Dudley Caving Club

(Formerly Dudley Cave Rescue Team)


Phone: Keith Edwards on 01527 831063 or 07939 042467

or e-mail: thecaverkeith@gmail.com

Website designed, created and maintained by Keith Edwards.  Copyright Dudley Caving Club 1997 - 2021

Caving and mine exploration are activities with a risk of personal injury or death. Participants in such activities should be aware and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement. Through its association with the BCA Dudley Caving Club recognises that correct training is one way of minimising such risks and provides opportunities for training.

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General Caving Techniques

WalkingThe Meanders, Dan Yr OgofWalking

Many newcomers think that all cave passages are small squalid affairs. This is simply not true and in fact walking is the most common way of making progress through a cave system. Passages fifty to a hundred feet high are not uncommon. Unfortunately the floor of these passages is not usually flat and even. Often large passages have boulder strewn floors and the boulders must be scrambled over, squeezed under or traversed around. Sometimes the passage is tall but very narrow - then the caver must shuffle along sideways. The aptly named Crabwalk in Giants Hole, Derbyshire requires walking sideways for over 2000 feet!

CrouchingMazeways, Dan Yr OgofCrouching

When the roof lowers to four or five feet then the caver must stoop. Moving in this way for any length of time is very tiring - especially on the thigh muscles. Many cavers find that placing their hands behind their backs is the best way of avoiding backache. Of course this cannot be done if tackle is being carried - and the novice always carries the tackle!

CrawlingSlalom Passage Formations, Ogof CapelCrawling

Where the cave roof lowers even further the caver is forced onto hands and knees.  This is one of the few occasions which favours the caver of shorter stature. When the roof becomes even lower the undersized caver can happily crawl along while the lofty cave explorer is forced onto his/her belly. Good quality knee pads are essential when tackling long passages of this nature.

The Slab Squeeze, Ogof Foel FawrFFlat-out crawls / squeezeslat-out Crawls/Squeezes

When the gap between the roof and the floor is a eighteen inches or less the caver is forced onto his/her belly.  Forward progress in flat-out crawls is made on the elbows and toes. Squeezes are probably the thing that novices cavers fear the most.  Usually squeezes are entered with one arm out in front and the other trailing by the body.  Being relaxed when tackling squeezes is essential as muscles tense and expand when the caver panics with the obvious consequence resulting in the pronouncement, "Oh botheration, I appear to be a tad stuck here."

TraversingHairy Fairy Traverse, OFD 1Traversing

Traversing is probably best described as negotiating a cave passage at some height from the floor. This may be because the passage is too narrow at the base or as a means of passing over a hole in the floor of the passage or to get to a higher level passage. Often narrow keyhole passages are negotiated by traversing along the roof tube with one foot on each side of the passage.


Short pitches in narrow rift passages can be ascended by the chimneying technique illustrated here. Fairly smooth walls can be climbed by jamming the body against one wall and by pushing with the legs on the other one.


It is streams that carve out caves and sooner or later as a caver descends a cave system a stream will be met. Following a stream is always great fun - paddling, wading and scrambling down and up cascades.

Where the cave roof nearly touches the water we have a duck. Depending on the air space the caver may have to remove his/her helmet and position the head sideways or "duck" below the surface or the water.

Sump divingSump Diving

Here the cave roof dips below the level of the stream. It is only possible/advisable to free dive very short sumps.  All sumps should have a dive line through for the caver to follow.