A lot of this page has been adapted from our Caving Without Tears handbook – check it out if you want to see more detail, including about history of the club, caving safely, conservation and extra caving items.

If you missed our intro talk but are still curious, the slides can be downloaded from here

Frequent Q and As

I've never been caving before - can I join?
Yes! We’ll teach you everything you need to know about cave exploration and the techniques that we use from scratch. We cater our trips to your skill level, with beginners trips typically being run at the start of the semester. Additionally, our training sessions allow you to learn single rope technique (SRT, basically how to get up and down rope vertically) in a controlled environment.
I'm not a Uni of Leeds student - can I join?
Non-UoL students (Leeds Arts, Leeds Beckett etc) can still join and get access to the club equipment, trips and socials. Unfortunately, non-UoL students cannot get access to our training session at the Edge for free even with membership (it’s out of our hands!) – But get in contact and we can try sorting something out.
Non-students can still join us as part of our ULSA (University of Leeds Speleology Association) branch – the non-student side of the club.
How often do you go caving?
We’re a really active club, with day trips or full weekend trips typically being offered every weekend during term-time. On weekends when we aren’t caving, you may find us climbing or hiking.
Is it too late to join in the middle of the year or halfway during the semester?
Of course not – it’s never too late to join! If you’re joining in the middle of a semester, we recommend coming to a few training sessions to learn SRT as we tend to require it in caves by this point.
Do I need to spend loads on caving equipment?
Nope – the club provides essential caving equipment (over suits, wellies, helmets, SRT kits) and only requires you to bring some cheap/old suitable underlayers (synthetic joggers, a nylon fleece, thermals). A kit list is can be found below.
I'm coming on my first trip or GIAG, where can I see up to date info?
Our facebook page should have a post pinned to the top detailing everything. The club provides most of the essential caving kit but requires you to bring some of your own stuff, especially underlayers for caving and a sleeping bag for weekend trips – a kit list can be found here 
Where can I find dates of all your trips?
  • Fresher’s fairs: Tue 24th Sep, Wed 25th Sep
  • Intro talk: Tue 24th Sep, 8pm at Packhorse Pub
  • Abseiling Social: Sun 29th Sep, meeting 9am outside of Parkinson
  • Give It A Go: Sun 13th October
  • Mendips Weekend: Fri evening 18th – Sun late 20th Oct
  • Pennine Hut Weekend: Fri evening 18th – Sun evening 20th Oct
  • CHECC Weekend: Fri evening 22nd – Sun late 24th Nov
  • Xmas Weekend: Fri evening 6th – Sun evening 8th Dec

See our upcoming events page for more details! Training for vertical trips starts from Tuesday 1st Oct 8pm at the Edge climbing wall, training on the 1st and Fri 4th doesn’t require membership.

Where is the most up to date info shared?
Our facebook page has regular updates, we also have a separate facebook group for more socialising and unofficial, non-committee organised trips.

A typical caving trip

A caving trip will normally last about four hours; it may be more, maybe less, depending on the nature of the cave itself. In any case, we normally are underground by around 12:00 pm and out in time for a curry. Caving is a unique combination of crawling, stooping, climbing, exploration – something you have to try out once! If you come to our training sessions we’ll be able to teach you Single Rope Technique, how we get up and down in more vertical caves. Once back on the surface, everyone changes into their spare set of DRY CLOTHES. It is possible that there will be a bit of a wait here as different caving parties return (or not), and you may get a bit hungry. Sandwiches are quite useful at this point though you will have to fight off the ravenous scavengers who failed to bring any of their own. We generally aim to be back in Leeds by the evening,  where we’ll often head for a curry or to the pub – we cannot guarantee the time we’ll be back in Leeds, so bear in mind that if you need to be back in Leeds by a certain time.

Stuff you need to bring

Although we provide caving equipment, such as over suits, SRT kits, wellies, helmets etc., we require you to bring some stuff too. Failure to bring the correct kit (especially underlayers) may mean we cannot take you caving! More layers are better than too few, you can always take off extra layers if you’re too warm.

Warm clothes (and a spare set, including socks and underwear, to change into after caving)
NO JEANS OR CHINOS, basically avoid cotton, synthetic materials are ideal since they retain heat better when wet
Preferably old clothes that you don’t mind getting muddy
Includes… long-sleeved tops, fleece/jumper, warm trousers (like polyester jogging bottoms), base layers or thermals
Search around charity shops, Primark etc. for cheap layers, or ask the Facebook group
Lots of socks
Thick, higher length socks (like hiking socks) are best, make sure you bring spares for after getting changed so your feet stay happy
We would encourage you to buy your own wet socks after a few caving trips
Hat/ buff/ other method to keep your head warm
Bobble/elastic band to tie up long hair (or put it in a plait)
Medicine (e.g. asthma inhaler) if needed
Inform your group leader if you need to bring these into the cave
Caving snacks
Normally packaged sweets or some kind of way to get your energy back up if you feel tired e.g. mars bars, flapjacks, strawberry laces
Towel
Money *optional*
We normally go past our favourite café in the Dales for a big breakfast before going underground, so bring a bit of cash to have either a really good breakfast or a really good second breakfast! Please make sure you eat a big breakfast or a packed lunch before caving
Caving/gardening gloves *not essential but recommended*
Caving knee pads *not essential but recommended*

Weekend trip extras…

Sleeping bag
Possibly roll mat too, depending on where we’re staying i.e CHECC
Changes of clothes
For when the first set get wet and you don’t want to wear them again
Toiletries
Money
In case we go to the pub or stop off at a service station
Snacks
We provide 2 breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday, and 1 dinner on Saturday night in the ticket price, it may be a good idea to bring some food for the Friday or Sunday night
Normally we have a bit of a party Friday/Saturday night, so bring your own booze (if you want to)!

A pdf copy of this checklist is also available

We do not recommend taking phones into caves: waterproof pouches or water-resistant phones are not necessarily cave-proof and there is a high chance of you breaking the screen or the entirety of your device.

Where and when to meet

Everyone will meet at 9:00 am (ish) for day trips and 6:00 pm (ish) for weekend trips at ‘The Chapel’. You will hear people mention The Chapel quite a lot – this is where we (as well as a few other outdoor clubs) store our gear and equipment. It’s situated just over the road from The Edge sports centre, in an old church building.

Check our Facebook page for a more accurate leaving time.

Weekend trips

Our most infamous and popular trips! Generally ran 4 times a term, leaving Friday evening and returning Sunday evening. We all head to a cave-heavy region of the UK and spend the weekend doing as much caving as we can while spending the nights partying together at a caving hut (think a more chaotic hostel!). We even include breakfasts and dinners so there’s no excuse to miss these events!

Friday night is typically a fun one – we don’t usually provide dinner on Friday night so make sure you’ve eaten beforehand (or bring food with you). We provide a solid and filling breakfast on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, as well as a very welcome dinner on Saturday night

Subject to the weather (and the number of ‘under the weather’ cavers), we’ll be caving on both the Saturday and Sunday. The type of caving we do will depend on where we’re going, and our weekend trips are a brilliant way of experiencing caves that you wouldn’t get to if you only come on our Dales day trips.

When you come on a weekend trip with us, there are a few things you’ll need to bring with you, in addition to the items you’d take on a day trip. The most important is a sleeping bag – we usually stay in caving huts that are owned and operated by caving clubs based all over the country and while they all have beds (of sorts), you’ll need a sleeping bag if you want to stay warm. If you don’t already have one then sleeping bags can be picked up quite cheaply –  just ask someone if you need some shopping advice.

You’ll also want to bring a few other essentials – some cash, snack food, any medication you might need, and alcohol (if preferred).

Paying For Trips & Membership

For most of our trips, we operate an online ticket purchasing system. In the week (or two) prior to a trip (day or weekend), tickets will be available to buy from the club’s LUU webpage. You simply need to log in using your student ID number and password and then add the tickets to your basket. This is the same place you buy membership, and for insurance reasons you have to buy membership prior to coming on trips (the exception being Give-It-A-Go and day trips that are advertised as not requiring membership).  There will always be a limit to the number of spaces available on any one trip so although we will try to accommodate everyone, make sure to get in quickly if you’re keen.

As of September 2018…
– Annual LUUCaS (student club) membership – £18
– Semester LUUCaS (student club) membership – £12
– Day trips – £10
– Weekend trips – £30
– GIAG – £20

Costs may vary from trip to trip, this will be advertised in the accompanying Facebook post

Membership will allow you to come on day and weekend trips, use our club kit store, public liability insurance, access to Edge training sessions (for Uni of Leeds students, additional cost for others).

Tickets for our trips are available on the LUU shop till 12:00 pm Wednesday before a trip – if you have missed out, there may be spaces still available so ask. GIAGs (and some fresher’s trips) do not require membership.

Caving Safety

While caving can be a risky activity, we take many steps to prevent anything bad from occurring – that said here are things that you should be aware of.

Firstly, as you approach a cave entrance be aware that sometimes wet limestone open to daylight can be ridiculously slippery due to algal slime, so be careful with your footing.

The terrain underground (and on the approach to caves) can be uneven possibly leading to trips so keep an eye on your footing. Pitches can pose a danger especially when cavers are above causing lose rocks to rain down, so be careful and don’t knock or kick rocks. For that reason, never stand directly below a pitch, and if you here the ear-splitting yell of “BELOW!!!” (meaning rocks are impending) DON’T LOOK UP, instead get yourself out of the away and avoid the urge to protect your head with your arms, your head will already be protected by your helmet.

Fatigue often goes hand in hand with being cold, this has a simple solution if caught early…  eat, drink, put on warm layers, and most importantly tell other group members how you’re feeling. Every caver would prefer to abort the trip safely than to continue until the only hope of getting out is by being rescued.

FINALLY, there is a requirement that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS both above and below ground. You must make your own judgements. If you are unwell or your fitness is not up to scratch on a particular day do not come caving, the caves aren’t going anywhere, and you will be putting others at risk as well as yourself. It is up to you to ensure that you eat a proper breakfast in order to have the endurance to participate in what can be a very strenuous activity. We will try to check everyone is wearing appropriate underlayers, but it is ultimately up to you to bring the correct kit. Trip leaders and seconders are there to guide, train and supervise – the rest is up to you

Cave conservation

As a society, we are dedicated to the conservation of caves. We, therefore, try to limit the damage that our presence inevitably does to the underground environment.

Crystal formations such as calcite stalactites and stalagmites look far nicer in their natural underground setting than on a mantelpiece.  Similarly trampling mud into delicate, clean, brimstone pools ruins them forever. Many cave formations have taken many thousands of years to form. We hope that they may last for thousands of years to come

If you want to learn more about caving see newtocaving.com or check out Caving Without Tears Handbook.

Documents and other important bits This page is meant to be a summary of everything you need to know, however further documentation of what we expect of our members (including freshers and GIAG attendees), risk assessments, our code of practice is available at ulsa.org.uk/documentation.