Want to Join?
The best way to meet us is to turn up at the Chapel (our hut) on one of our bi-monthly meetings (usually the first Friday evening of the month of the meeting) - check the Event Calendar for the next meeting. The evening usually finishes with a beer in a local pub afterwards. If you prefer, contact Phil Wolstenholme, the Membership Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org who will arrange for someone to meet you prior to the meeting.
One of the attractions of caving, potholing and exploration of abandoned mines is its adventurous nature. The accident rate in caving is thankfully low, but from time to time, serious, and occasionally fatal accidents do occur. It is therefore important that beginners who are interested in caving are aware of and accept the element of risk, and take full responsibility for their own actions. Novice cavers wishing to join the club will always be accompanied by more experienced members, who will be able to advise on how to approach particular features or scenarios underground, and make judgements on the capabilities of the team. Allowances will always be made for inexperience.
New members will be on a probationary period of 12 months. During this period the new member must satisfy the conditions of the probationary period which are: to show an interest in the affairs of the Group and attend three underground meets organised by the Group or with Group members. This will help to familiarise the new member with the underground environment, and for existing members to make assessments of their abilities and offer help, advice and/or encouragement where required.
You will need a lamp and caving helmet as essential items, which can be hired from some outdoor stores if you don’t own your own equipment. The TSG also has equipment which can be borrowed so that you can try caving out before you commit to buying your own kit. If you don’t own an oversuit you may like to purchase a cheap PVC oversuit to tide you over until you can afford a proper oversuit. You will however need warm layers underneath your oversuit. Don’t wear cotton as this soaks up water - 'onesies' made from fleece, fibrepile or other synthetic materials are best. You will also need a pair of safety wellingtons and gloves, usually rubber. Gloves protect you from cuts and abrasions, contamination and help to keep your hands relatively warm. Kneepads and elbow pads are also essential to reduce pain when crawling on sharp rocks or traversing through rough passages. Injuries underground are not recommended, and it always best to err on the side of safety if in doubt.
Many caves and mines in the Peak DIstrict, especially in the Castleton area, require SRT (Single Rope Technique) to access them - abseiling downwards and prussicking upwards on ropes, which requires special equipment, harnesses and training. Many shafts and other pitches in the area are in excess of 50 metres deep, so physical fitness and self-confidence is essential. The club is able to provide basic training to novices in this respect, but professional, high-quality tuition is also available. We can provide basic kit on a try-out basis, but you will be expected to purchase your own kit for regular use. Owning and maintaining your own PPE also helps instill good safety sense. New members wishing to develop SRT skills are welcome, as it dramatically increases the number of sites available, and it makes vertical travel within caves and mines far easier and safer on anything but small pitches, which can be laddered - this method also requires training and proper technique to be used safely. If you already have the skills and equipment, you will be able to join vertical club trips, subject to the normal probationary membership requirements of demonstrating competence and rope-safety.
Accessing an awkward mine stope using Single Rope Technique (SRT)