~ Getting started in caving ~

by Lizzy das Neves

What is caving all about?

Caving is becoming more and more popular, as people discover the underground world. It's not a sport that can be described in a couple of words. Caving trips can involve scrambling, walking, crawling, climbing, sliding and even swimming through caves, with passages as big as a mansion or some as small as a chimney.

No excuses?

It doesn't matter if you are afraid of confined spaces or don't use the gym everyday, caving can be for everyone ranging from walking trips through massive limestone passages to sporting caving trips that involving climbing, crawling, and stomping through fast flowing water. There's something for everyone.

The best thing is first to Join a Club! You can apply to join our club if you are 18 or over and the info is here, or check out our handy printable A4 leaflet.

Check out some pictures from one of our recent provisional's and beginner's weekends.

What kit will you need?

Starting off caving, the best option is to hire or borrow some kit. You will need the following:

~ A one-piece oversuit (made of proofed nylon or pvc), a helmet and head lamp and a belt.

Things you can buy to start off, or that you might already own:

~ Wellington boots - with a good grip! Old warm clothing, like thermals and warm trousers and a fleece top, to wear under the oversuit. Don't wear jeans or anything else made of cotton - they are cold when wet.

Hiring kit

We have a few lightweight lamps and helmets for hire for beginners available on a first-come-first-served basis. Ask about these when you are arranging your visit.

Otherwise, Simon and Anne Amatt (Club members) in Abercraf (just down the road) have Lights, Belts and Helmets for hire for £2.50 for the day or £5.00 for the weekend. All proceeds go to Cave Rescue.  or ring them on 01639 730336 simonamatt AT btinternet.com

Also Absolute Adventure (at the bottom of the hill) can hire you pretty much all the basic kit you need for about £10 for the weekend. 01639 730518

Caving trips

Caving trips can involve anything between 4-8 cavers per group, depending what sort of trip you're doing. The most important part of a trip is that it is safe and enjoyable. ~ Always make sure that you join a reputable club and learn caving with experienced people.

In preparation for your trip there are a few items that are a good to take underground in a small tackle bag: An extra light, something small and light like a Petzl Tikka, a bottle of water, some small snack food like chocolate. If you are doing longer trips or trips involving getting wet, it is always advisable to take some extra dry clothing (keep it in a dry bag) and a balaclava.

Through these group trips you can meet new people and build up friendships. Since starting caving I have met lots of amazing people and have been more involved with the club, which has lead to becoming a member and attending loads of social events, and even going on club expeditions.

So what's next?

If you're interested in caving and perhaps joining our club, please get in touch with our Membership Secretary who will be able to advise you as to the best time to visit. We have Provisional Members' and Try Caving weekends from time to time, so take a look at our Calendar.

Check out some pictures from one of our recent Provisional's and Beginner's weekend.

Try Caving is a separate website and a great resource to help you find a suitable Club to join near where you live, and explains loads of stuff about caving.

Go caving without leaving your seat - have a look the Virtual Tour of the awesome caves right under our cottages - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu - The Cave of the Back Spring.

And by the way, you are very unlikely to get claustrophobic or in fear of your life or stuck! Which is what most people imagine will happen!