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Friday, 5 June 2009

Caving in Weardale - Jacob's Well

As well as being a roundabout in the middle of Bradford, jacob’s Well is a small limestone cave in Frosterley in Weardale. I thought I’d mention that first.
Nenthead Brian told me about this event a couple of weeks ago and booked places for me, him and Charlie the ceramicist and Pieblog follower.
The purpose of the event was (I think) to introduce people to Carboniferous Limestone caves as part of the annual Northern Rocks festival of Geologically based public events. As it happens, only one of the five punters who turned up weren’t “underground” people (should we call them “The Trogs?”), which meant that our guide could, to some extent, allow us a little more freedom than he’d first planned for.
Northern Rocks is held every year and is a programme of walks and events with a Northern Pennines Geological theme – which means Carboniferous with a dolerite intrusion here and there and lots of valuable minerals and industrial archaeology….
Its part of the AONB and the European Geopark stuff….
Any road up, it was held at Harehope Quarry at Frosterley, which is run by volunteers as an educational centre for geology, mainly for children. It’s a very worthy thing . they also have free-range chickens (I bought some eggs, laid earlier today…
Our event was to explore a little cave in a semi-natural gorge at the eastern end of the quarry. The cave has been mapped and named by schoolkids , including the naming of the various features inside – eg The Crack of Doom – a large fissure in the floor – and so on. Anybody familiar with the Bridge of Death in Glen Feshie will appreciate that “The Crack of Doom really should be uttered in a mad-professor/comedy horror film squeaky voice…. Others won’t have a clue as to what I’m on about here…
Also – in the gorge, there’s a large area of Frosterley marble. This contains a substantial number of coral fossils and for those who don’t like dark holes in the ground – a good place to see this rock is in the Chapel of the Nine Altars and St Cuthbert’s shrine in Durham cathedral. The theory is that this is, in fact, the very spot where those pillars were quarried – I believe, some 800 years ago.
And so, after trampling all over this valuable stone, we entered the cave and walked and crawled and got muddy. At one point, the main passage has been walled off by a thick wall of brick encased in stone and what appears to be Victorian concrete. At the foot of the wall, a small, round mouse-hole of a hole has been punched through and three of us braved the extreme squeeze to get through to the other side.
And back again.
All good dirty fun.
After coffee and cakes, me, Brian and Charley repaired tp the Hare and Hounds at Westgate to have a short interval of light boozing and taking the piss out of the politicians on the telly post some kind of election they’ve apparently been having (As we’ve not had any local politicians who could be arsed doing any campaigning, safe in the knowledge that their personal fortunes will be safer if nobody was actually aware of their existence, I’m just assuming that an election was taking place. If there were any local candidates, they didn’t make themselves known or if, indeed they had any policies other than establishing large personal pension plans. As they couldn’t be arsed with their bit of electioneering, so could I not be arsed voting for any of them. Whoever they are. It doesn’t really matter anyway, cos they all have the same basic philosophy which concerns attempting to increase happiness by the promotion of the acquisition of new electrical equipment and other white goods. Nothing to do with warmth or compassion or any of that rubbish. There’s no money to be made from that.

Sorry… distracted rant there…..

Anyway, Jacob’s Well Hole is a fun hole to crawl through. We’ll probably go back, I shouldn’t wonder.


IckleBigSis said...

"Ah.... the bridge of death"

mike knipe said...

I'll have to explain the "breeedge of death" at some point....

beatingthebounds said...

It's nice to see that Father Christmas got an outing. Where the elves or reindeer there too?

mike knipe said...

Ho fckin ho.

I'm going as Mary Poppins at Christmas. Last year we performed "The death of santa" outside the playground at Nenthead school. It was a sensation.