OUCC Proceedings 13 (1991)

Exploration in Britain

Cuckoo Cleeves

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In February 1990 Tony Seddon and Dave Bell paid a visit to Cuckoo Cleeves and after following the guide book description visited Lake Sump on the far side of Lake Passage. Tony later persuaded me that this was the perfect site for making a major diving extension. From the description of the first dive by Pete Moody [1] the site seemed very promising. The lake was described to me in glowing terms and when quizzed about the nature of Lake Passage (I knew there must be a catch somewhere) Tony described it as "a bit tight but not very long'. So a few weeks later Tony, Dave M. and I lugged two cylinders and sundry diving kit to the lake. Tony and I made it with 3/4 of the kit, but the rest and Dave M. jammed part-way along Lake Passage. No diving was done that day and I vowed never again.

Yet, less than a month later, Tony had somehow managed to persuade me that my memory was at fault and Cuckoo Cleeves was a really nice place and I was again lugging diving kit along Lake Passage and wondering if I was sane. Thanks to Gavin all my kit made it to the sump and I kitted up whilst bridging across the lake.

This was to be a recce dive with a single set. Initially the passage entering at the western end was examined. This was explored, on a base fed line, for about 15ft in a rift 1-2ft wide and 4ft high, at which point I got jammed in the passage. The silt rolled in and the visibility dropped to zero. I retreated, though the passage was seen to continue.

The rest of the lake was examined in poor visibility, but no other ways on were noticed. The maximum depth was around 12ft and any passage below water at the eastern end may have been blocked by debris from the dig above.

The set was then passed to Tony who confirmed that the only possible way on was to the west. He explored the rift passage as far as was comfortable and confirmed that the passage continued [2]. Further exploration really requires a second set as the constricted nature of the sump makes a quick exit impossible. To date I have not been persuaded that my first impressions of Cuckoo Cleeves were wrong, though no doubt once my memory fades I'll be persuaded to make a return visit.


On the 27th January '91 Tony Seddon returned to Lake Passage with 21 and 28 cu. ft. cylinders ably assisted by Sherry Mayo and Mark Bown. The Eastward trending passage was again investigated on a base-fed line, and a constriction after 15ft passed. After a further body length a further constriction was not passable. Inspection was hampered by the low visibility, but the passage could be felt to continue dipping gently. Further progress will require chemical persuasion.

Dave Horsley

References: [1] CDG Newsletter 32 35. [2] CDG Newsletter 95 19.