Cave Diving

Brief historical overview (by John N Cordingley)

The first recorded cave dive was in 1773 when a tourist tried to free dive through Buxton Water Sump, I think he survived. There was a flurry of activity by the oxygen divers after the war from late 1940s till early 60s. This period included the discovery of the main stream way in Peak in 1949 (also found at the same time by the diggers who passed the Black Swan Siphon choke - now known as the Mucky Ducks) and Bob Davies' groundbreaking scientific research in Buxton Water Sump centered on the Torricellian Chamber in the early 50s.

The aqualung was introduced to cave diving (early to mid 60s) leading to longer dives in Ink Sump and the connection of Peak and Speedwell Caverns by passing Treasury Sump. By the early 70s access was lost for cave diving however.

It was renegotiated in 1979 and there was an extremely intense period of diving in the early 80s when both Far Sump and Ink Sump were passed. From the mid 80s to 1996 a great many long exploratory trips were done in the mile or so of dry passages beyond Far Sump - some areas of which were among the most remote in Derbyshire at the time due to the difficulty of a rescue through Far Sump.

Also of significance was that divers were able to make many dry discoveries in Speedwell as a result of diving through Treasury Sump, because there was no general caving access to Speedwell at the time. Speedwell Streamway was known as the North Peak Streamway. This included the dry connection between Peak and Speedwell via Wind Tunnel and the high level system at the top of Cliff Cavern (a joint project between divers and dry cavers using the new dry connection with Speedwell from Peak).

Cave diving is still carrying on regularly to this day, with some significant long term projects being conducted.

Reference: John N Cordingley personal communication

News Flash

Victoria Aven Safety Notice - 26/09/2022

It had been reported to the Peak Cavern keyholders that there is a damaged section of rope in Victoria Aven - this whole area has now been completely re-rigged and the very large boulder assessed and can now again be included in the list of possible trips within the system.

However, there are still loose rocks of varying sizes which could easily be displaced and could cause serious damage/harm so please exercise extreme caution!