Dates For Your Diary

March 3rd

Friday at 7.30.  Thrupe Lane.

March 11th

BRCA Symposium – Cave photography.  UMIST, Manchester.

March 17th

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

Easter Weekend

Yorkshire.  Contact Paul Christie, 7 The Glen, London Road, Berks, or phone Ascot 25372.

April 14th

Cow Hole (Friday niters trip)

April 28th

Lionel’s Hole (Friday niters trip)

April 28th – 1st May

Agen Allwedd.  Otter Hole and hopefully Rock and Fountain.

April 29th

Otter Hole. – Contact ‘Zot’

April 30th

Rock and Fountain – limited numbers – contact Tim Large, Tele: Radstock 4211

May 1st

Agen Allwedd – contact Tim Large

May 12th

Dalimore’s  (Friday niters trip) 7.30 pm

June 10th

Symposium on Cave Exploration in Northern Spain at Bristol University.  Details later.

June 17th

B.E.C. Mid-Summer BUFFET – either at the Hunters or the Village Hall.  Price about £2.50

October 7th

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

Don’t forget – subscriptions are now due £3.00 full member, £4.50 joint membership.  Please send your subs now to Tim Large, 72 ~ Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon.  Tel: Radstock 4211.

WORKING WEEKEND AT THE BELFRY – APRIL 8th – 9th.  Come up and give a hand painting the outside of the Belfry among many other jobs.


Club Notes

The weekend of February 17th – 19th was a special occasion and the beer was swilling at the Belfry. "Goon" (Alan Jefferies) of the Grampian based in Edinburgh came down with several others to celebrate his ‘Double Decadence’.  By popular demand he also brought a barrel of the local beer. Originally the celebrations were to be held at the Shepton but owing to popular demand the venue was changed, at the last moment, to the Belfry with, of course, the member’s permission – I mean to say, anyone bringing free beer to the Belfry needn’t really ask!  During the beer swilling the heavens opened and the southern blizzard hit Mendip, cutting off all contact with the outside world – well nearly!  Roads were blocked with 10ft snow drifts and forcing the Belfry regulars to stay on the top of Mendip – there wasn’t a disappointed face amongst them!  Though the snow fall was only some 6”, the gale force winds caused severe drifting during Sunday.

Not to miss the event at the Belfry, Martin Bishop and Liz took their car home at Priddy and walked back to the Belfry and on Sunday.  Backbone, Ross and Dave Walker with Pete Moody, Alison Hooper and other Wessex members took up Wigs offer of coffee at Townsend – much to his surprise.

Monday saw Bish, Sid Hobbs and others making a trip to Wells for supplies.  So too, did the Belfry bods.  In the mean time a well worn track was being carved through the drifts from the Belfry to the Hunters to feed on the faggots and peas as well as the quenching of the thirsts.

The Lake District trip, organised by Mike Palmer, saw Zot, Bob Cross John Dukes, Graham W-J., John Manchip (now living in Edinburgh) and others having a great time in the hills.  All went to programme until they returned to the Bristol area. The Palmers made it back to Paulton and kipped down with friends and on Monday they (minus kids) made back to Wells on foot.  Zot and John D. managed to find floor space in Radstock.

On the hill, the diggers went by the Belfry late Monday night and on Tuesday a reluctant bunch dug their way through to the road and Constable Taylor doing his thing by ringing all his copper friends to find out the road conditions to all parts of the country.

Still, this winter cannot rank as being as bad as the session in 1963 it certainly brought back memories.

Enough of my witterings lets get on with the news of the month from various authors that I hope will interest you.


Please note: Tim Large’s regular feature has not arrived yet so other points of club news will be included on a convenient page.


Firstly to Len Dawes for not crediting him with the article “Cuthbert’s Revisited” in the February B.B.  When you mentioned Poetic Justice the Easegill Caverns I think you must have been thinking of Easter Grotto with its once superb straws.

Secondly to all readers for the typing errors that appear from time to time – Oliver having picked one up in his last letter – we shall attempt to do better.


Martin Grass has sent in details of some Yorkshire meets in May.  They are: –

May 14th – White Scar

27th & 28th. G.G.  ( Bradford winch meet)

29th – Gingling Hole

Further details will appear in the B.B.  But for those wishing to their names on the list earlier should contact Martin at 14 Westleigh Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts. Telephone HODDLESDON 66966.


Christmas At Wigmore

by J. Rat

To continue from the last report in B.B. No.357 (Jan ’78, the Company undertook a considerable amount of Christmas overtime, resulting in the discovery of around 40ft. of new passage.

The gravel choke some 15ft. long the bedding crawl was cleared for 6ft to a blockage of fallen roof slabs with open passage visible beyond.   Alan Thomas granulated these on

18th December and on 24th December the way on was cleared into 6ft of low passage and a further boulder blockage.  Ross White spent a hectic session hurling himself at this until he squeezed through into a further 20ft of low, wide bedding plane crawl developed in what appears to be a band of mudstone.  There is a squeeze midway and a further roof slab collapse terminated this section, though an impressive draught whistled on into the unknown.  In honour of the date the passage was provisionally dubbed "Christmas Crawl" – not original but only to be thus named if we entered a Santa’s Grotto beyond – very unlikely in such a restricted system of conglomerate/mudstone passages.

The festive grub, booze and television (!) at the Belfry destroy all enthusiasm for two days, but on the 27th we returned to apply size 9 boots to the offending blockage which yielded after a few strenuous minutes.  Tony Jarrett squeezed into the opening and removed the boulders from the far side to allow Chris Batstone and his last two days of gluttony into the new section.  They were relieved to find themselves a 15ft. square breakdown chamber with loose boulders walls, floor and ceiling.  This cavity was presumably caused by collapse into the original bedding plane below. No obvious way on was discernable but there was evidence of at least one sizable stream having sunk in the floor. The draught dispersed here as far as we could tell.

What pleased us most was the discovery of a well decorated anti-chamber containing several short but attractive straws, a pair of 9” stalactites, various small mud formations and two crystal floors formed over washed away mud deposits.  We now had our ‘Santa’s Grotto’.  The pretties have been photographed by the Surrey Heath contingent but would be welcome as any work in the chamber may affect them.  Anyone visiting please take great care not to touch them.

Digging has now been temporarily halted to allow stabilisation of the entrance shaft to be completed.  Some 30ft of ginging has been constructed on the far side of the shaft and work has also started the near side.  Stu Lindsey will be delighted to see anyone who wishes to help with this project or can supply sand, cement or gravel.  We hope to bring the stonework up to the level of the shaft lip and cover the opening with some form of iron grid and trapdoor.  The site has to be tidied up and made safe at the wishes of Lord Waldegrave. We hope to leave the cave unlocked, though a couple of nuts and bolts may be installed as children are known to play in the area.  A further report will follow when necessary.

Ed. Note: – An elevation of the cave appears on the following page.

Sketch survey of WIGMORE SWALLET


Elevation – BCRA Grade 1. Length about 150ft.  Depth about 75ft.


Constitutional Sub-Committee

Members wishing to send comments and suggestions to this Sub-Committee should do so by the end of March. Please send all your letters to the Chairman: –

Martin Cavender,
The Old Rectory,
Nr. Wells,

A full report of their findings will be published in the B.B.

Notes From The Caving Secretary:

Mr Nigel

Prospective Cuthbert’s Leaders or members just keen on a trip down Cuthbert’s may be interested in the following list of Cuthbert’s Leaders as at February 1978:-

In the B.E.C. we have:-

Roy Bennett      Colin Clarke       Colin Dooley      Jim Durston       John Dukes

Pete Franklin     Ted Humphries  Dave Irwin          Kangy King       Tim Large

Oliver Lloyd (+)  Andy MacGregor            Tony Meadon     Mike Palmer      Brian Palmer

Andy Sparrow    Steve Tuck        Dave Turner       Mike Wheadon  Graham

Wilton-Jones     Nigel Taylor       and in the near future Martin Grass.

Wessex Cave Club: Paul Hadfield

The S.M.C.C.: Bob Craig, Mike Jordan, Gay Merrick, Bob Mehew & Martin Mills

U.B.S.S. Oliver Lloyd (+) and Ray Mansfield

Cerberus S.S.: Ken Gregory and Graham Price

Speleo Phal: Colin Salter

Other Cuthbert’s Leaders who have not shown any interest in recent years; whereabouts not known; living abroad or are lapsed B.E.C. members and therefore no longer leaders:

Alan Coase       Alan Sandall      Dave Palmer      Doug. Stuckey   Jack Upsall

Phil Kingston     John Riley         Norman Petty    Colin Priddle      Pete Miller

John Cornwall    Dick Wickens    Tim Hodgson.

Further notes of interest:

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet:  I have a ready supply of Application Forms for Prospective Leaders – vital, if only to learn the routes prior to application.

Charterhouse Permits: These are available free to members and are usually made out for 5 years.

(Ed. note:  If you lapse your membership of the B.E.C. in that time limit you automatically make your CCC permit invalid).  Nigel continues: – CCC permits are 15p to guests for a defined number of days, usually up to a maximum of 4 days. Indemnity forms must be filled in and returned to me for filing in the CCC records.  Please note that minors require parent/guardian signature and married minors are not allowed a permit all.  Apply to the Hutwarden, Chris Batstone, c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, N. Wells, Somerset or Dave Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, WeIls, Somerset.

Club Meets for 1978. Neither Russ (Freddy) Jenkins or myself have received any requests for club meets as it would appear that regulars at the Belfry are ‘doing their own thing’.  Please let me know of your arrangements so that there won’t be any clash of dates. I shall be arranging trips to STEEP HOLM and the Cheddar caves later in year; details later.


Lifelining – a Safe Approach

If we assume that all of the equipment used on a pitch is in good condition then the only possible cause for concern must surely be lifeliner himself.  With conditions as they are underground anyone lifelining must be a considerable hazard particularly on a long and arduous trip.

So if we can take the holding and braking away from the lifeliner and use a Figure of 8 instead, the lifeliner can control the tension and hold the man easier if he falls off the ladder or limb.  Alternatively, if two karabiners and an ascender is used the lifeliner can haul the man up the pitch if necessary.  These two methods are described below.

Method 1.

From the ‘Stance’ belay attach the descendeur by a karabiner and pass the rope through in the normal mode for abseiling.  The lifeliner is now in a position where his only role is to keep the rope at the correct tension (see Fig. 1).

If the climber was to fall the friction of the descendeur would, in effect, take most of the shock leaving the lifeliner in a position to lower the climber down with safety and ease with no danger of rope burns to himself.

Method 2.

If a prussicking device is rigged below the descendeur ready to be attached to the rope the lifeliner is now in a position to haul the climber to the head of thee pitch.  A small pulley would make hauling easier but it is not necessary.  (Figure 2)



New Discoveries in the ANTRA del CORCHIA

a report from Scan Gee

Readers may remember that last year I wrote a short article on the Buca del Cacciatore (Abbisso Fighiera) and the work being done by Italian cavers to try for a connection into the into del Corchia and so establish a claim to deepest known cave in the world.

On the hot line from Italy via the magazine of the Club Alpino Italiano comes the news that the Antro del Corchia is now established as the deepest cave in Italy at – 950m.

This came about in rather a strange way.  It seems that a group of cavers from the Gruup Speleologico Bologna del C.A.I. were investigating a high level gallery with a view to a possible connection to the Cacciatore.  This gallery leads off from the Canyon near to Pozzo Bertarelli and just before the Pozzachione (Big Shaft 180ft.) and leads to a big chamber where another passage leads to the top of the Pozzachione Chamber.  From here they commenced an epic scaling operation using bolts and pegs and experienced a lot of difficulty with falling water.  This they called Pozza Netuno and it is 72m high or deep depending where you’re standing.  Another big thrutch got them to the base of a shaft they call Pozzo Paradiso, 70m, and here they could see daylight.  Further climbing brought them to a window coming out on the face of Monte Corchia and further exploration both above and below ground revealed yet another entrance above this one.

Thus the Antro now has four entrances and they have, for convenience, been numbered from the bottom thus:-

Entrance 1        (Buca dei Serpente). This was the old lower found from the inside by D.C.G. in 1967 and opened by the Italians in 1970-71.  Altitude 950m.

Entrance 2        This is the original artificial entrance in the Marble at 100m.

Entrance 3        Is the entrance above the Pozzo del Paradiso at 1268m.

Entrance 4        This lies 35m above Entrance 3 at 1303m.

Thus from Entrance 4 to the bottom of the cave is -871m.  But read on.  Using, as they describe it; ‘an antique speleological technique’, a maypole, they were able to cross the shaft at the top and scale upwards for another 79m to a series of galleries.

It would seem that there is almost certainly another entrance still higher up the mountain and getting very close to the Cacciatore which is, at present, in the region of 850m deep and thus the hope for deepest cave may well become a reality before much longer.

The work continues in the Cacciatore by a number of small groups who have formed a sort of regional body. Unfortunately I have to report the death of one of the leading members of this organisation.  Antonio Lusa, aged 34, and one of the most respected cavers in the area, died in October shortly after staying with me for some of the International Speleological Conference activities.

His death comes as a bitter blow to all parties who go to the Apuan Aps particularly as he was a good negotiator and a sedative to hot tempers.  However, as a memorial, his friends from Aaenza (RA) are constructing a bivouac on the summit of the Corchia.  This should provide a very useful base for future expeditions to the Cacciatore.

Further north in Italy, some interesting discoveries have been made a little known caving area close to Verona.  The largely ignored area has been receiving attention from the G.S. Verona del C.A.I. and a report of their findings has recently been published.  The area covers Monte Lessini (Venetian Pre Alps) and a number of new caves have been discovered near to the village of Giazza, which is quite remote and where they still speak a strange language called Cimbro.  Most of the caves are of a horizontal nature and some are quite long, some being in excess of one mile.  However, near to the village of Selva di Progno they have found a cave of 261m depth. Not very deep you might think but wait. The cave is called the Abisso Angelo Pasa and it was found by following up an old shepherds legend of a ‘Great Shaft’. I’m sure we’re all had experience of these ‘Great Shafts’ but this one paid off.  The cave drops quickly through a series of short shafts and then nonchalantly bobs over into a shaft of 211m (685ft).  As you can imagine, the Italians description of this shaft is flowery, to say the least!

In all fairness it must have been a fantastic experience for them particularly as the area is partially explored.

From the Julian Alps comes news of the Spluga de la Preta.  This has been bought by an organisation that seems to be across between the Sports Council and a very rich Regional Association. Be that as it may the facts are that this cave is now controlled by that body.  Italian clubs who are not members of this ‘Big Brother’ organisation and bound be a considerable number of rules and regulations and are required to pay a fee that may be in excess of £100 per expedition.

The area surrounding the Preta is being turned into something of a tourist area, a typical Melonarium where the wee-gees can gape at the cavern going down.

I am informed, however, that these rules and the fee do not apply to foreign clubs and particularly British clubs, with who, it would appear, they wish to curry some sort of favour!

Stan Gee C.A.I.

The elevation of the Antro del Corchia shown on the next page is a very free adaptation of a small detailed copy he enclosed with the article.  For thus interested in finding out more of this system are referred to Sottoterra (G.S. Bologna) copies of which are in the Club Library.

Thanks Stan for the article it might even get some members travelling south from Austria later on this year.  I understand that you have another article on the stocks dealing with poisonous snakes of Europe, hints on First Aid for climbers, cavers and campers – this should prove of great interest – let’s have as soon as you can.

BB359-ItalyAntroDelCorchia .jpg 

Sketch survey of ANTRO DEL CORCIA based on elevation by G.S.B. del C.A.I.



By Tim Large

New members – welcome

927 Richard Gough, 35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey
928 Jennifer Hoyles, 35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey
929 Jane Kirby, 8 Worcester Terrace, Bristol 8
930 Stuart Lindsey, 5 Laburnum Walk, Kenysham, Bristol

Lapsed members – rejoined

Eddie Welch, 18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol
John Hunt, 35 Conygre Road, Filton, Brisol.
Dany Bradshaw, 37 Cresvicke, Bristcl BS4 1UE

Changes of address:

Claire Williams (nee Chambers), Whitestown Farm, Cheddar X Roads, Compton Martin, Nr. Bristol.
901 Richard Barker, 40B, Croxeth Road, Liverpool 8
900 Christine Greenall, 13 Nerreys live., Oxford OX1 451
860 Glenys Bezant, 14 Westlee Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts.

Climbing Secretary. At the last Committee Meeting, Russ Jenkins tendered his resignation.  His reasons were that for some time now he has virtually been a one man climbing section – the Clubs climbing activities being nil.  Russ considers that the facilities available within the club for would be climbers are limited compared with ‘proper’ climbing clubs. He also has difficulty attending Committee Meetings due to shift work.  He is prepared to continue in. the post without attending meetings in order to deal with any correspondence and be our contact with B.M.C. which Russ arranged last year.  The Committee has agreed to this and does not propose any change unless there is a significant increase in interest in the climbing section.

By the constitution, we ere bound to have a climbing secretary, but this highlights the question as to whether we need to have a Committee member with this specific title. With the •Sub-Committee currently reviewing the constitution this is an obvious point for discussion at the A.G.M. What do you think?

SINGING RIVER MINE. Graham Price (C & A Officer, CSCC) tells me that lock went missing recently.  One of the main obligations on the key holders (B.E.C. included) is to keep the entrance locked.  Although the situation has now been remedied I ask everyone to ensure that the mine is locked after each visit.  If for any reason the entrance cannot be locked please contact Graham Price, 31 Waterford Park, Radstock, Avon.

Equipment Supplies. There is a possibility of arranging discount prices for members for the purchase of camping, climbing and caving gear. Several discounts are available depending on whether it is an individual or bulk purchase.  As soon as more details are available I will let you know. It would be helpful to have some idea of those interested.  So if’ you are now contemplating buying some new gear contact me first, we may be able to let it cheaper!

John Riley has appeared at the Belfry during February – staying over for a few nights.  It appears that he is back in this country for good.  I hope that we shall be seeing him active on Mendip again soon.  I also had a letter from ‘Pope’ out in Rhodesia sending in his subscription.  It’s good to hear from the ‘Golden Oldies’ again.

 (I don’t know what ‘Pope’ would think of himself being called a ‘Golden Oldie’ – if I remember correctly he joined the club when Tim Large first appeared on the scene around 1967 – ‘Wig’)


Additions To The Library

Compiled by ‘Wig’

This list of items placed in the club library is additional to the Library List published in September 1972.

Members having material not listed below and would otherwise be destined for the dustbin or to collect dust on the book shelf, would they consider giving it to the Library.  The present collection is among the largest on Mendip, but there are a number of incomplete runs, particularly amongst the various club exchanges in the decades 1940’s and 1950’s.

During the past few years, Tim Large and myself have been collecting newspaper cuttings and magazines containing references to caving and climbing activities.  All of this material is being pasted up in a scrap book. In addition to this collection I’ve been given by Fred Stone, a retired designer at B.A.C. Filton, a valuable collection of cuttings, letters, Christmas Cards dating from about 1946 to the early 1950’s – a very welcome addition to the Library.  Will members keep a sharp look out and send any useful references to either Tim or myself.

Axbridge Caving Group

Newsletter: June 1965, 1972 complete; 1974 April – December; Jan – Oct.; 1976 May – July; 1977 Jan-July.

Birmingham Univ. S.S. . Omnibus 5.

Bradford P.C.

Bulletin Vol. 3 Nos: 1 – 1C; Vol.5 Nos: 9~ Vol.6 Nos: 1~2.

History of Gaping Gill,

Bristol Exploration Club

After the Fire, compliled by S.J. Collins (collection of Comma Mins)

St. Cuthbert’s Newssheets Nos: 2 .- 14

Mendip Songwriters & Composers – compiled by S.J. Collins

Belfry Book Nov 1969 – Dec 1970; Jan 1971 – Oct. 1971.

Belfry Specification (Collins and King), 1967

Caving Logs: 1943 – 1946; 1957 – 1958; 1958 – 1960; 1960 – 1961; 1961 – 1963; 1969 – 1971; 1971 –  1973; 1973;

St. Cuthbert’s Log 1970 – 1972, 1972.

St. Cuthbert’s Report (Caving Report No.2) manuscript (Coase & Falshaw)

St. Cuthbert’s Survey, 1958, Field notes & sketches for R.W. Extension

Caving Report No. 3a (2nd printing), 1973 reprint

   No. 11 (1973 reprint)

   No. 14 Balague, 1970

   No .17 Burrington Cave Atlas

   No. 18 Cave Notes, 1974

   No. 19 1975 Expedition to the P.S.M., 1976

   No. 21 Cave Notes 1975 – 1976

Belfry Bulletin, Vols: 27 & 23

Speleodes Pt.1, 1969

British Caver Nos: 60 – 63, 65 – 67

British Speleo. Association

Conference Programme, Sheffield, 1968

Cave Science Nos; 35 – 38

1967 Gouffre Berger Report

CAMBRIDGE U.C.C. Journal 1973 (un-numbered)

Cambrian Caving Council.  Journal (Red Dragon) Nos 1 & 3

Useful addresses

Barrie Wilton (Hon. Treasurer) 27 Valley View, Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol. (Tele: Temple Cloud 52072)

Martin Bishop (Hut Engineer) Bishop’s Cottage, The Batch, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  (Tele : Priddy 370.)

Dave Irwin (BB Editor & librarian) Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  (Tele: Priddy 369)

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, Somerset.

© 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.