Masson Lees Quarry to Youd’s Level – Through Trip
Saturday, 9 December 2006
T
he team parked on Salters Lane after first dropping Antonys van off in Matlock Bath, and the brief walk across the hill to Masson Lees quarry to begin the game of Whatabout as none of us knew exactly where the entrance we were after, actually was. Fortunately this was a brief game as the top of Gentlewomans shaft was soon located, hidden under a large boulder in a bramble bush.

A 150 ft descent down a narrow shaft tied to a rusty scaffolding bar and the said large boulder, drops in to level. This used to connect through to Masson Cavern (currently a show cave in the Heights of Abraham) but is now blocked after the linking passages were quarried away. The rope was left in place due to the possibility of the squeezes later being blocked forcing a retreat.

Good walking sized passage down dip through mined out mineralised hydrothermal pipes past the base of another shaft (Overseer / Upper Close Shaft), lead to a short low crawl and then a steep climb up to the top of the vein. The way on follows the very strong draught. Here were seen some superb dogstooth fluorspar deposits. A traverse along the top of the vein leads to a steep climb back down to a stream and on to a steep slope of loose mining waste. This loose scree slope lead down to the crux bit of the trip which consisted of two low wet squeezes through to Old Jant Mine. These have been
known to get blocked and force a retreat back via the route in. For us, these were made all the more appealing by the amount of water flowing into them, washing the scree slope down into the squeezes.

However these were soon dealt with but I dont think any of us found them particularly enjoyable. Further low wet crawls lead to bigger passage and eventually a drop into a larger streamway. Here our route description suggested heading upstream and off into some stooping height side passages. We however chose to follow the water and into some more enjoyable low flat out crawls.
This lead to a chamber and the start of the main drainage sough ‘ initially Masson Sough but turning in to Ringing Rake Sough or Youds Level as its more commonly known. ( Stuart Youd found it in the 70s when trying to find a drain in his front garden)

This is the longest hand picked coffin level in Derbyshire at 365m long and the first section is around 1.4 m high by 0.5 m wide, and as such quite awkward to negotiate ( especially for the taller members of the team). Part way along a side passage leads to the base of Deep shaft (or Day Shaft); another way in to the level (via a 280ft abseil). From here the level continues under a waterfall entering from the Waterfall series and in to a part of the level enlarged in the 19th Century along the base of the Matlock Lava, which destroyed a lot of the original coffin shaped passage.

A short section under the main road with ENORMOUS spiders in is just before the exit climb up to the manhole cover in the kids playground, behind the toilet block in the public carpark at Artists corner in Matlock Bath. Unfortunately the weather was particularly grim so the carpark was deserted and nobody witnessed the surreal sight of four cavers escaping from a grass field before relaxing on the kids swings. A quick beer was enjoyed outside the van before the drive up the hill back to Jons car to get changed.

At last the crew complete an excellent and efficient trip and thoroughly recommended it to all.

Images
Antony prepares to descend
Posted by: Jon Haynes
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Posted: 11 December 2006
Stuart in the crawl below Overseer shaft
Posted by: Jon Haynes
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Posted: 11 December 2006
Can we get a move on Jon?
Posted by: Jon Haynes
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Posted: 11 December 2006
Fluorspar dogs teeth
Posted by: Jon Haynes
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Posted: 11 December 2006
The coffin level
Posted by: Jon Haynes
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Posted: 11 December 2006
Frightening children
Posted by: Jon Haynes
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Posted: 11 December 2006