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St Cuthbert’s Swallet is locked and access is controlled by the Bristol Exploration Club on behalf of the land owners using a warden system. Changing facilities and showers at the Belfry. For more information on the cave see the St Cuthbert’s Report

To request a trip, please either click on the button or write to the Cuthbert’s Secretary, Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset enclosing an SAE. Please aim to give around 6 weeks’ notice.

button request a st cuthberts trip

Cavers belonging to clubs with St Cuthbert's Swallet guest leaders should apply to their own club secretary.

Current BEC St. Cuthbert’s Swallet Wardens

Luke Edwards, Ben Holstead, Anya Keatley, Rich Smith, Stuart Gardiner, Pete Glanvill, Martin Grass, Peter Hellier, Tim Large, Faye Litherland, Stuart MacManus, Phil Rowsell, Estelle Sandford, Chris Smart, Nigel Taylor, Dave Turner, Hels Warren, Tony Boycott, Greg Brock.

Guest Club St. Cuthbert’s Swallet Wardens

Alison Moody (WCC), Andy Sparrow (Cheddar CC), Graham Price (Cerberus SS), James Begley (SMCC), Jeremy Gilson (MCG), Sean Howe (SMCC).

Training to become a St. Cuthbert’s Swallet Warden

If you are interested in becoming a St. Cuthbert’s Swallet warden, please contact the BEC Committee for more information.

St Cuthbert’s Swallet Rules

All cavers accessing the system must adhere to the rules below.

  1. Parties are limited to five (5) cavers per warden.
  2. No novices are permitted in the cave.
  3. All tourist trips in the cave must adhere to one of the recognised tourist routes.
  4. Trips into Rabbit Warren Extension, Victory passage and Canyon Series are limited to 3 cavers per warden. Even with these numbers great case must be exercised. Do not take trips to these locations (or September series) unless requested.
  5. No more than 3 cavers at a time should enter Curtain Chamber.
  6. Do not use vulnerable routes such as Rabbit Warren extension to Struggle passage via Erratic Chambers, Vantage point to the cascade and Rabbit Warren to the fingers.
  7. Electric lights only.
  8. If visiting a particularly muddy area of the cave try to wash off in the streamway to avoid muddying other sections of the cave.
  9. A tackle fee is payable by all non BEC Members.
  10. No digging is to be undertaken in the cave without the permission of the BEC committee.
  11. All cavers must have current BCA insurance.
  12. Persons under 18 (eighteen) years of age must be accompanied by parent or legal guardian.
  13. The Warden’s decision is final in relation to any part of the trip underground.
  14. Write all trips in the Cuthbert’s log.
  15. All cavers entering St Cuthbert’s should be made aware that sediments in the cave have a very high lead content and it is recommended that any clothing exposed to mud/sediments should be thoroughly cleaned after use.


Caving is a fascinating recreational activity which attracts the interest of a diverse range of people and groups, who all benefit immensely from the experience.
However, some caves and some areas within them can be sensitive to human interference. By following the few simple guidelines set out in this booklet the cave environment can be conserved for future generations to enjoy.
This code is divided into two sections, one relating to general cave visits and the other relating to the exploration of a newly discovered cave or section of cave.


General Cave Visits

  1. Every caving trip has an impact. It is important to select a site to visit that is appropriate to the group and type of trip being undertaken. Certain caves are less susceptible to damage and more suitable for novices. Advice is available from the Regional Caving Council or local clubs.
  2. Where a Cave Conservation Plan is in existence abide by the recommendations contained therein for the conservation of the cave.
  3. The party size should be appropriate to the vulnerability of the cave. The more vulnerable the cave environment, the smaller the party size needs to be. Cave Conservation Plans may stipulate a minimum and/or maximum party size. Access Controls Bodies may also limit party size at some caves.
  4. Cave as a team. Help each other through the cave and ensure that party members stay together. Stragglers may take the wrong route and enter vulnerable areas.
  5. Cave at a sensible pace for the party. You will see and enjoy more, and there will be less chance of damage to the cave and to yourself. This especially applies when one is tired and exiting a cave.
  6. Take care yourself and constantly watch when your party members are moving towards sensitive areas such as relict sediment deposits and speleothems e.g. stalagmites, stalactites and flowstone. Warn party members before they are likely to do any damage.
  7. If there are novices on a trip, make sure that they are always close to an experienced caver, so that the experienced caver can help them when required e.g. in difficult sections.
  8. Keep tackle bags and packs as small as possible and transport them carefully.
  9. Stay on marked or obvious paths. If no paths are marked or none is obvious take particular care. If in doubt, do not proceed further.
  10. Learn to recognise sensitive cave deposits or features that may be damaged by walking or crawling on them such as cracked mud floors or flowstone floors.
  11. If it appears necessary to walk or crawl on a sensitive floor do not proceed. If others appear to have walked over it, confirm that this is the route before proceeding and then only proceed with the utmost care having removed boots and other clothing as necessary. Remember that someone may have previously mistaken this for the route and further damage should be avoided.
  12. Throughout a cave the established marked routes must be used. Single tracks should be followed and care taken to avoid the spreading of mud. Mud-throwing or modelling is unacceptable.
  13. Restore any missing or damaged marker tapes or route markers. If not possible, report the problem to the appropriate Regional Caving Council as soon as possible. Also report any instances where tapes or markers appear to be ineffective.
  14. Treat all cave wildlife with respect, watch out for them, and avoid disturbing them. Also avoid directly illuminating cave wildlife if possible. Bats are protected by law.
  15. Ensure that all foreign matter is removed from caves. This includes human waste. If long trips are to be made into a cave, ensure that containers for the removal of liquid and solid waste are included on the trip inventory. The use of carbide is strongly discouraged as it causes soot deposition on the cave roof and speleothems.
  16. If any damage or degradation is noticed report this to the appropriate Regional Caving Council as soon as possible.


New Cave or Extension Explorations

  1. Modification of cave entrances and passages, including changing water levels in sumps or ducks and diversion of streams, should only be undertaken after all possible effects have been assessed and the appropriate permission obtained from the landowner. Any modifications must be the minimum required. The long term impact of any work and materials used must be considered. If the site is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest or a Scheduled Monument, a ‘Consent’ will also be required from the Statutory Conservation Body.
  2. Use the cave survey to ensure that all alternative routes are examined prior to crossing sensitive or fragile areas. It may not be necessary to enter some areas as they can be by-passed.
  3. Do not enter new cave or passage if you do not have the equipment required to undertake the minimum recommended activities of surveying, taping and photography.
  4. Make a full photographic record before any other work is undertaken or visits made which are likely to result in any damage or deterioration. Copies of the photographs should be placed in a suitable library for safe keeping and submitted to the regional cave registry or caving council for record purposes.
  5. Discuss taping and route marking within the party and ensure that all ideas are evaluated before marking is undertaken and before the sensitive area is crossed.
  6. If a sensitive area must be crossed, reduce future damage by defining a distinct minimum practicable width of path using conservation tape.
  7. Scientific investigation should begin as quickly as possible. Advice may be sought from the British Cave Research Association. The existing microbiology of the new cave, both fungi, bacteria, and a world of protozoa, will almost certainly be irreversibly contaminated on the first trip. If cave microbiologists are available then include them on initial explorations so that they may collect uncontaminated samples.
  8. Bones or other archaeological material should not be moved at all unless under imminent threat. Collection should only be undertaken with permission from the relevant Statutory Conservation Body if the cave is a Designated Site. Photograph any find in situ if possible and contact the Regional Caving Council for advice. It is unlikely to hold up explorations beyond a few days whilst an archaeological record is compiled.
  9. Collection of specimens, (including geological) which must be approved by the appropriate statutory authority, should be kept to the minimum required for study purposes only.
  10. Camping in a cave should only be considered when intending to undertake a specific speleological or conservation objective. All human introduced wastes, including carbide, foodstuffs and excreta, must be removed from the cave and disposed of properly.
  11. Caves must not be disfigured by unnecessary marking, including ‘direction arrows’. Survey markers should be small and inconspicuous.
  12. Make a plan right from the beginning to remove all redundant equipment upon completion of an exploratory dig. If the dig fails “to go” provision should be made to clear up before all interest is lost. Leave the dig in a safe and tidy condition. Seek help from other cavers if necessary.
  13. Instigate the production of a Cave Conservation Plan.


Produced for

The Council of Southern Caving Clubs

The Council of Northern Caving Clubs

The Cambrian Caving Council 

The Derbyshire Caving Association

The Devon & Cornwall Underground Council

The British Caving Association is the governing body for underground exploration in the United Kingdom.

Natural England is here to conserve and enhance the natural environment, for its intrinsic value, the well being and enjoyment of people and the economic prosperity it brings.


The Bristol Exploration Club (BEC) has adopted this policy to comply with the terms of the Protection of Children Act 1999 (PoCA), which places a broad duty of care upon all adults (and therefore upon the organisations that those adults are members of) where the abuse of children, or possible abuse of children is concerned. All children have a right to protection, and the needs of disabled children and others who may be particularly vulnerable must be taken into account. The term “children” for this purpose includes all young persons under the age of 18 years.

PoCA clearly spells out “abuse” as including “sexual”, “emotional” and “physical” abuse and also “neglect”.

Caving is a ‘risk activity’ so “neglect” in terms of caving must be taken to include ‘failure to minimise risk’ by ensuring adequate or sensible precautions are undertaken for physical safety, adequate/appropriate nutrition and protection against hypothermia, drowning, rock-fall, injury through falling, etc.

General Policy Statement

The BEC is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for club members under 18 years old and children of club members whenever they are involved in any activities organised and run by members of the club and staying at the Belfry and on away meets.

Recommendations of the British Caving Association (BCA)

The BEC agrees to abide by the BCA’s minimum recommendations as detailed in their Child Protection Policy which is available on the BCA website (http://british-caving.org.uk).

Guidance Notes

Child Protection Policy (CPP):

  • Children are only allowed to take part in residential trips (those involving an overnight stay) if their parent or guardian is present throughout the trip.
  • At least two adult members are to be present on all such trips and any activities involving children, at least one of which must be their parent or guardian.
  • The ‘Basic Principles of Safeguarding Children’ shall be made available and promoted to all members. (see below).
  • Any member leading trips which includes under 18s needs to have at least a fundamental knowledge of the ‘Basic Principles of Safeguarding Children’, and conduct themselves appropriately.
  • The BEC shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that all members are aware of their CPP.
  • The BEC shall nominate a Child Protection Contact (CPC) from within the BEC Committee (this will be the Membership Secretary unless stated otherwise).
  • All members, including those under 18 and their parents/guardians, shall be informed who the CPC is, and what his/her role is within the BEC.
  • This CPP shall be available upon request to the Hon. Secretary and by way of a public internet page to any third party with an interest in the activities of the BEC insofar as Child Protection matters are
  • concerned.
  • All members under 18 shall be advised to contact the CPC in the event of any behaviour towards them during BEC activities by any person that could be deemed improper or inappropriate.
  • All adult members shall be advised to contact the CPC if they have concerns about any specific inappropriate behaviour towards children during any BEC activities.
  • The CPP is to be reviewed regularly by the Committee and may be updated from time to time.
  • The role of the CPC is outlined separately below.

Role of the Child Protection Contact (CPC):

  • The CPC should be familiar with the BCA Child Protection Guidance Notes.
  • The CPC is not a designated Child Protection Officer.
  • The CPC does not authorise Club members to take care of Minors.
  • The CPC does not make judgements in cases of reported inappropriate behaviour towards children.
  • The CPC provides a contact for any member with concerns over matters of inappropriate behaviour towards children.
  • The CPC provides a contact for any member reporting a BEC activity that occurs in contravention of this CPP.
  • In the event of becoming aware of such concerns the CPC shall act appropriately, from simply advising relevant members that the rules must be followed, to passing on concerns over inappropriate behaviour to the BEC Committee and/or external single point of contact described below.
  • As and when required, the CPC shall establish a single point of contact with an appropriate Child Protection Authority when matters of abuse or suspected abuse are reported. The BCA Guidance Notes provide recommendations on which bodies are appropriate.
  • The CPC shall protect the privacy of all members in matters of reported or suspected abuse, bearing in mind that although rare, false allegations are sometimes made. (see ‘Confidentiality Statement’ below)

Basic Principles of Safeguarding Children

Good practice guidelines:

All BEC members should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to protect themselves from false allegations. The following are common sense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate.

Good practice means:

  • All children whilst on trips, taking part in social activities or staying overnight in the club headquarters (which includes camping) must be in the care of their parent/guardian.
  • Always work in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.
  • Treat all children equally with respect and dignity.
  • Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly. If it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving, young people should always be consulted and their agreement gained. Some parents are becoming increasingly sensitive about manual support and their views should always be carefully considered.

Practices to be avoided:

The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If a case arises where these situations are unavoidable, it should be with the full knowledge and consent of a BEC Committee member and/or the child's parents.

  • Spending time alone with children away from others.
  • Transporting a child on a one to one basis.

Practices never to be sanctioned:

The following should never be sanctioned. You should never:

  • Engage in rough physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
  • Share a room with a child unless the child is accompanied by a parent/guardian.
  • Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching.
  • Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.
  • Reduce a child to tears as a form of control.
  • Allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.
  • Do things of a personal nature for children or disabled adults that they can do for themselves.

Incidents that must be reported/recorded:

If any of the following occur you should record the incident and report this to the CPC as soon as possible. You should also ensure the parents of the child are informed:

  • If you accidentally hurt a child.
  • If he/she seems distressed in any manner.
  • If a child misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done.

Confidentiality Statement:

Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only. This includes the following people:

  • The BEC Committee and BEC Trustees.
  • The parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused.
  • The person making the allegation.

Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (e.g. that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).

Internal Enquiries and Suspension:

The BEC Committee may make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending possible further police or social services enquiries.

1st Draft – 1/9/2014.
2nd Draft – 7/11/2014 Approved – 7/11/14 Last Reviewed -  Next Review due – Nov 2015


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