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Number of Caves and percent covered by access controls

Posted: Tue 28 Mar 2006 21:21
by Bob Mehew
I have recently had a reason to cite the number of caves in the UK and the percent of caves which had free / permission / restricted / banned access. To provide an answer, I suggested in the order of 5,000 cave across the UK, 90% required permission (c.f. land owner to get down or access control) but very few with restricted (c.f. gated because of pictogram / painting) or banned. I asked one person whose knowledge I respect and he suggested the 5,000 was probably high.

Has any body got a better guess and on what basis?

Regarding definitions, caves means natural plus caves with man made access; so totally mined mines are not included. (Which raises the other question how many mines?) I was asked about grotty 2 metre long holes; well if some one thought they should be included in a register, who am I to exclude them. (Which prompts a simple question - has any one got a total of all cave registry entries? I asked Cookie but he did not seem to have an answer from the top of his head.) I also include any rock, so sea caves are included.

By UK I mean England Scotland & Wales plus the islands but not Northern Ireland (since SUI cover them).

By free access, I mean no need to ask any one.

By permission, I mean you should have to ask one (even if this is normaly ignored) upto booking a leader to gain access.

By restricted, I mean very strict control over access for very defined purposes and probably under supervision.

Banned means prohibited (even if this ignored).

I am sure there are weaknesses in these definitions so feel free to comment about them. I am not after high degrees of accuracy, the percentage control could be estimated from a sample of caves in a region.

Hope this makes sense.


Posted: Tue 28 Mar 2006 21:58
by Les Williams
There are more than 600 entries in the Devon Cave Registry but I havn't had time to do a more detailed analysis. I would think these are mostly caves but most of these caves will be grotty little holes of only a few metres. (This figure covers some sea caves as well)
Almost all of Devons larger caves have restricted or controlled access. There are only about 10 of these. The only one I can think of that is open is Prid so your 90% figure seems OK. :)

Most of the small grotty holes are open.
I don't know if this is any help :)

If I find the time I will do a more detailed analysis but don't hold your breath :D

Posted: Wed 29 Mar 2006 20:14
by Graham M
Wig should be able to tell you how many sites are in the Mendip Registry and the CSCC access page could then be used to check out which categories they fall into. the Cambrian Registry is soon to go online at I would guess that Goon could tell you the Scottish details easily enough. What I don't know is any definitive listing of the bit between Mendip/Wales & Scotland, though I believe there are some caves there.

Posted: Wed 29 Mar 2006 21:40
by Canda@CSCC
Graham M wrote:What I don't know is any definitive listing of the bit between Mendip/Wales & Scotland, though I believe there are some caves there.
... Ah! Forest of Dean - yes, there are some caves there!....

Posted: Mon 24 Apr 2006 14:41
by Jenny Potts
Note that DCA and CNCC produce access handbooks (as does CSCC) so it should be simple enough to trawl through these - though it will be time consuming.

Depends how accurate you want to be because the situation is not static and more owners are beginning to take an interest in what's on their land, particularly with the advent of CRoW.

Probably 90% overall is a good enough guess but the situation varies in different regions because of the types of land involved.