Author Topic: Access - what is best practice  (Read 7580 times)

Offline Badlad

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Access - what is best practice
« on: November 03, 2015, 05:49:39 pm »

I was recently asked to give an example of a cave access system which demonstrates best practice.

What is best practice?

Quick and easy to gain permission? Non restrictive to types of cavers? Management of conservation and public safety? What else?

Who does it best?

Offline Goydenman

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2015, 05:58:46 pm »
Ones where cavers have built relationship with the farmers/land owners and enabled all year round access for all other cavers. Only restrictions being to shut any gates into fields and be sensible parking ?????????????

Offline Alex

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2015, 06:05:54 pm »
As Goydenman says.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Online badger

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2015, 06:49:33 pm »
a very open ended question. 
with a 100 answers.

Offline bograt

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2015, 08:16:54 pm »
I would go for one where all the negotiation and preparation has been done before hand, Landowner happy, Access Body happy, any Regional Bodies happy, the caver just has to turn up at the cave and go down --?

All the caver has to do is remember to take an adjustable spanner and BE SENSIBLE!!

Sound familiar anyone?----
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2015, 08:22:37 pm »
I reckon it might be impossible to define. Best practice from what viewpoint might be a good starter. Best practice from the general body of cavers' viewpoint would be access where it's free, easy, non-bureaucratic, parking/changing facilities etc.. Best practice from a conservation point of view would be at the other end of the spectrum.

Offline bograt

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2015, 08:47:51 pm »
Good point Cap'n

Context is all important, so is region from the point of view of attitude.  :thumbsup:
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Offline Badlad

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2015, 09:09:13 pm »
Sorry I'll narrow it down a bit.

The question was aimed at what cavers think of as best practice.  Let's assume that there is harmony between the Landowners, Cavers and the Access Controlling Body on this one.

I agree that the Derbyshire key arrangements are excellent, but I was thinking more of controlled access systems that are run by a group, council, club, or association.  I believe there are between 20-30 Access Controlling Bodies in the UK - Which are good examples of best practice, especially with regard to how cavers in general perceive them?

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2015, 09:21:22 pm »
Thank you - makes responding FAR easier!

I'm biassed, but regionally (SW) I think the ACBs that do a good job, both for cavers and conservationally for the cave(s), are: BEC/St. Cuthberts Swallet, MCG/Upper Flood Swallet, FCQMC/Fairy Quarry Caves, CCC/Longwood, Charterhouse, Rhino, GB Cavern. There are others. In terms of caver-friendliness, though, the easiest ACB/goodwill arrangement is probably Swildon's Hole, where a token gesture of a solitary pound gets you across private land to gain entry into 10km of passage.

Online Fulk

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2015, 10:46:43 pm »
How about free and unfettered access to the caves of East Kingsdale as a good case in point; you just roll up and go caving.

Offline bograt

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2015, 11:01:51 pm »
How about free and unfettered access to the caves of East Kingsdale as a good case in point; you just roll up and go caving.

Sounds wonderful, doe's it really happen?--
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Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2015, 07:21:29 am »
Here's an unusual example from my own experience (which I think I've mentioned before on this forum but which is germane in this topic). Many years ago I was fairly active for a while on Mendip. I was in the Wessex one day and mentioned how it'd be good to have a trip in Reservoir Hole. This was met with disdainful guffaws from the large group of Wessex members in the hut at the time.

They said I'd got no chance - the only way in would be to persuade Willie Stanton to let us have a key. Even local cavers had been repulsed (they said) so I might as well forget it.

I didn't know Willie Stanton and he didn't know me. But I wrote to him (as it said in published access information) and got a lovely letter back immediately which could not have been more helpful. On the agreed date we went to his house to collect the key and he gave us loads of useful information. We had a great trip and when we returned the key that evening we had a long and enjoyable conversation about the cave. He was a fascinating bloke to chat with.

Badlad's post above mentioned how cavers "perceive" access arrangements. The above is perhaps a good example of how incorrect perceptions can (paradoxically) be a good thing. Reservoir Hole at the time received very little traffic (good for conservation) because only those who really wanted to see it would make the effort of writing a simple letter.

I wouldn't necessarily give too much weight to how cavers "perceive" access arrangements as this isn't always a good indicator of the real situation. There are more important aspects to focus on.

Offline Simon Wilson

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2015, 07:28:08 am »
Good point Cap'n

Context is all important, so is region from the point of view of attitude.  :thumbsup:

 :thumbsup: Spot on Bograt.

There is a massive North/South divide in mindset. In the northern region it goes back to the Lancaster Hole incident which set a red line on gating.

I can't explain the attitude down south but it's obviously very different.

Offline ah147

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2015, 08:25:30 am »
Holme Bank is owned by a commercial business.

First time you want access, turn up during office hours and fill out an indemnity form (only necessary for the person booking out the key).

After that? Ring up, key will be left in an accessible place. More notice is good but he'll move heaven and earth to try and get you in sometimes!

He's even dropped off his personal key at my house when I booked late one evening and he was driving past.

Small donation to charity for access too, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

If you want to get in when another group is in, he puts you in contact with each other to make arrangements.

I can't think of a better way to administer access to a gated site.


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Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2015, 08:29:58 am »
There is no "best practice". It's all a matter of individual preference. No one system is going to be necessarily better or worse than another. Unofficial unwritten access agreements might be good in that they don't require any formalities, but might be bad in that they can be withdrawn at any time without notice. A leader only system might be good in that the cave is really special and superbly preserved and you get special treatment from the leader, but might be bad in that access is limited. It's not a question that can possibly be answered with any confidence. So why are you asking?

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2015, 08:40:49 am »
I can't explain the attitude down south but it's obviously very different.

I'll have a go!....

Mendip is tiny - only about 160sq km - and it is within a half hour drive of the cities of Bath, Bristol and even less time for the residents of Wells, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet and Weston-super-Mare, plus the villages on the flanks. It is a weekend playground for a combined diaspora in excess of 650,000.

The caves are not extensive nor too numerous and most are in different private ownership or on nature reserves administered by various organisations, there are no long walks to reach any of them.

Combine the above with a strong conservation ethos and it is easier (I hope) to see why some are gated and locked; many are not.

Prior to the interwebnet it was a tad of a palaver to gain access; nowadays it is FAR easier.

Offline jasonbirder

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2015, 09:03:20 am »
I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you Cap'nChris as you talk alot of sense...

But I suspect the catchment area of Sheffield, Derby and Manchester surrounding the Peaks is significantly larger than that around the Mendips...and it is nearly all within a National Park and yet there is more of an open and easy access philosophy there...

Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2015, 09:06:20 am »
So why are you asking?
May I hazard a guess that it is in connection with the CROW news item in the recent BCA newsletter?

Offline caving_fox

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2015, 09:10:31 am »
How about free and unfettered access to the caves of East Kingsdale as a good case in point; you just roll up and go caving.

Sounds wonderful, doe's it really happen?--

Absolutely!
The only downside is that most of the caves are fairly simple (ish) SRT to the sump and back.

As a caver: the best practise for me is somewhere like Kingsdale/Swildons where I can just turn up when I feel like it, and go caving. The more caves like this there are, then the less likely it is that I'll be stuck in a queue because it's the only one easily 'open' in the area.

2nd would be places like OFD/CCC controlled where it's simple and open to obtain the key. More or less turn up on the day with a club and ask.

Anything that involves emailing/writing beforehand, let alone receiving a key in the post, is distinctly a 3rd option, but better than secretive if you know the right person type solutions.

As a conservationist, which I'm not but I like pretties as much as anyone else, then obviously some equitable scheme of reducing access to 'manageable' numbers is understandable, hence I've no real complaints about permit/keys.
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Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2015, 09:22:30 am »
Good point Cap'n

Context is all important, so is region from the point of view of attitude.  :thumbsup:

 :thumbsup: Spot on Bograt.

There is a massive North/South divide in mindset. In the northern region it goes back to the Lancaster Hole incident which set a red line on gating.

I can't explain the attitude down south but it's obviously very different.

Yes - Bograt has an excellent point there. And yes, the Mendip scene is quite different from up here in the Dales.

That Lancaster Hole "incident" was more of an "extended period" - and is a fascinating aspect of British caving's history. I knew the late George Cornes very well and his tales of that era were both hilarious and thought provoking.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2015, 09:24:47 am »
I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you Cap'nChris as you talk alot of sense...

But I suspect the catchment area of Sheffield, Derby and Manchester surrounding the Peaks is significantly larger than that around the Mendips...and it is nearly all within a National Park and yet there is more of an open and easy access philosophy there...

It is marvellous :-)

Online Fulk

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2015, 09:47:38 am »
Quote
How about free and unfettered access to the caves of East Kingsdale as a good case in point; you just roll up and go caving.

Errr . . . I meant West Kingsdale.  :-[

Offline Simon Wilson

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2015, 11:41:32 am »
I can't explain the attitude down south but it's obviously very different.

I'll have a go!....

Mendip is tiny - only about 160sq km - and it is within a half hour drive of the cities of Bath, Bristol and even less time for the residents of Wells, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet and Weston-super-Mare, plus the villages on the flanks. It is a weekend playground for a combined diaspora in excess of 650,000.

The caves are not extensive nor too numerous and most are in different private ownership or on nature reserves administered by various organisations, there are no long walks to reach any of them.

Combine the above with a strong conservation ethos and it is easier (I hope) to see why some are gated and locked; many are not.
...

Your only talking about Mendip. And what you say only partly explains the 'southern mindset'.

Much of the Dales is within an hour or so's drive of both the second and the fourth biggest conurbations in the UK. (Manchester and West Yorkshire)

I'm not familiar with any UK caving region outside the Dales but I guess there must be caves in Wales that are as remote from centres of population as most Dales caves and are quite difficult and long caves. So most of what you say won't apply.

Offline meanderthal

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2015, 12:10:12 pm »

I'm not familiar with any UK caving region outside the Dales but I guess there must be caves in Wales that are as remote from centres of population as most Dales caves and are quite difficult and long caves. So most of what you say won't apply.

I would have thought even more so. Using the above example of Manchester, Sheffield and Derby you have a combined population of 3.35 million. Compare this to the entire population of South Wales (Bristol Channel to Camarthen in the West and Brecon in the North) being 2.2 million.

Some caves, such as Lygad Llwchwr are well over an hours drive from the cities and many (black mountain, pant mawr, llangynidr) involve long walks. Most of these caves have no access restrictions whatsoever and many are rarely visited. Having said that, many of the caves are not so far from the larger urban sprawl of the valley towns (eg Ogof Rhyd Sych and Merthyr or Dreanen and Bleanavon). It is mostly these caves which are gated/have access restrictions.

Additionally, the population of the Brecon Beacons is ~10,000 higher than the Yorkshire Dales and around 6000 lower than the Peaks. Couldn't find data on Mendip.

Population data from Wikipedia...

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2015, 12:52:48 pm »
In which case I have absolutely no idea.