Updated: 3rd November 2020
The UK government have announced a new lockdown for England from Thursday 5th November to Wednesday 2nd December. The details of this lockdown can be found here:
The guidance emphasises staying at home, but with a few exemptions, including “to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place - with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household...”. In terms of travelling you should “avoid travelling in or out of your local area, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make” but you may travel “for exercise if you need to make a short journey to do so”.
Clearly there are lots of subjective terms in this (‘local’, ‘short’ and ‘exercise’) which leaves interpretation to the individual.
However, the allowances for outdoor exercise and travelling to public places seems to suggest a desire to keep the nation enjoying safe outdoor recreation, perhaps in the belief that the risk of virus transmission between those participating in outdoor pursuits only within their household is low, and the physical and mental health benefits of ourdoor exercise are high.
Caving, being an outdoor activity and exercise, and one which can take place in public places (including all caves on CRoW access land) could reasonably be considered a permissible activity.
If you are continuing caving over the coming month, what is clear is that it must be within a household, bubble, or between two people from different households, and we suggest that it should be within your nearest caving region.
We suggest avoiding caves where obtaining permission would typically involve calling on the landowner, or the approach means passing through farms or residential areas. There are plenty of great caves in our region that can be visited within these suggestions. Use the online booking system for Ingleborough, Leck and Casterton Fells to help avoid meeting others in your chosen cave.
Finally, remember that a rescue under the current circumstances would be complicated and would expose our cave rescue volunteers to high risk from the virus, particularly as the R-number is high in our region. Cave sensibly, pick a trip that is within your capabilities and presents few hazards. Pay particular attention to weather forecasts as winter is upon us and water levels are high.
Updated: 20th September 2020
On Monday 14th September, the UK Government introduced the ‘Rule of Six’ to combat the spread of Coronavirus. This effectively limits all gatherings, indoors or outdoors, to a maximum of six people irrespective of households and including children.
The Government have however issued specific guidance relating to outdoor sports, of which caving is specifically listed.
For many of us, the ‘rule of six’ will have little impact on our caving habits, as many caving groups will be six people or under for practicality reasons. However, the guidance does allow for more than six people to gather for the purposes of caving (as well as a large number of other outdoor sports) on the condition that the event is organized by a club or ‘similar organisation’ and providing an appropriate risk assessment is in place to address Covid-19 risks.
We therefore advise that caving can still continue at present, but with some additional considerations.
We recommend, for simplicity, that groups meeting to go caving are limited to six people where possible, and of course, different households within those groups should continue to observe the sensible measures we have all become used to now (e.g. social distancing).
However, if you wish to hold a caving event with more than six people, for compliance with Government regulations, this should be organized through a club or ‘similar organisation’ and an appropriate risk assessment should be in place. The is no definition of ‘similar organisation’ or ‘club’ so some common-sense interpretation may be needed that maintains the spirit of the guidance for advanced planning, risk assessment and mitigation and of course the social distancing and hygiene procedures we have all become accustomed to.
Our amazing caves are there to be enjoyed, but we urge you to explore them responsibly and with additional thought for safety and Government guidance, which may change soon given the concerns about a second wave.
Please remember that a cave rescue at present would have many additional challenges, and expose the rescuers to an elevated level of risk than usual. Consider your choice of trip very carefully with respect to the capabilities of your team and the weather forecasts.
Council of Northern Caving Clubs
Updated Monday 29th June 2020
Following the easing of lockdown and several changes to government advice in England cavers have been returning to their favourite underground places. Most of the caves across the region are accessible and cavers should refer to the more detailed access information across the website. In Scotland different rules apply.
The Covid 19 virus is still a danger to all of us and anyone feeling unwell or displaying any of the well-publicised symptoms of the virus should stay at home and follow medical advice. It will be necessary to take Covid precautions for some time to come.
From the 4th July we expect pubs, accommodation and other businesses to open up across the areas although within the limitations of government guidelines. More club activities will take place such as the opening of tackle stores, some trips and even a limited amount of club hut accommodation.
The CNCC still advise all cavers to:
BE CAUTIOUS - Take heed of guidebook warnings, fitness, skill levels and most importantly weather forecasts.
CAVE WITHIN THE CAPABILITIES - of your whole group and lower your grades where necessary.
BE CONSIDERATE TO ALL YOU MEET - Pay particular attention to where you park and get changed. It may not be appropriate to call at farms or dwellings as you have before – seek advice from local cavers.
We have had no complaints from landowners or local communities so far and some gratifying expressions of support where we have been invited to help. We ask everyone to help us maintain and improve the positive opinion many locals have of cavers especially where they have benefited from our assistance. As always Cave Rescue will respond to an incident but they may respond with limited personnel and need to take many extra precautions. Even a simple incident has much greater implications than in normal times.
The online booking system for Ingleborough, Leck and Casterton Fells is open again. Please use it to keep a distance from other groups. Elsewhere, please be prepared to change your objectives if other groups are present but make sure to amend your call-outs accordingly.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Ukcaving for more information.
Stay safe and have fun.
CNCC Access officer