Darfar Potholing Club, based in the Manifold Valley, Staffordshire

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1 & 2/11/2014 - Mel attended the DCA Council meeting at Monyash in her role as DCA conservation officer, then stayed over at the Orpheus CC cottage for the bonfire and BBQ. Chatted to old friends and made news ones. Great weekend.

24/9/2014 - Pete and I installed some galvanised grilles supplied by DCA on top Plughole and Ladyside 2/Concrete Pot. (See photos below.) Ladyside 2 is currently a 30ft (10m) deep 1m wide vertical shaft. Plughole is currently about 4m deep.



9/9/2014 - Retaped most of Darfar Ridge Cave. (With Ian Lett, landlord of the Royal Oak at Wetton.)


31/7/2014 - Mel did some monitoring in the Manifold for the NT, then finished off the concreting on Sparrowlee Sink on the way home.

plughole_16072014_small.jpg 22/7/2014 - Mel took the landlord of the Royal Oak, Wetton down Darfar Pot. They visited Prospect Streamway and Glory Chamber before time constraints forced an exit to wash off in the river. After lunch, Mel did some more concreting on Sparrowlee Sink on her way home.

15/7/2014 - More work done by Mel on Plughole, concreting scaffolding and other metal work in place ready for covering with a grille, see photo right. The collapsed dry stone wall between the cave and the track is also being built back up, so that the cave can't be seen from the track.

6/6/2014 - Work started on securing a new resurgence which had opened up a short way downstream of Ladyside Pot. It puts out a LOT of water and rocks are falling a long way. The main passage in Ladyside is about 15m down, but this is off to one side of the known cave and seems to be enlarging going downstream, so may be a different watercourse, might even go to Magic Mushroom or even be Darfar Pot water, who knows...

Photos to follow... 

18/5/2014 - Work started by Mel, Pete and Rob on securing Plughole. (50m downstream of Project Pot.) This should drop into the continuation of the latter caves downstream passage saving 50m of passage enlargement work. The passage should be about 5-8m below the river bed.

13/4/2014 - 23/5/2014 - Work by Mel and Pete on covering and making safe Sparrowlee Sink/Pot in the Hamps Valley. Over a number of visits the swallet has gradually been secured and work has now almost been completed.

The water entering the swallet (the cave can take the whole river under certain conditions) almost certainly emerges again at Ilam via the Hamps Rising some 2 miles away and around 200ft lower, so has great potential.

The cave will eventually have scaffolding installed inside the covering to reduce the size of the entrance, give stacking space and support the surface covering.

Photos to follow...

Wetton Rd Swallet - Nearly finished18/5/2014 - Mel finished repairing the frame on Wetton Road Swallet and concreted it place. (See photo left.)

The manhole cover (recovered on 4/5/2014, see below), just wants bolting down now. (When the river eventually goes down again!)

This is to prevent casual members of the public from falling down it or whatever. It is only a few metres from the road down from Wetton.


4/5/2014 - Mel sorted out the grille over the entrance on Waterways Swallet (again) which had had one of the swinging arms securing it left in the wrong position.

Then a subsequent flood (in recent week) had covered it in leaves and twigs.

Waterways Entrance - May 2014

Mel cleared the debris, then re-secured the grille properly.

Then she visited Wetton Road Swallet, digging out a load of leaves and recovering the manhole cover ready for a new frame to be concreted in place and then bolted down.

She also met Rob down there who had been doing some 'investigations' a little further downstream.

Then, after a visit to the Oak and Pete's at Wetton, conveyed some scrap metal from the bed of the River Hamps up to Sparrowlee Sink, ready for installation next time.

27/4/2013 - A good session on Wych Elm Pot at Ladyside Wood by Mel, Pete & Rob. Lots of mud and loose bedrock was removed making it much more roomy. It is now ready for a couple of applications of 'passage altering packages'.

4/3/2014 - Successful positive strong dye test from Proband Pot near Redhurst Swallet to Ladyside Pot. Flowthrough time:- 1.5 hours. :-)

Lees Pot15/12/2013 - Mel got up the Hamps late due to an xmas party the night before and met Pete and Rob working on the Sparrowlee Sink that they'd started work on the week before making good progress.

Mel then checked the condition of Hell Hole Swallet and Hell Hole itself on the way to Pete's house at Wetton to do some computery type stuff for Karen.

8/12/2013 - After several previous visits, Mel finished the work of raising the manhole over Lees Pot in the Hamps Valley so that it was flush with the river bed to prevent an accumulation of silt and gravel over it during the winter floods.(See photo.)

Rob also discovered that the largest of the Sparrowlee Sinks had re-opened itself after some years of not being visible. (Mel had checked the river bed round here before in recent years, not seeing anything.) Pete and Rob started work on it while Mel finished the concreting on Lees Pot.

August 2013- Pete and Rob did some work at Plughole.

bbq outside ashtreepot2/8/2013 - Wych Elm Pot extended by another 2 metres by Mel, Pete & Rob and looking promising. (And getting bigger.) A very civilised affair with a barbie in the river bed at lunchtime using the grille off the cave entrance to put the frying pans on above the fire, lol! (See photo. The cave is in the background.)

The river had dried up for the most part, (sinking in the Redhurst area), but Mel found Magic Mushroom Resurgence acting a sink as a large pool of water gradually drained back into it as the water levels went down. (First time she'd observed this.)

30/7/2013 - A report from Rob:- "Sunday the river a raging torrent. Today river running its length but much receded. Upstream Ladyside Wood Resurgence, plus Ash Tree Pot sumped - though water still resurging from the latter."  Interesting...

26/7/2013 - Downstream Ladyside Wood Resurgence, (which has now been observed to also act a swallet in the right conditions (ie:- a River Manifold flash flood), has now been  renamed Wych Elm Pot (due to the big tree imediately over it) and extended to a small, but proper descending cave passage.

July 2013 - Currently we are working on the downstream Ladyside Wood Resurgence. Total potential = Vertical Range of:- 550ft. 170m. Distance, maybe:- 7.4Km! Onlya few metres in ATM, but it looks and sounds promising...

May - July 2013 - Conservation work on numerous cave entrances carried out, (mostly by Mel), including pushing of the resurgences at Ladyside Wood by Rob & Pete.

28/12/2012 -  Mel, Pete and Rob surveyed between the lower and upper entrances of Limepits Mine in preparation for surveying the upper series in 2013.

30/5/2012 - Mel, Pete and Rob repaired the entrance of Weir Swallet after damage caused by the winter floods. A grille was placed over it in place of the manhole cover, so that the water would use that route instead of eroding the river bank. Mel inspected the main passage of the cave and found it all clean-washed with no build-up of silt. Some concreting remains to be done.

23/5/2012 - Mel, Pete and Rob assisted the National Trust with some conservation work on Wetton Hill.


8/4/2012 - Mel took Natalie round the lower then upper series of Limepits Mine. The recent work stabilising the choke 20m in was excellent and both had an enjoyable trip! 

Jan - Apr 2012 - Mel redid all the cave monitoring in the Manifold Valley for the National Trust. Most caves were unchanged, but the river had eroded a hole to one side of the manhole cover over Weir Swallet, so that will need remedial work on it...

Dec 2011 - Feb 2012 - Various people installed a large plastic pipe with dry stone walling around it, then scaffolding through the unstable collapse area 20m into the lower adit of Limepits Mine. It is now safe!

11/9/2011 - Another visit to the downstream end of Riverside Swallet by Pete and Rob to try and find the way on to Darfar Pot. Some progress was made.

4/9/2011 - Some more rocks removed from Weir Swallet today. Mel did some work on the new entrance grilles of Wednesday Pot, T-Pot and Bent Chisel Pot.

31/8/2011 -More work down both caves. Riverside had a lot more water down it today, but the concreting inside the top of the entrance shaft was doing a good job of keeping it dry. Cool Mel repaired the stile at Waterways Swallet.

24/8/2011 - Weir Swallet; The 2 wedged rocks were removed today and another dropped into the floor. The way on can clearly be seen now. Some more corners now need removing to make progress. Riverside Swallet; A block in the floor was broken up allowing easy access to the small 'chamber' seen last time. This is the final 'chamber' previously entered via a very tight squeeze in the early 1980's. The water gurgled away through boulders in the floor as Mel rememvered, but there was a 'just too narrow' passage in the North corner which draughted strongly and appeared to be the best way on....

21/8/2011 - Weir Swallet; dodgy block now broken up. Way on and 3m descent can be seen beyond two rocks wedged in the hading joint the passage is formed on. More rock splitting required, that's all. Riverside Swallet; Another 0.6m of passage enlarged. Can now get into continuation and turn round. Peeking under a section of sloping roof revealed a chamber a couple of metres across with a solid rock back wall. Also a tube going straight up in the roof! Cool A return asap is planned...

17/8/2011 - In Weir Swallet, some roof pendants and more rocks were removed and the 'dodgy block'  attacked. In Riverside, another 0.5m was enlarged at the d/s end. Several smallish ways on can now be seen, but the rumble of Prospect Streamway in Darfar Pot can now be heard too. (Must be very near!)

14/8/2011 - Today, the previously broken rock in Weir Swallet was removed and the cave was extended by about 5m without any further work bar removing a few rocks in the floor. At the far end, the passage is clean-washed and drops down about 2m and gets bigger! A return is planned, rsn, but a dodgy block near the far end needs removing first to make further progress safe...

10/8/2011 - Today, (despite the weather) a large block was broken up in Weir Swallet (we can see about 2m beyond it) and another 0.5m of passage in d/s Riverside was enlarged.

meinriversideswallet_aug2011_small.jpg7/8/2011 - Today progress was made down Weir Swallet, then we placed a new grille over the new entrance of T-Pot, (needs finishing), then Pete did some concreting inside the top of the entrance shaft of Riverside Swallet to make it more waterproof, while the rest of us went to the end of the downstream passage and enlarged another 0.6m of the tight section. Another session should see us into the next bit...

Above right: A rare photo of Mel! This time in the waterfall in Riverside Swallet.

3/8/2011 - Mel and Pete bolted down the new grille on Wednesday Pot. Pete and Rob removed a load of silt and gravel from the floor at the far end of Weir Swallet. Then Mel and Rob removed more protrusions from the walls and roof. Progress here is slow but steady...

31/7/2011 - Mel, Pete and Rob had another session down Weir Swallet enlarging the current end. (A sharp left-hand corner.) Mel was then able to squeeze through into the continuation and see the way on. The draught is encouraging. Afterwards, Mel and Rob paid the end of a drier Riverside Swallet another visit with a cordless drill, but a more forceful method of enlargement is required here. A return to both caves is planned real soon.....

27/7/2011 - Today, the river had dried up to Riverside 2, but there was still a bit too much water going down the entrance of Riverside Swallet. (Must plug the leaks when the river goes down again!) So after some damming work, Mel, Pete and Rob finished securing the new grille on Project Pot before spending some time down Weir Swallet enlarging the current end with good success. Finally, Mel cleaned off with a quick trip down Riverside Swallet finding the entrance shaft 'sportingly wet', lol! Good fun...

riverside2_small.jpg24/7/2011 - With the river (just) still flowing as far as Redhurst, the new grille over Riverside 2 was finished and bolted down like the others. See photo. (The cave was sumped just below the entrance.) They then started enlarging the tight corner at the present end of Weir Swallet. (Using a cordless drill while sat in a stream!)

20/7/2011 - On the way to Wetton today, Mel first fixed the entrance grille of Waterways Swallet down properly. In the Manifold, the river was sinking around Redhurst, so she, Pete and Rob started installing a new grille over the entrance of Wednesday Pot, (the river could be seen flowing about 5m down), then replaced the grille on Lees Pot in the Hamps with a manhole cover to prevent the ingres of silt and gravel during the winter floods, then finally placed that grille over Project Pot! Phew...

17/7/2011 - Pete did some work preparing the top of Riverside 2 for the installation of a galvanised grille to replace the existing manhole cover. This will wash the silt away in the upstream passage of Riverside Swallet. Afterwards Mel and Pete went down Riverside Swallet and enlarged about 1.5m of the very tight section at the end of the newly washed clear downstream passage. Another session is need here. Gavin, Marg and Rob also had a look. Despite the description in the CoPD, (carried forward from the old Caves of Derbyshire), the roof along this whole passage is mostly solid bedrock and perfectly safe! Of course soon after this, the river flooded...

13/7/2011 - Mel and Pete visited Handshake Cave, then a mine near Swainsley Hall, then Mel wanted to have a look down Riverside Swallet at Wetton Mill to see what effect (if any) the new entrance grille had had on the silt deposits at the bottom of the cave. To her amazement the horrible silted up downstream passage heading towards Darfar Pot was now a clean-washed hands and knees streamway with one place you could even stand up!!! (Exactly what she hoped might happen:-) At the far end (about 11m along) was a very tight section 2m long which she didn't remember seing before. If the tight section could be enlarged, then the link between the two caves might finally become a reality!

5/6/2011 - Marg, Mel, Pete and Rob paid a visit to Darfar Crag Swallet near Wetton Mill. They removed a few inches of silt from the lowest point of the entrance shaft, then Mel went to the far end and drilled a shot hole in the roof of the draughting passage leading towards Darfar Pot ready for use on a later date. Marg then paid the end a visit too. All washed off in the river afterwards.

25/5/2011 - Mel and Rob had a look down Wednesday Pot. Mel found the cave largely unchanged since her last visit in the mid 1990's. The upstream passage needs emptying of bang debris, so someone can start pushing it maybe...

15/5/2011 - Handshake Cave is now around 18m long! (Broke into 4m long Mel's Chamber. :-)

handshake_cave.jpg11/5/2011 - More work in the provisionally named 'Handshake Cave' by Mel and Pete! (Photo on right shows Rob exiting the cave on another occasion. Now 13m long and draughting. :-) Mel made good use of the visor on her new Trog Hat. (Stopped loads of crap falling into her eyes while digging.)

8/5/2011 - Today, (while Pete and Rob were working elsewhere), Mel and Marg visited Lower Limepits Mine, established there had been no further collapses and surveyed the whole of the lower series. Mel used her Disto A3 to speed things up with Marg taking the notes and holding a white plastic target board for the laser.

27/4/2011 - Today, Mel, Pete and Rob opened up Weir Swallet near Darfar Bridge for the first time this year. Several cm's of silt and gravel had to be removed from the lid first due to the winter floods. The cave had been completely clean-washed by the water flow and was measured as 11m long and 3m deep by Mel. The way on is open, but needs some corners removing to make progress.

24/4/2011 - Today, Mel visited Limepits Mine lower adit to start surveying the mine. Unfortunately, after the first survey leg, she found that a new collapse had occured at the site of the previous collapse 20m into the adit. (Just beyond the path.) So she had to spend the next 1 1/2 hours digging it open again and stabilising the slope on the right-hand side of the passage. It will be left a week or so and checked for further movement, before attempting to continue the survey. There is a chockstone which is stopping the rest from moving, so great care needs to be taken in passing this point.

20/3/2011 - With the River Manifold dropping and sinking just upstream of Redhurst Swallet, Ed, Ian and Mel had a sporting little trip down Ladyside Pot with the river flowing through the cave. Afterwards, (while Mel was trying to relocate Thor's Fissure Cave), Ed and Marg visited the end of Radcliffe Stables (the main chamber) finding the cave still clear of Badger activity! Cool

9/3/2011 - Quick recce down Lees Pot, finding the whole cave down to the bottom way on washed clean by the river. Cool Also good job we put the bags over the entrance grille before the winter floods, cos there was several cm's of silt 'n' gravel deposited over them! Then revisited Midway Pot and Hole Shades Swallet a small way downstream...

6/3/2011 - Great trip by Marg, Mel (me), Pete and Rob down to Toad Haul near the bottom of Waterways Swallet. That place is like a bl**dy assault course and I've got loads of bruises on my arms, etc. lol!

20/2/2011 - Trip down Merlin's Mine by all members except Ian who was travelling to the Ascension Islands later that day.

6/2/2011 - Trip down the Crystal Pallas extensions in Owl Hole by everyone. Very nice! :-) V. muddy in places though... :-/

cavers_dance.jpg26/1/2011 - More stal cleaning in Darfar Ridge Cave. The photo on the left shows some DPC members performing a ritual dance to prepare themselves for the days operations. (They seem a bit to happy about it though, imho, lol!)

16/1/2011 - While Mel was taking monitoring photos on Nan Tor for the National Trust, Ian, Marg, Pete and Rob had an enjoyable trip into Clayton Mine at Ecton.

2/1/2011 - Marg, Pete and Rob visited Owl Hole and Dowel Dale Side Pot.

Latest Items
Darfar / Dafar
You should be aware that Darfar (as in Darfar Bridge, Pot, etc.) is misspelt as Dafar on OS maps of a certain scale. On larger scaled (more detailed) maps it is correct as you can see on the excellent Magic web site. This map shows the correct spelling and this one the incorrect spelling. (Then of course there's Darfur, which is a place in Africa...)
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