Author Topic: Access - what is best practice  (Read 7622 times)

Offline Simon Wilson

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1645
    • IC Resin Anchor
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #25 on: November 04, 2015, 12:55:49 pm »
O.K. let's not get too far off topic and let's not get pedantic.

Let's just say that the caving region of South Wales is probably slightly more remote from large numbers of people than is the Dales.

I am saying that there is a big difference in attitudes to access and the proximity to population is not a significant factor in explaining it.


Offline ttxela

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 796
  • WCMS, PDMHS
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2015, 12:56:07 pm »
Isn't there a cave/mine somewhere that you access from the cellar of a pub? That seems like best practice to mje  :beer2:
If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this post you can contact our helpline on 0800........

Offline AR

  • Black shadow
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1057
  • PDMHS, ATAC, ANHMS
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #27 on: November 04, 2015, 02:03:24 pm »
Isn't there a cave/mine somewhere that you access from the cellar of a pub? That seems like best practice to mje  :beer2:

Hodgkinson's Hotel in Matlock Bath may be the one you're thinking of. A close second to my mind is the  small mine in someone's back garden about a minute's walk from the Barleymow, takes about half an hour to look round then it's back to the pub for beer and chip butties! :thumbsup:
Dirty old mines need love too....

Offline Oceanrower

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 303
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #28 on: November 04, 2015, 09:12:24 pm »
Hunter's Lodge Inn Sink is in the car park.

Is that near enough?

Offline Bob Mehew

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1217
  • breaking knots is fun
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #29 on: November 05, 2015, 05:56:58 pm »
I may be considered paranoid but committees running ACBs could change character, albeit not overnight.   What might be easy access today may not be so next year or in 10 years time.  Best practice in my view should include a cast iron guarantee that access will always be available and be subject to the will of all cavers.  The past 50 years has had a number of close calls where cliques or persons have dominated a given scene and access become restricted to greater or lesser extent.  But I also am aware of a fair number of restricted access situations having been opened up.   

Offline David Rose

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 630
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2015, 09:39:58 am »
One of the things that frustrates me is the age restriction imposed at many sites - including  all the Cheddar area caves such as Longwood and GB; Aggie and many others, where visitors must be at least 18. My son (almost 12) has become a keen and capable caver. We live in Oxford. If we want to cave somewhere doable in a day we are left with very few options: with the best will in the world, wonderful as it is, Swildon's Hole can get a little over familiar. My best practice would remove these curbs.

Offline droid

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2226
  • WMRG
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2016, 05:38:32 pm »
Go to the Peak then.
No longer 'Exceptionally antagonistic' 'Deliberately inflammatory'

Offline andrewmc

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
  • EUSS, BEC, YSS, prov. SWCC...
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #32 on: January 10, 2016, 01:08:54 am »
Rather than getting tied down in the actual messy pragmatic details of reality, I am going to try and consider what you might want from an access scheme. How you actually achieve whichever of these you decide you want is left as an exercise to the reader... :read:
I'm going to start from the assumption that these decisions are being made by a body which has absolute control over the cave (they can give access to anyone or no one as they see fit).

Firstly, you need to decide a principle on which to decide access matters; I propose this could be either:
a) access should never be granted unless it is shown the access _should_ be granted, or
b) access should be granted unless it is shown the access _should not_ be granted.

Then there are various possible motivations for allowing or denying access. You may wish to restrict access:
1 ) for specific significant conservation reasons (delicate formations, bats, scientific interest etc, not just polish)
2 ) to prevent queuing/'too many people'
3 ) to prevent use commercial groups
4 ) to prevent use by the 'general public' (to allow only 'cavers' to use the cave)
5 ) to prevent use by the general caving population in such a way to give preference to your own club/group etc, either in return for managing access or as a reward for effort expended in the cave
6 ) to prevent use by less experienced cavers for non-conservation reasons, where that cave is suitable for novices
7 ) to prevent use by 'non-cavers' for safety reasons (dangerous entrance area)
8 ) to prevent use by, in general, anyone, for safety reasons that apply also to cavers (dangerous cave)
9 ) to prevent anti-social behaviour such as littering
10 ) to allow only your own organizations and other specific people to carry out a generally beneficial activity such as digging

I'm sure people can think of more...

I think access should generally be generally be granted unless it is shown that it shouldn't be (b), although I can see arguments for (a). I think everyone would agree on (1). I would only agree with (2) if a completely fair an equitable system was designed that didn't benefit, for example, people who were in clubs/knew the access people/were known in the caving community/were more experienced. (3) I am not sure about; provision should be made for both commercial and non-commercial activity. (4) I am not able to justify on its own - if there are safety considerations etc then that's different. I would hate to think that you can only be a 'caver' if you wear an oversuit, belong to a caving club and 'cave' in a prescribed fashion... (5) I would in general disagree with, but if that's what you want then at least state that openly. (6) I would also disagree with; if there is no objective reason not to have novices in a cave then I would argue everyone should have the same right of access regardless of experience (I can think of specific reasons though). (7) seems reasonable to a degree but things like the notices at the entrance to Porth yr Ogof (not actually been in the cave, just seen the 'you will die if you are not a caver!' signs) would be preferable to me than just a gate where possible. (8 ) needs to be treated with EXTREME caution, as in general people should be allowed to do risky but not excessively things (like cave!) but if the cave is a deathtrap and this is not obvious then some kind of restriction (even if again only a sign) seems reasonable. (9) is also a tricky one; I think there are sometimes existing laws and powers to deal with this? but sometimes some people do just go and ruin it for everyone else. (10) makes me concerned; I prefer to think that we all share rights and responsibilities for caves, and that while it is obviously rude (and therefore worse than illegal in Britain) to steal someone's dig, I don't like the idea that it is "XYZ's" cave.

To me 'open' access implies that a novice but keen and competent caver from a distant country who speaks no English should be able to read a (translated) description, rock up to the cave and get on with caving. If the guidebook 'tackle requirements' includes 'adjustable spanner' then that seems fair to me - it is easy for anyone to obtain, and it doesn't make any difference who you are or who you know.

PS As a side note it was a surprising, at first, how different caving access and climbing access are. In climbing a significant fraction of venues have 'unknown' legal status in terms of access (but have historically been fine). Some very popular venues are known to be technically trespassing but are basically OK-ed by the BMC because there has never/rarely been a problem, with the caveat 'if asked to leave do so. A photo of you climbing in front of the 'no climbing' sign at the popular Tirpentwys bolted sport crag (so about as obvious as British crags come) is de rigeur... There is a large section in the Rockfax Dorset guide (a high-quality professionally published guidebook) detailing the bits of climbing around Lulworth owned by an estate who do not allow climbing with the text on every page (paraphrasing) 'climbing is not allowed, this information is for completeness only! Outside of I think a single venue close to London, there are no climbing crags where climbers pay anything to climb. I assume the major difference in caving is that it is much harder to blow a crag up than just block up an entrance...

Offline RobinGriffiths

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 892
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #33 on: January 10, 2016, 01:36:04 am »
I'm going to start from the assumption that these decisions are being made by a body which has absolute control over the cave (they can give access to anyone or no one as they see fit).

Nice. Sounds like Maxwell's Demon.

Also I think to add to your first list: reasons to allow/deny access is simply
* To control access - as an end to itself, however perverse.

Robin

Offline Dave Tyson

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • WCG/UCET
    • Wirral Caving Group
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #34 on: January 10, 2016, 11:45:24 am »
Something which is relevant but hasn't been mentioned before is access to information. e.g. surveys. Although the situation has improved over the years and sites like cavemaps.org have helped considerably there still a lot of significant information which is kept hidden and out of reach to the ordinary caver/mine-explorer.  Mine surveys, in particular, tend to be thin on the ground - although mine abandonment plans can be found these often bear little resemblance to the current topology :-(

I am sure a lot of this was due to clubs wishing to control access to any areas on their patch and keep the results of man-hours of effort surveying to themselves. Who knows, if another group 'B' studied the survey then they may be able to dig a different entrance and  circumvent access restrictions by group 'A'. There is also the 'if you want the info then you have to join our club' tack to gain new members - although for some clubs even membership will not let you see the 'crown jewels' - you have to be a member of the inner-cabal.

I don't think there is an easy solution to the problem,  but if the BCA could persuade clubs to donate copies of surveys,  sources of information etc to the BCA library then that would be a start. Ideally everything should be freely available on the web, but the existing copyright laws fail to help, especially in the case of orphaned works. Maybe club librarians could make a New Years resolution to look through the historical stuff and make it available either directly or via the BCA library. In the case of documents where the author has died 'ophaned documents' then just bite the bullet and publish!

Dave


Offline martinr

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1361
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #35 on: January 10, 2016, 11:52:32 am »
.........make it available either directly or via the BCA library......

You mean like this? and this

Offline Dave Tyson

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • WCG/UCET
    • Wirral Caving Group
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #36 on: January 10, 2016, 12:13:23 pm »
.........make it available either directly or via the BCA library......

You mean like this? and this

I knew of the Mendip registery,  but had totally forgotten about the cave registry archive -  so it was useful to have reminder!

Sadly neither have any stuff on North Wales...

Dave

Offline Jenny P

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 627
Re: Access - what is best practice
« Reply #37 on: January 11, 2016, 06:35:48 pm »
For the record, the Peak District National Park is completely surrounded by conurbations and it's been said that there are about 19,000,000 people living with an hour's drive of the National Park.  So DCA has a right job on its hands when it comes to access and satisfying, not only the CLUB cavers, but the very many cavers who belong to no club and just want to go caving with minimum hassle whenever they feel like it.

The Derbyshire Key system does work very well in that it satisfies safety concerns re. non-cavers having accidents down the hole and it's easy to include a large adjustable spanner in your caving gear.  However, this does fall down where the owner insists on some other system, which may vary from:
1.  call and ask permission - usually freely given;
2.  call and ask permission and pay a small trespass fee - quite common and causes no problems;
3.  go through some kind of permit system required by the owner, normally because of insurance requirements, conservation issues, concerns about liability, etc. - luckily not very common in the Peak but, given that it's more hassle, you can usually get your trip with a bit of prior planning.

As Bograt says, we don't have that much "Access Land" in the White Peak where the caves are and almost no caves which would be affected if CRoW were to be confirmed as applying to cave access.  However, there is a long tradition in the Peak of insistence on access rights when it comes to walking the moors (don't forget the Great Trespass before the War when some chaps went to gaol for trying to insist on their rights to walk in the open air), which is probably why Derbyshire cavers have voted at DCA meetings in the past solidly in favour of access to caves being a right under CRoW.