23
Mar
PAT Roberts

Top 10 cave diving destinations in the UK

Cave diving is a true thrillseeker’s pastime regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous extreme sports, as you venture into the unknown – especially when passing through a sump where the tunnel is completely submerged in water.

As a cave diver it is essential to protect your own safety. Plenty of lighting for good visibility, breathing apparatus to keep you supplied with oxygen, and a guide line that you can follow to find your exit are essential .

Remember that underwater cave system sumps can be hundreds of feet long and may be blocked or open out into caverns where there is no oxygen, so the correct breathing equipment for technical diving is a must.

We strongly advise being a part of the Cave Diving Group and undertaking extensive cave diving courses before you are ready to venture into new locations yourself. For those qualified, here are ten of the best cave diving locations in the UK:

1. Dinas Silica Mine, South Wales

This popular first-timer’s mine dive has good visibility and six different levels of diving at depths of up to 22 metres.

2. Hodge Close Quarry, Cumbria

A shaft in the side of Hodge Close Quarry offers 200 metres of diving and three chambers; however, the cold water and high altitude make this one only for experienced divers.

3. Cambrian Slate Mine, North Wales

Cambrian Slate Mine is located near Llangollen and offers a complex of five different dive bases. They all connect but via labyrinthine routes, so always use a safety line.

4. Aber Las Mine, North Wales

Aber Las translates as The Lost Mine and was once connected to the Cambrian complex, until a still unstable collapse blocked the connecting passage.

5. Holme Bank, Derbyshire

The chert mine near Bakewell is only accessible with the owner’s permission, but for experienced divers it’s a pleasant excursion, with a completely dry tunnel that runs parallel to the submerged stream.

6. Roscobie Mine, Fife

This is among the UK’s most northerly cave diving sites in Scotland, and while natural light visibility can be low at the entrance, it improves further in.

7. Prussia Cove, Cornwall

Described as “a veritable gem of a British cavern” by cave diving legend Martyn Farr, Prussia Cove is an easy shore dive that’s excellent for beginners.

8. Noxon Park, Gloucestershire

The Noxon Park iron mines south of Coleford offer a mix of different shapes and sizes of tunnel, with a water level that changes by about 10 metres over the course of the year.

9. Bream Iron Mine, Gloucestershire

Next door to Noxon Park is Bream Iron Mine, a lengthy complex that promises some previously unexplored shafts but is also quite challenging.

10. Neath Valley, South Wales

The mines north of Dinas Rock just outside Pont-Nedd-Fechan offer clear water and stunning galleries, but a line is essential so you don’t get lost in the labyrinth.