Online Booking for Casterton Fell

11 February 2020

Online Booking for Casterton Fell.

We are delighted to announce that effective immediately, the caves of Casterton Fell (i.e. entrances to Ease Gill Caverns on the north/west side of Ease Gill Beck) are now part of the CNCC’s Online Booking System. This includes the following most popular entrances:

  • Lancaster Hole
  • County Pot
  • Wretched Rabbit
  • Top Sink
  • Sylvester Pot
  • Pool Sink
  • Cow Pot

See: www.cncc.org.uk/booking

This ends a permit system that has been in place, on and off, and via various incarnations for over 50 years, and which has meant access has been only for BCA member clubs. This finally enables managed access for all recreational cavers to the magnificent caves of Casterton Fell.

This follows months of discussions with the Estate by our Access Officer, Tim Allen who put in a huge amount of work to bring this to fruition. The Estate were clearly encouraged by the implementation on Leck Fell and Ingleborough, and the responsible behaviour of northern cavers, so thank you to everyone for helping to make this work.

All existing permits have been transferred onto the booking system thanks to quick work by Geoff Whittaker, our system administrator.

Two bookings per day are available for County, Wretched and Lancaster, which is in-fitting with the levels of access typically observed under the former permit scheme, and one booking per day for the other four most popular entrances (plus one booking per day to cover all other entrances).

This should provide ample access without risking overcrowding on the fell and the tracks around Bull Pot Farm, something the landowner is understandably keen to avoid. For this reason, we politely ask for car sharing up to Bull Pot Farm and for larger groups who are splitting into multiple underground teams to make one booking per team.

Unlike other areas, bookings for Casterton Fell are transferrable on the day to other entrances, although we do encourage this flexibility to be used sparingly, and only for the less-SRT orientated routes (County Pot, Wretched Rabbit, and to a degree, Lancaster Hole) to avoid congestion at the other more vertical or narrower entrances.

Finally, following discussions with the landowner, Aygill Caverns, which lies outside of Casterton Fell has been removed from the permit system to open access in line with the caves of nearby Barbondale.

The Online Booking System now covers the caves of Casterton, Leck and Ingleborough Estates. It has so far been embraced by many cavers, who use it out of respect for the landowners for who this is a condition of access, but also because it helps cavers to manage their own traffic and avoid congestion, with obvious conservation benefits.

We continue to urge cavers to only book what you know you plan to use (please don’t book ‘just in case’) or block-book without good reason. Last minute bookings in the event of changes of plan are always available.

These changes mark a pivotal moment; discontinuation of the last permit system spanning an entire fell, and replacement with a simple solution that satisfies landowners and cavers alike. We are aware however of other standalone caves on access land where cavers still don’t enjoy the same freedoms of other outdoor activities, so, this is by no means the end of our work.

Photo: The Palace, Ease Gill Caverns, by Gary Douthwaite