Return to Caving

14 September 2021

We, at CNCC, are really pleased to see an enthusiastic return to caving in our region. The online booking system has seen a recent upsurge in activity, and club huts are seeing the return of visiting groups, with most now partially or fully open for business:

https://cncc.org.uk/about/accommodation.php

The start of the new academic year will hopefully mark a return of our student clubs, and we welcome any club/group that is struggling for resources or training to get in touch, so we can see if there is anything we can do to offer support.

For those of you looking to make a proactive return to caving (many of you already have!), we are here to support you. Take advantage of our various training opportunities, and put our online rigging topos and cave description to good use.

Additionally, check the access situation for your chosen caves, and for any warnings, as details for some areas have changed since the start of the pandemic.

The following is a summary of some key changes over the last year:

  • No need to call at Penyghent House for Out Sleets Beck Pot (leave note in car).
  • There is now an honesty box at Selside Farm for Alum Pot/Long Churn (£1/person).
  • Aygill Caverns is fully open again after major hydrological changes closed it over winter.
  • Wretched Rabbit (Ease Gill) is still not safely accessible following collapses at the entrance; use County Pot or Boundary Pot instead. Work is ongoing to stabilise the entrance; keep checking the CNCC website for the latest situation.
  • White Scar Cave is closed beyond the show cave due to a boulder collapse. Work is ongoing to stabilise, keep checking the CNCC website for the latest situation.
  • Unfortunately, there remains no landowner-consented access to the caves of High Birkwith (Calf Holes, Birkwith Cave, Old Ing etc) due to ongoing issues.

The online booking system is fully operational for all caves on Ingleborough, Leck and Ease Gill.

We know that the return to normality is not going to be instantaneous, with many people preferring to phase back into caving gradually.

Some of our training opportunities may be of assistance to help refresh SRT skills. If the course you would like is booked up (or doesn’t exist) then get in touch (training@cncc.org.uk).

For anyone looking to return to caving, but in a gentler way and without extensive SRT, while avoiding the busy ‘heartland’ area of the Three Peaks/Three Counties, how about considering some of our less well visited caves:

  • The Forest of Bowland Caves, including Whitewell Pot, Hell Hole and Whitewell Cave, all of which can be visited in one excellent day. Permits are very easily available (details on our website) and typically these caves receive only a few groups each year.
  • Various caves in/around Littondale (Sleets Gill just to the main passage, Dowkabottom Cave, Scoska Cave, Cherry Tree Hole, Darnbrook Pot), offering fine and mostly uncomplicated caving and little chance of underground or surface congestion.
  • Dow Cave in Wharfedale, a magnificent, spacious and inspiring underground river passage.
  • Crackpot Cave in Swaledale, a stunning, easy and inspiring cave.

Of course, there are many other excellent caves outside of the Three Peaks/Three Counties area and the above are just some examples for inspiration.

We look forward to seeing many of you out and about soon. Until then, we urge continued respect while out and about, both towards other cavers as well as local residents, to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable as things start to return towards normality.

Photo; Dow Cave in Wharfedale, a great spot to rekindle a love for caving, by Gary Douthwaite