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. ~ells,
Somerset. Tele :Priddy 369

LATE NEWS from Lionel’s Hole

The new extension is now well over 700ft. long (some say
nearly 1,000ft!).  Several new routes
have been found within the extension. The 2nd Duck (Bird Bath) has been bypassed by a large high level rift –
certainly the continuation of the Traverse in the ‘old’ cave.  A large, steeply ascending high level canyon
has been followed to a point very near to the Surface (roots and live moths are
to be found there).  A small upstream
sump dried out in the summer and was passed via a boulder chamber giving access
to the Labyrinth in ‘old’ Lionel’s. Another high level connection above the Traverse seems imminent, possibly
giving a dry way into the Extension.  The
possibility of extensive upstream passages is now being considered.

Andy Sparrow


by Tim Large

New members:

941 John Sampson, 8 Hill Crest,



Changes of address:

Ross White, 9 Ellery Close,
Lymington, Hants.
Jane Kirby, Basement Flat, 8 Dorchester Terrace,
Bob Cork, 25 The Mead, Stoke St. Michael,


Dave Hatherley,

6 Withiel Drive
Cannington, Bridgwater, Som.

BOOTS: There ore still some pairs of caving boots in stock –
price £8.75.  These have commando soles
and exterior steel toecaps.  Sizes left
are 7, 8, 9 and one pair of 5’s.

BELFRY: Some more work as been done on maintaining the
Belfry. Whilst on holiday, Ross White and Jerry Crick have sanded and painted
the windows and front door, amongst other jobs.

MEMBERSHIP of the club now stands at 200 – much the same as
last year at this time.  Membership has
hovered around this number for some years now – perhaps we have reached the
optimum number?

MORE LATE NEW: We would like to offer our sympathies to Len
Dawes who recently lost his son in a climbing accident in the Cuillins.  ‘Wig’



This month we have recorded in the column caving news from
all parts of the world including a list of the longest and deepest to the
downright macabre.

Berger driven in third place in world depth stakes

in metres


Gouffre de Pierre St.
Martin (France-Spain)

2. Reseau
Jean-Bernard (


3. Gouffre
Berger (


4. Reseau des
jAiguilles (


5. Ganna
Ciaga (


6. Lamprechtsofen


7. Kievskaya


8. Sima
G.E.S.M. (


9. Grotta di Monta Cucco (Italy)

10. Abisso Michele












hangs on to five of the
world’s first ten longest

Cave System (


307,000 metres long

2. Holloch (


129,525 metres long

3. Optimisticeskaje (


110,840 metres long

4. Ozernaja (


102,840 metres long

Cave (


96,6000 metres long

 6. Sistema Ojo Guarena (


60,000 metres long

Cave (


51,500 metres long

Cave (


49,150 metres long

Cumberland Caverns (


43,768 metres long

10. Eisrieenwelt (


42,000 metres long

New Books on the Caving Market – reviews will be found in
British Caver No.70 in the Club Library at the Belfry.

Discovery of Luray Caverns,

by Russell H.
Gurnee.  104pp, illus.    £3.50

Chelsea Spel. Soc. Records Vol.
8.  Caves and Tunnels in
SE England. 44p          £1.00

Speleology – The Study of Caves
by Moore & Nicholas Sullivan, 150pp, illus           £5.00

by Hoftman, 160pp,maps and photos, pub. David & Charles.         £4.95

Caves of
by Lo Ding. 75pp, 95 b&w plates, 12 maps. Text in
Chinese. Pub. by Nam Zum Publishing Co.
Hong Kong,
1973                                                                    £2.00

Cataleg Espeleologic de
Catalunya, Vol.1, 166pp, plates, maps, surveys    £7.10

Dans Les Abimes de le Terre, by
Michel Siffre, 300pp; illus.                                  £8.00

Caves of the
by V.N. Dublyanski, pub. by Tavriya, 1977, 125pp       £4.00

Hydrologic Problems in Karst
Regions ed. by Dilamarter & Csallany, 481pp plans, figs, maps etc. pub.
1977                                                                                                                        £10.00

Hohlenfuhrer Schwabische Alb by
Binder, 200pp, 30plans, maps, pub.1977            £6.00

News in brief:


Pete lord and American cavers
have connected two caves to form a 16km system in the Cuetzalan area.  What about some details for the BB, Pete?


French cavers have explored and
surveyed La Grotte de Djebel Serdj which is said to be the most beautiful cave
in that country.  It contains chambers up
to 1,000ft long.

Rock & Fountain –
South Wales

Fourth Boulder Choke pushed by
digging near its base and over a mile of large passage found.  End of cave is Fifth Boulder Choke near Daren

Caving Oratorio – further details

It was recently reported that a Swiss composer, Klaus
Cornell had written a work entitled “Oratorio Spelaeologico”,
sub-titled “Bericht von den Beatushhohlen” (Impressions of the
Beatushohlen) in 1972 following a visit to the show cave.  The work is in five movements. 

1st: A passage in the mountain

2nd: The origin of the cave

3rd: A group of people viewing
the cave

4th: The story of Beatus

5th: The exit.

The work is scored for two soloists; narrator, five
instrumentalists, choir of 100 voices and Chamber Orchestra plus tape
recordings inside and outside of the cave. The text was written by Kurt Weibel. A recording has been obtained of the work via the usual Mendip Grapevine
network and is available, in

on the Jecklin label – the record number is Jecklin 148 and costs 26 Swiss
Francs (about £9.00).  For anyone
interested in obtaining this recording, which incidentally is very good and
well balanced and the surfaces are extremely quite, should write to Jecklin,
Pianohaus + Disco-Centre, 8024
Zurich 1,

.  I’m not sure that the music will ever reach
the Top Ten!  Incidentally, the record
sleeve photograph is upside down!

Cuckoo Cleeves

Bob Dyke has recently retired and the farm been taken over
by Mr. Masters of

.  The new owner is concerned at the damage done
to gates and the stone walls by cavers en-route to the cave.  The CSCC Hon. Sec. Fred Davies has seen Mr.
Masters and explained the situation to him. Whereupon Mr. Masters gave Fred the wherefore all and so two new styles
have been cemented into position which now allows direct access to the
entrance.  If cavers fail to use the
stiles and continue to climb over walls and gates the cave will be permanently
closed.  The cave is to be gated and,
keys will be held locally at various club huts. It is to be hoped that BEC members will comply with the fanner’s simple
wishes and make it their business to inform any visitors at the Belfry.

and the


Ogof-y-Ci and Ogof Rd Sych are on the Cwm Glais Nature
Reserve and due to the change of ownership access is as follows:

  1. Take
    the road from Cefn Coed, past Veynor Quarries, and turn left onto the
    Llwyn Clisanws farm road.
  2. Follow
    the road for about a mile to old farm buildings and park on waste ground
    on the right.
  3. Go
    over the gate and follow the field boundary to the reserve.
  4. When
    in the reserve, follow the stream bed to the caves, keeping off the
    vegetation wherever possible.  A
    path may be staked out in the near future.  Dan-yr-Ogof.  A party
    recently left the river entrance gate off in the path of a tourist
    party.  The management weren’t
    pleased.  Ensure that you are in the
    cave before 10.00am.  Old Hen Mine
    (R. Forest of Dean) a large boulder is on the move in Balcony Passage –
    take care. 

    .  M.O. Defence has imposed restrictions to
    all parts of the range as there is a danger from military activities.

Eire: A new map of
the Burren, Co. Clare has been published by the Irish Tourist Board.  Scale 1.8 inches to the mile.  Combined with Tratman’s map in ‘Caves of
Clare’ is said to be very useful.  Price

BEC was there before you! In the recent issue of Wessex Journal (173) Phil Hendy writes (in the
WCC Caving Log) of a descent down! ‘Rabbit mine’ situated near the large collapse above GB.  The mine was descended soon after the July
flood in 1968 by ‘Wig’ and Mike York (of WCC!) and the BB records details of
this first descent – by cavers that is.

You never know what you’ll find next!

Two teenagers divers went to one of the many sinks
interconnecting the underground route of the route of the Aucille River near
Perry, Florida in the US of A searching for artefacts and Pleistocene
remains.  Their searches revealed some
remains that they hadn’t bargained for…three cement weighted corpses!  One of the bodies was examined and was found
to have a 38-caliber pistol wound in the back of the head.  Police agents said that the slayings looked
like mob-style murders.  This snippet of
news was published in Underwater Speleology, February 1978.


Versus The Totes Gebirge

by our man on the spot
Nick Thorne

This is the third episode in a potentially

Coronation Street

like saga.  In 1978 CUCC, tired of the
Pyrenees, took


by storm for their summer expedition. Episode Two occurred last year and readers may remember the report I did
for the B.B.  To recap, about a dozen of
us spent between two and three weeks at at Alt Ausse, a small village about
80km east of

.  Most of our time was spent prospecting on the
nearby Loser Plateau.  Loser is an
extensive plain undulating between 1600 and 1700m above sea level.  The almost virgin lapiaz of the plateau is reached
bye steeply ascending toll road from Alt Aussee and a brisk hour or so walk
from the top.  Last year we found several
promising caves:

97 Schneewindschacht – too tight
at minus 265m.
82 – Brauninghohle – sumped (perched) at minus 220m.
106 – Eislufthohle – 150m deep and unfinished.
Plus various other 100m pots.

The greatest incentive to return in 1978 was the unfinished
state of Eislufthohle.  Although not our
deepest find in 1977, the shafts in Eislufthohle were of such a size and the
draught in the cave so strong, that we felt that the pot ought to yield a few
more secrets yet, there being 750m of depth potential still left.  And with this in mind, we found ourselves
back on Loser in July/August of this year.

The expedition members fell into three categories

a)                    ‘Team Eislufthohle’ – 5 strong team of SRT
merchants, including Yours Truly.

b)                    ‘Team Ladders’ – 3 man, 1 woman team spending
their first year in


c)                    ‘Team Geriatric’ – 4 cavers plus
‘hangers-on’.  More interested in
canoeing and haute cuisine, bless ’em; but as events showed, they can still
deliver the goods when, needed.  Team
Ladders, and later aided at depth by Team Geriatric, did a very creditable job
of 107 – Gemsehohle – essentially a large draughting rift, choking at about
minus 280m.

As for Team Eislufthohle, then I think our fortunes could
best be described as mixed.  A slow rig
in down last year’s cave was due to the presence of a greater amount of snow
and ice.  In the end, despite enormous
ice boulders falling.  Plugged Shaft was
rigged with a 300 foot length of rope with 5 belays and 1 rope protector.  This affords, some idea of the technical
difficulties of rigging this large, spiralling broken, shafts.  In defence of SRT on a pitch like this one I
most point out that we had comparable difficulties rigging and de-rigging the
thing last year on ladders, and once rigged for ropes, then routine ascents and
descents are not especially slow.

From the chamber at the bottom, round a corner, leads to
Saved Shaft.  This 13m shaft defeated the
ropes men and ladders ruled.  At the
bottom is Boulder Chamber (no cave is a cave without one, you know!)  A crawl through boulders and a traverse over
the first pitch of the Keg Series (no draught) leads to a free climb and &
30m pitch, split by a large ledge.  From
the bottom a narrowish rift leads to a chamber with a heavy drip.  This was as far as we got last year and we
called the chamber The Tap Room (What makes you think we drink beer?)

So off we were again at last, pioneering new ground.  The slow progress made during the rig is so
far, and the prospect of a deep cave, now prompted an interesting change in
policy – overnight trips.  The lapiaz on
the plateau is impossible to negotiate after night fall, and so allowing for a
margin of error, it seemed logical to walk to the cave in late afternoon, cave
overnight and after 2 minimum trips of 10 hours, emerge into the morning
light.  Good idea, we thought.

Indeed, the first overnight trip did pay dividends.  I had the privilege (or misfortune) to be
half of this two man effort.  We timed
things a little too close for comfort on the walk in.  We had to virtually run to the cave in
failing light and found the entrance about ten minutes before darkness trapped
us on the plateau.

Once underground things seemed pretty much the norm.  We soon reached the Tap Room.  We descended a rope assisted climb that had
been rigged previously and followed an obvious traverse line to a small
chamber, the water having sunk into the floor at the bottom of the climb.  The chamber had a nice big boulder poised in
the roof and a large enticing slot in the floor.  A 10m pitch was rigged off a couple of bolts
down to a micro-ledge where the rift narrowed. A bolt rebelay was placed and a
fine, ever enlarging, 35m pitch was descended to a large ledge and a stream,
inlet.  With the shaft being the ‘best
pitch ‘O the pot’ so far, spirits were high and we started putting in a couple
more bolts.  These held a traverse line
that protected a bold step over to a ledge on the opposite wall, and also the
rope for the          next pitch.  This was 8m to a pool in a dribbly, dribbly

The stream trundled on down a trench in the floor and we
traversed along again in a high rift about three or four feet wide.  We soon reached a fine rocking boulder
perched squarely on the traverse ledges. We quickly realised that we were to break into something big.  A bend and upwards above a massive boulder
jam was an immense blackness, impenetrable to a good NiFe beam.  Ahead and downwards lay a second impenetrable
blackness.  We placed another couple of
bolts.  This took some time as the bolter
had to be life lined and rock anchor teeth kept breaking off, and anchors kept
getting stuck, and…

Our sleepy beer starved brains were in need of a
wake-up.  And how!  The next pitch turned out to be a magnificent
60m job.  Remember

– forget it!  This fine free hang down a
sculptured corner of a much larger shaft was truly staggering.  It landed on a boulder ledge about 4m from
the shaft floor.  We abseiled past this
to reach the floor proper.

Downwards, the stream that had slithered down one wall of
the shaft sank into a too low passage. Upwards led to a balcony, giving a fine view of the ‘Hall of the Greene
King’.  This is circular in plan and
approximately 20m in diameter.  The
height must be in the order of 100m.  At
this impressive spot, having run out of rope, having made the deepest

find to date,
feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, we turned back.

As we did do, we noted that the water level had risen and
the big pitch landing was now being liberally showered.  This and certain difficulties for your
humble, narrator when the rope got pulled up on the big pitch and lowered back
down through the boulder ledge, meant a thorough soaking.  Without wetsuits, things were now getting chilly
and prussiking was the only way to keep warm. This was only hampered by the fact that every time you stopped for a
rest you fell asleep!  We eventually
surfaced after a twelve hour trip only to dine on plastic ham and biscuits in
the pouring rain.  We then left the
plateau.  It has been a long time since
I’d left a cave feeling this cold and tired.

But the trip was a success. In one trip we added 120m of depth and despite the fact that it took a
couple of days to recover, overnight trips seemed a good idea still.  The next day saw two more of ‘Team Ropes’
going underground.  They descended the 6m
balcony pitch to the floor of the hall of the Green King.  Next came a very large passage with some
proportionally huge hanging death, and this they followed to a short
pitch.  This was descended 5m and several
inlets and side passages noted.  The way
on seemed less than obvious, but when the draught was detected (despite the
large cross section of the passage) the way lay on down to a pitch of 25m.  All the next part of the cave seemed very old
and contained a lot of dry powdery mud. Lack of tackle, time, energy etc., did not permit a descent of this
pitch and so the intrepid heroes returned.

A couple of night later I was back on the scene again, this
time as part of a three man team.  We
descended the 25m pitch which went round the corner and had to be rebelayed
twice.  It landed in a passage carrying a
small stream, probably the same one that sank earlier.  From here, the stream passed into a very
narrow vadose canyon and we traversed out. The passage, although very tight at stream level was three or more feet
wide at traverse level.  The total
passage height was beyond my NiFe beam. The streamway was a classic meandering vadose type, typical of many a
Yorkshire pot.

After a rather committing free climb (at least at this sort
of depth!) the traverse continued. Generally all the traversing was done on good, if not very continuous
ledges.  After what seemed like several
hundred feet we clambered over a big jammed boulder chaos and on to the head of
another pitch.  A rope was belayed to a
bolt and a chock-stone and a descent was made down 12m of muddy slope.  Up until now things had been just comfortably
muddy with a mainly dry, powdery variety. This pitch however, later named ‘The Fiesta Run’, was a very glutinous
affair.  This fact was later thought to
be associated with a shaft noted entering the roof at this point.  The traverse ledges beyond seemed to clear a
little.  We reached more chock-stones
with a further pitch beyond.  Stones
dropped directly below fell for about fifty feet.  Those that were lobbed outwards a little fell
a great deal further.  We were running
out of steam here and decided to turn back. To be honest, we were a little disappointed the horizontality
Eisluftohle was adopting.  We had envisaged
pitch followed immediately by pitch, followed by pitch, going down very deep
and all very easy!  Instead, we had a
steeply sloping streamway occasionally punctuated by short pitches.  Tackle carrying on the traverses would not be
easy and the streamway could go on for miles. However, our depth we estimated, conservatively, at 350m.  Well satisfied with this we left the cave
after another twelve hour trip.

With just over a week of the expedition left a couple more
pushing trips could be had and even greater depth attained.  Just then however disaster struck.  We were driving down the toll road after the
above described trip when one of the disadvantages of overnight trips was
hammered home rather brutally.  With the
front passenger asleep and me in the back still wide awake the driver decided
to nod off at the wheel.  To his credit
he could have chosen a section of road adjacent to a drop of several hundred
feet, but instead settled for one of a mere thirty.  Without the slightest hint of last minute
braking or swerving, we missed a telegraph pole and a tree by inches, went
through a fence cum crash barrier and launched ourselves over the near vertical
drop.  The next few seconds consisted of
one of life’s great eternal moments. With broken glass flying and twisted, blood bespattered, metal all
about, the car seemed to roll over and over before finally coming to rest,
wheels down, in a river at the bottom of the drop.  The driver suffered cuts to face and hands,
slight concussion and a fractured sternum. The front seat passenger suffered a bad gash in the head and was
suspected of having a lightly fractured neck. The car was a write-off and your seemly invincible narrator, I’m almost
ashamed to say it, had not a scratch (well, only one small one!)

You’ll be pleased to know that both the injured people,
after spending a week in hospital, and with one getting flown home, both made
full recoveries.

Whilst being fortunate inasmuch as three of has had been
spared the greater karts area in the sky, we (that is Team Eislufthohle) were
now a little short of manpower.  Over the
next week we realised de-rigging with so few people as were left could prove
awkward.  We even started fondling
insurance policies, wondering whether we could avoid de-rigging
altogether!  We abandoned the grade 4
survey that had been started, half finished! Photographic trips were scrapped left, right and centre and now having
given up overnight trips, one alpine start allowed the bottom couple of pitches
to be de-rigged.  And then just what we
didn’t need, the weather closed in.  With
low cloud and rain, we couldn’t even see the plateau for several agonising
days, let alone navigate across it.  We
were forced to kick our heels at the camp site in Alt Ausee until, two days
before departure, back came the sunshine. With a magnificent effort form Team Geriatric, bless ‘em again, and in
the company of your long suffering narrator, the rest of the cave was
cleared.  Phew!

And so back to good old British beer.  The return journey was noted only for a
delightfully comfortable night spent on a bench in a lay-by of a German
autobahn; also for being waved through

customs by the cleaning
lady!   As for Eislufthohle, then I
think, judging by the large passage size at the bottom, and the drop test’s
performed there, not to mention the draught (or The War!) then to squeeze 400m
out of the place would be a mere formality. Beyond that, who knows?  The local
expert, Karl Gaisberger, to whom many thanks, inspected the mud on our gear
from the Fiesta Run area and confirmed that is was quite old stuff, totally
unlike that deposited a sump backing up. Therefore with a sump not being, imminent and with the passage seeming
to enlarge all the time, Eislufthohle, already one of Loser’s most significant
caves, should become one of

deepest.  It has to be said however, that
the cave is no longer the easy series of shafts it was.  It is now quite a serious, undertaking.  Consequently for

to return there, despite the
keenness of some of us, would be pointless unless we could put up a good crack
team, numbering at least ten.  Don’t miss
next year’s exciting episode; same time, same channel!

Many thanks to the Ian Dear Memorial Fund, without whose
financial backing, I may have missed the magnificent abseil; into the Hall of
the Greene King an experience to make life really worth living…..at least until
the drive back!



Pate Hole

by Dave Metcalfe

Just to the south of the

village of
Great Asby
near Appleby in Westmorland, lie three caves; Pate Hole, West Pate Hole and
Lower Pete Hole.  From the fork of the
narrow lane heading south from the village to three farms a pleasant stroll
down through a small field, which is in fact an ancient dry valley, leads to
the bed of Asby Beck which meanders between small cliffs past the entrance of
Pate and West Pate Holes.  The stream,
except in flood, is barely a trickle sinking in shingle downstream of Pate Hole
Mouth, to reappear in no larger quantity in the village.  Following the dry stream bed downstream it
becomes apparent that the stream, sometime in the past, must have been of a
considerable size.

The Great Kettle, an almost perfectly cylindrical milled
pothole in the streambed, is some eight feet deep and provides an amusing climb
up its smooth sides.  Just downstream of
this, above the left bunk, is Lower Pate Hole – a low, wide, abandoned bedding
cave about eighty feet long.

Back upstream on the west bank, below Beck level, is West
Pate Hole.  The cave is a low, muddy
grovel and, mercifully, the entrance is blocked with boulders!  The main entrance to Pate Hole lies in the
opposite bank.

Pate Hole in the main cave in the area and the entrance is
obvious with its passage descending gently over scree involving a back breaking
stoop until water is met where the way down continues over a series of fine
gaur dams creating knee deep pools in places. The passage soon levels out into a larger canal passage running
north/south.  A comfortable walk along
the South Passage ends abruptly at a solid floored circular pool at a blank
wall.  Up to the left is a muddy scramble
up a cross rift to descend almost immediately to the deep sump pool.  Under normal conditions the crystal clear
water laps gently over the lip of the pool and runs same 50 – 60 feet
downstream to sink in four inches high bedding plane to the right.  This is the Main Stream Passage.  The water of the sump is so clear that
details of underwater boulders and the submerged resurgence passage can be

However, over the years, work in the sump has proved
interesting.  On the original survey
(1960) the sump was found to head horizontally upstream for about thirty feet
to end suddenly at a deep flooded rift. Here the original divers, Phil Davies and Jack Whaddon, reported an
airspace but B. Churcher, diving in 1975 – 1976, reported no such airspace and
S. Pickersgill (1977) mentioned only small air
pockets.  However, they all agreed there
was a deep flooded shaft.  Churcher
estimated it went some 120 feet but Pickersgill reached a boulder floored
chamber at -75 feet and from there a wide, low elliptical passage, some 5 x 15
feet in cross section, continued uninterrupted.

On three dives during June 1977, Pickcrsgill laid 2 x 200ft
lines in this lower passage and investigated eleven cross rifts mostly too
tight to enter.  One of the cross rifts
ascended for 30ft.  He reported that the
passage continued horizontally at -75 feet and perfect visibility.  So where do we go from here?  The sump is still going – but where is its
source?  The answer must lie in the vast
limestone area of Great Asby Scar to the south-west with its magnificent
limestone pavement and dry valleys – but there is a distinct luck of shake
holes, sinks or shafts.  In times of
flood, Pate Hole takes a large stream with which the bedding sink is unable to
cope and eventually the whole cave fills with water and under extreme
conditions it resurges through the main entrance.



Survey of Pate Hole by D.
Wharburton, A.J. Surrall and J. Hanwell.

Journal of the Craven Pothole
Club, Vol.5 No.5

C.D.G. Newsletters No.37 and 40

Northern Caves Vol.5




Preliminary report of Speleological Reconnaissance Expedition to the


by Graham Wilton-Jones

The Dachstein massif is situated some 35 miles SE of
Salzburg between the Tennengebirge and the Totes Gebirge.  It has previously been largely avoided for a
number of reasons:

1)                  there are plenty of other more well known
limestone areas

2)                  access with equipment is not straightforward

3)                  the local glacier has blocked many holes with

The glacier stretches from just below the Hoher Dachstein
(3004m) down to the Ober Eissee (2100) a glacial lake in a huge, moraine filled
depression.  The glacier is a complex of
ice fields, all of poor quality, rapidly melting ice with few crevasses.  The melt waters sink at various points around
the perimeter of the glacier directly into the moraine.  The underground drainage is complex, with conduits
crossing each other, but basically there are three major risings:

1)                  Hinterer gesausse (1160m) 4½km WNW

2)                  Waldebach Ursprung (913m) 8km N

3)                  Kessel, Hallstatt (517m) 9km NNE

Midway between resurgences 2 and 3 is the Hirlatzhohle, some
9km of generally large passage with a lower series of intermittent, large
sumps.  No other large caves are known in
the vicinity.  In the winter-time, when
everywhere is frozen, the Waldbach Ursprung can be entered for some distance to
a more permanent sump.  The area we were
to search lies between the glacier and the Waldbach resurgence, on the plateau,
at a height of about 1800 to 2000m.

Ross White and Andy Sparrow decided to use their thumbs to
travel across Europe; while Tony Jarrett, Stephen ‘Throstle’ Aldred, David
Warren (Grampian) and Graham Wilton-Jones used the ever faithful VW and the
Hovercraft.  The vagabonds have their own
tale to tell, but we four arrived in Hallstatt after over 24 hours of almost
continuous driving, with the beast rarely doing more than 50 mph with its badly
loaded roof rack and 450kg of equipment and food.  There we met with Hermann Kirchmayer, head of
the Austrian Cave Rescue Association.  He
had originally invited us over there, being an old friend of the club.  Together we drove up the track to the lower
station of the material seilbahn (cable hoist) which serves the Wiesberghaus,
an Alpine hut belonging to the Friends of Nature, who are a big rambling
club.  All our equipment went on this hoist
and we were able to make our way up the mountain empty handed.

On the 26th of July, three of us walked over the area we
were to prospect, while the others moved most of the remaining gear over to our
camp site and set up camp.  The site was
a large (150m x 50m) shallow depression filled with little hummocks of glacial
debris and with a small ‘dew-pond’ to collect water from a marshy area near the
centre.  We camped on the tops of the
hummocks among the hundreds of bright, alpine flowers.  The pond water was used for washing and our
drinking water was obtained from the hut, about five minutes away, where they
collected rainwater from the roof.

Our prospecting area was mainly to the west and NW of the
camp, although we did spend some time looking all around the site, even finding
a Mendip style dig within 50m of the tents leading to a 40m deep pot.  Physically the western boundary of our area
was the line of cliffs and screes forming the Niederer Ochenkogel, Hober
Grunberg and Neiderer Grunberg, although we intend to thoroughly search the faces
and tops next year.  Between the campsite
and these cliffs, which rise to 2200m, is a region of strong NW-SE tectonic
jointing which can be followed for about 10km and forms the cliffs themselves.  Even at this distance from the glacier (4km)
there is still much moraine about and vegetation is plentiful, especially
stunted, springy, bush-like pine-trees. There is no way through these but to walk over the tops.  The overall impression of the area is half
vegetation and half rough, often steep lapiaz with screes and small snowfields.

The Austrians noted everything over 5m in depth or length
and we therefore did the same.  In the
total Dachstein plateau region, designated no.1543, they had found 58
significant sites.  These were mainly
chance findings as no determined and systematic search had been made.  In our immediate area they knew of some half
a dozen sites.  Many of their findings
had only been noted, and not explored, let alone surveyed.  We concentrated on finding, exploring and
surveying totally new sites although we did check out a couple of known caves.

In all, we found 35 significant sites.  On a rough analysis 10 sites were less than
10m in length or depth, 13 were between 10 and 20m, 8 were over 20m to 40m, 1
was 75m, 1 was 100m and our best find is over 500m long, more than 200m deep,
and still going, both up and down.  One
hole has yet to be entered and at least three still require further

The blockages at the bottom of the potholes did not fall
into one or two major categories, and glacial moraine blockages did not play, a
significant role; as might have been supposed. Perhaps more of the blockages were due to boulders than for any other
reason; several shafts went down to snow plugs; others became too tight or had
clay/mud or peat chokes.  Those blocked
by boulders alone could well be easy digs, while the ones with snow plugs may
have further, concealed passages enterable should the snow melt.  Indeed, at one point we had regularly crossed
a snow field until one day this melted to reveal a 25m shaft right below our
footprints!  In another place a snow plug
in a 5m deep wide mouthed shaft melted sufficiently to gain access to a
horizontal rift passage, as yet unexplored. In one ice cave, 40m deep and still going, a hole in the ice was only
just large enough to get through and may well have been blocked entirely a week

We did take occasional days off from looking at holes, apart
from the inevitable warm, sunny, I’ve had enough of caving, gear mending day,
one day was spent in climbing the Dachstein and another on a ‘tourist’ trip to
Hallstattand then up to the Dachstein show-caves – Rieseneishohle and
Mammuthohle.  In all there were twelve
caving/prospecting days.  The remaining
days of the three weeks available were spent transporting equipment end

The trip up the Dachstein we understood to be a walk, which
it was for the most part.  It begins as a
well trodden path from the Wiesberghaus to the Simony Hutte, D climbers hut,
followed by a walk over scree and moraine to the foot of the glacier.  Crampons were not necessary here though they
were useful in patches.  Occasionally the
snow: was thigh deep.  Finally, after 3½
hours of hard walking the near vertical began up the rock face to the
peak.  There, used to be a ‘via ferrata’
(iron way) here, with big iron pegs and thick steel cables to aid the tourist
up the otherwise exposed climb.  However,
the winter snows had ripped out pegs and broken wires so that it was not often
safe to use, though parts of I were very handy on some of the more difficult
sections.  The peak was largely swathed
in cloud while we stood on it, but naturally, this cleared as soon as we

The descent of the glacier was fast – cagoules on and sit
down and hope for no crevasses on the way!

The show caves above Obertraun were well worth the visit,
particularly the Rieseneishohle, which I felt to be more spectacular than the
much large Eisriesenwelt, which we visited on our way home.  This may have been due to the carefully
placed electric lighting – though Eisriesenwelt depends on carbide (Turner of
Hull, of course!) and magnesium ribbon. The show section of the Mammuthohle is basically a series of very large
phreatic tunnels leading to one impressive, high rift.

We also had a look at a salt mine above Hallein, south of

.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about this
is that we crossed the border into

and back again under the

To return to the object of the expedition, we shall be
returning next year, at about the same time (end July to the Middle of August)
to complete exploration and surveys of the caves already found and to carry on
prospecting higher up the cliffs and above the mountains of Ochsen Kogel and
Grunberg and also further north towards the edge of the plateau.  Hopefully there will be more of us next year,
because there is a
LOT to be done.

Ed. note: Details of an earlier BEC visit to the Dachstein
area will be found in B.B. No.214 December 1965. 

by D.J. Irwin and R.J


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Further Simple Thoughts?

By Dave Irwin

In the February 1977 B.B., I suggested that though the
current stream in St. Cuthbert’s 2 disappears into Sump 2, it previously flowed
into Sump 1 and then rejoined the Gour-Lake Fault, ignoring the route along the
2 streamway which is I believe an oxbow, albeit, a long one!  I further suggested that the re-routing of
this stream could have occurred during the great July 1968 Flood – that date
makes one feel old, yes, it was ten years ago last July that it occurred!

The article also suggested that when the streamway below
Stalagmite Pitch to Sump 1 was free of an active stream due to the choking of
the cave passages up-cave of the pitch, well beyond the Everest Passage
junction with the Main Stream, that what streams that were flowing into the
cave entered the Cerberus Series and the lower part of the Rocky Boulder Series
below Rocky Boulder Chamber.  Apart from
the Dining Room Dig there are several sites worth probing in the area.  The problem is simply to locate the breach
joints along the Gour Lake Rift.  The
most northerly point known on the fault line is Marble Pot, a minor shift in
the infilling has revealed a dip orientated rift with a bedding plane leading
off it to yet another, lower, rift located beneath the main shaft.  Whether there is a breach of the fault in
this area remains to be seen when work in the area is complete.

Similarly, the eastern side of the cave appears to be fault
controlled but a recent discussion with Derek Ford suggested that little
evidence of the fault remains to be seen because of the enormous collapse in
September Chamber.  However, the evidence
displayed on the survey strongly suggests that the development is fault
controlled particularly when one inspects the top of Whitsun Passage and its
alignment with Plantation Junction to Gour Hall, Tin Mine and Continuation
Chamber.  In the Sump 2 area, the rock on
the right hand wall (west) is typical of the well known Black Rock Limestone,
where as the left hand wall displays the typical light grey and coarse textured
limestone found throughout the Cuthbert’s system.  As this condition extends throughout
Cuthbert’s 2 (over 900ft) then the fault is a major one and could extend on up
through the cave through the sites mentioned above and on up past the September
Series.  North of the cave, heading
towards the Foresters Cottage there is a line of shallow depressions coinciding
nicely with the north-south line of the eastern      boundary of the cave.

Coupling this information with the water tracing results
makes arm-chair speculation an interesting exercise.

That the water entering Cuthbert’s resurges at Wookey Hole
has been known with certainty since the 1860 s when straw chippings were thrown
into the stream during the Ennor – Hodgekinson dispute.  The time of the water flowing from Cuthbert’s
to Wookey is said to be about 24 hours. The first real attempt to trace the water was in 1967 when, during the
Mendip Karst Hydrology study carried out by the Geography Department of Bristol
University and the Bristol Waterworks, lycopodium spores were thrown into the
streams of the
Central Mendip caves.  The water conditions at the time were near
flood levels and the time recorded for St. Cuthbert’s (the spores having been
placed in the Plantation Stream) was 11 hours. But the problem was that the spores reached Wookey Hole by the time of
the first official net inspection at +11 hours after the spores had been placed
in the stream.  Under similar conditions
the stream entering Swildons Hole took 25 hours and that going into Eastwater
was 16 hours.  (Full details may be found
in (1) a copy of which is in the Club library).   The times for the lycopodium spores to reach
Wookey will vary according to the water levels flowing into the cave
systems.  Under drought conditions the
flow times could be as long as 100 hours or more; under the conditions of the
1968 flood the time would be considerably shorter than the official time of 11

Until a large number of checks have been made, no-one will
have any idea of the variation of time the water takes to flow to Wookey
Hole.  A more recent check in November
1976 under low conditions gave an inconclusive result in the sense that we do
not know whether the quantities of dye was too small or whether the stream took
over the recorded 70 hours of monitoring the water at the rising.  A further check was carried out early in 1978
when under spate conditions the recorded time was 10 hours, but again this
result was not recorded against water flow. Although these results tell us that the flow rates vary, they are quite
useless when relating them to specific conditions i.e. volume of water entering
the Cuthbert’s system.  Further the
checks were not exactly the same as the dye was placed in the slower stream by
the cave entrance.  However, the,
recorded times do allow for a certain amount of speculation and I would be
grateful for any comment or criticism of the argument that follows.

By making use of the information published by the Mendip
Karts Police of the water flow times from St. Cuthbert’s to Wookey Hole and the
times of flow through the known cave system, it is possible to calculate the
maximum length of the unknown streamway and hence the general direction of the
passage carrying the stream.  I’m curious
to know why this slant on the results have been ignored by the water experts.

As I have said the calculation given below is the maximum
length of the streamway because one is considering a constant flow of water
through the cave passage and the figure used here was obtained in the
Cuthbert’s 2 streamway which has a stream bed gradient similar to the
hydrological gradient of Cuthbert’s to Wookey Hole.  The gradient is approx. 3 degrees.  The stream flowing through Cuthbert’s 2 is
flat for the greater part of its length and sufficiently far from the steep
sections of the cave in the upper reaches, to have lost a greater part of its
momentum having been ‘slowed up’ by the level sections of passage in the Main
Stream and Gour rift.  If we consider
that all the sumps en-route are small except for the great ponding at Wookey
itself and that the water velocity in Cuthbert’s 2 is typical for the remainder
of the unknown cave (the vertical range of the end of Cuthbert’s to Wookey
resurgence is approx. 135ft over about 1 mile as the crow flies).   There is now reason to believe that the
character of the floor gradient will change over this distance.  Short sumps will not impede the water flow to
any great degree and anyway the mechanism under consideration assumes that any
water flowing into the sump will displace a similar amount at the downstream
end immediately (frictional drag being ignored as the use of the recorded flow
times will include this factor).  The Sum
is simple:

(Time from Cuth. entr. to resur.) – (time through Cuth.) –
(time through Wookey) = (time thro unknown cave)

This result is the ‘worst possible’ case, i.e. the longest
possible passage length because the recorded times include the time a molecule
of water to pass through obstacles such as sumps and deep pools.  The present argument does not consider a
molecule of water but an instantaneous displacement of water from a sump,
therefore the water entering a sump will displace the water at the downstream
end and so ‘pass’ through the sump more quickly than a molecule passing through
it at the water velocity, assuming no slowing up of the stream.  Increased gradients will have but little effect
of the total stream flow rate and so can be ignored.

What information do we have?

1.                  Dave Drew told the author, some time ago, that
the water flow time from Wookey 20 to the resurgence is about 1½ hours under
high water conditions.

2.                  If 1 is correct, the flow rates from Wookey 25
to Wookey 20 will be similar as the length of the streamway is similar.

3.                  Flow time through Cuthbert’s under relatively
high water conditions to sump 2 is about 1½ hours.

4.                  A recent check by

gave a flow-through time of 10 hours
using dye.  The lycopodium trace in 1967
officially recorded a time of 11 hours, again during high water conditions, but
in this case, the spores had arrived at the resurgence catching nets before the
first inspection at +11 hours.  Anyway,
let’s take a mean time of 10½ hours.

Feeding these figures into the equation above we have:

10.5 – 3 hours (throu. W.H.) – 1½ hours (throu. S.C.) = 6.0
hours for the stream to travel through the unknown cave passage.  The water flow rate in the Cuthbert’s
streamway averaged out at 19.6ft/minute, but for simplicity lets say
20ft/min.  Therefore the length of the
unknown streamway is:

6.0 hours x 60 x 20 = 7, 200ft.

Inspecting the OS map
54 (1:25,000) the distance from the known end of Cuthbert’s to Wookey 25 is
approximately 7,000ft.  If this is the
case, it would appear that Cuthbert’s unknown streamway has to be a straight
line between the two end points, possibly following the fault line that
controls Cuthbert’s 2 streamway.  But
what, of the southern over-thrust?  This
has been suggested by Ford and others in the past that it is impenetrable
consisting of impervious rocks.  As the
faults predate the over-thrust there is no reason why the water could not
penetrate, this barrier as a result of underground breakdown in the area.  Further geological map shows a sideways
displacement of the adjacent rocks (the over-thrust being pushed upwards and
sideways to the NNE) could explain why Wookey Hole resurgence lies in a steep
sided ravine instead of a shallow river valley. In his thesis, Derek Ford assumed the over-thrust to be impermeable and
that Cuthbert’s overflowed into the Wookey system (suggested to be a re-invaded
Triassic system) by one of two routes – Ebbor Gorge or Rookham valleys.  Whilst it would seem certain that the water
flowing from the Hillgrove area would run north of the Pen Hill Pericline and
under the Rookharn volley there has always been doubt as to the route of the
Cuthbert’s stream except to say that the ‘Karst Police’ stated that they
thought that the Swildons stream joined Cuthbert’s stream very close to the
Wookey system.

It has been suggested by

that the hose pipe theory is most
likely solution for the rapid flow of the Cuthbert’s stream.  This presupposes a small sectioned streamway
between the cave and the resurgence filled with water under hydrostatic
pressure.  The problem with this theory
is a simple mechanical one simple of lack of hydrostatic head to cause the
water to speed-up.  Speed-up it must if
the assumption is that the stream flows under Rookhill giving a distance of
over 3 miles (approx. 16,000ft) causing the water to more than double its

has also backed this theory with his
guess that the sumped passage beyond the known Wookey passage is three times
that of the know cave.  This statement
must raise the eyebrows a little. Assuming that the average size of the Wookey passage is 20ft in diameter
(that’s making it pretty big) and the passage length to Wookey 25 is about
3,500ft then the volume of the water filled passage equals something like 1.1 x
106 cu. ft.  If the storage is three
times this value this will represent a flooded, or nearly so, passage of
10,500ft long by 20ft in diameter or as a chamber – well, that’s pretty big.

As a brief summary I can only conclude

a)                  the length of the unknown streamway is approx.
and so must breach the over-thrust

b)                  that the conclusions of the 1967 water trace are
in close alignment with my ‘armchair’ conclusions that the streamway between
Cuthbert’s and Wookey is principally vadose with short sumps until very close
to Wookey itself.

It cannot possibly be phreatic as the drag effect of water
attempting to shear its way through the long sumps would reduce the water flow
to a near static condition.


Notes On The Financial Statement

The Clubs Financial Statement of account for the year shows
a deficit of £283-72, so I must point out that this is not quite as bad as it

A purchase was made of £247-50 worth of caving boots and
£121-00 worth of B.B. paper.  The boots
are yet to be sold and the paper will keep the BB running for quite some time
to come.

The Navy has a bill for £190-00 which is payable for the
year covered by this statement.

So the year’s deficit of £283-72 would have shown a more
realistic credit of some £274-00.

B. J. Wilton,
Hon. Treas.

Auditors statement:

I have examined the books of account of the club and agree
that the statement shows a reasonable picture of the Club finances for the

Joan Bennett
Hon. Auditor

Financial Statement For The Year Ending 31st July 1978


















Water Rate












General expenses








Less cost



Car Badge Sales













Less cost







Buffet Collection




Deficit for the

































Less fees



B.B. Expenditure




Spares &





Less sales












Less contribution



Dinner Coach:





Less contribution



Public Liability




Battery Charger




Cave Lid




CSCC Subscription




BMC Subscription




CNCC Subscription








accumulated account at



Interest from
building society account






Less deficit for
the year



accumulated fund at



Ian Dear Memorial
Fund at



Plus interest for
the year 1977/78







Less grant




Totals as at




Lloyds Bank Ltd.




Cash in hand




Building Society




Total club monies




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