The Virtues of Vis-Bot

Generally speaking, cavers in the UK understand the benefits of knowing how caves respond to rainfall (unless your caving takes place solely in Goatchurch). With the advent of very accurate and up to date forecasts online, it is pretty easy to avoid the major weather events that, on their own, can spoil your day; we just need to be alert to key phrases such as ‘thunderstorms’, ‘heavy showers’ or ‘prolonged rainfall’. Not very hard to manage!

However, the other side of the equation is what the weather has already done in our chosen caving area. Saturated ground or snow cover can all make for nasty surprises if you add even a small amount of rain from a warm or occluded weather front. However, this information can be harder to get. For sure, most cavers have the use of their senses; if you sink knee-deep in bog on the way to Ireby Fell, or flounder through snow on the way to P8, you’ll be aware of the potential hazards. To get that information at the planning stage, before you pack the ropes and get an early night for the trials of the day ahead, is a bit harder.

This is where the Cave Diving Group can help. Visit the website at www.cavedivinggroup.org.uk and follow the links to VIS-BOT. Here you will find rainfall graphs for various Dales and Peak locations, plus links to various weather stations on Mendip and other resources. Cave divers will also sometimes post general info on cave conditions where they have been active. Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted, and online reconnaissance is the least amount of effort, as long as you trust the resources! In the case of Vis-Bot, if there is any information given, it is generally spot-on; and if you look up the locations of the various reports you can even get a sense of what the prevailing weather was over the last couple of days eg where the rain was coming from and how heavily it fell on different aspects of slope. All pretty good life-maintaining info.

So raise a toast to the volunteers who help provide this service!

Petzl Spelios – to be discontinued

Petzl are discontinuing the Spelios helmet (the Elios helmet with a Duo 14 ready-mounted). We only have size 1 remaining in stock – if you are particularly attached to this helmet / lightset and see one somewhere in a shop, buy it!

Rediscovery of Knight’s Templar cave

The rediscovery of a sandstone grotto in Shropshire, found in true Alice in Wonderland fashion down a rabbit hole, has been widely reported. An underground series of arches and chambers have been excavated in soft sandstone and are believed locally to be an ancient temple used by the Knights Templar, although Historic England says that the excavation is more recent, possibly early nineteenth-century, and that the grotto has been used in recent times for “black magic ceremonies”.

See the full story at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39193347. Photo: BBC

Starless River buff

Starless River now have a new Starless River buff. In case you were wondering, the model is Clive Westlake.

Photo courtesy of Robbie Shone.