Week Twelve – Urban Caving

So this is getting exciting isn’t it?! We seem to have moved up a notch from craft to adventure!

So again Sheffield comes up trumps as a place to live because there are more events and festivals than you can shake a stick at, should you wish to. This weekend was SHAFF – Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. I’d noticed a few weeks ago they were offering the opportunity to urban caving during the festival weekend and with my new ‘yes woman’ attitude I bought tickets thinking I’d worry about it later.

I started to worry about it. What was I thinking? I had no idea what I’d signed up for and insisted my husband came along to pull me out of the water if I fell over.

We arrived and dressed as Super Mario brothers. We had an introductory talk by Simon Ogden and then friendly experienced guides from YHA Edale led us into the river at Matilda Street down into the Victorian storm drains underneath the city.

57511550175__b47bef41-b9f9-410a-83a1-264e7decb437-1I’m not sure I can do this experience justice with words. We had to wade through the river, stoop to follow it underground, and in places crawl on our hands and knees. We saw how the rivers have been covered over under the city for years with a series of culverts and learnt how a new Trust (Putting The Sheaf Back Into Sheffield) is being established to try and uncover as much of the rivers as possible to positively influence pollution levels and encourage the return of wildlife.

We waded through fast currents under the train station and came to a pause to listen to a duo playing atmospheric songs in the echoey underbelly of the city (goodness knows how they got the guitar down there). We even watched adventure films and a Powerpoint about the rivers while standing in a storm drain underground. Along the way we even saw evidence of industrial heritage hidden in the storm drains in the form of crucibles tossed away long ago by a family forge. We listened to Pulp lyrics that talked about the rivers, and saw urban graffiti along the way. We also didn’t see any rats so that was a relief.

Then we made our way back through the tunnels, thankfully not having to crawl back the way we came.

What an amazing adventure. We need more like this one, without a doubt. Epic.

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