What is Potholing?
Potholing – which is different from Caving although the two are often categorised together – is the outdoor pursuit of climbing, squeezing and digging through small spaces in order to reach the insides of caves or other areas normally off limits.
Potholing is often also considered to be the vertical descent into a cave from a great height.
Potholing has become a very common outdoor pursuit, especially among those individuals who consider themselves to be ‘extreme sports’ participants; the main reason for this being the obvious danger and risks with such a pursuit.
What are the Risks of Potholing?
There are several risks to Potholing that one should be aware of and it is wise not to undertake this practice without the proper supervision.
As with any outdoor pursuit there can be an element of risk involved especially if the weather changes unexpectedly so if you are signed up for a Potholing session it is worth checking before hand if there has been heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt. Some Potholing caves fall underneath the water table and if this is the case then there may be cancellations as caving beneath the water table can be very dangerous and at great risk of flooding.
Hypothermia is again something that Potholing enthusiasts should be aware of. It is again recommended that you were warm clothes and bring a change of clothes with you for after the Potholing session. Whilst underground you may find that there are areas of water that you will have to crawl through so having clean dry clothes and towels is essential.
It is also worth noting that if you have any fear or enclosed spaces whatsoever then perhaps Potholing is not the ideal pursuit for you.
Many National Parks now run specific Potholing holidays and these can be accommodated either in a chalet or dormitory or in your own tent if you feel you wish to. These holidays are booked in advanced and are under special instruction. You will be asked prior to commencement of your holiday to sign a consent form and you will also be asked to complete a brief medical.
Potholing is what many might consider to be an ‘extreme sport’ so if you are in any doubt as to its appeal to you please ask questions.
The organisations that run Potholing holidays are accredited and have qualified supervisors on hand at all times so you may ask questions.
You should also remember that at all times there are strict safety procedures in place and these should be adhered to.
Some people have their own Potholing equipment but for those that don’t the organisers of any Potholing event will provide the relevant safety equipment for you. This includes:
- Heavy Duty Boots
- Knee and Elbow Pads
- Lamps or Torches
- Provision Kit (Food, water, Urine bottle
- First Aid Kit
Can Anyone Go Potholing?
Anyone over the age of thirteen can attend a Potholing holiday; there are separate sessions for different age groups and each age group will have a specific set of instructors who will operate their session in a different way to bring those on the courses up to speed.
If you are interested in Potholing you can visit your local Tourist Information centre where you will be able to find all the information you need on all Potholing venues within the United Kingdom.