Peak District – Thirst House Cave – Bivvy Wild Camp

So, I’ve got a few items on a list of places and situations I’d like to wild camp in. One of my aims for 2015 was to camp up a tree, when I say camp up a tree I probably mean just sling up a hammock somewhere high up in th branches and sleep there for the night. Another item on my list was to sleep in a cave, that cave was to be Thirst House (also known as Hob Thirst’s) and the time was to be tonight. My friends Ray, Jay and I headed for Chelmorton where we left the car then walked down Deep Dale in the direction of our target. The weather forecast was due to be pretty terrible which is one of the reasons we chose to camp in a cave tonight rather than summit camp or head for the usual forest. Thirst House Cave is an ancient place, I’ve no doubt its history holds lots of interesting and possibly gruesome stories. During my research about the cave I used the excellent website Megalithic.co.uk which is a treasure trove of info about historic sites around the UK. There are lots of great spots listed around the Peak District from burial mounds to stone circles and it really was a great help when I began my initial hunt for a cave.

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Some of the facts I manage to unearth about the cave described burials just outside the door and also finds of Roman pottery inside. Naturally, due to its historic nature my main concern about spending a night in such a place was that we had to be extremely careful. I didn’t want to leave any trace of our time there and I certainly didn’t want to do any damage to the cave itself. I’ve seen various videos and images of people having fires in caves like this but that’s not my style at all.

View the location on an Ordnance Survey maphttp://streetmap.co.uk/

Upon arrival we took off our bags and had a moment to take it all in as the rain lashed down in the Dale. The cave itself was found to be nice and dry thankfully, the entrance area has some nice places to sit and there are also some great spots that are perfect for a few bivvys.

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After a short rest I headed over to the opposite side of the valley to get a better look at another small cave, I also wanted to get a better shot back towards Thirst House too. Night fell soon after and it went dark very quickly, at around 16:30 there was no light coming in from outside at all. Thankfully we had ample lighting, Jay and Ray had bought candles and I’d remembered to bring a small lantern with me which came in very handy for some interesting long exposures.

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Naturally we had to explore the depths of the cave itself, so we armed ourselves with as much light sources as possible and headed back as far as we dare. the Megalithic website mentions that there is a drop of 6ft and it then opens out in to another cavern which splits of in to numerous others. Over the years there have been a series of cave ins reported so we didn’t venture too far, none of us are trained cavers or stupid so it was a matter of putting safety first 🙂

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We ventured back down through a small gap in to the second part of the cave, it was noticeably warmer and a lot more humid too. I had to keep cleaning the lens on my camera as it was steaming up due to the humidity. There was some amazing cave graffiti and we even made friends with a mouse who was living back there. Ray was the bravest of the gang and he ventured further than Jay and I felt comfortable doing. It would be absolutely amazing to come back here some day with experienced cavers who have all the kit, there are evidently some great little cracks and crevices to explore. After our foray in to the back we came out in to the relative safety and familiarity of the main cavern. Thankfully the cloud had cleared and I immediately grabbed my camera to see what shots I could get of the cave and the stars.

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A great evening was had by all and we settled down for what we hoped would be a comfortable sleep in our bivvys. During the night I awoke a few times to strange noises in the cave and also the odd sound that must have been small rocks falling at the back. All in all I did sleep pretty well and when daylight arrived we could see that we had a nice covering of snow outside.

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Jay and I had got work that night so we decided not to linger too long and make tracks back to the car. The beauty of bivvying is that everything is easily packed away in no time at all.

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The walk back to the car took around 30 minutes and it was thoroughly enjoyable out there in the fresh winter wonderland, this flurry was the first snow of 2015 in the Peak District and I’m so glad we managed to catch it. The sun was rising as we arrived back at Chelmorton and it was then time to head home. It was a really great little adventure and I’m so glad that I got to tick off one of the items on my wild camping bucket list.

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Links related to the video
Hob Thirst’s Cave – http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=28326
Jay’s YouTube Channel – http://bit.ly/YouTubeGoonieBushcraft
Jay’s Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWX8EKAnL9Q

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The music is by Dean Read and it’s a tribute to “Ecstasy of Gold” by Ennio Morricone from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Footage shot with a Canon EOS 7D DSLR with a Canon EF 50mm – f/1.4 USM Lens, Canon EF 17-40 mm f/4.0 L USM Lens, RODE VideoMic Go Microphone with a RODE Dead Cat Wind Protector. I also used my iPhone 6 Plus and it was edited in iMovie.

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