Reading University Caving Club

Harvey: His time at RUCC

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……


Message From our President, Alex

Hello everyone! I would like to say thank you very much for the great turn out at the AGM, and a tremendous thank you to the old committee.

So, here is a list of our 2017-2018 committee,

President: Isabelle Farrugia
Secretary: Peter Banks
Treasurer Lily Hayward: O’Flaherty
Social Sec Harvey Connolly
Welfare Officer: Rosie Hoggard
Tackle Master: Alex Stephenson
Webmaster: Jeremy Holzke
Permit Officer: Christopher David Chapple Holt
Deputy Permit: Officer Patrick Hathway
Cake Sec: Ben Auton

A huge thank you again to everyone who came and congrats to our new committee



Unfortunately SCHECC next this weekend is now full.
However on the weekend after (Friday 10th – Sunday 12th) we will be going up to Yorkshire. Most caves typically require you to abseil into them (We provide training). If you don’t fancy this there are ‘conventional’ options available.

Also on Saturday 18th March, we have our AGM at Sweeny and Todd’s pie shop, come along to enjoy the evening or volunteer for one of the committee positions.

It’s really a rewarding experience being part of the committee, and it looks good o you CV. The positions available are:

President* – Coordinating everyone else,
Secretary* – Booking minibuses, huts etc,
Treasurer* – Budgeting etc,
Tackle master – Sorts the kit, charges batteries etc
Permit-Sec – gets the permits for the trips,
Social Sec – Organising socials,
Training officer – Organising the training,
Webmaster – Updating the website,
Cake Secretary – Making cakes.

We will give you full training and continued guidance/help as necessary provided for each position – you don’t just get thrown in at the deep end.

Note – Positions marked as * are for students who will be at UoR next year

If you have any questions about trips or committee positions, or if you want to go to Yorkshire and/or to run for one of the positions let the committee know.

Thanks, Jeremy


Would you like to help run the caving club next year?

On Saturday 18th march will be having our AGM at Sweeny & Todd to elect our committee for next year. The available roles are:

  • President*,
  • Secretary*,
  • Treasurer*,
  • Tackle master,
  • Permit-Sec,
  • Social Sec,
  • Training officer,
  • Web master
  • Cake Sec.

(Positions marked as * are for students who will be at UoR next year)

If you have any questions about it or want to run for one of the positions let the committee know.

Upcoming Trips:

I hope everyone had a good time in Derbyshire this weekend. Our upcoming trips are:

SCHECC on the 3rd – 5th march – like CHECC but just the southern clubs. The organise fantastic training that I would recommend doing. We are taking deposits of £20 now.

If you are thinking of going to Yorkshire the single rope technique (SRT) training is particularly useful as SRT is an important skill for Yorkshire caves, and you will be able to do more of them on the trip is you has done this training. You will need to be quick though as the training tends to fill up quickly.

There’s also a trip to Yorkshire on the 10th – 12th march. Caves here have the added bonus that you abseil into most of them.

Any questions or to sign up just contact someone on the committee.

Upcoming trips

Hi all, here are some of the events coming up,

Our social event tomorrow is:  RUCC @ Oakford Social Club, 8:30. If you are coming on the Derbyshire trip, please bring your £20 deposit.

Also, we are going up north for some trips,  Southern CHECC is coming up:

February 17th-19th -Derbyshire
March 3rd-5th – SCHECC
March 10th-12th- Yorkshire

We also have the AGM coming up on the 18th of March, let me know if you are interested in running for any of the roles below:
President*, Secretary*, Treasurer*, Tackle master, Permit Sec,  Social Sec, Training officer, Web master and Cake Sec. (Positions marked as * are for students who will be at UoR next year)



Belfry Fireworks trip: 4th – 6th November 2016

Hi All,
The time has come to start organising the highly-anticipated Fireworks Trip to the Mendips.

We will be staying at the Belfry (caving hut owned by the Bristol Exploration Club) -same as on the last trip.
We have our usual array of Mendip caving trips planned, but there will also be opportunities to do some rarer caving trips, such as Stoke Lane Slocker, Priddy Green Sink, St Cuthberts and possibly others.

On Saturday evening we shall be joining in with activities organised by the BEC: there will be a presentation on the exploits of the BEC’s 2016 caving expedition to the Philippines and plans for 2017, followed by a large buffet of Filipino food – vegetable chow mien noodles, plain rice, crispy beef cooked in soy sauce and garlic, chicken Afritada, pudding of sticky rice cooked in condensed milk to form a flapjack – very sweet and tasty.
(the cost of this will be included in your trip fee)

Fireworks outside from 9.30pm & Disco after until late.

Throughout the night there will also be a bar selling Potholer Ale at £2.50 per pint.

The trip will cost £35.
At the moment we have 15 spaces available (until car & kit availability is confirmed), on a first-come-first-served basis.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COME please pay on the RUSU Caving website ( : Look under “Products/Tickets” towards the bottom of the page.
You will need to have an account on the Student Union website (all current students have one set up by default), and you will need to be a member of Caving.
This is the only way to confirm your space on this trip.

If you are having technical difficulties, the lovely people in Student Activities (inside the students union building) will be able to help you (including taking a cash payment), but feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help too.

The Belfry, 21st – 23rd October 2016

For our second weekend trip of the autumn term and hot on the tail of our day trip to the Mendips, we piled into our minibus and headed back to the West Country to once again visit The Belfry. We kick-started our weekend with a traditional trip to the nearby Hunter’s Lodge for a pint or several of the deceptively potent Farmhouse Cider, before breaking out the playing cards and launching into a game of Ring of Fire – this one with an ingenious new ‘sniper!’ rule which had people under the hut’s table long before alcohol consumption made this an inevitability rather than a choice. Despite bowing out from the drunken shenanigans in the early hours of the morning, leaving the remainder of the club to practice contorting their way around a broom, I was able to gage the rest of the night from the pained grunts and bleary eyed, thousand-yard-stares the next morning; thankfully Ben, our resident cooking wizard, was on hand to serve up a magnificent fry-up breakfast to serve as pre-caving damage control.

We decided to divide into two groups for Saturday’s caving exploits; the first were headed for old club favourite Swildon’s Hole, while the second headed for the caverns of GB Cave (we spent some time discussing the origin of this cave’s name, and it turns out it was named after two cavers, Goddard and Barker, who were responsible for exploring and mapping great swathes of the caverns in the 1930s; it was not, as we speculated, discovered by ‘Great Britain’ in some surrealist story of self-aware landmasses. The more you know!) After a worryingly long time spent discussing how we’d reach our destinations, we piled into the minibus and set off for our respective cave entrances.


Hellfire Caves, 15th October 2016

On Saturday 15th October, keen to travel somewhere new and unique for our first major social of the term, a handful of us bundled into a minibus and set off for The Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe. The passages are not ‘caves’ in the natural sense of the word, but a series of man-made caverns and tunnels cut deep into a hillside overlooking the town. The brainchild of the fantastically named Sir Francis Dashwood, a workforce of over one hundred men were employed during several years of crop failure in the mid-eighteenth century to excavate these tunnels by hand; the chalk produced in this process was used in the construction of a local road, while the tunnels were used by Dashwood to host meetings of the local elite and Members of Parliament in gatherings steeped in mystery.

It was this ambiguity as to its use that lent the caves much of their mystique when we first researched them, and entering the tunnels through a stone façade in the style of a Gothic church, we were keen to learn more about the secretive history of these caverns. Initially, information boards were on hand to describe the supposed haunted nature of the caves, ghostly apparitions sighted by visitors believed to be deceased members of the local community; the managers of the tunnels had lost no time in capitalising on the supernatural by decking them in Halloween decorations. As we travelled further, the tunnels opened into a series of chaotic branches and vast open chambers, speculated to have had various uses and symbolic functions. Particularly impressive was the banqueting hall, a vast domed cavern bordered by a series of decorated alcoves, and the crossing over the ‘River Styx’ towards the tunnels’ end and at the entrance to the final ‘inner sanctum’.

As we travelled, theories surrounding the use of the caves were gradually explored, and our reading-between-the-lines of the generally family-friendly information boards led our own speculations to become gradually more and more debauched (in true caving fashion). I won’t explore all of them here; instead, I’ll leave them to the imagination and use the horrified looks of our fellow visitors when they strayed within earshot as testament.

We also climbed the remainder of the hill to visit the associated mausoleum and the neighbouring Church of St Lawrence. This looked as though it had started life as three or four different structures on an architect’s planning board which had later been squashed together as some kind of structural Frankenstein’s monster; while the bulk of the building was constructed from flint and capped with modern roof tiles, the tower was covered in a concrete façade and capped with a golden globe similar to those see in European architecture. The visible historical development of the building certainly gave it a unique charm, and it was easy to understand why a couple had chosen this church as a wedding venue as we arrived (thankfully, we managed to avoid blundering into the service).

Having had our daily dose of culture, we walked / ran / barrel-rolled our way back to the minibus, with the intention of driving into Wycombe, finding a quirky pub, and settling down with some food and a drink. What we didn’t reckon with, though, were the sheer number of people out and about on a Saturday afternoon, and the number of car parks we would only fit into if we didn’t mind shaving off the top of the bus. As a result, our drive into Wycombe became an impromptu adventure around Berkshire, eventually leading us to Henley and food and drink in The Catherine Wheel before meandering back to Reading. While not everything went to plan (I don’t think we’d have it any other way!), it was definitely an adventure, and a day out with a difference!

By Harvey Connolly

Upcoming trips 2016

24th Sep Freshers Day Trip link: 

Details: We are having day trips to the Mendips at the weekend following the Freshers Fayre. Clicking attending on this event is not enough. Please get in touch to make sure you get a space. Or just come and see us at the Fayre (Thursday 22nd 11am-4pm).

25th Sep – Freshers Day Trip link:

We are having day trips to the Mendips at the weekend following the Freshers Fayre. Clicking attending on this event is not enough. Please get in touch to make sure you get a space. Or just come and see us at the Fayre (Thursday 22nd 11am-4pm).

1\2 Oct – Wales : SWCC    link:

22\23 Oct – Mendips (BEC)   link:

4\5 Nov – Mendips (Fireworks) link:

The Bristol Exploration Club aka BEC (motto: ‘Everything to Excess’) are holding their annual Guy Fawkes Night party at their bunkhouse in the Mendip Hills. It’s a prime location for caving by day, and by night you can reasonably expect to see something you haven’t seen before. Come on, it’ll be a blast!

25-27 Nov – CHECC at Mendips  link:
9-11 December – wales (whitewalls)

If you have any questions about any of these trip, please dont hesitate to contact me or post on the facebook links.