This page provides simple answers to a few very basic questions.   It is unashamadly biased towards Mendip (Somerset, UK) because it is widely recognised that this region contains the Centre of the Universe1.   There is a small amount of information of more general appeal to UK readers towards the bottom of this page.

1: Long and exhaustive testing has established without doubt that Hunters' Lodge Inn is the exact centre of the Universe.

Where is Thrupe Swallet ?
Thrupe Swallet is near the hamlet of Thrupe, which lies to the north-west of Wells, in Somerset, UK.   Confusingly, there are two cave sites with more or less the same name.   Thrupe Lane Swallet, close to the road, was dug by the ATLAS team in their younger days.   They broke into the cave there over twenty five years ago. Thrupe Swallet is about 5 minutes walk away to the north east.   This swallet was the first to be dug in the area, excavation having started in 1936.   The present excavation is the fourth to take place at the site.   All earlier attempts were abandoned, largely because of problems with unstable and generally unfriendly boulders.
What is cave digging ?
On Mendip, cave passages are relatively small and they tend to be blocked close to the surface.   It is the job of the cave diggers to get through the blockage and into the open passages which (they hope) lie beyond.   Virtually all the caves on Mendip that are now accessible have been dug open.   At Thrupe Swallet, the diggers started working through a choke of boulders on the surface.   Intensive efforts took the digging face to more than 230ft below the surface, but even so, the diggers did not reach open caveable passage and the dig has been abandoned.   Digging is not an occupation for the impatient.
Why do you do it ?
Difficult question, makes the meaning of life question seem quite trivial.
Who or what is ATLAS ?
The cavers who dug at Thrupe Lane were a group of friends who came from various caving clubs.   Lacking a group identity, they referred to themselves, (tongue-in-cheek) as the "Association of Thrupe Lane Advanced Speleologists".   Nowadays, the Association of Thrupe Lane AGED Speleologists would perhaps be more appropriate.
Why Ferret Shed ?
During the digging at Thrupe Lane, the diggers were allowed to use part of an old shed in the corner of Nelson Butt's farm yard as a shelter, changing room and tool store.   Eventually the ferrets, whose home it was, couldn't stand the company any more and moved out, leaving the hut entirely to the cavers.   Many a happy hour was spent in there.
What is a swallet ?
Swallet is a local term for a place where water sinks into, (or is swallowed by), the ground.   In the case of Thrupe Swallet, a small stream sinks in a wooded hollow a short distance from a low cliff face.
Where can I find out more ?
Visit the pub: While they are generally upright and temperate souls, cavers and diggers may sometimes be found in public houses.   Try Hunters' Lodge Inn or the Queen Victoria (both in Priddy).   Wednesday evening is a good time to find diggers.

Contact a club: - a few with headquarters on central Mendip are listed below, but there are many more.

Where can I find general information about caving in the UK ?
Try these for starters.   They both give good general introductions and are packed with information.
The external links on this page were OK on 08-Oct-2008

Revised:   07-Sep-2008