I was entering my final year when I first stumbled across Reading University Caving Club; on a lap around the Fresher’s Fayre marquee, I spotted their stall nestled away between those of the other sporting societies, and unsure what to expect but fuelled by curiosity, I scrawled my name down on the club’s mailing list. After all, caving sounded novel, right? Something a little more intriguing than your average sports club? Several weeks later, I found myself piled onto a minibus bound for the Brecon Beacons, an array of equipment and supplies crammed into the seats around us. What was I expecting? I can’t say, but what I got has kept me hooked ever since!
Alongside the wonder of plunging into a stunning world of vaulted tunnels, subterranean streamways, and beautiful formations, I was gripped by a genuine sense of exploration during my first caving experience, the satisfaction of having strayed from the beaten path and being rewarded by an exhilarating sense of achievement and a tantalising first glimpse of a vast underground world, shrouded in a sense of mystery and the excitement of adventure……
Four years later, I’m still part of the RUCC, and can honestly say that some of my most enriching experiences and fondest memories have stemmed from my time with the club and its members! Even though my degree may have long since wrapped up (those of you studying for exams at the moment – you can do it!), RUCC feels very much more than a mere university club. Instead, it is a community, a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, be they veteran cavers, recent graduates, or current students, all with their own levels of experience but all united in a common passion. One of the most common misconceptions surrounding caving is the belief that you must already have a degree of skill or experience in outdoor sports and activities; from my own experiences, I can confirm that this certainly is not the case – if you have even a fleeting interest in the club and what we do, we’d love to have you on board! Each caving region we frequent on our regular weekend trips consists of an enormous variety of unique caves, each posing their own challenges and rewards, but with something to suit everybody’s experience and comfort level. The only important thing is that everybody has fun!
Over the past academic year, we’ve travelled across the British Isles, from Somerset and Wales to Derbyshire and Yorkshire, spending time experiencing these beautifully rural and rustic locations above ground, as well as below. Equipment, food and accommodation are provided on each occasion, making any trip a prime opportunity for anybody curious about caving to join for the minimal possible cost. Alongside these, we also host a variety of caving and non-caving themed social events to allow new member to meet the rest of the club, and also as an excellent chance to forge some wonderful memories of your time at university – whether you’re into pub crawls and nights out, or prefer something a little more chilled, like our day trip to Oxford’s museums and the ghostly Hellfire Caverns in Wycombe, film evenings, picnics and meals out, there’s something for everybody!
If you’d interested in joining us for any upcoming events, we’d love to hear from you! We’ll be present at Fresher’s Fayre this upcoming academic year on 21st September, or if you’d like to jump straight into the caving spirit, we will be running a taster day-trip to the wonderful caverns of Somerset on 23rd September, before our first weekend trip to South Wales from 29th September – 1st October. If you’re itching to know more, you can contact us directly and fire away with any questions on our Reading University Caving Club Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/rucavers/) , through our club website (www.rucavers.co.uk), or feel free to join our mailing list at https://www.lists.rdg.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/rucavers !
By Harvey Connolly