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Hidden Earth 2018

Alex

Well-known member
All Sound like a good idea BadLad. If it was hosted earlier in the year (when weather is better), then a few large marquees in a random field would do. Maybe a more festival format? Farmers can't charge that much to hire out a field. But if marquees are 20k a pop then I can see why 4 of them would be quite a bit expensive. I assume School in Mendip costs less than 80k?

Another option is we have our own smaller "Northern" hidden earth? And the main one remains in Mendip.
 

JoshW

Well-known member
good work Les!

absolutely buzzing with the change of weekend meaning I can go again!

Whilst a shame it's not up north, Churchill is a fantastic fall back option, and the effort put into finding an alternate venue is appreciated.

See you there!  :beer:
 

Les W

Active member
Alex said:
I think the tongue and cheek bit did not come across with the government comment.

Oh, it did. If I had considered it a serious comment it would have got a much more serious answer...  :-\

Alex said:
I apologise in not realising such a long time was spent, it just seems so unbelievable there is no place in the whole of Northern England and it always seems that it's down South almost every year.

Some people have very short memories. It was down south last year as it was supposed to be, as Eurospeleo (instead of Hidden Earth) was in the north. That was in 2016, only two years ago...
Two years before that it was in Leek, in the Peak District. We try to alternate around the four main caving regions (or as near as we can sensibly get...)

Some time before the event was branded as Hidden Earth it was held at UMIST (Manchester, nominally in the north) for seven years in a row...

Alex said:
I guessed Mendip was just picked again for ease. It just felt like we are being ignored up here.

Mendip was selected as a last resort, as we only have a few days until schools close for the summer, making impossible to secure a venue then...
As for being ignored then just cast your mind back only a short two years when the north hosted the largest caver event in Europe, ever...

Alex said:
The Mad Phil comment was if he needed help with the lecture (as I was on that expo)

But my point still stands, if that is your only reason for considering travelling south then perhaps you shouldn't  :tease:

Alex said:
Southport? Hmm not completely against it I guess.

We did hold it in Southport in 1998 I think, but the attendance was low and the location (Floral Hall) was not really ideal. Pretty sure it is quite expensive nowadays too.

Alex said:
Another idea which I assume from the above you have checked then is North East you got the North york moors stuff such as Excalibur pot.

I am happy to consider any venue, however there is a list of criteria
1. There must be the four large spaces we need, i.e. A large sports hall, a school hall or similar seating at least 300, a gymnasium or similar seating at least 200 and a smaller space for 50 to 80 persons.
2. They must allow camping on site, or camping must be very near by (walking distance)
3. They must allow alcohol!
4. They must actually want to let the premises out
5. The premises must be available on our chosen dates

Most other stuff we can work around.

However, to ascertain all of this, for each venue, takes on average a week or more. Remember, these are schools and their main business is educating kids, not running conferences so we are not their priority.
We need to make contact. Find the right person to speak with. Send them our requirements. Typically they will need to liaise with the (normally) privately run sports centre. Then check with the school management team. Then get back to us.
This is a lot of work carried out over the telephone and internet, from my office, when I really ought to be earning money and keeping my customers happy...
If the venue is considered suitable after this then an initial site visit is set up, and I have to travel there, in working hours again, to meet on site.
If after the site visit, the venue is still suitable, then we can get on with organising the event.

Typically, the situation has been that at some point in the above process, each venue has proven unsuitable or unavailable...

This has happened at sites from Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales.
When I found myself with only a week before the end of the school year I was left with no option but to ask if we could go back to Churchill. Even then it took almost a week to get confirmation that the site was still suitable, was available and we were welcome.
Had we not got the Churchil site then there would not have been a Hidden Earth this year...

I will continue to look for Northern venues, but it's a big job that takes a lot of time.
 

Alex

Well-known member
Again was not belittling your efforts at all. It sounds like a herculean task, and you do need some help. I can keep my ear to the group myself with your criteria in mind. I wonder what facilities Craven college offer... I shall find out, unless you have already checked? Of course this will be for next year now.

Some time before the event was branded as Hidden Earth it was held at UMIST (Manchester, nominally in the north) for seven years in a row...

Must say I joined caving world too late and never heard of this before.

As BadLad said its been in Mendip there 3 out of 4. I guess it's really worrying if Chruchill decide not to host it anymore, like you say we would then be completely stuck!

So for completely non-serious suggestion based on your criteria:

Gaping Gill

1. There must be the four large spaces we need, i.e. A large sports hall, a school hall or similar seating at least 300, a gymnasium or similar seating at least 200 and a smaller space for 50 to 80 persons.

Definitely space down there for all that, including snad cavern and Mud hall being smaller lecturing space.

2. They must allow camping on site, or camping must be very near by (walking distance)
It's only a short winch ride away.

3. They must allow alcohol!

Not stopped the Craven/Bradford before, so alcohol is allowed.

4. They must actually want to let the premises out

Well I think it's free or do Craven/Bradford pay a fee. Negotiations could be made

5. The premises must be available on our chosen dates

Depends on mother nature I guess.

Most other stuff we can work around.

I am sure there could solutions to minor problems like no electricity, thunderstorms and the like. You did say they could be worked around ;)

 

Les W

Active member
Badlad said:
When I first attended Hidden Earth, although I think it was called the BCRA Conference then, it was at UMIST in Manchester and it remained there for many years.

seven years if I recall correctly

Badlad said:
It's been at Churchill three out of the last four years if memory serves me correct with only the Eurospeleo event breaking up the run.  So there is a precedent for it to remain in the same location for many years.

It was at Churchill either side of Eurospeleo because our other "southern venue", at Monmouth in Wales, has actually been demolished, the entire school and the  leisure centre...
We also went to Monmouth when we should have been at Churchill as Churchill did major works and the venue wasn't available then.
I have been in communication with Monmouth very recently (as a result of looking for a venue this year) and am advised that the builders are suggesting the new leisure centre and school will be available in August 2019...

Badlad said:
I think in an ideal world we'd all like to see it move around the country or the regions and that is clearly the aim of Les and the team. 

It is indeed the aim, but venue availability is the main driver...

Badlad said:
I do worry, and from what Les says it appears to be true, that there just aren't the venues to run Hidden Earth like it has been in the past.

I'm not sure this is entirely true, the venues are there, but we need to make contact with them and convince them that they want us..
The real issue is that where we had regular venues, we had a relationship with them which made it easier to organise the event. We have temporarily lost one venue (Monmouth) and permanently lost another (Leek High)
We never really had a good permanent Northern venue so we are now only left with Churchill, but with Monmouth coming back on line, hopefully in 2020.

Not having regular venues actually increases the work load exponentially on already hard working volunteers.

We really do need to develop a "Peak District venue and a North venue, but there are major issues here as with smaller centres of population there are smaller schools, with less facilities...
The other issue is that all the regular venues have come about because a caver already had some sort of contact with those sites and was able to convince them we should go there. If there is anybody with a long relationship with any large school sites please speak with me...

Badlad said:
Is it time for a change of format?  To think outside the box and review what sort of national event can be delivered given the resources available. 

On this point I will say the following. Hidden Earth is very successful, it has a format that seems to work and I am minded to the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

However, like anything, it doesn't hurt to evolve, to keep it fresh and keep others interested.

Badlad said:
Should we consider a larger budget?

Cavers are notoriously "Careful " with their money, unless its beer, or gear.  ;)
The event currently runs on a total budget of something like ?10k. If we charged more then less would come, for sure. So the danger here is that a larger budget will be self defeating...

Badlad said:
A different time of year?

Having it at a different time of year is problematic. The current "window" for the event is after the summer expos and before Freshers Fairs. A later date will lose delegates (we were 20% down last year and only just slipped into October...)
Earlier will be during expo season and we lose not only delegates but talks too...

Fitting it around other existing events is an issue too.

Badlad said:
Do we need camping on site,

Camping availability has pretty much doubled attendance at the event so I think it's essential

Badlad said:
to run our own bar, a sit down dinner and three lecture theatres? 

I take you back to "if it ain't broke..."
However, there is always room to change formats, but the effect of this won't be known until it's done...

The bar makes a substantial surplus on the backs of the volunteers, that money is put back into caving.
Typically, Hidden Earth donates ?3k each year to Ghar Parau for expedition funding.
Money has also gone to BCRC for development work on rescue kit.
That money comes, predominantly from the bar...

The meal is there to ensure people that don't want to leave site (or cant, such as the staff) can actually get fed.

With three theatres we normally struggle to squeeze all the talks in. If we reduced the numbers, there would be less talks, but then a lot of people that offer talks would be miffed their offer wasn't taken up. I reckon they will be less likely to offer again...

Badlad said:
What about less lectures and more field trips, some caving even.  Does it have to be a single national event, what about a series of smaller events around the regions, Cavefest meets Eurospeleo perhaps, or tie it in with other larger outdoor events.  How about getting regional councils more involved and identifying the event with them. 

We used to have a regional based Cavers Fair that moved around the country each year. It was similar in concept to what you suggest, but it petered out with lack of interest and lack of willing volunteers. It would be good to resurrect it, but it needs committed personnel in all the regions.
And the support of cavers.

CSCC has run similar events in recent years, normally on a two year cycle, typically when Hidden Earth has been further north that year. These have been quite successful, but the key organisers are the same people organising Hidden Earth, so it still requires a commitment from people to organise

Badlad said:
There are always lots of options and ideas rather than the same old same old.  Happy to work on more ideas if you think it would help and good luck for this year.

As I said above, we will try anything, but it needs staff and support to make it happen. The management team is already overworked and although open to any ideas, the idea needs to come with it's own personnel to make it happen...

Thank you for your input and kind wishes
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
I suspect Alex's comments weren't entirely without tongue in cheek . . .

I'm fairly confident Les and team have done a very thorough job; like I posted earlier, all I can say is thanks.

I also suspect Les will have looked at this already (because I know it was also an early contender for Eurospeleo) but Lancaster University has a lot going for it (near the Dales, very easy access by road and rail, a recently reformed and enthusiastic uni club based there, etc).
I guess the issue there is that students may be back by the normal conference date.

(No need to reply Les, if you've already considered & rejected this option. You don't need to justify your choices to me  (y))
 

Ed

Active member
Maybe, just maybe to make Les's thankless task easier we as a community should consider

A) possibility of holding it in a non caving but easy access locality with facilities......Manchester, Brum, Leicestershire


B) paying a bit more.....sure cost is a big killer for many sites

C) accept an on site / provided bar rather than own
 

Alex

Well-known member
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Well clearly it is if you have had to spend 8 months of your life trying to find a suitible venue and still could not find anywhere.
 

Les W

Active member
Ed said:
C) accept an on site / provided bar rather than own

Just to clarify, the reason we run our own bar is that when we didn't, who ever did would never believe our consumption figures and the bar always ran out of beer, on one memorable occasion at 9.30pm on the Saturday eve, in a brewery (ok, it was no longer a working brewery but was the Brewery Arts Centre...).

Running out of beer at a caving event is the biggest thing that can possibly go wrong. To ensure this doesn't happen we run the bar...
Running our own bar also allows us to support caving institutions and the like, from the bar surplus, so if the bar was run out of house then that revenue stream would disappear...

Running the bar isn't a problem for us, it's venues allowing alcohol on site that is. I don't know if that's still the case but schools in Skipton and Kirkby Lonsdale were adamant that there would be no alcohol allowed on site.
I'd like to hope the Yorkshire Dales have moved on a bit from those temperance days but I don't know if they have...  :unsure:
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks for your detailed replies Les.  I hope it's not keeping you from work too much as I know you are 'a very busy person'  ;)

You make a lot of sensible points as always, but I have never been much of a fan of the saying 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'.  The struggle and hard work you've had to find a venue suggests there are some difficulties to overcome.  It's also a phrase that's often used in caving politics to keep things the way they are and how a certain group like them.  How about another well known phrase, 'a change is as good as a rest'.  ;)

See you in Churchill.
 

Les W

Active member
Alex said:
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Well clearly it is if you have had to spend 8 months of your life trying to find a suitible venue and still could not find anywhere.

The event isn't broken, it's one of the big success stories of UK Caving.
Finding suitable venues is a time consuming, expensive task, but not an impossible one. Several of the venues I approached were suitable, but already booked for other events, in fact we were lucky to get Churchill and had to opt for a different weekend than the one we wanted, due to a prior booking for the venue...

I will be shortly revisiting a few of the venues I already tried, to see if we can get a booking for 2019, however, I am still happy for suggestions (and even happier for others to actually check sites out and make contact)

I will reiterate a point I made in an earlier post, If you have a long term relationship with a suitable school (perhaps you're a teacher, site supervisor, governor, etc.) then please get in touch with me...
 

alastairgott

Well-known member
And the original topic can be found here, #20 downwards is where the discussion got up to back in March. https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=23242.msg292993#msg292993

With very few replies.
Dribs and Drabs of Tumbleweed in Comparison to these 31 posts in 28hours.
 

blackshiver

Member
Without Les (and other unsung hero's) doing what they do and just getting on with it UK caving would not be in the healthy golden age of discovery that it is now.

I think the aptly named speach by Roosevelt "The Man in the Arena" (Google it) applies to these people and hopefully we all know someone who puts more into caving than they take out.

The fact that Hidden Earth is taking place at all this year is a massive win for Les and the team. Thanks for the hard work guys.
 

moletta

Member
Cave Fest are running active caving events. Do they have plans to move north? Craven PC and Bradford PC give bi-annual opportunities to access Gaping Gill. Forest of Dean have held events. There must be others too.  If there is something you'd like to see added, why not offer to run it?

Hidden Earth provides the opportunity for cavers from all areas and abroad to meet in one place and find out about what has been going on in all aspects of caving. Oh, and drink at a bar where the task of drinking it dry at least presents a challenge!

Caving needs both.
 

moorebooks

Active member
pwhole said:
I can't really see the point of 'going to' Hidden Earth, only then to go caving nearby instead, especially when many of us go caving every weekend anyway. Personally the last thing I want to do at a conference is...erm...miss the conference. It's a long way for me too unless I set off walking in a few days, but you never know. Well done to Les and the team for finding anywhere suitable - your efforts are much appreciated.

Public transport  - train down to Weston bus across to churchill easy peasy. probably easier than by Road

MIKE
 

JoshW

Well-known member
moorebooks said:
pwhole said:
I can't really see the point of 'going to' Hidden Earth, only then to go caving nearby instead, especially when many of us go caving every weekend anyway. Personally the last thing I want to do at a conference is...erm...miss the conference. It's a long way for me too unless I set off walking in a few days, but you never know. Well done to Les and the team for finding anywhere suitable - your efforts are much appreciated.

Public transport  - train down to Weston bus across to churchill easy peasy. probably easier than by Road

MIKE

alternatively check out if it's possible to get a lift of anyone nearby to get there, there will be people coming from all corners of the country, so sure there is someone that can get you there if you want to!
 

mikem

Well-known member
Pitlamp said:
I also suspect Les will have looked at this already (because I know it was also an early contender for Eurospeleo) but Lancaster University has a lot going for it (near the Dales, very easy access by road and rail, a recently reformed and enthusiastic uni club based there, etc).
I guess the issue there is that students may be back by the normal conference date.

(No need to reply Les, if you've already considered & rejected this option. You don't need to justify your choices to me  (y))

Unis were mentioned in a previous thread, they run conferences regularly & charge accordingly...

Boston spa comprehensive between Leeds & York has a similar layout to Churchill.

Mike
 
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