About Caving on Mendip
What is Caving
Put simply, caving is the recreational exploration of caves and potholes. A typical caving trip may involve climbing, abseiling, crawling, swimming and walking. Caves may vary hugely in size and shape – some caves in the UK have chambers large enough to fit a cathedral, whilst in other places cavers may need to crawl on their bellies.
Some caves may have an abundance on calcite ‘formations’ (stalactites, stalagmites etc.) while others have none. Caves can be dry or wet, clean or muddy, horizontal or vertical, with waterfalls, streamways and lakes, or dry, sandy ‘fossil’ passages and chambers.
Why do people go Caving?
Caving gives people the opportunity to see things that few people have experienced. It is an exciting, challenging and rewarding pursuit which can be undertaken by anyone who is reasonably fit.
Some cavers may just choose to visit well-known caves while others want to discover places where no one has been before. Many cavers spend much of their time excavating blocked passageways with the aim of finding the major cave system that may be beyond, Most caves have been discovered this way.
Caving is one of the only forms of original exploration left and more accessible than most, with caving areas in many parts of the UK. In addition, British cavers go on many expeditions worldwide to explore previously unknown caves.
For many, caving can become a lifelong pursuit, with people starting as sporting cavers and developing other interests such as exploration and digging, cave diving, research and cave science, photography, art, surveying and mapping, conservation, archaeology and historical research.
How can people get involved?
Training and safety are of paramount importance – what to wear, what equipment, lights, emergency procedures. In order to learn to cave safely people should get help from experienced cavers. The easiest way to do this is to join a caving club. There are many caving clubs in the country. Most of the big clubs are based in areas close to caves but there are also caving groups in many cities.
The Cerberus Spelaeological Society (www.cerberusspeleo.org.uk) is a local Mendip based caving club with a modern headquarters/hostel at Oakhill north of Shepton Mallet. Anyone interested in finding out more is invited to get in contact at trycaving[at]cerberusspeleo.org.uk.
There are also organisations who offer cave training on a commercial basis and these can be found easily on the internet.