Welcome to the British Caving Association

Your national body for underground exploration in the United Kingdom.


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

BCA Newsletter 36 - July 2019

The latest BCA newsletter has taken on a new format and in addition to digital form, it will also be available around the UK and Ireland in all the usual caving spots including club huts, shops and cafes.

This issue is also a bumper one with 12 pages and including some great photography by Nicky Bayley.

Download it from the Newsletters page

BCRA Conference - Hidden Earth 2019

Hidden Earth 2019 will take place at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, Wales on the weekend of 28/29th September.

Things kick off on Friday evening when the Hidden Earth bar opens followed by two days of lectures, workshops, films, competitions and good companions! Not to mention plenty of beer of course!

Find all the details on the Hidden Earth website including buying tickets and submitting your lectures and entering competitions.

Keep up to date with the latest announcements by following the Hidden Earth Facebook page or Twitter page.

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

AGM Weekend - THANK YOU!

A big thank you to everyone who attended the AGM this weekend. An excellent turn-out with some good debate and positive ideas for #britishcaving. 🙂

We'd like to welcome Matt Ewles as our new Secretary, Louise Baddeley as Conservation & Access Officer and Gary Douthwaite as webmaster. Several other posts were also renewed or confirmed.

The AGM agreed to adopt a new logo too so expect to see that changing throughout the BCA meda in the coming weeks.

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