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....

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.

 

As we stood in the car park, half naked, finishing off our beers, I said to Rob, “Why did you tell them 9pm?” I was keen on his keenness but this was totally unattainable. 

Let me get to the point… We were heading back to Sooty to push the boulder choke we’d found on the previous trip. The upward trending choke looked to be an easy dig with only a few boulders blocking the way on and a tantalising view beyond into blackness! We had discussed during the week and the final plan was Dave B, Rob and I were going to head to Sooty whilst Jeff and Luke were topping up a bit later and heading down Rocky Horror with hopes of a possible connection. 

Our plan was carry little gear and head on for glory. Our kit list was; one SRT kit minus the abseiling gear and cows tails as we were putting a short ladder on the Sooty pitch, surveying gear, smoke bombs, a lighter, a spare lighter, a small crowbar, a lump hammer and remembering to pick up a long pokey bar from the big chamber below Sooty. This made the whole trip a lot easier and Rob was thankful for not having to drag a drill through Loper Lust for once! We reached the big chamber below Sooty in record pace and were all pretty hot, especially Dave having pre-empted him on wearing a thermal top as it’d get cold pretty quick at the choke with the mega draught howling through.  

I prusiked up the pitch and placed the ladder on the lowest possible hang due to its shortness and lack of spreader. We laughed for a short while before Dave tried it first, it held so Rob headed up with his long pokey bar sticking out of his wellie (like something out of Bad Caving tips). Now Dave was heading into new territory I pushed down the Sooty choke first and shouted for him to come down whilst I made an effort to dig out the floor at the bottom as it was a nightmare climbing back out last time. Rob followed and we were now ready to cross the swamp. We cobbed in a few more boulders hoping to make some sort of causeway, I used one of the T’owd Man’s timbers to create a hand support which pushed straight into the abyss the mud being at least a metre deep and ended up being a good footing which was soon lost in the gloop. Rob pushed the pokey stick in to try and reach the floor but it went 4ft down with no signs of stopping. We carefully crossed non-the less and Rob headed into the choke to see what he could do whilst Dave and I continued to build the causeway. 

Within minutes Rob had dropped a few boulders and a football sized lump of Galena which now sits permanently at the base of the choke. After removing a few more rocks Rob went quiet and finally confessed that a rock had hit him in the face. I went up to check and dug out a small muddy section at the top to enable a slightly roomier space. When I got to Rob his nose was cut open on the bridge right where his goggles sit. The contrast of the mud and blood was a spectacular sight, he said he was fine and I continued to dig the mud before he went for a second round with the rocks above. Hitting rocks from below with a 4ft bar strains the arms somewhat so it wasn’t long before Dave was called up into the choke and made quick progress of enlarging the upper section, removing some large boulders in the process whilst being careful not to peel away too much of the back wall. The time was now 9pm. 

Rob after battling the choke

 

A very heavy rock full of midget gems

This was what I was on about with Rob during the pre-beers. He’d agreed to set the smoke bombs off before we left at 9pm. There was no chance in hell we’d be through the choke having explored, surveyed and ready to leave at 9pm – Heck we’d not even made it through the choke! Dave now said the choke looked big enough to pass. Rob took to the reigns once again and pushed through the poised, undercut boulders and immediately started whooping and swearing with excitement. “It’s bigger than I thought!” Dave was next up and helped by moving a large boulder from the entrance squeeze, I hastily followed.  

***9:15pm*** 

We were now stood at the Eastern end of a 12m high by 20m long chamber - The Diceman. The roof was lined with some humongous boulders delicately poised on what looked like nothing revealing a view up to the rift stretching off above and a potential lead. The walls were clean washed and the whole place was natural with your typical Stoney shell bed features and no evidence of T’owd Man except for a couple of rotten timbers in sockets suggesting it’s probably quite old workings up here. We headed west towards our objective (an artistic connection with Rocky Horror.) The floor began to rise here in thick gloop and finally we reached a huge choked rift at the western end which felt very Rocky Horror esq. We had lost the draught somewhere in the chamber and after a short muddy climb at the western end I reached a gap between boulders that the draught was howling through! I climbed back down now 9:45pm and we started to survey back out.  

Dave entering The Diceman

We lit the smoke bombs for Jeff and Luke, the smoke heading straight up to my little draughty hole confirming the draught and after inspecting the bolt climb through the poised boulders carried on with our task of surveying back out to the base of the climbing shaft in Sooty via two boulder chokes which Rob made easy work of. By the time we’d completed our mission it was now after 10pm, finally reaching surface gone 11:30pm to see Jeff and Luke cowering from the rain inside Luke’s van. The warm temperature and rainy conditions on surface reminded us of Hidden Valley in Mulu, it felt tropical. We started chatting with the guys who after finding out when the smoke bombs were lit confirmed they’d seen smoke almost immediately around the Movie Room/Rocky Horror area (but not down the pitch) around 10pm, which proves its proximity. IT now started to lash it down on the surface so with Jeff and Luke now gone we huddled under Dave’s boot lid supping a well-earned post beer and pondered over future prospects. 

Jon climbing the choke at the Western end

The survey shows the two to be roughly 20m away horizontally from the section Rob had dug into the previous week in Rocky Horror whilst also being at the same height. For ease of the evening trip we’ve decided to re-inspect the area around Rocky Horror before we head back to the other side. 

The artistic connection will have to wait a little while longer… 

Work and garden commitments meant we were down to 2 (TAP) and as Jon missed out on the easy trip last week I figured we go back there again to show him the dig. Quick pre-beers in the Eyam Dogging Society’s carpark and off we went. The cleanliness and ease of the trip surprised Jon; it really does feel like a different cave to the other way.

At the dig I went first, capping a few big rocks, and then let Big Guns Pembo shift it all out. Working at the bottom as pretty awkward, your legs are totally in the way so you end up doing a weird passing of the rocks up between your legs and then a push up in the air for the person above to reach and remove. I once tried reaching down head first and indeed managed to collect a rock but then failed totally to get my body or the rock out of the hole; a very ungraceful time for me.

The top of our dig for the day, by JonP

We could see down a small rift but there was two annoying rocks just jamming the space and stopping us dropping spoil down, which would be much easier. We swapped again and I removed the big rock by capping it and then the littler one by kicking it down. After a bit of tidying and kicking stuff down I ended up waist deep in this tight rift, facing the left hand wall. Behind my legs there was space that I could kick back into and it felt like it might be big enough to get into. I came back up, turned around, then went back in, having to breathe out slightly to get myself down the rift. Once in the undercut a slope down continued away and I gingerly kicked stuff down and slid through into a bigger space beyond, nearly big enough to stand up in. Here I’d reached the opposing wall of the rift and the roof was made up entirely of large, water-worn boulders. To the left (after checking my handy wrist watch compass setting I can confirm this was South East) I pulled a thin mud wall down to reveal another slope down heading off, this time with solid(ish) rock making up the roof and walls. I shouted up to Jon and he was keen for me to continue without him.

I headed in head first, trundling a few small rocks away to make space. A larger one blocked the way so I pushed it a little way forwards then was able to head over the top of it. Unfortunately I did this poorly, managing to make it roll forwards as I did, eventually trapping my legs between it and the roof above. I tried but was unable to push it back up the slope or to the sides, nor could I reach my kneepads to try push them around the boulder. What an idiot. Eventually I ended up digging a bit of a trench under my groin (with my hands, obviously) then successfully risked pushing forwards down the slope and dropping the boulder into this hole sufficiently to free my legs! Phew.

After about 7m I got to a small chamber, again only just tall enough to crawl in. There was a muddy collapse to the left and a clean one in front. Both looked like miners collapse and would need tools to make any progress. I had a careful look around and found a few pick marks in the roof along a lead vein, proving my thought that we had indeed made it through the choke and back into old mine. Just such a shame that there was no open way on, nor any draught. This area is about the right height to line up with the levels at the top of the climbing shaft in Sooty, although that is still +30m away horizontally and was a pretty conclusive end, so the prospects are unfortunately not great.

I went back to Jon and we made our way out, checking out all the other holes in the choke on the way. We’ve obviously missed the draughting way on somewhere, although it has to be said none of it draughts as strong as Nomenca, and certainly not Sooty, so there’s definitely more going on.

We made it out in time for the pub, a rare occurrence for TA these days. However it was shut so we enjoyed a quick can before heading home.

Luke, Jeff, Rob

Due to a vaccine induced dropout we had to change plans last minute. Not something I’m very relaxed about, I have to be honest. During prebeers in the carpark we discussed options. The plan had been bold, with one team of 2 heading to Sooty to dig through into the big chamber beyond and then to try to establish a voice or radio connection to the second team who were going to be wombling about Rocky Horror. With only three of us this was not an option. Nobody was that keen to hit Sooty so the three of us went for the wombling option. This turned out to be awesome.

After 7 months of going left at the bottom it was great to turn right and head down Nomenca. Each hard won corner brought back memories of Hobgoblin and excitement, until you get onto the NCA pitch and drop into the blackness. The sight from the bottom looking along Timewarp has got to be one of the best in Stoney.

This trip we dekitted (lush) and made our way through to the Rocky Horror choke. Back in November 2020 we found a route into few small boulder chambers here with quite a few draughting holes we hadn’t previously poked. Now with the Sooty extensions this area has become a lot more interesting.

Luke had his mind on a certain place and to be fair it was probably the best looking of the bunch. We each took it in turns to dig rock out of the floor and slowly we started to descend between some very big boulders, following a wall down. A few scary moments slowed down progress, but in general it was pretty easy work. After a couple hours work we were left with a sight down into a small rift where rocks dropped away for quite a while. The draught certainly increased during this time also, although maybe from our warm activities. It’s not a draught anything like Sooty!

It was gone 21:30 when we turned around and I think we were all a little surprised to all be out before 22:00! This side of the cave is so easy compared to Shattered Dreams and Loper Lust!

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