Thank you, Eurospeleo 2016 organisers and volunteers


Staff member

Just some of the volunteers and organisers of Eurospeleo 2016. I'm sure all those who attended the largest caving event to be held in the UK will want to say a huge 'thank you' for all their hard work. It was a great success - thank you  (y) (y)


Staff member
Apologies to the volunteers and organisers I missed off the photo.

A thank you also to JJ of Dalesbridge and to Pete Ward and his Spanset Team - you supported British Caving, cheers!  (y) (y)


It was excellent indeed! And there is still the post-conference caving - just back from a Maskhill Mine/Oxlow Cavern exchange trip with some German and Australian cavers in the Peak.


Having spent a full week at Eurospeleo I have to say Les, Wendy and all the volunteers absolutely nailed the event from the catering to the caving. You should all feel rightly proud of putting Caving in the UK on the world-wide map. Thanks for a fun and hugely well organised time!

Andy Farrant

Active member
As one of the lecture secretaries, I would like to say huge thank-you to all those who presented at Eurospeleo. We had an excellent range of entertaining and informative talks, workshops and field-trips. And thanks to the speakers for keeping (mostly) to time!  :)


Well-known member
It is the evening of Sunday 21st August, and having returned home earlier today from a week at EuroSpeleo, I find myself reflecting on the event. Was it a success? How on earth did a bunch of cavers manage to make this all happen?

I have personally been aware of EuroSpeleo since 2014 when I realised that one of the CNCC Committee representatives had been appointed as a EuroSpeleo-CNCC liaison. Quite what this role involved, and how big this event was to become was unclear back then. Fast forward a year or so, and as delegates from all over the world started to register, the enormity of the event started to become apparent. This was clearly going to be one of the biggest caving events the UK has ever attempted, and was billed (unofficially) to UK Cavers as ?like Hidden Earth but on Steroids?.

Through my role with the CNCC I was lucky enough to be privy to some aspects of the organisation for this massive event. My personal involvement was fairly minor, but nonetheless it allowed me to see and appreciate the work that has been done to make this event happen. My admiration and respect for these efforts has inspired me to write this while all is fresh in my mind.

Firstly, the event website had been up and running for nearly a year before the event, and, in conjunction with the Facebook page, UK Caving, adverts at Hidden Earth 2015 and posters/flyers everywhere, did wonders for promoting the event.

When I arrived at the Dalesbridge Centre on the evening of Friday 12th August, all the marquees were in place and the organisers and volunteers were hard at work to populate them with all the necessary contents. The buildings of the Dalesbridge Centre were only part of the space needed, and large solid-floored marquees for the bar, kitchen, entertainment tent, reception/caving tent, lecture tent and trade hall were all required. The coordination of this infrastructure, ensuring it all arrived on time, that it met the requirements, that there was adequate power, water, seating and other facilities must have been staggeringly complicated.

If that sounds like a bit of a headache then consider providing the basic needs of 1000+ cavers for one week. This means dealing with water, toilets, camping, showers, food, security, first aid, parking, and in this 21st century, WiFi. To ensure delegates were well fed, a professional catering company was brought in, who did an absolutely stunning job, providing good size, good quality hot meals throughout the conference, and at a price that even Yorkshire cavers didn?t seem to mind! Showers and portaloos were brought in across site. A bespoke network was set up across site to provide WiFi for delegates. A spaghetti junction of wires in the corner of the tents along with a string of ?flying saucers? (WiFi boxes/?boxes of internet?) adorned the roof space. It would be easy to take basic facilities such as toilets and WiFi at such a large event for granted, but they no doubt represented many hours of planning by members of the team.

Of course, once you have cavers fed, watered and internet-enabled, they are going to want something to do for the week. A small team of people had been actively coordinating the lecture submissions for several months, meaning there was an absolutely packed lecture program for all seven days with talks covering science, exploration, technology, as well as workshops and a number of guided caving trips and field trips too. Bespoke software was even developed to coordinate the event diary, to allow timetables to be printed on a day by day basis (and deal with unexpected last minute changes), and to allow a live display of all events happening on monitors.

Cavers of course like the odd drink. How much beer can 1000+ delegates drink in eight days? Over 100 barrels is the answer! The Hidden Earth bar team did an astonishing job here, with around six or more different real ales available at any one time, with new ones coming on a daily basis, as well as ciders, wines and even prosecco! A bespoke beer glass had even been designed for the event. The attention to detail in such matters was excellent.

A trade hall had been arranged with all the usual traders present, and lots of gear for sale, from traditional caving equipment, to books, art, and even bespoke knitted caving hats! The usual survey and photo salons that we have come to expect from other events were also present.

When cavers aren?t eating, drinking, sleeping, listening to talks, and admiring shiny gear, they do like to get some exercise now and again. The stunning caves of the Yorkshire Dales were clearly one of the massive selling points of this event. But with hundreds of delegates coming to the event with little or no knowledge of our caves, some information and assistance would need to be in place. This had certainly not been overlooked, and an entire tent was provided contained surveys, guidebooks, maps, bespoke written descriptions for over 30 caves and several suggested walks. This was manned by knowledgeable volunteers every day and it certainly proved a popular meeting point. The caves themselves had been rigged for the event with the help of numerous UK clubs and using 6km of rope kindly donated by SpanSet. The Craven Pothole Club was running the Gaping Gill winch specifically for delegates at only a fiver. Finally, the attention to detail continued in the form of a minibus which had been arranged to enable delegates without transport to get around.

A quick glance at the cave booking diary each day was an inspiring sight, with over 100 groups going caving on some days! Fears of overcrowding in caves proved mostly unfounded thanks to the careful management of traffic and allowing groups to book their arrival timeslot. In fact, even for the most popular cave systems of the week (Alum-Diccan, and Lost Johns?) long delays in ascending the pitches were mostly negated. For many other caves, there were no delays at all.

A huge tower of scaffolding in the middle of site hosted the SRT competitions, and provided an excellent chance for cavers to brush up on their skills and try out new gear without having to venture underground. The artificial cave was particularly popular with the children.

Finally, I was taken aback by the number of delegates who had volunteered to help out during the event; marshalling the parking, manning reception and the caving tent, cleaning loos, serving at the bar, litter picking, setting out tables, erecting fencing, timing the SRT races? the list goes on! It all seemed to run like clockwork thanks to such good planning.

With all of this in mind, I come home from this event truly inspired. I find it staggering how this was brought together so well by a relatively small team of volunteers, in conjunction with their day jobs. While I do not wish to start picking individuals out, Damian Weare is owed a massive thank you for meticulously co-ordinating many aspects of this conference, while also serving out his time as BCA Secretary. The core team who were on-duty throughout the conference (and who could be recognised by a radio attached to their belt and an occasionally stressed expression), have done an outstanding job bringing this together.

I opened this post with the question ?Was it a success??

There were over 1000 delegates registered for the entire week, nearly 700 caving trips during the congress (more statistics will be published elsewhere), a non-stop excellent lecture schedule, a fine bar and restaurant on site, excellent entertainment every evening, a mid-week banquet? and to top it all off five out of eight days of glorious sunshine (even on Leck Fell). I met delegates from all over the world who were enthusing about their caving trip or about the Yorkshire Dales countryside. Of course, there must have been hick-ups along the way; but few that non-working delegates (like me) became aware of, so they were obviously dealt with professionally and quickly.

I personally have had one of the most amazing weeks in British Caving that I can remember. I have met some excellent people, made great contacts overseas, heard inspiring talks, spent too much on gear, drunk too much beer (detox starts tomorrow), and ticked off some of those caving exchange trips that I would probably never had had the chance to do otherwise (Diccan to Alum has been on my list for over a decade). I have heard nothing but positive stories and seen nothing but people having a great time all week.

So was it a success? Most definitely yes!

Thank you EuroSpeleo 2016!

Matt Ewles (York Caving Club)


Well-known member
The remarkable thing for me about Eurospeleo is how little I really noticed it in some ways - nothing really went wrong. It was in many ways quite uneventful - the camping was fine, the car park was perfectly usable, the booking system was stress-free, permits were not a problem, easy access to the trading, showers and toilets always available somewhere, charging points available. Even the weather behaved until the last few days.

At the same time is is obvious how much of a staggeringly large effort was required to reach this boring, entirely functional conference where nothing went wrong! Massive construction efforts to put things in place, so many external services brought in for tents, marquees. Pretty sure a few drystone walls got knocked through for entrances? Things like the charging stations were probably hard to organize and very easy to get wrong! The road in and out of the car park changed every day, it seemed, to keep easy access as the field got slowly ploughed down by the sheer number of cars coming in and out. And of course the party tent was great; hope everyone else enjoyed the togas :)

On top of everything just working the various activities were great - good fun on the SRT tower, nice to wander round the stalls and traders.

Finally getting everything rigged, and not having to get permits for things like Leck Fell (difficult for a small fresher-heavy club like EUSS who I do most of my caving with) meant I got to do trips I might never normally get to do. I have plenty of rope and gear, but EUSS is a bit small for exchange trips :)

I really want to come back now and tick off all the stuff in Yorkshire that I am aware exists but didn't get a chance to do! (Ease Gill traverse, Boxhead -> Death's Head, Diccan etc...)

Short conclusion: it was bloody brilliant. Thanks to everyone who helped make it fantastic!


Well-known member
When I told Jess our one weeks holiday in the summer was going to be spent caving in Yorkshire I have to admit she wasn't exactly full of enthusiasm! But from the minute we arrived we had a fantastic time. The entire Eurospeleo team were awsome. The week was a raging success both under and above ground. It could have very easily been the end of the present Mrs chunky, but the event was so well organised that she can't wait for the next one! Congrats to all who gave their time to make the event such a successful one!

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Absolutely fantastic event! I could only make it down for Monday and Tuesday but enjoyed a mixture of camping, lectures, meeting up with friends, boozing, browing the markets, photo salons, making new contacts and of course great vertical caving trips. Thank you so much to the organisers, and please can we do it again next year!


Excellent week - a conference with real character. The energy in those tents generated enough light for all of Yorkshire - who needs Rio and the Copacabana beach when you've got JJ's Dales Bridge and fields of cavers?



Well-known member
A lot of work was put in for not much reward at all, so I echo everyone else in giving a big thank you to the organisers, volenteers and catering staff. My only regret was that I was too busy either working at my job or caving to enjoy any of the lectures though I did catch the excellent China vid on Thurs eve.

Excellent evenings though, many beers, even if it may have been a little excessive on a works night.


Well-known member
I have great admiration for all the volunteers who gave up their time to work behind the bars, behind reception etc etc. I thought the whole event went really well with a packed and varied programme both during the day and in the evenings.


Active member
There should be special thanks to Les Williams conference manager and Wendy Williams who slaved for weeks ensuring everything went well. I was unable to book my stand till last minute and without their help I would not have able to trade.

It certainly wasn't an upscaling of the Hidden Earth annual event as many of the same core team manage each.

When I think of professional sports millionaires like Murray, Froome and no doubt Trott who have all sorts of awards . It would be brilliant to nominate this pair for OBE' s for services to Caving. Albeit Les would probably happier with free beer for a year

The point was made to me, by someone slightly younger than me, that we were unlikely to see another event like this in the UK in our lifetimes. That could well be true ... unless .... mmmfffg ppssspffgr  aaagh ... Wendy said she would kill me if I said that again.


Staff member
Here at ukcaving HQ there has been talk of organising a caving do for some time.  Drawing on the success of aspects of ES, current thinking is to organise a ukcaving weekend bash in the Dales.  A key number of caves would be rigged for saturday/sunday caving.  A bar to welcome folk on Friday night and on Saturday evening there would be a film and key note speaker followed by a party.  A smaller simple version of some of the best bits of ES.  We'll bethinking a bit more about it over the next month or so.