Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd

The location and detail links are to the relevant entries on the database of the Mendip Cave Registry and Archive. This is an excellent resource with a vast amount of information about the caves and karst sites of Mendip and the surrounding area.

THE CAVES

CHARTERHOUSE CAVE

Location and details

Survey 2011 © UBSS & Charterhouse Digging Team

The cave is locked and access to the cave is only available with an approved leader. Each member club of the CCC Ltd. has two leaders. The cave must remain locked at all times and parties are requested to lock the door behind them on entry and upon departure.

Party size is limited to four including the leader. No acetylene (carbide) lamps are permitted. No novices or those under sixteen years old are allowed into the cave.

All visitors must wear clean oversuits, or other outerwear, otherwise the leader will refuse them entry to the cave.

WARNING: HIGH LEVELS OF CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) HAVE BEEN DETECTED IN THIS CAVE, ESPECIALLY IN THE LOWER PARTS. CAUTION SHOULD BE EXERCISED WHEN CONSIDERING A TRIP.

G.B. CAVE

Location and details

Survey 2011 © UBSS & Charterhouse Digging Team

The cave is locked and all CCC Ltd member clubs hold a key for the use of their own members and for guests. Other clubs may obtain a key, on loan, from a member club or from the CCC Ltd Honorary Permit Secretary. The cave must remain locked at all times and parties are requested to lock the door behind them on entry and upon departure. It is the responsibility of each caver to satisfy himself that any tackle used in the cave is in good condition. The use of acetylene (carbide) lamps is not permitted in the cave and parties are limited to SIX persons including the leader. No novices or those under sixteen years old are allowed into the cave.

WARNING:

Following the rockfall notified and publicised in early February 2021, a further inspection trip was scheduled for 6 April, following the relaxation of covid restrictions. On 5th April, a report was received of a further fall. The inspection trip comprised Linda Wilson (Conservation Officer), Dave King and Graham Price (CCC Directors). A large area of the side of the passage above the big steps on the left hand side (when travelling into the cave, heading downstream) has come away, resulting in a massive, unstable talus cone of boulders, large rocks, smaller shattered rocks and mud that now completely covers the steps almost to the base of the ledge in the middle of the climb. Boulders and large rocks are spread over a wide area in the passage below the climb.

There is still a ridge of loosely calcited unstable rock high up on the wall above this area, so further falls cannot be ruled out. In addition, there has been some mud slumping on the right hand side of the passage when going downstream and this area might also be subject to some movement.

A thorough inspection was carried out. As a result, warning tape has been placed across the passage above and below the climb, stating: “WARNING, LOOSE BOULDERS, DO NOT USE WATERFALL CLIMB, USE WHITE PASSAGE/LOOP ROUTE INSTEAD, CCC Ltd 6.4.21” These signs are laminated and attached to the tape with cable ties. A sign was also placed at the Bridge and one has been hung from the bar in the entrance. Please DO NOT cross these tapes to look at the fall.

As there is an alternative route to reach the lower part of the cave and Bat Passage, it was not felt necessary to close the cave as the area around the Waterfall climb can be bypassed in entirety, and the taping below the climb was placed some distance outside the furthest extent of the boulder fall. It will need several years of winter water conditions to even start to stabilise this area, so this part of the cave will need to remain off limits for the foreseeable future. The situation will be monitored. An attempt was made at fixed point photography so we have a baseline for the monitoring. As an aside, one of our original fixed photography points at the base of the lower ‘big step’ for SSSI monitoring is now completely covered by the talus cone. This is certainly the most noticeable change in the cave since formal monitoring began. Previously to this, the only difference in the photos was the door falling off one of the cars at the very top of the Gorge.

This rockfall is the most dramatic natural event in the cave since the 1968 floods opened Doline Three to the surface and spread mud and boulders throughout the streamway down to the end of the cave.

Please report any broken tape or missing warning signs so that these can be replaced. For information there is one sign in the blockhouse, one at the Bridge and three hanging from each section of tape above and below the affected area.

C.C.C. Ltd 7th April 2021

HANGOVER HOLE

Location and details

A short (4 m ) abandoned dig. The cave is locked and all CCC Ltd member clubs hold a key for the use of their own members and for guests. Other Clubs and guests of the CCC Ltd may obtain a key, on loan, from the Honorary Permit Secretary.

LONGWOOD SWALLET

Location and details

Survey 1984 revised by A.J. Knibbs

The cave is locked and all CCC Ltd member clubs hold a key for the use of their own members and for guests. Other Clubs and guests of the CCC Ltd may obtain a key, on loan, from the Honorary Permit Secretary. The cave must remain locked at all times and parties are requested to lock the door behind them on entry and upon departure. Party size is limited to six. There is no requirement for guest parties to be accompanied in the cave. The use of acetylene lamps is not permitted in the cave. No novices or those under sixteen years old are allowed into the cave.

This notice has been issued by Bristol Water about the danger of flooding in the cave:

DANGER TAKE CARE SEVERE AND SUDDEN FLOODING IN THE LONGWOOD CAVE

Longwood has long been known to be dangerous because of the risk of flooding from a stream. The danger is even greater now because the cave is likely to flood more often. Pumps that take water from the springs at Charterhouse will now stop working automatically. This can cause a sudden flood wave making some passages impassable and the exit and entrance extremely difficult to negotiate. There are warning notices stressing this danger at the cave entrance. Access to the cave is controlled by CCC Ltd, and only cavers holding a current CCC Ltd permit should enter the cave.

LONGWOOD VALLEY SINK

Location and details

The cave is locked and is currently being dug. For more details please contact the Secretary. In 2013 substantial works were carried out here to alleviate a serious flooding problem. The final report on this work is available from here.

READ’S GROTTO

Location and details

Survey 2011 © UBSS & Charterhouse Digging Team

Rebolting Rhino Rift

RHINO RIFT

Location and details

Survey 1971 © WCC

The cave is locked. Availability of the keys and conditions of access are the same as those applying to Longwood Swallet as detailed above. e.g. Party size is limited to six and acetylene lamps are not permitted.

WARNING The cave is almost entirely vertical in character and care must be taken on the pitches to avoid dislodging rocks. Do not wait unnecessarily at the foot of ladders or ropes and beware of falling debris.

In November 2011 significant rock falls took place in this cave. This damaged the bolted routes and much remedial work had to be undertaken to re-anchor the cave and make it passable again. The revised rigging topo for the cave, prepared by Chris Binding, is shown below. Owing to the constraints on anchor placement, brought about by the rockfalls, the rigging is not suitable for those inexperienced in SRT work underground

Four years after those rock falls and after much hard work by some dedicated cavers, the cave is now open again as far as the fifth pitch. It is still the case that visitors to this cave must watch out for the possibility of loose rock, but, with care it is now possible to bottom the cave once more.

No novices or those under sixteen years old are allowed into the cave.

Rhino Rift rigging topo

TIMBER HOLE

Location and details

The cave is locked. This short cave is currently being actively dug by C.S.S. For further information, please contact the diggers.

TOOTHACHE POT

Location and details

This is a mined shaft with some signs of natural passage. It is currently being actively dug. For further information, please contact the Secretary.

TYNING’S GREAT SWALLET

Location and details

Survey 2004 © UBSS

The cave is locked. This short cave contains a loose boulder ruckle. It is an active dig site and should only be visited in the company of the diggers. For further information, please contact the Secretary.

There are also two short mineshafts, Rabbit Mine and Gruffy Field Mine in the Gruffy Field Nature Reserve. Both are protected by steel grilles.

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Updated February 2021