What Inspired You To Go Caving?


The British Caving Library has kicked off a question on its Facebook page having been told about  a book having inspired someone to go caving. What inspired you to go caving? Was it a book, a person or something else.

Let us know



Well-known member
Definitely caving books, in the local public library.

Main two were "Underground Adventure" (Gemmell & Myers) and "Potholing Beneath The Northern Pennines" (Dave Heap). These are two of the very best caving books ever written; the first hand accounts have an intensity and excitement rarely captured elsewhere.

Soon after that it was caving club journals, mainly seen in Bernie's Cafe or the Penyghent Cafe at Horton, which provided inspiration to become more deeply involved.



Well-known member
Like Pitlamp,

Definitely caving books, in the local public library, which I stumbled on as a kid.

Main were "Underground Adventure" (Gemmell & Myers) and some kids' adventure stories (by Showell Styles??? ? with titles like 'The River of Adventure'; can anybody identify them?). I also found 1000 Metres Down and Subterranean Climbers, in my opinion two of the best inspirational books written about caving. Funny, I never thought I'd ever go to the Berger at that time!

Then, when I went to secondary school many of the teachers used the (old-fashioned?) method of sitting us in alphabetical order, and I just got plonked next to a kid (12/13 years old) who was already a caver, and he and I became very good friends. I still remember (after far too many years) my first trip, on the BPC winch; and my first 'real' trip, to Ireby Fell Cavern, emerging knackered in what we were pleased to call 'dry grots' ? grotty certainly, but dry ? no way.


Well-known member
A series of cancelled climbing days / evenings in the Peak due to wet weather and a friend suggested caving as "wetter the better" Hired lamps and ladders, old clothes and off to Giants and P8, laddered in the water as that is what you did. Cold wet and brilliant fun, never looked back!


Thought I should reply to my own question! As a very small girl in the early 60s I saw a TV programme (black and white) where a man emerged from a 'pot hole'.  No idea what the programme was but from that point on I wanted to go underground. Made my Dad drive to all the shows caves within striking distance on our holidays. At 17 I went down my first 'proper' cave - Gaping Gill on the winch - not a bad first trip.  When I was choosing a college to go to I chose Matlock purely because it had a caving club. So, that is why an Essex girl wanted to go caving and never escaped from Matlock!


Well-known member
For me I think it was seeing caving on 999 rescue back in the 90s. Despite the incidents I thought it looked like a cool adventure. I visited a few show caves in France before that and thought it was a amazing. Those sowed the seed. Then after a couple of professional led trips I finally decided to find myself a caving club by a google search. At the time Blackrose had the best website, and did not have any of this committee stuff. (I wanted to go caving not sit in a dull room talking about useless rubbish), so I joined them and was thrown in at the deep end hehe.

As for books, I did buy a few in my early years trying to improve myself and well I was and still am interested in all things caving. But unfortunately I cannot say a book got me into caving.


New member
Exactly the same as Brains. Fed up with driving to the Peak District only to look at wet rock.

One day in Stoney Middleton, we'd just tied on when the rain started. My mate Matt pointed at the Gin Entrance to Carlswark and said "I'm pretty sure that's the entrance to a cave I once visited as a Scout. Do you fancy giving it a look?". We had head torches in the car, we already had helmets on, so I thought "What the heck, why not?"

"Yep, good fun this, but we'll never become 'real cavers'" said Matt some time later....


Before university my parents where into geocaching, and after they had got bored of normal ones they started to look for different ones. Some of those where down mines (mainly box area). I enjoyed this for a time until we found most of the mies look very similar and we didn't look down many more (admittedly living in northamptonshire with its lack of mines didn't help).

So when I went to university and found they had a caving club I thought I would give it a go. After my first proper trip down swildons hole I realised caving much more interesting and I haven't looked back since.


Growing up on Mendip, my grandmother and her siblings used to go caving, so I'd heard stories from a young age, but outside a caving area myself never got underground and climbed instead, first trees, then rocks. At university, I met the caving club and turned to the dark side. I've never looked back :)


New member
Growing up on the edge of the Manifold as a child we explored a lot of the caves and mines in the area with a torch and little other equipment (late 70's / early 80's).
Then caving passed me by until I was in my late 20's and a group of us did a Bagshawe cavern 'tourist' trip led by the late Pete Revell.
I think the book "A Visitor's Guide to Britain Underground" pointed us in that direction, but can't find the book so can't be sure!
Not long after this I met Dan and Mike from The Eldon and the rest is history!

Caver Keith

Well-known member
Park Cavern for me too. I visited it as a tourist in the early 70s when the show cave extended down Five Arches Passage to Victoria Aven. I remember the guide explaining that we would have to turn back but there was a lot more cave that had been explored but it was only assessable to experienced cavers, and I wanted to see more. My first caving trip was in OFD many years later but the desire to go caving definitely began during my visit to Peak.


New member
It started with a kiss, oh hang on, I mean a showcave.. That made me wonder what was "beyond", then a few natural caves at Attermire. It wasn't long after I was in an outdoor shop in Blackpool and I spotted a book called "Caving Practice and Equipment" - had to buy it, the pictures fascinated me and I knew I wanted to see more. Went on to sample the GG winch then Great Douk Cave - not long after I joined a club and that was that..


Well-known member
believe it or not my wife forced me into it. well chris(my better half) was looking after a neighbours horse and there happened to be a mine shaft in the field, there was a local caving club there having a bit of a party/bbq/p*ss up there, she got talking to( chattererd up actually ) a couple of the caving lads and came back home and said " you better get your arse up there and join in. it turns out that having recently  moved up here and lost touch with my ww kayaking and climbing lads "i was driving her bloody mad" and needed something to do . so iv'e got the greatest excuse, " you got me into it love"  :LOL: :LOL: :LOL:

true story


New member
The local library for some unfathomable reason had a copy of Dickie Bird's "Yesterday's Golcondas" which contained striking photos of youngish guys in ragged boilersuits beneath very photogenic drystone arching in Smallcleugh Lead Mine, North Pennines.

I was already poking around local abandoned industrial sites, especially coal mine surface remains. Yesterday's Golcondas inspired me into exploring underground as well. Somehow I survived six years of surveying and photography in old coal levels and went off to university (to study geology, naturally) where I immediately sought out the caving club. Lead mines and caves swiftly followed.

Funnily enough, I still haven't been down Smallcleugh!