More supporters make our festival

By Neil Maine-Jackson | 03/Mar/20

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A community of cavers

With focus upon our sponsors, attention can slip away from those other businesses and organisations that help to make our festivals what they are. Below are the individual supporters that have contributed something to Cavefestuk.

The community in which we live in is important to us, and with the continued support of local businesses and caving organisations, we hope to continue long into the future to provide caving festivals to you all.

Bringing people together through caving since 2017


Who is who?

Pay-What-You-Want

The core of our Adventure “philosophy” is flexible pricing.

We want everyone to be able to enjoy amazing adventures no matter what your budget.

When you book onto a tour, you pay nothing upfront.

After your tour is complete – you determine what the tour is worth. And you choose the price you want to pay!

Welcome to our World of Adventure

At GoTread, we create friendly and fun adventures for you to see new places, try new activities, and have a jammed-packed and exciting weekend.

We’re champions of anyone-can-give-anything-a-go. And we only take you to places that we know you’ll enjoy as much as we do!

Why Us

A big hello from all of us at GoTread! We know there are lots of things you’d love to do and places you’d love to see. And we’re here to help you do them.

ADVENTURE FOR ALL

We’re on a mission to spread the power of adventure with the best outdoor weekend experiences. We make adventure universally achievable, customizing our activities to cater for all abilities and bringing inspiration to every person without barriers – one adventure at a time.

TAILORED TO WOW

GoTread tours are designed, from pick-up to drop-off, by our wonderful team who love outdoor adventure. We select local adventure activities and hiking routes that best characterise the region and we always go out of our way to put a smile on your face with attention to those little details. We’re proud to say that we do a great job of putting these amazing experiences together.

GREEN IS GREAT

We’re big believers in responsible tourism. We tour in smaller groups, taking you beyond those main tourist sites and well-travelled paths. We respect and support the protection of our beautiful countryside. We adopt leave-no-trace principles and sustainable environmental practices and promote less single-use plastic and regular litter-walks.

LOCAL FIRST

The local community is very important to us. We source local produce for every tour and each year we donate our tour profits to a different local charity in support of Adventure for All. So, whilst enjoying a great day out you can also feel good that you’re giving a little something back to the community!


The cavers forum

UKcaving.com the cavers’ forum (UKC) is widely viewed by British (and international!) cavers and is a great way to highlight caving news and events and to find out what fellow cavers really think about a whole host of issues. With over 4,000 registered users and an average of 750 cavers viewing the forum each day, the site is busy and popular. 
If you can’t beat them – The forum is complimented by a Facebook page which has over 3,300 followers and is used to direct Facebook caving fans towards the more substantial information found on the forum. 
UKC was founded in January 2003 and is now 17 years old. It is a fantastic cavers’ resource as everything on it is searchable or if you have a query someone will usually soon get back to you with an answer – there’s a wealth of combined caver knowledge available, just ask! 


The forum has had three owners over the years and is currently managed by myself and my Wife, Jane. It was the brainchild of ‘Bubba’, who also started UKbouldering.com which is also still going strong. When Bubba had to sell the forums, they were bought by two climbers who only really wanted UKB but bought UKC as part of a combined package. This left UKC without much love or attention for years and it began to go downhill. We thought a caving forum should be in the hands of cavers and that its reputation needed to be restored and its value as a useful resource for cavers be re-established so purchased UKC in September 2014. A new logo soon followed together with an increased presence at various caving events, however the main focus was on improving the atmosphere on UKC – this we believe has been successful and the forum is now a welcoming online platform where cavers can exchange views (but keep it polite!), hear the latest news, maybe even win a prize in one of the varied competitions or be entertained by the various ongoing threads – Wezzit for example – how do cavers recognise those various locations?? 


UKC generates some income from advertising (thank you Inglesport, SpanSet, Starless River, and Warmbac) but is run on a strictly not for profit basis. Revenue is put towards hosting the site, technical support and keeping it all safe. What is left over goes back into caving, mostly at the younger end of the caving spectrum for example supporting CHECC with the ‘Grand Prize’ and sponsoring student caving expeditions with kilometres of rope – UKC has given away in excess of 5km of rope since we took over, that’s a lot of pitches rigged. Jane makes the most of her contacts with outdoor companies persuading them to donate a wide range of prizes some of which are used to sponsor the Hidden Earth SRT competitions – When we started doing this Mark Wright and chums, who run the SRT competitions, noticed a threefold increase in participation – excellent. 
UKC have encouraged conservation with the ‘Cave Conservation Rewards’ which has helped with the clean-up of a number of classic caves and potholes. Under the UKC banner we also volunteer for the Kendal Mountain Festival, programming the Underground Session to better promote caving and this has grown in stature over the last few years. 


Over the years the forum has dealt with several controversial topics often concerning access to caves. It holds a mirror up to all of us and can occasionally get quite heated. This is where our team of moderators come in to stop things getting out of hand. Our six volunteer moderators support our three admins and come from each of the main caving regions. We all try hard to ‘please all of the cavers all of the time’, however it is not always that easy. These days fortunately the Moderation Team are much less busy, mainly dealing with day to day tasks rather than moderating major fall outs. Since UKC started there have been 304,000 posts on 23,500 topics so it is quite a task. Very few posts get heated although ‘concreting Drws Cefn’ generated 194,000 views – so someone was interested. On the upside ‘Reservoir Hole stuff’ saw 219,000 views, but way, way ahead of them is a bit of fun with our ‘Wezzit’ and ‘Friday Joke’ topics accounting for over 1.2 million views EACH! 
Many cavers use Facebook, and all social media platforms have their place however please do remember Facebook is owned by billionaires, run for profit, doesn’t give a stuff about caving or cavers and uses your personal data for targeted advertising and worse, much worse. By contrast UKC is owned by cavers who really do care and put time and effort into the site for free, is run on a not for profit basis and we don’t do anything with your data except protect it and our dedicated volunteer moderation team do their best to keep everyone well behaved. Why do we do it? Not for the income, that’s for sure. We met through caving, live in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales because of the sport, many of our friends are cavers and we have both travelled widely to some fantastic locations on caving expeditions – running UKC on behalf of all cavers is a great way to give something back to a sport we both love. Please support UKC as it continues to support CavefestUK, thank you! Visit the forum at

www.ukcaving.com


CHECC was formed during the UK’s first university caving club forum in 2🥚02, it’s founders were Chris Jewell and Joel Corrigan. CHECC is now an established organisation setup to protect the interests of student caving. We encourage clubs which are having trouble with their unions or just starting out to get in touch for advice and support. As a body of experienced and student/former student cavers, with ties to the BCA and other caving organisations, we are able to offer official representation for your club on a national level. For more general caving related advice feel free to get touch about this too or refer to our caving Wiki.

Our broader aims are to strengthen communication and collaboration between different caving groups, creating new opportunities for caving and exploration.We facilitate this through 3 main annual events the CHECC forum and two smaller regional events: NCHECC and SCHECC. Through these events, we organise peer to peer training in order for you to hone your skills or learn something new and not to mention the best student caving party of the year. CHECC also owns a Disto which we can lend to clubs for surveying projects or expeditions.


About us…

Caveclimb.com
 incorporates two businesses.  We are a retailer specialising in caving and climbing equipment and a company providing instruction in caving, climbing and abseiling.    The company is Caving Services Ltd which is fully licensed by the Adventure Activities Licensing Service (AALA) to provide activities to schools and youth organisations.  The company directors are Andy and Rachel Sparrow.  Caveclimb.com, the retail business, is run as a partnership by Andy and Rachel.  Our premises in Cheddar incorporate a shop, training area, equipment store and office. Both our businesses are based here . In the last year Lawrence Wilson has become a permanent member of our team.  Lawrence has caved, climbed and mountain walked for many years.   

Location
We are based in Cheddar, and our activity sites are located in the Mendip Hills of Somerset, and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  The surroundings, both above and below ground, are often spectacular.  We can run sessions in other areas such as Devon and South Wales.

History
Our instructing business began in 1988 as Andy Sparrow Caving Services, becoming Caving Services Ltd in 2008.  Andy Sparrow remains an active instructor.  He is well known as an expert on caving, has made several caving related TV appearances, and is the author of The Complete Caving Manual.  Andy is a climber too, and an acknowledged expert on rope techniques.  Caveclimb.com and the retail business began in September 2008.  We opened a high street shop in Cheddar which we re-located to an industrial unit in June 2010.  We now use the name caveclimb.com as a banner which neatly describes our services.

Safety
Over the last 30 years many thousands of participants have safely enjoyed our caving and abseiling sessions.  We are proud to say that we have had no serious accidents or injuries during this entire period.  In 2010 we decided to offer climbing as an ideal activity to compliment caving, allowing groups to enjoy two great and very different activities on one day.

Instructors
We employ only the best instructors, genuine experts who combine technical ability with excellent communication skills.   We maintain high standards and don’t cut corners – we keep our group sizes for caving at sensible levels and always try to have one rope for every three climbers (ensuring that everybody keeps busy).  We avoid climbing in the rain whenever possible.  If the weather is bad we often offer abseiling, caving or gorge scrambling as an alternative.


ABOUT WILD PLACES

Wild Places Publishing specialises in caving-related publications and was formed with book publication in mind. Its growth has, however, been closely linked with perhaps the best known of its publications, Descent magazine.

Descent was launched as a small-format magazine in January 1969 and moved to an A4 format with issue (40) in 1979. Since 1988 Chris Howes has edited the magazine with issue (82), from the beginning working alongside assistant editor Judith Calford, and in 1997 the publisher changed from Ambit Publications to Wild Places Publishing, at that time only recently set up to produce Images Below and other caving books.

Descent has gained a reputation for quality, both of production and its content, and in 2009 it gained the Tratman Award for continuing innovation taking it to its 200th edition and beyond, and in recognition of the magazine’s contribution to speleology.’ Once under control of Wild Places, the production values have remained high with Cambrian Printers in Aberystwyth using quality paper from a sustainable source and vegetable-based inks (the company has a highly regarded environmental record).

Descent is therefore only part of what Wild Places works on – take a look at our books in detail, for example. These include titles by Jim Eyre (as funny a read as anything you will find in caving), Chris Howes, Martyn Farr, and the hugely successful Adventures Underground by Dave Haigh and John Cordingley (as with Images Below, this also won a Tratman Award). 

So please take some time to explore our website at Wild Places Publishing and let us know what you think (or, if you prefer to browse through cave photographs, take a trip to our sister site Wild Places Photography).

That said, congratulations go to CavefestUK for all they do for caving and cavers – we are very happy to support their hard work.


OUR BREWERY

Cheddar Ales began its artisan brewing activities in October 2006 and is based at Winchester Farm on the edge of Cheddar village, near the famous Cheddar Gorge.

We currently have five fermenting vessels, each one capable of holding 21.5 brewery barrels of beer, or around 6,150 pints. This gives us a weekly brewing capacity of around 30,000 pints, which may sound a lot but is certainly ‘micro’ in terms of the brewing industry. By hand-crafting such relatively small volumes, Cheddar Ales can ensure that character, consistency and quality lie at the heart of all our beers.

Alongside all the other vessels and machinery making up the brewery`s production process we have a bottling line capable of producing 1200 bottles per hour. This enables us to undertake brewing and bottling work for other small breweries in need or to produce bespoke brews and bottles for other clients.

Jem Ham is Cheddar Ales’ Head Brewer and Managing Director. Jem has lived in Somerset all of his life and after a brief career in banking and a year in Australia spent the next 15 years working as a brewer for another local brewery. Another year working as a stand in Head Brewer for a Wiltshire brewery gave Jem the confidence to go it alone and in 2006 he started Cheddar Ales with the intention of making the best real ales in the local area. Our customers say he is succeeding. When he’s not working, Jem enjoys playing golf and spending time with his family, but it’s never long before he’s back, hard at work in his local pub, keeping up our strict quality control procedures.


Local Instructors.

Based in Somerset, close to the famous Cheddar Caves and Wookey Hole, WetWellies Caving offers Experience Days, ‘Learn to Cave’ sessions and Advanced Courses for those wanting to improve their skills.

Fully Qualified Leader (BCA Level 2)

  • Adventures in the caves of  Somerset, 40 minutes from Bath and Bristol and 25 minutes from Bristol International  Airport.
  • Private trips – you will never be mixed with another group.
  • Bespoke courses available – 1:1, couples, groups and clubs all catered for.
  • Half or Full day and evening adventure caving trips for all ages and abilities.
  • Trip packages available including airport pick up and accommodation.
  •  Complete beginners, nervous novices or courses for improvers wanting to move forward with more technical skills – all catered for.
  • Team building, Hen parties, Birthdays and Families welcome

We offer Try Caving sessions and courses to introduce you to the wonderful underground environment in the safest, most educational and enjoyable way possible.

WetWellies nurture our clients and support them in their progression should they wish to continue visiting the caves they have enjoyed so much.

WetWellies offer the highest quality coaching, education, instruction and leadership.


Outdoor pursuits

We may be the largest outdoor activity provider in the South West, but our core values have remained constant since we began in 1978

ENVIRONMENT: The Mendip Hills are our office. Our business relies on our environment and our environment relies on us. We take real pride in this responsibility and it inspires everything we do. 

EDUCATIONAL: The great outdoors is the ultimate classroom. It’s constantly changing, challenging, surprising and amazing. You don’t have to come to us with a specific educational agenda, but the learning opportunities hidden in outdoor activities will teach any curriculum objectives in a powerful, physical, relatable and memorable way!

EXPERIENTIAL: Outdoor activities are intended to challenge both physically and mentally. The sense of achievement you get from pushing yourself can inspire genuine life changing moments. 

ENJOYMENT: Outdoor activities are fun, that’s why we do this. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re doing it and whatever the reason, we can guarantee you’ll enjoy it and go home with special memories you’ll treasure!

Activities include


WELCOME TO THE MENDIP HILLS AONB

This is one of England’s most special places – the limestone Mendip Hills with the lakes of the Chew Valley is a stunning landscape of steep slopes and undulating plateau punctuated by spectacular gorges and rocky outcrops. On the hilltops there are hundreds of ancient monuments, whilst on steeper slopes flower rich grasslands and wooded combes offer varied habitats for a wide variety of wildlife.

In recognition of its special qualities the area has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). One of 46 AONBs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and a member of the National Association of AONBs, these protected landscapes are managed through local Partnerships on behalf of the nation.

The Mendip Way

An amazing 50 miles (80 kilometre) long-distance trail that takes in all the special qualities of the Mendip Hills. The West and East Mendip Way connect Weston-super-Mare, via Cheddar and Wells to Frome. A perfect 3 day walk.

The West Mendip Way is largely in the Mendip Hills AONB and starts near the Bristol Channel at Uphill and climbs the Mendip Hills escarpment onto the Mendip plateau and across the top of Cheddar Gorge and down to Wells. Download the West Mendip Way(PDF Download 3MB) guide with maps and route descriptions.

The East Mendip Way continues from Wells to Frome passing to the north of Shepton Mallet and close to some of the limestone quarries. Download the East Mendip Way (PDF Download 3MB) guide.


Starless River has been selling caving gear since 2009 and now we probably have the widest range of equipment in the UK. We are also the sole UK importers for some European brands such as MTDE. The Starless River travelling shop visits the main caving areas of the UK and Ireland – we post our whereabouts every weekend here on the front page. Come and try on suits and harnesses for fit and comfort.

Our number is 01748 811438

Tony Seddon is an active expeditionary caver and has been a CIC (Cave Instructor Certificate) holder since 1997. He runs courses on basic and advanced SRT as well as rescue techniques. He will tailor training to the needs of groups and individuals – give him a ring to discuss what might be useful for you. He also provides guided trips and technical caving support for film and other projects.

Tony’s mobile is 07896 463971

How to find us – the calendar shows where the travelling shop is (usually at weekends). We have stores at Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 4TB, which are open on Tuesdays between 17.00 and 19.00, and at other times by appointment.


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