Incident 22/2017 – Apr. 19th Wed. 11.02 – Great Knott, Gordale, Malham, North Yorkshire – Animal Rescue.

Incident 22/2017 – Apr. 19th Wed. 11.02 – Great Knott, Gordale, Malham, North Yorkshire – Animal Rescue.

North Yorkshire Police passed on a message that two new-born lambs were stuck down a mine shaft, near Gordale House, Malham. CRO caving members were unable to descend very far into the awkward and narrowing natural rift in the limestone bedrock and were unable to see or hear anything. The lambs’ owners and CRO members concluded that the ewe had given birth on a grassy ledge above the fissure and that any new-born lamb(s)…

Thanks for all your support! #TheCoopWay @coopuk.

Thanks for all your support! #TheCoopWay @coopuk.

Today (13th April 2017) we have been given the good news that we have been awarded a total of £1,921.95 for our Cooperative Local Community Fund-raising project at the Settle store, which finished on 8 April. This money will be going towards equipping our Swift Water Response team. We would just like to give a tremendous THANK YOU to everyone who chose us as their preferred cause when shopping at…

Incident 15/2017 – Apr. 2nd Sun. 17.45 – Baxenghyll Gorge, Ingleton, North Yorkshire – Mountain Rescue.

Incident 15/2017 – Apr. 2nd Sun. 17.45 – Baxenghyll Gorge, Ingleton, North Yorkshire – Mountain Rescue.

The team were requested by Yorkshire Ambulance Service to assist helimed 98 with the evacuation of a photographer (m) who had suffered a broken leg whilst on the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail. Team members escorted the air paramedics to the casualty and assisted with preparing him for transfer to a road ambulance which arrived shortly after. The casualty was then carried by team members to the road ambulance. Volunteer hours: 21…

Nenthead, Spring 2017

Nenthead, Spring 2017

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since I was last here. I love Nenthead, every time I have been here it has been to stay for a weekend, and we always get a decent amount of exploring in, and this would be my ach 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. Saturday morning saw me out of bed for a criminally early start to collect Matt, and head North. Two and a half hours later, we arrived at Mill Cottage Bunkhouse to be shown around by our kind host, and wait for the others in the sunshine.

Max has arrived.

Richard, Max and Gabby arrived in true mental style, and in exceptionally high spirits. Everyone was pretty hyped to get underground, and I was looking forward to showing the Nent noobs what Rampgill Mine has to offer. With Gabby leading the way and me following, it didn’t take long for exclamations of delight to start echoing up the adit behind us, and we were soon seperated from the others. Leading and route finding underground gives you a completely different perspective on any extensive cave or mine. Even though Rampgill is very straightforward we were unable to find the horse gin even with Ed’s directions (which I read completely wrong)!

Richard at the top of a shaft in Prouds

When someone else is doing it you don’t pay as much attention to where you are going, the focus is just not there. Max and Matt were extremely pre-occupied with the shiny things everywhere, no matter how many times I tried to explain it gets better the further in we go, that the mine tomorrow would be even better again… alas to no avail they would not listen to me and we didn’t get further than the Engine Shaft. By 5pm thoughts had turned to getting out and enjoying the last of the sun, a chippy tea, and a pint at the Miners Arms.

After Rampgill

A good portion of Saturday night was spent star gazing and photographing. Nenthead and the surrounding area is England’s only internationally recognised dark sky area. On previous trips I have seen the milky way clearer here than anywhere else I’ve been, it’s truly stunning. We walked up to Smallcleugh, took some more photos, then lay back and switched the lights off for 10 minutes to allow our eyes to adjust. Magic.

Max Stargazing at Smallcleugh

Sunday came bright and early, with a plan to be underground for 11am latest. We took the opportunity to enjoy the morning sun on top of the water wheels, and had some fun climbing on them. Phil from the bunkhouse brought us breakfast in the form of bacon and sausage barms. We could not fault the Mill Cottage, it cost £20 each for the night in the most comfortable and roomy beds I’ve ever experienced in a bunkhouse. It is in an ideal location for mine exploring, and plenty else to see in this highly picturesque and quiet part of England. Plus we were able to wash and dry all our gear ready for the next days exploring, always a big bonus on these sort of weekends. There is nothing worse than having to put on a slighty damp undersuit the next day after a sweaty mooch underground!

Richard on one of the Waterwheels

After much packing and many faffage later, we were finally on track for getting down Brownley Hills by midday. This I had planned to be more of a chilled mooching day, one where we could park ourselves in the flat and spread out, explore, hunt for minerals, and take photos. I have never taken my camera in Brownley Hills before so I was looking foward to spending some time getting shots, so often on underground trips, and actually most things we do, you are rushed, pushed for time, conscious of others, etc. Being able to properly take your time in the company of another photographer is a luxury.

Gabby at the Blue Lagoon

Despite going to Nenthead with little intention of collecting any rocks, I still ended up with some quartz stuck in my eye. An hour later it hstill not come out so I tried to wash it out with water but no joy. Several hours later it was still bothering me when we got out of the mine but not enough to stop me driving. An hour or so from home it was getting painful, and my eye began to water uncontrollably on the motorway. Apart from a quick stop I drove straight to Stepping Hill hospital, arriving at 9pm, to be told there was a 4 hour wait to be seen in A&E. This soon turned into an agonising 5 hour wait; my eye was swelling up, I couldn’t see anything but blurred light, and every movement caused intense discomfort. Finally, almost 6 hours after arriving, I was seen by a nurse who checked out my eye using a slit lens, and confirmed I had tiny pieces of quartz stuck in my cornea. He tried to wash it out, it didn’t work, so he called for a doctor. The doctor looked at it then told the nurse to anaesthatise my eyeball, he was “going in”.
Me- “What does that mean?”
Doctor- “It means doing something that makes me feel sick.”
Me- “Makes you feel sick? (doctor putting gloves on) “…that doesn’t sound good, what is it… how do you… what are you doing?”
Doctor- “We will have to pick it out with a needle.”
Me- “What? Seriously?”
Doctor- “Mmm. You need to stay very still”
Me- “Whoa.”
Doctor- “Put your chin on the rest and clench your teeth.”
Me- “Oh god….”

Then followed what has got to be the most sickeningly unpleasant hour of my life while the doctor held my eye open and slowly picked the quartz out. Being poked in the eye with a needle is a very weird experience. I couldn’t feel any pain, but I could sense, or almost hear the flicking sensation, and it is fucking freaky, at first I just couldn’t not blink everytime the needle touched my eye. Trying to stare at a spot and not move my eye at all while he was digging around my cornea with a needle… just uffff. After each bit came out the nurse would wash my eye out, give me time to try and blink the rest out, then re-anaesthatise and go in with the needle again. This was repeated three times until at 4.30am he gave up and I don’t blame him. “Right, 95% of it is out, but I can’t do anymore. You will need to see optahmology in the morning, they have better tools there.” Once the ordeal was over my jaw was killing from clehing my teeth so hard for so long.

Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced pure pain many times greater than this, however this was exceptionally uncomfortable, incredibly annoying, and moreover just very scary. Losing your vision is a terrifying thing to deal with, even just for a couple of days. Sat in A&E on my own for 6 hours, and driving home with one eye was awful, sleep was difficult, I couldn’t close my eye properly and kept waking up in pain with a soaking wet pillow. The next afternoon I went back to opthamology and saw a specialist who managed to get out the last tiny piece of quartz, lodged where the cornea meets the iris. Although the consultant didn’t know what quartz was (?!), he managed to anaesthatise and get it out within a minute, giving almost instant relief. The quartz has permanently scarred my eye, but fortunately not he said, in my line of vision. My iris now has a tiny, unnoticable dent in it. Ah well- alls well that ends well.

Safety goggles guys!

After Brownley Hills

Incident 13/2017 – Mar 25th. Sat. 14.16 – Whenside, North Yorkshire – Mountain Rescue.

Incident 13/2017 – Mar 25th. Sat. 14.16 – Whenside, North Yorkshire – Mountain Rescue.

North Yorkshire Police received a call to a walker (m) collapsed but conscious, descending from Whernside ‘towards Ingleton’. The duty controller was able to re-contact the caller and established that they were in fact descending towards Bruntscar. Team members arrived on scene together with a road ambulance as the casualty neared the road head. He was escorted to the ambulance and left in the care of Yorkshire Ambulance Service personnel.…

Behind the locked doors of Bagshawe Cavern

Behind the locked doors of Bagshawe Cavern
After meeting for the obligatory full English breakfast  in Buxton, our convoy headed in the direction of Bradwell village, in search of Ye Olde Bowling Green pub where we were due to meet our ‘fixer’.
After a quick briefing of the cave system and an exchange of keys, we kitted up and headed to the entrance where some 130 manmade steps descending steeply into the cavern awaited us.
Our first port of call was Calypsos cave just off the main passage way; we spent a few minutes here scrabbling up into a small tube which ends fairly quickly at a dig. Returning to the main passageway to drop the kit bag off at The Dungeon, we continued our way down via the hippodrome to Top Stream Passage and the sumps.
We spent a bit of time here studying the survey, looking around and getting our bearings before retracing our steps in search of the glory hole and the first of the two locked gates that we had come to visit. Behind the first locked gate was Snake’s Pyjamas.  We crawled our way in, one by one, and admired the pretties seen on our left as we made our way up to the furthest point which we could squeeze up to.     
Back on the main passage we made our way towards our final locked gate of the day known as Coronation Crawl. This was a slightly bigger and more decorated passage then the last, so we split off in different directions to see what we could find. I climbed up into a tight rift on the right and crawled head first through water until I couldn’t progress comfortably any further, with the rest of the group returning from their little explores with similar result.
Before returning to the surface, and with time to spare, we thought we would rig the ladder and descend into The Dungeon, but not before we attempted to see if we could fit through agony crawl! This was short lived when it was soon apparent that I would be forced to remove my helmet to ‘maybe’ fit through! Not keen on getting stuck or having everyone laugh at me, we retreated back to The Dungeon pit and rigged the ladder.
The team did a grand job of rigging the ladder and soon we were lowering our test dummy (aka Kay) down the pitch. With the reassuring sounds of the rope being “free” it was our new recruit Ollies turn to descend. Ollie made easy work of the ladder and rope, and one by one we all reached the floor of the Dungeon.
It quickly became apparent that we wouldn’t be going too far as the water levels for our route ahead were looking too high, and after wading in to chest deep water it was confirmed that we wouldn’t be able to explore the lower routes at all, so we quickly retreated to the dry banks and made our way out.
At this point we all agreed that we had seen what we wanted to see and we made our final ascent of the 130 steps to make our way out of the cave. After a quick change of clothes we made our way back down the hill to Ye Olde Bowling Green pub’s garden for some well deserved refreshments and sunshine.
Present: Mike, Lucy, Rich, Kay, Ian and new recruit Ollie

Trip report: Mike Bonner



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. The rest of the group would be united at Katowice airport; Joel in true style, appeared lying on the baggage collection conveyor. Our transfer minibus had the world’s angriest driver. He shouted at us for singing the wheels on the bus go round and round, he shouted at us for singing along to Michael Jackson on the radio, and he shouted at Tom for needing a wee and trying desperately for ages to ask him to stop the bus. He didn’t speak English, but a very patient Polish lady eventually took pity on us and made him stop. He did pull over at an actual serviced toilet, however this fact was sadly lost on Tom, and more unfortunately Emily. We did finally get to Krakow, and our hostel at around 1.30am on Saturday morning, successfully pissing off more angry/sleepy Polish people.

Rynek Główny Market

The next morning we were up at a not unreasonable hour to find breakfast, and catch our train to the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine. On the train out of Krakow centre, a few of us were spying old locos and tons of retired rolling stock, getting excited about the prospect of taking a closer look at these. Wieliczka is about 30 minutes away from central Krakow by train, interesting to note that Wiki says the first settlers in the town were probably Celtic, later driven out by the Slavic population. However the town very quickly became known for it’s huge deposits of salt, with the mine becoming a key focus of “white gold” as it was once considered. Wieliczka is one of the oldest salt mines in the world, and is absolutely bloody massive. You could not fail to be blown away by the sheer scale of the place. 1.2 million people visit this mine every year, and it’s easy to see why. The tourist trip started with a walk down a long wooden staircase shaft, if our tour guide told us how deep this was, unfortunately I don’t remember. Our tour guide then led us through a series of air lock doors, passages and chambers dating from the 11th to 14th centuries. The chambers were quite amazing to us, decorated with salt rock sculptures by the miners, plus various models and artefacts to illustrate the methods of working through different time periods. Our tour guide was excellent, very knowledgeable, and it has to be said very patient with the more childish members of our group, and I don’t mean Damian’s children!

Casimir the Great Chamber

We descended further down more beautifully crafted wooden stairs, through shaft bottoms, past winches, equipment and more big chambers. One of Wieliczka’s main attractions is the huge Chapel of St Kinga, the patron saint of mining. This is the main chapel of many in the mine located 101 metres underground, and it is possible to attend mass, concerts, or get married in the church. It is quite jaw dropping, big, detailed sculptures, reliefs, the floor, and the altar all carved out of the salt rock. We were allowed around 15 minutes to photograph and wonder at the marvel of St Kinga’s Chapel, before being ushered onwards to more impressive chambers filled with too many marvels to try and describe on here. The photographs and videos we took simply do not do this place any kind of justice, it must be seen to truly appreciate the scale and majesty of the chambers.

Chapel of St. Kinga, Wieliczka

After we had been underground in this wonderland, it was time for dinner. A three course dinner to be precise for some of us! We were shown to a table in the restaurant already laid out to seat 18 in the Budryk “Miner’s Tavern” Chamber. We were all surprised to find free wifi popping up on our phones, and some of us took this opportunity to call and facetime family members back at home in Britain. Quite a novelty 125 metres underground! We were served wine, beer, and traditional Polish cuisine, with plenty of time for the mineral collectors among our group to go and buy some crystals from the well stocked souvenir shop. Our guide then led us on to the museum, which houses historical artefacts and documents, artwork, specimens of very large coloured salt crystals, and more salt sculptures. As the tour was coming to an end, our guide said to the group “You have the option here, there is one more chamber to see, or you can choose for us to end the trip here…” Of course we chose the latter and she led us into a chamber with the biggest horse gin I have ever seen, and I am willing to bet will ever see. Our trip down Wieliczka ended with a modern elevator ride back to the surface, and many thanks to our (now slightly harassed looking) tour guide.

Michalowice Chamber

After our trip, a few of us were feeling tired, I was still recovering from a bad flu and aching, needed to lie down for a couple of hours, most of us retreated to the hostel. In the evening we went for pizza and a few beers, then walked around the city, taking in the sights. I was most impressed by the statue of Smok Wawelski outside the castle, the seven headed Wawel Dragon of Polish folklore. As I approached the dragon there was a ticking sound followed by an explosion of fire spat from it’s mouth! Woooow, I loved this! We stood and waited around 20 minutes to try and catch the fire breathing on camera, but sadly it didn’t do it again and we couldn’t stand around all night. It is only later after some googling I found that you can trigger the natural gas fuelled fire by sending a text to the dragon! On the way back to the hostel me and Phil found an open door into a empty apartment block. We had a quick look around and concluded it would be a perfect squat. I loved the buildings in Kraków, there is very little modern architecture to be found, and it gives the city quite a unique feeling for me, compared to other cities I’ve visited. Apart from some of the group getting chased by the police for jay walking, and a slight issue for three of our group involving a power station, most people we encountered were very friendly and happy to help us.

Bochnia Salt Mine

It was a case of early(ish) to bed, early to rise for all but 5 of our group. Bochnia Salt Mine on Sunday was an altogether different experience, we would be surprised and amused by this mine and our fabulous tour guide Jakub several times during the course of our day underground. This started with a cage lift down to 70 metres deep, I love these lifts, the darkness and swoosh of air gives a real sense of speed descending the shaft. Then the real fun started as we discovered we would be going on a train ride, the excitement among our group built as we waited, listening to Jakub’s warnings safety information. The miner’s man-riding train carriages are basically just wooden benches that you straddle, with a bar that comes down on either side. It’s very loud and rattles your bones, but so much fun we had to contain ourselves; we were warned don’t scream too loud or the driver might think there is a problem and stop. At the end of the train ride we were shown another access shaft, not normally used for public trips, and inside the air lock doors, a deafening multimedia exhibition about the beginnings of Bochnia and the mine. The mine trip took in various exhibits about the history and methods of working the mine, as we worked our way through passages, stairs and chambers. Bochnia is one of the oldest salt mines in the world, and certainly the oldest functioning salt mine in Europe.

Bochnia Main Passage

In Bochnia Mine there is another Chapel of St. Kinga to be seen, which must surely be the only functioning church in the world with a real live railway line running through it? Jakub told us that they hold mass in this chapel every Sunday for up to 200 worshippers. We were led on to an attraction in this mine which was completely unexpected- the world’s longest underground slide! It’s made of polished wood, looks much like a bench, is 140 metres long, and 65 metres high! After listening to the supervisors translated safety instructions, it was time to dump our bags, grab a mat and go for it… Some of us definitely went further and faster than others! Afterwards I had a quick spot of footie on the sports court, and we grabbed burgers and chips from the excellent cafe. The last adventure of our day underground would be a boat trip 250 metres deep, floating down a brine flooded passage that’s saltier than the dead sea. This was easily the most atmospheric part of the mine for me, Damian and Karolina translated the boatman’s narration for us, as we passed petrified sculptures and half sunken vessels in the quiet dark. After this it was time to start making our way out, and have a good look at the steam engine housed on the surface. Once back at the lift shaft, we waited with 2 other groups of visitors for around 40 minutes watching the engineers go back and forth making phone calls and looking slightly worried. We realised that there was a lift full of people stuck in the shaft, and were told with apologies by our Jakub that we would have to get back on the train and use a different shaft to get out. We thought this was an excellent idea, another train ride, and a new shaft! Win win! Off we went, crammed onto the train this time, and up the shaft which I gather is normally used by staff and the miners. Upon exiting the lift out into a different building, 2 sad facts became apparent to us; we weren’t seeing the steam engine and we wouldn’t get to thank our guide Jakub properly and tip him for being awesome. Damn.

Chapel of St. Kinga, Bochnia

Back in Krakow, Damian had a table booked for us all at a cool basement restaurant serving traditional Polish food. We had a bit of a mooch around the city again but the rain soon saw us back at the hostel happily drinking cherry soplica wodka. Monday morning came around far too early and quickly, the majority of us looking worse for wear and fighting the wodka induced haze. Most of the group would be going to visit an underground market before heading off to the airport. However, me, Emily, Joel, Phil and Rob would be heading in search of disused trains. The rain was not enough to put us off, and after a 10 minute train ride we found oures walking amongst hundreds and hundreds of abandoned trains and carriages. Most of the doors were welded shut, but there were a handful of accessible carriages. We also went up an old concrete tower of some description, right next to the railway lines. I don’t think any of us quite worked out what the tower was for, it had the look of a silo about it, and offered a good vantage point to watch the trains, and rail workers doing a spot of welding below.


For me the highlight of the day was finding the steam locos. We had spotted a couple from the train on Saturday, but weren’t sure where to find them. Thanks to Joel-nav and google maps, we found them just as the rain stopped. Massive, old, rusty, dirty, beautiful things! I wonder when they were last used. After playing on the trains, and some new(ish) tampers, we headed to the nearest station and back to the hostel. Time to meet the others, say goodbye, and reluctantly make our way to Katowice airport.

Choo Choo Motherfucker

What a properly amazing weekend! Damian was an absolute star in organising this whole trip- the airport transfers, hostel, trips to the mines and meals too. I found myself wishing for more time in Kraków, to explore the beautiful city, for the extended mining trips, and to visit Auschwitz. Sadly money and work constraints meant that a return trip is most definitely in order at some point in the future. Thank you so much, in no particular order to: Damian, Karolina, Magda, Filip, Tom, Ed, Max, Joel, Emily, Jodie, Phil, Matt, John, Robert, Anton, Gina, and Jack.