Forest of Dean Meet - Friday 4 May – Monday 7 May 2007

Two years ago, I organised a multi-club meet in the Forest with 41 cavers, 4 kids and 1 dog from Craven Pothole Club, Dudley Caving Club, Shepton Mallet Caving Club and the BEC. We had a great time caving, exploring mines, hiking, climbing, cycling together and of course, drinking the pub almost dry and so we’re heading back there again for this May Bank Holiday. 

For those of you that have not been to the Forest before, it is a wonderful area with a longer cave than Mendip and plenty of other outdoor activities.  It is also a great opportunity to meet and socialise with other cavers from different clubs.

The campsite

The campsite we will be staying at is Rushmere Farm, Crossways, Coleford, grid ref SO 568 114. 

From Mendip: go over the Severn Bridge to Chepstow, taking the A466 to Monmouth.  Then take the A4136 heading to Coleford, passing through Staunton.  Pick up the B4228 ( Staunton Road) to Crossways.  At the crossroads turn left and Rushmere Farm is first on your left, up a drive to the farmhouse.   

From the north:  follow the A40 south to Monmouth.  Cross over the River Wye at Monmouth and take the A4136 heading to Coleford, passing through Staunton.  Pick up the B4228 ( Staunton Road) to Crossways.  At the crossroads turn left and Rushmere Farm is first on your left, up a drive to the farmhouse.   

Arrival at Rushmere Farm:  the owners of the campsite will be allocating us a field, so if you are arriving early in the day, knock at the door and the booking is under my name and “Cavers”.  If you’re arriving in the evening, rather than disturbing the owners, once up the entrance drive, turn right up a slight hill and look out for the usual suspects, I’ll be in a green Defender Landrover P519 ENT.  The campsite has toilets, a couple of showers and our discounted rate is £4 per person, £2.50 for children under 12.  Please do not pay at the farm.  I will have a sheet to record camping and I’ll be collecting the money as a group. Dogs are allowed on the campsite if on a lead and under control. 


There are a number of good pubs in the Forest and no doubt, a few will be visited during the weekend.  If there are sufficient numbers interested, I am hoping to get hold of a barrel of local beer for campsite drinking.


Coleford is only 0.5 miles away from the campsite and has a couple of supermarkets and plenty of takeaway options.  As we did on the last meet, we will probably place a big Chinese takeaway order one evening (or two). 

Caving trips

I have arranged for access to most of the underground places in the Forest; Wetsink, Redhouse Lane Swallet, Big Sink, Miss Grace’s Lane, Westburybrook Iron Mine, Slade Brook Cave etc as all require permits and most are gated.

During the weekend, there will be plenty of cavers around, including some Forest cavers, and several trips will be taking place each day.  Popular caves will remain rigged over the weekend.  I will have keys, copies of surveys and maps available to locate entrances so that people can sort out their own groups for trips on an informal basis.  The only formality I insist on is the signing in/out of a call out sheet on a daily basis. If you are bringing someone that is not a member of one of the four clubs, please ensure that they have their BCA card, otherwise they will have to sign up for temporary BCA membership.   

For those of you who are not familiar with the Forest caves and mines, here’s some information:

Wetsink (Slaughter Stream) - The longest cave in the Forest at approximately 14km.  A descent down several fixed ladders and several electron ladders leads to an interesting streamway, two calcified dogs and several routes including a short round trip.

Redhouse Lane Cave - This does not require any gear but some might wish to have a lifeline on the entrance shaft.  Not the place to be if it is wet. At present the route into Redhouse is best done via the 229 Series as the bottom of the Horror Choke has moved a bit. Still passable but care required.

Big Sink - A snug SRT trip, about 1000m long with good formations at the end, some interesting passages and can be done in any weather.

Miss Grace’s Lane – Originally a small depression, this cave is entered by a 30m approx shaft and is now quite extensive at about 4km length due to the dedication of Jan Karvik, one of the Forest diggers.

Westburybrook Iron Mine - Very extensive with the upper series being quite complex.  There are a number of interesting trips including a Round Trip via Honeycomb Rift that involves several abseils and traversing.

Slade Brook Cave - Is fairly short around 250m but is quite interesting. It is not for those with a large chest size and certainly not the place to be in wet weather. Almost at the end it gets into some nice water worn passage but unfortunately the route on is blocked by a choke.

Robin Hood Iron Mine – Has a pleasant 65m free hang entrance pitch to a series of passages.  Please note that I will require advance notice if you would like to do this.

If there is a specific cave or mine that you would like to do that is not on the list, then please let me know asap.

Other outdoor activities

Cycling –there is plenty of good cycling to be had in the Forest, although cyclists usually return very wobbly, giggling and smelling of alcohol.

Canoeing/kayaking – rumour has it that Zot will be bringing his canoe.  Canoes can also be hired from Symonds Yat.

Hiking – funnily enough, hikers often return back to the campsite very wobbly as well.

The weekend will be very informal, families, kids and other cavers are welcome.  All I ask is that you:

  • Tell me in advance, preferably by 20 April 2007, if you are coming along, so I have a rough idea of numbers – see my contact details below.
  • Sign the booking in sheet for camping and pay up during the weekend.
  • Sign the caving trip/call out sheet before and after a trip.
  • Have a good time!



If you need any more information, or wish to join us, please call, text or email me.

Look forward to seeing you in the Forest!

Emma Porter (contact details in BEC address book)