The EPC are involved with the discovery and exploration of a major new mine and cave system underneath the village of Eyam.

Due to potential access restrictions, information regarding the specifics of this site are required to be kept secret, however we will reveal as much as we can as it happens.

For a gallery of images of the Doom discoveries, see here.










Team: Rob, Dave and Luke.

After a quick catch up and now suitably dressed for the long slog up the sough we headed up to cliff stille. After the 80m abseil we set off for a nice cold walk along the sough. Within no time we were climbing up the ladder to the best lead in Derbyshire. Rob hadn't shut up about how easy digging it was so Dave and I set about digging. Dave took the pointy end and I set about making the entrance crawl hands and knees size. This is where it all started going wrong.

Luke hauling unusually fast

The passage seems to have the most sticky mud ever! Dave was even struggling to pull the empty tub back to the dig face. It took two of us to pull the full tub back along the passage! After a few hours we had only moved 6 full tubs from the end and with the long trip back out in the forefront of our minds we decided it was time to leave. Quick stop to have a nice cold beverage before heading out. Talking on the way out we have decided that we need to dig from the entrance all the way to end. It's not going to be a quick breakthrough...

Enjoying ourselves before the cold wet slog out


Spending the working week and Eldon pub socials together not being enough, Devious Reavis set out the enticing bait of a plan to assess "the best lead in Derbyshire" for its digabilty and measure it's psyche-generation capability for the wider Eldonship. This Saturday gone we strode under the sleepy and unsuspecting excursion of Eyam village to begin work.

A prompt meeting at 6 (pm that is, a slightly earlier than usual but not before breakfast) had us changed and ready in no time, I'd scored a free neofleece that had been passed around the generations in SUSS, Rob opted for no neoprene again, and bouncing up the track we were.

Cliff Stile shaft exhaled a beautiful draft, this tested the fortitude of one enterprising but foolish spider's web as we lifted the lid. Pre-rigged rope made for a simplified start, except that I hadn't used a rack to descend for a couple of years so spent time fannying about when I should have been (c)racking on. I kicked some loose stuff down onto Rob below at one of the rebelays to really hammer the point home of how unenthusiastic I currently felt (whinging about being cold to start with, and mocking the size of the crow bar we were equipped with were other such contributions to the cause).

But that all changed once we hit the sough, what a great bit of the underground to explore, the sense of history, the neat construction craft dished out in yards along it's length. There are a few sections of roof that appear to not take advantage of the natural strength of the arch geometry, opting instead for absolute brick on brick shear friction. Never mind; the rest was perfection to behold.

A score of minutes slipped by as the water enriched our evening via the mechanism of rapid cooling from the waist down, we now found ourselves in more modern developments. Two unconvincing and vitiated ladders later and we were prospecting the natural.

Rob set about totally removing the final ladder from the support of it's accompanying wall to instead suspend it from some 6mm tat tied straight round a hanger plate, he said it wasn't wobbly enough before or something. While he was doing this, I was shuffling my way down to look at the dig face with a drag tray and the aforementioned crowbar. The most notable point of this moment in time was the fragrance of hammer-action pulverised limestone screaming its way into and past my nostrils; the draft in this flat-out tube was phenomenal! We later learned that this is is likely caused by or contributed to by forced ventilation some distance away.

The rope for the drag tray was too short to reach the full length of the tube so Rob cleared what he could halfway down while I made the ladder head more suitable for sitting and towing the drag tray out. Digging here is relatively straightforward, given that the mud delaminates very willingly...too willingly in fact, makes me think that whatever is beyond the dry sump wants to be found. Somewhere between lifting up turf rolls and skinning an animal it makes for a novel experience and should be sampled by all who proclaim their dislike for digging. That's the top two inches anyway and is certainly the name of the game for progress in the dig tube and at the face. However, at the ladder head, it was possible to efficiently cut away large bricks which made a very satisfying thudding sound when tossed down the ladder hole - stacking space is the last thing to worry about on this one.

Deciding we'd had enough and deeming the dig "a goer" (quick access, drafty-drafty, unique digability characteristics, decent sized natural passage, and no need to hire a skip) we set off to quench our thirst.

The trip out isn't bad at all, Rob complained for not donning any neoprene, I have to say my comfort level could only be described as "sublime", we flew up the shaft, I was grateful for post-exped fitness...

As we'd parked outside the Miners' it was probably quite a sensible choice for a debrief over beer and scratchings. The timing works out for a decent digging trip and still making the pub, no excuses.

Who's coming next time?

LukeC, RobE

To ascertain whether a Stoney Dale entrance to Victory Level could provide a convenient and efficient entrance into Main Sough and Doom, we needed to get eyes on Victory Level itself. Previously I'd only ever been ~50m up it from the branch off the sough, up to a point where the roof reached the water level. I'd heard that in low water it continues for a couple hundred metres heading straight for the Dale, and even have some line data for this from an Eldon trip in 2011.

Taking advantage of the current low water conditions we thought we'd go for a look. Rather than going up from the sough tail (~45 min crawling, stooping and wading through water) we instead rigged Cliffstile Mine Shaft. This is an 80m engine shaft situated at the top of the hill with a metal lid and a strong draft out. Down the shaft are a number of quite extensive levels heading off, although all seem to peter out to nothing (see Descent 231). It lands on a blockage but in the 80's whilst a mechanical winch was installed on the shaft a small route was dug through to join the sough below. 

Looking down Cliffstile Mine

A bit of questionable rigging off my dodgy old bolts got us both safely down to the sough and heading off up Victory Level in no time. Sure enough where I had previously stopped a small gap had appeared between the roof and water. A quick spray of disco smoke confirmed that the draft was going strongly through this gap and we followed it in. It's neck deep with one ear in the water to get through this arch (not pleasant in a furry suit) but soon it gets a bit more air space so you can wade mostly waist-nipple deep with your head out of the water. Unfortunately there seems to be no restbite. It continued like this for maybe 7 minutes at which point the skin was beginning to burn. Looking ahead here we could see for a good 40m and the roof was getting increasingly low, so we made the executive decision to retreat, with the firm plan to return in lots of neoprene. 

By the time we got back to the pitch we were actually grateful that we could start prussiking to warm up. It's not that bad an accent, taking only 20 minutes for us both to be out. At that point we realised we had probably completed our task of finding a good entrance into the sough, Doom and beyond...

LukeC, RobE

A long term project in Doom requires access to be a bit easier. Going from the sough tail is over 1 hour of sough wading in each direction, which is far from ideal for a evening trip! 

Victory Level is an inlet just passed half way up. On the last trip it was draughting strongly, suggesting an alternative entrance might exist in Stoney Dale. Others had mentioned this as a possibility before, so I dug out an old survey of Victory Level.


When overlaid with the main Stoney survey one of the shafts lined up with the area around Ivy Green Cave, and another on the other side of the road.


Armed with this we went for a look around. Unfortunately it was the wettest day of the year, not ideal conditions for a surface bash!

Indeed the mine entrance below Ivy Green (Mine Level 10) ends in a tantalising boulder choke with a strong outwards draft. I wanted to check Ivy Green cave above as this also breaks into the vein here, to see if the draft might just be a small through draft. However due to the very heavy rain it was impossible for us to safely get across to the entrance.

We then headed down along the vein and across the road to the other feature on the old map. Indeed there is a level there exactly as expected, however it was a horizontal level, full of rubbish and with no drafts at all, so not really an interesting lead. We finished the day with the Windy Ledge through trip and went straight to the Anchor :-)

Team Awesome back in business once again for the stand out outing of the year (my summer vacation)!!

After humming and arring somewhat and numerous trips thought up with flawed plans I had to stand up once again and decide the trip, DOOM! Being summer and the water levels pretty low we decided to head up the sough tail as we were all virgins ans this seemed just the right time for TA to lose their virginity's!

We met at a nice time and having all day to play this was certainly gonna be fun. We made sure to take food, sandwiches and beer! - Luke forgot his wetsuit (typical rookie error)! We hopped the fence and were ducking under the garden by 10:30am. The sough tails a lot longer than it seems to Rock Cottage shaft, stooping for most of the way with a bit of crawling thrown in. The start begins with lots of tree roots in the water which makes it all seem very toxic and plague like! it took us 25min to reach the bottom of Rock Cottage and the rest was plain sailing.

So first point of call was to check out some loose ends in Doom. With water levels being so low Mark had been banging on about checking out Elastic Passage. When we got to this it was already flowing which meant progress beyond the previous limit would be impossible (sumped)! We then had an Awesome look along the levels. We checked out another dig where the water sank just a little further along from elastic passage which Rob thunks was the original water course before the miners fucked about with it. After a quick fettle it was proved to be impenetrable. 

We then had a rather funny moment...

We checked out a top level where we knew was a little leap cum traverse over a floor collapse. 

This is where Doom lived up to its name...

We had to step across a bridge of death. For anyone who does not know what a bridge of death is, its a not so 'Bomber' improvised bridge over a drop, the above mentioned bridge being made from railway tracks over a 30ft drop to the below level. Rob stepped across first as he was the fattest. Surely if it took his weight it'd just about take mine and for sure take Luke's 9 stone WET frame. He made it across and giggled with excitement. I headed across next - no big deal. Just as I was about to turn around and make a joke about Luke collapsing the whole thing I heard the floor rumble away and Luke halfway across the bridge of death fearing for his life! I'm pretty sure I saw his life flash in front of his eyes! I managed to jump back and quickly grab Luke and save him from certain death. He would have been dead for sure! - Luke you owe me your life. FYI.

OK... now we had a problem as we now had no bridge and a rather long sketchy traverse. This we could worry about later. We continued on to another collapse which Rob said we could jump. Rob must've been off his tits or the floor must have collapsed since he was last here as there was no way in Hell we'd be able to jump across this massively hole! We turned around and had a look down under to where we had knocked the bridge. The lower level ended in a collapse but had a cool little tool room off to one side which was well worth the look. 

We headed back up and thought about how to cross over the now, huge gaping hole! Rob plucked up the courage and did a midget traverse over the hole, I followed and we both watched Luke with caution, bless him, he's not been caving that long.

We had a look up one more level where Rob did a ridiculous free climb up to a blind level and almost died but less on that.

We now headed back towards the entrance of Doom and the Wet West where we had two more leads to inspect. The first one was at the top of the Ladder of Doom where the original breakthrough took place. Basically instead of bearing left, you hung a right. I was the first one up and FUCK ME!!! the draught was MAD! this was definitely The strongest draught I have felt in a cave in Derbyshire that wasn't the entrance. I could hear the draught flying past me and here were 180ft below the surface and miles away from any entrance. A flat out crawl led to an open air-space and a hole in the floor which marks the dig. This was certainly the place to be and doesn't feel miles away from home.

After getting a smidge cold waiting for Rob to have his fettle we then trundled up the Wet West towards a dig that him and Dan had inspected years since and which is also not on the survey. After a constricted flat out crawl through water, a climb up on the left leads through boulders and mud to a crawl with a large slab blocking the way on. This was also heading in the same direction as the draughty dig and also carried an outward draught!

It was now getting to a turn around point so after climbing down Doom ladder we had our beer and final snacks and headed out towards the sough. Pretty uneventful exit from the mine except for the part where Luke saved my life from almost certain death (but that's another story)... We broke surface after 7hrs underground and made our way to The Moon for some rather expensive £4 pints. 

Luke and I getting naked

After my lift home never arrived I had to jog 10 miles back home in my Vans and short shorts which was fucking Awesome!

Me jogging back up the Froggatt road

Great trip, with great prospects!

Team Awesome for the win!

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