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Experience | Caving

The exploration of caves must date back thousands of years, when it was a necessity for shelter, but it has now become an increasingly popular sport.

Caving or potholing is all about the exploration of a subterranean environment. Don't think that caving is only about crawling through tiny holes, many caves have passages as wide as rivers and chambers as large as houses!

Caving is often undertaken purely for enjoyment and physical exercise as well as original exploration. Although the majority of cave systems in Britain have been extensively explored there are still some 'virgin' systems that can only be reached by digging or diving.

If you’re trying caving for the first time you may wish to hire equipment or use that which is provided by an instructor. However, when you get serious and want to take up the adventure properly, there is a range of gear you will need to purchase. Ensuring that the kit take is sufficient for the task is highly important, both for enjoyment and safety.

Clothing should be warm, dry and lightweight and not offer too much bulk. Always wear a helmet and ensure it is fitted with a high-quality headlamp. We suggest this is attached to the helmet with a clamp and not with an elastic headband as these can break easily. It is also advisable to take a spare lamp, in case of breakages or malfunction.

Whilst we don’t recommend using rock-climbing equipment for caving, you will encounter situations which require a degree of rock-climbing ability. Therefore ensure you wear a stout pair of boots which are water-repellent and provide good levels of grip.

Devon Outdoors
Devon Outdoors
Devon Outdoors

A caving undersuit will help to keep you warm and dry and the abrasion-resistant oversuit helps when crawling through tight passageways and tunnels. In addition to this, if you are likely to be wet for long periods of time you may wish to consider a wetsuit.

Neoprene socks will ensure you have dry feet, although some use wool socks and merino wool is warm and drys quickly.

Knee pads give added protection when crawling and you may also wish to consider elbow pads. Gloves are recommended and a bag to keep essentials such as first aid kit, spare headlamps, camera and food and drink.

Finally, specific equipment for climbing in caves - a caving harness, chest harness, ascenders and desceders for climbing and descending ropes.

Visit your local store for expert advice on the right equipment for safety and enjoyment and guidance on the locaIf you are new to caving then it’s essential that you contact a recognised caving instructor or outdoor centre who will provide basic safety equipment and guide you on an underground trip.

Come caving and you will see a natural environment that you would never otherwise experience.l caves to explore.

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