50 Shades of Slate

A certain Welshman has been pestering a couple of us to visit this mine for some time. Max and Richard picked me up on Friday night, stopping for a pub dinner on our way to the hostel in Corris.

This is a very pretty mine, the open chambers give a different perspective to most other underground slate quarries.

100ft Ladderway


Top day out, thanks guys :)

Milltown Quarry, Ashover

A last minute, mid week drive out to Milltown Quarry, in Ashover, Derbyshire. Nice place to spend 420...
Some nice BBQ'd sausages too!

A Mine in Bonsall

Richard in a large chamber (by Derbyshire standards)
Today started with no real plan with the exception of being told to "be ready for 9.00am."
After a little discussion beforehand, and some indecision we headed in the direction of Matlock, with half an idea to do Jugholes. However on the way there we formed a better plan.

Tiviot Dale Railway Tunnel

Tiviot Dale station and tunnel began operation in 1865 with the opening of the Stockport, Timperley & Altrincham Junction Railway. The tunnel was 225 yards, or about 206 metres long. It is now filled in almost to the roof at both ends, and open to full height in a 75 yard long middle section, where a series of supporting girders has been fitted. There are also several alcoves along the tunnel, carved into the sandstone.

Nenthead, Spring 2017

Max has arrived.
It's hard to believe that it's been over a year since I was last here. I love Nenthead, every time I go here here it's to stay for the weekend, and we always get a decent amount of exploring in, and this would be my fifth visit in seven years. Each mine has something completely different to offer. This time, for the first time, I would be the only one there who has been to Nent before, and as such, kind of, sort of "leading" the trip. Maybe.

Bruntwood Hall

Stained Glass false ceiling in the Main Hall
This was a completely new experience for me- a pre-arranged guided tour around a building with the security guard, who turns out to be one of my friends that shall not be named. We rocked up late at night, expecting Bruntwood to be in darkness but the place was awash wish workers trying to hit their deadline for this new boutique hotel.


Chapel of St. Kinga, Wieliczka
Damian has had this trip in mind for years, so many times he told us about the salt mines in Poland; the size and grandeur of them is a must see for underground enthusiasts. The cheapest flights available to us northerners was Doncaster - Katowice, and ten of us ended up on this particular flight. There were also five others going from Luton, and two from Liverpool. This made our group in Krakow eighteen, as Damian's lovely cousin Karolina would also be joining us on our excursions. The weekend started well, with me passing my driving test the day before, I would be driving to Ed's house on Friday afternoon, and leaving my car there for the weekend. Five of us would be going to Doncaster together to meet five more at the airport.

James' 21st Wood Mine Challenge / Celebration

James Johnson
It's hard to believe James is 21, he has always seemed older than his years, that was until alcohol became involved a couple of years ago! James has been a regular at Alderley Edge since he was kneehigh to a grasshopper.

Moss Chamber, Peak Cavern

A hastily arranged trip to Derbyshire saw me and Richard up early and wolfing down bacon butties at the TSG, many thanks to Alan for his patience with us! It wasn't the best of starts to the day, I forgot my knee pads, which is an incredibly stupid thing to forget on this trip.

High in London

Many thanks to Joel and Emily for inviting me to head South for New Years Eve. You guys really are the best!

Boxing Day in West Mine

Following on from Christmas Eve, I was back in West Mine for the traditional DCC Boxing Day celebration. This involved decorating the poor Holly Bush mark II with shiny wrappers and mince pie tins, bubbles, and building a giant sandcastle with a moat, drawbridges and turrets. Behold our creation!

Sophie, Me & Sean, photo by the fair hand of Mr Richard Bullock


Christmas Eve in West Mine

I met up with Richard and Max today for a Christmas photoshoot in Frank Shaft involving rope, tinsel, fairy lights, santa hats and a couple of beers for good measure!

By Richard Pryce


Top day out wandering around an old soda works with class lads, cheers guys :)

DCRO Practice at Alderley Edge

My nephew Dylan
The Derbyshire Cave Rescue Association usually does a practice session once a year at the copper mines in Alderley Edge. I have missed the last 5 years practice so thought I better make the effort to go this year, and I'm really glad I did. We had a full days practice down Engine Vein copper mine.

Italy, Via Ferrata and The Dolomites

My first via ferrata was at Ramales in Spain last month. Despite the heat, I found it fairly short and not too challenging, but I wanted more! Scott gifted me with a set of lanyards for my birthday, and so we decided to book a trip to the Italian Dolomites - the home of via ferrata. Most of the flight from Manchester to Milan was spent poring over the guidebooks and trying to figure out what routes were accessible to us. At this time of year, the summer climbing season is drawing to a close, many of the popular chair lifts are closed, and the Dolomites start gearing up for the skiing season. The upside to going in late September is the weather is usually calm and the climbing routes are nice and quiet.

Upon arriving in Milan we collected the hire car, checked into our apartment and went off to explore the city by night. We went to the Duomo and walked around all the designer shops feeling like complete scruffs in our north face t-shirts around all these beautiful people. I am almost certain the tramps were better dressed than us! We had a fairly early night, wanting to be up at a good time in the morning to head to Lake Garda and start our via ferrata adventure.

Lake Garda
The drive to Arco at Garda took around 4 hours, with a stop off at Decathlon and a supermarket near Brescia to grab some camping supplies and food. Upon seeing the lake the mood completely changed, and we started getting excited. Now the real holiday starts. The first via ferrata route we chose is called Sentiero Attrezzato dei Colodri, described as a 2A (this is a little over the top, lanyards are hardly needed). It's a very easy introductory VF, around 300 metres long. From the finish, there's a short scramble to the summit of Monte Colodri at 97 metres above the surrounding terrain, or 400 metres above sea level. Despite starting the climb late in the day, around 5.00pm, it was still incredibly hot on the mostly exposed south facing route. At the summit was a large metal cross, and a log book.
Me writing in the log book, photo by Scott
The views on the hike down were stunning, I really wanted to walk to the castle, but we didn't have all day to find a camp for the evening, and were getting hungry. We found ourselves emerging at the back of the town, and walking past lots of amazing ice cream parlours and ice cream shops. Alas both of us had left our money in the car, and we did not end up going back into Arco. Instead finding a nice campsite further along the road, pitched up and made food just in time before it went dark.

Monte Colodri
Wednesday started later than planned, which was not good news as we had a much harder day of hiking and climbing on our hands. We would be starting the walk in at midday, so heat would be sapping us early too. After a short drive to Riva del Garda, and finding somewhere to park, we set off on what we expected to be an hour or so of hiking to get to the VF route. Ferrata del Centenario SAT - or Via dell'Amicizia, is graded a 3A climb, around 650 metres long. We severely underestimated the amount of time it would take us to reach the VF; it was around 4 hours of fairly intense hiking and scrambling. There is respite at 560 metres up in the Santa Barbara rifugio, which had just closed for the year. We took a break here and admired the view over Riva del Garda before slogging on ever upwards.  Much sweat expired, much bemoaning of mountains, and a little wondering what the hell we were doing.

Having a well-earned rest at the top
Eventually, after about 3 hours we reached the Via Ferrata, absolutely shattered. It started easy enough, with short sections of cable, but then snakes upwards quite sharply. There are some very exposed ladders, 110 metres of them in total, and these I found to be the most enjoyable part of the route. I have never experienced that level of exposure before, and there is nothing else quite like it. Hanging off a ladder hundreds of metres up, with nothing but air between you and the ground. It's odd and I did have to "give my head a wobble" at one point, found myself constantly stopping to admire the view, then working hard to catch Scott up.

Scott on a ladder
The summit at Cima SAT is 1245 metres above sea level, complete with Italian flagpost, and another log book to sign. It was an amazing summit, the views were spectacular and I would say totally worth the effort to get up there. Now we had to wonder, how long is it going to take us to get down from here? The answer was another 3 hours, all downhill with lots of scrambling, making our day on the mountain about 7.5 hours long. On the descent, we saw some old buildings left over from the war and the Santa Barbara chapel with huge shells mounted outside. We got back to the car just as it was going dark- thirsty, hungry and wondering where we went wrong, the guidebook said 5 hours. Nevertheless we came down from there with a real sense of achievement, and some awesome photographs.
Cima SAT
Afterwards we realised that guidebooks can be misleading. The "Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites Volume 2" guidebook gives an estimate of a 1.5 - 2 hour walk in, with a total route time of 4.5 - 5.5 hours. Afterwards Scott had a look on the UK Climbing forum, and saw that a few others have complained of being misled by the book, and some people taking anything up to 10 hours to do Centenario! We stayed for pizza and ice cream in the postcard town of Riva, and for me a much needed glass of red. After feeding some ducks we drove off into the night, up into the real Dolomites. We needed to find somewhere to wild camp near our next destination, the Fassa Valley, and time was trickling away. The drive in the dark only hinted at the size of the mountains above us, I could make out the shadows looming high above the narrow twisting roads, and couldn't wait until morning to see the real Dolomites. After a long time of driving around several villages, we found somewhere quiet looking enough to pitch the tent off the side of a dirt track. There was some kind of unsettling drop next to us, but I was too tired to think much about it, finally falling asleep to the faint sound of water rushing far below.

I woke up far too early, quite cold, and to discover we had camped on the edge of a 30 odd metre high ravine with a river. Very high, snow-capped peaks were visible through the pine trees, and I enjoyed the early morning calm alone in the sunshine. Later as I was packing up some bits in the hire car, an Italian in a pick up stopped next to me and said "no camp", pointing at the tent. I apologised as best I could and said: "we go now". Yes, go now he says.
Col Rodella
After drying the tent we packed up and headed to Val di Fassa. It has a big lift up to the Col Rodella, the area is popular for skiing in the winter, and there were plenty of paragliders making their way up with us. This was much more like it, get a ski lift to do the hard work getting up the hill, then a short walk over to the VF route. This was a well rigged, short, yet strenuous climb, and I had overdressed for the occasion so was very hot. I found 2 parts of the climb to be especially challenging and committing, yet completed the route with no issues. The views up here provide an incredible overview of the surrounding peaks. At 2,178 metres now we were talking mountains! After the climb, we walked down to the rifugio Friedrich August Hütte, which was open and busy, for much needed chips and ice cold cokes.
Col Rodella viewing area
After this short half day of climbing we went to another chairlift at Lagazuoi, but sadly no Via Ferrata this time. At 2,835 metres this was to be the highest point of the trip and has the amazing panoramic views to show for it. The mountain is famous for the tunnels constructed by the Italians fighting Austrians during the First World War. I thought it was a shame we weren't doing the VF route here, as it would have meant seeing more of the tunnels and actual preserved relics.

To be continued...




Paolina Chairlift
2,125 metres

Fog in Carezza

Funicolare Como-Brunate

Lake Como

Paris, August 2016

Catas Birthday Weekend Oi Oi!

Galerie des Promo
One long weekend in the planning for months. 2 nights underground, 3 cars, 15 people, one big party in the Catacombs! This was my third trip mostly underneath Paris, in what is now looking very much like a yearly event...


Diagram by Olly King
I have wanted to descend Titan ever since I heard about it, but as a newbie caver 6 years ago, I presumed this was going to be out of reach for a very long time, and wondered if I would ever be capable of such a caving trip. For those that don't know and are interested, a brief bit of background and history:

Belgium - Ropes, Caving, and Brussels

Stephane Fontaine very kindly invited the DCC to a rope event that his caving club run each year in Senzeilles Quarry in Cerfontaine, Belgium. Initially, and for 3 months, I was the only person who took this offer up, until a month before the event Andrew Farrow booked himself a plane ticket too.

Stockport Crane

Small, yet difficult to climb.

Yorkshire Bank Holiday Weekender

DCC Rock On!
Under the dictatorship of Anton...
All but one managed the trip from Stream Passage Pot to Gaping Gill, and out of Bar Pot/Small Mammal, taking advantage of the Bradford Pothole Club's rigging during the Winch Meet.

The Corsican Crawl - 282 metre Zip Wire

Olly abseiling down the tree for the first time
Enormous thanks to Steve for hosting and organising his tree rigging weekend. Steve worked very hard to organise a brilliantly fun couple of days. I think he deserves some sort of special club stunt award for his "Corsican Crawl". (And maybe his outdoor toilet too). Huge thankyous to Tom Howard, Olly King, Cath, Sophie & Sean, Charlotte Meakin, James, Pete & Heather Johnson, Nigel Dibben, Robert and Louise Stevenson, Geordie & the kids, Paul Richardson, and especially to Scott Bradley of the TSG who we all agreed deserve a proper DCC thank you.

Giant's Hole

Ladder on Comic Act Cascade by Tom Howard
Tom and I found ourselves at a loose end this weekend, on Friday night we decided to go down the classic Giant's Hole near Castleton in Derbyshire. Tom came to pick me up at the entirely reasonable time of 9.45am and off we went, stopping for breakfast at Sainsbury's on the way. Upon arriving at the Giants car park, we found the usual horde of adventure activity people being kitted up for their tourists' trip down Garlands.

DCC North Wales Slate Weekend

Cwmorthin Underground Slate Quarry
Gwynfynydd Gold Mine

Cwmorthin Entrance

Cambrian Slate Mine

Thanks to Steven Dalgleish for organising this fab little trip :)