Welcome to Nottingham University Caving Club
We are a medium sized, non-elitest, friendly club where new members are always welcome, almost all of our members start as complete novices at the club. We run regular weekend trips around the UK with the opportunity of Easter and Summer expeditions abroad. We cater for all abilities and provide instruction and equipment free of charge to our members (not many clubs can boast that!). Trips have a relaxed and sociable atmosphere, providing caving opportunities for beginners, as well as intermediate and expert cavers.
The Caving Club offers excellent opportunities for you to do practically any outdoor activity you want, push your body to the limit and expand your horizons beyond anything you have ever done before. Due to the varied nature of caving there are elements of many outdoor sports thrown into the mix such as climbing, scrambling, hiking, abseiling, swimming, diving and mountaineering to name but a few. Caving is not all tight and nasty! (These caves are termed 'miserable' and we actively avoid them!) There are many spectacular sites to see underground: from vast waterfalls, stunning chambers to beautiful formations. Don't believe us? Then check out our photos here or on our Facebook group (see below).
What other club can boast to offer you the oppurtunities to; travel the world, walk on vast glaciers high in remote mountains, relax in the Mediterranean sun, descend over 1000m below the planet's surface, walk through cave systems hundreds of kilometres long, go where no human has ever been before, travel through massive underground chambers formed millions of years ago, walk at altitudes of 2000m+, see extremely rare Sites of Specific Scientific Interest, see vast underground lakes, rivers and waterfalls, visit caves that have lain undiscovered for millenia, meet some of the rarest creatures on the planet, travel down fast flowing white water rivers, spend time in the Alps and return you home safely just in time for tea and medals?
The Caving Club provides all the equipment, training and expertise to introduce newcomers to the exciting outdoor sport of caving and potholing. Introductory trips are run early in the year suitable for for all skill levels, especially novices. An on-going programme of training combined with the accumulation of experience gained underground will then allow new members to attempt the more challenging and technical caves, and ultimately to pass on the knowledge to others. The club is small and friendly, allowing trips to often be tailored to each participant's strengths whilst maintaining a high level of experience throughout the club. All of the training you might need is provided free of charge and no sports membership is required. As caving areas are located in beautiful parts of the country, a weekend with the Caving Club can often be the ideal opportunity for a break away from the stresses of university and city life.
Furthermore, every Wednesday the Caving Club hosts a social. The events are varied, with relaxed pub meets, bar crawls, ice skating days, days out at the races, meals out and film screenings to name just a few. These are the perfect opportunity to get to know club members, find out more about upcoming trips and to hear stories of past caving adventures. Sign up to our mailing list or check out our Facebook page (as stated below) for more details and ultimately joing Caving this year for an experience you'll never forget!
Nearly everybody has heard of caving and many 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 a little confused or your enquiring mind has still not had its fill you can a) email the committee on email@example.com or b) come 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. I myself have never been trapped underground with 5 scantily clothed females (a la Descent) anyway...
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 a trip for anyone.
How do I join the club?
You can join ...at Freshers' or Refreshers' Fair, at Student Activities in the Portland Building, or here 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 £7.50 membership fee.
How do I sign up for a trip?
Come along to a social a couple of weeks before a trip and pay the trip fee. Information will be sent out via email and website to let you know when.
How much does caving cost?
A typical trip costs £40 but we run 4 discounted beginners trips for you to try out caving. These cost only £35 for 2 days caving, accommodation, food and transport!
This is exceptionally cheap, for our Athletic Union we estimated the cost of caving at £1500 each for a group of four* to go caving and potholing per annum! The club has over £15,000 worth of kit!
*an average caving group size, thus splitting communal equipment such as rope and maillons four ways.
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?
Caves are not all tight and squeezy, we term these caves 'miserable' and try to avoid them. You will have to duck and crawl occasionally, it really depends how severe your phobia is and if you want to defeat it. We took a claustrophobe caving on two trips last year and they were fine.
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 'chokes', 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 loads 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)