Obtaining Permission to Access Caves

Permission to Access Caves© Gary Douthwaite

Many caves across our region lie on either open access land or on land where the owner has imposed no restrictions on caving. In other areas restrictions do exist. Obtaining permission to cross private land and visit caves is not just a matter of courtesy. In many cases it is essential procedure if access to particular caves, and the good reputation of the caving community, is to be maintained.

In several areas in our region, the CNCC serves as an intermediary between the landowner (who is controlling access) and the caving community to help ensure that cavers are advised of any access restrictions and are issued with permits on behalf of the landowner, for those seeking to access the cave in accordance with the specific requirements. Anyone wishing to visit a cave in our region should look at the specific access details on this website for that cave. Where a permit mediated system exists between the landowner and the CNCC, it is important to apply for a permit to descend that cave on your chosen date, and to adhere to restrictions imposed by the landowner that are stated on the permit.

Access to most permit-facilitated caves is generally very easy to obtain for any BCA-registered caving club, and in some areas it is also available for BCA-individual members. Usually only an email or letter to the named Meets Secretary is required and full details are included on this website. Often a permit can be obtained at reasonably short notice (although it is recommended to apply as much in advance as possible).

The CNCC works hard to ensure that cave access goes hand in hand with cave conservation, and initiatives are always ongoing to mitigate the impact of cavers on the countryside and the cave itself.

Work is ongoing in the CNCC to make caves more accessible to even more responsible cavers, including supporting the British Caving Association to see caving recognised under the Countryside Rights of Way Act. However, it is always worth remembering that even if this is successful, there are many areas where the generosity of landowners will still be essential for cavers to continue to visit many caves or undertake new exploration.

If you intend to visit any cave where you are not clear on the access rights, feel free to contact us and the CNCC will be happy to assist to identify whether there are any known restrictions. The council takes pride in having established excellent relationships with many cave landowners and is keen to maintain these relationships in the future.