Caving, mining and potholing

Includes: caves, mining, potholing, artificial caving Outdoors, Adventure, Nature and the great outdoors

Activity time:
Half day


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Explore underground

Look beneath the earth's surface - taking girls into caves, mines and potholes means they can have the challenge of climbing and clambering in the dark and get to see the world from a whole new perspective.


Caving is an adventurous sport which involves the exploration of underground passages and chambers. It includes:

  • horizontal caving - where caves are often accessed without advanced equipment
  • vertical caving - where caves may require rope work and special techniques for access.

The following regulations do not apply when visiting tourist or artificial mines or caves.

To take girls caving, you will need to find a reputable local provider with a qualified instructor. The age limits for caves vary so you should consult the instructor about:

  • the minimum age for the system concerned
  • the minimum size for the equipment available
  • the grading of the cave, pothole or mine you are visiting.

Planning checklist

Safety notes

If anyone is under the age of 18, and the activity involves the use of climbing or diving equipment or the application of specialist skills or techniques, the provider must be licenced by the Adventurous Activities Licencing Authority. This is not applicable in Northern Ireland - consult your Outdoor Activities Adviser to help you choose a suitable provider.

The activity instructor must hold one of the following British Caving Association (BCA) qualifications:

  • Local Cave and Mine Leader Assessment Scheme, Level 1 or Level 2
  • Cave Instructor Certificate.

If you are unsure, or alternative qualifications are held, consult your Outdoor Activities Adviser or contact [email protected] to ensure the instructor's qualification is suitable.

Leave with a home contact:

  • the names of those going underground
  • details of the cave, mine or pothole system you are visiting (and where applicable, the part of the system you are visiting)
  • the route you are taking
  • your expected return time.

Let your home contact know when you have returned.

Make sure that all equipment is checked by the instructor before going underground.

Make sure the instructor has a first aid kit, emergency food, emergency group shelter and spare lighting to take underground.

Monitor current and predicted weather conditions as water levels in caves can rise rapidly following rainfall.

Section Number of girls per adult
Rainbows 5
Brownies 8
Guides 12

How many adults are needed?

Use this calculator to find out the ratio of girls to adults that is required for this activity

2 adults needed

Horizontal caving: a maximum of ten girls with an instructor and at least one other responsible adult.

Vertical potholing: a maximum of six girls with an instructor and at least one other responsible adult.

The instructor may vary the group size depending on the conditions of the cave, mine or pothole.


  • An Activity Information and Consent form is required to participate in this activity - PDF | Word
  • A Risk Assessment form is required for this activity - PDF

Remember - you can use one consent form for multiple activities

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