Covid 19

Updated Thursday 21st May 2020

Following on from our statement of 13th May we highlight a few small changes to our on-line booking system. 
The Covid 19 virus has not gone away and is still potentially very dangerous.  However the government announcement last week seems to have moved to a position where we are expected to take a greater level of personal responsibility. 

You may now travel and exercise in England (Note different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).  The Yorkshire Dales National Park is expecting visitors and their message is one of respect.  Respect the land, respect the local community and respect each other.  It is important to note that although the public rights of way and access land of the fells are open most local amenities are not, no club huts, no pubs, no cafes, no accommodation, few shops and there may be queues at petrol stations.

Does this mean you can go caving?  Normal levels of caving are unlikely to resume for some time.  Until social distancing rules change normal caving activities are impossible.  A low level of discrete caving with members of your own household is a choice ultimately each individual must make.

The CNCC has identified some areas of caves where landowners are happy to see cavers return to limited activities and this will help cavers make better decisions.  Already caving can take place on much of Gragareth and we will open up the on-line cave booking system in phases to accommodate this further.  This system will help with social distancing and contamination issues.

We remind cavers that they may not be welcome everywhere and should seek advice before committing to visit a cave.   Some farmers and householders will not want cavers calling at their homes and popular areas such as the caves of High Birkwith are closed.   Everyone should be aware that the public perception of caving does not match reality.  Although the risks in caving are quite low they are perceived to be high and therefore any visibility or incident could have a very negative effect on our image. 

As always Cave Rescue will respond to an incident if necessary but remember this. Some volunteers will be shielding, caring for others or working in the NHS so they will not be at full strength.  They must take precautions amongst themselves and in dealing with any casualty.  All equipment must be decontaminated.  Even a simple incident has much greater implications than in normal times.

Our advice for anyone who chooses to go caving (or out on the fells) is to be much more cautious than normal.  Cave well within your capabilities.  Lower your grades.  Pay careful attention to guidebook warnings and monitor the weather more closely than usual.  Check equipment and try refresher training in a safe place.  You may not be as fit as you were.

It goes without saying that if anyone is feeling unwell or showing any of the well-publicised symptoms of the virus then stay at home and follow medical advice.

Useful advice from other organisations include;

Our expectation is that the English government will eventually relax the rules on social distancing to small groups who can meet in the outdoors similar to Northern Ireland.  We’d like to be ahead of the curve on this by being proactive so that when more caving does occur, cavers themselves will have already established protocols to keep themselves as safe as possible.

Follow us on facebook, twitter and Ukcaving for more information.

Stay safe
Tim Allen
CNCC Access officer