Caving FAQs


Many have heard of caving and some have even been caving on school trips or with a youth club. Of course, compared to school trips the real sport of caving is radically different. However, many people do not actually know what the sport of caving is, what it involves or what you can gain from it. We have compiled a few frequently asked questions to help you understand a bit more.

If you are still have any questions you can contact us by email or Facebook or talk to us at a social or on a trip.

Do caves flood, what is the chance of being trapped underground?
It depends, some caves flood, most don't, caves that are known to flood are not even considered when the forecast predicts rain. Safety is our biggest concern when planning our trips.

Do I need any experience to go caving?
Certainly not! All training will be provided by the club. Trips are tailored to individual requirements and due to the vast numbers of caves there will always be trips for everyone. No-one in the club had done any caving before they joined, either! Later in the year, some trips will require skills that you will have learnt on previous trips, and so it's good to get out caving regularly and practise those skills.

How do I join the club?
You can join at Freshers' or Refreshers' Fair, at Student Activities in the Portland Building, or on our SU page. All you need is to be a member of the SU (all current students are automatically SU members) and pay the small £15 membership fee.

How do I sign up for a trip?
Come along to a social a couple of weeks before a trip or email us to check there is space on the trip. Then pay the trip fee to us in cash or pay here on our SU page. Information will be sent out via email and facebook to let you know when

How much does caving cost?
A typical weekend trip costs around £35 but we run 2 discounted beginners trips at the start of the year. These cost only £12 for a days caving and transport to and from the location. This is exceptionally cheap, particularly compared to what you would pay to a private company to try caving.

I saw the film The Descent, how similar is it to real caving?
It bears only one similarity:- the cave was dark.

Let's put it this way, the film had a 'white water rafting advisor' and a 'rock climbing advisor', but nothing for caving. The list of cave related errors and omissions for the film is hideously long, the most blatant error is that they were carrying ice axes. 'nuff said

I'm claustrophobic, is caving suitable for me?
The caves we go to are not all tight and squeezy - you will not get stuck!. These caves exist but we tend to avoid them (with the option of trying some when you are experienced and if you feel like a challenge). You will have to duck and crawl occasionally, it really depends how severe your phobia is and if you want to defeat it.

What does caving involve?
A difficult question, caving involves moving through a system scrambling over boulders, free climbing small pitches of a couple of metres, crawling through gaps in mounds of boulders, traversing rifts and ascending and descending ropes. To name but a few.

What equipment do I need to go caving?
Nothing special, just some comfortable underwear for the weekend, a towel, a sleeping bag (although we do have a limited number to lend) and essential toiletries.

EVERYTHING else is provided by us! This includes: headlamps, helmets, furries (onesies to keep you warm), oversuits, wellies, wetsocks, amongst other items.

What first aid cover does NUCC have?
Several of the club members are WFA HSE 16hr first aid trained. The SU organise first aid courses throughout the year, these will be advertised by the caving club. They cost £90 for WFA HSE 16hr, the SU pays £45, transport and some accomodation, depending on your level of club participation, NUCC may pay the other £45!

A handful of club members have had a grounding in cave rescue techniques and we are trying to organise some rescue training next year.

What is canyoning?
Canyoning is a little like caving, only without a roof and with a lot more water. Typically it takes place in an active stream canyon and progress is made by a combination of roped descents, swims, toboggans, walks and daring jumps. We mainly go canyoning on our summer trips abroad. Plus it's much warmer in France than cold old England. There are however a couple of canyons in Wales, Yorkshire and Scotland.

What is cave digging?
Cave digging is the general term for discovering, exploring and surveying new parts of caves. In Britain because most caves have been explored it involves the removal of a lot of clay just to get anywhere, hence the name. In Europe in areas such as Dachstein and Slovenia the caves have had far less exposure and have to be discovered first and then explored.

What is cave diving?
Cave diving is a dangerous sport involving scuba diving in water filled passages. NUCC does not go cave diving.

What is SRT?
SRT stands for Single Rope Technique. It is a method of descending and ascending ropes safely and (relatively) easily. It will not be required on introductory trips, but the club provides full SRT training before any trips where it is necessary.

What is the difference between caving and potholing?
Potholing is a type of caving where the primary aim is to ascend and descend ropes to reach the bottom of a cave. It is a more sophisticated form of abseiling and prussiking. The lengths of pitches in Britain vary from about 5 metres to 145m which is three times the height of the Tower Building. The largest underground pitch in the world is 603m. This one pitch (caves usually have lots of pitches) is taller than any building, and half the height of Ben Nevis! Pitches the club negotiate are generally about 20-30m in height.

Caving is a demanding and challenging group sport. Confined spaces are an occasional (and unfortunate) element of the sport but are usually avoidable or very short. Water, however is a much less avoidable element of the sport, and usually takes the form of shallow but refreshing streamways. These are the very streamways which have shaped the caves over thousands of years since the last ice age. Swimming is rarely necessary and is done in wetsuits due to the cold water.

When was the caving club founded?
To be honest, we don't really know, we tried to find out but the university archives were unavailable. However, a bit of Google action brought us an interesting archived newsletter of the BEC from 1947 refering to "Nottingham University Cavers". As it does not give a date the club was founded we chose 1948, the year Nottingham University College was granted university status as we are Nottingham University Caving Club.

Who is the club affiliated to?
The club is a member of the SU, the British Caving Association (BCA), the Derbyshire Caving Association (DCA) and the Council for Higher Education Caving Clubs (CHECC).

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    Yorkshire Dales
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    South Wales Caving Club's Hut