On the 27th July 2013 a storm hit the UK, falling on dry ground and empty watercourses the rainfall soon entered the cave systems of the Peak District. My wife and I took the opportunity to visit Bagshawe Cavern in flood condition.
WARNING – Never enter a cave in flood or at risk of flood without proper experience and training, even then think twice! Both myself and Beth have visited Bagshawe dozens of times and know it intimately.
Over the previous 30 days up until the 27th July the Castleton area had only received 26mm of rainfall according to the Peak District Caving Info website.
Rivers were very low and underground, the streamways and sumps of the Peak District were in a typical very low summer state.
The ground conditions were dry, not parched as there had been 11mm of rainfall on the 23/7/13. Observations after this rain showed no change in surface or underground streamways.
At 20h00 on the 27th July 2013 a storm from the South began to pass over the Peak District. Approximately 80mm of rainfall fell in the area over the next 12 hours. This caused localised flooding, swollen rivers and streams and, as expected, flood conditions underground.
For more photos see here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peakinstruction/sets/72157634832233688/
For a non-flood view of the Dungeon Pitch see here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peakinstruction/sets/72157634832233688/
We made our way upstream to the area just before the 1st crawl up and over rocks on the left. We could have got through but it would have been a swim. The stream level varied from calves to knee deep.
You could visit the initial main sections of the system today without risk of flooding, from the entrance to the base of the steps by the Dungeon Pitch. Although more drippy than usual, the puddles in the miner’s level hadn’t filled back up to normal high levels and were surprisingly still low.
Across the hill, Peak Cavern’s resurgence had gone from the lowest level for some time to full-on flood level discharge in 12 hours. This speed and volume was interesting as the system normally shows more of a delay in response during Summer. Something to consider there for all leaders in the system.