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WARNING - Rockfall in G.B. Cave

From Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd

“The site of the reported rockfall in GB near the waterfall climb in Main Chamber has been checked. There has been a recent fall of mud, gravel and smallish boulders on the left (when viewed facing downstream) of the waterfall climb, near the bottom. The wall above the last part of the climb (the big steps) appears as it did before, but should be considered loose due to the recent fall. The top part is calcited but might be subject to further falls, although it is equally possible that it might not change for a long time. However, as assessing such future possibilities is not an exact science, care should be taken here, and everyone should conduct their own risk assessments whenever they approach this area from any direction. There are still loose rocks almost covering the steps and when inspected it was not possible to pass the steps without using the unconsolidated debris. The floor below the climb is currently covered with unconsolidated debris and the boulders here will move underfoot when stepped on, so care should also be taken here.

This waterfall has been formed on a major vertical structural fault (see Ford, D.C., 1964. On the Geomorphic History of G.B. Cave, Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Somerset. UBSS Proceedings, 10(2) , pp 149-188 available from https://www.ubss.org.uk/resources/proceedings/vol10/UBSS_Proc_10_2_149-188.pdf), which states that there is much fault breccia to be found and so events of this nature are likely to occur from time to time.”

Graham Mullan
Secretary
Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd
secretary@charterhouse-caving-company.ltd.uk
8th Feb 2021

More info ...

CSCC: Coronavirus Lockdown Mark 3

Dear Southern Cavers,

As all of you are now no doubt aware the UK is now in the throws of the third national lockdown and this places severe restrictions on our hobby. I would draw your attention to the statement made by the CNCC a few days ago (reproduced below), which provides some excellent advice and is applicable down south as it is up north. The CNCC advice reads;

“The third national lockdown is upon and this sees a return of the Government message to 'Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives' as the country tries to stop the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed. As with the March 2020 lockdown, leaving home is now only permitted for a limited number of reasons.

Some of you will be wondering about provisions for exercise, potentially including caving, during lockdown. The restrictions include provisions for exercise during lockdown to help people maintain fitness and to support wellbeing. However, this exercise must only be taken alone, with your household/ bubble, or with one other person, and it must be in your immediate local area (defined as your village, town or part of the city in which you live).

For the vast majority of us, who either prefer to cave with a group of friends, or would need to travel away from our immediate local area to go caving, this means venturing underground is sadly off the cards for the duration of this lockdown. Instead, we advise that the next several weeks provide a much better opportunity to repair oversuits, clean equipment and plan your summer adventures instead.

For the small number of people who live on the doorstep of our caves and are intent on visiting them as part of your exercise, we urge you to respect the restrictions on who you can exercise with, and to ensure your exercise regime is low risk and well within your capabilities.

We can't wait to bring you better news over the coming months and to see a return to caving in our region very soon.”

As before it is up to the individual to decide whether or not it is possible for them to cave, but in addition to the following CNCC advice please be aware of the potential impression you may be making on landowners and local residents. We rely upon their goodwill for continued access and it would be terrible if the actions of a few result in reduced access once national restrictions start to be lifted.

Ed Waters (CSCC Chairman)
9th Jan 2021

CSCC and MCR: Joint Statement on Coronavirus Lockdown Mk 2 and Caving in the South

Dear Southern Cavers,

As most all of you will be aware, the government announced on Saturday that new lockdown measures will be introduced from Thursday 5th November in an attempt to control the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. The details of these measures can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november#travel.

One of the issues as regards caving is that you can only leave home for specific purposes, one of which being;

“to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place - with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another”

If caving is considered to provide a form of “outdoor exercise” it will be up to individual cavers to decide whether or not they can or should go caving whilst meeting both the letter and spirit of the new national restrictions. Cavers should think carefully whether a caving trip meets the latest travel restrictions, noting in particular that as of 2nd November;

  • “You should avoid travelling in or out of your local area, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make.”
  • “you can and should still travel for a number of reasons, including … exercise, if you need to make a short journey to do so.”

Further points to consider are that some landowners may not feel comfortable in allowing cavers onto their land during lockdown. In these cases please be understanding and respect their wishes. The Council of Southern Caving Clubs (CSCC) will try to maintain a list of lockdown access arrangements, but given the fast-moving nature of the situation it is possible that cavers will come across restrictions not previously reported. In these cases please respect the landowners wishes and inform CSCC so that we can advise others. It is quite possible that local residents will be wary of visitors, and as such cavers should be discreet and avoid caves close to private residencies. If cavers are seen, or suspected, of breaking the national restrictions this could have serious long-term impacts upon our relationships with the communities we rely on for amongst other things access to our caves.

A rescue during the lockdown would be a major issue for Mendip Cave Rescue (MCR). Whilst they will remain ready to come to the aid of anyone in need underground, the process will be complicated by lockdown restrictions which may slow response and wearing of PPE to minimise infection risk will hamper underground operations. As such please chose your trip carefully to ensure that it lies well within the abilities of all members of the party.

We cannot advise you whether your trip, if you intend to cave, falls within government guidelines or not, but if you do decide to cave please think carefully about the potential consequences of your trip and ensure that you are complying with the latest government advice. The situation is evolving quickly and CSCC will continue to do our best to keep you informed of how the situation is affecting caving in the south via the CSCC website.

Ed Waters (CSCC Chairman) & Martin Grass (Hon Secretary MCR)
2nd November 2020

BCA: Information on Coronavirus and Caving

BCA have issued a series of useful updates on the coronavirus and how it related to caving. See the BCA Website.

BCRC: Guidance Should a Return to Underground Activity Become Available

BCRC have issued a press release on the coronavirus giving guidance should a return to underground activity become available. See the BCRC Website.

Access to caves in Cheddar Gorge

Further to the decision by Longleat to close the show caves and suspend their operations in Cheddar, they have notified CSCC that with immediate effect caver access to all caves on Longleat property which includes the whole south side of the Gorge, is no longer available. This includes all caves and digs, and affects sites such as Reservoir Hole, Spider Hole, Goughs Cave, Long Hole, Great Oones etc.

Longleat are not adverse to reinstating caver access subject to an access agreement with CSCC. Negotiations to formalise an access procedure were started at the request of Longleat a few years ago but were never concluded.

Discussions have recommenced and both parties are hopeful of a favourable and positive outcome, however in the meantime all the caves are closed.

Longleat will be keeping a presence in the Gorge for maintenance purposes, but this is all. Approaches should not be made to Longleat or any of their representatives as permission to visit any of the caves will be denied.

Graham Price
Conservation & Access Officer
11th Oct 2020

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