Go Below





Inside a cave system is unlike anything else you may have experienced. You will see new things, use your senses in different ways, notice small details in heightened focus and test yourself physically and mentally. On your first trip you will take a leap of faith as you enter the cave and leave behind the familiar world above ground. Soon you will be absorbed in the activity. Normally we will see some amazing rock formations, underground streams, huge chambers, some narrow squeezes, bats, insects and of course a lot of rock! Your leaders will explain how the caves formed and point out all the interesting details as we go.


We normally start a caving trip at HQ. Here we will ensure you have the right clothing (see below) and fit you out with a helmet, overalls, a belt and of course a head lamp. Then it’s into the minibus or cars to drive onto the Mendips. Our usual caves include Goatchurch (great for beginners), Sidcot Swallet (some tight squeezes, quite physical) and Pierre’s Pot (good formations, interesting underground climbing). We’ll park near the bottom of Burrington Combe and walk about 10 minutes up a rocky path to get to the cave entrance. From there the route within the cave depends on the leader and how well the group gets on. We always stay flexible on the trip to ensure everyone has a great time and no-one is put in a position where they get too tired or stop having fun. Usually we spend 2-3 hours underground.

We will move between some huge underground chambers via narrow passages. Sometimes you can walk, sometimes you have to crawl and sometimes you have to wriggle and squeeze. But whatever happens, you will not get stuck!

It can be muddy and a bit damp, or dry and dusty depending on the time of year.

Once we have completed the route underground it’s back to the vehicles for the trip back to Keynsham. Pickup is from HQ.


The Scout Organisation has strict rules on running safe caving trips. At all times there will be 2 adult Scout leaders present. One of these leaders must have a Caving permit which is issued based on experience and a thorough practical cave leadership assessment. This permit is reviewed regularly.

For every trip, a detailed plan is left with a contact person above ground. This includes the specific route planned, the members of the group, the equipment carried and the expected time of return. Should the group not report back to the contact by the agreed time there is a well-defined process to alert any necessary assistance – including if necessary the Mendip cave rescue team. Needless to say we have never needed to use this but it is reassuring to know it is all in place.

It is also nice to know that the caves we use in the Mendips are never subject to flooding however wet the weather has been.


Radon is a gas produced by the radioactive decay of uranium. Radon also decays producing alpha and beta particles along with gamma rays. All the particles can become trapped in the lungs where they can damage the cells, possibly causing lung cancer. The risk is greatly increased with smoking.

The concentration of radon in the open air is very small but the amount increases significantly when enclosed by a room or cave. Radon concentrations are measured in Bq m-3 (Becquerels per cubic metre), where a Becquerel is the disintegration of 1 atom in one second. When accumulated over time, the overall radiation dose is measured in a unit called a Sievert.

Research into Radon risks[1] recommends that the exposure in domestic properties should be less than 6mSv and the BCA recommend that casual cavers should have an annual dose of less than 1mSv.

The British Caving Association measures the radiation dose in several caves including Goatchurch and Swildon’s.[2] Their calculations show that to reach the annual dose limit, you could spend over 800 hours each year in Goatchurch and 45 hours in Swildon’s. (This does not include any other exposure – for example in your own home).

If you have any concerns over Radon or Radon exposure please contact the leader in charge of the trip.


The temperature in the cave after about the first 20 metres of the trip is constant throughout the year. The weather at the surface does not reach far underground and the caves are actually heated by the warmth coming up from the core of the Earth. So it’s a great sport for when it’s cold in the winter or very hot in the summer! You will need wellies or hike boots (not trainers), activity trousers (no jeans please – we need something which is warm when wet and does not get heavy when wet), a t-shirt and a fleece jumper. With the overalls we provide you will stay warm.

If it’s very rainy then bring a waterproof coat just for the walk up to the cave entrance.

You can bring a drink and snack to have once we get back to the vehicles.

Of course there are no toilet facilities in the cave so please use the facilities at HQ before we leave.

If you have any questions of concerns please contact one of your Scout leaders or Wilf Harrison on 07900 574850, wilf@publow.net

[1] http://matienzocaves.org.uk/science/radon/Radon-Chen-2.pdf


[2] https://british-caving.org.uk/about-bca/working-groups/radon/


8th – 9th Feb 2020.

Some Scouts from South London were staying at Congesbury Scout HQ and needed an extra leader for a weekend of caving so I went along. They have some very experienced leaders (one had over 4000 hours underground on his log book) so it was a good opportunity to learn some techniques and hear about some caving in other parts of the world. We did 3 caves on Saturday (my group did Pierre’s, Rod’s and Read’s) and then Swildon’s on Sunday. Swildon’s was particularly good as there was quite a lot of water running so some good rivers and waterfalls to climb. The Scouts were all polite and well-behaved and worked well with us for a really enjoyable weekend. It’s also good to spread the word about our local caves and the Mendips generally and introduce new people to the great outdoors.

26 Scouts, 6 Leaders, 2 Caves and 4 Trips.

Another great Charterhouse for caving.

We were lucky to get some assistance from Dean, a caving leader from South Bristol College, who came along on the advanced caving trips on Saturday and showed the Scouts some new ways to use ropes underground to help with safety in difficult sections. He also showed us some new routes in some of our old favourite caves. On Sunday we also found some hard new routes in Goarchurch which severely tested even our most experienced cavers. We also ran some beginners’ trips and introduced some new Scouts to the cave environment.

While we were warm and snug underground, the other activity teams were battling the weather, dodging snow, rain and string winds. A nice reminder why caving is such a good winter sport!.

After a long break due to Covid restrictions, we’re back underground. We have updated the risk assessment to address the additional issues raised by Covid and we’re happy that we have minimised these although we can’t of course eliminate the risk entirely.

We have updated some of our equipment including buying additional head lights, slings and a variety of overalls.

So far since resuming in October we have run trips with Avon Troop, Frome Troop, Chew Troop, Warminster Scouts and Barton St James Scouts.

Watch out for a training day for any leaders interested in moving towards a Caving Permit and also for more trips in January!

Connect with us

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates from 1st Keynsham Scouts Group.

Error: Contact form not found.

Copyright by 1st Keynsham Scout Group. All rights reserved.  Registered Charity No. 305626

Website Design by Serious Web Design – Web Designer in Bath

Useful Links

Copyright by 1st Keynsham Scout Group. All rights reserved.  Registered Charity No. 305626

Website Design by Serious Web Design – Web Designer in Bath