us down P8 in interestingly wet conditions. We had three workings lights between eleven of us when we resurfaced.

I recall carbide being introduced into various drains at Priddy as well.


.

Offline Brains

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2276
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2019, 08:06:17 pm »
The section from the start of Pillar Crawl to the Backwash Sump originally had no water flowing down it - the blasting of the passage changed all that - so now the waterfall down from Wet Inlets is only a fraction of its former volume because it used to take the whole flow of the stream which now flows straight down the blasted passage.
I have read that several times and, apart from the first 19 words, I don't understand it.
It seems to say that the entrance water now flows down the route cavers take after stepping up to the left where Pillar Crawl used to be. What am I misunderstanding?
From the rubble floored stream it is a good yard or more up into the remains of Pillar Crawl, so it only carries major flow in severe flood now. There is a very minor dribbly inlet that enters and runs down the blasted passage. Perhaps not long after reopening the rubble was higher?

Online braveduck

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 629
  • Digging Bucket maker.B.P.C. Little Green Men.
    • http://www.bpc-cave.org.uk
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2019, 09:40:50 pm »
My story of a visit to Giants before the passage was made bigger was a BPC bus meet in winter . The first Neoprene was available but only  in limited quantities .
You could only have enough to make a vest (sleeveless) . The entrance was a flat out crawl through the stream. So we did the trip just to the dams I think but the return was more memorable for me . During our time underground a blizzard arrived at Rushup Edge and the outside was a complete whiteout .The flat out crawl can only be described as liquid Ice. The return to the bus was epic  Cotton boiler suits froze solid, lace up leather boots froze solid .By the time I arrived at the gate I had no feeling in my legs up to my knees. Just the gate to climb then! The gate was now covered in ice and rime building up by the second . Climbed up with great difficulty and got astride the gate but then disaster ! Both feet slipped off at the same time and I crashed down onto the top of the gate ,the pain was so bad I then fell of off the gate head first into the  road .Good job I was wearing my helmet . I can still visualise the pain to this day . The good old days ! :)

Offline Mrs Trellis

  • British Jobs for British Shirkers
  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 839
  • Daft old bat
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2019, 12:25:37 pm »
My story of a visit to Giants before the passage was made bigger was a BPC bus meet in winter .  The good old days ! :)

A bus to the car park ? Luxury! We used to have to walk back to the Wanted or even to the bottom of Barmoor Clough to catch a public service bus.

The curtain was horrible on the return - you'd probably be quite warm even in ganzies but then get freezing again and - as above- there was always a cold wind whistling down the valley.
Mrs Trellis
Upper Sheeps Bottom
North Wales

Offline Jenny P

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 671
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2019, 06:29:00 pm »
The section from the start of Pillar Crawl to the Backwash Sump originally had no water flowing down it - the blasting of the passage changed all that - so now the waterfall down from Wet Inlets is only a fraction of its former volume because it used to take the whole flow of the stream which now flows straight down the blasted passage.
I have read that several times and, apart from the first 19 words, I don't understand it.
It seems to say that the entrance water now flows down the route cavers take after stepping up to the left where Pillar Crawl used to be. What am I misunderstanding?
From the rubble floored stream it is a good yard or more up into the remains of Pillar Crawl, so it only carries major flow in severe flood now. There is a very minor dribbly inlet that enters and runs down the blasted passage. Perhaps not long after reopening the rubble was higher?

I think the problem was that the rubble was all over the place initially and many floor and water levels were changed in the entrance series.  At one time you walked on a solid rock floor in places where you now walk on rocks, which are the remains of the blasting rubble.  Before the blasting, the entrance to Pillar Crawl was right up near the roof of the main stream passage, above head height, and you had to bridge up the walls to insert yourself headfirst into it.

If you were first one in the cave in the morning, it was amazing what you found under the water in the pools of Pillar Crawl because they were clear water, as opposed to the muddy gloop stirred up by passing cavers.  One of the pools near the start was nearly 4 ft. long and stretched from side to side of the passage so, although it was not very deep, unless you could bridge it you got a thorough soaking on the way in.  Cavers used to drop things like karabiners, strops, etc., which sank in the pool and they couldn't find them in the muddy water - but the mud settled out overnight so the pools were clear first thing in the morning and you could see to fish the things out.

Offline Jenny P

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 671
Re: Giants Hole
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2019, 06:40:51 pm »
We used to drop carbide into the pools in Pillar crawl and then light the acetylene giving a deep whoomph to frighten the novices. The use of Goon suits (ex-RAF orange survival suits with pee-tube included) made the whole trip slightly more comfortable than just ganzies. For some reason there was always a "dead" boiler suit floating in the water behind the dams. Also - if some group had failed to remove the bungs from the dams on exiting you had to let the water out , then replace the bungs, then bail the ****ing lot out again.

If you look at the photos referenced by the earlier post:  http://archives.bcra.org.uk/level=document&collection=king&document=photos-giants&item=0  you will see the goon suits in use - Les Salmon always wore one and I think he's in one of the photos.  These came from a collection donated to the British Caving Library by the widow of the late Barry King, who was started caving aged 17 in the late 1950s with the then Midlands section of BSA.  His caving diary and many of his photos are on the BCRA Archives section of the British Caving Library website  caving-library.org.uk  and include a collection from Giants Hole at a time when you had to pass the Curtain, get through Pillar Crawl and bail the Backwash Sump to reach the top of Garlands.