Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd

This Company, CCC Ltd, was formed by agreement between Mendip caving clubs to administer access to several square miles of land in the Charterhouse area on Mendip on which are located numerous cave entrances and sites of speleological and archaeological interest. The land is a nature reserve owned by the Somerset Wildlife Trust (S.W.T.). The Company administers caving access to the land by means of legal agreements with S.W.T. The Company comprises representatives of eleven caving clubs. These are the A.C.G., B.E.C., Ch.C.C., C.S.S., F.C.G. M.C.G., M.N.R.C., S.M.C.C., S.B.S.S., U.B.S.S. and the W.C.C.

The Company is a registered company limited by guarantee. It is registered at Companies House.

The Company undertakes to take all appropriate care when dealing with personal data. Our Data Protection Policy can be found here. All queries should be addressed to the Secretary who is the designated data controller.

Having due regard for its legal obligations, the Company has made every possible effort to simplify access arrangements.

If you do not find the information you need here, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.



Please note that it is no longer permissible for cavers to park at Charterhouse Farm or on the track nearby. If parking by the road, please take due care not to obstruct other traffic, gates, etc. Be aware that this road can be used by quite large goods vehicles.


To comply with our legal obligations to S.W.T. caves in the area are required to be gated. However there is no difficulty in obtaining a key for the caves concerned:- G.B. Cave, Longwood and Rhino Rift. Similarly there should be no problems in obtaining a leader for a visit to Charterhouse Cave. Other small sites in the area include Timber Hole and Read’s Grotto.

No visitors may engage in any activity which is organised or undertaken (whether by him or her or another) for any commercial purpose unless written permission is obtained, in advance, from the Secretary, Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd. This applies to all the caves administered by the company.

There is no formal booking system. Cavers visiting the area as guests of a Member Club should make their own arrangements. Others are requested to give at least one month’s notice of a proposed visit to the Secretary of CCC Ltd. This will allow the necessary arrangements to be made on time.


The problem of ash dieback has severely affected many areas of Mendip. Longwood Valley is badly affected and as a result, Somerset Wildlife Trust have taken the decision to close the permissive path that runs along the bottom of the valley from the north to Velvet Bottom in the south. However, as Longwood Valley is home to two important cave systems, Longwood Swallet and Rhino Rift, as well as two digs, CCC Ltd has been working closely with the landowner, Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT), to preserve access to the caves for cavers as SWT recognises the important role cavers play in managing and conserving the caves, all of which are Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Further information about the revised access conditions for cavers are on this page. It is imperative that any caver planning a trip reads and abides by these conditions.


A local Met Office forecast can be found here. This should be consulted when planning trips to the area. The site gives estimated rainfall and wind speed (gusting). Of course, no exact forecast for the precise area is available so always err on the side of caution.


All cavers visiting these caves require a valid permit. As of 1st September 2023, permits may be obtained only through our online portal, here.

It is a condition of access that our landowner is indemnified by the Company’s insurance. Visiting cavers who carry BCA membership (and insurance) fulfil this condition. Visiting cavers who are not themselves BCA members must either be accompanied by at least one current BCA member or be able to evidence that they have at least two years caving experience for the insurance cover to be valid. All visiting cavers under the age of 18 must carry BCA insurance.


The Company is deeply concerned that maximum regard is given to cave conservation and S.W.T. insist that activities in and around the caves do not constitute a public health hazard. All cavers are required to abide by the following regulations:-

The caves are managed under Conservation Plans that have been agreed between the Company, Somerset Wildlife Trust and Natural England. These plans were originally drawn up shortly after the Company was formed and have been subject to regular revision to keep them up to date. They were revised in June 2015 for a further 10 years and the current versions can be found here for the caves under Gruffy Field (including G.B. and Charterhouse caves) and here for the caves in the Longwood Valley and Velvet Bottom (including Longwood Swallet and Rhino Rift.


Brief details of the individual cave sites and links to further information about them may be found on this page, including access information and any recent changes.

Updated May 2024

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