Charterhouse Cave

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Charterhouse Cave
Map showing the location of Charterhouse Cave
Map showing the location of Charterhouse Cave
Location Charterhouse, Somerset
OS grid ST 4774756201
Coordinates 51°18′09″N 2°45′03″W / 51.302558°N 2.750806°W / 51.302558; -2.750806Coordinates: 51°18′09″N 2°45′03″W / 51.302558°N 2.750806°W / 51.302558; -2.750806
Depth 228 m (748 ft)
Length 4,868 m (15,971 ft)
Altitude 255 m (837 ft)
Geology Limestone
Access Locked; access by permit with an approved leader; no novices
Cave survey The Geological Conservation Review

Charterhouse Cave, on the Mendip Hills in Somerset, is the deepest cave in southern England.[1][2][3]

History[edit]

Charterhouse Cave was first excavated in 1972. By 1977 the Sidcot School Speleological Society had reached Bat Chamber,[4] although the first main breakthrough into the system was made in 1982.[5] Active exploration continues and breakthroughs were made in April 2008[6][7] when 300 metres (980 ft) of passage big enough to walk through was discovered, and again when the Portal Pool Sump was passed in May 2009 revealing another 500 m (1,600 ft) of passage.[3] Continued exploration in 2010 and 2011 brought the cave to its current length and depth

Access[edit]

The cave is situated on land owned by Somerset Wildlife Trust. Because of the various well-preserved formations in the cave, the entrance blockhouse is kept locked and access is restricted to those with permits issued by member clubs of the Charterhouse Caving Company.[8] For the same reason, no novices or cavers aged under 16 are allowed to enter.[9][10]

Description[edit]

The cave has three large chambers, Midsummer Chamber, The Citadel, and Times Square; The Citadel is almost as large as the chambers in GB Cave and Lamb Leer.[3][4] There are a number of long, fairly straight passages which are approximately 2 m (6.6 ft) across and the same high.[6]

Various parts of the cave contain delicate formations, including Forbidden Passage, Midsummer Chamber, The Citadel, The Grotto of the Singing Stal, and the First and Second Inlets.[4][5]

When Portal Pool Sump was passed in May 2009, about 500 m (1,600 ft) of new passage was discovered, as well as a number of side-passages. Surveys conducted after the breakthrough in May 2009 show approximately 1,000 m (3,300 ft) of passage, with an estimated 500 m unsurveyed plus a number of leads yet to be explored. The surveys have also confirmed the depth at over 200 m (660 ft).[3]

The stream in nearby GB Cave flows into Charterhouse Cave and ultimately rises near Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge, approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) away.[2][3]

Fauna[edit]

There is a hole in the concrete blockhouse over the entrance to the cave to allow the entrance of bats.[4]

The insect life found within the cave is fairly typical of caves on the Mendip Hills, including a number of troglophiles and troglobites such as the freshwater shrimp (niphargus fontanus) and the springtail (onychiurus schoetti).[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Charterhouse Cave". UK Caves database. Retrieved 5 September 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Deepest caves". ukcaves.co.uk. UK Caves database. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Hendry, P., Charterhouse Cave goes on and on, Mendip Times magazine, September 2009
  4. ^ a b c d e Chapman,P.R.J; Moody,A.A.D.; Moody,P.D.; Smart,P.L. (1984). "Charterhouse Cave: Exploration, geomorphology and fauna". UBSS Proceedings (UBSS). 17(1): 5–27. 
  5. ^ a b Irwin, David John; Knibbs Anthony J. (1999). Mendip Underground: A Cavers Guide. Bat Products. ISBN 0-9536103-0-6. 
  6. ^ a b Moody, P. (2008). "Breakthrough by WCC in Charterhouse Cave". UBSS Newsletter (UBSS) 3(9): 1–2. 
  7. ^ Breakthrough by WCC in Charterhouse Cave, Mendip Caving Group newsletter April 2008,
  8. ^ "The Charterhouse Area and the Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd". Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Access to Caves in Mendip and Wales". University of Bristol Spelaeological Society. Retrieved 5 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "Charterhouse". Council of Southern Caving Clubs. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 

External links[edit]