Cussey Pot

During Lockdown 2020 a new hole was spotted to draught bigger and stronger than any cave in the Peak. We dug it open and this is what happened....

Joe Buck, Rob Eavis

Work and last minute dropouts left just the two of us, so plans of a big hauling effort were out the window. That at least may allow us to just go for glory and not worry too much about moving spoil, and to be honest after last week I was pretty excited. Pre-beers in carpark to keep things quick and straight down to Inglorious where we derigged the old 9mm that’s been on there since we broke through and swapped it out for some new (old) 10.5mm. Loper Lust was a pleasure as always without a bag and we got to Wet West passage pretty quick. Joe then had a crash course in how to use a DistoX and we surveyed from the previous extent of our modern survey (where Draft Black turns off) all the way to the dig. Once done we couldn't hold off the urge any longer and dived head first into the slop.

Joe went first with me closely behind. We joked about how silly it was us trying to stay clean and dry. It’s now a good 30m or so to the face, all of which is either crawling or flatout. In places the slop was over 30cm deep, the trickle of water that flows out of the dig really hasn’t done much to clean it out! A few fresh wall collapses greeted us which Joe just broke up and crawled (slid) straight over. We were keen to push the end. Joe spent a while making the bit I reached last week a wide enough trench to get into and after a few metres reached a left hand corner. Behind him all I could do was jeer him on and occasionally sweep away a wave of slop that he managed to extrude from around him. Soon we were both half buried and pretty cold so we decided to try drag our respective pools of slop back out with us. This was a surprisingly tiring task, especially for the arms, and once back in the main passage we were both pretty knackered.

My turn now which was good as I was keen to see the end. Getting there was definitely easier now we’d each been up and down it a few times. I think each trip the passage will just get a bit bigger, which is a positive feature for the future. This is a really interesting dig, especially done “on the cheap” like this without hauling. After a while I got a method going. It was a case of grabbing a handful of mud from the front and somehow chucking it behind me, although it tended to land on my legs and back. Once it was a slightly scary load on top of me I’d then try to wiggle my body up so it dropped below me. I would then do a sort of reverse worm dance to try to push the fluid backwards and then kick it a bit more. Lush.

Whilst I was doing this Joe had come up with his own method of clearing slop involving filling a drag tray with ideally solid chunks of wall. He’d then drag the tray backwards whilst laying down. This actually gave two additional slop removal mechanisms; that of the wave pushed by the tray, but more impressively the wave in front of his body. This actually extended a good few metres ahead of him if done at the right speed. Note to self, bring GoPro next trip.

After over an hour of digging we got to a point where we had made maybe 4m and could now see a further 2m where the passage runs right and the roof steps up, at least a little. Next trip we’ll make it there, probably, but there’s a lot of mud to shift if we’re going to make it a comfortable size. At this point the slop had successfully entered my oversuit and furry and I was getting pretty cold. I tried out Joe’s sliding/dragging technique to great effect and was soon back in the main passage and glad to be sat up. Joe was loving it and headed back in for another flush. Meanwhile I risked getting my DistoX out and took a few survey legs into the passage to at least give us a direction to be thinking about.

We headed out, taking any opportunity to roll around in a clean puddle on the way. Loper Lust was pretty knackering and I was glad to be in Inglorious. I was grateful of Joe taking the rope bag out and we on surface soon after 10pm for a quick bathe in the Saltpan.

This dig shouldn't be enjoyable and to be honest it isn't. But by the time we were back at the cars, changed and supping our post-beers, we were both ready to go again. It felt strange, like we must be messed up in the head. But then we both agreed that it’s more acceptable to enjoy doing this than it is to hate it and do it anyway. Bring on next week…



Joe Buck, Jon Pemberton, Rob Eavis                

The first time a team hit a dig is always fun. However it’s normally downhill from then on. This dig promises to be different. Firstly, we’re heading uphill. Secondly it’s a long way to dig so we arrived aware that this could indeed be the start of a long, sloppy slog. And finally we left the dig looking much much better than how we arrived.

Pre-beers in the Miners where we had hoped to meet with Mark to discuss important things but he got held up with other important things. None of us had a bag so we made easy work of Cussey, especially as Loper Lust was still dry and getting easier with each trip. On the way we collected drag buckets and hauling ropes ready for their repurposing.

Without much of a plan Joe went digging whilst me and Jon developed a hauling system that kinda worked. A few tight corners made it hard work and digging the face was the quickest bit. After 30 mins or so I swapped with Joe and very quickly he changed our setup and the hauling efficiency increased dramatically to everyone’s benefit. However we were digging a square trench through a round passage and hilariously the side walls kept falling in on us, one time Joe needing Jon to help dig him out. Nevertheless progress was good and we’d progressed maybe 4m after another 30 mins.

By this point Jon was moaning about the cold and his tired back (to be fair he’d done a lot of hauling) and it turned out Joe had an early start for work, so we all headed back to the now filthy mainstream passage. Before we left I quickly got on with shooting a little video tour of our new dig as a record for our day one of many. Once I got to the end of the dig I pointed the phone around the sharp corner we’d just reached and saw on the screen an open passage. Then commences 4 minutes of video of me squirming my way forwards along a further 10m of passage whilst desperately trying not to drop my phone in the slop below. It seems that in this section the trickle of water than emanates from the passage has cut a channel in the mud mostly wide enough to pass. I realise now in hindsight that my enthusiastic hollers back to the others that’s we’d broken through were maybe a little hasty, but at least it got Jon to have a look at the end. I stopped shortly after at a bit where it narrowed slightly too much, but it looks like it wont take much to enlarge the trench and carry on into the draughting blackness beyond.

Back out Cussey was tiring but again glad of now bag. Washing off in the Saltpan afterwards, post-beers in the carpark under a starlit sky and chatting shit about what lies ahead. The Game is on.


After months and months of putting it off and fueled on the most exciting discovery of the decade (for Derbyshire) we decided to go for a second look at the Wet West in Cussey. This passage originally explored and surveyed by The Eyam Exploration Group in the late 80's has been somewhat of a "mindfuck" for us avid Stoney fans. A large section of natural caverns was entered heading WNW towards the main feeds (Waterfall Hole, Hungerhill etc.) which eventually hit a sump. This sump was siphoned/bailed in an extended dry period to a further chamber with and continuing passage with only a boulder blocking the way on. Access was always tricky and the caverns could only be reached by an epic slog up Moorwood Sough - enthusiasm and access agreements being sketchy the lead was shrugged off.

It was picked up 20 years later with a few more trips being made this time fueled on the back of the "Credit Crunch Expedition". The sump was again siphoned and the passage explored and pushed to reach a further sump. All hopes to bypass the sump failed and the dig was abandoned, again due to access restrictions and effort levels.

Then Doom was found...

This took excitement away from The Wet West Caverns as a shit load of T'owd Man's stuff was found intersecting many natural passages. Lots of effort went into exploring Doom and pushing certain digs but with nothing "wide open" and Doom not being an evening trip enthusiasm was lost. We needed a back door in.

Enter - Cussey Pot.

Rob coming through the Loper Lust connection from Cussey to Wet West, by JonP

Our main reason for this Cave was the almost certain potential for it to connect to Doom/WW. We eventually made the connection after Cussey unraveled itself to around half a mile long. Instead of reaping the rewards so to speak we pushed a draughting choke near the Boil Up to enter a large natural cross rift "Diceman" which is still yet to be pushed. This lies just underneath Rocky Horror in Cussey and an artistic connection was dreamt up which would create a grand circle so to speak. Much easier than pushing Diceman our attention went back to Rocky Horror for the connection to be established but with no great luck we soon gave up.

After a brief hiatus back in IDM and with the recent Discovery of the decade our attention has immediately headed straight back to the old Wet West Caverns. In 2009 a small team dug a side passage in this section heading south, a Stoney size phreatic tube (1.2m high) filled with the sloppiest mud known to man. It was dug briefly but abandoned due to pushing the sump. Luckily for us I was on this digging trip. I remember Mark was keen to inspect this passage and having not been to the place for 20 odd years it must have been a half decent lead to be cemented in his mind. The passage heading south was heading straight for the Discovery of the Decade we assumed so this was a key lead to inspect. We also wanted to have a proper look at the Inclined Cavern which heads off north from the passage gaining some good height before ending in boulders. This lies just under the edge of the New Close estate in Eyam.

We had a brief stop at The Miners' before heading over to Cussey. The cave was warm and I soon had to take off my balaclava once we reached Inglorious. Loper Lust was bone dry, surprising after all the heavy rain as we thought at one point that it may fill with water over the winter but this might not be the case. We headed straight to Mark's dig making sure to check every hole en route. We finally reached the dig which lies just before the infamous boulder choke which had to be cemented during the original exploration - handy as its rather awkward. Rob started to make a video showing the dig and the way the water had originally flowed down this passage easily identifiable from the shape of the roof. The draught was definitely present heading in and a small stream was emitting from the end carving out a small trench in the mud. The passage continued almost double to that of the survey and headed prominently south as expected straight toward the great new discovery. When I reached the dig face there was approximately 10 inches of airspace tapering off to the right and now with my body constricting the passage the draught was howling by. I was psyched for sure but it would require some work to drag back the spoil. Rob took a second view and declared we go on no further as that was it, we'd found our next dig.

Our winter project

We did go on further and had a thorough inspection of the Inclined Cavern. This took us by surprise as its much larger than we thought and very complex. It heads North from the main passage so not of much interest to us unfortunately except for a potential further connection to surface through someone's garden. We continued on after completing a round trip through the Inclined Caverns and eventually got to the sump after a quick look at another large side rift, this time on the southern side with a couple of possible digs maybe to checked out properly at a later date. 

The climb up into the Inclined Cavern

Looking West along one of the levels in the Inclined Cavern

Job done we slowly plodded our way out which seemed much more a struggle than the likes of IDM. I was knackered by the time I hit surface and grateful for the post beer.

Next week we dig.  

LukeC, RobE

This was a pre Eldon pub meet trip so we had to be quick. Luckily the prebeers didn't touch the sides and we were off into Rocky Horror with only a crowbar and survey gear between us. The draught was bonkers today and on our way passed we noticed a few draughting near the Movie Room which may need a closer inspection some time.

We continued to our objective of the day, to survey the breakthrough area we found a few weeks ago and push the end. The breakthrough point is a vertical squeeze that is not difficult for thin-ish people, but definitely committing. I surveyed through then from below dug the mud off the back wall to make it a little easier for Luke who was making a few small concerned noises. Once he was easily through we surveyed on to the end and started to have a look around. There's two potential leads. One is a choke to the north, but after a closer inspection with the crowbar this looks pretty meaty and not enticing enough for us. The other lead is straight ahead, due South East (which is directly towards Diceman). This choke consists of unusually clean rocks and after pulling a few out issued a solid draught. Looking up into the choke is not totally enticing but due to it's location and the draught we've got to give it a go. Luke then also found a hole in the floor which gave a draught, so we're seemingly in the right place. 

Cute Luke actually looking like he's enjoying caving

20:20 so it was time to scarper. Getting up out of the squeeze was fun, involving first laying on your back and passing through a hole as if it was a duck, and then sitting up and squidging your legs up underneath you to then stand. It's an unusual one, i like it. In the pub just gone 21:00 for a very enjoyable Eldon social.

Just me and DaveH, his first trip into this half of Cussey. In their absence Jon and Luke had suggested a dig at the far end of Walsernice which i'd not spotted on the day we broke through. Armed with capping gear and pre-beers inside us we set off, Dave commenting that our photos didn't do Timewarp justice, which is high praise in a weird way.

The dig is situated at the far end of the rift, up a 3m climb to a roof passage that is bhocked by a big boulder. I was skeptical of the dig, mostly because i didn't see it first time and that Luke and Jon said we should dig it without them. Turned out on arrival that actually it did look pretty good, and even had a small outward draught. The boulder was indeed pretty big and it took quite a bit of capping and hammering to get it big enough to move. We had to be careful (unusual for us) because if it fell out of the passage it would potentially block our way down and out!


Once it was safely out of the way Dave then had a good clearout and found one more boulder in the way which i capped. Beyond this we could then see the well decorated roof continuing for a good few metres, sloping slightly downwards, but unfortunately the floor comes up to within a few inches. I can't decide if this is a horizontal passage or just a bit more of the vertical rift, but either way dig killed.


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