Access to caves varies widely. Some landowners are happy for cavers to walk straight in, whilst others require a courtesy call in advance, and some require a leader to accompany you on your trip. Access in each of these situations is sometimes restricted to BCA members due to our membership insurance benefits.

What we do

The BCA does not typically participate or interfere with access arrangements unless specifically invited to do so. We leave individual regions to work in the best interests of their local cavers.

The BCA focusses on more national initiatives, such as our ongoing campaigns to have caving recognised nationally as an allowable activity on open access land. The BCA also looks to overcome national barriers to cave and countryside access, through campaigning to Government bodies and landowners and agencies, building beneficial relations with like-minded organisations and supplying funding for cave access initiatives nationally.

This work is performed by the BCA’s Conservation & Access Committee.

Countryside Rights of Way Act

The 2000 Countryside Rights of Way Act normally gives a public right of access to land mapped as ‘open country’ for certain allowed activities. However, it is unclear whether caving is one of these activities.

The BCA’s CRoW Working Group is campaigning for caving to be recognised as an allowed activity on CRoW access land. At the time of writing (2020), Government bodies insist that it is not, despite not being specifically excluded by the CRoW Act wording. Legal advice obtained by the BCA, as well as the more recently published Julian Glover ‘Landscapes Review’, suggest that caving should be allowed on access land.

Until such a time that the campaign is successful, the BCA has adopted a standpoint that caving is already covered under CRoW, and has thus adopted a CRoW Policy to formalise this opinion. This concludes with:

The BCA will support cavers in their work to develop access to caves on CRoW access land.