Author Topic: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves  (Read 4036 times)

Offline The Old Ruminator

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3596
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2020, 10:08:45 am »
Crikey Newstuff there is no need to rant and swear. Your remarks etc show clearly that you are dead against any form of access control. " Permission whats that then ? ". I really hope that you are in a tiny minority.

Offline NewStuff

  • Vocal proponent of Open Access
  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 800
  • www.dddwhcc.com
    • Deep Dark Dirty WetHoles
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2020, 10:54:02 am »
Need? Absolutely. Playing nice gets you nowhere with certain members of the "anti access" brigade. As evidenced by the recent CSCC/BCA shenanigans. You should also know I've never said I'm against all locks, gates etc. If they're absolutely needed, and it's not at the behest of some individual/club/group on a power trip. Sadly the latter seems to to be happen with worrying regularity. If CRoW applies to a cave (ignoring DEFRA's idiotic stance), then that's exactly what Section 26 is for. You'll find I'm in the majority, it's just I'm more vocal about it, and I don't really care that I'm on whatever passes for an unofficial blacklist on Mendip. Others do care about not being able to access keys given some of the politics on there. Derby keys should be the norm, and deviated from if there is a need or absolute insistence on a lock, that is not pushed by a club determined to gatekeep.

As for my sig, if you can't recognise it's tongue in cheek to all the accusations of me pirating systems and chopping locks, then I'm afraid a Sense of Humor transplant is beyond my abilities.
Permission? Wassat den?

Offline The Old Ruminator

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3596
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2020, 11:40:19 am »
Hi Newstuff. Are you on a blacklist on Mendip ? If you are I am unaware of it particularly as I don't know who you are. Of course, you are welcome to your views and to express them here. That's what a forum is all about. Yes, I am sorry if I misread your subtle irony. Maybe I would contradict your bit about clubs controlling access as that is quite rare on Mendip. I can only think St Cuthberts at the moment as the BEC own the land where the cave entrance is. That then is their right. Our current access " restrictions " work very well locally. No backlog of trips. Everyone appears to be happy. Some might even appreciate my dry humor as I act as warden and recount the history and geology of the caves. Ok, I might slow things up a bit ay my age but that I put down to conservation care. When Willie Stanton found the pure white moonmilk vandalised in Reservoir Hole he permanently sealed the entrance though relented sometime later. FCQ was closed for some 20 years but delicate negotiations with the landowner reopened the caves. Really we are still on a knife-edge there and any issues will find the caves closed again. In life what works works and any messing about usually leads to problems.

Offline Mike Hopley

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 484
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #28 on: August 22, 2020, 12:53:21 pm »
When someone has a different opinion, you should be capable of disagreeing without telling them to fuck off.

Holding a strong opinion is a bad (and childish) excuse for rudeness. It's self-indulgent obnoxiousness disguised as "strong principles" and "speaking truth fearlessly".

I'd like to think I'm stating the obvious here.

Offline NewStuff

  • Vocal proponent of Open Access
  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 800
  • www.dddwhcc.com
    • Deep Dark Dirty WetHoles
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #29 on: August 22, 2020, 01:34:40 pm »
Hi Newstuff. Are you on a blacklist on Mendip ? If you are I am unaware of it particularly as I don't know who you are.
Apparently so. I've been told more, but that would likely reveal who told me so that's as much as I'm willing to say. Doesn't bother me a jot. The fact that a blacklist can actually exist as a thing is more worrying. Most cavers do not have my ability to open a lock without any damage, or even signs it's been opened, and should they get on the wrong side of the wrong person because the moon was waning or they support a different football team, or other equally asinine reasons, means they don't get access. Now if we're being open and honest, it's a thing that happens and eveybody knows it, despite protestations that such a blacklist does not exist.

When someone has a different opinion, you should be capable of disagreeing without telling them to fuck off.

Holding a strong opinion is a bad (and childish) excuse for rudeness. It's self-indulgent obnoxiousness disguised as "strong principles" and "speaking truth fearlessly".

I'd like to think I'm stating the obvious here.

As stated, the recent shenanigans show us that playing nicely does not get you anywhere. The "anti" brigade are certainly playing  hardball with a thin veneer of civility over the top. I prefer not to pretend. I'm done being civil, I've played nicely for a few years out of respect to a couple of people that asked. It's obviously not working. I myself am a perfectly reasonable man. If nasty tricks were not being played, I wouldn't need to express myself in this manner. But this is where we find ourselves, and this is how I'll be.
Permission? Wassat den?

Offline Pitlamp

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 5511
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2020, 01:45:21 pm »
I don't think you've got the right end of the stick, NewStuff.

I'm a northern caver but I've never had any difficulty on my visits to Mendip when it comes to access. I've always found the local cavers to be friendly, helpful and encouraging. So I find it difficult to understand what you're trying to explain.    :shrug:


Offline Bob Mehew

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1380
  • breaking knots is fun
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #31 on: August 22, 2020, 02:18:53 pm »
all local clubs have keys, which visiting cavers can easily borrow if they ask.
My understanding is keys are not available at the moment with all club huts being effectively bared for non members.  Could that be the reason for for OR's orignal post about "At least four Mendip caves have suffered attempts at a break-in recently"?

As for the state of Mendip caves - when did CSCC last have a push on cave conservation?  Sad to say that only one RCC has conservation on its home page.  Education is not the sole answer but it does help.

Online Ali M

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 242
  • WCC, UBSS
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2020, 04:05:59 pm »
Keys are available, but perhaps not as readily or as easily as in "normal" times. PM me for further info.
I have always found the CSCC extremely supportive re conservation issues providing both tape and Pig tail risers.  :)

Offline Mike Hopley

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 484
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #33 on: August 22, 2020, 07:29:23 pm »
If nasty tricks were not being played, I wouldn't need to express myself in this manner. But this is where we find ourselves, and this is how I'll be.

How exactly do you think rudeness on a forum is helping, though? What does it achieve?

You're tarring reasonable people with the same broad brush. You're not hitting your targets, who are different people who don't care about your opinions at all.

It's easy to be angry and strut on a forum, but by itself that doesn't achieve anything positive.

Online Badlad

  • Administrator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1973
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #34 on: August 22, 2020, 08:46:01 pm »
To try and get back on track - why do people think four gates have been vandalised recently?  Is it by disgruntled cavers or just non caving vandals?  What can be done to prevent repetition of the problem as it can get very expensive?

Offline Bob Mehew

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1380
  • breaking knots is fun
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2020, 09:03:48 pm »
What can be done to prevent repetition of the problem as it can get very expensive?
Although as Ali says, keys can be made available, you need to be in the know.  My guess is there are a fair number of cavers who cave on Mendip but are not linked to the 12 or so clubs who hold keys.  I also can't find any information on the CSCC web site on how to obtain them in the current circumstances.  Is the CSCC system fit for purpose in the current situation which looks like going on for many months to come?

At least CCC has a back up system for access to the keys other than via club huts.

Online PeteHall

  • Global Moderator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1243
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2020, 10:27:29 pm »
One of the sites with a vandalised lock was a very important archeological site. That in a cave not particularly long. I cant see cavers doing that in such a well-known cave.

My speculation is that this is a reference to Aveline's Hole.

An easy walk into a gigantic entrance, right beside and in full view of a busy road. Less than 50 yards from where hundreds of tourists park.

The casual visitor would easily be forgiven for thinking that the cave must continue a long way past the rather large and not particularly sturdy looking grill a short distance in.

If I am right about the cave, I'm with TOR; this certainly wasn't cavers.
The distance between stupidity and genius is measured only by success.

Online Oceanrower

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 330
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2020, 02:05:03 am »
Avaline's Hole must, surely, hold some kind of world record as the shittiest hole with the most amount of unnecessary stainless steel fencing shoved inside it...

Offline NewStuff

  • Vocal proponent of Open Access
  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 800
  • www.dddwhcc.com
    • Deep Dark Dirty WetHoles
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2020, 05:54:06 am »
but by itself that doesn't achieve anything positive.

We've shown that being reasonable doesn't get you anywhere, so unless I plan on lying down and doing fuck all, this is what's left. Granted, it isn't all, or likely more than a handful, of Mendip's cavers. But enough of them that have an influence on gates, access, and politics are smearing peoples impression of the whole area by actions taken.

Avaline's Hole must, surely, hold some kind of world record as the shittiest hole with the most amount of unnecessary stainless steel fencing shoved inside it...

Ooohh... careful... that's the special baby of 2 of the most sensitive  stick-in-the-muds going. Word has it that they don't take kindly to the odd rumour doing the rounds that maybe the pictures suddenly appeared shortly before they were "discovered"... as no-one had seen them before in the vast expanses of that system....  ;)
Permission? Wassat den?

Offline The Old Ruminator

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3596
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2020, 08:47:32 am »
If you belong to a Mendip club at the moment you should be able to get a CSCC key. Some of us regulars have our own copy anyway. In my case more for the car park at FCQ. The route to access for warden led caves remains the same as stated in Mendip Underground. You apply to the keyholder who then sends out an email to all of the leaders/wardens. Clearly there may be a reluctance during the pandemic for such volunteers to come forward particularly for clubs coming from further north. It has been stated that virus transmission is far more active in closed humid areas than outside. ( ie caves ). Certainly, there is more heightened tension and angst about at the moment in all walks of life and that may well be reflected in our hobby. Many are now bored being on furlough so are wandering about looking to fill their time. It's no good going to the coast down in the SW now as on a good day its packed. I really hope people don't see us as a closed shop on Mendip. All bent on control and power. We try to be protective and limit damage to our caves. Essentially they are not great passages you wander down like in South Wales and Yorkshire. Our cave environment is far more fragile. I have taken many trips over my 55 years. I don't " lead " people by the nose. I ask them what they want to do. We had some Belgian cavers over recently. I took them into Shatter Cave. They had a wonderful time on Mendip and were very gracious in their thanks. Newstuff please dont give the impression that you are a beligerant anarchist. Getting a poor reputation never helps anyone though I rather think that you might be playing to the gallery at times.

Offline andrewmc

  • BCA ind. rep.
  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 935
  • EUSS, BEC, YSS, SWCC...
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2020, 09:10:44 am »
I've not been caving that long, but while a small number of sites suffer from damage by non-cavers, I think the worst damage is (and always has been) by cavers.

Mendip tends to have lots of cavers, and lots of caves with easily damaged formations in fossil passage. Yorkshire - in general - has much more robust cave passage, but I would like to see more tape in some places. In South Wales, many of the cave systems (e.g. OFD) have been heavily trashed (look at the passages around Top Entrance, for example) but some are now recovering via the application of tape and better conservation education.

I agree that Mendip does love their keys where a Derbyshire key would also work in most cases, but it's also important to recognise that access is quite fragmented in Mendip - it's not like there is one body keeping everyone out. The CSCC give away their keys to pretty much anyone, the leader-led clubs take anyone who asks down their caves, Fairy Caves do their thing, Charterhouse caves have some of the most stringent restrictions in the country, and they all argue with each other.

Your position is not the majority, Newstuff - it's at the extreme end of the pro-access grouping.

Online Alex

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4112
  • BRCC, UWFRA.
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #41 on: August 23, 2020, 10:23:02 am »
Since I left a largest club several years ago (too much politics and not enough caving), I no longer have any links to any of the clubs in Mendips. Though I know from the past the physical location of some of the keys, if the huts are closed or no one is there, how would one even acquire one now? No for me it's just easier just to avoid the entire area, except for hidden earth of course, when there's no one wanting to cave there anyway.

You can see why it seems from the outside it's like a exclusive club based on who you know, otherwise the Derbyshire key would be used more frequently or combination locks that can at least be requested quickly by e-mail rather than a psychical key that has to be collected physically using a special Masonic hand-shake (Well elbow bump now lol).

I remember a few hidden earths ago there was a cave wanted to look at, no mention of a gate in the guidebook so off I went solo. After a horrible muddy crawl that no member of public would ever do, there was a gate in the floor on the way on for some reason, waste of time that trip was. 
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Online Ali M

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 242
  • WCC, UBSS
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2020, 10:55:32 am »
Alex - I have been issuing midweek keys to people for over 30 years from our house in Priddy and hopefully this has been of help. I am happy to assist anyone who contacts me. Brian Prewer also does the same. The Mendip Caving clubs are happy to issue keys at weekends, while midweek CCC Ltd keys (G.B. & Longwood) can be organised via the CCC Secretary. As Nick stated many cavers have easy access to the Mendip key anyway. There should be NO problem in getting a guest key for the locked non leadership caves, but it might take a bit of prior organisation. We all do our best to help with keys, permits and information.

Re the recent incidents there has been very noticeable increase in the number of people on Mendip over the last couple of months and several non-caving incidents such as break-ins and attempted thefts etc have been reported.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 11:18:59 am by Ali M »

Offline The Old Ruminator

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3596
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #43 on: August 23, 2020, 10:59:45 am »
Combination locks have to be accessible and more prone to vandalism. Mendip Underground gives clear instructions on access
( another being prepared ). Difficult times at the moment so hopefully things will get better. Any doubt re access just ask here. I am sure somebody will know.

Offline Pitlamp

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 5511
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2020, 12:23:30 pm »
NewStuff - you said above: "We've shown that being reasonable doesn't get you anywhere".

I really don't feel that comment is fair. The experience of a great many cavers is that being reasonable is exactly what does help achieve what you want. The Mendip cavers are a great bunch and I'm at a loss to understand why they'd have reason to be anything but helpful with anyone who makes a reasonable request about access.


Offline Jenny P

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 840
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #45 on: August 23, 2020, 12:44:13 pm »
The important thing to be gained from this discussion is that there is no "one size fits all" in terms of access to caves.  It depends on so many things: the wishes of the landowner; whether the cave (or mine) has fragile features which can be easily damaged, even accidentally; whether leaving it open constitutes a danger to the general public; whether the site is part of a show cave; and much more. 

It also depend on the type of cave: a large open live streamway which regularly floods clearly needs little protection from damage.  Some sites have features which are of importance to science, although this may not be apparent to the casual caver who may accidentally cause damage.

The Derbyshire Key system has been shown to work quite well in many circumstances but it isn't the only system and does mean that extra measures may need to be taken if there is a particularly fragile section in the cave.  Locks and a wardening system may be necessary, possibly for only part of a cave system.  Physical difficulty of access, such as deep water or a very tight section, helps protect some sites.

Education does help and we need to do more of this, though cavers do now seem to be more aware of conservation issues.  Most cavers don't want to be told what to do, but are more likely to act responsibly if they understand the reasons for a restriction.

Most of us would want access to be as free as possible for all cavers.  However, what is vitally important is to ensure that, if there are restrictions of any kind in place, the reason for the restrictions should be made known as widely as possible. Also that the regional body should try to ensure that information is easily available on how to obtain the necessary keys, permits, permissions, etc. or whatever is required to access the caves, even if they themselves do not control access. 

Offline 2xw

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 660
  • BPC, SUSS
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #46 on: August 23, 2020, 12:48:34 pm »
We should note the relevant section of the CSCC website which, while could do with minor improvements, is good:

https://access-guide.cscc.org.uk/

Offline aricooperdavis

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 511
  • Cornwall to Cumbria
    • Cooper-Davis.net
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #47 on: August 23, 2020, 06:00:47 pm »
That is good, could do with some cosmetic polishing maybe, but very simple and easy to use. Most of the regional councils seem to have a database like this - I'd love to see this effort combined in a national cave-access database; it would certainly make life easier for visiting cavers, and also give new explorers a nudge in the right direction of how to go caving considerately.
</off_topic>

Offline Bob Mehew

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1380
  • breaking knots is fun
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #48 on: August 23, 2020, 06:07:34 pm »
The Mendip cavers are a great bunch and I'm at a loss to understand why they'd have reason to be anything but helpful with anyone who makes a reasonable request about access.
We should note the relevant section of the CSCC website which, while could do with minor improvements, is good: https://access-guide.cscc.org.uk/
But to quote back from https://cscc.org.uk/wiki/doku.php?id=access:access_news posted on 1 August, being the first port of call for someone who does not have the personal connections that Ali M or OR (or myself for that matter) have

"Keys
Currently most Mendip Huts are closed and are therefore unable to issue keys.  The WCC and the BEC have opened to a limited degree.
What facilities are being made available are only to members or guests of members. Do not just turn up without prior arrangement."


Online Ali M

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 242
  • WCC, UBSS
Re: Vandalised Locks on Mendip Caves
« Reply #49 on: August 23, 2020, 06:51:07 pm »
Point taken, but it does no harm to contact the Caving Secretary's of the clubs by email.  I am sure that the clubs will try their best to be helpful.  :)
« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 07:11:03 pm by Ali M »

 

Main Menu

Forum Home Help Search