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The Lost Earth Adventures Blog

Caving for Beginners

Posted on: March 10th, 2020 by Lost Earth Adventures

Descending into Darkness, Caving in Yorkshire

Group take part in caving for beginners courseIt’s only natural for us to have very rigid ideas about something we’re afraid of. These ideas are seldom generated from real-life experience, instead formed by horror stories and word of mouth. As with anything, if you dare take the plunge, the reality is much more rewarding.

We sat down with relative Lost Earth Adventures newbie, Glenn, who took us through his recent caving experience. We discuss caving for beginners, Goyden Pot, and the descent into darkness.

What is the Difference Between Caving, Pot-Holing and Spelunking?

First-things-first, what are we actually doing? These words all seem very different, but are they?

The word Pothole comes from Scandinavian origin and has similar meaning to a pit. It generally refers to a circular/cylindrical shaft in the ground or a bump in the road that can annoy motorists! Generally most Pots are abseiled into due to their shape, but this rule is not hard and fast. Goyden Pot for example can be walked into and does not have a cylindrical shaft like appearance. Goyden Pot can also be abseiled into by a tight rift or into lower sections once the pot has been entered via a large horizontal, circular tube known as a phreatic passage. Some people refer to potholing as a vertical endeavour, but at Lost Earth Adventures we believe all cave trips to be potholing trips and all potholes to be caves. We also think that all potholing and caving trips are spelunking trips, as that’s what our friends from North America call it. Phew, I’m glad we’ve got that out the way!

Caving for beginners: A first-hand account

How did you find your first caving experience Glenn?
It was a definite eye-opener. You have this idea in your head that caving will be all about squeezing through tight crevices and feeling claustrophobic and trapped, but it’s not the case.

Let’s rewind. How did you enter the cave?

Group of beginner cavers pose in Yorkshire cave
Our group headed down a field towards a clear stream. You see the cave opening for the first time. It looks quite small and it’s a daunting prospect, knowing you’ll be going in, but the excitement to explore surpasses all other emotions at this point.

The water is crystal clear, too. We clamber over huge boulders as darkness shrouds us. The first thing I notice is how clean everything looks.

I had visions of overgrown moss everywhere and slippery rocks and watery mud baths. But down here, no moss grows. Craig, our guide, eagerly explains the cave’s geological past with such enthusiasm, but it never feels forced or uninteresting. There’s a great balance to it all.

Team of beginner cavers explore cavesDid caving feel dangerous to you?
Surprisingly, no. Our group were all kitted out properly and we all felt comfortable following Craig. You could see Craig mentally scouting ahead to check for possible obstructions. I think it’s called a dynamic risk assessment, so we always felt safe even as caving beginners.

After a moment or two, our group were all working together to help each other down higher descents, showing each other where to place our feet. I think the exhilaration of exploring something so secret is what motivated us all the most.

How do you mean, secret?

Man exploring tight tubes in caves
When you descend into a cave, there’s this overwhelming feeling of exploring something most people never have or will. It’s like an alien planet down there. Maybe it’s the enclosed feeling or the darkness.

It feels like the last true wilderness. You don’t have your phone or any other distractions. It’s you and your friends, working together in this place. It felt quite liberating.

You went caving after some bad weather, right?
That’s right. Craig told us that parts of the cave may be unpassable and we’d use another cave if so. At one point, he stopped the group at a crossroads with two possible paths. ‘Which way do you think we go from here?’ Craig asked us. We guessed which way, but we were all wrong. It wasn’t left or right but straight down! He was perched over a tight crevice in the ground with a tree branch wedged within. None of us could believe it!

Incredible! And did you go down it?
Because of weather the previous few days, we took a route that was safe from flooding. That’s what surprised me, I guess. How many possible routes you could take. Craig asked us beforehand if we were all comfortable with tight spaces, water and getting on our hands and knees. Where we went in the cave depended on what we were comfortable with, which is perfect.

Anyway, the passage we took narrowed and we had to crouch, climb down huge boulders before the passageway opened up to a gigantic chamber. For me, this was unbelievable and so unexpected.

A big chamber in the cave?

Caving beginners in large cave in Yorkshire
Yes! We heard water flowing and the echoes of our voices definitely made everything more atmospheric. We gathered around Craig on a boulder and listened intently as he explained how such a chamber was formed. You could barely see the roof of the cave, it was that big.

It was hard for me to get a shot of the chamber without it simply looking like blackness, but our group were genuinely staggered. You don’t expect to see that in a cave.

Group attempt vertical caving for beginnersAnd you tried your hand at vertical caving?
Yes! The instructors set up the abseil, we harnessed up and took turns to shimmy across a high rock ledge, then we abseiled down into the chamber. Descending like that with only the light from a few head torches was simply sublime, it’s hard to put into words.

And again, I was so surprised by how accessible vertical caving was, even as beginners.

Would you go caving again?
Absolutely. Without question! If you haven’t tried caving before, you must. I’ve already got another caving trip planned in the months ahead.

Do you have any advice for beginner cavers?
For people like me who didn’t really know what it caving was like, I’d say: don’t be tricked into thinking it’s all about tight spaces, water and battling claustrophobia. Those extreme caves are there if you want them but it’s your day, so you tell the instructor what you want to experience and they’ll deliver. It’s magical!

Caving with Lost Earth Adventures

Man caving tight crevices on extreme caving trip
As Glenn mentioned, caving with Lost Earth Adventures is ultimately about you.

You decide whether you want to cave for half a day or a full day, or whether you want caving for beginners or an extreme caving experience.

You decide whether to add ropes, ladders and harnesses into the mix in vertical caving. The choice is yours.

How Much Does Caving Cost?

Our caving sessions start from £49 per person in our Open Group sessions. Private sessions and Vertical Caving depend on group sizes. All prices include equipment and excellent client to staff ratios.

Where to Go Caving

The UK is one to some truly epic caves. Our two primary locations are the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, arguably the best places to go caving in the UK. Our locations are suited for caving beginners to very experienced cavers. You can browse all caving locations on our website, see our caving and potholing courses, or contact us if you have more questions.

How to organise a charity abseil event

Posted on: March 2nd, 2020 by Lost Earth Adventures

Fundraising and organising a charity abseil

Man urban abseiling for charity event
Easily one of the fastest-growing fundraising events, a charity abseil is challenging, fun and very successful in raising money. Before we get into how to organise one for your charity, let’s look at what the event actually entails…

What is urban abseiling?

Urban abseiling for charity in city centre
Most of us can relate to the fear of heights, even if you have a head for it. While rural abseiling is often preceded by rock climbing, urban abseiling brings the fear to the cities.

Participants start at the top of a chosen landmark – a building, a bridge, a viaduct, etc. – harness up, then conquer their fear by slowly rappelling down.

What makes it perfect as a charity event is the exposure you receive by being in a central location.

Think about it. Doing a charity abseil out in the sticks means friends and family will be less tempted to come and watch, while media and news crews may not make the effort.

In the city, friends can show their support, locals may stop to ogle what’s going on and it’s easy for media companies to cover your event. More exposure equals more donations to your cause. In fact, urban abseils often raise anywhere between £2,000 and £40,000+.

Is urban abseiling scary?

Woman abseiling down church for charity
We won’t lie, looking down from the top of a high building is a daunting prospect. Harnessing up and taking that first step down fills you with dread, but you may be surprised by how quickly you get used to it.

If you or your participants feel especially fearful, our trained guides are great at helping you overcome it. After all, a charity challenge isn’t a challenge at all without some element of fear.

How do you organise a charity abseil?

Well, the first thing you’ll need to do is decide which building you want to abseil down. You need a building tall enough and central enough to make your fundraising abseil stand out. Lost Earth Adventures often run charity abseils at the K2 building in Hull, a popular location. We’ve run abseils across the UK though, at just about every major city, from skyscrapers to bridges and viaducts to churches and other religious buildings.

Once you decide where you wish to do the abseil, let us know and, if we haven’t already undertaken a safety inspection, we’ll do all this for you ready for the big day.

Advertising a charity event

Vicar abseiling down church for charity
While we sort the safety, equipment and logistics of your event, you need to get people to join your event and help raise funds. Easy enough if you’re a business doing a charity event – your employees can take part.

For charities, there are lots of avenues you can explore. Speak with local businesses and national ones with offices near you. Create an event on social media and spread the word as far as you can. You could do leaflet drops in your area or advertise in local newspapers and other printed material.

Man abseiling down building in Yorkshire

The nature of urban abseiling often means people from every walk of life are willing to get involved. We’ve had young children, parents, and grandparents take part. Teachers, lawyers, doctors, factory workers and even vicars have got involved. Again, with it being in the centre of a town or city, it’s very convenient for people to join your event.

What about media and news companies? Getting coverage this way helps broaden the exposure. Naturally, we’ll also help advertise your event in any way we can. You’ll want to create a buzz before the event but taking lots of photos and videos on the day is equally important.

You can then share this immediately after the event and charities often get last-minute donations in this way. You can see more of our top tips for fundraising here.

So, now you should be all clued up and raring to start planning your charity urban abseil. See our charity abseils in more detail or explore other popular charity challenges.

The benefits of Learning Outside the Classroom

Posted on: February 24th, 2020 by Lost Earth Adventures

Learning Outside the Classroom: every space is a learning space

School class learning outside classroom
Recently, we were awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge, but what does this really mean? Is outdoor learning vital to a child’s development? And what about the teachers? Read on to find out more…

What is the LOtC Quality Badge?

School child learning to rock climb
Learning outside the classroom is about getting children and young people into a real-world learning experience. The Quality Badge is awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

The award is the first and only nationally-recognised award which combines the essential elements of provision – learning and safety – into one easily recognisable and trusted accreditation scheme.

Why learn outside the classroom?

Direct experience is at the centre of the LOtC. It’s not about what we learn, but about how and where we learn.

Studies have provided compelling evidence to suggest learning outside the classroom helps children and young people both physically and mentally.

What’s more, simply being outside the classroom garners more excitement in pupils, helping with their attention and concentration levels.

“The trip has had a huge impact on students. It was the talk of the classroom until the end of the term, and the use of related project work allowed students to absorb both the experience and the related learning and ensure that life-long memories have been made!”

Mr Letham, Head Teacher, Orchard Head Primary, Pontefract

The benefits of learning outside the classroom

Of course, the primary benefit of learning outside the classroom is how it affects the mentality of children.

As already mentioned, pupils often have more enjoyment from being outdoors. Independent reports show that pupils are more enthusiastic and more willing to learn as a result. The same reports suggest that, even when pupils return to the classroom, they show an improved standard of attainment, motivation, and behaviour towards learning.

It’s been well-documented that many of us take more from kinetic learning. Imagine yourself as one of your pupils for a moment. What mode of learning would you prefer; to learn about rock formations in the classroom, or to go to the rock formation in-person and learn about it there?

The LOtC finds a mix of the two. On our caving courses, we take school and youth groups deep into complex caving systems.

School child on a caving session
During the activity, our expert guides explain the rock formations, the geological history of the caves, and how the seasons affect the underground system.

Here, pupils learn what’s required as per the curriculum but do so in a real-life environment.

Our other activities have similar learning outcomes, too.

What do teachers say?

For teachers, learning in real-life environments often makes it easier to teach. Instead of attempting to garner enthusiasm for learning, the outdoors helps children motivate themselves.

This improved attitude to learning then rubs off on others, helping the class as a whole be more determined and interested.

“The school hadn’t organised a day like this before, and normally things come with some teething problems, but the activities, staff and equipment provided by Lost Earth Adventures surpassed all expectations!”

Matthew Letham, Head Teacher, Orchard Head Primary, Pontefract

“Many thanks to your teams for a fantastic weekend, the instruction from your team was excellent and they adapted the weekend to the needs and ability of our group perfectly. It has left us hungry for more!”

N Croker, Geography Department, Whitgift School


School class learning in gorge

Though some teachers think outdoor learning is not inclusive to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), the reality is quite different. As part of the LOtC Quality Badge, those accredited must understand and meet the needs of education providers. As holders of the award, we endeavour to provide activities that can be undertaken by everybody.

This level of inclusivity also applies to those from disadvantaged backgrounds – by providing all equipment, for instance. While learning inside the classroom may fail to include disadvantaged children, outdoor learning is proven to increase their self-esteem, confidence and overall engagement.

What is Ofsted’s view?

School child on outdoor learning course
In a report, Ofsted found that learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving students’ personal, social and emotional development.

As LOtC Quality Badge and AALA license holders, you can have absolute trust in our ability to deliver outdoor learning that is safe and conducive to this development.

The LOtC and Lost Earth Adventures

We create learning environments where all children can thrive. Working alongside schools, colleges, and universities, we deliver all types of outdoor learning. We also provide Public Services courses and Adventure Training for cadets.

“We were so impressed with this year’s trip that we would like to book again for next year.” Kim Kileen, Solihull College

You can contact us to find out more about our services. If you want to know more about the LOtC, please visit the LOtC website.

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