Welcome to the British Caving Association

Your national body for underground exploration in the United Kingdom.

Coronavirus and Caving

Update 25th May 2020 - QMC Advice 2 for LCMLA and CIC Scheme Members

QMC COVID 19 Advice 2 QMC LCMLA and CIC COVID 19 Advice 2

Update 15 May 2020 - QMC Advice for LCMLA and CIC Scheme Members

QMC COVID 19 Advice 1 QMC LCMLA and CIC COVID 19 Advice 1

QMC COVID 19 Advice 1 QMC LCMLA and CIC COVID 19 Advice 1

Update 14 May 2020 - COVID-19 – STAY SAFE

(further guidance for LCMLA and CIC scheme members to follow A.S.A.P.)


On 10th May 2020, the Prime Minister announced a series of changes to the current Covid-19 lockdown which have an impact on outdoor sports in England. It is important to note that the situation is different in Wales and Scotland. You should continue not to travel to exercise to, from or within Wales and Scotland.

In England, a person can now travel to take unlimited exercise and do so with members of their household. A person can also take exercise with one member of another household provided you follow the social distancing guidelines. However the effectiveness of social distancing within a cave or mine in respect of airborne or surface transmission between persons is an open question. There is therefore concern that the 2m rule may be insufficient to provide protection.

The British Cave Rescue Council has issued information on rescue which can be read at https://www.caverescue.org.uk/. It is clear that the ‘service’ provided by cave rescue organisations may be reduced and take longer to arrive at the scene of an incident.

It is likely that cavers, along with other visitors, will not be welcome in rural communities. In addition, it is anticipated that permission may not be granted to descend those caves and mines where it is required; especially if that requires face to face contact. Please check the web sites of Regional Caving Councils & other organisations for updates on access, see below for links. In addition, most caving club huts will remain closed since that aspect of the regulations have not changed.

BCA urges cavers to be responsible and if you do decide to go caving, then minimise the risk of accidents underground by choosing less demanding caves and mines.

BCA Council

14 May 2020

Regional Caving Council & other organisation web sites links

CCC - http://www.cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/

CNCC - https://cncc.org.uk/

CSCC - http://cscc.org.uk/

DCA - https://thedca.org.uk/

DCUC - https://dcuc.org.uk/

SUI - https://www.caving.ie/


Update 11 May 2020

Training information updated. Please see the notice on the training news page.

Update 3 April 2020 - Guidance for Clubs

Here is some guidance received from our insurance company to help clubs with regard to properties that have been, or will be, left unoccupied as a result of the current restrictions. Download the temporary shutdown article.

Update 2 April 2020

Training information updated. Please see the notice on the training news page.

Update 23 March 2020

All cavers are reminded of the Government requirements issued tonight to limit travel outside of home to essential purposes only. This is now a requirement rather than a recommendation. All travelling should be limited to purchasing essential food supplies, medical purposes, one outdoor exercise activity (by yourself or your household only) or travelling to work if essential.

We urge cavers to do the responsible thing and adhere to these requirements.

Update 20 March 2020

The current spread of coronavirus in the UK is affecting all aspects of life, and caving is no exception.

We are not currently aware of Government advice specifically relating to outdoor pursuits, but relevant guidance to everyone in the country is to avoid gatherings with friends and family in order to minimise spread of the virus. However, it is also recognised that physical activity is important, and going outdoors is considered OK providing you keep 2m away from others.

Mountain Rescue England and Wales and Scottish Mountain Rescue have highlighted that additional pressures on volunteers means rescue teams may be compromised, and have stressed that people should avoid any unnecessary risks. When taking part in outdoor pursuits of any kind, we must consider that any accident will add burden to individuals and organisations that are under huge and increasing pressure. The British Mountaineering Council have issued similar advice and indicate that there may be no mountain rescue cover in some areas.

BCA Council are not medical experts and this information is not definitive, but we hope it is relevant and informative. Please see the links below relating to sources of information and be aware that it is changing day by day. It is up to us all to keep up to date with the relevant information, particularly relating to travel and to social distancing.

UK Government: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

Mountain Rescue England and Wales: https://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/stay-safe-be-adventure-smart/coronavirus-covid-19

Scottish Mountain Rescue: https://www.scottishmountainrescue.org/coronavirus-update-from-scottish-mountain-rescue

British Mountaineering Council: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/should-you-go-climbing-outdoors-and-hill-walking


BCA Newsletter 37 - February 2020

The latest BCA newsletter is now available to download. It will also be available around the UK and Ireland in all the usual caving spots including club huts, shops and cafes.

You’ll find articles covering…

  • National access initiatives and news
  • Changes to BCA membership fees and public liability insurance benefits
  • Perspectives on BCA finance, democracy and vision
  • Additional resource given to radon monitoring and the British Caving Library
  • News on various upcoming events, including the BCA Party/AGM weekend, CHECC, CaveFest, the Ghar Parou Cave Science weekend and FSE EuroSpeleo events.
  • Updates from our Regional Councils
  • Additional ‘feature articles’

And much more…

Download it from the Newsletters page

Outcomes of the 11th January BCA Council Meeting

It was another packed agenda, but the meeting opened by us welcoming two new members to the vacant positions on BCA Council; Claire Ross as our new Conservation and Access Officer, and Jenny Potts as an individual member representative. Thank you to both for stepping forward to work to the benefit of cavers across the UK.

A review of all the reports emphasised the ongoing work, including efforts to better publicise the BCA, support initiatives, assess radon levels in caves, finalise a new BCA website (of which more news soon), amongst lots of other great work from our various Committees and Working Groups. We also heard how the backlog of cataloguing at the British Caving Library has started to be tackled thanks to the additional BCA funding granted at the October meeting.

Onto the proposals, and these saw some changes within the BCA’s IT Working Group that we hope will enable an expedited redevelopment of BCA’s back-end IT and membership systems to bring them more up to date. We know that the membership renewal process could be more slick and modern, and this is going to be addressed. There were a few housekeeping matters, including a decision to actually reduce the number of BCA meetings we have each year, as part of a desire to see more work done offline and electronically, encourage greater participation from our time-pressured volunteers, and of course save about £1000/year in meeting expenses.

The meeting once again utilised remote access to improve participation from those not able to travel; all future Council meeting venues will be somewhere with good Wi-Fi to make this possible.

We voted to increase the value of the public liability insurance policy we give as a benefit to all our full members from £5m to £10m. This has been an ongoing discussion for a few years. However, a recently settled claim on a comparable BMC policy (~£9M) has now set clear precedent demanding we increase our cover. Pressure from other areas (e.g. some landowners) for a higher value policy has also increased recently, so this was an inevitability.

There were considerable updates to the Manual of Operations (a document that accompanies our constitution to outline processes) to bring it more up to date and reflective of the result of the November/December 2019 ballot. We also approved some new funding rules for Regional Councils intended to greatly simplify the way BCA funding is handed out. The new rules will enable better financial planning on our side, allow more activities to be fully funded via Regional Councils by removing several previously disallowed activities, and make lives easier all round for the volunteers involved. We cannot emphasis enough how keen we are to see Regional Councils take advantage of BCA funding to support projects.

BCA Council voted to support a youth caving initiative (Adventure Academy) put forward by our Youth and Development convenor. This is very much a start-up initiative, however it takes advantage of match-funding from the Stories in Stone project in the Yorkshire Dales, and if successful would be a tremendous asset to promoting caving with youngsters. The BCA are proud to be supporting such initiatives and the hard work of those trying to make them successful.

The BCA Council rejected a request for additional funding from the BCRA totalling around £30000 over five years. While this may sound shocking, this was not through any lack of desire to support cave science, but was due to a feeling that more in-depth discussions were required to identify a more detailed and longer-term financial plan between the two organisations. Discussions are ongoing and hopefully we can return to this at a future meeting with a mutually agreeable solution to ensure our continued support of the BCRA and the excellent cave science work being conducted by their members.

  • Next Council meeting; Saturday 4th April 2020, Spanset, Middlewich.
  • Annual General meeting, Sunday 14th June 2020, Priddy, Somerset.

BCA Ballot 2019 Results

We can announce the results of the ballot which closed at 23:59pm on Friday 13th December.

The constitutional changes around which this ballot was based were put forward at the 2019 AGM and passed in both houses at the meeting, hence their progression to a ballot of all members. All constitutional changes require 70% support in both the House of Individuals and the House of Groups in order to be implemented.

The changes were intended to remove the two-house voting system at General Meetings, leaving voting by individual members (CIMs and DIMs) only. They would also create a requirement for online voting to be made available, whereby all motions that achieve a defined level of support at the AGM itself (not just constitutional matters), as well as contested elections, are put to an online vote of all individual members for a roughly one-month period after the AGM.

The ballot was conducted using an electronic system developed specifically for this ballot. Access to vote was controlled via a unique ballot ID assigned and sent to all members.

All members for who we had email addresses were emailed ballot details and a ballot ID on 8th November. For all the members we did not have email addresses for, as well as those for who we received an email bounce-back notification, a postal letter was sent in the week commencing 11th November, including a ballot slip for anyone wanting to vote by return postage.

The results are as follows:

House of Individuals:
Votes to support the motion: 854 (82.5%)
Votes to reject the motion: 181 (17.5%)
Turnout: 1035 of 6285 (16.5%)

House of Groups:
Votes to support the motion: 66 (76.7%)
Votes to reject the motion: 20 (23.3%)
Turnout: 86 of 185 (46.5%)

Both houses exceed the 70% support requirement, and so the motion has passed.

Statistics on postal returns:
The total number of postal returns was only 56 (5% of the total ballot turnout), meaning 95% of voters chose to use the online system to cast their vote. Of those 5% who returned their ballot by post, 66% voted to support the motion.

Five postal ballot papers were rejected; one due to no ballot ID having been entered by the voter, two due to the ballot IDs being entered illegibly or incorrectly (considerable effort was made to try to decipher these), and two that arrived on Saturday 14th December, thus after the deadline.

Thank you to everyone who has worked very hard to make this ballot happen.

BCA Membership Rates 2020

The BCA can now announce our membership rates for 2020. There are some changes to previous years mainly affecting DIM membership:

Club Individual Members (CIMs): No change from 2019
Active caver (those participating in caving/mine exploring/digging etc): £17 Non caver (those not participating in caving/mine exploring/digging etc): £6 Student caver (in full time undergraduate education): £8 Under-18s (on 1st January 2020): Free

Direct Individual Members (DIMs):
We are pleased to say that the DIM rates for 2020 has been reduced to match those of CIMs above. This represents up to a £5/year reduction compared to 2019. We are conscious that a very small number of proactive DIMs have already renewed for 2020 but at 2019 rates; please contact us to arrange a refund.

Joint DIM membership:
There is no longer any discount for joint membership as this discount was based on posted publications being shared, but these no longer exist. However, thanks to the reduction in DIM prices, the cost of two DIM memberships is now less than the former Joint DIM membership rate so our Joint DIM Members will also enjoy a small reduction.

Note on overseas CIM/DIM members:
If you live outside the UK and do not go caving in the UK (but you cave elsewhere) you are now entitled to pay the ‘non-caver’ rate, due to the reduced relevance of some of our membership benefits to you.

Club subscription rates: No changes from 2019

  • Up to 10 members: £25
  • 11-20 members: £35
  • 21-30 members: £50
  • 31-40 members: £60
  • 41+ members: £70

Access bodies or accommodation providers:
Additional £60 (no change from 2019)

Associate membership:
Reduced from £55 (2019) to £25 (2020)
Note; Associate members DO NOT receive membership benefits including public liability insurance.

Why join the BCA?
The BCA is the UK’s national body for underground exploration. Your membership money goes towards funding conservation, education, access, training workshops, anchor installation, the British Caving Library (a library, archive and key resource), publications on matters that affect caving, international expeditions, plus numerous other activities which benefit cavers nationally. Almost all cavers will benefit from work funded by BCA from your membership money, both directly and via the Regional Councils, as well as via our recent efforts to support student and youth caving. Your money goes back into the sport, as well as covering the cost of the public liability insurance which we provide to all full members as a membership benefit. Thank you for joining the BCA!

BCA Member Ballot 2019

Voting has now opened in the BCA member ballot on constitutional changes affecting voting at AGM's.

If you have your email address registered with BCA Online then you should have already received your ballot by email, if not then your ballot will arrive by post.

Voting is done online and only takes a moment so please take the time to add your voice.

If you have not received a ballot, please check your email junk folder or contact returning-officer@british-caving.org.uk

CRoW Access: a useful step forward

The government’s Review of national parks and AONBs led by Julian Glover has just been published:


Our CRoW Officer, David Rose, met with Julian and his review team at the end of last year at Defra’s HQ in London and made a strong case that the current official position on CROW access and caves is perverse and wrong. We’re pleased to say the Review report appears to accept this. See page 21 for a super photo, and then some very supportive comments on page 81.

The full context (see the report) makes clear that Glover’s view is strongly sympathetic to caver access.

Best of all is proposal 18, on page 98. This says the government should consider expanding access rights, and mentions cavers specifically:

“It feels wrong that many parts of our most beautiful places are off‐ limits to horse riders, water users, cavers, wild campers and so on. We hope that as part of the government’s commitment to connect more people with nature, it will look seriously at whether the levels of open access we have in our most special places are adequate.”

The BCA are extremely encouraged that this is a very useful step forwards, which will make it harder for Defra and Natural England to ignore the BCA’s representations that it is time to review the legal advice which has been used to deny cavers’ CRoW access since the Act was passed. It will also make it easier to drum up further political support.

The BCA will continue to work hard to capitalise on this excellent progress, hopefully enabling cavers to one day benefit from the same freedom of access on CRoW land as many other outdoor activities.

Changes to the Administration of Access to the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu System

The BCA has been asked by Bob Hall, on behalf of Natural Resources Wales, South Wales Caving Club, and the OFD Cave Advisory Group, to circulate this press release. This may be of interest to anyone accessing the OFD cave system. In essence, access as perceived for most cavers is not expected to change, however the way that the access is administered ‘behind the scenes’ will, and this is something cavers accessing OFD may consider useful information.


The Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system lies within a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest administered by Natural Resources Wales who own the National Nature Reserve in which Top Entrance and Cwm Dwr lie. The lower entrance to the system, OFD 1, lies on land owned by the South Wales Caving Club. For some years access to the whole system has been administered for NRW and SWCC by the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Cave Management Committee.

Imminent Changes

Following reorganisation within NRW and negotiations between NRW and SWCC, the OFDCMC is being wound up and will cease to exist with effect from 5th November 2019. At the request of NRW, access to OFD will be managed directly by SWCC and applications for access will be processed by the SWCC Permit Secretary. However, the NRW have also agreed to the establishment of a new body, the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Cave Advisory Group. The OFDCAG will not administer access but will incorporate a greater level of representation from the clubs that regularly visit the OFD system. These clubs will soon receive invitations from OFDCAG. It is expected that arrangements for access to The Columns will remain broadly unchanged and the permit process should operate exactly as before.

Links and Contact Details

The old OFDCMC website is soon to be renamed but, all being well, will still provide appropriate information and links, including a link to the permit application page. ( http://ofdcmc.org.uk/ should continue to function)

Gary Vaughan remains as Permit Secretary ( ofdaccess@hotmail.co.uk ) and Bob Hall (speleobob@ntlworld.com ) transfers from his role as Secretary of OFDCMC to OFDCAG. The SWCC website ( http://www.swcc.org.uk/joomla-swcc/ ) will have all the above information available soon.

Conservation and Access Officer

It is with regret that our Conservation and Access (C&A) Officer has stepped down. The BCA are therefore seeking someone to fulfil this voluntary role on an ‘acting’ basis until the AGM in June 2020 (and potentially beyond).

The C&A Officer is also the convenor of our C&A Standing Committee, a team open to all our Regional Councils and Constituent Bodies, which brings people together to discuss national C&A initiatives. This is the team that has previously brought you a CRoW policy statement, as well as the Minimal Impact Caving Guidelines. These help to provide a nationally agreed standard for access and conservation, and serve as guiding principles for regional councils and all cavers.

The official Terms of Reference for the C&A Committee are:

  • To assist regional councils when requested.
  • To produce guidelines and promotional materials to encourage conservation of underground environments.
  • To campaign nationally to encourage conservation and improved access in line with BCA policy and constitution.
  • To undertake other conservation or access related work as may be agreed by the committee.

The C&A Officer’s minimum duties are:

  • To be the primary point of contact at BCA for C&A enquiries and matters.
  • To arrange meetings (at least once annually) of the C&A Standing Committee.
  • To report to BCA meetings, and advise Council of ongoing C&A matters.

You are not alone in this role; you have all the members of the C&A Standing Committee to support you and provide input and ideas, as well as secretarial support and website support from the BCA Secretary and webmaster respectively. The BCA is a team effort and we are keen to support anyone new coming into the role.

So how much time is involved and what skills are needed? Well, it is important that the C&A Officer is fairly computer-savvy and able to respond to incoming emails regularly and participate in occasional meetings usually via Webex/Skype. A proactive attitude and enthusiasm for the subject of C&A are of course extremely desirable, and outweigh the need for prior knowledge of BCA procedures. It would be reasonable to expect needing to set aside a few hours per week plus attendance at quarterly BCA meetings (travel expenses paid of course).

This role is a real chance to make a big difference to British Caving. We are still far from having the desired freedom of access to many caves and potholes across the UK, and conservation is an ever-ongoing project requiring both physical action and education. The difference the BCA C&A team can make is massive, and limited only by the enthusiasm and proactivity of our volunteers, and particularly the C&A Officer.

If this is something that interests you please contact the BCA Secretary to discuss.

BCA Ballot

At the 9th June BCA AGM a motion was submitted which proposed changes to our constitution. This motion was passed at the meeting, and so BCA procedure requires this to now be put to a ballot of all members.

In this ballot, all Group Members (including clubs and constituent bodies) will have one vote in the ‘House of Groups’ and all Individual Members (including CIMs and DIMs) will have one vote in the ‘House of Individuals’. Both ‘Houses’ must achieve 70% support for the motion to pass.

The full proposal, including the exact details of the proposed constitutional amendments can be found here (appendix 9, page 28 onwards): 2019 Agenda

The discussion/vote on this from the AGM itself can be found here (26.2, page 19 onwards): 2019 AGM Draft Minutes

The ballot will commence mid-October (exact date TBC). This timing has been chosen partly based on availability of key BCA volunteers, but also to coincide with when student clubs and expeditions are mostly back in the UK, to try to maximise participation. The closing date will be midnight on the 30th November 2019. We expect to be able to announce the result no later than the 11th January BCA Council meeting (and maybe much earlier if postal returns are relatively few).

If the BCA has your email address you will receive your ballot by email which will contain a unique ‘voting token’ to use with our simple and intuitive online system. This may go to your junk/spam folder so please remember to check there.

If you are not sure if the BCA has your email address, you can check by requesting a login for BCA Online. If the BCA does not have your email address you will receive your ballot by post. You can still use the ‘token’ provided to vote via the online system, however, postal returns will also be accepted.

It is your responsibility to ensure the BCA has your up-to-date contact details. If you believe your details to have changed since last membership renewal, or if you wish to provide the BCA with your email address (to save us the not inconsiderable cost and effort of postage) then please email membership@british-caving.org.uk

More news will follow in due course.

Conservation and Access

The BCA Conservation and Access Committee are very grateful to the Eastern Moors Partnership for hosting the Derbyshire hub of our meeting at their offices at Barbrook Cottage, with the stunning back drop of the Peak District. The meeting was a great success, with regional council and constituent body reps joining forces to discuss and share advice on what is happening in the world of conservation and access across the UK. Thanks to all those who participated in the lovely discussion and helped me to get a better understanding of where we're at in the UK right now, and where we are heading for the future.

Eastern Moors is a partnership between the National Trust and the RSPB, managing the strip of the Peak District right on the edge of Sheffield and Chesterfield. This area encompasses breathtaking open moorland, wooded valleys and the spectacular eastern gritstone edges. An area home to a huge variety of wildlife, the Eastern Moors is also a place for people, from runners and mountain bikers to artists and dog walkers; everyone is welcome to explore our moorlands.


Louise Baddeley, BCA Conservation & Access Officer

Specialist Caving & Activities Travel Insurance

Expedition insurance for UK cavers - Designed by cavers for cavers!

In recent years, cavers travelling abroad on expedition have had to buy their travel insurance from various commercial outlets, however many have had concerns – is cave exploration covered? Age limits? Will the insurer actually pay out??…..

The BCA have been working hard on behalf of their members to solve this problem and are pleased to announce the launch of BCA Member Caving Cover.


Warning Notice

To see the warning notice issued May 2019 regarding the use of toothed jammers as belay devices click here

Watch The Golden Age of Cave Exploration Talks

To celebrate 50 years of pioneering British cave exploration and scientific research, renowned explorers of the subterranean world gathered together in December 2017 to share their discoveries and experiences during 4 days of lectures at the Royal Geographical Society, London.

On behalf of the British Caving Association and the British Cave Research Association, all 44 of these fascinating talks from around the world are now freely available to view online.


2019 Subscription Rates

At the Council meeting on 6th October it was decided that membership for those aged under 18 on 1st January will be free of charge.

All other subscription rates for 2019 will be unchanged.

Cave rescue in Thailand

On behalf of the whole British caving community, the BCA would like to congratulate the British Cave Rescue Council, members of the Cave Diving Group, their international friends and their Thai colleagues for the outstanding achievement in rescuing the 12 boys and their coach from the Tham Luang Nang Non Cave system in Northern Thailand. 

As cavers and cave divers, BCA and CDG members will have had a good insight into the complexity of this rescue and an understanding of the risks and technicalities involved. The rescue was daring but executed with skill, bravery and determination.

We also must not forget the contribution of many others towards the successful outcome. In particular we salute Saman Kunan, the Thai Navy diver who lost his life while helping to prepare for the rescue. 

In a world which seems to be becoming ever more divided, we are proud to be part of an international caving and diving community which can come together and achieve the almost impossible.

10 July 2018, updated 28 July 2018

GDPR for Caving clubs

GDPR Keep calm The General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR came into force on the 25th May 2018. Its aim is to give us control over our personal data, which is a good thing. The bad news is that it applies to caving clubs so there’ll be a bit of work to implement it.

The Information Commissioners isn’t going to sue your club on day one if not fully compliant. There are many, many organisation out there that aren’t ready for this. However it is better to crack on with it rather than ignore it. To help, I have written an article that concentrates on the practical steps a typical caving club needs to take to implement GDPR. You can read by following the link to GDPR for Caving Clubs.

New Caving Guidelines

Take a look at the Minimal Impact Caving Guidelines leaflet