The Discovery & Exploration Of Wookey 23 – 25

by Chris Batstone

The numbering of sumps in Wookey can for some seem strangely
complex.  From one to nine the system is
relatively easy to understand, there being airspace between the sumps.  From 9 to 22 things become slightly obscure.  To clarify this however, the reader should be
aware that between 9 and 22 the cave is totally submerged, except for the 20th
chamber the numbering is merely to signify stages in exploration.  The conventional sump numbering system is
used beyond the 22nd chamber.


By early 1976 the Cave Diving Group attempts to find the
continuation of the cave system beyond the 22nd chamber had been
fruitless.  Despite this a number of
divers were still enthusiastic enough to keep up the search.

On February 21st1976, Colin Edmunds and Martyn Farr had gone
in to 22 to investigate the far sump. Previously Parker had reported that “it was static and did not
go.”  During their investigation of
the sump they found an opening much like the “slot” in 15.  They explored the passage beyond until the
line ran out.  They had explored 300ft of
passage down to a depth of 65ft.  The two
divers were forced to return to base having no more line with which to explore

A day later on the 23rd February, two more divers Oliver
Statham and Geoff Yeadon went in to push the sump further.  Statham led the dive, he followed Edmunds
line to the limit of the previous dive. Then tying on his own line pushed on to surface 60ft further in Wookey
23.  He was soon joined by Yeadon who was
following behind surveying as he went. They had found a passage 40 x 25ft with a sandy floor.

The next sump did not seem very inviting so they spent some
time investigating an aven for alternative routes, none were found.  Statham dived sump 23.  This he found to be a series of short
sumps.  Each time he surfaced he found
deep water high rifts with dry passage leading off, but steep mud banks to make
his exit difficult.  He found that
exiting from the pool in “24” was difficult due to its steep mud
bank.  He was soon joined by Yeadon who
helped him out of the pool onto the mud bank.

Yeadon wandered off along the large sandy passage they had
found, looking for the next “inevitable sump”.  Excitedly he shouted to Statham to
“de-kit”.  The passage was not
going to end in a sump just yet.  The two
explored up the passage, where they heard the roaring sound of a large amount
of water.  Climbing over some boulders
they found the subterranean River Axe flowing in a passage 40ft high and 5f.
wide.  They swam upstream against a very
strong current, for approx. 150ft.  The
passage opened out into a large Chamber, with a high level route leading
off.  They stayed in the river passage
which had narrowed to 2-3ft wide and about 50ft high.  After about 300ft they came to a cascade which
they climbed, into a large chamber.  Here
the high level passage mentioned earlier joined the river passage.  This chamber opened out to a lake.  The divers swam across the lake to
investigate a rift, but no way on could be seen.  The water in the lake came up from under the
left wall this then was the next sump (24).

On their return they made a quick survey and explored the
high level passage; the total passage length was 2,000ft plus.

A week later on the 27th February Martyn Farr and Colin
Edmunds were back.  Arriving at Sump 24
Farr dived reaching a depth of around 85ft. The way on was up a steeply inclined dip.  On his second attempt he reached an air
surface.  His dive had been 350ft long
finishing at a chamber (25) covered in thick deposits of mud.  He swam across it until he came to what he
thought to be a bridge of rock.  Pulling
himself up about 3ft out of the water he could see into another pool approx.
30ft in diameter.  He returned to Edmunds
in 24 where they explored some side passages. They returned to 9:2 after 6¼ hours in the cave.

Farr and Edmunds returned to Wookey on the 10th April aiming
to photograph the new extensions and have a look at the terminal sump
(25).  On reaching 25 Farr christened the
chamber the ”

Lake of
“.  He discovered that the rock bridge was in
fact a solid rock wall.  Making
impossible any attempt to dive through to the next pool.  However he managed to “de-kit” and
climb over into the pool to make a quick inspection.  Finding that the sump was very large and deep
and to dive further would require a good deal of support.

It was now apparent from the last pushing attempt that
considerably more support would be needed to push any further.  With a dive of over 2000ft long and 80ft deep
to 25.  The problems of high air
consumption had to be considered, a large amount of extra air cylinders were
needed.  The problems of decompression,
too, had to be considered.  Decompression
stops in cold water can be very wearing. To offset the cold, constant volume, drysuits were acquired.  These dry suits had the advantage of keeping
in the body warmth, and counteracting the negative buoyancy at depth.  The major disadvantage of these suits is that
they tend to cause overheating when the diver is not in the water.  A large amount of the equipment was obtained
from sponsors who donated either equipment or money to the project.

Many weeks were spent practicing with the new equipment and
techniques associated with it.  Numerous
artificial aids were transported into the extensions; this included two lengths
of rigid steel ladder to 25 to aid the scaling of the barrier wall.  To facilitate easy passage of the canals and
climbs, these were roped up to assist the divers in high water conditions.

A water tracing exercise was also carried out on November
the 27th.  Two tests were made.  One using rhodamine dye from 25.  This was detected at the resurgence after 9
hours.  The other test was made from St.
Cuthbert’s Swallet.  140 grams was put
into the sink and followed through the cave to sump 2.  But the dye was not subsequently detected at
the resurgence after 56 hours.  It may be
supposed that the amount of dye used was too small.

The Push

The 11th June 77 had been set for the assault on Sump
25.  In the preceding weeks the essential
equipment had been transported to various parts of the cave ready for use.  The 9th Chamber was crowded with divers,
supporters, television film crews, newspapermen and tourists.  The divers were Martyn Farr, Dave Morris,
Colin Edmunds, Brian Woodward, Richard Stevenson, Paul Atkinson and George Bee.

Due to high water conditions the dive was postponed,
although a performance was put on for the benefit of the media.  This also gave an opportunity to put the
finishing touches to the final preparations.

The same team of divers were back at the cave on the 18th
June.  Farr dived with Morris as back up
diver.  The others went to 24 to help
ferry and check the back up equipment. Leaving Morris in the

Lake of
, Farr dived down
the Well, finding the line reel previously left in from the July ’76 dive, at
approx. 100ft depth.  He decided to
follow the passage floor down.  Passage
dimensions were approx. 4ft wide by 25ft high. Visibility was poor due to mud from the floor, which he disturbed as he
swam.  At 135ft depth Farr came to a 10ft
vertical drop.  He could see the passage
continued on downwards.  Descending this
he soon reached 150ft depth.  Here he
dropped the line reel and made a rapid return to Morris at the Well to
decompress.  The divers returned to 9:2
de-tackling as they went, making a short decompression stop before surfacing in
9:2 after a trip lasting 8 hours.

Although the main objective of the dive to push the final
sump failed, the exercise has been useful, several lessons had been learnt.  Decompression and use of open circuit
breathing mixtures have been established in cave diving, besides setting a new
British cave diving depth record.

To the authors knowledge no further pushes have been made on
sump 25 nor are any further planned, at the time of writing.  The story does not stop here, the events of
the 1976-77 dives are just another chapter in the story.  As diving equipment and techniques improve,
so divers will be able to push even farther and deeper into the sumps of Wookey

It is hoped this article has provided a clearer picture of
events at Wookey Hole to date.

References: –

C.D.G. Newsleters No’s ’39 to 45
(new series)

B.C.R.A. Bulletin No 17 Aug
77.  Recent developments at Wookey Hole.


The Descent Of King Pot

a new find on Scales Moor,

by Martin Bishop.

On Friday 22nd June, Trev Hughes, Tim Large, myself and
Rocksport’s own Fiona, set forth for
and the Northern Cave Club Brada Garth Hut in Kingsdale.  I had been previously invited to attend their
annual barbeque at the entrance to

, but then I was told
of the new find – there didn’t need any further persuasion!  Anyway, we managed to make the Craven Heifer
in time for a beer, meet the lads and arrange our King Pot trip for the following

Saturday morning ‘dawned’ about 8 a.m., and after breakfast
a short discussion and some cider (we always take the necessaries) Trev, Tim
and myself and Dave Gallavar (NCC) set off for the cave, sorry – pothole.  Our journey was to be interrupted by watching
the fanner and friend castrating sheep using an amazing tool which resembled a
miniature hatchet!  From this point to
the entrance, Trev made Tim quite ill by insisting on a sheep’s nuts kebab at
the barbeque.  Eventually we made the
entrance end after a quick check of our gear we began the descent.  Enough of this frivolity, I’ll now get down
to the business of describing certainly one of Yorkshires best trips and
certainly one of the most impressive.

The cave consists of an awkward 25ft entrance pitch,
followed by a 10ft rope descent into a small chamber.  From this chamber a 35ft pitch leads into a
series of crawls through boulders to the head of a 10ft pot.  This crawl marks the end of the ‘old cave’
and the scene of the breakthrough in early June.  Beyond a 10ft climb leads into 25ft of rift
passage to the head of the 5th pitch.  A
30ft ladder dropping through boulders takes you into a few hundred feet of passage
to an exceedingly loose choke.  About
halfway along this passage a climb takes you into a grotto full of straws which
rivals Easter Grotto in the Easegill System. Once past the unstable choke you enter, what was for me, the worst part
of the system  A short rift passage leads
into a flat out crawl in a narrow phreatic tube with a 3ft deep, 6-8″ wide
trench cut in the floor.  After 100ft the
passage (still small) goes through a tight ‘S’ bend and through a tight squeeze
to the head of the next pitch, 25ft ladder required.  At the bottom of the pitch a 2ft wide,
meandering stream passage continues for 700ft and up to 40ft high, at the top
of which is a 8ft dia. phreatic tube full of pretties.  At the end of the meanders, a 10ft pitch
quickly followed by a 15ft pitch leads to a loose climb up a slope to a large
chamber beyond which is an even larger chamber entered via a 45ft pitch – King
Henry’s Hall (150ft long, 100ft wide and 100ft high) – so named after the
boulder at the head of the pitch which is about the size of a mini-car and has
no visible means of support.  At the end
of KHH a 35ft pitch down a narrow (Cuthbert’s style) rift leads through 200ft
of rift passage to two very large un-named chambers.  From this point about 600ft of canal passage
with a good stream, takes you to the head of the 70ft pitch.  The pitch is really superb and has a rock
bridge which spans the head of this 30ft dia. pot.  After a fine descent the stream passage below
leads 300ft to a sump.  Back under the
70ft pitch, a 10ft climb over a rock barrier leads to a muddy, flat out and wet
crawl to some small chambers and an inlet junction on the right of the main
passage gives was, after a climb up a mud bank, to a chamber with some fine
abandoned gours about 8ft wide and 100ft long.

Dropping back into the main passage, 700ft. of canal leads
into the Scales Moor Main drain. Downstream from the junction about 450ft of superb stream passage with a
hell of a lot of water, ending at a big, blue and very deep sump pool.  Upstream of the junction 300ft of passage
ends at another sump of the same calibre. So we start out, breaking the journey by looking at two inlets, one
halfway back through the canal and the other at the far end.  The first leads to a lake and a passage
beyond that has a strong draught issuing from a choke and looks a promising
site to push.

The other inlet is gained by a 5ft climb up into a classic
12ft dia. phreatic passage.  This
continues for about 220ft and stops at an abandoned lake chamber; the acoustics
in this passage are phenomenal.  On the
return trip we split into two parties, Tim and Dave racing on while Trev and
yours truly taking our steadier pace. About three and a half hours later we gained the surfaced knackered but
dead chuffed at being the first non-NCC cavers to be allowed down. My next
visit to this cave will be with two NCC members to dive the terminal sumps, to
do this must involve a 10-15 hour trip, so I could be after some ‘bottle-boys’
– any offers?

To conclude this article we go on to the barbeque which
proved to be a very good night with stacks of beer and food; to Trev’s
disappointment no Sheep’s Ball Kebabs but after a few beers he was not
bothered.  Tim Large must be getting old
– he found it necessary to go to bed at about 11.30p.m. – SOBER!  Trev finally disappeared by 2.30am and I
strolled (or staggered) along Kingsdale with the dawn, rising behind me.  So come Sunday.  Cider for breakfast, then to the Craven
Heifer for lunch where Trev and I thrashed the NCC and (commiserations to Funky
Dibben) the Derbyshire C.C. at darts after a few more beers at Dave Gallavers
house in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, we made our way home.  A great weekend.


A No Name Article

By Michael Palmer

A White Scar Caving trip was arranged for 14th Jan. ’78 by
Martin (how green is my) Grass and so, to use a well worn phrase, a small band
of BEC members drove the boring Motorway route to Horton-in-Ribblesdale to be
the guests of the Bradford.

The party consisted of two groups, the Palmer family with
Greg Villis and Christine, and Martin, Glenis, Pat and Paul Christie.  Martin had hoped for slightly better support
of the trip but as it transpired the numbers were adequate.

En-route the Palmer group we’re fortunate enough to stay the
Friday Night at Fred Weekes’ Paddiham ‘put you up’, where they enjoyed fine
hospitality.  The other group made it to
the Bradford Cottage in time to find enough space for their sleeping bags.

Saturday morning, early but not so bright, saw the groups
assembled in the


car park, where the events of the drive up in the fog and snow were discussed
at length, while secretly hoping that the leader wasn’t going to turn up.  He did, accompanied by a few friends, and so we
all had to change in the freezing cold and prepare ourselves.  The route had to be changed because the usual
air space at Big Bertha boulder choke had sumped.  This was fortunate in some respects, since
the alternative was the higher level Battle Series which only a few dozen
parties have previously visited.

The route at this point is upwards through a naughty
corkscrew squeeze, emerging into an extremely large chamber.  From this chamber the leader took us to the
caveable extremities of the Western Front and the Northern Front to look at
very nice formations and a wonderful crystal pool which unfortunately was
dry.  On the trip out Paul Christies
wonder light failed again and to cap it all he later lost the Carbide lamp,
loaned by Greg, while negotiating a swim in the cold streamway.

At the entrance the women had prepared welcome hot cup of
tea, having returned early from their shopping in Settle.  After a quick change and a thank you to our
leader we made a hasty return to the Bradford Cottage for a shower and hot

The hut warden had made a double booking, so bunk space was
scarce.  However, after a little
bartering and swearing sufficient room was found for the women, Martin and
Paul, while Michael and Greg slept in the van. At the

later on Saturday
night we were blessed with the presence of a lost sheep, one Andy Nichols, who
reported that he is fine and enjoying his change to Northern climes.

A trip to Swinsto had been organised with Fred Weekes for
Sunday morning, which found the men once again standing by the roadside in the
freezing cold changing into wet wetsuit. The women folk did a more sensible thing by going walking from Ingleton
to see Thornton Force, which is a very impressive sight after wet weather.

Except for Fred this was everyone’s first trip into Swinsto,
so there was lots of speculation about the sort of trip it would be.  The arrangement was that we would abseil
through the system, pulling the rope down behind us, into the Kingsdale Master
Cave and leave by the Valley entrance.

Sufficient articles have already been written about this
trip so enough said, but it is relevant to record that this is a fine sporting
pothole and the grand finale of the Kingsdale Master System is worth the
effort.  The only bad spot of the trip
was when the rope nearly didn’t free itself from the top of the main pitch

We were all by this time on the ledge which divides the
pitch into two; we were also being blown by an icy cold wind, caused by the
swollen stream descending the pitch. After only a few minutes we were all very cold and subsequently decided
in the warmth of the hut that it would not take very long for exposure to set
in if trapped on the ledge under such conditions.  So, as a safety measure it was considered
advisable to take a second rope of about 60ft, to avoid the danger of getting
stuck should the main rope become stuck in any belay.  Feeling very pleased, with ourselves we
returned to the hut for a hot meal before saying our good byes.

The weather was not too kind and the accommodation was
overcrowded, but two fine caving trips made the weekend worth while and thank
you to those who came and to Martin for organising the main trip.



by Tim Large

whose address is c/o Trading Standards Dept.,

31 South Street


The year marches on so quickly these days, before we know we
are at the A.G.M. and Dinner will be upon us. Already I can hear the usual rumblings of discussion.  I hope these rumblings will be aired in the
proper place – the A.G.M.  It often seems
to happen that various moans develop before the A.G.M., but those concerned air
their grievances everywhere but at the meeting.

DINNER:  As you have
already probably read in previous B.B.’s, the Dinner is to be held at the
Caveman, Cheddar and the meal will include Roast beef, Yorkshire Pud, wine and
a drink before the meal (either a pint or a sherry) all for £3.50.  The management of the Caveman have been
‘grilled’ by myself and I’ve been assured that a) the meal will be over in
about one and a half hours and b) no-one will need to complain about the
quantity of the food.  The veg., etc.,
will be laid out in dishes on the table. I hope that this year the Dinner will be memorable one and that there
will be no repetition of the food throwing that occurred last year – we do not
wish to stoop as low as the

.  Last year some idiot threw pats of butter
which landed on a lady’s dress (she’s no lady! Ed.).  It was lucky for him that he was never


New members

Dave Nicholls,

2 Harklcy Rd.
, Exmouth,
John Knops, Ida Cottage,

Englishcombe Lane
Avon (lapsed member rejoined)

Changes of address:

Roger Sabido (832) 15 Concorde
Drive, Westbury-on-Trym,

B310 6RZ
Buckett Tilbury (699) 15 Fernie Fields, Aylesbury, Bucks.
John Dukes (830) Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Som.
Sue Yea, Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Som.
Richard Knight (904) Crossways, Hillesley, Wotton-under-Edge, Glos. GL12 7RD.
Nigel Jago (753) West Cottage,

, Farrington Gurney,

Derek Targett (583) Norton Hall Cottage, Chilcompton, Midsummer Norton,
Mike Baker (392) 10 Riverside Walk, Midsummer Norton,
U. Jones (Jonah) Woking Grange,

, Woking,

Leaders for


Quarry: –

Dave Irwin, Townsend Cottage,
Priddy, Nr. Wells,

.  Tele; Priddy 369
Mike Palmer, Laurel Farm, Yarley Hill, Yarley, Wells,

. Tele Wells 74693

Max. no. in party is 5, electric lamps only, 25p per head
into the coffers of the C.S.S. and give the leaders about 4 weeks notice

MORE ADDRESS CHANGES received by the Editor:

Teresa Humble, 71 Chiltern Close,

Colin Priddle (Pope) 15
Mons Road, Delville,
Germiston 1401,

South Africa

Colin writes ‘…its good to hear of new caves being found on
Mendip.  I have taken a step nearer
caving again – by moving to

.  It must be a step nearer returning to


ON MENDIP recently has been Jonah who turned up at the
Belfry on his motorbike and when being asked by Trevor Hughes if he was a caver
replied “My boy, I’ve been caving for 35 years!”  Trevor quickly shrank from sight!  Also seen at the Hunters – the one and only
Steve Grime recounting tales of his travels abroad.  Incidentally, Jonah has donated a quantity of
material for the club library including a rare copy of ‘Historia Rievallensis’
by the Rev. W. Eastmead published in 1824. The book contains an account of the recently discovered CAVE AT
KIRKDALE.  Many thanks Jonah.

A.G.M.  Due to the
committee proposals as a result of the work of the Constitutional Sub-committee
it has been decided to hold an EGM on Saturday 7th October starting at 10.00am
at the Belfry.  The A.G.M. will commence
after this E.G.M.  This will conform to
the spirit of the resolution at last years A.G.M. which requested this work to
be carried out – namely that the revisions should be accepted before the 1978


Caving In

By Trev Hughes

The Rock of Gibraltar is a limestone peninsula approximately
3 miles long by 1 mile wide.  The Rock is
triangular in cross section and the ridge reaches 900ft above sea level.

Due to continued military interest and the limited area of
level ground the rock has, over the years, become honeycombed with mined
passage ranging from 250 year old gun batteries to present day command
centres.  The total length of mined
passage is now nearly 35 miles at many different levels.  It is perhaps less well known that there are
176 known natural caves on the rock, all are very old and are of phreatic or
fault origins, there being no surface streams on the rock.  The highest entrances are at 750 ft above sea
level (I know because it’s a long beer initiated slog up the water catchment

Probably most people have heard of St Michael’s show cave
which is two thirds up the western side of the rock.  The large chambers in this cave led to its
wartime use as a hospital.  The largest
chamber in the show cave was a ward; it is now used for concerts, seating about
500.  The lower chamber was adapted for
use as an operating theatre.

During the latter part of the war the Royal Engineers drove
a tunnel horizontally into the hillside to connect with the operating theatre
providing a convenient wheelbarrow route for bits of broken soldiers.  During these blasting operations instead of a
pile of rubble at the end of their tunnel the Sappers found a large hole, so
the lower and lower lower series of St Michael’s cave were found.

The lower series is formed along a large fault with a
considerable vertical down throw, it connects with the lower lower series in
the blasted entrance passage and in a 100ft pot within the system.  Stream action appears to have played no appreciable
part in the formation of cave passage. The lower series like the show cave is extremely well decorated with
large areas of flowstone and columns; cave mud is noted for its absence.  Although fairly short (660ft) the lower
series has a vertical range of 80ft and provides some sporting climbs and an
interesting 1-2 inch wide traverse around a 20ft deep lake.

The only interest in caving on the rock is a small group of
resident Army cavers and a few local people who comprise the rocks only caving
club!  However, they are always willing
to provide a guide for non-local cavers such as a visiting naval caver like
myself.  Most of the caves on the rock
are short but some are relatively sporting such as the lower lower series of St
Michael’s cave.


Letter To The Editor

To the Editor of the BB

Firstly the thoughts of ‘Chairman’ Alfie, if only others
could have been prepared to write articles I am sure that Alfie’s thoughts may
have been a bit watered down.  I think
you should give him a round of applause for keeping the B.B. going so long.

As far as the B:B. is concerned you in the Bristol area are
lucky in that you can read through the Bulletin and then throw it on the fire
if you feel like it.  Other people
overseas look on the B.B. as a God-send, which reflects the good old times in
the Belfry, when it was the Old Belfry, before it burnt down.

You should ask yourselves, what are we trying to do?  You have a wonderful club on Mendip dedicated
to caving and I say OK to the social activities of the older members (I myself
included) who can’t go caving (I’m blind and can hardly walk) and like to sit
around and talk about the good old days (were they? – wife’s comment).

An idea for an article in the B.B.  Could a rough map of Mendip be produced
showing where new caves have been discovered.

By the way, there’s a second Belfry out here – a log cabin
similar to Belfry 1.  In a good winter
(not green) you can ski miles through forest, so why not pitch your strength
against this nature and not against older members of the B. E. C.

Yours, George Honey,

6th July 1978.


CAVING BOOTS (CRANGE TYPE). There are still some pairs left – mainly sizes 8, 9, 10.  PRICE £8.75. For those not familiar with them, they have external steel toe caps and
commando soles.  Contact Tim Large
(address see LIFELINE).

CAVING EXHIBITION: Arrangements are being made to hold this in the autumn at

.  The purpose is to exhibit historical/antique
items of caving equipment.  Anyone who
has anything suitable, either to donate or loan should contact Tim Large. Work
telephone Wells 73960.  Best times
8.30-10.30a.m. or 4.30p.m. to 5p.m.

Proposed Exhibition of Caving Equipment at the


Mr. Cook, Curator of the


is interested in setting up an exhibition of caving equipment, past and present
sometime in the autumn.  The success of
this venture will be dependant on the quantity of material is forthcoming.   Anyone prepared to loan or give equipment
should contact either
Museum or Chris Bradshaw at Rocksport, Bus Station,

.  Telephone Well 0749 73054.


How To Avoid Caving Trips

By Annie Wilton-Jones

You may have noticed a distinct absence of I. Wilton-Jones’s
on Mendip in the last couple of years. We’ve certainly noticed an absence of Lukin’s cheese and cider in our
diet so we can’t have been in the area for a while.  It would seem that we have developed quite a
talent for avoiding caving and it is only fair that we should pass on this
expertise to other would-be defaulters.

One of the first things to do is to get married.  As every married caver knows, this entails
not so much the loss of your freedom as the gaining of a second set of
excuses.  A frequent result of taking
this first step along the road of avoidance is the purchase of a house.  This is a very good avoidance method in its
own right.  It gives you two let outs: –

1) Mortgage repayments should easily high enough to reduce
your ability to pay for petrol to a minimum. Trips to Mendip will therefore be similarly reduced.  2) There’s always ‘so much to do in the
house’.  A new house will be of faults
and an old one will require extensive renovation and then there’s the garden!  Of course the single caver can always try the
house purchase without bothering with the marriage method.  It still works just as brother-in-law G. W-J
will, no doubt, testify.

After a while, of course, your pay will go up a bit so the
mortgage repayments will not cut down your spending money as much and, at about
the same time, the house and garden will reach a comfortable condition.  The new house excuse will, therefore, be less
effective so a fresh one must be found. Might I suggest the development of a second interest a least as time
consuming as caving?  Running is a good
example, this will require that a lot of time is spent in training and a lot of
money is spent getting to races. It is also something that cannot be ignored
for a week or so as you will lose your fitness. There will, of course, be the odd weekend when there’s no race and you
will have a little money your pocket but you’re bound to be able to think of
something you need for the house that will cost money and take the whole
weekend to install.

Now is the time to introduce a further excuse.  Why not start a family? This is a good excuse
for the wife to stay above ground – a large stomach is very cumbersome and gets
in way in crawls and on ladders – but, on its own, is not sufficient excuse for
the husband to stay in the daylight.  The
answer is ‘blood pressure’.  A nicely
raise blood pressure will put the wife in bed for months at a time, maybe even
in hospital, until the baby is born. Marvellous excuse!  How can the
husband go caving when he has to look after house, garden and pets on his own
while also trying to find time to go to work and visit his wife?  One point. On this excuse, though, is to time
it correctly.  If you misjudge it you may
end up missing the BEC Dinner which somewhat spoils the effect.

Of course, once the baby is born (in our case a daughter, Clare)
you have a ready made excuse.  The baby
is too small for you to take on long journeys and your wife is too tired for
you to leave her to cope on her own. However, as wife and baby settle into a routine caving might become a
possibility again so why not break your ankle? It’s a bit painful at the time but it can be quite fun hobbling around
on crutches and every one feels sorry for you.

When the ankle heals you could go into hospital for a minor
op, but this won’t last very long so you’ll soon need a better excuse.  I don’t recommend the following one but it
works very effectively:

Get knocked down by a car. The main problem with this excuse is that you can’t control the
seriousness of the accident.  Assuming
that you are not killed, you may well be so badly injured that not only will
you never cave again but you may also never do anything active again
either.  If you are lucky your injuries
will eventually heal but you won’t know the final outcome for many months.  You will spend these months in hospital
and/or attending painful physiotherapy sessions while hobbling about, once
again, on those crutches.  At the end of
all this treatment though you may still be able to cave so just in case you
find you can, it might be an idea to start a second baby now so you’ll have an
excuse ready when the time comes!

Seriously though, Ian will still be on crutches for quite a
while and we don’t yet know how well his leg will heal.  However, you will see us on Mendip again in,
we hope, the not too distant future, along with one or two babies, one dog, two
cats and two or more gerbils!

Annie W-J.


Additions To Cliftworks Passage, Box Mine’s

by members of the
Cotham Caving Group.

In Mendip Underground (1) the description says of Cliftworks
Passage “…enters the most recent workings, much blackened by diesel fumes.”

The object of this article is to try to describe Cliftworks
Passage in more detail, so that the visitor to the mine will be fully able to
appreciate a most interesting part of the mine.

Follow AO route from the Backdoor to Cliftworks Passage as
described in the guide.  Turn right at
the water tank at the junction, pausing to look down the Well opposite.  Proceed along Cliftworks Passage, passing B11
and WO Passages on your right.  Passing
under several dry stone arches and through a doorway, you will now be in an
isolated part of the mine from which the only connection is back through
Cliftworks Passage.

About fifty feet past the door on the right is the first of
several side passages.  This one is
roughly five hundred feet long and along its length, on the right side, you
will find a well, tools and finally a crane. At the end are natural springs. Just short of the end, on the left, is a connection through deads to a
passage which runs parallel to it.  In
the area of this connection passage are some examples of the large tongs which
were used on the cranes to pick up the blocks of stone.  After passing through the connection turn
left to return back to the main route.

Cliftworks Passage goes for about another three hundred and
fifty feet past the side passage, when you come to a ‘Y’ junction where, on the
right, is an air shaft of approximately four feet in diameter.  Straight on, over a large roof fall, is the
main passage.  To the left is a
complicated series of passages forming an oxbow to the left of the main route,
rejoining it at the far side of the roof fall.

Climbing over the roof fall, you will have a walk of about
six hundred feet to where the passage takes a sharp left turn; here some tools
can be seen placed on a block of stone on the right side of the passage, with a
low roofed passage ascending behind. This is the exit of the second side passage, from near the doorway in
Cliftworks Passage.  About one hundred
feet past the first side passage is the entrance to the second side passage,
also on the right.  Nearly two hundred
feet on, on the right, is the connection with the first side passage described
earlier.  Passing over the roof fall (in
the Cliftworks Passable) you come to a “Y’ junction, stood in the middle
of which is a rail mounted, hand powered winch. To the right is a side passage along which can be seen tools; a saw
sharpening bench – a very good example of a crane with chain and stone tongs in
position; this is the crane which appears in the ‘Mendip Underground’

Straight on from the junction is the main way on to rejoin
Cliftworks Passage at the point where the tools are on the block of stone.  There ore several interesting passages off
this route and at one point you can make an earlier connection with Cliftworks
Passage, rejoining it near the large roof fall.

Standing near the tools in Cliftworks Passage, and looking
forward, the end is three hundred feet further on where one can see the first
signs of pneumatic drill working (these drills were known as ‘windy drills’ by
the miners).  The main way on is to the
left, soon reaching a three way junction. Taking the right hand passage, passing the remains of a hut on the left
to reach the final working face after some five hundred feet.  At the face are more tools, springs and
another crane.

Length of Cliftworks Passage from
entrance on the A4 road = 2,500ft.

Length of second side passage
(Original Cliftworks)                    =1,350ft.

Survey of the main passage by T. Meek, P. Marshall and A.
Type (of the C.C.G.).  Other parts of the
survey by P. Marshall, B & L. John, A. Tye and D. Marshall (of the

NOTE: Some parts of the roof are showing signs of age and
should be passed with care.


(1) Mendip Underground by Irwin & Knibbs, Mendip
Publishing, Wells, 1977 (Price £2.95).



Additions to the Library:

Shepton Mallet Journal, Series 6 No.4 Autumn 1977 includes

Mount Suswa Caves,
; The Law Hick (mining) and
Thrupe Lane Survey.


Newsletters Vol.20 Nos 1-4.  No.1
includes an article on the Aggy Sumps

Wessex C. C. Journal No. 172 including Cuckoo Cleeves
extensions; Water Tracing – Mangle Hole and Swan Inn Swallet; Swildon’s
Renascence Series (survey) and the Black Cavern Pwll Du Gwent,
S. Wales.

Cave Diving Group Sump Index, 2nd Edition 1977 revised by
Ray Mansfield.  Potted histories,
descriptions and diving log on all sumps in the Mendip region.  Copy donated by Ray Mansfield with thanks.

Yeovil Caving Club – Sump Nos 7 and 8.  No.8 includes article ‘Caving – a safe sport!  This is full of inaccuracies – the author
must research his material more fully.

Cave Diving Group – A Cave Diver’s Training Manual by O.C.
Lloyd, 1975.  Donated with thanks by
Martin Grass.

Univ. Journal ‘


Underground 1978′. See Jottings July B.B. Donated by Nick Thorne with our

Patent Specification No.1481303. Taken out by Dave Sweeting
on the swaging method of attaching ladder rungs to the wire rope.  Published July 1977.

Climbing Magazines – those that we have in the collection
have been bound into volumes and where they are not complete they have been
filed into loose paper files.  Many
thanks to Kay Mansfield for undertaking the task of binding and to Stu Lindsey
for a good supply of binding materials.

Library List Part 2 will appear in the September B.B. March
1978 B.B.  Part 1 appeared in the March
1978 B.B.

During a recent check of the Library a number of items were
found to be missing – anyone with library material should let the librarian
know as soon as possible (Dave Irwin] Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells) so
that a check can be made against the register. Books include Darkness Under the
Earth and Limestones and Caves of NW England. A full list will appear in the September B.B.

A circular advertising the 2nd International Caving File
Festival at

has been donated to the
library.  The dates are 23 – 27
August.  Camping Hotel or dormitory
facilities are available.  Write to (if
interested) Festival du Film de Speleologie, 26420 La Chappelle ene



Library list


Vol 1 (1,2,4,6,7,8); Vol 2 (2-8, 10, 11); Vol 3 (1, 3-10); Vol 4 (2-11); Vol
5 (1-3); Vol 6 (1-3); 1959 Mar/Apr; May/June; July/Aug; 1960 Jan/Feb;
Mar/Apr; May/June; Sep/Oct; 1950 (Autumn); 1951 Jan; July; Aug.




C.D.G. Review

1965 (Dec); 1967(Oct/Nov); 1968(Apr/July); Nos 9-12,14-19, 21, 23,3 4, 35.

Newsletter (

July, Aug, 1967.

Misc. papers:
Divers, log Sheet; (Wookey) Jan – May 1949

Divers Plans
– Swildons and Stoke Lane.

Sump Rescue Equipment,
O.C. Lloyd, 1965

1st Series 1 – 20, 25, 29, 30, 33 (NB Nos 21-24 not published)

Notice of operations
at Wookey 9/48 – 4/49.

Sump Index, 1968.




Publication No.
22, 14

128 – 133 (end of run- followed by merger with BSA)

Index of
Newsletters to 129.

Vol.5 (1); Vol.7 (3); Vol.11 (1); Vol.14 (4); Vol.14(1, 4); Vol.5 (1-4)

of CRG

Aids in Caving Symposium (March 1972)



Programme, 1974

Proc. of the
7th. International Speleo. Congress,  
Sheffield (sept.1977)

CERBERUS S.S.  Newsletter 18-22, 24-36, 38-49, 51-54.


Vol 1(complete); Vol. 2(Complete); 11 (12); 13 (1, 2); 14 (3, 11, 12); 15(1-11);
16 (9); 17b (1-7, 9); 18 (1-6, 8, 9, 12); 19 (1-2); 20 (1-2).

COTHAM C.G.  Newsletters Vol. 5 (1-3); Box Stone Mines,
reprint, 1973


‘Some Notable
Quarrymen,’ 1973.

Box Quarries,
Vol. 1, 1976.

Memoirs, Vol.
4, 1968-1969.

Box Stone
Mines, 1st. Edition, 1966.

CRAVEN P.C. Journal Vol. 3 (1-3), 5, 6); Vol. 4 (2-4).

CROYDON CAVING C.  Pelobates 17, 24

                                        Mersham Firestone Quarries, 1976.

DERBYSHIRE S.G.: Bulletin Vol.
1 Part 1, 1975

DERBYSHIRE C.C.: Dodgers Despatch 1-8

DESCENT:  Nos 7-9, 11, 37

Newsletters 100-104, 112-118.

:  Journal
Vol 1 (1-6); 2 (1-4, 6); 3 (1-5); 4 (1-3); 5 (1,2)

S. Assoc.:  Journal No. 1, 1977.


.:  Vol 8 (3); 9


Dates For Your Diary

Friday ‘niters’ meets. Details from Richard Kenny, ‘Yennek’,

St. Marys Road,
Som. Tele Meare Heath 296.

August 18th

September 1st

September 15th

September 29th

St. Cuthbert’s –
all meets at 19.39 hrs..

Lamb Leer

Browns Folly

Mangel Hole &
Sandford Levvy.

For those interested in joining Dave Metcalfe in
Yorkshire the following trips have been arranged by him:

August 26th

September 23rd

October 29th

November 18th

December 16th

Winch meet at gaping Hole

Hole, Fountains Fell.




at the BELFRY    E.G.M. at the Belfry at
10.30hrs to discuss the rev’ Club Constitution. If adopted by the meeting this revision will be in operation for the
A.G.M. which will start immediately the E.G.M. is concluded – most probably
after lunch break.

GENERAL MEETING   Once again the year
rolls on and the call for nominations is out again.  Of the existing Committee the following
people have stated their wish to resign at the end of the current club year,
Nigel Taylor, Russ Jenkins.  Nominations
must be handed to the Secretary by the 9th September.

8ft x 11ft GOODALL FRAME TENT for sale – £30.



697313.  The tent is being sold by Roy
Marshall one of our past Climbing secretaries.

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.