Reading University Caving Club

RUCavers is on Instagram

We are excited to announce our club is now on Instagram! Here is a sneak preview of some of the things we have been up to lately:

We’ve uploaded photos showing some of our highlights from the last year, particularly our summer trips to Ireland and Austria, as well as some of our term-time trips to various places in the UK. We’ll be adding some more photos soon, so watch this space!

Welcome For New Cavers!

Welcome For New Cavers!

Interested in joining us? Want to find out more? Why not visit our stall at the Fresher’s Fayre on Thursday 27th September? Or come to our presentation afterwards, at 6pm in Room G25 of the Edith Morley building… If you can’t make this presentation, we’re holding another one on Monday 1st October at 6pm in Edith Morley Room G25.

On Saturday 29th September, we’ll be going on a day trip to the nearest caving region (The Mendips, in Somerset), so you can try a little caving and see what it’s like. The club will also go on 4 longer weekend trips this term – see our trips page for details. Every Monday we get together at a local pub, and we will also be arranging a number of other entertaining social events this term.

If you are interested in joining, or would simply like to find out more about the club, take a look at our information page and our FAQs. Join our Facebook group if you have any questions or would like to stay up to date on our planned events. Or get in touch with Imogen – our president. We look forward to meeting you!

RUCC’s Adventures in Austria

After all of our exciting adventures in Ireland, we thought it was time to venture even further afield!

So a group of us went to Austria… Among other things, we went to Eurospeleo – a huge gathering of cavers from all around Europe and the rest of the world – and took part in many of their activities. After that we joined the Dachstein caving expedition – a long-standing group of cavers, who’s primary aim is to discover potentially one of the top 10 deepest caves in the world, by attempting to find a connection between a cave high up in the mountains, and the famous Hirlatzhöhle in the valley.

There were many exciting discoveries – you can find out more about these by coming to our Fresher’s welcome presentation on Thursday 27th September!

While we were in Austria, we:

Prospected for new caves…

Appreciated the amazing views of mountains, lakes and rivers…

Enjoyed fantastic Austrian hospitality at the Wiesberhaus…

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Home during the Dachstein Exped

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Visited the picturesque historical town of Hallstatt…

Descended down into Tiergarten, an ice cave…

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Entrance to Tiergarten, Austria and 2018.

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Ascended a mountain by going up a Via Ferrata route (sort of like climbing, but more exciting – if a little scary at times…!)

Walked on a glacier…

Visited a giant ice cave…

And explored the oldest prehistoric salt mine in the world, learning about all the amazing tools and techniques they invented – as well as enjoying the fast slides, the train out of the mine, and the funicular rides!

This was another brilliant trip, and has filled us with inspiration for the coming year!

RUCC’s Adventures in Ireland

As part of our celebrations of our 50th anniversary as a club, we thought it was time for us to venture a bit further afield… We’d been talking vaguely about going to Ireland for ages, but somehow it never quite materialised – until one day we miraculously found it was happening!

While we were there, we:

Admired the wonderful green landscapes…

Stayed at the legendary caving hut The Hoo – a very welcoming place, and home of the toilet with the best views in Ireland!

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Staying at The Hoo in Ireland, July 2018

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Explored some amazing horizontal caves…

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Caving in Ireland, July 2018

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And some stunning vertical ones…

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SRT in Ireland, July 2018

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Went to a cave in a pub! Our lifetime ambitions are now fulfilled…

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A cave in a pub! Ireland, July 2018

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Swam in a lake in the rain, next to a prison (don’t ask…!)

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Swimming in the lake, Ireland July 2018

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Climbed up a mountain…

Went to a gig in a cave!

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A gig in a cave! Ireland, July 2018

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Had a giant bonfire…

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Bonfire at The Hoo, Ireland July 2018

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And returned back to Britain in the sunset…

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Sunset ferry back from Ireland, July 2018

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All in all it was a fantastic trip! A huge thanks to Jo, for all her efforts organising everything, and many thanks also for the fantastic hospitality offered by everyone we met in Ireland! I’m sure we’ll be paying them another visit in the not too distant future…

RUCC @ SCHECC, 9th – 11th March 2018

RUCC @ SCHECC, 9th – 11th March 2018

By Harvey Connolly

After the bombast, Brexit costumes and bitter cold of last year’s CHECC in Yorkshire, we recently gallivanted over to the event’s southern subsidiary, excitingly named…..Southern CHECC. Our journey to the South Wales Caving Club began with us squeezing ourselves and our kit into a single car, inducing a sense of artificial claustrophobia which would serve as a great warm-up for the coming caving, and began bombing toward the Welsh border, discussing en route how SCHECC would compare to its big brother event, speculating that it would seem more subdued for the smaller scale, more reminiscent of a busy regular caving weekend than the out-and-out chaos of CHECC proper. Although, given the latter arguably peaked with a mass of semi-naked spelunkers dissolving into an intoxicated vortex of moshing, seeming more ‘subdued’ wouldn’t be particularly difficult.

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RUCC @ Technical Speleological Group, 23rd – 25th February 2018

RUCC @ Technical Speleological Group, 23rd – 25th February 2018

By Harvey Connolly

Toward the end of February, we set off on our third club trip of the year, bound for a destination we seldom have an opportunity to visit – Derbyshire, and more specifically, the town of Castleton, where the headquarters of the Technical Speleological Group resides. After collecting and packing the weekend’s equipment into the minibus in terrifyingly efficient time, we set off on our northward journey, falling just short of the initial ETA which would have permitted us time to grace some of the town’s many pubs, but otherwise making good time.

The Technological Speleological Group (or TSG) itself is housed in a building which, one could argue, has experienced a gradual degradation of purpose over the years; from its noble origins as a chapel, the structure eventually found itself converted into a garage and, finally, a base for cavers from which they can marauder outwards across the hills in search of the surrounding subterranean systems. Arriving just after 11pm, we descended from the minibus into the biting chill of the February night, and gradually began the transfer of our supplies into the hut which would serve as home for the following few days. Entering through a main door treacherously located on a roadside between two blind bends, visitors find themselves in a concreted space equipped to store and clean caving gear, before a door atop a brief flight of stairs leads to the hut proper. Here, the large central room has an elevated second tier running three sides of its perimeter, only accessible by ladder, which seems to be used to store various miscellanies, paint cans and stray equipment. With showers on one side of the room, a door on the other leads to a short corridor; from here, it’s possible to access the kitchen, and the flight of stairs which lead to the cosy bunkrooms and a lounge area, kitted out with sofas, surveys, and a myriad of old literature on cave science and past escapades. Here, we considered our options for the weekend to come, relaxing and unwinding after our journey.

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The Belfry, 3rd – 5th November 2017

The Belfry, 3rd – 5th November 2017

By Harvey Connolly

This year, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to brave pastures new for more recently inaugurated members of the RUCC, with trips to seldom visited Derbyshire and Devon, but, with an annual tradition scheduled into the club calendar, we once again returned to our old stomping ground of Mendip, and more specifically, The Belfry, hub of the Bristol Exploration Club. Gathering on the evening of departure, our attempt to start our journey to the West Country was scuppered at the first hurdle, as we merrily piled our kit and equipment onto our hired minibus, only to find said bus completely unresponsive. A quick inspection revealed that a dysfunctional drive belt wasn’t having any our plans to leave as early as we’d hoped, but we were at least able to enjoy the university’s own Friday night firework display until our operational substitute arrived, ready to ferry us away to Somerset.

We arrived at The Belfry just after 10pm, having made remarkably good time with the drive, but upon entering, something felt…different. The Belfry, generally, is safely consistent in its atmosphere. The bunkroom, consisting of two tiered stretches of plywood serving as communal sleeping space, still had a ceiling decorated with faded beer mats and tap labels, chronicling the long history of the BEC’s pub adventures. The lounge area, complete with substantial wooden dining table, wood burning stove and dubiously acquired road and caving-related signs adorning the walls, had been altered slightly with the movement of the kitchen area into an adjacent room, freeing more space for a handful of plush sofas. But the change that struck us was how disconcertingly quiet the space seemed. The previous year’s firework celebrations had consisted of entering a room where a rabble of students were self-inflicting minor concussions with the slightly mad game ‘danger can’, before the weekend concluded with cleaning the fragmentary remains of a dozen smashed pumpkins from every conceivable surface across the hut (and the prone forms of several worse-for-wear residents on Sunday morning, too). Admittedly, it was relatively early by the standards of the average caving night, and after depositing our possessions on the crash-mats which were to serve as beds for the imminent future, we began our pilgrimage along the dark stretch of road connecting The Belfry to the well-loved local, The Hunters Lodge.

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Crete Trip Report

Posted on behalf of J Bouchard

Over the summer a few of us flew to Heraklion in Crete to spend a couple of weeks “quasi caving”. In short this means we pretend we are going on a hardcore expedition to find new caves but actually spend more time drinking Rachi (local spirit, not of the ghost variety) and snorkelling, or talking about snorkelling in Andy Kuszyk’s case.

After a 4 hour flight and we landed in Heraklion, either via hire car or local bus transfer we soon found ourselves being looked after by our generous hosts, the Gadanakis family in the village of Dafni.

Yiorgos showed Andy how to dance(!) in preparation for the local Paniyiri, a Cretian religious festival: church followed by party, dancing, eating & drinking, a video may soon be available on YouTube courtesy of Meyres Kuszyk. Amelia Handley was intrigued by the triple fleck caving rope adoring the village church bell, I kid you not. Pre my arrival, Henry Dawson and Yiorgos had a couple of promising new cave entrances, one with a significant pause before their test stone hit the floor, but in the following days we choose to go outdoor caving instead aka gorge walking and swimming. See pics.

The Gadanakis family are resident in a small village in the Sitias region of Crete, it is literally so small that you are always within a stone’s throw of one of the family members’ houses. The Speleo Ingle (English Cavers) seemed to be flavour of the month and we were treated to some delicious local food as well as a chance to catch up with Anna Tsakalaki and also some local cavers from last year.

At the end of August, SPOK (Speleogical Club of Crete) hosted the 16th Cretian Caving Conference, the equivalent of the UK’s Hidden Earth. After a heavy night on the Rachi and fuelled by Spaghetti Bolognese, Henry and Yiorgos set off down Le Maxim a -250m cave with only 2 hours sleep. Needless to say they weren’t keen to join in with the Spelio Olympics assault course later in the afternoon. A big thank you to the organisers who were very welcoming and after a few ‘Milate Anglikas’ we worked out that their English was infinitely better than our Greek.

See http://16pss.spok.gr/?q=node%2F7 – Try Google Chrome Translate if your Greek is as bad as mine!

On our rest days we visited the family farm and helped to feed the animals – I use this term loosely, I mainly cowered in the corner when the dogs barked and got scared of the wasps which were megalo. Andy and Mesh agreed that open top 4×4 travel is the way forward and Amelia Handley and I tried to prove this later by hiring a quad, but sadly we broke the drive chain within 36 hours. Oops.

I’ll cut a long story short and let you look at the pics, having tried some cave snorkelling I’m not in a rush to do any cave diving! And we’ll have to wait to hear from Henry on whether that pitch goes or not….

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Trips For Next Term Announced

Preparations are now in earnest for the start of next term, when we have lots of exciting things planned – both for our new and current members! The dates and locations of all the trips next term have now been announced:

Day Trip: Mendips – Sunday 6th October

Mendips Day Trip - October 2011

We realise that joining a new club is a big commitment, particularly for a sport as unusual as caving! We’re therefore running a day-trip at the beginning of the Autumn Term to allow people to try it out. All are welcome to come on this taster session with us before they become a member – regardless of their level of experience. What’s more, it’s an absolute bargain, as the trip will only cost £10! If nothing else, it should make for a fun day out 😉

If you’re still not convinced, here’s a video of last year’s taster session, to show what fun you could be having!

You can sign up for a day trip at the Fresher’s Fayre or the presentation afterwards, or by emailing our president. Also see our Facebook event:

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First Weekend Trip: South Wales – 11th–13th October

South Wales Trip 1 (Whitewalls) - October 2011

A club tradition of several years’ pedigree, we begin the Autumn term at the Chelsea Spelaeological Society hut, Whitewalls Cottage, overlooking the town of Llangattock.

To give you an idea of what we’ll be doing, here and here are some photos from our trips in years gone by, and here are some professional-quality photos of the caves within walking distance.

We’ll definitely be visiting Agen Allwedd and Eglwys Faen, and probably send some more confident oldies on the Daren – Cnwc though-trip, and as always a couple of people will flake out and go for a walk in the mountains or something. There really is something for everyone!

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Second Weekend Trip: South Wales – 18th–20th October

Our second trip of the term will be to the upper reaches of the River Neath and River Melte, staying at the Croydon Caving Club hut, Godre Pente, in the delightful Welsh village of Ystradfellte. Any new member who can pronounce it (who isn’t Welsh) will win a mystery prize!

Here are some photos from our visit in 2011, to give you a feel for the sorts of things we do, and if you’re really keen to do your homework, here are some professional photos of the caves nearby.

For complete beginners, we’ll do a short trip into Town Drain and Bridge Cave, which will be a very gentle introduction to what caves are like, but there’s plenty more on offer if you feel up to it!

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Third Weekend Trip: Mendips – 1st–3rd November (With Fireworks!)

mendip fireworks

Alas! The famous annual Priddy Fireworks Display has been cancelled, and is unlikely to ever return, due to the over-zealous application of Health & Safety legislation. In defiance of this sentiment, the BEC are having their own fireworks at the Belfry, which will of course be MUCH safer and far more healthy.

I couldn’t find any recent good photos of our times at the Belfry fireworks, but here’s an album from aaaaaaages ago which is well worth a look.

Come along for a weekend of caving, partying and pyromaniacal debauchery.

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Fourth Weekend Trip: CHECC (in Derbyshire) – 22nd–24th November

CHECC 2010

The caving event of the year! Organised by CHECC (the Council of Higher Education Caving Clubs), this is the annual meetup of almost all the university caving clubs in the country, with around 400 students in attendance! Expect lots of wild partying, dancing (not always fully clothed!), competitions including the Annual Beer Pong and Squeeze Machine championships, exhibitions and displays, etc, etc! We might even get around to doing some caving at some point… 😀 This year it’s being held in the Rotary Centre at Castleton, in Derbyshire.

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You can sign up for any of these trips by speaking to Emma (our president) or Laura (our secretary) at one of our social events, sending us an email, or joining one of the Facebook events linked to above. See the Trips page for more details about our trips.

Photos from Our Amazing New Club Camera

Below are a selection of photos from the amazing new camera the club has purchased with the incredibly generous grant we received from the Alumni Fund, which consists of donations from many alumni of Reading University. We are hugely grateful to everyone who made it possible for us to produce such fantastic photos!

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Click on each photo to see a full-sized version. I am sure that this is just the beginning of a whole collection of brilliant photos during the years ahead, which will really bring the wonders of our underground world to life!