History of the CNCC

CNCC Handbooks

Several handbooks were produced by the CNCC from 1969 until the 90's when the BCA handbook and later the CNCC website took over this roll. The purpose of the handbook was to let people know the current land and cave access and how to obtain permits as well as information on good caving practice. You can download the 1969, 1979 and 1985 handbook below which makes for some interesting nostalgic reading!

The First 22 Years


The grouse moors of Leck and Casterton Fells were closed completely to cavers following the rescue of cavers from Pegleg pot, which they had visited without permission. The landowners refused to negotiate with individual clubs but indicated that an access agreement would be considered if responsible clubs got together and controlled access.


CNCC was formed by 11 established clubs as a joint negotiating body. Access to Leck and Casterton Fells was restored following the signing of an Agreement although, initially, only one club per Fell was permitted on one day. Attention was then turned to Fountains Fell, which had been closed to potholers, and the respective landowners for the Allotment area, and Alum Pot, were also approached following reports from clubs of access difficulties.


An agreement covering the Fornah Gill area of Fountains Fell was signed with the inclusion of the Penyghent potholes in the permit agreements at the landowners insistence. Access to Rainscar land (Gingling Hole etc) was still being refused and West Riding County Council turned down a request to consider serving an Access Order. Clubs were advised to refuse payment of an access charge being levied at Alum Pot because a 'right of way' was indicated on the Draft Footpaths Map. A six months 'closed-season' on the Allotment area was called for by the landowner. Fairy Holes, Weardale, was 'lost' to a quarry company following a Public Inquiry. Marker posts and stiles were erected on Casterton Fell by CNCC. An AGM resolution called for moves to set up a 'national body' for caving. Membership reached 25 clubs.


Fountains Fell: very limited access to Gingling Hole negotiated. At Mongo Gill Hole, the landowner called for an access agreement and permit system following a spate of digging and other unauthorised activity. Attempts by farmer to charge clubs for access to Swinsto Hole were successfully resisted. Correspondence continues with Yorkshire Dales National Park Committee and other authorities over growing access difficulties. Membership reached 48 clubs. An inter-regional meeting rejected the National Body proposed by CNCC.


Dale Barn Cave entrance blocked with concrete on Owner's instructions following contamination of private water supply by flouescin. Increased number of Gingling Hole meets negotiated. Access difficulties investigated at Marble Steps, New Goyden and Swinsto. Membership of CNCC reached 57 clubs.


Dale Barn Cave: unsuccessful attempts to contact landowner; case prepared for scheduling as SSSI. Ireby Fell boundary wall style provided.


Foot and Mouth outbreak; full cooperation of Member Clubs in staying away from the Dales for 2 months. Bar Pot: landowner persuaded not to proceed with proposed gating. Satisfactory outcome of meeting with Settle RDC over caves affecting public water supplies. Dale Barn Cave: no progress. Birks Fell Cave: reports of refusal of permission. Tatham Wife Hole: route of access agreed with farmer. Whernside Manor opened by Scout Association with CNCC advise and representation on Management Committee. Member Clubs - 68.


Leck & Casterton Fells: warnings from landowners about pirating. Dale Barn Cave: letters to landowner get no reply; solicitors finally say 'no' to any discussions. Local Weather Forecast service commenced. Northern Cave Handbook published. National Caving Association constituted.


Casterton Fell: landowner agreed to ending close season. Leck Fell: tighter controls introduced following threats of closure due to pirating. Dale Barn Cave: problem referred to WRCC National Park Planning Committee with backing of Yorkshire Sports Federation. Mossdale Caverns sealed following flood tragedy. Membership reached 84 Clubs.


Birks Fell Cave: Access Agreement with landowner brought renewed access. Washfold Pot: permission refused. Red Moss Pot: entrance blocked on landowners’ instructions following newspaper reports of discovery.


No progress at Washfold Pot or Red Moss Pot despite correspondence and discussion with farmers concerned. Cherry Tree Hole and Darnbrook Pot entrances filled in by farmer following minor rescue incident. Reports of refused permission at Pikedaw, and also at Langcliffe Pot following much-publicised rescue. Leck Fell: fences erected around open shafts by CNCC volunteers. Revised CNCC Constitution agreed. Subscriptions raised to £2 per Member Club.


Leck Fell: permits increased to three clubs per day. Washfold Pot: Farmer agreed to permit system and access restored. Rescues at Birks Fell Cave, and Langstroth and Strans Gill Pots caused bad publicity and access restrictions. More trouble with farmer for Swinsto because of unauthorised digging. Enquiries commenced about regaining access to Fairy Holes, Weardale. CNCC volunteers played major part in an organised 'clean-up' of farm refuse, dumped vehicles, etc. from stream-beds, cave entrances, and shakeholes in Chapel-le-dale and elsewhere. Pikedaw Caverns: landowners threaten to seal entrance shaft.


Birks Fell Cave: Agreement terminated by landowner following the aforementioned rescue incident; negotiations later regained limited renewal but with extended 'closed season'. Moves for increased access on Leck Fell prevented by continued pirating. Pikedaw Caverns - owners agree to provision of unlocked lid in proposed cover slab following CNCC pressure and offer to cover costs; work carried out by a Member Club to the owner's satisfaction. Council membership reached 90 Clubs.


White Scar Cave: Campaign in support of proposed purchase by Yorkshire Dales National Park to protect from quarry threat; YDNP out-bid at auction (by businessman) but agreement reached with new Owner about limited access to cavers for survey and scientific work. Campaign to save Whernside Manor from threatened closure commenced. Legal Agreement to cover limited access to Fairy Holes, Weardale, signed with quarry company but temporarily withdrawn because of difference of opinion over safety of the excavated entrance. Cherry Tree Hole and Darnbrook Pot reopened following ownership change. CNCC Membership reached 100 Clubs.


Casterton Fell permits increased to three clubs per day. Yorkshire Dales National Park (NYCC) purchased Whernside Manor following supporting campaign by CNCC and NCA. Temporary access to Fairy Holes agreed for survey purposes but hopes receded for locating any new entrance away from the advancing quarry. CNCC Constitution amended to allow election of Officers each year, instead of every second year.


Gingling Hole owner agreed to increased number of permits. Thackthwaite Beck Cave entrance filled in by landowner who considered it 'hazardous'. Sundry refusals of permission to visit caves elsewhere in the Dales blamed on landowners' fears about possible legal liability. 'National Park Plan' published, giving recognition to the importance of caves and potholes. CNCC Membership reached 120 Clubs.


Leck and Casterton Fells: Over 500 permits issued during year; additional Meets Secretary appointed. Ling Gill Nature Reserve: threat of cave gating averted. CNCC Membership reached 133 Clubs.


Leck and Casterton Fells: Separate Meets Secretaries appointed to cope with growing demand. Limited access to Hammer Pot regained after many years' official closure. Birks Fell Cave access agreement threatened by rescue incident during 'closed season' involving CNCC Members. Protests made to National Park and Ministry of Agriculture about proposed afforestation of South House Moor - the Alum Pot catchment area. CNCC Handbook published.


Leck Fell access increased to three clubs per day. Casterton Fell: Meets Secretary drowned in caving accident. Bullpot emergency telephone installed. Alum Pot area: South House Moor afforestation plans dropped because of opposition. CNCC membership reached 146 clubs.


Leck and Casterton Fells: further surge in demand for permits following news of the Link Pot discoveries. Littondale access denials by several farmers following unauthorised digging activity. CNCC membership reached 164 clubs (a peak).


CNCC Access and Conservation Officer made an Official post. Effects of widespread gripping on the fells felt with flash floods and serious rescue call outs in several areas. Slight drop in CNCC membership to 158 clubs.


National Park offer to resume Weather Forecast Service in conjunction with CNCC. Council contributes towards purchase of equipment for answering services based at Whernside Manor to provide Weekend Weather Forecast for Northern Caving regions.