• Derbyshire Explorers Forum 2023 - Sat 30th September - It's On!

    The event is now being held at the Mechanics Institute in the centre of Eyam (opposite the church), still on Saturday 30th September, with doors opening at 15:00. Best bit is that there is a bar on site.

    Entry is free and there will be evening meal also. More details to follow...

    Click here for more details

New Goyden Developments


New member
Blessed indeed. We are digging in an old quarry and its giving us nice flag stones. You can see where we have nicked them :)
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Well-known member
Good News - Quarry Dig Hits Rock Bottom and Takes a Turn for the Worse!

Tony prodded the base of the dig looking for the depth to the limestone base while Chris built yet another wall to turn the buttresses into steps. The metal bar only went into the dig floor about 30cm and was hitting something solid. We started to dig down and was soon joined by Ian. It was not long before we hit rock bottom as we uncovered the limestone base of the quarry. To one side it stepped down further and took a turn for the worse as it unfortunately headed back under one of our walls. Things were looking unstable there so we removed a lot of stone off the top section. Good job because the bottom section then collapsed and was hauled out. At this point we all took a break and walked up to the camper van where Tony;s wife and daughter kindly made us tea and snacks. Feeling refreshed we went to the store (nearby lead mine) and in several trips carried back numerous scaffold poles, wire mesh panels and metal beams. We then built a scaffold frame over the part of the dig with a solid floor nicely using key ledges and covered it with the beams and mesh. We aim to follow the step down in the limestone to see if it steps down further as every steps moves us closer to the shale horizon now less then 1m below.



Well-known member
We’ve Broken the Back of it….And Us!
Usual How Stean breakfast start for Tony and Chris then park as for New Goyden pot. First job was unload all the wooden planks and leave them by the fencing to grab as and when we require them. We then set off across the field with our digging gear. Once at the quarry dig we set about enlarging the area at the base to create a working area. It was hard work digging and cutting through the layers of metal sheets and plastic bags (old buried rubbish) the only helpful bit was it was nice to run the spade across the very flat limestone base. The spoil was put in a bucket and lifted to shoulder height then the other person took it aside and tipped it. Tired from this work we took a break to go to Guscott pot and collect 5x 5ft steel metal beams. These and two long scaff poles were ferried all the way back to our dig. After a water drink and rest we dug out more spoil leaving enough room for what will be our last wall building. We were now struggling to lift a spade let alone buckets so opted to put the metal beams across the scaff covering the dig site. In the future they will be fixed in position leaving just a hatch way by the ladder down into the digging area below. Finally we stumbled like two drunken men back across the field to the cars. We have broken the back of the dig things should get easier from now on. The barmaid Megan was amused at the state of the two of us when we arrived in the pub with beaten bodies and vacant tired looks lol.


Well-known member
This week's dig nearly did not happen. Chris was down with Covid, Tony's wife was not well, the weather was awful to start the day. But then it all came together. We all managed to get there all be it with Chris standing back from the diggers looking washed out. Even the weather improved.
Ralf immediately set about drilling into the base limestone (see video). Tony lugged rocks from around to make steps and further work on the entrance roof work. Unfortunately he pulled his back lifting the first stone of the day and now paying for that mistake! Chris brought the essential digging gear and then potted about faffing with bits and pieces.
Initially the rock demolishing gear was not working but was eventually sorted and with the limited resources we had on this day were pleasantly surprised with the result. Half of the floor area to be removed was to a depth of about 15cm.
Chris went home early needing warmth and rest. Tony and Ralf finished off the entrance roof by filling in any remaining gaps with stones. It is all ready now for fixing an entrance lid and covering the surrounding area/roof with soil/slabs. Things are going to plan so far, good progress but we cant wait to get back underground and empty that shaft heading towards this dig.


Well-known member
Team: Chris Fox, Ralf Guscott, James Parker and his brother David
All four of us met at How Stean Gorge café. It was great to see our new Black Sheep member James again plus his brother on a visit. We hatched a plan:-
Take digging gear into the Planetarium, New Goyden
James and David to go look around the cave…..
Ralf and Chris to go cut scaffold pipes and take them into the dig
To then construct a scaffold ‘tray’ and fix it on the end of the long scaff
Carefully push the tray up against the large hanging slab
Chris to then drill the slab on which the chockstone is standing on
To carefully remove the scaffold and retreat back along the passage
Demolish the slab and hope it brings the lot down
Remove what boulders we can
Easy trip through to the Planetarium, David was impressed with the size of the cave. James and David went off to explore the downstream sump area and Hardy Pools passage while Chris and Ralf went into Astronomer’s passage. In difficult conditions the scaff tray was made and attached to the end of the long pole. Once placed against the underside of the hanging slab Chris felt it was doing its job well and free to drill the lower slab while Ralf ensured the end of the long scaff was held against the floor. Carefully they lowered the scaff tray checking nothing moved and dismantled it. By this time James and David were back from their tourist trip and ready to help.
The smaller slab holding the chockstone was demolished and a big rumble of boulders followed. Would there be more behind or an open shaft to look up? Crawling back into the dig there were several head size boulders on the floor. These were passed back and then tentatively Chris crawled forward to see that many rocks and the huge once a hanging slab were now perched on the slope leading to the choked shaft. It was then a case of good team work to haul out many boulders. This revealed a new open section of the shaft and still more choke a further 2-3m above. Good progress but no open shaft yet.
On the way out David (Archaeologist) was showing us small pieces of pottery he had been picking up out the river. Interesting to see and shows you how you only see what you are trained to see. Usual finish in the Crown Middlesmoor and nice to sit outside in the sun for a while until a rain shower came by.
All in all its great to have a new member to the team and with a team of four to make good progress yesterday on the dig.
Photo New Goyden main passage...Nick Bairstow

New Goyden Nick.jpg


Active member
hmmm...... we have survey data that puts Astronomer's passage nearby but closer to the river. We are hoping if no actual inlet cave there to use the shale band that we should soon encounter to dig towards Astronomer's shaft. 'Proven right' we shall see!
To do an accurate positioning on the surface :
- Arva measuring from inside and outside ==> this will give you an idea where to dig. But not 100%
- Arcana measurement from inside and outside ==> 100%


Well-known member
To do an accurate positioning on the surface :
- Arva measuring from inside and outside ==> this will give you an idea where to dig. But not 100%
- Arcana measurement from inside and outside ==> 100%
We have used a Distox survey on the surface and so far surveyed most of Astronomers passage need to add new bit on and future finds, Shows passage near shaft to be 8m away horizontally and 12m depth


Where the figure B is on the survey of the initial post, is a silt choked rift heading straight to the Dry Wath /Frog Pot connection. Presumably that's the mineralised area you spoke of in the past, same mineralisation in the rift walls on the Hardy Pools side.


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Where the figure B is on the survey of the initial post, is a silt choked rift heading straight to the Dry Wath /Frog Pot connection. Presumably that's the mineralised area you spoke of in the past, same mineralisation in the rift walls on the Hardy Pools side.
Sorry for late reply been away......yes you are right same mineralisation and possible connection


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Report from Tony Cook of the BSD
"Aint No Doubt"

After the Jimmy Nail was hammered into the coffin of the Limley Mine project last week attention was returned to the Old Quarry dig (OQD - part of the Astronomer's Passage project)

Tony had a solo breakfast at How Steen cafe as James was busy until 12ish and Chris was (strangely) doing something else than Saturday digging.

After brekkie Tony headed up to the field that was dug over last week with the JCB and at the dig sites did a bit of clearance of surface stones and rocks, gaving it a raking and spread about 1kg of meadow grass seed (we have 1kg left for patching bald bits). Hopefully this will cover up the mess we made with lush green pasture.

He then visited the gear store to grab a short iron bar and a bucket for bailing the OQD as the dug out sandy/muddy bedding plane now fills with water. After removing a toad from the pool and finding a new home for it on the surface, James made his appearance and both set to work at the dig face. The first task was the removal of numerous half buckets of mud and sand until its was clear the way on was to the west under a solid limestone wall. This is heading precisely for the choked shaft in Astronomers.

At this point the tips of large rocks embedded in the fill started to emerge. After puffing and grunting away with the iron bar it was decided that (another) trip to the gear store was required to get the trenching spade that had recently been recovered from the Timber/Old Year Passage link up dig. The spade certainly made things easier as we could pick away at the fill between the boulders. An attempt was made to hook a loop of rope around the back of the first boulder to no avail. James somehow managed to split the boulder and a very water worn portion was extracted. While doing this James noticed that the roof of the westward trending void has moved slightly and after a major chisel attack on the limestone wall a massive slab was detached and dropped down, completely blocking up the dig face. Tony took a look at the problem and decided the only hope was to go and get the rock net and try and manoeuvre the slab onto it. Yet another trip to the store!!!!! This time Tony also decided to clean up the floor of the store and find homes for the 5 wooden planks and 3 aluminium ladders - you can walk on the floor again now).

Back at OQD the slab was finally shifted onto the net and it took both to haul it up to the surface after a couple of false starts when the slab in the net rolled back down the break-through point back into the bedding. Now things had got easier with more space to work in and more free standing boulders were dug out of the fill and hauled or lifted out to the surface. At this point 3 o'clock had arrived and we were exhausted. The dig was left with another detachable roof slab loosed up but not yet dropped and a chunk of floor chiselled and loosened so that it can be rocked side to side but still awkwardly gripped like a tooth in a jawbone. It will need cracking to get it out.

As we left to go to the pub the bottom of the dig was slowly filling with water (we have now ordered a kayak bilge pump as a step up from a Marmite tub). At the pub Tony sent the "James With Extracted Rocks" shot (^^) to Chris who immediately phoned back wanting to know more as we had got that lot out by hand!

James rocks.jpg

So in summary - its not a rock strata we have entered. Its not the shale band we hoped to reach. Underneath a massive bed of solid crystalline limestone we are in some sort of water created bedding or passage completely filled with wet clay/mud/sand and this has large water worn/solution worn limestone rocks embedded in it. You can push the blade of the spade deep into this fill in a westerly direction.

There aint no doubt that this is a water eroded channel that we are in. Its a small immature channel that was once carrying a flow of water that has since found another lower route (Pig Skin Pot??? a handful of meters away up hill to the east) and while that water was being captured by the new route, the decreasing flow in the original channel has resulted in the deposition of water carried sand and clay until the OQD passage has eventually choked up. It still carries a perculation flow. Hopefully this bodes well as this immature passage will guide us towards the Astronomer's shaft. The only way to progress is with the systematic raising of the passage roof - something that hasn't proved too difficult so far with a chisel!! Lets hope it stays wide enough too


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Update on Old Quarry Pot Dig. Aim is to dig from the Old Quarry near New Goyden pot 8m to intersect choked shaft at the end of Astronomer's Passage just off the Planetarium. Creating a flood escape exit for the cave and opening up Astronomer's. Digging up the choked shaft in Astronomer's too dangerous so we are focusing on Old Quarry pot. The pot is now 3m deep to too low bedding passage, Jigsaw Puzzle, that is being widened. The name comes from that even when the passage is capped the rocks hold together in interlocking arrangement. You have to crowbar clay out to poke out pebbles to poke out small rocks to then free up the large ones. Given this challenge the dig is going faster than expected so far we have about 5.5m of passage including dog leg covering a straight line distance of about 4.5m to our 8m goal
Tony at OQP dig.jpg