Recently, we have received quite a few letters, mainly from
club members who are not able to got up to Mendip as often as they would wish,
who say that they find the B.B. an excellent way of keeping in touch and are
satisfied with the present layout and contents. Others, on the other hand, may wonder why the bit which they wrote for
the magazine has not yet come out, particularly as the editor is always moaning
that he has not got enough material.
The answer to this latter question is that we try to keep a
variety in the B.B. The serial on Cave
Photography started last month has unfortunately had to be postponed, as the
author is on holiday. This sort of thing
happens quite often in a magazine as small in size and as frequent in
appearance, as the B.B. Other editors
will no doubt sympathise.
Talking of other editors, we were most pleased to receive a
copy this month of the WESSEX JOURNAL for which we should like to thank the
Wessex Cave Club and the editor. We hope
that, from time to time, we shall be able to reprint caving news from this
source in the B.B., and make available any of our own new caving articles to
the Wessex Journal. This will further
increase the interest, we hope, of those members who wish to keep up with new
caving developments on Mendip.
Finally, thanks to the two members who have already
contributed supplies of duplicating paper, and an appeal for more. The B.B. takes about a ream a month and the
circulation is now just over 190 copies a month.
One last afterthought. Some time ago, we had some PHOTOGRAPHS in the B.B. Admittedly, rather badly printed but this can
now be remedied. How about an
illustration to YOUR next article? Enclose a print the size you think it should be in the B.B. as contrasty
as possible (all soot and white wash) and with not too much black in it and
well do the rest!
Whitsun Coach Trip to Gaping Ghyll.
It is still not too late to book
for this if you do it NOW. Contact Brian
Prewer, c/o Greenfields Farm, Upper Coxley, Wells,
Thursday Climbing Meets.
These have started again. Meet the Climbing Section, at about 6 p.m. on
Thursdays by the tennis courts in the gorge.
Owing to the firm involved
sending the wrong colour; these are still not available for distribution. We have asked them to be as quick as they can
in putting their mistake right and hope to be able to announce their
Congratulations to John and
Audrey Attwood on the birth of their son, Simon John. He was born on April 8th at the
and weighed 9lbs 10oz.
Caving Log for 1961
5th March. St. Cuthbert’s. Bryan Ellis
members down the cave on a tourist trip. Took the opportunity to remove some of the
flood debris and mould covered rubbish from the Dining Room, more important, we
took the drum containing the Primus and what spare food there was back from
Pillar Chamber to the Dining Room.
11th March. St. Cuthberts. Leader Richard
Roberts. Party Bruce, Mike G, Mike C,
Ron. September Series to Trafalgar and
bugs, this aspect of the trip was cancelled. The water was very low. What is
someone who collects bugs called?
11th March. Swildons. Rowena and Gillian
– a lass from
12th March. St. Cuthberts. Leader
Richard Roberts. Party Frank, Bruce,
Mike C., Mike G. September Series to
odd passages but found nothing new. We
then went down to the stream which we could hear from Paperweight Chamber. To the right – downstream – there is a series
of interconnecting chambers ending in a vertical drainpipe heeding a rope. The stream can be heard again from here. To the left – upstream – is a very complex
Boulder Ruckle which needs further exploration.
12th March. Goatchurch and Avelines. Leader Prew. Party Pat, Frank, Colin
Smith and Prew’s mate. A trip to test a
dreaded electrismal/magnetismal prototype surveying gadget fairly successful. It worked through about 500′ of reel.
18th March. G.B. Leader Alfie. Party Richard, Pat, Tom Neil. A mainly photographic trip to bottom of cave
Passage to the end. Alfie and Tom noted
the Devenish Effect – due to caves shrinking. The party rested at frequent intervals and the leader explained that
this was for the benefit of the younger members of the party.
19th March. St. Cuthberts. Leader
Richard. Party, Pat and Mike Calvert. High Speed trip to stream passage below
Paperweight Chamber. Explored narrow
fissure at end of chambers downstream. This
led to the stream passage again and after about 150 ended in a sump. There were several side passages which ended
in chokes. We then returned to the first
appearance of the stream and had a ‘thrutch’ around in the Boulder Ruckle. We finally ended up in the middle of Catgut
Series on the main route to September Series. We were led out by Pat. The
stream passage described above had no visible traces of previous discovery.
19th March. St. Cuthberts. Mike Baker and Roger Stenner thrutched around
the Boulder Chamber. Found a new passage
with mud formations – stalactites and two mud stalagmites. Went into Long Chamber.
19th March. St. Cuthberts. Party Norman
Petty; P.G. Davies; B. Baukin; S.G. Banks; D. Home; B. Redfern; J. Williams;
Pam and Paul Reinsch. Tourist trip to Sump
via Cascade Passage, Curtain Chamber and Rabbit Warren.
26th March. Cuckoo Cleeves and Dallimores. Garth and Ron. This was a wild
discovery trip for the party. A
determined attempt was made to enter Cuckoo Cleeves, but when faced with the prospect
of removing approximately five tons of clag, the beautiful indolence overcame
us. Entrance to Dallimores was
accomplished by earoling down a rope into the mud bath. A few reasonable chunks of stal were
encountered down there, just on the far side of the main chamber (of which Jim
Giles now has a photo). On down the
Slippery Shute, the way was apparently blocked. Slightly above and to the right is a muddy; wet; body tearing;
non-British; non-cricket, temper loosening squeeze and Garth got well and truly
stuck and being Garth, cursed like hell. We emerged from the cave wet and steaming.
23rd March. St. Cuthberts. John Attwood,
John Eatough and “Kangy”. High
into the Wire Rift, then into that horror beloved of Bennett – Rocky
Boulders. Dug speculatively at the
duck, then out. Very dry, very
nostalgic, very pleasant.
31st March. Swildons. Party Nigel and
Pete Bagcock. First trip for Pete. Down the Long Dry and then to the bottom end of
Barnes Loop. Pete, the idiot, dropped a
ladder down the waterfall. Back out the
31st March. August. Party Garth and Keith. Quick trip to the bottom to provide lights
nits who had been waiting for approximately seven hours for us.
Late entry. 10th Feb. Weegee trip to Wookey
Hole; Gough’s and Cox’s. In each, got
the usual patter. Interested to hear
about the Rev, Somebody or other who wanted to acquire some of the formations
from Wookey so he put straw down on the floor and brought them down by musket
fire. I bet that caused a right clatter
round the chamber! Whilst in Cox’s cave,
the guide demonstrated how he could play with a rusty nail on stal
curtains! Party G.E., J.E. and and
Letter to the Editor
I was interested to see a cute little “Warning Great
Wetness notice above the entrance to St. Cuthberts Swallet. I wonder why this is necessary?
As far as I know, St. Cuthberts is explored and visited
under an approved leader system. To be
approved by the Committee each leader must have demonstrated that he is a
competent caver, is familiar with the Cuthberts system, knows the rules
applied to caving, with particular emphasis on Cuthberts, and will at all
times treat the formations with care and respect. With the leaders carefully vetted by our
beloved committee, what more is needed? Surely unsightly, easily damaged notices are superfluous and a prize example
of the Belt and Braces technique. There
are dangers in St. Cuthberts more lethal than an inconvenient stream down the
Entrance Pitch. A flooded Cuthberts
merely means a longish wait in a relatively dry and well ventilated chamber
from which communication can fairly easily be established with the
surface. Correctly dressed and equipped
cavers will suffer only discomfort. If
we must have notices, please can they be more pertinent to St. Cuthberts. Can they point out, for example:
1. The woodwork in the shaft.
2. The state of the boulders above Arête Pitch.
3. That the metal ladders are intended for the
passage of one person at a time.
4. The risk involved in incorrectly using the wire
in the Wire Rift.
5. It is good practice to pass Quarry Corner one at
6. That several of the major series are not good
7. That there are recognised ways and places for
refuelling carbide lamp
We are quite familiar with St. Cuthberts but familiarity,
though it may breed contempt, does not reduce the dangers of the cave or the
tragedy of spoilt formations. I have the
horror to be, sir,
We also note a slight inaccuracy in a recent account of the
last Cuthberts flooding incident. Although the fire pump was very efficient, and a great help, it did not
dry out the entrance pitch. The best it
could do was to keep pace with the water coming in. Only by increasing the dam capacity by a
small amount was the water temporary decreased, enabling the cavers to leave
the cave. – Editor.
That well known exponent of the technique of side lighting n
caves, Mr. JIM GILES pointed out to the editor that the so-called cartoon which
he drew last month was not a good representation of the effects which Mr. Giles
obtains by using this technique and then allowing us some fine examples of some
scenery he has photographed by side lighting.
In deference to Mr. Giles skill and undoubted mastery of
the art of this form of photography, the whole of this apology has been printed
Secondary Lighting – A Near Miss
by Jim Giles.
The number of cavers on Mendip is on the increase again as
the summer draws close, and perhaps a word of warning about lighting may save
some trouble for the M.R.O. It seems
that, despite our club rules, some cavers do visit caves with only a single
source of light and no worry as to what may happen if that light should go
out. I was once among those solo light
cavers, and prided myself on my ability to carry on, using someone else’s
light. A trip in Swildons Hole changed
At about 1 pm on April 4th, Roger Stenner led a trip down
St. Cuthberts while Bob Lawder led a photographic trip around the Upper Series
of Swildons. Dave Causer and I decided
to go down to Shatter Pot using Bobs party as sherpas on the 40.
Dave had a Nife cell; a carbide lamp and some spare carbide
while I had a carbide lamp and two water bottles. As the Nife cell was rather cumbersome, we
left it in St. Pauls Series near Blasted Boss to be collected on the way
out. We reached Shatter Pot and left the
spare carbide at the bottom of the pitch and went through the diggings to
Junction Chamber where we measured up a branch passage. At the end of the 250′ Rift Passage, there is
a small stream passage which at first suggested a way on, but is choked after a
few feet. This stream passage is 3 long
leading into a pool where the stream sinks. The pool is about 6 long, 1
high and 1 wide. On this occasion, it
was half full of water, making it very muddy. Beyond the pool, the passage
widens a little and goes uphill into a small round choked chamber.
As I had not ventured into this passage on a previous trip,
I decided to go through and have a look around while Dave remained behind. As I emerged on the other side of the pool, I
put my lamp on some mud. I swore, but
managed to light up again. On my way
back through the pool, I put it onto mud again. This time I could not get it going. I asked Dave for some light, but his lamp had also gone out. We both tried to get our lights going again
but without success. I wore out my flint
and my thumb while Dave decided that his lamp was completely dead. The
only thing left to do was to try and light my lamp with Dave’s flint, so I
wriggled round and by splashing in the pool; we were able to get together. I passed my lamp to him and followed out by
touch. Out in the 250 passage, Dave was
able to get my lamp going, but the flame was very weak and the addition of
water made little difference. With such
light as there was, we were able to climb the 10′ overhang (almost impossible
on flint alone) and make our way back to the spare carbide, where we recharged
and were able to leave the cave.
I hope if any single light caver reads this, he will learn
by our mistake. Believe me, it is not
funny. However, if your light should
still go out, don’t panic. Its
surprising what you can do when you have to!
An archaeological section is being reformed in the B.E.C.
and Keith Gardner is the Archaeological Secretary. If you are interested, please contact him, or
write to him at 10a
He will be writing a regular
Archaeological feature in the B.B. in future, which will keep members up to
date in this field.
G.B. and other caves.
The Committee would like to remind all members that most of
the Mendip caves are subject to some sort of arrangements before they may be
visited. In particular, visits to G.B.
MUST be organised via the Caving Secretary, who will arrange for the key. It is not enough to obtain the key from other
sources, even if it is one of the B.E.C.s guest days.
The Belfry Bulletin Editor, S.J. Collins, 33,
Secretary. R. J.
699 Wells Road