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New members are welcome!

The MCG is a registered charity, and membership is open to all. We are an active friendly club that has a full program of organised trips & social events, keys to most of the locked caves of Mendip, a tacklestore full of equipment, a well stocked library, regular newsletters & internet newsgroup and the facilities of our cottage in the centre of the Mendips.

We are always looking for new members, either those who have caved before or are interested in trying caving for the first time. If you are already a caver and are looking for a friendly and competent group to share your caving trips, we would be pleased to see you. The best way to join is to come along to one of our regular monthly trips on Mendip. These are usually held on the first Fri/Sat/Sun of the month at our headquarters, Nordrach Cottage. If you would like to come along please let us know you are coming. If you want to apply now for membership download a Membership Application Form In the mean time, you might like to look at this resource Minimal Impact Caving Guidlines from the British Caving Association

If you have never caved before and are interested in starting the sport, you will be well looked after. The best way to start is with one of beginner trips/beginners weekends. On a beginners trip you will be taken underground by experienced cavers to a cave suitable to you.

Petzl Vertex and Duo 14 LED lamp

Don't worry if you do not have your own caving gear - we have helmets and lamps that you can borrow for your first few trips underground. Beginners trips are normally held on member's weekends where you have the opportunity to meet members and if you choose, take part in the social events. If you are interested use this form to find out more. We look forward to hearing from you!

MCG Beginners Weekend

April 2011

Swildons Hole Trip

Michael writes:

I'd been looking forward to this trip for a few months after hearing about it and signing up for it through another club member, to be honest I had thought it would be easy, just strolling through some massive caverns, boy was I surprised!

After arriving at the club and sorting my loaned gear out we all packed up, off we went to the cave, after getting there and into the over suits (devilishly handsome, I must say!) we strolled across a couple of fields to a tiny concrete box with a hole in the ground, after dropping in and shimmying down under some zigzagging slabs, I began to realise caving was a lot more involved than I had thought!

After crawling under and clambering over a series of rocks, all between two very close walls, we came to quite a tricky traverse which required putting our backs against one wall and our feet against the other, having a small amount of rock climbing experience I already knew this was going to be a bit tricky, especially after seeing the drop below! However, the other guys with me were brilliant and were always ready with handy suggestions for making each manoeuvre easier and never shy with congratulations.

After leaving the cave, we spent the evening eating a fantastic meal that another member and some of their friends had cooked for us, chatting and drinking, the guys were all brilliant with the new cavers and made sure we always included. I would definitely recommend the beginners weekend to anyone curious about caving. I had a brilliant time and am sure to go again!


Karen and Michael at the Swildon's Hole blockhouse

Steve writes:

We set off early to get to MCG ready for the meet up time of 10am. We were warmly welcomed on arrival at the cottage and introduced to other novices like ourselves. We'd both been caving a few times so going underground wasn't new but this time we hadn't a clue where we would be going. After being issued all the relevant kit we followed in convoy to Priddy ready to visit Swildons Hole.

Once kitted out we set off across the fields to the entrance, a small brick house in the middle of a field. Final briefings were given and we were split into groups. Off we went. What a great start, wet already (!) as you have to enter by sitting in a stream. Clambering down into the first chamber we were underground proper. We were going the Short Dry Way down Jabob's Ladder and off to the Water Chamber. A chance to slide, walk and crouch on our way there. After a quick look round we went under the floor of the chamber and onto the bottom of the 40 Foot Pot where we descended the small waterfall quickly, thankfully the water level was apparently low. Next we followed the stream on to the 20 Foot pitch where we waited while a ladder was rigged ready for later.

Soon we were back off to the Water Chamber ready to meet the other groups to see who wanted to do more. All agreed this was great fun and doing more was a natural next step. Back to the 20 Foot and off down the ladder under the waterfall. A quick regroup and off down stream passing the Double Pots before selecting to take Barnes Loop. This gave us a short period of tranquillity before returning to the steam and the noise of the rushing water.

A further regrouping resulted in three of us opting to travel even further into the cave. Led ably by Russ we set off for Sump 1. Due to low water it wasn't really a sump but still required ducking underwater to pass. Richard flew through on turbo boost, I couldn't let him go on his own could I? Through Sump 1 we opted to go on to take a look at Sump 2. This part of the cave was very different to that experienced before the sump; much flatter and more stooping and crawling. Soon we were at Sump 2 and decided that a free dive was one step too far this trip.

Back out the same way, taking the Rift this time instead of Barnes Loop. We caught up with the others at the bottom of the 20 Foot. We took the Wet Way out at the top, deciding we couldn't get any wetter than we already were. What an exhilarating three and a half hours underground.

We spent the afternoon chilling before being treated to a fantastic Thai Green Curry, cooked at the cottage from scratch by Benji, Andrew and May. A brilliant meal to end the day, thanks so much. We couldn't stop for the night as Mothers Day fell the next day and our young sons had things planned for us the following morning.

We're already looking forward to another visit in the next few months. Thanks for making us both feel so welcome.


Left: Benji and Andrew. Right: Swildon's Hole blockhouse

MCG Beginners Weekend - June 2009

The group ran another beginner's weekend which was well attended by eleven people (six male, five female) as well as nine MCG members who helped organise and run the weekend. Some of the beginners had ventured undergroud at some time in the past although for number this was their first time. We had three trips on the Saturday and two on the Sunday, two of the Saturday trips went to Swildon's Hole (see photos below) and one to Goatchurch Cavern, both of the Sunday trips were to Waterwheel Swallet.

Below is the write up by one of our beginners - Mandy Bristol

I'd never been caving before, although it was something that always appealed to me. When I moved to Oxfordshire last year, a caver friend mentioned that the Mendip Caving Group was friendly and that I should finally take up caving, as I'm now close to one of the best caving areas.

I visited the MCG website, saw they had a beginner's weekend coming up, and sent an email saying I'd like to come. A reply came back straight away from Jeremy, and all the following arrangements were made by email. This suited me well because I sit in front of a computer all day! I was told to bring old clothes, wellies, and a pair of gardening gloves.

After an impatient wait for the caving weekend to come around, I drove down to the MCG headquarters at Nordrach Cottage and as I was parking, another car pulled in. The driver turned out to be Adam, the very friendly and helpful leader of my caving trip that day. At the cottage, Jeremy introduced himself and I had a few minutes to talk to some of the other beginners before being kitted out with an abrasion-resistant oversuit, a helmet, a light and a battery pack. I also took a drink pouch in my pocket.

My first trip, with Adam leading the group of five (I was the only one who had never been before), was Goatchurch Cavern. The entrance is easy to reach along a path through some woods and, whilst our eyes were adjusting, Adam pointed out the cave spiders that live near the entrance and feed on the cave flies. Goatchurch is very popular with beginners, and used to be a Victorian show cave, and we had to be careful on the slippery polished rock for the first few metres. I immediately decided that I needed wellies with a better grip!

Once we were a bit further into the cave, Adam squeezed into what seemed to be a very narrow gap, but it was obvious that if he could fit, then so could I. After that I can remember a confused blur of scrambling over rocks, squeezing through cracks and having a fantastic, exhausting time.

Finally, we reached the Drainpipe, a long smooth oval tunnel with pebbles at the bottom, looking exactly like the water passage it must have once been. At that point, my muscles were objecting but I managed to crawl through, feeling glad that a couple of the group were already at the far end checking I was OK. After a quick look round, we started back through the Drainpipe to the surface. I wondered if I'd feel really glad to be out of the cave, but that wasn't the case, and if I'd been less tired, I would have happily gone back down.

That evening, MCG had a social evening and a barbecue. Everyone was friendly and relaxed and I felt at home in the group, even though most people were new to me. My friends on Facebook were demanding caving reports and so I sent off a few messages from my mobile whilst drinking a couple of beers. By then, I realised that my knees were the only part of me that hadn't enjoyed the experience and that I really had to borrow some knee pads for the trip the next day.

On Sunday, I got up quite early and was pleased I hadn't seized up too much. The day's trip was to Waterwheel Swallet, led by Brian, another very friendly and experienced guide. I borrowed his old pair of kneepads, which were very welcome. The entrance to Waterwheel was a bit of a surprise, a metal hatch opening into a concrete tube with a few metal foot/handholds, but it turned out to be easy to get into the cave by leaning back against the concrete wall.

After that, it's a steep scramble most of the way down into Waterwheel but, although I was a bit unsure of some sections, it was great fun and always looked more difficult than it really was. Part of Waterwheel used to be a lead mine and so some of the formations are black, or striped black and white. There are also some incredibly delicate white stalactites and a pretty cascading waterfall. The best part of this trip was crawling through the swimming tunnels after Brian had let out some of the water by pulling a bung out of one of the dams for a few minutes.

Libray image of Waterwheel entrance. M Rowe
Library image of Waterwheel ladder. M Rowe

I'm not sure why crawling through tunnels partly full of cold water was such fun, but it was, and we laughed all the way through. At the furthest point of our trip, Brian unrolled a steel ladder at the top of a 30' drop into fairly deep water. An experienced member of the group climbed down and let out some of the water, and a couple of us decided to have a go at climbing down.

It was awkward, getting on to the ladder and avoiding trapping fingers between the ladder and the rock, but it did feel quite safe thanks to the life line clipped to my belt. I reached about halfway down, but decided that tiredness was making me a bit clumsy, and so I climbed up. Finally, it was back through the tunnels, past the other beginner's group from MCG, and the scramble back to the surface.

On the walk back to the cottage, Brian showed us the remains of the lead flues built by Cornish miners in nineteenth century.

The following week, back at work, everyone wanted to know about the trip. My friends reacted with either horror or envy, and all were impressed with my bruised knees (which were fine after a couple of days). I kept daydreaming about the trips and wanting to go back and try it all again, particularly the bits I'd found difficult. Jeremy emailed a copy of the membership form for me to fill in, and I'm now looking forward to going underground again.


Photos of the Swildons trip:

Ready for Swildons - photo J Gilson Olkd Grotto, Swildons - photo J Gilson

Back to report

A successful beginners' weekend - 5/6th June 2007

What happens on a newcomers weekend? The following write-up of the beginners' weekend on 5/6th June 2007 is typical of what happens:

Seven people turned up for the weekend. Some had caved before at some time in the past so they were not all strictly "novices". There were also a good number of members who volunteered their time to take the novices underground.

On the Saturday Richard, Linda and Mike led two of the newcomers down Hillier's Cave and here is Fern's log book write-up:

"Hillier's Cave - Fern and Phil, Linda, Richard and Mike

I panicked at the entrance! Found it very challenging physically and mentally, but really pleased I didn't chicken out! Thanks to the calm encouragement of MCG members. Fantastic grottos - very pretty - and good variety of formations and crystals. It felt really good to see them in a natural state rather than in a show cave. Lots of variety on the trip with crawling, climbing - a good workout. Thanks MCG. Fern "

Also on the Saturday Biff , Doug , and Mick led Mike B and Max and Bernadette, all of whom had caved before, on a trip into GB Cavern. The log book entry for this trip reads:

"GB Cavern round trip - Biff, Doug, Mick, Mike B, Max and Bernadette. All did OK. Mike B took many photos. Max and Bernadette have asked to join MCG".

Mike, Max and Bernadette have indeed all joined MCG since the beginners' weeend.

SUSS party

On the Saturday morning a couple of students from turned up at the cottage and Martin volunteered to take them down Waterwheel. Even though there is more water than ever down Waterwheel due to all the extra damming, they all thoroughly enjoyed the trip and were very grateful. They were given membership forms so there maybe some more new members in the offing.

On Sunday Martin, Yvonne and Linda took two complete novices, Nadia and Ian, down Swildon's Hole. Here is Nadia's log book write-up:

Swildon's Upper Series - Martin, Yvonne, Linda, Ian & Nadia.

Our FIRST EVER caving trip. And what a great adventure it was. We looked great, I have to say, in our oddly co-ordinate get-up - not exactly chic, but ready for anything. Joan and Bob came to see us off down the hole, and to take photos. I was in no danger of getting lost - red boots, pink gloves and yellow stripes on Ian's black motorcycle rain gear which I wore! But enough about our clothes - how was the trip?

It was thrilling and a little scary - I couldn't believe I was supposed to jump into a dark hole with water and slippery rocks in it! Martin was leading (and an excellent reassuring leader he is too), I was next, then Linda (who was really good to have nearby), then Ian and Yvonne. Mostly I tried to follow whatever Martin was doing. We went up, down, crawled, clambered - all sorts. And there were some tight squeezes too... Felt like Winnie the Poo each time I got stuck. The most memorable moments though were positive ones - we climbed down, with a rope, the old 40 foot - that was a REAL adventure, and definitely to be repeated. It would be great to get good at that, and the water in the cave did feel nice actually!

On the way back Martin let me lead (Me!!!) and I have to say, I did a fabulous job...! Until we got to the absolute end and I tried to lead everyone out through the vent. I'll be back to learn more and to experience the thrill again!"

Nadia in Swildons entrance

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Page last updated 14 May 2011

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Mendip Caving Group. UK Charity Number 270088. The object of the Group is, for the benefit of the public, the furtherance of all aspects of the exploration, scientific study and conservation of caves and related features. Membership shall be open to anyone over the age of 18 years with an interest in the objects of the Group.