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Access Information - May 1986

Council Of Southern Cave Clubs
Constituent member of NCA


Mendip Caving Group have now formally taken on access control to Waterwheel Swallet and they have issued the following statement for information.

"You will know that we already have accepted responsibility for our own and other caver’s access to Blackmoor Upper Flood Swallet, also in Velvet Bottom.  As a representative of the landowners Terry Mathews of the Charterhouse Field Centre requested that we should administer an access arrangement following the discovery of a well decorated continuation of the cave in April 1985.  The basic requirements of this informal access agreement are:

a)                    Visits must be led by a member of MCG

b)                    Visitors must complete a Field Centre visit card each - held at Nordrach Cottage

c)                    Party size is limited to four including leader

d)                    No novices are permitted

e)                    No carbide lamps are permitted

f)                      Suitable clothing should be worn to enable crawling in the stream to avoid formations in the roof

The underlying purpose of this set of guidelines is to minimise damage to the profusion of delicate formation which abound in the streamway.

Willie Stanton has recently relinquished his interest in, and control of, Waterwheel Swallet.  This has presented an opportunity to make access to this cave more freely available to cavers. As a temporary measure, Terry Mathews has requested this group to administer access under the same arrangements which apply to Upper Flood.  There is no alternative arrangement available at present and we have agreed to the request, with the proviso that the arrangements shall be reviewed in approximately six months time from March 1986.

We accept this responsibility in the knowledge that it places an extra burden on our members, but at least gains a means of access to ourselves and other cavers. We do request that cavers wishing to visit either of the caves concerned should make prior arrangements with any of our members.  Turning up at Nordrach Cottage on spec may lead to disappointment.


The parcel of land containing the entrance is now in the ownership of the adjacent householders and essentially forms an extension to their garden.  They are happy for cavers to have continued access, but ask that visitors stick to the path when approaching the entrance and avoid their son's radio controlled car racetrack, some bridges over this having been damaged. The path is obvious but they are intending to gravel it in the near future and rebuild the stile.  They have also asked that everyone pay attention to closing the field gate, and preferably lock themselves into the mine when underground.  The access arrangements with the previous owner only enabled five keys to be available from the major clubs, however it has been possible to renegotiate this and in future keys will be available to anyone upon request.  To simplify matters the lock on the mine is now the same as on Cuckoo Cleeves and the one key, available from myself or the Wessex at £2 each, will fit both entrances.



The Avon Wildlife Trust have now fitted the new gates on the mine which they originally planned to do last July.  It is intended that these will be locked by mid May.  Access is controlled by the Southern Caving Clubs Co Ltd under a licence and keys are available for loan direct from the company or by arrangement from any company shareholding club.

The Trust has asked that the following statement is published:

New bat grilles for Browns Folly Mine

Avon Wildlife Trust now owns the whole of the Bathford Hill woodlands at Browns Folly, three miles east of Bath. The nature reserve contains entrances to one of the largest Bath Stone mines, which provide an important winter roost for the increasingly rare greater horseshoe bat.  This bat and its roosting sites are now fully protected by law, and as part of the conservation management of the reserve the main entrances are being grilled.  The new grilled entrances will re-establish the all-important draught pattern in the mines; allow improved access for the bats but prevent the disturbance caused by casual intruders in the mine system.  The grilles are being installed by greater horseshoe bat expert Dr Roger Ransome with the aid of a substantial Nature Conservancy grant.

Two of the bat grilles (NGR ST 79496634 and 79466587) will be gated to allow access to bona fida cavers and application for keys should be made to the licence holder SCC Co Ltd.

Avon Wildlife Trust appreciates, on behalf of the bats, the considerate co-operation of cavers.  The Trust welcomes notification of visits by telephone on 0272 326885, and is interested to hear about numbers of greater horseshoe bats observed. Visits should be timed to avoid the critical late hibernation period in March/April.

Graham Price
Conservation and Access Officer
1. 5 .86