Dates For Your Diary

April 28th – 1st

April 29th

April 30th

May 1st


2 – numbers limited – contact ‘Zot’

Hole. – time dependant upon tides – contact Tim Large.

Allwedd – Summertime Series and Southern Stream round Trip.  Contact Tim Large

Tim writes:  Some of
us propose to camp or stay at the hut. If the weather is fine I shall certainly camp on the tram road near
Aggie on Sunday night.  Will try to book
the hut if anyone is interested.

May 12th

May 14th

May 27-28th

May 29th


June 10th


June 17th

Dalimore’s  (Friday niters trip)
7.30 pm

Yorkshire – White Scar

Yorkshire – GG (Bradford winch meet)

Yorkshire – Gingling Hole

Martin Grass for details of
Yorkshire meets
– tele:  HODDESDON 66966

on Cave Exploration in Northern Spain at

.  Organised by Phil Hendy (WCC). Details next

Mid-Summer BUFFET – see page below for details.

Midsummer Buffet

arranged for Saturday 1st June 1978 at Hunters
Lodge Inn at 8.00 p.m.

Members and close friends only.      Limited tickets £2.00 each

Tickets available from Tim Large, 72 Lower Whitelands,

MONEY WITH ORDER PLEASE.     Make a note in your diary NOW!!


Caves & Caving In



Roughly half the size of Europe, the
South Africa consists of a narrow
coastal plain and an inland plateau, the highveldt, of average elevation of
1,000m in the
Drakensburg Mountains in the
east.  Latitude for latitude the climate
tends to be cooler than that of the northern hemisphere and frosts may occur at
anytime throughout the year on the highveldt.

Since most of the country’s more important caves are formed
in dolomite, only two of the four provinces provide any real speleological
interest: the Transvaal in the north, and

Cape Province
in the south and west.

Cape Province

has the largest single stretch of dolomite, a roughly triangular area
encompassing Vryburg, Griquatown, and a point some 150 km north of
Kuruman.  But much of this area is
covered with the Kalahari sands so few caves have been recorded.  The southern part of the province is much better
documented, the main caving areas being around Oudtshoorn (480 km east of
Cape Town) and in and around

Cape Town

Oudtshoorn, the capital of the Little Karoo region, is a
pleasant, prosperous, tree lined town and the centre of

South Africa
‘s ostrich-farming
industry.  A few kilometres to the north
the wildly contorted

rise to more
than 2,000 m and mark the divide between the Little Karoo and the more arid
Great Karoo.  It is in this range that
the province’s longest caves are found including the world famous Cango
Showcaves.  Several caves in this area
exceed 700m in length and ladder pitches between 20m and 40m are fairly common:
the Fonteingrot/Skeleton Cave system comprises over 4,000m of passage including
a gruelling muddy river crawl.

Generally, landowners and cavers enjoy a friendly
relationship.  I guess both secretly hope
to discover a system as extensive and commercially viable as the


which currently attract some 150,000 visitors a year.  One day when I was cave-hunting near
Oudtshoorn a local cattle farmer suggested that I help him with his dig
instead.  I was horrified.  I wanted a caving holiday not a digging one.  Luckily my fears were unfounded: “going
digging” turned out to mean sending some black employees below ground to do the
graft while the farmer and I supervised from the surface, he sometimes hauling
out a token sack of rubble while I photographed our efforts for posterity.

After about three hours we’d all had enough.  So the digging team was dismissed and the
farmer and I descended

whose showpiece is a
chamber neatly decorated with butter-coloured stal reached by a 10m ladder
descent.  Due to the dense covering of
bush, this cave remained undiscovered until the late fifties although its
entrance had always been open.  Local
people are convinced that caves are still hidden by the bush.

Prospects for new discoveries around

Cape Town
on the other hand are slim.  The Mountain Club of South Africa has been
recording caves here since the turn of the century.  And in 1954 a group of enthusiasts who had
been caving regularly since the end of World War II formally organised
themselves into a club.  The following
year they merged with a
Transvaal based caving
group and the South African Speleological Association (SASA) was born, though
two sections retained their autonomy.  A
few years later however, personality differences in the
section led to the formation of a breakaway group, the Cave Research
Organisation of South Africa (CROSA). There are still only three caving clubs in South Africa and the current
total caving population is unlikely to be larger than 200.

One of the first areas to receive SASA’s attention was
which rises to over 1,000 m above

.  Being so
near such a large centre of population, sit rugged plateau had for years been
the popular haunt of innumerable climbers, walkers and general
day-trippers.  It has been claimed that
the world’s largest sandstone caverns are found here but I have not checked the
accuracy of this.  Vertical development
is generally stronger than horizontal and in the rocks overlooking Orange Kloof
on the southern side of the mountain a depth of 50, is reached in Climber’s

Further south
Cape Town‘s
suburbs stretch out along the eastern shore of

.  On the bare and scrubby hills overlooking
Muizenburg, St. James and

are dozens of small
caves several of which are worth the attention of any passing speleo.  Like


this area attracts hoards of day trippers. Caves used to figure largely in local guidebooks and an (incomplete)
list published about 10 years ago described 67 interesting caves.  Modern guidebooks however, perhaps being more
concerned for the visitors’ safety, tend not to mention the caves or, at most,
give them only a passing mention.  But
the damage has been done: graffiti and litter mar many of the more accessible
caves on these hills.

I hitched the 1,400 km from
Cape Town
Johannesburg in the
in 27 hours.  With a vigorously enforced
maximum legal speed limit of 80 Kmph this was remarkably good going.  More to the point though are the fuel
restrictions: filling stations are closed between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and, as it
is illegal to carry fuel in cans, it is impossible to drive all night.  At weekends things are even worse with no
petrol on sale between lunchtime Friday and six o’clock on Monday morning.  How far will one tank full of petrol take

Luckily caving in the Transvaal has not suffered too much
under these restrictions, as it is still comparatively easy to make new
discoveries near the heavily populated
Rand.  The dolomite here encircles
and extends west through Krugersdorp and off into

via Carletonville.  The week before I arrived in South Africa a
CROSA member had taken a midday motorcycle ride across the grassveldt of the
Kromdraii Valley, a few miles from Krugersdorp, and photographed the hillside
with infra-red film.  The following
Sunday I joined his party to investigate the cold spots – i.e. potential caves
– revealed by this exercise.  We were
rewarded with several small caves.

South African cavers are very safety-conscious.  The first cave we discovered entailed a seven
metre abseil on which lifelines were used, and when I spotted another cave,
with a large walk-in entrance. I had to curb my enthusiasm until the entire
party, about nine people, had caught me up before going underground.  Even below ground short solo explorations of
side passages were taboo and we were split into groups of twos and threes.  But the cave turned out to be an intricate
three dimensional grovel and chaos followed the frequent meeting and passing of
other confused small groups.

These ‘Fissure caves’ mazes strongly influenced by jointing
– are the most common type of development in the
Transvaal.  Their intricacy can be truly amazing.  For example the Wonderfontein has a surveyed
length of 9.3 km but even the most remote parts of the cave can be reached in
about 20 minutes.  The Apocalypse Pothole
near Carletonville, with a vertical range of 80m, follows a similar pattern: at
a length of 10.8 km it is the longest cave in southern

About 250 km from
is the
Transvaal‘s second main dolomite
area.  From

it follows the northern reaches of
the Drakensburg northward to Ofcolaco – a beautiful country of forests,
waterfalls and rolling hills – and then turns westward to Potgietersrust.  This is the only region where horizontal cave
entrances can be said to be at all common. But, ironically, the country’s deepest open shaft is also found here:
the 30m deep Bat Hole near Ofcalaco. With the aid of a black guide, and at the standard rate of approximately
60p per day, I was able to visit this site but I did not descend.  There is only a short passage at the bottom
anyway.  On succeeding days, and with a
variety of guides, I visited several nearby caves and carried out some original
exploration.  Most of the caves I found
contained some beautiful formations but none was very extensive.  The Transvaal’s final sizeable dolomite
outcrop extends in a narrow strip from the iron mining town of
westward into

.  Until the
Section of SASA started coming here a couple of years ago the area had been
largely ignored by cavers.  Even now the
surface has barely been scratched.  I was
invited to join SASA on a trip here over the long Easter weekend but had to
decline due to the histoplasmosis risk, a particularly virulent form is found
here and, at the time I was histo-negative. I think I subsequently caught the disease in the eastern
Transvaal (and am therefore now immunised) but I have not
had a skin test to confirm this.  Most
Transvaal cavers catch histoplasmosis during their first year’s caving but the
disease is unknown in

Cape Province
as far as I know, except for one case reported from the Goggelgrot in the
northern part of the province.

Before I went to

South Africa
I was advised to steer
clear of caves not just because of histoplasmosis, but because of the dangers
of ‘rabid bats, scorpions, snakes, leopards and bees.’  Careful research beforehand and subsequent
experience of the country shows these dangers to have been rather overstated.  As far as I’m concerned the only real ‘risks’
I ran were those always associated with solo caving.  But I must admit that bees did bother me
once.  I was climbing into an entrance
when an agitated buzzing warned me that I’d disturbed a hive.  Fortunately it was a frosty early morning and
the bees were still drowsy.  By the time
they’d got their senses about them I’d decided I didn’t really want to do heir
cave anyway and was running through the wood to another cave entrance I’d seen
about a kilometre away.

Southern Africa is an ideal
place for a cheap and fascinating holiday, with some caving thrown in,
especially if you don’t mind roughing it a bit. For a cost of just under £400 (and this includes the airfare) I was able
to travel for three months and take in bits of

.  My thanks to everybody – including cavers,
BEC members: friends and strangers – who helped make it such a memorable


Letter To The Editor

From D.C. Nigel (plod)


Dear Bertie,

1)       Firstly,
let me state that the following views are purely my own and not those of the
club committee; – But I feel after reading the Feb. B.B. that there are a few
personal views that I should like to express. Viz, Chris Batstone, our esteemed Hut Warden, appears to suddenly have
opened his eyes to a problem that has been with us for many years, even before
my reign of terror as Hut Warden in 1971/2. As a search of the Belfry books show, present weekend ‘bednights’ are
the same as they were then – yet I feel that ‘Chris’ new problem’ is one that
he can easily solve by saying “No” to interlopers and those who buck
the system as opposed to playing the Mendip Hardman and charging £1.00 per head
for those unfortunate enough not to be able to supply reciprocal accommodation
– remember there has always been a welcome for all at the Belfry.  Untidiness and misuse at the ‘shed’ is for
the Hut Warden to prevent and control, backed up by the members present.  In my experience it has often been these
themselves that were the untidiest! Let’s hope that this new ‘policy’ does not bite the one who wanted to do
the biting, for if we were to turn up at places distant it would be a shame
indeed to overhear “That’s one of those unsociable. bxxxxxs from Mendip – you
know, no booking, no bunk!”  Let’s not
build ourselves a paper empire and start up weird and wonderful systems for
booking, deposits etc.  You’re a good Hut
Warden Chris, but think carefully.

2)       With
reference to Graham’s article on Manor Farm’s possibilities and my infilling of
the sink – this was dons, primarily, for safety reasons as on our first
exploratory entry into the lower sections of NASHA Gallery this area was a
large unstable boulder pile which I deliberately demolished with 4½lb in 1974
with the intention to stabilise it then and dig it at a later date.  This date has now come!  With my new licence the Mendip Chips Ban and
Chisel Company is officially back in life – all assistance welcome!

3)       Cuthbert’s
Fixed Tackle – Hasn’t enough been said.

Yrs. Nig Taylor.


Tales of Chiltern Chalk Mines.

G. Wilton-Jones

Last spring Buckett phoned me up saying that a chap out at
Lane End had found a mine in his garden and would like us to investigate
it.  Lane End Common is apparently
riddled with abandoned mines, and, quite naturally, the locals were full of
tales of the old miners.  ‘Three men at a
time would take a skin of beer down with them and spend several days
underground.  ‘Interconnecting mined
passages once honey-combed the common.’ However, on-one was related to or seemed to know any of the old
miners.  Earlier this century ‘Old Man
Nix’ had been lowered on a rope down the mine in question, and his B.D.I.
revealed caverns measureless containing tools, wheelbarrows, buckets, etc.  The mine was capped soon afterwards and a
rockery built on top of it.  One
semi-alcoholic night the present landowner decided to find the mine, which he
did.  He dropped lighted newspapers into
the shaft, Casteret style, and saw passages at the bottom and one part way down
the side.  He plumbed the depth, finding
it to be about 60′ to a pile of garden refuse at the bottom.

Investigation of the mine took a matter of minutes for
us.  It is clear from the survey that the
mine is very limited in extent.  The
shaft was just over 60′ but there was no passage part way down the shaft.  Nor were there wheelbarrows, buckets or
tools.  There was one, interestingly
shaped, smooth, wooden wendge, a few iron spikes in the walls, and some old
tin-plate oil lamps.  A few other
artefacts probably fell down the shaft, and are therefore not worth
mentioning.  We reckoned that ‘Old Man
Nix’ wan probably scared out of his wits on the end of a rope, with his
flickering candle in his hand, and did not even untie himself from the
rope.  Candles may not cast treacherous
shadows but the ones they do cast can be very misleading to the uninitiated in
strange places.

It was not at all clear what exactly the miners were after:
the mine shaft drops first of all through the

beds – mainly various layers of soft
sands containing scattered pieces of harder stone, which had been used to line
the top section of the shaft.  After some
20ft the top of the Upper Chalk is reached, and the unlined shaft begins to
bell out.  It passes through a number of
thin bands of flint, which have been ignored. At a depth of about 50ft. are the roofs of the short, main workings.  These are largely level, but do not
correspond with any flint bands.  However,
if it were flint that the miners were after, no doubt they would have dug out
the bands from above, rather than from beneath. If they wanted chalk; why did they not dig an open pit, as has happened
in many other areas of the Chilterns.  If
they wanted flint what was so special about the flint underground, or what was
wrong with the masses of flint stones lying about on the fields.  Furthermore, what were flints and chalk used
for a hundred years ago or more.  Clearly
many questions required answering.  We
continued our close scrutiny of the mine.

The shortest gallery had suffered a roof fall from a sand
pocket, and had been filled with deads – in this case, chalk pieces of fist
size and less.  Other galleries had odd
piles of deads, while two had pits in the floor.  Some of the floor was grooved with
wheelbarrow marks.  At the end of two
parallel galleries a fault had. stopped progress.  Black mineralization had oozed down the
fault, presumably from the sand beds above. Only one gallery had any drip, and there were small drip pockets on the
floor there.

During two further trips the mine was surveyed and
photographed.  We learned little more
about the mine, except that the owner’s house used to be a brick works.  I decided to try the


for information about chalk and flint mines. They had practically no literature at all on these subjects.  The only possibly relevant information was
that, at the turn of the century, several ‘flint contractors’ came into
existence, but these soon disappeared.

According to Collins Field Guide to Archaeology’ in

flint mines are generally Neolithic, and unusually medieval, the latter being
worked for building stone.  Chalk mines,
on the other hand, are common and date from Roman times, the majority, though,
being dug in the 18th and early 19th centuries. From these later ones the chalk was burned to make lime for the fields.

I began to •cap the local knowledge in the guise of one
‘Bert Ginger’, who lives over the road from me. He confirmed what my landlady had rumoured – that there was a chalk mine
right here in Naphill, not a hundred yards from where 1’m sitting to type
this.  Bert was not around while the mine
was still operational.  He came to the
village in the early 1900’s, and the mine had been closed a few years by
then.  He referred to it as a chalk

, in those days, was mainly required for
building roads (our main road was then little more than a cart track).  Women of the village would collect flint
stones off the fields and crush it into little pieces to make and mend the
roads all around.  Where my own road is
used to be the ‘Stonefield’ – hence the name. The flints from here were a beautiful, shiny white, and one house just a
little way away is faced with these flints, and positively shines in the
sun.  Who needs Snowcem, Wig?


CHALK MINE at LANE END, CHILTERNS.  Scale 1:168. Elevation WSW – EWE.  BCRA Grade

Most fields in the area at that time had their own marl

is a lime rich clay formed by the
breakdown of the uppermost layers of chalk, through an organic process.  It was used to spread on the land, which is
surprisingly deficient in lime.

The chalk itself does not generally outcrop anywhere in the
Chilterns except on the scarp slope. Even here, us I often notice in an M40 cutting, the chalk may lie at a
depth of several feet beneath the surface. Chalk, however, can be easily burnt by a simple process into excellent
lime, for use both on the fields and for making mortar/cement.  In places where the top soil and marl are of
such a depth to preclude quarrying opencast, then chalk was obtained by mining.

When Bert Ginger was a lad there was no main drainage in
Naphill, so most people had a cess pit. This was emptied at regular intervals by a man with a horse, a tank and
a stirrup pump.  One man, fed up with the
charges for emptying his pit (several pence at a time!) and knowing that his
house was built near the abandoned chalk mine, called in the help of the only
surviving chalk miner of the village, Jack Free.  In minutes Jack had located the capping on
the old shaft and a pipe was soon installed to convey the necessary into the
very bowls of the earth.  According to
Jack, at the bottom of the shaft, some 60ft. down, passages ran off like the
spokes of a wheel, rising higher the further they went from the shaft, until
they reached the top of the economical layers of chalk.  He gave no indication as to the length of the

Others in the village, also decided to use the mine as a
vast cess-pit, but one was quite by accident. He had done the old trick of burying bottles in the concrete base of his
septic tank when he made it, and had climbed down into the apparently large pit
on a ladder to poke the holes; with a steel spike.  Unable to find the bottles he poked harder,
and one corner of the pit completely gave way, leaving the ladder and the
errant gentleman hanging over the void. Bert saved the man from the ……. you know what.  Just as well the mine roof didn’t collapse
while he was making the pit.  It must
have been directly over the upper end of one of the galleries.  Since then the man with the horse, the tank
and the stirrup pump faded away from old Napton, out of a job, maybe.

Various parts of the mine have collapsed on occasions; one
collapse occurred in Bert’s schooldays, early one morning.  He saw it on the way to school – a pit with a
pile of earth in the centre and two passages leading off on opposite sides at
the bottom.  By the weekend, when he
thought he’d go down it and explore, the pit had been filled and levelled;
another collapse was right beneath a damson tree.  The tree survived for many years after, and
the owner would pick his fruit from the top of the tree by reaching across from
the edge of the pit; quite recently two new bungalows were put up near
here.  They began to subside into the
mine for the surveyors had note taken this into account.  A week was spent pouring concrete into a hole
under one of the houses.  There is
supposed to be another mine next to this one, and I see that six luxury
dwellings have been built over it.  I
wonder how long they will last?



Overheard at the Belfry:  When discussing details of the Austrian trip,
later this year, a well known Belfryite (J.D.) made it known to one and all
“I don’t care what we do in

providing we are pushing
back the frontiers of knowledge!”

Weil’s Disease has struck again in

Stoke Lane
.  A Yeovil C.C. member was rushed to hospital
after he had lost the use of his kidneys and liver.  Luckily, he made a full recovery but others
contracting the disease may not be so lucky. Rat’s urine in the water is the usual cause of this nasty disease,
commonly known as Sewermans Disease.

This is the second time that a caver has been struck down
with it; the first was our own Oliver Lloyd some 12 years ago.  I’ve spoken to Don Thomson about this and he
said that there is no real protection because the virus will penetrate through
the skin, whether it is cut or not, as well as the usual way into the body via
the usual orifices.  So, be careful,
don’t drink cave water, wear gloves and possibly hoods may help in the Stoke
sump areas.

Longest Dive. An Australian cave diver has broken the world record for the longest
cave dive.  Paul Hadfield states that it
was over 2 kilometres in a cave in the Nullaber Plain in

South Australia
.  The current issue of British Caver (No.68)
gives details of other long dives (p.25). A copy is in the club library.

Mike Boon, well known to older members of the club,
has at last published his book relating highlights of his incredible caving
‘career’.  He tells of diving in
Swildon’s Hole, discovery of large sections of the Lokva and Grapa rivers by
diving in
Yugoslavia, and
tales unfold of activity in
Ireland and
Yorkshire.   Though
expensive at £6.75 (112pp; 5 maps, 8″ x 6″) it makes an enjoyable
read.  Available from Brian Woodward,

243 Bloomfield Road,
BA2 2AY.  Brian is also selling Canadian
at 85p per issue (a real must for those interested in caving in
Northern America. In addition he has for sale ‘Cave Exploration in
‘; this book contains a complete
history of caving in

with descriptions of all the major systems, up-to-date maps and superb
photographs.  Price £7.  A copy is in the club library.

Still on the subject of bocks – Karst in China
(150pp) published Shangai People’s Publishing House, is one of the finest
‘coffee table’ caving books yet published. Contains magnificent photographs (mainly colour) of the world’s largest
karst regions in southern

.  The text is pretty feeble and quite short,
even so, there’s a liberal sprinkling of the Thoughts of Chairman Mao.  Its expensive retailing between £8 – £9.25 –
stocked at Rocksport, Tony Oldham and Foyle’s (

). A new American bock is available through Anne Oldham – Cavers. Caves
and Caving
.  Edited by Bruce Sloane
at £8.14 post free.  It’s an anthology
of, folklore, history and adventure.  All
contributors are members of N.S.S. Plenty of illustrations.

News in Brief. Border C.G. and the Cerberus S.S. seem to have patched up their
differences that caused the split a few years ago.  Talks of merging the two clubs seem to be on
the way.  Possible a marriage of
convenience – CSS have a cottage, Border cannot afford to buy one.  Alan Mills (WCC) has abandoned Pitten Stree
because of continual collapse.  Caving
lectures entitled “Caving – Sport and Science” at Geology Theatre commencing
25th April – details from Dept. of Extra Mural Studies, The University, 32
Tyndalls Park Road, Bristol, BS8 1HR. National Caving Centre (No.2 if Whernside is No.1!) proposed for
S. Wales to be built on DYO property.  Cost £200,000.  Financed by Nature C.C.’

Water Tracing. Willie Stanton has carried out more tests at Cuthbert’s and records
times to Wookey of 10 hours.  This agrees
with the 1967 tests when the time was given as being 11 hours.  However, the 1967 times are not very accurate
as the lycopodium spores had reached the resurgence before the 11th hour, so
ten hours would appear to be reasonable under high water conditions.  Also, Wigmore was tested over the weekend of
4th – 5th March.  This involved the
Belfry regulars in 6 hourly sampling trips to Wookey, Rodney Stoke, Cheddar and
Rickford.  Wigmore was traced to Cheddar,
taking about 43 hours.

Space Blankets

A medic from the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine carried
nut some useful work back in 1971. Details of which have been published in the March, 1978 edition of
Climber and Rambler (see copy in club Library).

Basically, he claims that the advantage of the aluminium
coated plastic space blanket is that it can be seen from a distance but has no
added advantage over the other forms of materials commonly in use for
protection against the cold and wet such as polythene or woven nylon.

Testing the space blanket under various conditions it was
found that the skin temperature was no different using the blanket than when
using a poly bag.  It was concluded that
heavyweight space blankets are of some value as a water and wind protector but
other materials such as polythene or rip-stop nylon are equally robust.

The lightweight space blanket is too fragile for most
survival purposes.  Bags are much better
than blankets in windy conditions.

The reflection of the body heat (infra-red) by a space
blanket is prevented by the layer of condensation and at sub-zero temperatures
by frosting.  In this situation space
blankets 0ffers no advantages over cheaper and stronger alternatives.  Lastly, space blankets are of no value as a
radar location aid in survival.

Stoke Lane 4. Alan Mills (WCC) has negotiated with the landowner to open up the aven
in Stoke 4 to the surface.  A radio
location the site was carried out by ‘Prew’ last year.  The landowner has a condition that the
opening should be done within a weekend and it must be gated.

More on the Stoke Lane Weil’s Disease

The following is reprinted from the Yeovil Caving Club’s
Newsletter ‘SUMP’ – No.5: –

The following letter is from Benny Bainbridge and gives this
own personal report on how he caught Weil’s disease and also the treatment he
received: –

It started as a normal caving trip one Friday night last
October (1977).  The trip had been
brought forward from Sunday so that I could go on my first trip to Stoke Lane
Slocker…..There were four of us in the party~ all experienced.  However, on the return trip after Sump One I
began to tire, so the entrance tube was a bit of a struggle.  It was in the entrance tube and again outside
that I made my near fatal mistake and swallowed some of the water.  The first time was accidental, the second
time it was done quite deliberately to quench my thirst…. Nothing happened
for the next week or so.  Ten days after
the trip…. that I started to develop pains in my back and ‘flu-like
symptoms.  On Thursday I went to see my
doctor and he gave me some pills to ease my back ache.  However, I began to feel even worse, so on
the Sunday I was admitted to the sick bay at my naval base at Yeovilton,


It was at this stage that I started by dramatic colour
change from normal pink to a bright yellow …my doctor discussed the
possibility of me having caught Yellow Jaundice.  On the Wednesday I was transferred to the Royal
Naval Hospital at Plymouth, where blood tests done on the Thursday found me to
be suffering from Weil’s Disease leading to acute renal failure (i.e. both my
kidneys has ceased to function some 24 hours earlier).

As the Navy has no artificial kidney machine to deal with
Renal Failure, I was transferred by helicopter to the R.A.F. Renal Unit at RAF
Halton, Buckinghamshire, where I underwent haemo-dialysis (the cleaning of the
blood by the use of a kidney machine).

While I was at RAF Halton, samples of my blood were sent to
the Leptospirosis Reference Laboratory in London who confirmed that in fact I
had caught Weil’s Disease which is caused by the virus Leptospirosis and is
transmitted to humans in the urine of rats. Fortunately, for us, only 10% of the rat population carry the virus.

I spent a total of four and a half weeks in hospital, two of
which were spent in the intensive care unit … six hours a day for 10 days
hitched up to a kidney dialysis machine and for 12 days I was fed by an
intravenous drip.  At the moment I still
have to undergo checks on my liver and kidneys, but the lasting effect of my
illness is the fact that I cannot drink alcohol because of the damage done to
my liver.



Or Just a minute with our hon. sec!



The club possesses a S/L
Camera which it proposes to raffle to members only.  The value is approximately £50.



CUTHBERT’S TACKLE FEES – for tourist trips organised
by the Caving Secretary or privately, the fee will be 25p.  It may appear to be a ‘Large’ rise (50%) but
it is long overdue and only comes up to standard charges for access to other
caves.  Perhaps ‘tackle fee’ is the wrong
title and ‘access fee’ would be more appropriate.

Hut Engineer – Martin Bishop has resigned from this post,
but not from the Committee.  Martin Grass
has taken over and I am sure will appreciate your help – one immediate task now
the fine weather is coming is to paint the outside woodwork of the Belfry.

The new soak-a-way for the shower water is nearing
completion and should solve our sewage problems.


Christine Greenall – Minster

Ruff Lane
Ormskirk, Lancs.
907 Karen Jones, Room 63, New End Nurses Home, New End Hospital, Hampstead,
London WN3 1YE.
Ross White,

44 Princes Road


SIN 19

NEW MEMBERS – welcome to the mob!

Teresa Rumble,

40 Halswell Road
, 8levedon,


nice to see Tony Corrigan out and about again – caving as well in the company
of ‘Zot’ and Tom Gage.  Recently Tony
went down GB and as far as the ’20’ in Swildon’s.  He’s currently thinking up ideas of how to
fit an attachment on his foot to climb ladders.


Helen Fielding,

175 Bramley Lane
, Hipperholme,
West Yorks.
Roger Sabido,

15 Concorde Drive



The Grotte D’Antiparo,


Tony Jarrett

While holidaying on the


last summer the writer took the opportunity of visiting this famous show cave.  Although one of the first systematically
explored caves in the world, few British cavers must have visited the system
and subsequently articles in British publications are few.

Situated on the ten mile long island of Antiparos, access to
the cave is gained by taking a hour and a half motor boat trip from the town of
Perissa on


– via the main village on Antiparo – to a small hamlet several miles along the
coast.  From the landing stage here the
hardy tourist can either walk the mile and a half track into the mountains or
hire a mule.  (The writer being idle
chose the latter).  After a forty minute
jog in the blazing sunshine and feeling akin to a gold prospector in Death
Valley, the entrance is reached on a bare limestone hillside with superb views
of the
Aegean Sea.

History of the Cave

At around the same time as the original exploration of Pen
Park Hole and Lamb Leer were taking place, the Grotte d’Antiparos was fully
explored by the Marquis de Nointel, French ambassador to the Turkish Empire
then ruling these Greek islands (though graffiti on formations indicated
partial previous exploration by the early Greeks).  The audacious Marquis descended on 23rd
December, 1673 armed with ropes, rigid wooden ladders, a large group of
servants and sailors and even a couple of artists to record the event for
posterity (and for his King, Louis XIV). The party explored deep into the cave, discovering en route the large
well-decorated hall some eighty meters down. The Marquis was so impressed that he spent three days underground and
during this period celebrated Christmas Eve mass attended by over five hundred
people!  The cave was illuminated with
hundreds of lamps and wax tapers and a novel innovation was the firing of
several mortars and cannon in the entrance followed by a wild clamour of
assorted musical instruments (shades of the Hunters backroom!)  This incredible pantomime was followed by the
removal of tons of formations for display in a


– unfortunately a pastime shared by many of de Nointels successors.

In contrast to this first visit, the scientific
investigations of the naturalist Tournefort in 1700 were far more subdued,
though even this episode has its humorous side. Tournefort – a botanist – formulated a theory of vegetative growth to explain
the development of the formations, doubtless due to the resemblance of
stalagmite growth rings to those of a tree! He published an elaborate description of his visit and also of that of
de Nointel.

A further description was provided by the next distinguished
French visitor in 1780, the Count Choiseul-Gouffier.

From this date on visits became more frequent though the
upper classes seem to dominate the scene. The Greek king Othon was there in 1840 and another French ambassador,
Gobino, in 1865.

Particularly unwelcome visitors descended on the area in
1770 – 1774.  These were Russian
occupation soldiers who followed in their predecessors footsteps by removing
many formations for a
Petrograd museum.  Their Italian counterparts of 1941-1943
continued this vandalism.

Now protected by a stout gate and operated as a show cave
for some years the situation has improved – though it is noticeable that one of
the main attractions pointed out by the guide is the vast amount of historical
graffiti covering nearly all of the accessible formations.  Despite three centuries of vandalism the
remaining stals, though generally dry and old, are plentiful and
impressive.  Vast pillars, stalactites
and curtains proliferate and there are a number of the curious “palette” or
“shield” formations only found in the caves of warm climates.

The cave itself is formed in a steeply inclined rift or
fault with wider sections forming the heavily decorated chambers.  Its 100 meters of depth is descended on
spider-web like concrete steps hanging in mid air.  These are only some two feet in width and
provide great sport were the handrails are missing and visitors at the bottom
are trying to pass those going down!  The
cave ends in a rift blocked with stalagmited boulders and breakdown, though a
short pitch in the floor some way back up the passage possibly goes
further.  The writer had neither the time
nor equipment to investigate this.  The
spirited lecture provided by the guide halfway down was unfortunately all Greek
to me.

In conclusion I found this a really worthwhile visit – made
especially enjoyable by the novelty of mule transport and the remoteness and
lack of commercialisation of the cave.  A
“must” if you are ever in the area. Incidentally there are many other
caves on Antiparos and other islands. Little exploration seems to have been done in the islands and the
climate, vast quantity (and quality) of naked foreign females on the beaches
and cheap wine make this an English caver’s paradise.

Refs (from the writer’s library only)

Famous Caverns and Grottoes –
W.H. Davenport Adams 1886 pp. 78-84 Antiparos – the Island with the

Cave of
. – B. Kaloudas 1964  (Guide Pamphlet)

La Conquete Soutterain. – P.
Minvielle 1967 pp. 15-21

BCRA Trans. VoL 1 No.1. – J.R.
Shaw Cohort History of Speleology)



Notes on the survey of Tyning’s Barrows Swallet

by D.J. Irwin

By now the reader will have read one of the several accounts
dealing with the breakthrough and exploration of this new Mendip system.  As an aid to exploration a BCRA grade 5c survey
commenced on the 26th February, 1977 and during the course of the next few
weeks the survey was completed except for Aardvark and Bertie’s

The equipment used is of some interest to surveyors.  Basically it consisted of the Suunto compass (KB14/360)
and clinometer (PM5/360) coupled together in the form of a handheld surveying
unit.  This eliminated the problem of
handling the separate instruments and in low, awkward passages this was a great
advantage.  Details of the connecting
bracket is being prepared by Chris Batstone. In use this combination of instruments enabled rapid readings to be
made.  The tape was a Chesterman 100

.  Due to the rather constricted nature of the
passages and the urgency of getting the main line surveyed it was decided to
produce a grade 5c survey.  At each
station care was taken to minimise the accumulation of station error by
pivoting around the instruments and on occasion using rock features to hold the
instruments.  Because the scale at which
the drawing was produced (1/480) the drawing error would be considerable
greater than the survey random errors.

The instruments were read to the nearest 1O and the tape to
the nearest 0.1 ft.  The leap-frog method
was adopted.  The data assembled was
reduced to co-ordinates using four-figure logs and the survey, plotted and
checked on graph paper.  Due to the scale
(1/480) no detail of the deposits could be shown on the drawing.

The instruments were not calibrated in the conventional
manner due to influences from steel wire and half buried farm implements in the
area.  Instead, a fixed bearing was
obtained from the compass station near the farm entrance at the start of each
trip; any variation in magnetic deviation enabled each section of the survey to
be so corrected.  Thus, the survey
figures were corrected to ‘compass north’. With the help of Brian Prewer et al, a radio transmission was made on
March 12th 1977 from the base of Pyramid Pot and the point located in the field
above.  A surface survey then commenced
radiating lines to the cave entrance and the corners of the field.  By checking the 6” O.S. map of the area it
was then possible to rotate the survey to grid north.  The ‘mismatch’ of the surface point located
from the survey line and the signal point was less than 20 feet giving a
closure error of approximately 1%.

Due to the complex plan form of the upper series and the
general pattern of the main passage the idea of a projected elevation was
abandoned and an extended elevation produced. The drawings were then transferred onto a nylon drawing sheet to produce
the master original.  This is to be sent
t8 B.M. Ellis for inclusion in the Mendip Cave Survey Scheme.

The surveyed length is 4,000ft + 200ft. un-surveyed (1,335
metres + 60 metres) and 433ift. (131.97 metres) deep.

The following table records the dates and personnel involved
with whom this survey could not have been produced: –


Entrance to dig. (1 hour)
D. Irwin & C. Batstone.


‘A Day’ to Pyramid Pot (3
hours) D. Irwin, G. Wilton-Jones, N. Halstead and C. Batstone.


Pyramid Pot to Breakthrough

Paton Place
(4 hours) D. Irwin, G. W-Jones and G. Price (C.S.S.).


Transporting radio locating
gear to Pyramid Pot C. Hawkes; B. Prewer, T. Reynolds (W.C.C.) and P. Smart


Drunken Horse Inlet: D.
Irwin and T. Large.


Surface survey: D. Irwin,
J. Batstone, B. Prewer and R. White


Paton Place
White Dog Passage, D. Irwin, G. Wilton-Jones, J. Dukes, R. Mansfield.


Velcro Passage: P. MacNab
& D. Turner.


Sheep’s Jaw and misc. side
passages: D. Irwin, P. MacNab and R. Halliwell.

The cave became choked with mud below the second pitch
during May, 1977 leaving Aardvark and two small side extensions
un-surveyed.  These have been sketched in
on the plan.



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.


© 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.