Important update on cave Access at High Birkwith

26 February 2019

February 2019: Update on the cave access situation at High Birkwith

Following the sale of High Birkwith Farm, and the new owners moving in, we received reports in early December of a few access issues in the area. The exact nature of these issues was unclear, and so the CNCC took the initial steps of advising cavers of possible problems during any visits.

Initial contact was made with the new owners, but at the time they were busy with the move, so further discussion needed to wait. Our Access Officer, Tim Allen, called by the farm just before Christmas and discussed various aspects of caving and presented a copy of Caves and Karst Science as part of the ongoing CNCC initiative.

A further meeting was arranged to discuss specifics of access once the new owners had settled in. On Wednesday 20th February, Andrew Hinde (CNCC Chair) and Alan Speight (YSS) headed up to High Birkwith.

The owners emphasised that they are extremely happy for people to continue visiting the caves on their land, and they have no desire to prevent access; nor do they wish to be bothered by people asking permission for access.

However, they do have concerns about parking of vehicles on their land. Despite best efforts by Andrew and Alan to encourage an alternative, the owners were clear that a parking charge will be levied for anyone wanting to park on their land in future. This fee will be £10 for cars and £15 for minibuses, paid into an honesty box using an envelope (provided by the visitor) labelled with the vehicle registration.

They were keen to emphasise that this fee is purely for parking, and not for access to the caves, and that the magnitude of the fee is intended to try to encourage those parking on their land to car share. They do not anticipate any profit from this. Money raised will be used to maintain the track. Cavers are very welcome indeed to park elsewhere and approach the caves on their land by foot, no permission or fee required.

We should emphasise that we are only passing on the specifications of the landowner. This is not a CNCC agreement, nor was it a negotiation; the owners were very clear on their requirements.

We are pleased that access to the caves of High Birkwith (including Calf Holes, Browgill, Birkwith Cave, Old Ing and Dismal Hill) remains open and with no requirement to ask permission first. This is not something that should not be taken for granted as they are not on CRoW access land. Unfortunately however, parking for free on High Birkwith land is no more.

We advise cavers intending to park at High Birkwith to go prepared with the correct cash and an envelope; and of course, to car share where possible to reduce the cost per person and the number of vehicles turning up on the land. Avoid bothering the owners wherever possible. Alternatively, parking can be sourced elsewhere (there are several options nearby) and a longer walk can be taken to reach the caves. We urge cavers choosing this option to park responsibly and avoid blocking any tracks or gates.


Photo; Traverse to Calf Holes entrance pitch (provided, with thanks, to CNCC by David Kirkham)