The River Wye rises on the shales and sandstones of Axe Edge Moor, and first encounters the limestone just west of Buxton. It does not sink, but flows on the surface through the town. It is augmented by numerous springs before continuing eastwards down Ashwood Dale. Further springs swell the river here. Some appear to be in the river bed itself, and may be fed from the Water Swallows area to the north, where digging only revealed a narrow fissure. It seems unlikely that a penetrable cave system exists to the north of the river although little serious work has been done.
The majority of the risings in the Buxton area lie on the south bank, and are fed from the swallets of Stanley Moor. The hydrology is complex, but most of the drainage goes to Wye Head Resurgence via Poole's Cavern. Dye tests have also revealed connections to Brook Bottom and Otter Hole Resurgences.
Prior to deepening of the Wye Valley, Poole's Cavern may have been the main outlet, but today the water rises at Wye Head, 46m lower. The drainage route between the two is immature, and it is doubtful if it would be penetrable.
The swallets have been dug over the years, but a large vadose system has not been entered. This may be due to the existence of the north-south Grin Low Anticline, leading to adverse dips in the Stanley Moor Region. The swallets lie to the south west of the anticline, and the upstream end of Poole's Cavern is only 20m below the lowest points reached in the swallets. The chances of entering an extensive vadose system do not seem hopeful, but there is scope for further work.
The other drainage system of interest is the Shay Lodge - Dog Holes Resurgence system, which seems to run down dip, and may well repay further work.
The large Ashwood Dale Resurgence appears to be fed by percolation water from a large area of limestone to the south, as are smaller risings issuing from the valley floor in Deep Dale. Little work has been attempted in Deep Dale, and a protracted dig at Thirst House Cave, above the risings, may bring results.