Technical Divers since 1946

||Technical Divers since 1946

The Cave Diving Group is the representative body for Cave Divers in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is a constituent body of the British Caving Association. Its function is to educate and support cavers for recreational and exploratory operations in British sump conditions. The group was formed in 1946 by the late Graham Balcombe and its continuous existence to the present day makes it the oldest amateur technical and cave diving organisation in the world.

It is a condition of qualification as a cave diver within the CDG that the candidate is an experienced caver as well as a skilled cave diver.

For over 70 years, the Cave Diving Group have represented, nurtured, supported and protected the interests of British Cave Divers. Our members have been (and remain) at the forefront of cave exploration not only in the UK but internationally.

Of note is the Cave Diving Group’s role in sharing and publishing information about cave exploration by members (and others) and developments in cave diving techniques. This is done through the CDG’s mentoring programme and through it’s publications. The Group produces a quarterly newsletter and a training manual, sump indices are available for each cave diving region (Somerset, Wales, Derbyshire & Northern) of Great Britain which summarise diving activities from Group members and non-members over many years. The newsletter is free to members and on sale to the public as are all other publications.

The group liaise with landowners to negotiate access to caves on behalf of members (and others). This most often occurs at Section level or is conducted by individual members. It has taken decades of delicate negotiation to gain access to some sites, sometimes for everyone, sometimes for CDG members only and sometimes for single divers. A critical element of any access negotiation is liability and the group also takes out third party liability insurance for member’s caving and cave diving activities through the BCA insurance scheme.

Whilst the Group is always pleased to accept new members, it does not actively recruit and the specialist nature of UK sump diving means that the membership overwhelmingly represents cavers who wish to dive rather than mainstream divers who just wish to dive in the few easy access sites the UK has to offer. Non-cavers are occasionally accepted for membership but are expected to put a great deal of effort and time into learning how to cave safely and efficiently. It is a condition of qualification as a cave diver within the CDG that the candidate is an experienced caver as well as a skilled cave diver.

The CDG prepares its Trainees for solo diving, achieving this through its mentoring programme which encourages a thinking approach to underwater caving. The Trainee is supported by their Mentor(s) as they move towards qualification but remain responsible for their own progression. Unlike some other dive training agencies the CDG is non-commercial. We do not offer a “Fast-track” Cave Diver ticket. When a Trainee is awarded CDG Qualified Diver status it is an indication that they are ready for solo exploration in the challenging conditions found in UK sumps. Final election to qualification is carried out by the candidate’s peers – the Qualified Divers of their section.

A candidate for membership applies to one of the regional sections, making themselves and their experience known to the section. The Group also welcomes non-diving members who wish to be associated with its activities and they receive all the benefits of membership with the exclusion of Cave Diver liability insurance.

The Cave Diving Group operates under a federal structure comprising four regionally based sections located in the major caving districts of Britain: Somerset, Welsh, Derbyshire and Northern, each with its own Secretary, Treasurer and Training Officer. These are governed loosely by a Central Committee which comprises national officers, overseeing the running of the Group and liaising with other bodies.

Cave Diving Group Membership Benefits

  • National representation of cave diving interests
  • Public Liability Insurance for caving & cave diving
  • Specialised skills development and support from experienced cave diving mentors
  • Negotiated access to some otherwise limited access caves
  • Quarterly printed newsletter & members-only on-line library of newsletter back issues
  • Information on cave diving around the world
  • Qualification card

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