PEAK DISTRICT CAVE
|Johnny plucks up the strength to tackle
World Champion boxer Johnny Nelson discovers
cave networks deep below Derbyshire’s Peak District that have never
been seen before by man.
Johnny Nelson was taken down the latest discovery in
the Peak District – Sidetrack Cave.
This lies two hundred feet below the hills above Castleton.
It’s half a kilometre long – and is yet another link in the interconnecting
limestone Swiss cheese that is the Peak District.
his fears and crawls along the cave
For many, the physical challenge of potholing remains
at the heart of the endeavour.
Climbing, walking and sometimes diving can make potholing
a hard day of physical exertion.
Although familiar with physical exercise, Sidetrack Cave
was a big shock for Johnny who’s the World Cruiserweight boxing champion.
At six feet three inches tall, he is also a self confessed claustrophobic.
Johnny says, "Sidetrack Cave may only have been a relatively
short one – but it took me seven hours to get in and out!"
"It was an extremely tight squeeze – and for the first
few hundred metres I was absolutely flat on my belly."
- Safety harnesses
- Climbing gear
- Body fleece for warmth
- Tough outer layer
- Protective boots
"There were bits where I couldn’t move my head or my
feet. For the cavers this is pretty easy stuff. It was one the hardest
things I’ve ever done."
Despite his discomfort crawling thought the narrow, muddy
cave, Johnny says that getting into the heart of Sidetrack Cave was well
He says, "It was really pretty. I feel privileged to
have been one of a select few to have seen it – even if I did end up feeling
like human toothpaste during my journey."
|Dave Nixon is
a leading cave explorer
It was a brave select band of cavers who gave Johnny
the low-down on the dark and murky world of cave exploration.
One of these was Dave Nixon, who’s one of Derbyshire’s
leading cave explorers.
He says, "I get the same sense of adventure from cave
exploration that Shackleton probably did when he went to the South Pole."
"The difference is I can do all this on my doorstep –
I don’t have to travel thousands of miles to get the thrill of seeing
things that no-one else has seen before."
"With cave exploration you never know whether the cave
you’ve found is going to be ten metres long or ten miles."
The difference between potholes and caves:
Consist mostly of horizontal passages.
Consist mostly of vertical passages. These are often more dangerous
and require more specialist equipment
It is believed that just ten per cent of the Peak District’s
caves have been found, so Dave has many more exciting explorations in
Despite Johnny’s positive experience, potholing can be
fraught with perils.
These include flooding caves, falling rocks and the risk
of becoming trapped in an enclosed space.
Experienced cavers are scrupulous with their safety planning
and novices should seek the advice of an expert before pursing this adventurous