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Cave Conservation Rewards


Staff member

'If in doubt, bring it out'

Cavers and diggers take kit underground which can get left there, either by accident or design for years, even sometimes for decades.

There are abandoned dig sites scattered throughout the UK?s most popular (and obscure) caves and even the most conscientious of cavers have patches fall off their suits or food wrappers worming out of holes in pockets unnoticed. All of which, over time has accumulated into a right old mess in many of our caves and disused mines.

It?s easy to cave past this rubbish as if it belongs there however the reality is that broken drag trays, sweet wrappers & lost knee pads etc simply don't and should be removed.

Thankfully many cavers 'do their bit'... The Buttered Badger Potholing Club for example recently decided to have a go at cleaning up some parts of two of Derbyshire?s most popular classic caves- Oxlow Caverns- East Chamber and North Rift in Giant?s Hole. They pulled 11 bags of rubbish out in just two trips.

Cavers on Leck Fell have also been busy removing cave clutter:


Discussions between the two have led to a new initiative to help clean up our caves, disused mines and 'above ground' caving sites - shake holes etc:


A significant prize fund valued at over ?1500 has been gathered supported by:

CAN Geotechnical Ltd http://www.can.ltd.uk/
The Buttered Badgers Potholing Club  http://www.butteredbadger.com/
The CNCC Conservation Volunteers
Mark Wright Training  http://www.industrialropeaccess.co.uk/
The Berger Book http://www.gouffreberger.org/
Hitch & Hike  http://www.hitchnhike.co.uk/
and www.UKCaving.com


(y) Thank you  (y)

Rewards will be given to those individuals, groups or clubs who help with the clean up, in recognition of their conservation efforts.

Want to get involved?? Simple - clean up some stuff that doesn?t belong underground or in a shake hole. The chosen cave (or disused historic mine) should be in the UK. Post a trip report detailing why you chose that spot, what was there and some description of the clean-up. Before and after photos, or at least photos of the stuff you pull out would really help demonstrate what has been achieved. It doesn't necessarily have to be half a dozen bulky bags of heavy kit, one small bag full of a small bits of plastic sweet wrapper is just as valid and just as important.

Please don't remove any active scientific, rescue or digging equipment - ask on UKC for clarification if required.

Entries will be judged by Badlad, Cap'n Chris & Mark R based partly on quality of report but mainly on how good the effort was and the results achieved.

Entries will be assessed regularly and multiple rewards may be given each week/month depending on popularity of this new initiative.

We hope cavers will want to take part, not just for the rewards (which incidentally are extremely good) but for the sense of satisfaction that comes from leaving a cave in a much better state than you found it.

Rewards will be proportional to the effort shown and dependent on what the prize fund contains at any given time.

Rewards will be available for collection from Derbyshire or the Dales by arrangement or will be delivered by caver post.

Cavers, Groups and Clubs may enter as many times as they like.

Trip reports will be taken in good faith - please don't pretend you've cleaned out a cave just to win a tackle bag.

Some of the rewards:


If you would like to support the prize fund, please do get in touch!



What goes in must come out? A tale of tourist conservation..

No, this isn't a report about sweeping tourists out of the cave, more a short tale of unplanned conservation on a tourist (or if you prefer, sporting) trip.

Earlier in June we were ploughing up the M6 late afternoon and cogitating as we quite often do on our evening ventures. Eventually we decided to pay a visit to the Ribblehead area and rattle off a few caves on the southern side. I'll spare the details of the other caves, but the second cave on the list was Cove Hole.

Arriving at a pleasing looking open hole we clambered down and soon found our way in to the cave  obstructed by two tubs, the skull of a menacing ram, branches, a bag or two and assorted barbed wire. A few minutes later and we'd cleared it all to one side and continued on our trip.

As we followed the pleasant stream passage we encountered yet more tubs washed in by floods. A few were stacked and we continued on our way. Once at the end and on the return journey, having collected a few tubs together and a big clump of barbed wire clinging to a stal, we were still thinking of stacking them to the side and leaving for another day. It was then that we had thoughts; we've brought a few this far, we've not got that many tubs, it's not far to the entrance, they got washed in easy enough it shouldn't be too hard to get them out...

A few minutes later and I was wrestling with a single tub (with rubbish inside) trying to squeeze it through a brief narrow section of passage. Quite how the water got it past this point is anyone's guess! Successfully through I turned round and couldn't see Rob, just a rather large pile of tubs (eleven in all) blocking the passage, the tubs occasionally moved back and forth but there was no way through, even moving cobbles had little effect. We had no choice but to break them down into more manageable chunks, even then it was like all-in-wrestling. Comedy moment over with we had a brief reprieve before arriving at the entrance crawl, of about 10m.

A further breaking down of the tubs at the entrance crawl occurred and with a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing all the tubs were successfully removed from the cave and neatly stacked by a wall to be collected at a later date. We hadn't thought about disposal when dragging it out and it was too much for two of us to lug across the fields.

A few days later we contacted Kay (CNCC Conservation) who in turn passed the information to Andrew (Natural England), he then managed to obtain permission for a vehicle to be taken near to the cave to effect removal of the rubbish. Almost 3 weeks after the initial trip I joined Ged (NE-volunteer) who was to drive the Polaris (plus trailer) and assist with the final removal. So a big thanks to all those who assisted with the final removal and last but by no means least the farmer for permission and understanding.  (y)


Staff member
I know this was posted by Inferus some time ago but it is just the sort of practice which we wish to encourage.  It was also posted after the original announcement.  Therefore you are eligible for a reward.  Details to follow and well done Inferus and friends.

Thanks to Sam T for moving the original post.


New member
I hope it does encourage others to do a bit and it also shows that regional councils (and higher bodies) can and do help too. The more that people post about conservation the more it will be seen as normal, which can only be a good thing.

Thank you Badlad - it's a fine idea and one to be applauded - and I read and type this on my birthday, bonus, calls for another  :beer:


New member
Daren Cilau is a wonderful place to explore and a challenging cave to push, with all of the remaining leads requiring considerable levels of engineering, perseverence and long term commitment.
In order to overcome the practicalities of undertaking long term digs many miles from daylight, a number of camps have been set up by various groups over the years.
The Hard Rock Cafe, 2.5 miles from the entrance, was set up in 1986 by a number of diggers, mostly from the BEC and Cardiff Uni, who came together, tongue in cheek, as ?The Rock Steady Crew?. It became the hard-working, hedonsitic base camp for a push through the silted constrictions of the Hard Rock Extensions up to 12 O? Clock High, Acupuncture and, ultimately, a dry connection to the divers? discovery, Ankle Grinder, and beyond. In the 90s the camp was taken over by Reading Uni CC and has become a popular venue for underground excursions by many Uni groups and others. Since 2000 digging activity has resumed with a mixture of old geezers and young blood (some even younger than 40!) working together on a number of long term digging projects.
In 1988 Rock Steady Crew established the Restaurant at the End of the Universe on the site of the divers? bivouac at La Plaza, 4 miles from daylight. This became a salubrious, homely base for exploration including the bone-dry, sweaty slog beyond Friday 13th down ?Still Warthogs? to DADES choke, Spaderunner and Dweebland.
Other, short-lived camps have been established by diverse groups at a number of locations, most notably Western Flyover.
An unfortunate side-effect of these camps has been the generation of large quantities of redundant kit.
This is not, as might at first appear, just a simple legacy of diggers moving on to other projects of just flaking out, but has been greatly exacerbated by casual campers who ?borrow? sleeping bags and other peoples? camp clothing and don?t seal them up, and passers-by who leave their own kit behind on the off chance that they might be back again some day.
A few years ago MadPhil Rowsell and Graham Johnson (BEC) started work on a major clean-up of the Restaurant.
MadPhil?s digging team The Fat Belly Boyes [sic] persevered until 2013 when, after an admirable marathon haul over many trips, they were simply left with a neat, stripped-down, functional camp.
In the intervening years the kit store at Hard Rock Cafe has become a daunting site, with hundreds of drums, bin liners and BDHs full of decomposing detritus from several decades.
As one of the old wrinklies who helped to set the camp up back in the 80s, and who still regularly uses the place as a digging base, I consider myself partially responsible so, in 2013, along with a huge amount of help from my fellow latter-day Hard Rock-based Daren Diggers, we began to clean the place up.
The first problem was identifying which kit was still in use - an easy task in some instances with names of long dead friends or others who have subsequently evolved into gargantuan, louche, barroom mountaineers, scrawled on drums of putrid, liquid sludge that was once their clothing.
Active cavers whose names appeared on kit were contacted and asked to remove their stuff.
That just left a tedious, revolting, stomach-churning, mould-and-ammonia-reeking rummage which took several camps over several months - opening absolutely everything and identifying and storing what was still usable and compressing mountains of composted sleeping bags, foetid trainers, rotten, mould-caked clothes, rusted gas canisters and rancid personal food hordes into over 300 rubble sacks, sucking out the ?air? and sealing them with snoopy loops making them fit to survive the watery delights of the Entrance Crawl.
A plea for help then went out to people who have used the Daren camps over the years to come and lend a hand, and a short note to the same effect was put in Descent magazine.
The response has been outstanding, with rubble sacks donated by Cambrian Caving Council, tacklebags given and loaned by numerous cavers and S&MWCRO, and the Chelsea SS granting permission for us to use Whitewalls as a staging post.
Clearly labeled dumps were set up in White Passage, Big Chamber and the start of the Entrance Crawl and the Daren Diggers, greatly helped by the Restaurant?s Fat Belly Boyes, CHECC and many others mucking in on tourist trips, slowly shuttled over 300 loads of bagged-up rubbish, together with miscellaneous junk found squirreled away en route, up to the Entrance Crawl and, generally with one tacklebag in front and another on a drag cord, out to daylight.
So what?s left?
A few heavy items are bagged up down at the Terminal Sump for divers who have already dived out with kit and have volunteered to take more. The Western Flyover camp is a rather surreal, ghostly time capsule of a place which is remarkably well preserved due to its small footprint, dry environment and lack of passing trafic. However, it should be removed. Apart from that there is a sprawl of rotten kit at the end of the Entrance Crawl, belonging to persons unknown, which should be removed.
A few people have suggested, quite reasonably, that there should never have been any camps in the cave.
That debate will run and run.
My own thought is that without the camps there would be no dry route beyond the Kings Road, many of the leads in the cave would never have been pushed. The cave would terminate at Friday 13th and the end would only be accessible to divers. Significant extensions in Agen Allwedd may not have been dug yet, as there were few indications of where uninspiring digs might lead until the Daren survey began to head west (watch that topic run!). Many well known cavers cut their teeth at the Daren camps and went on to do great things overseas. The camps have also been useful on rescues. 
Hard Rock is, once again, a clean, compact, efficient camp which is now more manageable in terms of rubbish removal and I for one hope it remains that way for people to enjoy and to use as a productive base camp for digging projects for years to come.
Many, many thanks to all the individuals, clubs and organisations who have helped so much with the clear-up - this has been an exercise which has demonstrated the considerable positive attributes of a caving community that, as always, pulls together when a hard, thankless job needs doing.


Staff member
Fantastic work and great write up.  I may even have left something at the Hard Rock Cafe myself back in those hedonistic days  ;) Great memories of wild times and hard graft.  You and the gang deserve a medal not just a reward or two.  Here's the deal..

I may have trouble giving out rewards retrospectively, so how about you organise one final big push, post it on here with a few photos if possible and we'll reward your good work with a goody bag of kit worth at least several hundred quid.  Thanks man.


Staff member
More gear has arrived to give away for the greater good of our caves. 

Inferus - please take your pick - any one item from the picture.  Good effort



New member
As there were two of us and neither having read the Gouffre Berger book we'll pick that.
Many thanks to UKC and the sponsors  (y)


Staff member
Keep this thread just for entries and the like.  Please use one of the other threads for discussions and comments if possible.  Thank you.


Staff member
The photo shows the Leeds and District Scout caving team with Andrew Hinde and Roy Holmes from a couple of years ago. The Scouts had recovered 5 mail sacs full of plastic bags and bottles from the main chamber of Ibbeth peril. This is an old project but it illustrates that you do not have to be a hard core caver to get involved in the UK Caving Conservation rewards.  More rubbish may have washed in again by now, if anyone is looking for a job....



Staff member
Hi 2xw, I'll do it for you now  :)


Could you tell us a bit more - what you took out and from where, thanks - and well done - rubbish out of a cave, excellent  ;)


Mark R

Well-known member
Taken from Carlswark on an evening trip with a fresher. Contents included lots of rotten old wood, smashed up bucket, miscellaneous fabric, a bag of rotten apples (?) and a load of cans of fosters (empty :[ )

That was the post from 2xW on Facebook. As discussed off air he has just earned himself a New style Petzl Spatha knife (http://m.petzl.com/en/Sport/Packs-and-accessories/SPATHA#.VczpXIp4XCQ)
Worth around ?20. Not bad for one nights work. Looking forward to seeing the next load from 2xW!


Had a trip down committee pot on Saturday, Brought out an old Mars bar wrapper and bottle top but unfortunately I did not have a bag to put the rotting mole into and it was in no fit state to climb out itself...

Any idea what all the piping is for at the bottom of the shaft? don't think it's been touched in the last two years?


New member
Since the start of this campaign Lugger has brought numerous items out of Norber Cave. He's far too modest to try and claim a reward for himself, so I'd like to nominate him.

The items recovered include old plastics bags, drinks bottles, empty fag packets, fag ends, used hilti caps, sweet wrappers, food wrappers and a whole variety of other assorted crap.  He's done a cracking job and deserves an award.

Mind you I am a little surprised he hasn't started to wonder how all this rubbish is getting into his tackle bag, I can only imagine he hasn't looked in the bag for the last four or five weeks and is still hauling the lot around with him.

Over the Hill

New member
Bottlebank said:
Since the start of this campaign Lugger has brought numerous items out of Norber Cave. He's far too modest to try and claim a reward for himself, so I'd like to nominate him.

The items recovered include old plastics bags, drinks bottles, empty fag packets, fag ends, used hilti caps, sweet wrappers, food wrappers and a whole variety of other assorted crap.  He's done a cracking job and deserves an award.

Mind you I am a little surprised he hasn't started to wonder how all this rubbish is getting into his tackle bag, I can only imagine he hasn't looked in the bag for the last four or five weeks and is still hauling the lot around with him.

Just found a load of old digging gear in Norber Cave, thought I had better remove it.  :beer: