From time to time, I like to break away from the “norm” and really challenge myself. As you know, I love the outdoors, but sometimes, plain old hiking or mountain biking just does not do it for me.
I need something a little more thrilling, a little more physical, to get the blood rushing through my veins (along with a whole heap of adrenaline). If you are of a similar mindset to me, then maybe potholing is the challenge that you seek!
So, What is Potholing?
Potholing, also known as caving (or spelunking), is an activity where you explore cave systems that have been formed over thousands of years (if not hundreds of thousands!).
It is quite a physical outdoor pursuit that involves climbing, crawling and even a little abseiling down into these caves. It really is a fascinating and physical personal adventure, in a mysterious and beautifully fascinating environment.
So, Do You Go It Alone Then?
No – I am nowhere near experienced enough to trawl through cave systems alone. I will often head out with an experienced guide, who knows the cave system that I wish to pothole in, like the back of his or her hand.
This is beneficial to me in more ways than one, as the guide will often be knowledgeable about the cave and can provide me with an insight into how it was formed, as well as other things to look out for.
What Things Could You Possibly See in A Cave?
My friends often ask me, “What’s the fascination with exploring caves; surely it’s just rock all around you?”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Caves host a whole ecosystem of their own, with their own unique creatures living in there. Then, there are amazing things like stalactites and stalagmites, underground rivers and even waterfalls to be discovered and taken in.
These are formations that look like icicles, made over a huge amount of time, by dripping water filled with minerals.
How to tell the difference?
I use the mnemonic – A Stalactite sticks TIGHT to the roof, while a Stalagmite MIGHT touch the roof some day!
What Will I Need To Go Potholing?
If you have decided by now that potholing sounds good, you may be wondering what you need in order to be able to do this activity.
Well, you will need some basics. Firstly, it is often pitch black under the ground, so you will need some form of headlamp, as well as a helmet.
A good idea is to contact local clubs, as they may be able to rent you some of the more expensive to purchase equipment.
Firstly, it is often pitch black under the ground, so you will need some form of headlamp, as well as a helmet. Old clothing is the best for this kind of exploration (At least that’s what I use), and some waterproof gear is also essential.
Avoid buying climbing gear however, as this type of kit is not cut out for potholing.
Good luck out there and feel free to contact me for more advice.