Derbyshire is home to many caves because of the high limestone content found in the ground in this part of the country, over millions of years rainwater has eroded the limestone away and in doing so has formed many caves systems throughout this county, some of the more famous ones are open to the public and can be found under useful links on this website.

One of the more recent cave discoveries occurred on the 1st of January 1999 when a group of cavers led by Dave Nixon discovered a connecting shaft from the James Hall Over Engine mine linking through to Speedwell Cavern and Peak Cavern. Dave Nixon discovered the connection after reading about it in an article written by a James Plumtre which he came across in a university library.

After Dave Nixon whose nickname is Moose and his team explored the James Hall Over Engine mine they came across a shaft called Leviathan.

Eventually a miners’ workplace was discovered, leading to Leviathan—a huge natural shaft altered by mining operations, 80 metres (260 ft) deep in total. Many relics from the mining operations were discovered there still in situ as the miners left them.

The team spent three years removing another huge fall of boulders before finally gaining entry to Speedwell Cavern at the Boulder Piles. Another huge blockage at the foot of Leviathan was excavated in an operation requiring the building of a railway, and eventually the dig led into the Far Sump extension of Peak Cavern. This section of cave was previously only accessible either by diving Peak Cavern’s Far Sump or via Speedwell Cavern with very difficult caving.

Following New Year’s Eve revels, Moose and his team went to this area of Peak Cavern via JH and arrived at the underside of an enormous boulder choke just a few metres from the upstream end of Far Sump. Despite the after-effects of a good celebration the group discovered a way up through the massive boulder pile and arrived at the foot of Titan. The echoes from their shouts and the waterfall crashing down indicated a huge shaft, but their lamps showed what appeared to be the top about 60 metres (200 ft) above them—The Event Horizon.

This proved to be only a narrowing to a large ledge and the shaft continued soaring upwards into the darkness. A six-day climb led to the domed roof with no way on, but a passage from the west some 20 metres (66 ft) further down is believed to be the source of the stream that helped to form this massive cavern.

Blocked by a huge hanging boulder choke, the West Passage could not be explored as the choke was too dangerous to enter in its exposed position—circa 120 metres (390 ft) above the floor. A 46-metre (151 ft)-deep access shaft excavated from the surface took over four years to dig and now gives access to a bedding-plane passage entering the main shaft near the top of Titan. Digging continues in an attempt to extend the system in other directions. The total length of the cave system exceeds 17 kilometres (11 mi).

The size of Titan is awesome as can be seen in this photograph on the right showing a person suspended on a rope in the main chamber, the cave has become the deepest known shaft measuring an incredible 464ft in depth, and due to the tenacity and dedication of Dave Nixon and his team it was fully broken into in November 2006 when it was revealed to the public for the first time.

I have always had an interest in Ludchurch which can be found in the Staffordshire Moorlands and which I have named this website after, I, like Dave Nixon came across references to a cave system at one end of Ludchurch in a rare book in my possession, dating back to 1874 named “Swythamley and its Neighbourhood” which was written by Sir Philip Brocklehurst whose land Ludchurch could be found on. The cave entrance has over the years become blocked with rocks and earth and I have spoken about this to my friend and local author Frank Parker who is of the opinion that it may have been dynamited in the past by Sir Philip Brocklehurst to stop people gaining access to it. I know the Victorians liked using dynamite as they had in the past used it to enlarge the entrance to Poole’s Cavern in Buxton, at one time the only way in was to squeeze through a 2-3ft gap. However the book which I have mentioned points to the fact that it became blocked naturally, the following is an extract taken from that book: ” A flight of twenty four steps leads out of the place at its southern end, but the ravine itself winds on a few yards further, until it terminates in a deep hole, recently reopened by its present owner. From the bottom of this hole the renowned cavern of Ludchurch descends far below, the roof in places being of a great height, but as large stones and rocks repeatedly fall, the descent is attached to great risk and danger. There are men still living who have partly explored it and got to where they could distinctly hear the noise of water flowing – possibly the Dane – one of the explorers being William Mills, of the Roche, a man of great courage and veracity. He, provided with ropes, a lantern and a large ball of string to guide his return journey, was underground some hours, and thought there were some signs of Druidical remains, and also steps having the appearance of masonry, but nothing is definately known about it, as the visit was not repeated”.

The old photograph on the left is of Jim Barber and William Mills who explored Ludchurch on the one occassion back in the eighteenth century.

I contacted Dave Nixon as I thought his expertise at breaking into sealed cave systems would be invaluable and on the 30th of November 2006 I sent him an e-mail to see if he was interested in attempting to gain access to the sealed cave of Ludchurch, unfortunately due to his new found fame of having discovered the largest cave in the country needless to say he was in demand all over the world. However he was very interested in the information that I sent him and I have included the e-mails I received from him and are as follows:Ludchurch (sealed cave system)

Thursday, 30 November, 2006 15:20
“Dave Nixon” <dave.nixon@tesco.net>

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Gary,May I first thank you for the information you sent me, secondly apologies for the delayed response, I have been working away and am only back for a short while before I’m off again.I am fascinated by the whole story for a couple of reasons. The account detailed is fairly detailed and I find it hard to believe that these guys didn’t get underground into a cave, which according to my records certainly doesn’t register anywhere. The puzzling thing being that the pictures you kindly sent are all of the gritstone deposits and show no carboniferous limestone. There’s only one thing for it, I will have to come over one day meet up and have a poke about. How does that sound?Things are a bit mad at the moment and realistically it would be bets for me to fit something in between when I get back from my next trip on the 18th Dec and when I leave for Sarawak on the 14th Jan. Let me know what you think.

With regards,


> Hi Dave,
>           I have searched for a photo of the cave entrance but I’ve not been able to locate it (due to having over a 1000 photos on my hard drive), I have included a photo of Ludchurch, this I believe is a fault which is about 100yards in length by about 15-20 feet in width and approx 50ft deep, the cave in question is at the most southerly end of this chasm.If I get a chance I might re-photograph the entrance this weekend.

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Re: sealed cave system

Tuesday, 14 November, 2006 13:11
“Dave Nixon” <dave.nixon@tesco.net>

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Gary,Thank you for the compliment, it’s all been a bit mad over the last week or so but things are calming down now and I think that the story has caused a ‘good feeling’ about caving and cave exploration, which is no bad thing.I am fascinated by your comments below and of course would like to find out a little more about the details you’ve mentioned.

Clearly I have spent a lot of my time working on projects in the Castleton area, but am familiar with the area around Axe edge and the Westerly limit of the limestone outcrop of the Peak District.
Which book does this account appear in? Perhaps you could scan and send me the wording, I’d certainly be interested, indeed for your interest I have attached the Plumptre account although I’m afraid that we’ve already ticked this one off the list!

Also do you have a grid reference to the ‘Entrance’ as my instincts tell me that if it’s the River Dane it may not be on the limestone and could be on/in the gritstone. There are a certain amount of mines over there and would like to set my mind to rest.

When I have some time I’d like to pop over to maybe meet you and have a natter, I’m over in Litton near Tideswell so not a million miles away.

Looking forward to hearing from you,



> Dear Dave,
>                Firstly I would like to congratulate you for your recent discovery of the Titan cave. I am e-mailing you to let you know of a cave system that may have been overlooked by many people and one that you may not be aware of. Due to research that I have done in the past I believe that the cave was partly explored by two men probably around 200 years ago. They claimed that they were underground for around two hours with lamps and twine to retrace their steps, they claim that the cave opened up, the roof in places being a great height, they also claimed they could hear running water, possibly the river Dane. They also claimed to have discovered druidical remains and also steps. I have discovered this information from a rare book which was produced in limited numbers. Having examined what was once the entrance to the cave it is blocked by a considerably amount of spoil and may have been blasted at some point in the past to prevent access. If this information is of any interest to you you can contact me on 01260-275732 or e-mail me.
> Regards Gary Tacagni

— Conformance Ltd – Product safety, approvals and CE-marking consultants

> Regards Gary

Although its been getting on for 5 years since I contacted Dave Nixon I haven’t given up hope of exploring Ludchurch cave and now the the furore has calmed down over his discovery of Titan I hope to drop him a line again and see if he is stll interested in a trip over here, and who knows maybe we will get to discover the secrets that Ludchurch cave may hold!


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