TRIP REPORTS - what have you been down to? > Sporting Trips in The UK

Sidetrack cave - Nothing to see here

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One evening i was deep into the rabbit hole of youtube, when the next video to pop up was of sidetrack cave. as soon as i saw how long the flat out crawl was i messaged Alex; lets do it came the reply. Another friend Louise was intrigued and joined us.

We parked up at a dark and incredibly windy Eldon Quarry. my van is off the road at the moment so fitting 3 cavers and full kit into a vw polo was comical to say the least. we went through the gate, opened the ornate letter box and retrieved the quarry survey which indicated where sidetrack was. a rope was rigged and Alex descended he did some gardening. to say the face is loose is something of an understatement. we stood well clear as each came down the rope. Louise was just unclipping from the rope as a rock hit her on the helmet, thank goodness for said helmet.

Ditching the SRT kit at the mouth of the cave we slid into the flat out mud crawl. I was using my brand new and currently very yellow petzl tacklesack so i clipped it on and dragged it behind me. Louise had to periodically unhook the bag as i got caught around corners.
the first 85m was flat out and a all my years in cadets doing commando crawls began to pay off. there were a few tight sections where my helmet was caught between the roof and the floor but these were soon passed. all along this crawl we were mesmerised by beautiful stals and mini curtains, taking care to touch nothing.

The crawl through the pool was most welcomed as i was begining to overheat. (i really didnt need a base layer and fleece on under my oversuit here). the dig site looked interesting and very very wet. thats for a day when im wearing neoprene for sure.
i turned a corner and all i could see was Alex's legs. He was standing up!!! louise and i slid into the little and large airbells with alex. it was a welcome opportunity to sit up, have a drink and catch our breath.

Once beyond the airbells it opened to hands and knees crawling for another 80m, passing draughting potential openings. we came to a big junction where all three of us could stand. I read the description and left was the shorter way and seemed the least interesting so we went that way first. OH MY, how wrong we were.

There was a stunning aven with a rope on the floor in the bottom and an opening at foor level into a block phreatic tube. im keen to find out if its an active dig, because if it isnt, Alex and i want to come and have a go. the aven was fossil central. we were looking in awe at everything. some stooped walking with gour pools to either side was gorgeous. wow, could this get any prettier?

I was slightly ahead and turned a corner, "NO WAY!!!" i uttered loudly. alex and louise were busy looking at gour pools and comparing them to small forests, whilst i was staring at what can only be described as santas grotto. eventually then came up next to me. the 3 of us sat there speechless for a moment. I could go on for ages at this point, because for the rest of this passage it went like this.

some bits are taped off and i really hope that it stays this beautiful and doesnt get ruined. so, yeah, i wouldnt bother going, nothing to see ;)

back at the junction i nommed a bounty and we headed off to the right. it was still very pretty, but we had been spoiled by the other passage and we quickly raced down to the end, had a mooch and then made our way back to the junction again.

back to the crawling. it was nice that all 3 of us enjoy crawling and are good at it so we moved swiftly through the tubes. my elbow pads were by my hands, they just wouldnt stay in place any more, which was pretty uncomfortable, but at least this way back my bag was sliding nicely and being caught less.

turning a corner that strong smell of fresh air was rushing at me, i knew the adventure was almost over. :(
kitting up we headed to the rope, caked in mud and wet, we didnt want to hang  around in the bitingly cold wind. louise started up the rope. Alex and i were staring out into the blackness of the quarry. the silhouette looking rather imposing. All of a sudden we heard the very sobering sound of a big rock fall on the far side of the cave. we both just stared wide eyed at each other. "did you hear that?" "yes, was that a rock fall?" we both span around to see louise nearly at the top of the rope.

I went next and half way up a rock fell and hit my leg, nothing serious, but not what i want to be showered in. i topped out to see a crouched down shivering louise. we huddled together for warmth as Alex came up the rope. A quick derig and we were heading back to the cave mobile.

30 minutes later we were sat in a chesterfield Mcdonalds, faces covered in mud and massive smiles. not a care of how we look and discussing how we want to go back between bites of a big mac. but yeah, you probably dont want to go there, its ugly and nothing worth seeing. ;P


--- Quote from: benshannon on January 31, 2020, 07:29:35 pm ---There was a stunning aven with a rope on the floor in the bottom and an opening at foor level into a block phreatic tube. im keen to find out if its an active dig, because if it isnt, Alex and i want to come and have a go.
--- End quote ---

all yours mate :) but I think it leads back into the flat out walk, if you'd have gone in there 6 months or so ago you would have found my tiny crowbar and brick hammer from ~4years ago. thankfully now sat 3m away from me :)

As moose says in the linked thread ^ the interesting (to diggers) stuff is off the duck in the right hand passage, which would probably be more pleasant to access via the dig [which you refer to] rather than the duck. I'm sure Rob and Moose will be able to show us the dropbox folder again, as the original surveys are a work of art. (but the link to the dropbox has broken over the last 4 years)

Oh wow, thank you 😁😁 we shall definitely have a go then 😁😁😁

Nice report, sounds like you had an interesting trip.

It's a fun cave, I was most surprised when my Partner who rarely caves suggested a trip in there. Because it was his suggestion, he could not complain about the crawl!

You don't need SRT to access the cave, we found it is possible to climb down a steep slope 200m away (to the right when facing away from the exit) and traverse around, only one bit was a bit dodgy and sounds far less dodgy than your loose abseil!

P.s. The Alex in the trip report is not me I was not on this trip.

Here's a link to the PDF survey:

Whilst I agree with Alistair that the dig you mention might not be very exciting, opening up the flat out walk round trip may not be a total waste of time, as there are a few leads in there...


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