Tuesday, 21 March 2017

#029 Kinder Surprises - In search of Kinder Cavern


Some days all you need is a nice day on the hill. I looked out of the window this morning and saw fresh spring colours under a rich blue sky. Decision made, I threw a few items into my rucksack, fed Rafa, put on his overcoat and set off.

The Kinder Round, from Hayfield, offered a straightforward route to blow away some cobwebs. A pause for coffee at the William's Clough footbridge. I poured an Africafe from my flask, strong, dark, no sugar. Offered a silent thank you to my pal Darren for re-supplying, having brought a big tin back from leading ion Kilimanjaro a few weeks ago.

I paused, savouring the aroma. It kindled happy memories of my previous expedition for World Challenge to South Tanzania. Circumstances meant I wouldn't be returning to the Old Country this summer. Enough introspection, saddle up and I pushed on at a brisk pace up Sandy Heys.

A strong southwesterly gusted across the trail when we crested the gritstone edge of the Kinder plateau. Rafa and I jogged onwards. As we approached the downfall, there was the iconic plume of water being blown back upwards. The Dark Peak's very own Mosi-oa-tunya!

Closer to the waterfall, the canyon created a funneling effect so that the spray became super cooled, sticking to grass and moss, creating vertical icicles.

Above, dark clouds had built up and the odd hailstone pinged off surrounding boulders. Rafa and I retreated to the leeward side of a small bluff and pulled the emergency bothy over us just as the hail intensified. Underneath we were warm and comfortable. I sipped another coffee, Rafa crunched some biscuits and layed down for a rest.

Shower gone, blue skies returned, we jogged southwards, past Red Brook re-entrant, the trig point and towards the bronze age tumulus. Here we deviated off the slabs, descended a few metres and contoured around Kinderlow End. Our Kinder Surprise for the day was to find the elusive and somewhat fabled Kinder Cavern, or as it's more properly known in the caving community as The Belfry.

In the Geological Survey 1887, there is the following description...
"Kinderlow Cavern is not easily accessible. The entrance is through a fissure nearly vertical, and it is likely that the cavern itself is a large rent caused by the rock having parted along a joint end slipped slightly forwards. Appalling legends prevail in the neighbourhood of rash explorers who have lost their way and been imprisoned for a whole night in the cave."

The 'rash explorers' are likely to have been two local men, whose escapades were published in the Manchester Evening News in 1843...
A search party soon set off headed by the anxious uncle, the party armed with ropes lights and all that was necessary to unearth the wanderers if they were found at the place mentioned. To return to the cavemen they awoke at last from their long sleep and the first sound they heard, possibly, it was that which awakened them, was the halloo of the rescuers. 

It sounded to faint for the two men to be sure of this, but they both shouted out together with all their strength and were rejoiced to hear a reply, louder this time for they were wide awake now. It did not take long to get them out to the light of day.

Billy said he felt very foolish and he would never forget how ‘th’ ester’ first looking at them ‘dreeply’ tapped his snuff box twice, then taking a long pinch said “Well have you had enough.” They had been in the cave 21 hours.

There are also stories of the the cave entrance being blocked up with timber by game keepers. And of there originally being two separate entrances.

I located the vertical fissure. Rafa settled down on a patch of grass outside while I shone a torch into the first vesibule of the cavern. The structure did indeed appear to have been formed by an ancient slip. At the rear of the first vesibule a shaft of natural light shone through a gap in the ceiling. Looking to the right there was a shaft leading down into darkness. This is cavers' territory and certainly not for the unaccompanied hill walker. So I left, content with a couple of photographs and having found what could be the infamous Kinder Cavern of local legends.

If you would like to experience Kinder Surprises and guided adventures, get in touch with
local Mountain Leader, Stu Westfield from Hayfield.  Email: rangerexped@hotmail.com
Ranger Expeditions

Our upcoming 'open group' adventures includes
The Peak District 3 Peaks Challenge

A fully supported and guided big day out on the hill, including transport to the start point and low cost accommodation options. We are offering our 6th May 2017 Peak District 3 Peaks Challenge at superb value prices: £60 walk including 2 nights Bunkhouse accommodation. £30 walk only.

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