Tuesday 13 October 2015


I've  been looking covetously at Dwarven Forge cavern systems recently, and come to the conclusion there is no way I can afford them, so will probably have to make my own (although I might treat myself to a stalagmite set). Back when I used to play D + D on a regular basis, I always used to enjoy mapping out cavern systems for players to explore, with fiendish monsters lurking in pools or behind rock formations, but it wasn't until I actually started caving for real that I realised just  how unrealistic role-playing caves are.

About 20 years ago I used to go caving once a week in the Mendip Hills, not far from where I live and poked about in a number of different caves, all of which would present some challenges to an armoured adventuring party

Birthday Squeeze in Swildon's Hole . Note the caver has had to remove the one piece of equipment he is carrying (his lamp battery) so he can get through to the next part of the cave.
(Image from Dudley Caving Club's blog)

The traverse at Eastwater Cavern, a smooth surface, but at a 40' angle ready to slide you down into a crevice
(Image from WAYA blog)

The Drainpipe in Goatchurch Cavern (wiggly)
(image from Pinterest)

Swildon's Hole sump 1. A short underwater passage, adventurers would need to hold their breath for 30 seconds
(pic from Carbis Bay Crew blog)

These are some of the more extreme passages (not the most extreme, it has to be said), and there are areas where one can walk upright, and indeed large and wonderful caverns
The Throne Room in Stoke Lane Slocker (I never did this challenging cave!)
(Image from Dudley Caving Club's blog again)

 but they are all connected by tortuous narrow passageways involving crawling or wriggling, with no level floors and plenty of piles of boulders to clamber over.... which would make for an exciting (and literal) Dungeon/Cavern crawl.

The point of this rambling is that I am getting a real itch to get back underground. I chucked my kneepads and helmet away when we moved house  6 years ago, but I am getting a whispering in my head to lure me back down below...............

Entrance to Swildon's Hole 

one of the fascinating things for me is that an innocuous little hole like this can lead to over 9000 metres of cave passageway, 167 metres deep.... but could you get down with plate armour and a 10' pole?


  1. To be honest I think I could cope better with d&d caves better in real life (if that isn't a contradiction in terms) inspite of the monsters rather than the scary ones depicted in your photos. Perhaps the ten foot poles were telescopic:)

    1. We never met any nasty beasties other than worms (not purple worms, just the normal pink sort).

  2. This all looks horrific - certainly the stuff on (my) nightmares. Good Lord! I could do with a stiff drink now. Yikes.

    1. My nightmare is standing on top of a cliff or even a chair...just can't cope with outdoor heights..... we are all different!

  3. The Throne Room looks spectacular, what an amazing world we live in!

    1. 'Tis indeed an amazing place and there must be more stunning sights like this waiting to be discovered.

  4. Excellent pics. This proves what I've always said. No way a dwarf is going to swing an axe in those caverns. The DM is always right after all :)

    1. You've got a job to turn your head sometimes, let alone swing an axe . Definitely thrusting weapons only (I suspect a short spear might be the best weapon). The pics are really good, all lifted from the internet from various caving sites. Dudley Caving Club has some excellent videos on youtube as well.