Oxford University Cave Club
Introductory Caving Trips
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Our introductory caving trips trips are designed for people with no previous caving experience. Trips are usually day trips to the Mendip Hills (between Bath and Wells) or weekend trips to Mendip or to South Wales (near Merthyr Tydfil).
Day trips: we normally leave Oxford at 9am (from the Club Hut at the Iffley Road Sports Ground) and get back at about 10pm.
Weekend trips: we usually leave on Friday evening (about 7pm), though sometimes on Saturday morning (about 9am), and return on the Sunday evening at about 10pm. Going for only one day on a weekend trip might be possible, but does depend on the availability of transport and can't be guaranteed.
Cost: Weekend trips cost £40, and might be to Mendip, Wales, Derbyshire
or Yorkshire; one-day Mendip trips cost £20. This includes
accommodation (usually in a bunkroom belonging to a local caving club),
transport, clothes and lamp hire, and Club membership for your first term. All
the caving gear you will need will be supplied by the Club. Meals while in the
accommodation on weekends are included in your trip fee (but not take-aways
en-route, or the pre-trip pub meal on day-trips). For information about costs if
you take up caving, see here.
Trips must be paid for in advance. Payment is by an online system.
You will need to bring a towel and some "caving" underclothes (a warm, ideally "thermal", T-shirt is a good idea, and / or a swim suit) - and a bit of money, for a take-away meal on the return journey, and maybe the odd beer. If it is a weekend trip, you will need to bring a sleeping bag. Make it a decent one (three-season or better), as the bunk rooms are often unheated. Bring clothing suitable for one or more days spent largely outdoors. Caving areas are also good for hillwalking, so walking gear may be handy if you fancy a day above ground.
Mendip: Typically, experienced cavers will take novices down Swildon's Hole, one of the nicest and most interesting caves on Mendip, spending about three hours underground. The cave is easy and good fun: you follow a small stream down cascades and climbs (one climb uses a short ladder), to where the cave "sumps" - the water meets the roof. There are lots of good "pretties", pools to splash about in, and a certain amount of mud. The water is mostly ankle deep, but there is some spray on the climbs. (YouTube: Kate Humble in Swildon's). If you go for a weekend, we'll choose another suitable caving trip for you for the second day. We have normally lunch in the "Hunter's Lodge Inn" (focus of Mendip caving) before the trip, and usually stop for takeaway food in Bath on the way back to Oxford (both of these you will need to pay for).
South Wales: Typically, experienced cavers will take novices into Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (OFD), one of the biggest cave systems in the UK. It has over 50 miles of cave passage, but we won't try to cover it all in one trip! You might go into its top entrance, following large and sometimes well-decorated passages, some scrambles and short climbs, to follow "salubrious streamway" down the the "Trident" and "Judge". Or you might go into the OFD1 entrance, going up the spectacular main streamway of the cave, balancing over the occasional deep hole in the stream bed on scaffold poles. These first trips will last about 3 hours. The second day's caving might be another trip into a different section of OFD, or maybe down one of the other caves in the area. Have a look at a virtual tour of OFD here.
Before coming caving with us, please read:
We cannot take you caving if we don't know who you
are. So please make sure the Club has your personal details
[use this online form: or if that doesn't work, this "paper" one word (.doc) or acrobat (.pdf), and send it to Will Ivison]
If you miss one of these trips but still would like to try caving, contact us or come along to a Wednesday meeting. Most Club day or weekend trips include caving for people of all levels of experience, and we can easily arrange something suitable for you.
Why go caving?
Caving trips this term
Social meetings this term