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Castlemartin Range West Access

Castlemartin Range West contains miles of limestone sea cliffs with the potential for new caves.  But it is in the part of the army firing range that is permanently closed off to the public.  The National Park Authority does run occasional organised walks through this restricted area, but you would have to remain inside their group.

I have now negotiated for authorised cavers to go prospecting on their own for new caves here.  This deal is exactly what it says it is.  It is not to go for ad hoc country walks, take along your dog or your friends, nor for camping or beach barbecues, or wandering off into the unauthorised areas of the firing range.  If new caves are found they should not be entered immediately.  Instead report discoveries to the landowner and Cambrian so that appropriate conservation measures and approvals can be put in place.  The whole place is an SSSI and of archaeological interest too.

To obtain a personal permit you must attend one of the ?range briefing sessions? which are on Thursday 21 May at 6pm or on Saturday 23 May at 10am.  The briefing session will explain all the safety rules and the access system in some detail.  Your permit will be valid until May 2016.  If you miss these two sessions there are no others on offer this year.  Simply turn up in good time at the gatehouse on the Merrion Army Camp and ask to join the briefing session.  There is no need to reserve your place in advance.

I believe that around ten cavers have already obtained permits at earlier briefing sessions.  When you use your permit for the first time, i.e. to gain entry on to Range West, you will need to take some ID with you like a passport.  The gatehouse will take your photo to make you a badge valid for one day.  At the end of that day you must sign out and hand back your badge.

This land is a work place for the army and other services organisations and they have first call over its use.  There are some seasonal restrictions to the cliffs due to nesting birds.  Please respect the privilege that we now have, and the rules that pertain, and we should then be able to extend this access system indefinitely.

Stuart France
Cambrian Caving Council
Access/Conservation Officer


Les W

Active member
That looks to have been a difficult nut to crack.
Well done Stuart, many thanks for negotiating this.  (y)
Just a reminder that any 2015 permits for cave exploration on Range West expire at the end of May 2016.

The remaining dates of the "Range Briefing" meetings at Castlemartin barracks to get a 2016 permit that is valid to end of May 2017 are:  25th March 10am, 21st April 6pm, 30th April 10am, 26th May 6pm, 28th May 10am.  Don't arrive late or they won't let you into the meeting.

There will be no more opportunities after that to get on to the authorised persons list until early 2017.

Access to Ogof Gofan, which is on Range East not Range West, has its own access arrangements which are to contact me via the email on the Cambrian Caving Council website with details of the proposed visit, and I will pass the request to the ranger who will authorise it, assuming it does not conflict with other groups or any military activities.  You do not need to attend a Range Briefing simply to visit Ogof Gofan.

Stuart France
Cambrian Caving Council
Access/Conservation Officer



Active member
You're doing a brilliant job on this Stuart  (y) keep it up.

I do find it difficult to consider the area SSSI, and Archaeological interest etc. and still allow the military to use it as target practice ----, but maybe that's just me over interpreting 'Potentially Damaging Operations?'--- :confused:
I went to the Range Meeting (AGM) recently.  Landowner is happy.  It seems that only four visits were made on to Range West (i.e. the closed off area the general public isn't ever allowed into) by cavers looking for caves so far this year.  There's miles of spectacular limestone cliffs.  Not all of it is by any means speleogenic-looking, but some is made of the right stuff.

The system for getting on to Range West - for cave prospecting only please - will remains the same as this year, and the dates of the next H&S briefings to get yourself on to the approved persons list are here:
Once you've attended any 2017 briefing session, signed the forms, then your permission lasts until May 2018 (eighteen).

The range will be fully open for recreation between 17 Dec ? 3 Jan, then 10 - 21 April, and between 29 July ? 28 August 2017 as these are holiday periods.  But still worth ringing the recorded updates 24/7 about closures to the public on 01646 662367 before leaving home to be sure it really will be open when you get there.

Please see the other thread about Ogof Gofan access.  That cave has its own booking system and doesn't require you to attend any briefing.

Stuart France


Active member
Apparently it's archaeology appeared in a previous issue - 22 (1993) - but it doesn't appear to be available online.