My earliest memory of caving beyond the show cave of Peak Cavern was an EPC trip which I did in the mid-Eighties. This was what we would nowadays call a “tourist trip”, involving a romp along the Upper Gallery, a visit to Buxton Water Sump, a dive through Lake Sump, a visit to Far Sump, a trip around the Galena Circuit and, oddly enough, a trip to the emergency dump at Picnic Dig. I say oddly enough, because it has vanished from the itinerary of a modern day tourist trip, but we certainly covered it then.

Many years later, I got involved with Ralph Johnson and helped to restock Picnic Dig, and found out that there were, in fact, two emergency dumps; the other one being at the foot of Watershed Aven.

The purpose of these dumps is to provide warmth, comfort and sustenance to any cavers unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped in the system due to flooding (or anything else, for that matter), but, as far as I’m aware, there has only been one such incident, and that was a party of Sheffield Hallam University cavers in the late Nineties, who were trapped at Treasury Chamber by floodwater, and, presumably, hadn’t a hope of getting across to Picnic Dig.

I’m sure that the reason for locating a dump at Picnic Dig goes back to the long siege of Far Sump, when divers were regularly using that route to their advanced dive base. Wind forward a few years, and it is obvious that the discovery of the Wind Tunnel and Trenches routes through to the Speedwell System, and the popularity of through trips from both Titan and JH would shift the probability of someone being trapped from Picnic Dig to the Treasury area, and I assume that is why the Watershed Aven dump came about.

However, while restocking Watershed Aven over the years, we noticed from time to time that the clothes and food in the drums were suffering badly from ingress of water, and we assumed that the normally dry aven must become quite a stream during flood conditions.

Initially, we attacked this problem by covering each drum with a heavy gauge polythene bag, and this seemed to do the trick, but latterly we decided that Treasury Chamber itself may provide a more suitable location – handier for through trippers, and definitely drier. We discussed this with Wayne Sheldon, one of the Hallam party who were flooded in, and John Cordingley, and both agreed that it might be an improvement. Meanwhile, Moose’s new discovery in Watershed Aven itself, which makes the place less of a “backwater”, clinched it and, when re-stocking the dumps got to the top of our “ToDo” list, Ann and I decided that it was finally time to relocate dump to Treasury Chamber – using the dry sandy plateau right at the top of the chamber – ironically, this is just where Wayne sat out his flood!

As a precursor to restocking the dumps, we also decided to review the contents and the procedures for maintaining the dumps, as we were both aware that it had been some five years since the last stock check, and we were pretty sure that some of the food may well be “past it”!! To this end, a trip was organised back in February 2014 to assess the contents of Picnic Dig and start planning any future developments.

Our initial thoughts were that the dump was grossly overstocked with both food and clothing. All the food was out of date, and much of the clothing was showing signs of dampness and, therefore, along with anything which was obviously perished, we took out a large amount of clothing for cleaning and reassessment.

In March, Ann and I took a group from Reading University on a “Tourist Trip”, and took the opportunity to repeat our assessment at Watershed Aven. We also had a good look at the prospective location at the top of Treasury Chamber.

Over the next few months, in amongst other jobs and caving trips, we planned what we would hold in the two dumps, made the necessary purchases and started to shift the Watershed Dump to Treasury. This work carried on into August, when we also started to deal with Picnic Dig. Much work was done by TSG members in conjunction with a Peak Cleanup weekend, and the project was finally completed on Wednesday 19 August by a working party comprising mostly Crewe and TSG members.

News Flash

EA Peakshole Water level Logger at Goosehill Bridge, Castleton

The Environment Agency have installed EA water depth logger at Goosehill Bridge, Castelton. This is now live at: . The water depth is updated every 15 minutes and the datum is the crest of the weir that was installed in 1984/5 by TSG and a group from Manchester Poly. The metre ruler on the left bank of the river when looking downstream from the bridge has the same datum so the levels on the web should be the same as the levels on the ruler.. The outputs contributing to the total flow are Peak Cavern, Slop Moll, Peakshole Sough and Russet Well.

Read more: EA Peakshole Water level Logger at Goosehill Bridge, Castleton