claustrophobia/fear and caving


New member
Hiya all,
I am just writing to ask a few questions. I am looking at getting into caving potentially on video it always looked amazing and have been caving a few times (enjoyed mainly apart from army adventurous training where I was lowered into a underground stream and water started rising up to my chest, with a 2 mile fully underwater sump in front of us), two things are holding me back though some mild claustrophobia/fear and being 21 stone with the shoulder width and body build of a rugby player. As someone else been in a similar situation to this and if so how did it affect you/ how did you deal with it.


Caving is a bit like hill walking. You're going for your own enjoyment, and the things that are challenging to you are very different than the things that challenge other people. I love the rain, but don't like walking in strong winds, and because I'm tall and light I find carrying heavy backpacks particularly off-balancing.

For you, you'll just want to start with caves that you don't find too claustrophobic - so probably nothing too squeezy or too wet. I'd look at joining a local club, as they'll have taken loads of beginners underground and will have a good idea of the trips that you might enjoy.

I hope you enjoy yourself, it's a truly wonderful hobby!


We have a fairly large young chap in one of my clubs, probably around the 20-24 stone mark. This does have some limitations, but he's done plenty of trips and really enjoys it. There are plenty of caves and mines locally that are perfectly ok for larger people, there are of course others suitable only for an anorexic ferret! Just need to chose the right places to go.

As Ari says, if you join a club, they are likely to know where is suitable.

What area of the country are you in? You'll probably get a few club recommendations on here for the right area, though obviously things are a little quite on the caving front with the lockdown...

Steve Clark

Active member
I?m quite large (6?2, 110-115kg) and do a bit of caving in the Dales. I?m bigger than the folks I cave with. Occasionally, I find tight bits of narrow (rather than low) passage that I struggle to get my torso through. So far, I?ve always managed to climb over with assistance. I?ve also had a bit of trouble getting an srt setup to work with being top heavy. I?ve resolved that now with some changes of kit.

Flip side, I?m quite useful for standing on to give someone a lift up! I?m also normally warmer than others.

Tony at starless river was very helpful finding me a good oversuit solution that works.


Staff member
Steve Clark said:
Flip side, I?m quite useful for standing on to give someone a lift up! I?m also normally warmer than others.

Hello Becky, welcome to the forum and welcome to caving  ;)

I'm the opposite, 5' 5.5" and under 10 stone.  Problem I have is I feel the cold badly and struggle with some climbs as I just cannot blummin reach.  Also, when I pick my bag of wet kit up (boots, suits, SRT kit, lights etc) after a trip am always surprised at how much it weighs - no wonder I get tired.

So cavers of all shapes and sizes have advantages over each other in different circumstances - we little 'uns are annoying in squeezes as we zip through, but as Steve says above we also need to stand on folks sometimes to get up climbs and the clattering of our teeth can get irritating  ;)

Re claustrophobia - I've never had a problem with this but am no fan of big pitches - what I find is the more I do them the better it is.  I don't really remember the squeezes I had little problem with but I do remember in a positive way the big pitches I did  :)

Good luck on your discovery of the underground, cheers, Pegasus



Well-known member
I have caved with many different shaped people in many caves and mines. The frisson of being in the cold wet darkness can be taken as mild claustrophobia, and can be overcome by frequent exposure. I have seen skinnies complain of being stuck and fatties breeze through, so mental attitude is a big factor. At the risk of being vilified mines are a great source of fun underground and generally tend to be at least burly miner in size! At the risk of being cheeky a lot of mine exploring groups have larger people than caving groups!
As for kit  it is worth getting stuff that fits and there are people out there who can make or modify off the peg for you.


New member
Hi all,
Thanks for all the nice comments and definitely put some nerves to bed. I live in barnsley and have had a look online and know I have quite a few clubs nearby.  Thanks again for all the help.
Becky :)


Active member
Choose your caves carefully!  I have found as I have got older that I tend to feel more claustrophobia in tight spaces. It feels a bit strange when one encounters something one sailed through years before and struggle (or fail) to get through. I think it has as much to do with flexibility as ability to compress the body and I certainly prefer squeezes where this plenty of room to move my arms freely.  A few years back probably in my late 50's I tried to go down through the Hallelujah Hole in Eastwater Cavern and wimped out. I knew I had done it before. I did manage to do a round trip though managing to just get through coming from the other direction.  When I looked at my log I saw that I had described it as 'rather tight' at the  age of fifteen.

ditzy 24//7

Active member
I'm  plus size caver. i don't really get claustrophobic however some spaces are trickier than others, including a few i just cant fit through. there are plenty of places you can go though. also if you do suffer with claustrophobia there are plenty of larger caves/ mines to visit, some easy walking and others using SRT (rope work).


Well-known member
As you get older your ribcage does solidify. But youngsters can fit through all sorts of unlikely looking things.