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Casterton Fell Online Booking

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CNCC:
Hello everyone

We are delighted to say that Casterton Fell is now available on the CNCC's Online Booking System.

Please see full details of the story here: https://cncc.org.uk/news/20200211-online-booking-for-casterton-fell

And while we've got your attention, please don't forget that 7th March is the CNCC's AGM, 10am at Hellifield Institute. All welcome regardless of membership or club or individual caver. We will be welcoming several new Officers (including a new Secretary, Treasurer and Training Officer), as well as a new member club. It's a great chance to meet people from other clubs, hear about matters affecting northern caving (including efforts to revitalise our anchor scheme), and of course, to have you say, and tell us what more we should be doing.

Matt Ewles (CNCC Secretary)

Badlad:
Here you go....

Online Booking for Casterton Fell.

We are delighted to announce that effective immediately, the caves of Casterton Fell (i.e. entrances to Ease Gill Caverns on the north/west side of Ease Gill Beck) are now part of the CNCC’s Online Booking System. This includes the following most popular entrances:

Lancaster Hole
County Pot
Wretched Rabbit
Top Sink
Sylvester Pot
Pool Sink
Cow Pot
See: www.cncc.org.uk/booking

This ends a permit system that has been in place, on and off, and via various incarnations for over 50 years, and which has meant access has been only for BCA member clubs. This finally enables managed access for all recreational cavers to the magnificent caves of Casterton Fell.

This follows months of discussions with the Estate by our Access Officer, Tim Allen who put in a huge amount of work to bring this to fruition. The Estate were clearly encouraged by the implementation on Leck Fell and Ingleborough, and the responsible behaviour of northern cavers, so thank you to everyone for helping to make this work.

All existing permits have been transferred onto the booking system thanks to quick work by Geoff Whittaker, our system administrator.

Two bookings per day are available for County, Wretched and Lancaster, which is in-fitting with the levels of access typically observed under the former permit scheme, and one booking per day for the other four most popular entrances (plus one booking per day to cover all other entrances).

This should provide ample access without risking overcrowding on the fell and the tracks around Bull Pot Farm, something the landowner is understandably keen to avoid. For this reason, we politely ask for car sharing up to Bull Pot Farm and for larger groups who are splitting into multiple underground teams to make one booking per team.

Unlike other areas, bookings for Casterton Fell are transferrable on the day to other entrances, although we do encourage this flexibility to be used sparingly, and only for the less-SRT orientated routes (County Pot, Wretched Rabbit, and to a degree, Lancaster Hole) to avoid congestion at the other more vertical or narrower entrances.

Finally, following discussions with the landowner, Aygill Caverns, which lies outside of Casterton Fell has been removed from the permit system to open access in line with the caves of nearby Barbondale.

The Online Booking System now covers the caves of Casterton, Leck and Ingleborough Estates. It has so far been embraced by many cavers, who use it out of respect for the landowners for who this is a condition of access, but also because it helps cavers to manage their own traffic and avoid congestion, with obvious conservation benefits.

We continue to urge cavers to only book what you know you plan to use (please don’t book ‘just in case’) or block-book without good reason. Last minute bookings in the event of changes of plan are always available.

These changes mark a pivotal moment; discontinuation of the last permit system spanning an entire fell, and replacement with a simple solution that satisfies landowners and cavers alike. We are aware however of other standalone caves on access land where cavers still don’t enjoy the same freedoms of other outdoor activities, so, this is by no means the end of our work.

Pitlamp:
A massive thank you, for what must have taken a huge amount of time and commitment on cavers' behalf. A thank you also to the estate for their understanding and co-operation.

Cavematt:
Thanks Pitlamp  :)

This is very much thanks to Tim’s hard work. When he started as our Access Officer four years ago, we still had permits across Ingleborough, Casterton and Leck, and outdated restrictions associated to them. Some good work had already been done particularly by Johnny Latimer to move Ingleborough to allowing individuals, rather than just clubs to get permits, and by Alan Speight to speak to landowners to bring the caves of Fountains Fell and the Horton side of Penyghent out of their permit systems, but the other big fells were challenging.

Most of these caves are on CRoW access land. The BCA’s backing of a campaign, and their positional statement in support of CRoW applying to caving, were clearly helpful in providing an ‘ace up our sleeve’ in discussions and highlighting the magnitude of the issue, but this doesn’t detract from the amount of effort needed to negotiate changes, and to identify a solution that works well for cavers and landowners, if indeed such a thing existed.

Therefore, hats off to Tim for the amount of work he has put into this (not to mention the work to get Penyghent Pot and Dale Head Pot out of permits and ensure continued access to the caves of Penyghent Gill). I know this has involved a huge amount of correspondence and face to face meetings. We have all major areas now off-permit with access available via a simple electronic system in three of those areas, which many cavers actually feel is beneficial for managing traffic, and which meets with landowner requirements.

Credit also to Geoff Whittaker who has served as the permit secretary in each region, ensuring that where the permit system has existed, they have been issued very quickly (often in a matter of minutes). Geoff will continue to help administer the online system, submit booking reports to landowners who have requested these, and be the first point of contact for anyone with any issues or nonstandard requests. Geoff’s support has been absolutely invaluable for northern cavers, and will continue to remain so. Also credit to Gary Douthwaite who built the Online Booking System from the ground up; many months of work, but the outcome is a bespoke piece of software designed for a bespoke purpose which works really well.

David Rose:
Well done!

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