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Being a completely alien and unseen environment, caves have for generations been regarded by many as the domain of the sinister, and all those who participate in the activity as being equally strange folks. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are caves some of the most beautiful places on earth, they only show their beauty to those who explore their depths.

When the subject of caving is discussed amongst those who participate in the activity, they are predominantly talking about the exploration of natural holes and passages found within the earth's surface, better known as caves and potholes.

To the uninitiated, the terms caving and potholing are in general referring to the activity as a whole, the only difference resulting in the make up of the cave or pothole being explored, caves being holes in the earth's surface which have more horizontal than vertical development and potholes being holes in the earth's surface with more vertical than horizontal development.

Unlike many other forms of adventures/outdoor activity, cave exploration holds a romance that clings to danger and brings the very best out of those who participate in it. Friendships bonded while exploring the underground are friendships formed for life. The experience of original exploration is indeed one of the most exhilarating things that any explorer will do, and unlike other adventure activities, original exploration occurs on a weekly basis. New caves/potholes are being discovered in both the UK and overseas on a regular basis by both experienced and novice cavers alike.

Within the United Kingdom there are four major caving bearing regions: South Wales, Mendip Hills (Cheddar), Derbyshire and The Yorkshire Dales. Each of these areas have their owns specific type of cave.

- South Wales, very little vertical development, however, some very extensive cave systems.

- Mendip Hills, limited vertical development, some very pretty caves and a fair amount of water.

- Derbyshire, many fossil caves and explorable mines, many muddy!

- Yorkshire Dales, largest cave region within UK, large caves and potholes many with extensive passages and large volumes of water.

All regions will have outdoor activity centres that will undertake to lead novice parties in the caves most suitable for the group.

How to run/provide caving

There are 3 ways of running Caving in Scouting. These are:

  1. Scout-led activity - running caving yourself or using someone else in Scouting

  2. Externally-led activity - running caving using an external provider

  3. Activity for adult groups - running caving for a group entirely of adults

Useful links

The National Governing Body for caving is:

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