Going Deep

below the Peak Park !

..................................................................................... ...

........ ..

Enjoy CAVING & POTHOLING with Peak Activities Ltd's expert, qualified tutors 
& explore what lies deep beneath the accessible Peak District National Park...

The professional caveing instruction team at Rock Lea, which has been our base in the
Peak National Park for over 27 years have been running safe, totally reliable and
enjoyable caving and potholing trips which have had rave reviews on TV, Radio and
in National & International Media. The team is still led by Tony Kendall and Steve Pope
and Dr. Iain Jennings
Chartered FCIPD FRGS who founded the business back in 1981 over in
Edale. They and other long serving instructors based here have a wealth of experience.

All year round you can come to our caving centre in Hathersage.
as an individual on a weekend open caving course or you can bring 
along a private party here more or less whenever you 
want.  Pre-booking for any event is always essential.

We provide friendly staff, minibus transportation, all the kit you need
and excellent insurance cover.  We provide everything needed to
enjoy a great day, weekend or even a week of caving, from hard hats
and wellies and lamps and safety hats to numerous cups of tea and
cake and biscuits and somewhere to have a shower and change 
after your trip if required. We provide ample private parking and a safe
and secure place to leave your belongings.


Peak Activities Ltd. staff has been running easy and also more
extreme caving, potholing and underground geology trips 
in the Derbyshire Peak District since 1981.  We at Rock Lea we can 
cater for individuals, small private parties ( eg hen or stag groups ) 
and larger corporate events too.   As well as running very safe, 
challenging and enjoyable beginners events, we're often called 
upon to run special projects and provide technical safety cover 
for adventure film crews, other training companies and organisations 
wanting caving in Derbyshire with a totally safe and reliable first class 

Click here to go foir further caving & potholing pics and information.

As featured in full page article in the Sunday Times Travel Section

As seen on BBC and ITV television.


Friendly Faces !   BBC Television Presenter Ian Wright with 
Caroline our centre's  director - photographed during a break
during a BBC film shoot of an underground challenge which
was designed and supervised by some of our caving tutors 
in  Feb.2003. This was broadcast on BBC1 television on 26 April 
at 6-00 pm on Ian's " I'd do anything" programme.   

A private booking : a group of volunteer HSE qualified first aiders from LE's Cottam Power Station
recently enjoyed a series of MIMMS "accident scenarios" as part of a bespoke leadership and teamwork
training event tailored by Dr Andy McLean, Wing Commander Pete Daughtrey and Dr. Iain Jennings of
Peak Activities Ltd. Here the first aiders are pictured taking a break after rescuing several "casualties"
pre-placed in difficult access poisitions deep inside a cave...a great environment for putting the first aid
team through their paces to assess their strengths & weaknesses and help them gauge their state of
readiness for a major incident at work. The trip down the cave emphasised the importance of leadership
and direction in multi-casualty situations such as car accidents or train wrecks...and the darkness of the
cave and its numerous twists and turns helped make the exercise very different from a typical "classroom"
based training exercise. For organisations such as Cottam Power Station which have excellent safety
records such exercises organised by Peak Activities are a good way of boosting the confidence and operation
readiness of such teams of standby volunteers. From their faces it looks like it's lots of fun too !
See our first aid section of our website if you are interested in running such tactical evaluations
or training for your own company's first aid staff.

One of Cottam Power Station's First AIders training with us preparing to set off underground on a mock rescue session.


Peak Activities Ltd runs exclusive caving & potholing events all year 
round for private groups and training parties ...and we also run "open" 
( public ) events once a month which can be booked by individuals, 
couples and tiny groups who want to learn to cave and pothole 
in a small and friendly group under the guidance and supervision 
of our highly acclaimed centre's experienced instructors.  These
"friendly face" weekends are a very sociable way to meet and 
make new friends in fresh surroundings.  They attract complete
beginners as well as enthusiasts. Click for dates & prices.

Our regional Tourism Board's Executives Beverley Nielson (5th from left), David Moyser and other senior managers 
enjoying an exercise that involved a caving trip. This was part of a very successful and enjoyable three day residential 
team building & staff development programme which  Iain Jennings was asked to design & run for them. 

What a lovely sunny day to go caving !

Our beginners caving weekends which are open to the public
have been featured on television several times and were once 
again given rave reviews in the prestigious Sunday Times Travel 
Magazine in February 2003.  See the foot of this page for an extract 
of an article on one of our open weekends written by Steve Bleach 
or click the link to see more press features raving about these fabulous
weekends run from our base at Rock Lea.

We'll provide everything you need 
- from wellies and waterproof caving suits 
to lamps, site access fees, and transport 
and insurance.

Each instructed day starts at Rock Lea at 
around 9-15 am and ends c. 5-00pm

Our price covers two full days tuition, insurance, 
access fees & hire of all necessary safety kit.

Accommodation is charged extra and varies
from £5 to £150 per night depending on whether
you choose to stay under the stars in tent or splash
out and enjoy 5 star hotel luxury after your caving
session is over !

 pre- booking is essential as numbers are limited.

If you come and join one of our low cost "open" caving 
courses for complete beginners you can expect to join 
a lively bunch of over 18's!

Call 01433-650345 to book places and to discuss
the wide range of accommodation options we
have available - camping, pubs, B&B's, hotels, 
self catering cottages, conference centres, etc.

No special kit or prior experience ...and no special fitness is needed
to join these popular, highly acclaimed weekend sports events.

As praised on BBC television, on NBC's Ushaia 
& endorsed in the Sunday Times & Sunday Telegraph* !

                                                                                                                                          * scroll down to bottom of this page


If you've already been caving and want to join our expert 
instructors for some seriously challenging extreme potholing 
on one of our "open" follow up events...read on !


We're also running an advanced weekend on the following
dates for people who have already been caving at Rock Lea
(and who have completed our novices course) who wish 
to do some advanced underground trips. Fee c. £169 each.

You need to be fairly fit to enjoy these events !

Advanced courses ( 2 days ) open to the public are 
scheduled every month or two...They involve some
serious trips down potholes which have to be negotiated
using abseiling ropes and the slender "Electron" caving 
ladders illustrated above.

Click here please or phone 01433-650345 for the current dates and prices


If you'd like to join one of our small informal parties of
potholing novices with expert nationally qualified
instructors, simply phone us on 07771-855105 or 
call us 01433-6560345 to discuss you requirements
and dates & prices of other caving opportunities.

All of our people answering the phones are experienced
cavers and instructors, so they'll be able to tell you what
you need to bring along and help people who are booking
these events with us sort out suitable local accommodation 
in B&B's, inns, hostels, hotels, camping sites, etc.


No worries !  Just phone us well in advance on 0771-855105 and we'll be
happy to look after you !  Caving here can be combined with other 
activities on offer - such as abseiling, rock climbing, high ropes challenges 
and mountain biking and training events.

Caving at Rock Lea is suitable for all ages from 9 years to 90 !

All year round we can book in private parties...including hen groups, 
commercial training parties, television & film crews and all sorts 
of other private bookings. We'll  be happy to talk with you if you 
have a party of people who'd like to go caving with us and wish 
to set up dates and times to suit you.  Caving is a very popular 
activity with stag groups and for informal team builds for
groups of colleagues from a wide range of visiting
We can cater for groups large and small.

 See the numerous endorsements from some
of our diverse group organisers who have enjoyed caving
sessions with our popular, safe and well respected centre.



Peak Activities Limited
Rock Lea Activity Centre
Station Road
Hope Valley
The Peak District National Park
S32 1DD.

AALA licenced...ref.  L2861/R0671.

Tel.       01433-650345
Fax       01433-650342
Mobile  07771-855105

Due to the huge number of unwanted spam e-mails we get from listing our e-mail 
addresses on our web pages we now only give out our e-mail address to clients who 
phone us first.  

Caving really is great fun and a thrilling adventure ...but please don't just take our word for it ! The following feature was published recently after an expedition during one of our beginners caving weekends : - For other press articles on our caving and other activities such as abseiling, climbing and so on, please click our press cuttings link. Click here to go to our main caving & potholing page.
Source of article below : The Sunday Times - Travel Section February 16, 2003 Caving: What lies beneath Deep in the dark, eerie caves of the Peak District, something is stirring. It’s Stephen Bleach It’s a beautiful place, Derbyshire — a bit like the Maldives. There are swaying palm trees on volcanic islands, surrounded by lagoons and miles and miles of coral. The shallow tropical sea is teeming with small fish and crustaceans. Real desert- island getaway stuff. This is not a pack of lies. It is, though, a little out of date. It’s an accurate picture of Derbyshire — or, at least, the southern end of the Peak District National Park — as it was 340m years ago. If you come here now — for a ramble over the dales, perhaps, or a spot of rock climbing, or just a leisurely drive through the wonderful scenery — you’ll see a different landscape: a mellow pattern of low, grassy hilltops, lush valleys, pretty market towns and sheep pasture crisscrossed with dry-stone walls. A quintessentially English scene. It’s wet enough, at times, but not what you’d call tropical. That older Derbyshire is still there, though. It’s under your feet. This area stands on limestone, about 5,000ft thick. That’s why it looks like it does — the shallow soils are well drained by the permeable rock, making them ideal for sheep, and the gentle undulations of the land mirror the rise and fall of ancient tropical seas. This limestone is made of the shells and bones of sea creatures: over millions of years, those little skeletons drifted to the bottom of lagoons, were buried by more, and compressed, and eventually solidified to become the stuff of which the Peaks are now made. In a sense, those little animals gave it all up for England. If you want to meet them now, and perhaps say thanks, you’ve got to go down a hole. PICTURE THIS: I’m flat on my back, lying on a shelf of wet rock. Looking up, all I can see is another sheet of rock. It is four inches from my face. The surface of the earth is 150ft above me, the other side of thousands upon thousands of tons of (fairly) solid limestone. I am a tiny scrap of meat filling in a colossal rock sandwich. I am very, very scared. We entered Giant’s Hole, near the pretty village of Castleton, about an hour ago. It’s a swallet — a cave where a stream ducks underground and flows through holes it has worn in the soluble rock. Tucked away in a hollow in the dale, the entrance is comfortingly big, wide and tall enough for three to walk upright. But it’s deceptive. Within yards, the light from the blustery day outside has evaporated and the cave becomes narrow, mazelike, capricious. The twists and turns, ups and downs, the myriad passages that lead this way and that, are totally disorientating. Very soon, I have no idea where I am, or which way is out. There are 10 of us in the party, four (myself included) total beginners. Togged up in rubber coveralls, wellies, helmets and headlamps, we splash through the stream, ducking and scrambling through narrower and narrower passages, getting farther and farther from the light and air above. Our instructor, Andy McLean, leads us four novices up into a hole at the side of the passage roof. We’re roped up for the tricky, slippery climb (every surface is dripping wet), then crouch around him in the small chamber at the top. “Right,” he says, pointing to a small passageway to one side. “You can lead. Just turn left, then right, then left. You can’t go wrong.” And he starts chatting with another instructor who’s come along for the ride. Duncan goes right ahead. I follow him, and Andrea and Alan follow me. We are all excited, and nervous, and painfully aware that we are in a strange, hostile environment: we follow the orders of our instructor without question. And this is where it has brought me: to the verge of panic. Ahead, Duncan is also flat on his back in the foot-high crevice we are wriggling through. He hasn’t moved for a minute, and I suspect he is stuck. Neither of us knows how long this hideous passageway will go on for. We are not sure we can get back. We don’t know if we’re in the right passage at all. Maybe we took a wrong turn. We are both thinking one thing: we could die here. Some stream water slips down the neck of my suit, mingling with the sweat that has broken out all over my body. I start to feel like I’m suffocating. I want to bash my fists, uselessly, on the all-too-solid rock above. I want to scream. Then two things happen. First, with a crunch of pebbles and a grunt of effort, I hear Duncan move suddenly forward. “Are you out?” I try to keep my voice deep and calm, but it resounds in the tiny space and comes back to me as it really is, high and cracked. “I’m out. It’s just a few more feet.” “What’s it like there? Can you stand up?” “Nearly. And it’s not too narrow. It’s fine.” The panic ebbs away. Though an hour ago the space I’m heading for would itself have filled me with dread, now it sounds like a cathedral compared to the crack I’m in. And I know I can get there. Then the second thing happens. Calmer now, I realise that, embedded in the rock roof I’ve been staring at, there is a shape. A shell. This is the final resting place of a little sea snail, an inhabitant of that Peak District tropical lagoon, which breathed (or rather gilled) its last right here about 340m years ago. It’s entombed here forever, and for a couple of minutes, I’d thought I was going to join it. THE PASSAGEWAY, of course, brought us straight back to Andy. He’d sent us on a loop and, though we didn’t know it, was always in earshot and ready to leap to our assistance if needed. And that moment, alone with my panic, did seem to have a galvanising effect: for the next two hours, while some opted to stay in the wider passages, I was wriggling through cracks and squirming through chest-constricting squeezes like a man possessed. I sometimes needed cajoling, and sometimes felt a surge of fear rise in my throat, and I swore a lot, but God, I had a great time. And I was struck by the beauty you can only see underground. Etched on a wall, as big as my hand, are the delicate fronds of a soft coral. Further on, a long expanse of rock seems to have been covered in melted candle wax: in fact it’s calcites, and the surreal effect is produced by the same process that makes stalactites. Here, mineral crystals sparkle in the light of our lamps; there, along a rock face worn glassy smooth, the swirls and backflows of millions of years of flowing water have left their intricate patterns on the solid rock. Emerging, at last, into the fading daylight, all four of us beginners were babbling, laughing, exhilarated. We’d been challenged, and we’d come through. Sure, we hadn’t faced the toughest tests Giant’s Hole has to offer: only the experienced can take on the agony crawl, where you scramble through a flooded tube with one inch of air at the top, mouth closed, one nostril covered, the other poking into the air pocket to breathe (mischievous cavers will sometimes splash and make waves to give their mates a little scare). We’d skipped Suicide Cavern, and Sardine Chamber, and the sump, where icy water flows through an airless tube and cavers hold their breath and swim against the current, in total blackness, to reach air on the other side, 20ft away. Those treats could wait. We’d done plenty for one day, thanks. And we hadn’t just been down a hole. We’d been back in time. In front of us stretched the beautiful, undulating Hope Valley. Now I’d seen something of the honeycomb of history that lies beneath it, the landscape seemed more fragile and transitory than before, but, if anything, even lovelier. In another 340m years, perhaps it will be under the sea again, or maybe it will be desert, or buried by glacial ice — who knows? The billions of fossilised creatures beneath our feet were mute testimony to the passing nature of things. They say it took 2,500 years to lay down a layer of limestone 1ft thick. Next time you visit what is, for my money, Britain’s most beautiful national park, spare a thought for the creatures that created it. If you have time, go and look them up — anyone who’s reasonably fit, and not clinically claustrophobic, can try caving. But when Andy turns to you and says “You lead the way”, be prepared for a very close encounter with the real architects of England. TRAVEL BRIEF Caving can be dangerous for the inexperienced, and expert guiding is essential. Peak Activities (01433 650345, www.peakactivities.com), in Hathersage, knows the Peak District’s caves intimately: it runs caving weekends, including a trip down Giant’s Hole, from £129 per person. Where to stay: The Millstone Inn (01433 650258), just outside Hathersage, has doubles from £60. Or try The Plough (01433 650319). Feature Source : "The Sunday Times website - Feb 2003. " Author : Steve Bleach - with photography by Iain Jennings. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2100-578413,00.html Caving: What lies beneath
This intrepid beginners party referred to above included first timers Andrea & Duncan Way, James Jennings (aged 12), Alan Bromley, plus Leslie Roddick Harris,Kev Parker, Pete Brookes, Steve Bleach (Sunday Times staff), and Tony Kendall (leader) and Dr. Andy McLean (assistant leader). Geologist Dr. Iain Jennings. Our thanks to everyone concerned ...especially Steve Bleach.
Below is part of a scout group's description of a caving trip with several caving leaders led by Steve Pope : Giant's Hole is a classic extensive limestone cave system with an active streamway and is a perfect example of the erosive power of water over rock....especially as when raiwater absorbs carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere it becomes acidic and can dissolve limestone. Although the technically difficult vertical and narrow sections of Giants Hole preclude us from taking the scouts into the deeper recesses of this system on their first trip, there are plenty of underground streams, tubes, waterfalls, canyons and rifts for them to explore and many examples of fossils, flowstones and calcite formations to be found. The underground trip with Steve lasted about 4 hours and allowed the scouts plenty of tuime for exploring and for practising their ropework and ladder work in anticipation of a tougher trip next time they out here for a more technical trip underground. After Steve's safety briefing we strolled up to the cave entrance and were off into the gloom...following Fred along the stream leading into the Giant's Hole. When our eyes have become used to the darkness of the cave we can see a passage high up in the roof of the passage we are following. Steve led us up into this passage and set up a safety rope belay system. We all roped up to climb up into the roof and then we moved off to explore a tight crawling space. Next we go on to explore loads more varied places down past " Base Camp Chamber " to take a look over the precipice at the top of the undeground waterfall at "Garlands Pot"...all carefully rope dup so nobody would fall. Next we retraced our steps and started to explore the area called "Wet Inlets" where we could put into practise the electron ladder climbing technique we had learned earlier in the day. Climbing these very slender steel wire caving ladders is tricky until you get the hang of putting your hands and feet behnd rather than in front of the ladder ! You also need to push wth your feet - not your arms - or you'll get very tired arms very quickly ! We had a great time abseiling back down from the top of the ladder in the roof of te chamber and then all too quickly it was time to head out fo the cave and back to the minibus. What had been a four trip felt like it had flown along in just an hour. Throughout our trip we felt safe and well looked after...and everyone agreed it was a trip of a lifetime. We are already looking forward to our next trip underground down a different cave with Steve and his team. If you'd rather be out there doing it rather than sitting here just reading about it, please phone us on 01433-650345 and book a place on our next "open" weekend ( for individuals ) or book a session for your own private party ! Click here for dates and prices of next open beginners caving event. or phone us for a quote for any group booking you may have in mind. For more information on caving and potholing with Peak Activities Limited click here to go to another web page full of infoirmation and images.
Peak Activities Ltd, Rock Lea Activity Centre, Station Road, Hathersage, The Hope Valley, The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, S32 1DD. Enquiries : Tel. 01433-650345