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The largest artificial caving system in the South West opens in St Austell

One of the largest artificial caving systems in the South West has been created in Cornwall.  The unit has been built at the Porthpean Outdoor Education Centre, St Austell which is run by Cornwall Outdoors.

The bespoke system of tunnels is over 80ms long and offers users a realistic and exciting journey through a simulated underground environment in a safe and controlled way.  The realistic cave passageways include stalactites, stalagmites, fossils and a number of chambers, where small groups can gather to discuss which direction to take next. 

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Head of Cornwall Outdoors, Andy Barclay, said: “Caving requires skilful manoeuvring of your body which will strengthen your core and upper body, as well as mentally stimulating your brain cells. It’s a great way to build team work and the young people that have already tried it out, have loved it.”

Cornwall Outdoors has four outdoor education facilities across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and is part of Cornwall Council’s Together for Families. There are 3 residential centres at Carnyorth, Delaware and Porthpean as well as a campsite set up each summer on St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly.

Established in 1947 as a means to reunite and re-energise the young people of Europe after the Second World War, Cornwall Outdoors began with a set of tents in a field near Restormel Castle in mid Cornwall. The International Youth Camp, as it was then, moved to its current site at Porthpean in 1949 and has been working there with young people ever since.  Their belief remains the same; that outdoor activities and outdoor education offer massive benefits – physical and mental - to those who take part so we simply say, “Get out there , have fun, get better!”

Andy continued: “The caving system is a great addition to our facilities at Porthpean, where visitors can try our high ropes course, climbing walls, mountain biking, archery and of course our water-based activities including kayaking, coasteering and stand up paddleboards. We aim to build confidence and resilience in young people and adults, and challenge them to try new things. 

“I’ll be the first to admit that the caving unit is not for everyone, but the number of people who overcome their fears and give it a go is phenomenal.”

To celebrate the launch of the caving unit an open evening is being held at Porthpean, where members of the public can come and experience the caving unit.  The event, which is being held on Halloween, is open from 5.30 until 9 and tickets are just £10.