Mines and Caves Advice

Posted by LRF Manager

Local emergency services are highlighting the dangers of exploring underground without proper equipment or clothing.

Mines and caves are tempting places for amateur explorers but, on numerous occasions, those venturing below ground have found themselves needing rescue. When this happens, multiple resources are needed to attend from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS), Wiltshire Police and specialist search & rescue teams.

With limited phone signal, those lost often struggle to call for help and, even when they do, it can be extremely difficult to locate exactly where they are so rescuers can go in and bring them to safety.

At an incident in November 2020, a group of four men had been underground for a couple of hours by the time they raised the alarm. It then took over an hour for rescuers to locate their exact position, then more time again for search & rescue to enter the mine, find the group and lead to them to safety.

A spokesperson for DWFRS said:

“This group didn’t know where they were going, they didn’t have the correct clothing or equipment, and they were incredibly fortunate that they were able to get sufficient phone signal to raise the alarm and then provide a What3Words reference to help us find them. Unless you have permission from the landowner to explore, and experience of caving or mine exploring, you should never venture below ground.”

A Wiltshire Police spokesperson added:

“Exploring mines and caves is dangerous at the best of times but to do so at night and without specialist knowledge or equipment is more than a little foolish. We’d urge everyone to never deliberately put themselves – or the emergency services and rescuers – in danger.”

Caves