25 October 2017

New Fairy Holes access details

Fairy Holes in Weardale has been the focus of some interesting access issues over the last decade, as the entrance is in a private (and until recently, active) quarry. The former agreement with Lafarge Tarmac allowed one club group to visit each month (see Descent 232 p28).

Over the last few years, ownership of the quarry has changed, and the CNCC has been working hard to identify and build relations with the new owners.

This year, we have successfully established an access agreement with the new quarry owners. Not only is this a CNCC-styled agreement (meaning no administration fees to produce) but this has also given us the opportunity to make permits available to named individual BCA members (CIMs and DIMs) as well as to clubs, as is standard practice for any new access agreements.

Access is still limited to the first Saturday of the month, but this is something that, in time, we may be able to extend, if visitor numbers provide us with sufficient justification to request this.

Details of how to apply for a permit are shown here:


Groups with a permit are required to telephone the keeper a few days before visiting, and he will hopefully be able to leave the gate from the public road unlocked or chained in a manner which can be unchained without a key. This will allow access up the forest drive (which has been deforested in the last year and is almost unrecognisable for those who saw it pre-2016). At the top of the track, a few hundred metres before reaching the quarry is a locked second gate where the CNCC car parking area used to be; this car parking area is now gone, so it is necessary to park somewhere off the track wherever you can.  We hope to have a more dedicated parking space cleared and made available in due course.

Full details (and an excellent description/survey of the cave) are supplied with the permit.

A trip to The Sarcophagus in Fairy Holes (shown in the image above) is an outstanding trip along an excellent and quite classic northern Dales stream passage. We strongly encourage cavers (clubs, and now individuals) to take full advantage of the access opportunities we have here. A few months ago, some CNCC volunteers took the new landowner on a trip to Vein Chamber and he was extremely impressed. We suspect you will be too.

At the time of writing (October 2017) all permits for 2018 are available.

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