After The Show.


Staff member
UKC is doing just fine despite Facebook et al. I've said many a time, UKC can't compete with the billionaires, what UKC relies on is YOU - posting, liking, engaging. This year we simply couldn't be at Hidden Earth, however if you were, consider posting about it here as well as on other social media - we will be a lot more grateful than the egos from silicon Valley.
UKC - By cavers, for cavers 😁


Well-known member
Hidden Earth 2023 was awesome!

Despite the later than usual announcement of the date, the lecture submissions were extremely strong indeed and some later submissions even had to be turned away and breaks narrowed to just 15 minutes due to the schedule being completely full! This may have been due to the lack of an event in 2020-2022, so quite a bit of ‘retrospective’ to report on, I guess we will find out next year.

It was a diverse schedule, with most UK regions well represented (including members of my own club flying the flag for northern England), and loads of expedition reports, technical, science, and general open discussion forums. It was very hard to choose which talks to attend. I found the talk on the future of club journals interesting (and clearly could have gone on much longer than it did). Rostam's talk on caver demographics was really thought provoking. I enjoyed the talk on the Quantocks, and nice to learn something about a very little known UK area.

The trade hall was a little quieter than usual (we missed you UKC) but still with some great stalls plus excellent photos and art on display. The video salon ‘cinema’ worked really well and there were some top-notch submissions; A couple of hours easily spent watching those on the big screen.

In particular, the CGI-type videos and lectures on 3D surveying highlighted that we aren’t far off being able to get the full visual caving experience in the comfort of your own home with a VR headset or extra-large screen. Hopefully, this technology will have been perfected even more in time for my retirement in a few decades :)

We had some of the usual equipment vendors (Starless River, Rude Nora, Robin Gray art and several others), and great to see our national caving magazine there with its new editors chatting to loads of people. Plus, club stalls, the SRT competitions, speleo-olympics and survey salon. So even though the total number of stalls and traders was lower than normal, there still felt like plenty going on.

Some of the usual competitions weren’t running this year due to limited volunteer resource and the last-minute confirmation of the venue, but this didn’t really detract too much.

The venue itself was good, ample parking, three lecture rooms and canteen in close vicinity and the trade hall a few minutes walk to stretch legs. The camping was less than five minutes walk off-site and was a nice flat school field. The venue’s catering team were smiley and friendly.

A great selection of beers and ciders on the bar as always. The Potholer was particularly good!

The weather was a little challenging; Thankfully dry and warm for Friday night setup which is the main thing (so at least we got tents set up in the dry), but turning to sporadic rain from lunchtime Saturday, and heavy rain on Sunday.

For the second time, the event embraced a live online lecture timetable, on display via screens at the trade hall, canteen/bar and outside the main lecture hall, along with availability on a smartphone. These seemed popular, as I saw very few people wandering around clutching paper timetables (which were also available as usual). Good to see Hidden Earth moving with the times.

I really enjoyed the stomp, and it was great to see so many student/younger cavers there, far more than I remember from previous recent years. For many of them I assume it will have been their first Hidden Earth. Dancing started earlier than usual, and the hall was packed thanks to DJ Basher. The slight whiff of sweat and beer lingered into Alan’s Scottish Roundup at 9:45 the following morning in the same hall.

I think that the total number of delegate-days was around 950, almost a record, which is really encouraging. I had worried that the long gap, and the late announcement might stifle the attendance, but this didn’t seem to be a problem. It was like we had never been away.

Lots of new names and faces too, which is always a good sign for the future. I really hope the success of this Hidden Earth will encourage more people to come along next year.

Overall, a classic Hidden Earth, with probably the most packed and diverse lecture schedule I have seen since I started coming to HE in 2007. The quality of the talks was very high. There were some nice modernising twists and innovative ideas, and I have a feeling that we will see more of that next year particularly if there is a little more time to promote/plan the event and recruit volunteers, including the return of a few of the omitted features including the survey competition and the delegates vote.

I had a great weekend, and a massive thank you to the organisers for making it happen. I have no doubt it entails thousands of volunteer hours across the entire team.


Active member
Cavematt: The trade hall was a little quieter than usual
It was a huge hall, that accommodated everything really well which also meant you could move round easily too. They needed it as the 'jumble sale' and video salon where great additions and needed a lot of space.

It would be good if everyone who posted on fb could put their photos on here 😁

Duncan Price

Active member
It would be good if everyone who posted on fb could put their photos on here 😁

HE2023 campsite Saturday 00:30 - I went to bed at 04:30.

HE 00-30.jpg
It was indeed a fantastic event.
Does anyone that was there happen to know who the artist was that did the great sketch of the caving huts of the UK? Would like to get in touch with them.


Well-known member
Sorry for being so stupid, Duncan – but what are those guys doing in your picture?
We were trying to get as many of us on the climbing frame/poles as possible. We did get a trike(and driver) balanced on the top eventually


Well-known member
The sketch was missing Cerberus & MNRC - are there any other current huts that weren't on it?

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
I wonder if any of the lectures were recorded in some way ? All that information presumably lost after the event. Even the text would do. Probably more suitable for the more scientific accounts. Sadly missed Andy Farrant on Hypogenic Caves and Peter's Quantock lecture. Still hardly a mass of images here. I really dont understand why this place gets so little in the way of image uploads.


Well-known member
I do hope there was not many complaints from the houses nearby. I was thinking we might not be invited back lol


I do hope there was not many complaints from the houses nearby. I was thinking we might not be invited back lol
I overheard a conversation from someone who overheard a conversation with the plod. Some locals were apparently worried that a traveller camp had set up in the school grounds, due to all the campervans parked up! :ROFLMAO:
Once they knew what it was, I'm not aware of any complaints, but that's not to say there weren't any.


Well-known member
OR thinks this forum is for photos. I don't think he has found the media section where I post my pictures! Quite a few photos on FB of the event and I took one or two for the record.


Active member
A lot of stuff is published elsewhere (Descent / club journals etc), but it would be good to have a central repository for audio visual presentations
I'd have to stop my persistent habit of swearing when interacting with cavers if anything I did was available online! I agree though I think there's a role for some of the presentations to be recorded, it sucks to have been a speaker at the event and not be able to attend half the talks I wanted to go to!