The spring growth of brambles and bracken means that this winter's caves search must soon come to an end. The season has been most productive and we now have more than sixty identified sites the length of the Ridge. Volunteers have visited caves and shelters all the way from Frodsham to Malpas, recording basic dimensions, map co-ordinates, altitude and aspect, flora and fauna, with notes on whether the sites would reward further investigation. We were really grateful to landowners for allowing us access to caves on their property and there are now just a few locations that we need to check out before we can say that we have surveyed the entire Ridge.
There have been a few surprises: no-one had imagined just how large some of the caves would be nor anticipated the similarities that are to be seen in the way that the sandstone has been worked by sand-peddlers through the ages.
There are a few mysteries that we would like to check out further. For example, there is a substantial hand-cut cave on Burwardsley Scar for which there is no explanation and a similar one at Kidnal. There is a historical record of a "vast cavern" at Overton Scar, the entrance of which, has been completely obscured, and there are adits (horizontal shafts) at Bickerton and Bulkeley that have been lost under leaf-litter. Has copper mining been more extensive than previously thought and are these adits indications of workings beyond Gallantry Bank?
We would also like to follow up on the stories associated with some of the caves:
- Stories around the Tweedle family and "Old George Thompson" nineteenth-century sand-peddlers in Frodsham and Helsby
- Was the "Bear Cave" in Helsby really used to cage a bear?
- What else can we learn about Mr Beresford who excavated the sand at Beeston?
- What more can be learned about the "Bloody Bones" gang who terrorised the hills around Harthill and may have used the caves to hide in?
- What were the gypsies at Overton Scar up to that led to their being chased from Malpas, and what was the true nature of their cave, "Gypsy's Hole"?
The summer will be the time for desk research to see if we can trace more evidence to answer some of these questions,
If anyone with the time to chase down some of the answers would like to help, then please get in touch.
Thanks to the immense work undertaken by our enthusiastic team of specialists and volunteers.
When the survey is complete we will make our list available for further research.
In the meantime, anyone with more information about the goings-on beneath the Ridge, please get in touch.
You can contact us from this website.
Well done everyone — a fantastic season 'Beneath the Ridge'.