News

Cave rescue teams celebrate £30,000 donation

Peter Barratt of Honeywell Analytics, Peter Dell and Peter Dennis with representatives of DCRO and BCRC
Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation are this week celebrating after receiving more than £30,000-worth of life-saving gas detection equipment donated by Honeywell Analytics. The equipment, including ...
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Ali and Co dig deep at BagPit

Pete Buckley and Ali Moody assisted by a band of Wessex diggers have had more success recently at their dig at Bagpit, on the south ...
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Event: BCRA spring field meeting

A one-day British Cave Research Association field meeting will be held at the British Cave Monitoring Centre, Poole’s Cavern and Buxton Country Park on Saturday ...
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Book review: Caving: Episodes of Underground Exploration

Alan Jeffreys enjoys a caving classic even if he doesn't entirely approve of the author's somewhat cavalier attitude to risk ... Ernest Baker was well ...
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Descent 267 coming soon

Descent 267 will be with you very shortly! If you’re not up to date with your subscription don’t forget that the lovely folks at Wildplaces ...
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Book review: The Cave

Kate Mosse is better known for Labyrinth and other books, but Alan Jeffreys recommends taking a look at her novella, The Cave, set in the ...
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Ritual protection marks found in Creswell Crags

A large concentration of ritual protection marks have been discovered in caves in Creswell Crags, a limestone gorge on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border. Darkness Below editor ...
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Descent 266 – the half century!

It’s birthday cake plus cheese and pineapple on sticks all round this issue as Descent 266 celebrates 50 years in print. And it’s a visually ...
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BCA newsletter now available

BCA Newsletter no 37 for January 2019 is now available. Editor David Rose has produced a bumper issue starting with a few words from him ...
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Book review: Potholing Below the Northern Pennines

In his quest for vintage caving books, Alan Jeffreys has delved into his bookshelves again, and has come up with a northern classic from the ...
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Students get the chance to meet in-cave monitoring experts

Students interested in undertaking a cave-related dissertation will get the chance to talk to experts on in-cave monitoring next month. The BCRA (British Cave Research ...
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Descent 266 coming soon

Descent 266 will be with you very shortly! If you’re not up to date with your subscription don’t forget that the lovely folks at Wildplaces ...
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Book review: Subterranean Climbers

Alan Jeffreys continues his look at classic caving books with a review of a classic text that captures the excitement of underground exploration in the 1930s and ...
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Book review: Pennine Underground

As part of our ongoing series of reviews of classic caving books, Alan Jeffreys looks at the groundbreaking Pennine Underground. With the plethora of UK ...
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Grab your chance, says Rising Star

Angharad Brewer Gillham collecting sediment for later analysis on the surface. Photo by Dirk van Rooyen, courtesy of University of the Witwatersrand.
In the final part of her report for Darkness Below, Rising Star Angharad Brewer Gillham looks back on her adventures underground in South Africa, and ...
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Presenting caving’s future part 2

Third year PR students at UWE Bristol were asked to come up with ideas for raising the profile and diversity of the British Caving Association ...
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Review: Cave and Karst Science, December 2018 Issue

The December 2018 issue of Caves and Karst Science is now available. Volume 45, Number 3 carries six articles. The first is a report on ...
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Book review: Rich Mountains of Lead

Mike Moore reviews a valuable addition to any mine explorer's book collection. This new book is a detailed study of  the lead, silver and zinc ...
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British cave divers recognised in honours list

Honoured ... Rick Stanton, Connor Roe and Chris Jewell (Photos by Linda Wilson) The British divers at the centre of the Thai cave rescue have ...
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Access to Dan yr Ogof in jeopardy?

Cavers, no matter how carefully they abide by access arrangements, should always be conscious that for some of our most treasured caves, access can never be taken for granted ...
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Latest Eurospeleo newsletter now available

The European Speleological Federation have just released their December 2018 newsletter including news of Hirlatzhohle extensions in Austria, new board appointsments,  the 2018 Italian cavers ...
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Going underground … The Rising Stars feel the squeeze

Angharad Brewer Gillham found herself a world away from her comfortable desk job in Switzerland when she joined the Rising Stars expedition in South Africa's Dinaledi Chamber. Here's her second report from the excavation ...
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Access to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1 entrance

The following information has been released by South Wales Caving Club regarding a revised access route to the entrance of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1. Due ...
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Presenting caving’s future

Third year PR students at UWE Bristol were asked to come up with ideas for raising the profile and diversity of the BCA in the wake of the Thai rescue story. BCA newsletter editor David Rose reports back on the opening presentations. ...
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Descent 265 now available

If it looks like you’ll be restricted to armchair caving over the festive season, make sure you get the latest copy of Descent to keep ...
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Getting some elfy exercise

Chesney the Chipmunk and Valentine the donkey go caving in Reigate. Peter Burgess was there to record the occasion! Cavers do some pretty daft things ...
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Warning – access to caves around High Birkwith Farm in doubt

Jeff Wade abseiling in Calf Holes, Yorkshire Dales. Photo courtesy of Rob Eavis
High Birkwith Farm is now under new ownership and potentially this could cause problems for access to Calf Holes, Browgill, Old Ing, Birkwith, Dismal Hill ...
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Collapse at Cascades Entrance, Co. Fermanagh

The Speleological Union of Ireland has warned of safety concerns after two trips into Cascades Caves in Co. Fermanagh were cancelled on Saturday. The boulder entrance squeeze is ...
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Ritual protection in the Chaldon Quarries – health and safety in the 16th century

For the first time, curious chalk inscriptions on the walls of an ancient stone quarry in Surrey are being systematically recorded, as part of a wider research project to better understand the long and hitherto hidden history of this important source of stone for London. Many of the chalk inscriptions have been identified as ritual protection marks (RPM) ...
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Scotland dig in to take third win

The tenth J'Rat digging award has gone north of the border - for the third time in ten years. The 2018 winning entry was Uamh ...
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Dispatches from one of caving’s Rising Stars …

One moment Angharad Brewer Gillham was sitting behind a desk in Switzerland. The next, she's in South Africa on the prestigious Rising Stars expedition helping ...
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Descent 265 Coming Soon

Descent 265 will be winging its way to you very soon! If you’re not up to date with your subscription now’s the time to remedy ...
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Book review: Styx

As part of a new series on classic caving books, both fact and fiction, Linda Wilson reviews Styx, a 1982 adventure novel with a surprisingly ...
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Landowners speak out on Twll Du closure

Twll Du before and after. Photo courtesy of Caves and Cave Diving on Facebook
The Ogof Draenen landowners have spoken for the first time following Cadw’s announcement of the closure of a controversial access into the cave system. The ...
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How to check caving conditions from the comfort of your bed!

CPC Webcam at Horton
Why not check out Dales water levels before you decide whether to get up? Craven Pothole Club have gone live with a River Ribble monitoring webcam in Horton. Anyone viewing the sites will be able to view live feeds of river conditions to give an indication of how high water levels are ...
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Book review: Underground Adventure

As part of a new series on classic caving books, both fact and fiction, Alan Jeffreys takes a look at Underground Adventure by A Gemmell ...
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Hold the front page: caving’s moment in the international spotlight

British cavers suddenly found themselves on the front pages of the world’s media through the Thai cave rescue drama. Journalist Sharon Wheeler takes a look ...
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The BCA is missing you – here’s how to get the newsletter!

Last night the latest BCA newsletter should have popped into your inbox, but the chances are it didn't. Despite earlier appeals here and elsewhere only 8% of the BCA membership are currently signed up to receive the newsletter by email - some 520 members. The good news is caving clubs are doing rather better, with 170 so far signed up. If you didn't receive it and would like to in future read on ...
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From Thai heroes to diggers to tiny stalactites – the best of Hidden Earth 2018

Darkness Below's roving reporter Peter Burgess provides a flavour of the busy weekend at the 2018 Hidden Earth conference which boasted a wide range of ...
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Hidden Earth 2018 video salon

Making videos underground is becoming easier with very compact and versatile equipment within many cavers' budgets, but making GOOD videos is still as much a ...
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How to piss off the French in one easy lesson – and why voles are important

Linda Wilson picked up some intriguing tips at the British Cave Research Association's 29th cave science symposium as well as drinking plenty of tea ...
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News: J’Rat 10th anniversary digging award 2018

31st August 2018 is the tenth anniversary of Tony Jarratt’s death and we would like to calculate how much new cave passage has been found in ...
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News: Descent 264 Now Available

Descent 264 is now available! If a copy hasn’t arrived with you, it’s time to head over to Wildplaces Publishing to subscribe now or if ...
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News: Repairs to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn Sink vandalism

Following the horrific vandalism in Mendip's Hunter's Lodge Inn Sink two years ago, cavers have worked hard to repair as much of the damage as ...
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Book Review: The Archaeology of Darkness

By way of preface to Archaeology of the Caves of Ireland in 2012, archaeologists Marion Dowd and Robert Hensey brought together a number of specialists ...
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Book Review: The Anomaly

TV archaeologist Nolan Moore is in search of a mysterious cavern in the Grand Canyon, discovered in 1909 by Kincaid, a man who returned with ...
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From foot fungus to explosions under the stairs

Compare that with a Go Pro. The biggest Housing with one loading gave 5 minutes of film. With Guy Meauxsoone in Greece ( 1983) fiiming "Drowned river of Daracos". In fact Paul Atkinson did the cave diving filming as both Guy and I were novice divers.
Camera expert Sid Perou looks back over a career of often dramatic and sometimes risky filming adventures, including the risk of foot fungus, and explosions under ...
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News: 1960s Mendip dig makes it into print

Accounts of an archaeological dig on Mendip have appeared in print – 50 years after initial discoveries took place. Picken’s Hole is a small, partially ...
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British Cave Research Association Newsletter September 2018

In this newsletter ... * Annual General Meeting * Notice: Ghar Parau Foundation * BCRA Annual Review 2017 * Keeping in touch with BCRA Annual ...
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Film Premier: Tales from Cuthbert’s by Andy and Antonia Freem

Andy and Antonia have been making films for some time now, mostly about caves and caving. Many of their previous productions can be found on ...
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Hang Son Doong- the cave that built a village

Veteran caving film maker Sid Perou has teamed up with photographer Ryan Deboodt to produce a compelling thirty nine minute film about the discovery of the world's largest cave passage in Han Son Doong cave in Vietnam, the resulting development of tourism in the area and the beneficial affects not just for the local population but also for conservation. Shot on location earlier this year the film follows the impact of the area of the Vietnam war, early discoveries by British and Vietnamese cavers and includes stunning footage of the cave. Watching the film it's hard to believe Sid's contribution to the film, comprising over 50% of the footage, was shot using just a £400 handy-cam and a zero budget! ...
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News: Descent 264 Coming Soon

Descent 264 will be with you very shortly! If you’re not up to date with your subscription don’t forget that the lovely folks at Wildplaces ...
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Breaking News: British cave divers also rescued four trapped Thai rescuers in Tham Luang Cave

Photo courtesy of Chris Jewell
When Rick Stanton and John Volanthen surfaced in Chamber 3 of Tham Luang Cave on day 6 of the rescue to find four people waiting for them they first thought they'd somehow found the boys of the trapped Wild Boar team. In fact they'd discovered four lost Thai rescuers who had been trapped by the rising floodwaters. In the chaos of the early days of the rescue the absence of the men had been unreported and so had not been noticed by the Thai authorities and or the outside world. What followed was a dramatic and unparalleled "snatch" rescue mission perfectly conceived and executed as they dived the four men through three sumps to safety ...
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Site news: Sign up to receive email alerts each time we post a new article

We've just added a new feature to the site. Email alerts are a quick and easy way to get an email notification each time we ...
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Behind the scenes with the BCRC at the Thai cave rescue – Part Two

Emma Porter, the BCRC secretary, set up the crucial main communications centre so she had live contact with the divers and the surface support team. She was assisted by Graham Smith (right) from the Midlands CRO.
In the second part of Darkness Below’s interview with BCRC chair Peter Dennis, he tells Linda Wilson and Sharon Wheeler how disaster struck during the preparations for the final rescue dives. ...
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Behind the scenes with the BCRC at the Thai cave rescue – Part One

Peter Dennis, chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, is interviewed on BBC’s Newsnight by Evan Davis, with John Volanthen’s images of the stranded boys in the background.
While the eyes of the world were on the divers taking part in the Thai cave rescue, an unsung band of volunteers were beavering away behind the scenes to ensure that the divers had all the kit and assistance they needed. Peter Dennis, chair of the British Cave Rescue Council, tells the backroom story to Linda Wilson and Sharon Wheeler ...
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Review: Cave and Karst Science, August 2018 Issue

The August 2018 issue of Caves and Karst Science is now available. Volume 45, Number 2 carries five main articles; the first being a subjective ...
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Event: BCRA 29th Cave Science Symposium, Full Programme

The British Cave Research Association is pleased to announce the final details of the 29th Annual Cave Science Symposium to be held Saturday 13th October, ...
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Hidden Earth 2018 – Meet the Darkness Below Team

The Darkness Below team will be out in force at Hidden Earth 2018 in less than two weeks time, and we'd love to meet as ...
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Training: Cave Surveying Group Therion Training Course

The BCA Cave Surveying Group have just announced an Intermediate Therion training course. The scope of this training course is to improve the skills of ...
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Honoured ... Rick Stanton, Connor Roe and Chris Jewell (Photos by Linda Wilson) The British divers at the centre of the Thai cave rescue have ...
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Photos courtesy of the National Showcave Centre for Wales Cavers, no matter how carefully they abide by access arrangements, should always be conscious that for ...
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The European Speleological Federation have just released their December 2018 newsletter including news of Hirlatzhohle extensions in Austria, new board appointsments,  the 2018 Italian cavers ...
Read More
Angharad Brewer Gillham found herself a world away from her comfortable desk job in Switzerland when she joined the Rising Stars expedition in South Africa's ...
Read More
The following information has been released by South Wales Caving Club regarding a revised access route to the entrance of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1. Due ...
Read More
CavedIn ... Helena Trewhitt, Michael Rossiter, Daisy Ferreira and Olivia Evans (Photo by Sharon Wheeler) Third year PR students at UWE Bristol were asked to ...
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If it looks like you’ll be restricted to armchair caving over the festive season, make sure you get the latest copy of Descent to keep ...
Read More
Chesney the Chipmunk and Valentine the donkey go caving in Reigate. Peter Burgess was there to record the occasion! Cavers do some pretty daft things ...
Read More
Jeff Wade abseiling in Calf Holes, Yorkshire Dales. Photo courtesy of Rob Eavis
High Birkwith Farm is now under new ownership and potentially this could cause problems for access to Calf Holes, Browgill, Old Ing, Birkwith, Dismal Hill ...
Read More
The Speleological Union of Ireland has warned of safety concerns after two trips into Cascades Caves in Co. Fermanagh were cancelled on Saturday. The boulder entrance squeeze is ...
Read More
Curious chalk inscriptions on the walls of an ancient stone quarry in Surrey are being systematically recorded for the first time as part of a ...
Read More
The tenth J'Rat digging award has gone north of the border - for the third time in ten years. The 2018 winning entry was Uamh ...
Read More
One moment Angharad Brewer Gillham was sitting behind a desk in Switzerland. The next, she's in South Africa on the prestigious Rising Stars expedition helping ...
Read More
Descent 265 will be winging its way to you very soon! If you’re not up to date with your subscription now’s the time to remedy ...
Read More
As part of a new series on classic caving books, both fact and fiction, Linda Wilson reviews Styx, a 1982 adventure novel with a surprisingly ...
Read More
Twll Du before and after. Photo courtesy of Caves and Cave Diving on Facebook
The Ogof Draenen landowners have spoken for the first time following Cadw’s announcement of the closure of a controversial access into the cave system. The ...
Read More
CPC Webcam at Horton
Craven Pothole Club have gone live with a River Ribble monitoring webcam in Horton. Anyone viewing the sites will be able to view live feeds of ...
Read More
As part of a new series on classic caving books, both fact and fiction, Alan Jeffreys takes a look at Underground Adventure by A Gemmell ...
Read More