Dates For Your Diary


N.B. – All Friday evening trips meet at cave 7.30 pm.

February 3rd

Friday.  Eastwater

February 15th

Wednesday.  Paul Esser Memorial
Lecture – Trhe West Face of Changabang by Joe Tasker.  Lecture to be held in the Arthur Tyndall
memorial Lecture Theatre in the Physics Dept., Tyndall Ave., (opposite the
Senate House) University of Bristol at 8.15 pm.  Admission free.

February 17th

Friday, Cheddar

February 16th – 19th

Lake District – walking.  Travel Wednesday
night.  Stay at cottage at Chapel
Stile, Great Langdale, near Ambleside.  Everyone welcome.  Place name on
list at Belfry or to Mike Palmer (telephone: Wells 74693).  Accommodation for 20 in the cottage.

March 3rd


Thrupe Lane

March 11th

BRCA Symposium – Cave photography. UMIST,


March 17th

Friday niters trip to
South Wales.  Phone Richard Kenny. Meare Heath 269.

Easter Weekend

Yorkshire. 8 bunks booked at
the Bradford P.C. Cottage.  Hoping to
get permission to do Mungo Gill and magnetometer Pot.  Other systems will be visited, hopefully
including Tatum Wife Hole.  Will all
those interested contact Paul Christie, 7 The Glen,

London Road
, Berks, before February
12th.  Paul says in his letter that he
is hoping to arrange a trip to

.  Incidentally for those who can’t write,
they can phone Paul at
Ascot 25372.

June 10th or 17th

Symposium: Cave Exploration in Northern Spain at

.  Details later.

October 7th

B.E.C. A.G.M. and ANNUAL DINNER – advance details in the March or April

Library Additions

The following books have been purchased for the library:

Proceedings of the 7th
International Congress.  Science of

Limestones and Caves of

Cave Exploration in


All of these volumes are expensive and it is to be hoped
that members will treat them with great respect.

Kay Mansfield has very kindly offered to bind complete
volumes of exchange publications.  Whilst
on the subject of exchanges, the Committee has agreed to exchange the B.B. for
Speleo Abstract (a Swiss publication) and an Italian journal.  Details later.


A note from the Hut Warden

Chris. Batsone

In recent years, the numbers of cavers visiting Mendip has
multiplied out of all proportions.  Our
caves are full to overflowing each weekend and not only our caves, our caving
huts are also taking a hammering.

It seems that the ‘in-thing’ to do if you are a guest in
someone’s club hut is to roll-up uninvited with at least fifteen people in the
party; take over the hut and act as if you own the place sloping off on 8unday
leaving dirty plates and frying pans in the sink, fag ends on the floor and
rubbish lying all over the hut.  No
wonder our members get tired of coming to the hut.  They get crowded out by people who are not
even members who they don’t know from Adam and then end up doing their own and
six other bxxxxxs cleaning up on Sunday.

I am not saying that all guests at the Belfry act in this
manner, a large proportion of those who stay are very helpful, these we must

Many other clubs around the country are now bringing in much
harsher controls on who stays at their huts. The Bradford P.C., I’m told require each guest to be accompanied by a
member.  I’m not sure what  the position is over a party booking but I’m
sure it must be something similar to that of the Craven P.C. at Ivy Cottage,
Horton, who only allow clubs that can offer reciprocal facilities; that is to
say ‘If you want to stay at our hut then you should be prepared to let us stay
at yours at some other time’.  In
Derbyshire, the Pegasus have stopped all college and university parties staying
at their hut in Peak Forest as they have found that the major problems arise
from these clubs.  It was felt that since
the Eldon P.C. have been evicted from their ‘hut’ in Buxton, the Pegasus may
have been landed with extra guests.

Yorkshire and
Derbyshire, much of our caving traffic is centred on the three huts in
Priddy:  B.E.C., W.C.C. and S.M.C.C.  I’m sure that the M.C.G. will soon find
problems when they finish their new concrete palace at Nordrach.  It would seem that out of the Mendip clubs
mentioned the


and ourselves get most of the problems, the Shepton have always been reasonably

What has been done so far? A general tightening up of the hut booking procedure seems to have
yielded some results.  The Hut Warden
MUST have at least 3 – 4 weeks advance, written notice of booking (SAE for
reply).  This will enable the Warden to
plan weekends in advance and so hopefully avoid overcrowding.  It also gives time to reply and either
confirm or cancel a booking.

The Belfry will sleep 36 people at a push but this is not an
ideal number as the hut becomes cluttered with personal gear and the cooking
facilities etc. then become overcrowded. If we discount the bunks in the women’s room we are left with 30 places.  It has been found in the past that the most
economic and comfortable number is 24 in the main bunkroom.  Of these 24 bunks, I allow 12 for Club
members and 12 for guests; obviously these numbers can be juggles slightly and
we are still left with an extra 12 bunk spaces to cope with any crises.

It has also become more apparent that the Hut Warden has to
take a harder line with people who turn up without booking.  These people are now finding that they are
being turned away from huts.  I am told
that the


policy is no booking, no bunk.  A policy
I am thinking of introducing at the Belfry – any comments?

Already this year I have had two weekends double-booked
because Club members accepted hut bookings in my absence and forgot to tell
until it was too late to do anything about it. Please, dear members, if you are asked to book the Belfry for someone,
either tell them to write to me, c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells,
Somerset., or write to me yourself.  A
written note should ensure that your booking is not forgotten.

‘What of the future?

As from January 1st, 1978, the B.E.C., along with the W.C.C.
will be operating a three tier hut fee system as follows:

Members – 30p per night. Personal guests – 45p per night. Parties or Unaccompanied guests – £1.00
per night.  Camping members – 20p per
night.  Camping, guests – 30p per night

The system will work in this sway, members will pay the
normal rate and each member will be entitled to sponsor two non-members at the
personal guest rate.  The personal guest
rate will also be charged to those Clubs which have reciprocal arrangements
with the B.E.C.  Parties and
unaccompanied guests wishing to use the Belfry and its facilities will be
charged £1.00 per man per night subject to the Hut Wardens discretion.  Parties wishing to book the Belfry will be
charged a 20% non-returnable deposit in advance, party bookings will not be
accepted until this deposit has been paid.

I am also prepared to arrange a couple of members weekends
at the Belfry if there is enough support from the membership for this –
hopefully this would not exclude members personal guests from attending.

It is hoped that this article has gone some way to explain
the reasons behind the action taken by myself and the committee to alleviate the
problems of overcrowding at the Belfry. Club members are always welcome at the. Belfry (that really goes without
saying) so why not call in sometime. It’s always nicer to have a hut full of members and friends we know
instead of guests we don’t know. Sensible criticism and any further ideas will be welcome.

Chris Batstone, Hut


The Belfry Boy

Tune: Sweet


Well, I’m the Belfry Boy,
I’m every other buggers favourite toy,
Oh how it always seems to give them joy,
To put me in bloody pain.
Baroom Ba roomm etc.
Oh how they treat me hard,
Kick me all around the Belfry yard,
Lord, you aught to see how I am scarred,
From when they shoved me up the drain.
And when a member calls,
I dash inside so they can black my balls,
And splatter me around the Belfry walls,
Till I’ve nearly gone insane.          They
sit me in a chair,
Rub jam and marmalade into my hair,
I sit and smile as if I couldn’t care,
But later hang my head in shame

And then they all insist,
That I am something called a masochist.
Especially when they come back pissed,
And want to play their silly games.

But now I sit and wait,
Because I’m glad to know that some day Fate
Will bring along a brand new inmate




The recent spate of foreign
material sent in by members continues with a brief account of the expedition to


by John King

No sooner had I returned to the shores of

than I was jumped on by the
B.B. press gang.  Well I suppose it is
time I scribbled a volume or two.

A brief account of the recent British invasion of

The journey out took longer than expected due to constant
maintenance stops.  Every other day
myself and the driver of our Gardener coach could be seen wandering around
covered in grease after yet another successful repair.  Two and half weeks of sporadic travelling,
rain, hail, landslide, small whirlwinds and a small fire on board, brought us
safely to Iran.

At our chosen base camp site an area search of the northern
ridge of Khu-e-Sha Hu soon provided us with an advance base camp site.  This was to be eight miles walk from base,
elevating some 6,000ft, and at first seemed to be a satisfactory residential
bluff apart from being over populated with scorpions.

People soon changed their minds as one by one they succumbed
to various ailments.  This probably due
to contaminated snow being used for water. The immediate area did not yield much in the way of shafts.  Although resembling a huge quilted mattress
like that found on Khu-e-Parau, this plateau inundated with shake holes
revealed very little.  The camp came
under question as to whether a more likely position might be chosen.  Clean snow plugs would be an absolute must
and therefore dictating the position of camp two.

After further surface work, a large snow plug found above a
remote village under the northwest ridge proved ideal and so Camp 2 was soon
established a little way off from the cluster of stone enclosures with grass
roofs.  Soon, after moving in, the small
summer village evacuated almost overnight. The reason for this could have been the approach of winter, although it
did coincide with the ending of the fasting of ‘Ramadam’, a religious ceremony
lasting many weeks.

Now the village is deserted, and so we make use of a broad
rock shelter, this being nearer the ice plug. From this third camp, many shafts were discovered, three miles

North West
under the
towering peaks of the northwest ridge, dominated by the summit of Sha Hu.  Here there was to be a small advance camp for
tackle and food.  Exploration and survey
of the shafts took a long time, and produced dozens of pots with vertical
ranges of 200ft to 1,000ft.  A classic
pitch first thought to be in excess of 551ft turned out to be about 450ft, but
remained the deepest single pitch found.

Due to the vertical development of the area, most shafts
were either partially or completely blocked by plugged ice and boulders before
reaching any great depth.

The hike from base to the third camp entailing a gruelling
fifteen mile climb of 6,500ft., encountering several broad, boulder strewn
valleys, their high cliff sides, severely frost shattered.  The lime being in unique disarray due to
tremendous upheaval.  In places truncated
passage and stalagmite were found on the surface and the dip of the strata seemed

Base camp situated on a tributary of the main ‘Servan’ river
gave easy access to superb gorges, sporting passages high up on both
sides.  Most of these being close on a
1,000ft above the now dry floor of the gorge. Those within climbing distance revealed no more than a short passage, or
a large solution pocket, a few containing stalagmites of bat guano.  Eight miles further down gorge the main
rising of the Sha Hu, under high pressure, forces out an incredible flow of
water from tight impenetrable bedding planes and fissures and even in the river

Of the wildlife in

there seems to be no
shortage.  Protected from mans
destruction by barren wilderness, many beasts have the freedom of their
environment.  Leopards were seen by
myself and others on a few occasions. Higher up tracks and droppings were found.  These were thought to belong to bear although
this was not confirmed.  What else leaves
5″ x 9″ tracks, 4ft. apart?  Could the abominable snowman survive in such a cruel climate?

Once again, our water supply began to present problems.  Strained and sterilized snowmelt produced
technicolor dysentery and sickness giving our Doctor plenty of research
material.  Although very busy, the Doctor
made time to treat a number of cases from various mountain communities.  Treating cases ranging from sores and bites
to severe scalding and infected broken limbs.

Supplies again had to be replenished and for that purpose a
journey into
Kermanshah with the coach, left
base camp early one morning.  The track
from the base camp to the nearest metalled road covered thirty miles of rough
terrain resembling the track up to the UBBS hut in Burrington.  Unnoticed by ourselves and unrecorded by the
temperature gauge a water leak caused by a damaged radiator proceeded to boil
the system dry and the inevitable happened. Engine seized solid and we were rendered immobile with a ton of
equipment still on the plateau!  A number
of frantic telephone calls and a lot of help from English friends, who really
saved the day, and it looked as though our troubles would diminish very
quickly.  Soon all was in hand, an early
return by two weeks allowed us to see the eastern cities.

To conclude this adventure, a successful episode in the
discovery of this relatively unknown part of the world, as far as speleology is
concerned.  Perhaps a little
disappointing in view of the depth of the systems in relation to the depth of

has fantastic potential but I
doubt that it will disclose its inner secrets without much hard work and

{mospagebreak title=Ian Dear Memorial Fund” /> 

Ian Dear Memorial Fund (I.D.M.F.)

Very soon, members of the club will be turning their thought
away from Tyning’s, Wigmore and the like and towards summer holidays and
possible caving or climbing trips abroad. There is already one caving trip being planned to

to look
at some relatively unexplored areas of limestone and there may yet be
others.  Younger members will hopefully
be interested in joining such an expedition but may be deterred by the cost.

The ID.M.F. was set up by a bequest the late Ian Dear, for
the sole purpose of assisting younger members of the club to visiting and
climbing areas abroad.  So, if you are
joining an expedition or even going alone on essentially a caving/climbing
holiday and you are very close to your financial target, where a reasonable
grant of money from the fund could make the difference between participating
staying at home, apply to the I.D.M.F. Committee and see if they can help.  I will stress that, although there is mixed
feeling about how, much and in what may the fund resources should be used, it
will not used as dole or beer money in the ‘Costa Bomb’.

Please apply if you think you might qualify, by giving a
brief description of the proposed trip, a breakdown of cost and the sun of money
required indicating in particular where the fund money is to be used.

The application can be given to any of the following
I.D.M.F. Committee who will then call a meeting to consider it.  Two months or more notice would be ideal but
one months notice before the trip is the minimum time that can be
tolerated.  It is normal for a member who
receives a grant to write a full account of the expedition for submission via
the I.D.M.F. to the Editor of the B.B. for publication in the B.B. or Caving

I.D.M.F. Committee: –

Sett, Mike Plamer, Nigel Taylor,
Russ Jenkins and




Compiled by Niph

Rock &

.  Brynmawr, S,

.  For members wishing to visit this cave should
contact any of the following:- Bill Gascoigne – Tel:

John Parker – Tel:
Pontypool 57279

Jeff Hill – Tel: Ebbw Vale 304413

BEC Publications. John Dukes is to take on the job of publication sales.  If you have any ideas for new sales outlets
for this material, please let him know.

S. Wales
BEC Leaders
.  Andy MacGregor is an
O.F.D. leader and D.Y.O. leader.  (For
full list see December 1977 B.B.)

Notes from the North. Caves on Leck-Casterton is booked by clubs until July 1978 – anyone
interested in visiting any caves of these Fells should book now for the Winter
season!  Seems to be a simple case of
cave over-population.  CNCC are
negotiating with Lord Bolton on the possibility of re-opening

.  Permission will not be given at Top Farm to
cavers to descend Red Moss Pot.

Otter Hole, Chepstow. The

cavers have gated Otter Hole from
January 1st 1978.  Keys are available

John Court
Trenchard Cottage, Joyford, Coleford, Glos. Please enclose £2 deposit and two stamped, self addressed envelopes, one
for Key and the other for return of the deposit.  Information on the cave and tidal predictions
are also available from John.  With the
winter coming, cavers should be careful particularly on the ‘over-tide’
trips.  The
cavers are still working hard and a number of dye tests which seems to have
confirmed the existence of much more cave to be discovered.  The G.C.R.G. have set up the first of its
emergency dumps.  This has cost £30 so
please if you feel peckish take your own food not that in the food dumps.  The dump is at present situated above the
fixed ladder, just beyond the tidal sump. The electron ladder is to be removed so parties should take their own
ladder, rope and tethers.  Chepstow
Police station appears to be helpful and will note details of your trip,
particularly useful if you are visiting midweek.

Singing River Mine. A key for this mine is held at the Belfry.

Whose boob! One D. Ingle Smith (of


or UBSS) is a contributor to the nearly £10 book “Mendip – A new
Study”.  He writes – you’ve guessed
rightly – about Mendip caving.  In doing
so he’s unearthed a new Mendip Pioneer – Henry Ernest Balch!

O.F.D.  Permit
Secretary is Miss Denise Samuel,

Brent Court

Church Road
, Hanwell,

W7 3BZ

Mines of the Peak District.  The Peak National Park Study Centre are
running a course from 31st March to 2nd April, 1978.  Further details from The Principal, Losehill
Hall, Castleton, Sheffield S30 2VWB. Cost (full board) is £25.

Charterhouse Caving Areas.  Caves on the Bristol Waterworks land at
Charterhouse, have been administered by the Charterhouse Caving Committee since
the early 1960’s.  For the last year or
so the organisation has become lax and neglectful – locks are missing on
Longwood and on occasions the gate at GB has been left open.  If the CCC has forgotten its responsibilities
it’s pretty certain that the BWW has not. Will all members ensure that they have the required permits and observe
the rules of access to the CCC caves.

The MCG Book

.  The following books are available from the
MCG (Malcolm Cotter).  The two books
marked (*) are listed at publisher’s price, but purchase of these allows the
buyer to obtain a special discount on other books.

Limestones & Caves of the Mendip Hills (Ed.
Smith)                                            £3.75

Limestones & Caves of N.W.

(Ed. Waltham)                                           £3.75

The Mines of Mendip (J.W. Gough)                                                                     £2.95

*Mendip Underground (D.J. Irwin & A.J. Knibbs)                                                   £2.95

*Mendip: the


and a view of the Hills. (
Barrington and

)       £3.50

A climber in the West Country                                                                           £0.75

The Collector’s Guide to Fossils                                                                         £0.10

A Mendip tribute to the Hunters?  The Wessex Lane have written to the Mendip
Clubs suggesting that each should present Roger Dors with their club that the
trophy.  The idea is that the trophy
should be hung in the new room in the Hunters. Anyone with any ideas should contact a committee member.

Constitutional Amendments.  The AGM recommended that the 1977/1978
Committee should look into apparent anomalies in the Club Constitution.  In order to do this a Sub-Committee has been
set up under the Chairmanship of Martin Cavender (the Club Solicitor).  Members with any suggestions should contact
Martin (The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Near Wells Somerset.)

Addition to the Library.  Paul Christie has donated a copy of the
Mersham Firestone Quarries – an interim account – by members of Croydon Caving
Club to the club library.

Caving Reports available to members.

No. 1  Surveying in



No. 3A  The
Manufacture of Lightweight Caving Ladders


No. 5A Survey of Headwear and Lighting (2nd ed.)


No.10 The BEC Method of Ladder Construction


No.13 St. Cuthbert’s Report:


Part E. Rabbit Warren


Part F. Gour Hall Area


Part H. Rabbit Warren Extension


No.14 “Balague 1910”


No.15 “Roman Mine”, nr.



No.16 “Mendip’s Vanishing Grottoes”


No.18 Cave Notes ’74


No.19 Cave Notes ’15-16


All reports are stocked at the Belfry.  Members should see Chris Batstone or John
Dukes.  They are available through the
post so please allow p & p 50p for 3 or more.

From the Gloucester SS Newsletter, No.5, is a note of

Forest of
digs.  Work on Seymour Swallet is to begin again,
with improved drilling facilities for banging. On the other hand in

, although there is a
good draught, and the way in is visible, there are no diggers.  The mysterious project ‘X’ has yielded 60+
ft. of passage, including a 25ft pitch half-way down a big aven.

C.S.C.C. has recently taken under its wing the Mendip
Cave Registry.  At present the mammoth
task of collating the information is undertaken by Ray and Kay Mansfield.  For those that have not looked at the
Registry, it is recommended that you do so (copies are lodged in the Wells
Library and Bristol Central Reference Library). It is the only complete set of references to any Mendip cave up to the
date of the last century.  There is about
10 years or so work to be added to the Register.  And you can imagine, it involves much work
and it is well known that Ray and Kay would welcome any help – particularly
from typists.  Their address is Tiny
Kott, Little London, Oakhill, nr.


Those who did not bother to attend the B.C.R.A. winter
Meeting at the Hunters missed a fine afternoon and evening’s entertainment.  John Parker outlined the discovery and
exploration of the Rock and Fountain – a fine talk, illustrated by slides.  This was followed by Dave Manley on a new
idea of discovering new cave passage by chemical means.  After the Buffet, Jerry Wooldridge gave a
repeat showing of his sound/slide sequences of La Cigalaire and Fairy Cave
Quarry.  The evening was wound up by
Martin Farr and Pete Glanville giving a potted account of the

77 trip
including Pete’s observations on the medical problems of caving visits to arid

Sports Council Cuts BMC Grant.  Since the publication of the BMC ‘Hunt
Report’ there has been a considerable rift in the Council.  A rift in, fact based on fundamentals – put
very simply Hunt stated that training should be based within the Climbing Clubs
and under the watchful eye of BMC and Longland wished for a separate
organisation to control training within the climbing world.

Reported in the ‘Times’ newspaper the grant has been taken
away from BMC and has left them in a situation where they are in a situation
where they are in severe financial difficulties.  Mrs. Audrey Selkela, Hon. Chairman of the BMC
South West and Southern Area stated in a letter to me…”Within the last few days
(Oct. 28th) arbitrarily and without consultation, the Sports Council has
cut-off the BMC Training Grant thus jeopardising the future of a well-proven
and well run operation for over five years. Further more, it would appear that the Sports Council is proposing to
transfer this money to a

Leader Training
Board, chaired by Sir Jack Longland…. The BMC considers that the Sports Council
is wrong, ill-advised and destructive. It would be wrong and unsafe for a body, other than the BMC to attempt
to set standards of competence in mountaineering since the BMC in its
membership embraces some of the best climbers and climbing educationalists in
the world.

We had always understood it to be a hallowed principle that
the Sports Council did not seek to interfere in the internal policies and
philosophies of any sports or recreation; supporting a secessionist body and
withholding grant-aid can only be interpreted as interference.”

So there you have it… conform or otherwise.  It is to be hoped that the Southern Council
will ensure that it does not receive grant-aid for its administrative costs
without first ensuring that it can survive without it.  BEC representatives to the CSCC meetings
should ensure that the council gets this message loud and clear.  (see also: B.M.C. Saga continues on page 12
for the Sports Council viewpoint)


Book Review

by Dave Metcalf.

Northern Caves,
Vol. 5.” ‘The Northern Dales’
– Revised Edition by D. Brook, G.M. Davies,
M.H. Lone, P.F. Ryder.

Surely this must be a guidebook which contains the most
varied selection of caves and potholes ever recorded.  Since the 1974 version came out passages have
been pushed, digs have been dug and sumps have been dived.  A wave of discovery fever seems to have hit
the Northern Dales.  In the 1977 edition
there are no less than 100 new entries together with many important extensions
to existing caves.

The total area map has been extended to include caves as far
a field as the West Coast of Cambria to the North Northumberland Border;
Flamborough Head to Nottinghamshire. There are caves in Sandstone, Chalk & Grit, with every subterranean
hazard known to man – from creaking boulders to radioactive gas!  Of interest to the connoisseur of cave names
we have Mitochondrion Pot, Diggle Wigglepit and next time you visit Dentdale
how about 60ft of Bum Burner Breach! There are many more surveys in this edition but unfortunately omitted is
one of


– a newly discovered complex system of come 1-2 miles.  However a description of the new cave does

Perhaps the most important extensions recorded are those in

and the long overdue
reopening of Lunehead Mine Caverns.  Much
new ground has been covered by divers, with much activity in all areas
particularly in the
Valley with the sump in


being passed and two important risings explored – Uldale House Rising and,
would you believe ‘Lady Blues Underwater Fantasy’.  Also recorded are underwater extensions in
Tutmans Hole, Ayleburn Mine Caverns, Tub Hole,


and Pate Hole leaving plenty of scope for further exploration.

The book is well laid out and very readable.  Additional Geological information is provided
and there is also a comprehensive section covering caves in Magnesian

This volume is understandably slightly fatter than other ‘

‘ editions but unfortunately so is
the price.  However at £1.65p,  I still think it is good value.


Letter to the Editor.

Dear Dave,

I was extremely sorry to read the ungracious remarks made
about Alfie at the last A.G.M.  As they
seem to fall into the category of personal opinion, then perhaps my personal
opinion might be heard.

Alfie’s efforts have provided me with a BB that has been my
preferred reading amongst other journals, reports, papers and information sheets
I read.  It has been largely successful
in a humorous fashion.  It had
style.  I hope its successor is as good.

I imagined that when Alfie ceased his association with the
BB, a thankless task, would be treated with due honour for the considerable
efforts he has made on our behalf over far too many years with too little
help.  I’m ashamed that he has gone like
this.  Is this the new BEC?

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Yours Regretfully,



Dear Sir,

May I be permitted to write a few words about the “Friday
Night” Saturday trips to

.  As you probably know, the “Friday Night”
trips that are run every fortnight are open to members of all Clubs, and
despite our incredible difference we manage to cave quite happily as a
group.  We also run about three or four
trips a year to
South Wales, these of course
being on a Saturday.

The general system is that by mutual consent we fix the
dates for a year in advance.  As a Welsh
date approaches so people state their preferences and we select the cave.  Each cave has its own access rules and for
clarity I will consider Ogof Ffynon Ddu only.

Approximately one month in advance one has to write to the
Nature Conservancy Council, John Harvey, Clifford House, High Street, Newnham,
Glos. GL14 1BB.  Newnham 376 for a permit
to enter the cave.  One should state
whether or not this is for OFD1, OFD2 or Cwm Dwr.  Each permit allows the leader to take six
other cavers in the party.

Do avoid the 1st Saturday in the month as Penwyllt (South
Wales Caving Club HQ) reserve their premises for Club members only on those

I have never found it necessary to advise SWCC of our
coming, but I always ensure that the Duty Warden is found, the nature of our
visit explained, who we are, and a whip-round of say 5p or 10p each made to
cover the use of their dining room, toilets etc.  The showers cost an extra 10p. per
person.  It is essential that we make
these gestures for we all use and appreciate their facilities.

As the trip date approaches so people wishing to come,
contact me or other “Friday Nighters” and their names and locations are added
to the list.  At this stage of the game
we must consider the permit system, 1 leader +6, and usually we can enough
Mendip OFD1 leaders or SWCC leaders to cover the size of the party (one only
needs OFD1 leaders to pass through that part of the cave and this is a
landowners request).  However, if this is
not possible then we have to work on a 1st come 1st served system.  We pool our transport and this can involve a
fair degree of planning and money on phone calls.

At long last we are over there, fed, and ready to go.  The permits are exchanged via the Duty Warden
for a key, EVERY party members name is put in the HQ guest book together with the
Club name and cave key number.  There is
also a notice board made out for 24 hours, and all names are entered on cards
against the expected ‘out time’.  I
usually add on two hours for contingencies. Make no mistake about it, if you are overdue then a search will be
organised and at the least you would keep someone away from the pub on
standby.  Remember that this cave has at
least 25 miles of passages so the access arrangements have to be fairly rigid.

You may well ask, “What are the benefits of a trip like
this?”  Well, the regulars amongst
us enjoy caving as a group, so that’s one answer.  Another is that we give anyone the chance to
learn the basic routes so that they can then run their own trips.  The last one is that as an OFD1 leader, I
must give people the opportunity of visiting that part of the cave.

On Saturday November 12th we had 18 in the party.  This is quite normal these days but it does
mean that we have to be very conscious of our group responsibilities.  As happened on that occasion one must be
ready to change the route if someone finds the 6 or 7 hour trip too tiring
(often done by us without them necessarily being aware of the fact).

Unfortunately, on that date four people joined our party and
I knew nothing about them until they overtook me in OFD2.  They failed to wait at an agreed place and we
had occasional news of them from parties travelling in the opposite
direction.  We had to change our plan and
surface via Cwm Dwr instead of OFD1 and they were left on their own and had to
return by their original route.  Had we
stuck to our original plan of entering via OFD1, I would NOT have let them
enter the cave, for our leader ration would have been invalid.

In conclusion may I stress that we WANT to help anyone
interested, but common courtesy also helps us

Yours faithfully,

R.E. Kenney.


Dear Sir,

So the Tigers are on the prowl again and they have hit poor
Wig ‘straight between the eyes’.  We are
being told once again that we ought not to like fixed tackle in St.
Cuthbert’s.  From anybody else I would
take it as a mark of sheer arrogance to be told what kind of caving I ought to
like.  But from Jim Durston I can’t, because
I know he’s a bloody nice chap.  I can
only assume that some bee has come untimely out of hibernation and is buzzing
around his helmet.

The argument he leaves out altogether is that of cost
effectiveness.  Electron ladders are
expensive both in time and money and have only a few years useful life.  Fixed ladders are cheap and last for at least
half a century.

It has been pointed out before, but I may as well say it
again, that there is nothing to stop cavers from taking electron ladders down
St. Cuthbert’s and using them instead of the fixed ladders, if they prefer it
that way.  (Jim knows as well as I do
that he doesn’t have to use the ladders on the Ledge Pitches, but can descend
the crack at the back.)  His argument
would be more convincing, if people did take down their own ladders.  Until they do so in preference to the fixed
aids, it will be a fair assumption that cavers prefer the latter.  But who are we to tell cavers how to enjoy
themselves?  After all that’s all that

All the best,

Oliver (Lloyd)


Cuthbert’s Revisited

I was privileged to go into Ease Gill Caverns fairly soon
after their discovery and remember the breathtaking beauty of “Poetic
Justice”, a passage with thousands of straws, virtually wall to wall,
floor to ceiling.  A few short years
later I saw it again and scarcely recognised it; the damage done was so great
that little remained to suggest anything of its former glory.

Earlier this year I revisited Cuthbert’s after a gap of some
twenty years – give or take a year or two. Prior to this I had made only two or three trips into the system and my
memories were somewhat hazy although I could recall some magnificent
formations.  As I wrote off to arrange
the trip, which was for the benefit of a party from the Derwent Mountaineering
Club from Matlock; I wondered how many of those remembered formations would
still be intact.

As we went our way through the cave under the watchful eye
of Mike Palmer, there they all were – straws, stalagmites, curtains – all,
unbelievably, in pristine condition, jogging my memory, looking as they had
done when I last saw them, and indeed as they must have looked when the first
explorers saw them close on thirty years ago. One curtain came so low it was necessary to duck your head in order to
yet there it was, undamaged.

Over the years there has been a lot of criticism of the
Cuthbert’s leader system the restriction on access it imposes.  In the past I’ve always been in favour of
free and unrestricted access to caves, subject to the accepted ethics of
discoverers being allowed to complete the exploration of their discovery first.  No-one can deny that it is far more enjoyable
to be able to turn up in a caving region, set off do, the cave of your choice
and find your own way through the system – no red tape, no restrictions, no
finding someone to give permission; just pay the farmer his entry fee and off
you go.  Without the bother of having to
book a trip with a leader, I would have made many more trips down Cuthbert’s
all those years ago.  But now I ask the
question.  If there had been free,
unrestricted access into Cuthbert’s from those years, would we now be able to
go in and see these splendid formations? Would they now exist: for the new generation of cavers to enjoy as we
who saw them back in the early fifties enjoyed them?  Regretfully, the answer is NO, they would
not.  Most would be damaged if not
destroyed completely.  The beautiful
curtain I mentioned would have gone long ago. Would they still be intact if a less rigid system of control had been
put into operation – say each of the Mendip Clubs being allocated duty club on
a rota system and taking over responsibility for a set period?  I don’t think so.  I think the success of the Cuthbert’s leader
system is that each individual leader accepts full responsibility.  On each occasion I have been down I have been
impressed by the way the leader has ensured that every member of the party knew
where the formations were and avoided any risk of damaging them.  If at any time there had a mishap it would
have been known and the responsibility placed squarely on the shoulders of the
leader at that time.  It is most unlikely
that under any other system of control, any damage would have been traced back
to any particular party, let at any individual and anonymity fosters
carelessness.  It is an indisputable fact
that the Cuthbert’s leader system has preserved the cave intact and although
restricted access was irksome to my generation, it now gives me great pleasure
to know that my sons will be able to see at least one cave in the condition in
which their mother and I saw it long before they were born.

There have always been some individuals who believed they
were justified in doing whatever was necessary to gain unauthorised access into
caves, including using explosives, sawing off locks or merely sneaking in when
no-one was looking.  It could not have
been easy for the B.E.C. to keep control over the years.  In fact I remember many years ago when one
young caver was caught making an unauthorised trip through Cuthbert’s; he was
duly hauled before Sett and one or two other fearsome Godfather figures of the
B.E.C. and given a right ‘rollicking’, threatened with excommunication,
castration, or even being chucked out of the Club if he ever transgressed
again.  It would have been all too easy
to say “Oh, he’s a competent and responsible caver, let the incident
pass,” a view some of us held at the time. But had that happened it would have been the thin edge of the wedge,
others would have followed his lead, within a few years the leader system would
have collapsed and the slow but inexorable desecration of the beauty that is
Cuthbert’s would have begun.  Anyone who
really wants to wander freely around Cuthbert’s can do so simply by taking the
trouble to become a Cuthbert’s leader.

The caving fraternity and all who profess to support
conservation owe a debt of gratitude to the B.E.C., and in particular to all
Cuthbert’s leaders, for the time they have spent and the trouble they have
taken to preserve the cave and its formations. This achievement is well worth the annoyance caused to me and my contemporaries
when we had to go to the unheard of trouble of finding a leader and booking a
trip down the cave; had we been given free and unrestricted access, the
youngsters of to-day would have a very different cave there now.  And although they may moan as much as we did,
the continuation of the leader system will mean that those who come after them
will still be able to enjoy the magnificent formations which-abound in
Cuthbert’s.  In fact, the success of the
Cuthbert’s leader system prompts me to suggest that there must be a case for
operating such a system in any new discovery that has a wealth of formation.


B.M.C. Saga Continues

In Jottings earlier, is an extract letter Audrey Selkeld of
the SW Section of the B.M.C. gave the B.M.C. case over their current row with
the Sports Council and the grant aid to the MLTB.  At the SW Sports Council Standing Conference
held at


in November they deplored the Sports Council action and wrote to the Director
of the Sports Council – Walter Winterbottom (those of’ you old enough to
remember this name will know him as the manager of’ the English Football team
in the ’50’s).  Winterbottom replied to
George Reynolds, Secretary of the SW Standing Conference deploring their action
without ‘the full facts’.  He then summarised
the situation as viewed by the Sports Council and this follows in full:-

The BMC was set up in 1944 but it was not until 1964 that it
begun to assume a more active role as a national governing body.  In that year as a member of the CCPR Outdoor
Activities Committee, the BMC served on a working party which recommended the
formation of the Mountain Leadership Training Board.  This Board was responsible to the CCPR
Outdoor Activities Committee and was charged with the duty of prescribing the
type of training and the form of representation from the user bodies.  It did, therefore, enjoy a great deal of
independence within the limits of the expertise of its members, and the CCPR
provided support services.

The Sports Council, which took over the staff and
undertakings of the CCPR, continued to support the MLTB.  The Sports Council sought also to encourage
the BMC to accept its responsibilities as a governing body and the Sports
Council grant aided the appointment of a general secretary a national officer and
back-up secretarial assistance, and assisted the Council in its move to
Manchester headquarters.

In 1972, the BMC was beginning to obtain greater credence in
the eyes of the member clubs through improved services and it was at this stage
that the Sports Council with the agreement of the MLTB invited the BMC to
administer the Mountain Leadership Training Scheme.  It was agreed at that time that the BMC
should receive a 100% grant for this area of work so that there should be no
burden on BMC finance obtained from club members.  At the same time it was agreed that the MLTB
would have independence in policy matters and that the representation of the
user bodies would be maintained.

There seemed to be a very happy relationship between the BMC
and MLTB until 1973.  It was at this time
that the President of BMC set up a committee to review the policy across the
whole range of BMC activities.  A
preliminary report was produced in 1974, the final report being presented to
BMC Management Committee in 1976.

As a parallel exercise, the BMC Training Committee, chaired
by Lord Hunt, considered the detailed policy on mountain training.  Inevitably the report made recommendations
about the MLT Scheme, mainly questioning the name of the scheme and the value
of the certificate.  The Hunt report
emphasised the need for consultation and agreement with the MLTB about changes
in the Leadership Scheme, and whilst suggesting larger membership for the BMC,
stressed the independence of the Board.

In 1976 and ‘1977 there were several meetings of BMC/MLTB,
some with the Sports Council, and the Sports Council was assured by the
President of BMC in February 1977 that both parties were nearing
settlement.  In mid 1977, the BMC
unilaterally decided to abolish the Board and sack its Chairman.

Bearing in mind its undertaking to the MLTB, and the refusal
of the BMC to service the Board and its activities, the Sports Council at its
meeting in Glasgow, took the decision that the Sports Council should make every
to bring about a settlement between the BMC and MLTB, but meanwhile the Sports
Council should sustain the MLTB and withdraw that proportion of BMC grant
attributable to the servicing of the MLTB which the BMC had repudiated.  As the normal machinery for talking to
governing bodies was through the Sports Development Committee, it was agreed
that the Committee should consider the matter and recommend a course of action
to the Council.  It was further agreed
that Mr. Atha should chair the separate meetings of members of the Sports
Development Committee with representatives of the BMC and MLTB.

It should be noted that grant aid to the BMC was withdrawn
only in respect of that element of grant which the BMC had applied for in
respect of that element of grant which the BMC had applied for in respect of
servicing the MLTB.  Grant for its normal
administration and international events continue.  The BMC has not submitted any scheme of BMC
training for consid6ration for grant aid.

After separate meetings with representatives of BMC and MLTB
the Sports Development Committee has recommended to the Sports Council as
follows: –

“It was agreed that the following recommendations
should be considered by the Sports Council at its meeting on the 19th December:

i.                    That the MLTB continues to be recognised as the
autonomous body responsible for the MLTB schemes until such time as it appears
that the Board no longer enjoys the support of the user bodies;

ii.                  That the Sports Council formally canvasses the
views of the user bodies of the MLTB schemes;

iii.                 That the Sports Council recognises the
contribution the BMC can make to the work of the MDTB and would wish it to take
up its representation in the present constitution of the MLTB and be party to
the election of a Chairman and officers of the Board;

iv.                 That the BMC be encouraged to put forward its
training scheme for the sport of mountaineering to be considered for grant aid,

v.                   That the BMC and the MLTB be asked to meet under
an independent chairman to discuss the present situation with a view to the BMC
resuming its servicing of the MLTB, and

vi.                 That the Sports Council should discuss with the
BMC what grant aid is necessary to meet immediate staffing problems in its
Manchester Office


Lead Sediments in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

by Roger Stenner

Many months ago the B.B. published a short paragraph
concerning this topic, and it was hoped that someone properly qualified to
comment on the possible dangers would have written a follow-up letter.  This has not happened, and several people
asked me to elaborate on the original paragraph.  Readers should bear in mind that I am not
qualified to make a judgement on medical dangers of lead and can only draw on
the available literature, chiefly the report, “Lead in the environment and its
significance to man,” published by the Department of ‘the Environment as
Pollution, Paper No. 2. (HMSO



Lead mining and smelting had a very long history on Mendip,
and Gough’s “Mines of Mendip” refers to many aspects of lead
contamination, some of them more than 400 years ago.  St. Cuthbert’s Swallet drains a valley which
was used for lead smelting for at least 1700 years, so it must he expected that
the streamways have been contaminated. The question was – how extensive is the contamination, and how does it compare
with natural contamination brought about by natural weathering of lead-bearing
rock, and transportation by the surface stream? This was a question I was able to tackle and there were some surprises
in the answers.  Briefly, all the stream
passages in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet have sediment containing 1½ – 3½% lead, but
not every stream has been sampled. Surface streams going into the cave have sediments of 3 – 5% lead, and
Wookey Hole sediments have about 0.6 – 1.5% lead.  Abandoned stream passages, and even in active
stream passages, sediments about 3M above the stream bed have below 0.1%.  The analysis of sediments through the
archaeological dig in Wookey 4 from 1974 – 1976 gave final proof that the
contamination was un-natural.  In fact,
analysis of sediments in St. Cuthbert’s will give a stack of information on
chronology and changes in the cave since 250 A.D.  The analysis of sediments will not be as
clear-cut as might seem at first sight because two samples of a clay like
deposit from the cave proved to be very rich in lead – one in fact being over
70% cerrusite (lead carbonate) which were not stream borne pediments.  It is tempting to speculate whether Ochre
Rift should have been called “Cerrusite Rift.”

The distribution of lead in St. Cuthbert’s and Wookey is a
fascinating subject, which is only really just starting to come to light.  Do the divers realise that they can follow
the way to Cuthbert’s by following the lead and that any branching of the
streams will be clearly shown by the sediment as well as by the water
itself?  The amount of sediment needed
for reliable analysis is tiny compared with a 50cc plastic water bottle.  However, the question of the possible dangers
from the lead is likely to be of more immediate concern and this is where I
have to leave my subject and refer to what others have written.

First, there is considerable controversy about the effects
of small concentrations of lead, when blood levels are below the usually
recognised level marking the onset of clinical lead poisoning.  Mental retardation, hyperactivity and
behavioural problems have been reported with children being particularly
susceptible.  In rats, similar low level
exposures have been reported to shorten the lifespan by 30%.  Changes in the biochemistry in humans have
been shown to be caused by very low exposures to lead.  It cannot yet be said that these changes have
harmful effects such as the abnormalities just listed, but at the same time it
cannot be said that the changes do not have harmful effects.  Why don’t we know whether the changes affect
our health?  Long-term epidemiological
studies are needed to answer the question. Until then, one side says there is no proof that low levels are safe and
point to disturbing signs.  Both sides
are, of course, right but it is not, a very satisfactory state of affairs.

If we turn to higher levels of lead contamination, classical
lead poisoning can develop.  Causes are
many.  Pica or compulsive chewing (lead
paints taste very sweet) inhaling dust from scraping lead paints or burnt paint
from the blowlamp (old paints can be 40% lead) lead from old glazed ware or
ware from amateur or “art-form” potters, especially used with acid
foods, e.g. soused herring, working in lead using industries, drinking from
pewter, especially mulled cider.  All of
these can give massive lead intoxication. So where do Cuthbert’s sediments’ corrie in the ‘lead exposure
league?’  What might it mean to you?  If you are ‘normal’ in not being exposed to
abnormal lead contamination, probably not much. However, if you are in busy traffic a lot, or working in a lead using
industry, any extra contamination should be avoided.  Always assuming low level contamination turns
out to have no long-term effect. Personally, I don’t think it would be wise to allow children to breathe
in dust that sometimes reduces visibility in the Belfry changing room to about
six inches!  To be on the safe side, a
rinse out in the drinking pool would have been a good of getting rid of St.
Cuthbert’s lead, and prolong the life of the boiler suit at the same time.  Perhaps it might be a good idea for lots of
reasons, to reseal the stream-bed of Fair Lady Well Stream and reinstate the
Drinking Pool as a permanent stream so this could once more be the normal

Ed. note:            full account of the lead in the cave will be
found in St. Cuthbert’s Report, Part L which Roger is in the last throws of
preparing.  If anyone would like prior
access to the data then contact Roger.


Odds and Sods

Yeovil Caving Club member contracts Weil’s disease.  Following a trip down Stoke Lane Slocker on
the 14th. October 1977 Benny Bainbridge had the symptoms of Weil’s
disease.  Within two weeks he had lost
the use of both of his kidneys and the liver was infected.  He was taken to the
Hospital at
and subsequently moved to the

at Halton.  He responded to treatment which involved the
use of a Dialysis Machine and made a total recovery in about six weeks.  Bainbridge is reported to have drunk the
waters of

Stoke Lane

and this in turn had been infected by Rats urine.  The case above is the second the first
occurring some 10 years ago when Oliver Lloyd contracted this disease – again
following a visit to

Stoke Lane
.  Be warned – do not drink water in any cave
that flows near farm buildings or property where rats are likely to find a
comfortable home.  This could apply to
Cuthbert’s where water from the small holding eventually drains into the cave –
particularly in the Long Chamber Series and Coral Chamber area.

More on Gating of Otter Hole

The entrance to the cave is now gated by the


cavers (see Jottings).  The gate has been
installed at the entrance to the first crawl passage some 40ft. inside the

Swildon’s Hole



have obtained successes in Swildon’s. First a breakthrough in the Sidcot Dig revealing about 500ft of
passage.  The trend of this new section
of cave appears to be towards Barnes Loop. The second is the discovery of about 100ft. of passage at Heaven and

Some Digging Possibilities in Manor Farm



When Manor Farm was opened up in September 1973 the water
sank at point A, down a short choke in front of the large boulder before the
final bend.  At this time the cave ended
in a muddy choke at ‘F’.  Early in 1974
this choke was dug through revealing further passage.  Mr. ‘N’ banged in the sink and blocked it
up.  It is now a deep pool of very liquid
‘mud’ and the water flows onwards, leaving the passage via a short sump to the left
to re-appear and sink in the chamber at ‘B’ (this is the one reached normally
through one of the holes on the final bend). The sink here is an obvious digging site.   The original roof tube from the main passage
goes straight into

the chamber via the top hole.  A later rift tube joins the original hole,
coming from a high inlet opposite.  The
sink at ‘B’ is blocked by boulders collapsed from the roof of the chamber. It
probably took water for a long time before this then flowed through the lower,
terminal passages, as evidenced by the abrupt decrease in size of the main

The sink at ‘A’ is probably relatively immature, considering
how easily it was blocked (although Nigel did use a lot of bang).  The narrow, descending rift at ‘C’ is also
probably immature, although it does draught gently.  At the very end of the final passage, at ‘E’
a steep slope can be climbed with the aid of an old, fixed rope belayed to a
dubious looking boulder.  Above a boulder
choke a short length of rift can be entered. Back from the steep slope, a low passage on the right leads to a tight
rift.  Climbing up this reaches a small
chamber, at ‘D’.  The rift continues
above and below a small, loose looking boulder collapse.  In the lower route a way on can be seen
beyond some of the boulders, but the route through is tight and nasty.


Sketch Diagram showing lower end of Manor Farm Swallet.

Next month in the B.B.

An account of a recent visit to White Scar Cave (Yorks) and
an account  of a visit to Belgium by –
wait for it – ‘Zot’ as well as all the up to date news from a number of
sources.  For the April and may BB’s
there will be an account of the Discoveries of Wookey 20 – 25 and a new series
of surveys, by Chris Howell, of the lesser caves of Mendip including sites such
as Axbridge Ochre Mine and Loxton Cave.

Overheard at the Belfry

Club members are planning a trip to

this and JD and G. W-J are
intending to go along.  Another member
(MB) hearing this said, “Damned if I’m going along with these two – they take
their caving too seriously.”



by Tim Large


The Committee, after taking legal advice, has appointed two
new Trustees in a ‘caretaker’ arrangement to cover the Clubs interest until the
situation can be discussed by you at the 1978 A.G.M.  They are Roy Bennett and Alan Thomas, who are
both agreeable and happy to take up the position on the Clubs behalf.


The MRO have asked for extra space to store more equipment
in the Stone Belfry.  The Committee
agreed to extend the present store by a small amount, but at the same time
increase the size of our tackle store to provide workshop facilities as
well.  The cost of the change will be met
by the MRO.

Bob Cross has obtained, for the Club, a fine workshop bench
which sited in the improved tackle store. Many thanks Bob.

If anyone has, or knows of, items of equipment or tools that
may be of use to the Club – just give someone on the Committee a ring to check
costs etc, and than the go-ahead can be given to obtain it.  Obviously, expensive items will first have to
be agreed by the Committee at one of their meetings.

There is a possibility that the track leading to the Belfry
will be tarmaced.  The Club has been
approached, by letter (!) by our neighbour, Walt Foxwell, with a view to a
joint effort towards work.  This should
reduce the rate at which everyone replaces suspension units.  In the meantime it would be appreciated if
everyone would drive slowly along the track to minimise the damage to the
surface.  Farm animals regularly use the
track, as you all know, and several have become lame due to the badly rutted


Barry Wilton has given the Committee notice that he intends
to resign as Hon. Treasurer at the end of the current financial year.  Barry has done a good stint and his work is
very much appreciated by everyone.  So
budding treasurer’s lets be hearing from you. As the Clubs financial year ends in July, there will be a few months for
a caretaker arrangement to exist under

guidance.  Being a rather special post it
is no good waiting until the A.G.M. election of the Committee.  I think you would all agree there is a need
to find a reliable replacement as soon as possible whom the committee would
support at election in October.  Contact
any member if you are interested.


The election for the two vacancies on the committee took
place at the January meetings.  Those
people that expressed an interest were Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Bob Cross and
Martin Grass.  The two elected by secret
ballot were Martin and John.  Welcome to
both of them and DON’T BE LATE!!


This year the Priddy villagers are holding an ‘It’s a
Knockout’ competition at their Spring Bank Holiday festivities.  The Club intends to participate and help
devise a suitable game.  Martin Bishop is
arranging it and would be pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in

Instead of the usual Midsummer Barbeque which has faded in
recent years, the Committee has agreed to arrange a buffet instead.  If you like an official mid-year Club Dinner
(buffet).  The Belfry would probably be
restricted to members only for that. weekend and I hope we would see some of
the older and less familiar faces on Mendip combining perhaps some
caving/climbing etc. with a ‘do’ on the Saturday evening.  More details when available re costs etc.

In my mail bag this month has been a letter from John whom
many of you will know as being the only members name in St. Cuthbert’s – namely
Stafford‘s Boulder Problem. I am sure many of
you will recall the place with very choice remarks.  John living in Aberdeenshire and gives an
open invitation for members visiting

to drop in.   Address available on request.  Also the mail bag is a letter from
Keith Murray who has just returned from a six month
visit to Br. Honduras.  I am sure be must
have many tales to relate.  What about
some of them for the B.B.

Your membership subscription is now officially due and will
be gratefully received now!  Remember to
comply with the insurance requirements the Club has to submit membership
numbers by April 30th.  Any member not
renewing by that date will be deemed to have lapsed and a re-application will
become necessary.  This also means that
your B.B. would cease to arrive too.  So
let’s be having those lovely cheques – made payable to B.E.C., not myself.


The Young Mendip Caver

Tune: German Musicaner

Well I’ll sing you the sons of a
young Mendip caver
And of the adventures that overfell ‘e.
Though he’d led a good life, he was hardly a raver
Until he went caving with a girl called Betsy.
Sing fal da ra lal de ra lal de la lady
All kinds of holes this young’ caver’d been through
But the ones he preferred, they were both wet and hairy
And his favourite trip was to do Swildons Two

Now these two went down Swildons, the boy and young Betsy
The bike of the Belfry , invariably free.
They slipped on their wet suits and went down together
There was no one else with ’em, there was just he and she.
Now he’d charged his nife cell and she took her stinky
As down to the dark this young couple did go
He thought he was hard and she thought he was kinky
And they both hoped the other one wouldn’t be slow.
When the Forty was passed he led over the Twenty.
Down to the streamway past ruckle and squeeze
But he found the sump wider than he had expected
And very soon after he was down on his knees

Then it’s.  Oh! she did cry. Well me lamp
it has failed me
Have you got a pricker to bring back the flame?
So he pulled out his wire and he tackled her stinky
And very soon after, ’twas working again

But this trip down below, it got wetter and wetter
And time after time she cried ‘Do it again!’
Till he’d tried every way and he could do no better
And then she did say ‘Try the first way again.’

Now when they came out, they were both tired and weary
And the charge in his cell, well it almost was through.
And there’s only the moral to tell of my story
Wet stinkys need pricking down in Swildons Two


Pippikin – The Entrance Series

By Dave Metcalf

Pippikin is situated in the large allotment on the south
side of Easegill about 100yds north of the wall which runs down from Leck Fell
House.  However, to reach it, it is
probably better to walk across from Bull Pot Farm, down towards Pegley Pot and
follow the path up the north side of the Gill to a broken stile, cross the Gill
and climb up a rocky dry valley and head for the fence that surrounds
Nippikin.  Follow the obvious dry valley
for 20yds to a stream sink which is Pippikin. The larger of the two holes nearest to Nippikin (not the stream sink) is
best laddered direct into the entrance chamber (30ft ladder and Belay).

The way out of the chamber is with the stream through a low,
wide bedding plane to a small gap where the stream drops abruptly down Cellar
Pot (40ft).  The first man should then
traverse the slippery beams across the top of Cellar Pot (while lifelined) and
then proceed feet first into squeeze using the rope as a hand line as he
emerges in the roof of a 15ft pot, but can position himself on ledges about
7ft. down.  The rope can now be used to
ferry tackle through the squeeze in small quantities a time.

The bottom of the 15ft pot is choked but an obvious window
leads into rift passage narrowing to the second squeeze.  This is relatively straight forward and leads
down a step on to a small platform above the second pitch.  (

, Vo1.4, and other
reports I have read speak of two constrictions at this point, but, judging the
amount of shattered debris here, one of these appears to have been ‘persuaded’).

A twenty foot ladder hung direct from a stemple drops into a
small chamber with the third squeeze leading into a washed out shale band.  This squeeze is probably stiffer than the
other two.  The third pitch follows with
two bolt belays on the left hand wall (50ft ladder and small karabiner).

A comfortable climb down enters a high chamber with the
inevitable tight rift passage leading into the fourth squeeze.  This emerges dramatically in the roof of a
wider 18″ rift’ and the best way to tackle this is to look through and
carefully note the position of a large expanding stemple jammed across the
passage at the far end.  Belay a 30ft.
handline to a boulder and enter the passage feet first, keeping the legs as high
up possible.  When the wider section is
detected, drop the feet downwards and inch backwards until you can stand on the
stemple.  From here it is easy to climb
down using the handline.

The next pitch follows immediately (25ft ladder and belay)
and the junction with the streamway follows. This, however, should not raise hopes too much as it is some time before
the streamway assumes any large proportions than the preceding passages!  Immediately after the junction, the stream
cascades down the Fifth Pitch with a thread belay in the right hand wall (10ft
wire belay, 15ft. ladder).  The ladder
hangs awkwardly and swings into a jagged narrow section partway down.

The exit from the chamber deteriorates into a short muddy
traverse to the top of the Sixth Pitch which should be laddered as far forward
as possible to avoid a narrow section halfway down (20ft. ladder, 10ft. belay).

At the bottom, the streamway turns sharply left with a small
cascade from Ratbag Inlet entering on the right.  The passage enlarges in size here, and it is
now almost a comfortable sideways shuffle along a high, winding streamway.  The passage continues in an uninspiring
manner for some distance, until, following a short dry section, the rift widens
at the boulder choke below the Hall of Ten.

This is a fairly strenuous pot, believe me – the following
day you will know you have done it!  A
few hints follow to help overcome the problems. Firstly, keep tackle down to a minimum, it is time consuming ferrying
one or two ladders at a time through the tight bits.  Excess personal equipment should also be kept
to a minimum to avoid snagging, i.e., loose boiler suits; bulky waist lengths
festooned with bunches of karabiners etc. A short travelling line is useful for pulling gear through the awkward
sections, with a man at either end to pull the rope should anything get jammed.

The majority of the Entrance Series is totally dry, and even
when stream is encountered it rarely comes over the boots.  None of the squeezes are any more difficult
on the return journey, but the return up the 5ft drop can cause a large drain
on the energy making the subsequent squeezes appear more intimidating to a
tired party.  Taking all this into
account it is probably fair to estimate a time of 2¾ – 3 hours for a small, fit
party to reach the streamway choke on their first trip into the system.

Editor’s note: Another article describing a trip into
Pippikin Pot can be found in BB No.344.

Useful addresses

Tim Large (Hon. Secretary) 72 Lower Whitelands, Tyning,
Avon.  (Tel: Radstock 4211)

Graham Wilton-Jones (Tackle Master) ‘Ileana’,

Stenefield Rd.
, Nap
High Wycombe, Bucks.

Nigel Taylor (Caving Secretary) Widden Farm, Chilcote,


Mike Palmer (B.B. Postal) Laurel Farm, Yarley Hill, Yarley,

.  (Tele: Wells 74693)

The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin,
including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the
committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy
of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be
checked in the time at his disposal.

Editor:  D.J. Irwin,
Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells,


© 2024 Bristol Exploration Club Ltd

registered in England and Wales as a co-operative society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered no. 4934.