DCA is pleased to announce the revival of the Peak District Cave Exploration Prize.

white river cw
© Paul Deakin

The competition will follow a similar format as before with the winners receiving 200m of Gleistein 9mm rope.  An additional prize for 2022 has generously been donated by Derbyshire Geotechnical Ltd, comprising a Roughneck 27” round point micro shovel, a 1lb micro pick and 15” mattock and a 1lb micro cutter and 15” mattock. The winner will be the caver or team of cavers who find the most new cave at a single site, by digging, diving or climbing, within the Peak District caving area during the calendar year. If nothing is found, the prize will be carried forward to the next calendar year. The prize will be awarded on an annual basis.

DCA would like to thank Tony Seddon of Starless River for supplying the rope to us at a discount.


The rules are available for download and online (read more below).

  1. What does "cave" mean? Natural passage, not a mine or mined passage.
  2. What does "new" mean? Cave or passage that prior to its recent discovery was unknown. The discovery of natural passage or cave with evidence of t'old man (Derbyshire's old lead miners) can still be classed as "new" so long as its recent discovery wasn't based upon existing documentary evidence.
  3. What about the length of the dig? The length of dug out passage would be included within the final length of the new cave that is found. If the dig was started before 1st January the measured length would be from where the face was on 1st January.
  4. What if a previously unclimbed aven is climbed? The climbing of a known but unclimbed aven would not be classified as new cave, even if the route taken accesses parts of the aven that can't be seen from the start point or previously accessible positions. However, previously unknown passages intersecting the aven and any new cave beyond accessed via such a climb would be classified as “new cave”. The length of the climb would be included within the surveyed length of the new cave.
  5. What about mines or mine passage? Mines and mine passages are not classified as being cave, but any previously unknown natural cave passage discovered or dug into within a mine or beyond a mined passage would be.
  6. Who will judge the competition? DCA Council will judge and their decision will be final.
  7. What does "most" mean? The straight line surveyed length, including side passages, oxbows, pitches and sumps. Not volume and not including every hole and cavity in a boulder choke. When it comes to boulder chokes it's only the main line through it that counts.
  8. Would the height of an aven in a chamber be included in the surveyed length? No, unless there's a genuine passage going off it at a higher level, then yes (see Rule 4).
  9. What about caves just outside the Peak District? For Peak District read Peak District Caving Area, as defined in the current edition of the Caves of the Peak District guidebook.
  10. What if someone finds some new cave but doesn't want to publicise where it is for some reason? If the location and details of a new cave are kept secret then it can't be included. All the details and survey information have to be published, in The Derbyshire Caver in the first instance (details may subsequently be published elsewhere, eg in Descent, should the winning team wish).
  11. Can a team linked to, or including, any of the award organisers be allowed to win the rope? Yes, otherwise the organisers couldn't go caving with anyone.
  12. When do finds have to be submitted? Ideally, as they're found. Actual locations don't have to be published until the end of the year if the area is sensitive. All submissions have to be in by midnight on 1st of January to allow last day discoveries to be reported.
  13. When can the winning team collect their rope? Later in January after a date to be announced.
  14. Would the discovery be eligible if the find was subsequently gated restricting general access to cavers? The gating of caves and restriction of access is and always will be a contentious subject and it would be wrong for the organisers to enter into the debate. So ... as long as access arrangements are reasonable, and by this we mean that they don't exclude anyone, and access can be arranged for midweek and evenings and not just weekends (there are a lot of people who can't get time off at weekends), or if the gate is temporary, only limiting access while the new cave is explored, made safe surveyed, etc. then yes, such a site would be eligible. If stricter access controls are imposed by land owners, etc, the site would be eligible.
  15. What if a discovery is made in a cave or on land to which access is not permitted? The discovery would not qualify. Exceptions to this rule are areas such as abandoned quarries to which cavers have historically enjoyed unhindered access over many years, where permission isn't sought but nobody minds.
  16. How are entries submitted? All entries, with supporting reports, photos and survey should be submitted electronically by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..