Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

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,

.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Editorial notes:

Firstly, I must offer my apologies for the late BB.  This has been due solely to the work I have
been carrying out at the cottage.  The
complete upheaval in the sitting room, kitchen and end room has caused havoc,
so much so, that the BB has taken a second place.  My apologies all round.

As usual with August and September BB’s you will find that
this one is cluttered with AGM business, particularly officers reports and
details of the Annual Dinner on OCTOBER 6th at the Caveman is given on the back
page of the BB.  The numbers for the
Dinner are strictly limited to 140 so send off to Sue Tucker as soon as
possible to ensure your place.  Many
thanks to Garth Dell for getting them printed and numbered.

Whilst in the thanking theme we must offer our grateful
thanks to Sett for obtaining a printing machine for us.  Many of you will remember his offer at the
last AGM when he said that he knew of a gestetner machine at his place of
work.  This was obtained for a very
advantageous price together with 13 tubes of ink worth over £30.  The machine is at Wig’s and anyone wishing to
see it can simply call anytime – within reason. Hopefully this will give a vastly improved printout of the stencils and
you will all be able to judge the result with this BB.  Again many thanks Sett.

Please Note!

The article ‘The Italian
Connection’ is the copyright of the author – he must contacted first prior to
any reprint. Ed.



– a regular column from
our Hon. Sec., Tim Large

During July and early August much work was done at the
Belfry.  Greater detail appears in the
Hut Engineers report.  Following the
setting up of a sub-committee to look into possible Belfry improvements,
myself, Nigel Taylor and John Dukes were able to take a close look at the
problems and sought advice of one or two experts.  Originally I had looked at the possibillity
of putting stairs up into the loft and converting it into the bunkroom with the
installation of a dormer window.  This
would free the present bunkroom for other facilities.  On consulting the experts, this would cost
about £1,200 alone.  By the time the
downstairs conversions had been accounted for the sum would be at least £2,000.

Our ideas eventually congealed into one and a revised plan emerged.  That is to confine all alterations to the
present ground floor.  The main
considerations appear to be:-

1.                  Provision of a background heating system to warm
the whole building thus preventing damp and the subsequent deterioration of the
internal fabric of the building.

2.                  Improvement of the showers, changing area and
toilet facilities.

With the rising cost of fuel, wood is now available to us
from various sources at a cheaper cost. The installation of a wood burning stove providing hot water, radiators
and a hob for cooking.  This would
achieve several purlposes at once.  Our
electricity costs would be greatly reduced particularly during the peak winter
period of greater caving activity.  Our
bottled gas costs would be slightly reduced as some of the present gas burners
could be dispensed with in the winter. Present costs of this would be about £800, with members doing the work.

Regarding the improvement of facilities; at present

  1. The
    changing area is too small.
  2. Showers
    take up too much room.  Women’s
    shower rarely used.
  3. Toilets
  4. Women’s
    bunkroom rarely used.
  5. Only
    the women’s room has a wash-basin with hot and cold water.
  6. Showers
    are in the centre of the building.

By re-organising the Belfry, excluding the living room these
points could be rectified.  This would
cost about £300, with members doing the work.

Using a scheme like this we could complete our objectives
for the price that originally only the loft conversion would be achieved.  Thus we could bring our facilities up to more
acceptable standards and thereby continue to attract a steady influx of new
members and guests.

Last month the B.B. published various proposals regarding
the subscriptions.  Incorporated in many
of the options was an allocation for Belfry improvements.  In most cases only £175 would be raised each
year.  This was based on £1 per
head.  This money could be spent as it
came in and the necessary materials to do the work purchased and slowly
accumulated over several years allowing the work to progress in phases.

At the lost committee meeting the sub for 1979/1980 was
fixed at £7.50.  This has to go before
the AGM for ratification.  This figure
includes the £1 towards Belfry improvements. Ideally more money per year would help the work progress quicker.  Obviously other fund raising schemes will be
necessary to obtain additional monies.  I
hope you will all consider these ideas carelfully and bring constructive ideas
to the AGM.

New member:

962  Christine Anne Stewart,

15 Ashurst Road,

Address change:

Phil (the Miner) Ford,

40 Station Road,
Holywe1l, C1wyd.


Letter To The Editor

Dear Dave,

Thirty years is quite along time!  I had quite forgotten about the Dural ladder,
but re-reading the log extract, I felt that a brief note about it would be of
interest in these days of more sophisticated laddry and S.R.T.

Dan Hasell and I were fortunate in working in a certain
aircraft establishlment (No – not B.A.C.!) We had absorbed Casterets ‘Ten Years Under the Earth’ and were rather
fed-up with carrying the (then) standard ropes and wooden runged ladders to
Mendip on pushbikes.

So – aircraft use dural tube, and controls were worked by
wire – each of first class quality.  Add
to these lots of brass ¼” whit nuts; a lot of 2 BA high tensile bolts and
Symonds nuts.  Some flux and solder and
we were in business.

For a jig we screwed bits of metal to a mitre block and off
we went.  I believe we used rungs 9″
long by ¾” dia. at 11″ centres. Holes were drilled off-set, the wire passed through them and a loop
pulled out of the end of the rung – a brass nut was passed over the loop which
was then ‘sized’ to a 2BA bolt.  The wire
was then soldered to the nut, the loop pulled back inside the rung and the 2BA
bolt passed through the off-set hole – one rung complete.

We used this ladder for a very long time and believe it or
not, when it was scrapped I kept it and still have it – I’ve also some of the
original wooden and rope ladders – any good to the club as Museum pieces?

All the best,
Harry Stanbury
25th July 1979

Many thanks for the letter, Harry.  I have not mentioned this to the Committee
yet but I know what their answer will be – yes please.  The UBSS are usually credited with being the
first club in the


using electron ladders but as usual the BEC were in the game first.  I can remember some rope and wooden rung
ladder in the tackle store several years ago – what happened to that I wonder?


Hon. Librarians Report 1979

Loans have continued at a reasonable rate this year,
sufficient a library such as ours.

However, where lending is a practice, losses are bound to
occur from time to time.  But this year
we have not lost minor items but expensive books which would appear to be a
major oversight (?) – Limestone and Caves of NW England Derbyshire (currently
priced at £7 and £11 respectively). Would the members who have these books please return them to the Belfry
or the Librarian.  As a result of these
losses it has been decided to store all our scare and rare books in a separate
cupboard.  These may be borrowed by
members on personal application to the Librarian.  Would members please remember that loans are
for up to 1 month and that they are asked to record their borrowings in the
Library record book provided in the Library.

Having been the Librarian since 1972 I feel that it is time
that it over by a younger member.

D.J. Irwin
August ‘1979

Hon. Secretary’s Report 1979

The Club again has had a successful year, in many respects,
but some areas have given cause for concern. Financially we have been working on a tight budget due to (a) the
reduced subscription of £2 and (b) the fact that inflation has caught up with
the annual subscription.  This will
necessitate an increase in the sub which the committee has fixed at £7.50.  Membership looks like being maintained at
last years numbers, but at present sane members are late in paying.

Subscription paying members number 140; Life members
50.  Although probably a convenient way
to raise money quickly Life membership appears to have been an unwise
decision.  It is now 10 years since the
Belfry burnt down and of our present membership 120 have joined since that date
and maintained their membership.

The Belfry and site has been much maintenance and repair
work in the main carried out by the usual small number who give up caving time
to writ on the HQ.  The Tackle/Workshop
has been completed and the battery charger is now operational.

I think it is important for the club to consider the club’s
HQ; its future facilities with regard to usage, and make provision now for a
programme of improvements over several years. The method of financing this is debatable and will I am sure be
discussed with the topic of subscriptions.

In past years much debate has ensued regarding projects the
club can consider undertaking.  Decisions
have been swayed by old ideas and policies. New thinking is now needed to take the club well into the 1960’s.

The club’s caving activities continue to progress with trips
of all types including much digging. Earlier in the year Tynings Barrow Swallet was re-opened after an 18
month closure.  Again this year members
are involved in two expeditions to


The Committee has had a busy year following last years AGM
and EGM.  The new constitution has been
published and the new deed of appointment drawn up and signed by our new

Committee member’s attendances to date which cover 11 months
read like this:

Dave Irwin – 11

Tim Large – 12

Sue Tucker – 11

Nigel Taylor – 12

Chris Batstone – 8

Martin Grass – 9

John Dukes – 10

Graham Wilton-Jones – 10

Martin Bishop – 3

This includes an extra meeting held with the Cuthbert’s

Bob Cross resigned at the October meeting due to work
commitments.  Martin Bishop was co-opted
being next in the voting order.


Hut Engineer’s Report 1979

It was with extreme trepidation that I undertook the job
this year of Hut Engineer – a job which is open to much criticism and sometimes
valid complaint.  My own fears of being
unable to attend Committee meetings due to carry return to uniform proved
unfounded as duty rota changes and a very understanding Skipper permitted me to
attend every meeting this year.

The onerous job has been made easier this year – not due to
the AGM critics who somehow never are seen working upon the Belfry site, – but
by the same group of stalwart Belfry regulars who time and time again give up
their weekend petrol and cash to work upon a hut which should be the
responsibility of every member of the BEC and not left to those who use the
hut, and therefore excuse themselves from doing any work whatsoever upon it.

Though perhaps invidious to mention individuals I feel
strongly that the continuous support given to me by the following Belfry
regulars is worthy of mention: Tim Large and Fiona, John Dukes, Bob Cross, Neil
Weston (incidental not a member) Stu Lindsay, Chris Batstone, Danny Bradshaw,
Paul and Alisa Hodgeson, and surprisingly Walter (Farmer) Foxwell.

Hopefully as many members as possible will attend the AGM or
manage in the next few weeks to visit their HQ and see for themselves the
combination of many hours work upon the Belfry this year.

During the year the following work has taken place:

1.                  Partial tarmacing of the Belfry drive

2.                  Overhaul, servicing and provision of existing
and new Fire Prevention equipment.

3.                  Drawing up of detailed site plans of HQ.

4.                  Provision of security locks upon Library and
Tackle Store.

5.                  Excavation and construction of septic tank

6.                  Cleaning out and repair of cattle grid.

7.                  Installation of new sink in the women’s room.

8.                  Running and routine repairs and maintenance to
the site and buildings and general interior painting.

9.                  Re-roofing of old stone Belfry.

Three working weekends were held at the Belfry.  One in April, one in June and the final one
in the first weekend of August.  However
lack of publicity failed to bring one of these and the Belfry job list to the
notice of the membership in time.  During
late July – as advertised in the B.B. a working holiday was held at the Belfry
attended by Tim Large and Fiona, Garth Dell, Steve Short, Nigel Taylor, Dave Irwin,
and in the second week John Dukes.  The
third week saw the departure of the first crew and the arrival of Paul and
Alisa Hodgeson.  During the course of the
three weeks the following work upon the hut was carried out:

1.                  The complete conversion of the tackle store in
the old stone Belfry to a workshop and tackle store complete with workbenches,
cupboards, tackle racks, ‘Prewer’ tested battery charger, and the rewiring and
provision of the electricity supply ‘Dukes’ style.

2.                  Construction of stone stile to St. Cuthbert’s
across Walt Foxwell’s track, assisted and directed by his brother Jack Foxwell
(70 years).

3.                  Cleaning and sconing of shower and toilet

4.                  Cleaning and repairs to the kitchen area in the
main room.

5.                  Repositioning of lockers and provision of B.B.
and members Postal rack, Library book shelving ‘Wig’ style.

6.                  Protection and varnishing of Belfry Murals.

7.                  Cleaning out of 30 lbs of decaying matt or from
the guttering and sanding and painting of weatherboards and woodwork.

8.                  Painting of tackle store and exterior of old
stone Belfry and carbide store and waterproofing of roof of same.

9.                  Sanding and painting of exterior of Belfry wood
and metal work.

10.              Overhauling of night storage heaters.

11.              Insulation of hot water tank and piping in the

12.              Tidying of Attic.

13.              Scrubbing of bunkroom and living room walls to
remove fungus caused by damp.

14.              Tidying of Belfry site and removal of rubbish.

15.              One day’s arduous tree felling at Westbury,
Wiltshire to provide half of the Belfry’s winter fuel supply.

16.              Thorough inspection of exterior and interior of
Belfry for faults (see below).

Though much of the work has been done upon the HQ there is
no room for complacency as the fault finding inspection showed up serious
problems upon the fabric of the hut; cracks are plainly visible on the end
window and the door lintels in the men’s bunkroom.  The roof ridge capping tiles have become
dislodged from their positions – those are problems which remain to be tackled
and are giving cause for concern.

Likewise the ever present damp problem within the Belfry is
caused by lack of background heating which must be seriously discussed by the
next committee and AGM – the solution I feel would be to have a wood burning
stove supplying hot water from a solid fuel burner to radiators and taps.  Furthermore I would like to see the changing
and showering area together with the toilets overhauled – preferably with the
wet damp area moved from the centre of the virtually ill heated building to an
outside wall to protect the heat and fabric of the building.  The toilet facilities are a disgrace and I
believe that proper advice should be sought and improvements made with the
utmost urgency.

I feel that the provision of a dormer type window and
stairway and strengthening of the attic would not only improve the HQ but also
considerably enhance it and enable more space downstairs to be allocated to
caving and improved facilities,

Such improvements will obviously cost money and in some
cases, lots of money – but in improving the club HQ by any such financial
outlay, we will recoup the benefit in the value of an improved property –
surely a wise capital investment, and after all better to be in bricks and
mortar than earning a lesser % interest on deposit.

Extra monies to finance the various improvements could be
raised by the setting up now of a Hut Fund as by various fund raising
activities.  Therefore I urge each and
every one of you to think very carefully and come to a decision with a view to
the future of the club, not just now and in five years but for the next twenty
years at least.

I close by thanking all who have worked or given items to
the Belfry this year and if I am unsuccessful in joining next year’s committee
may I wish my successor much luck for the year to come.

Nigel Taylor, Hut
Engineer 1978/79


Caving Secretary’s Report 1979

1979 has been a reasonably active year for the B.E.C. and
all major and minor

have been visited
at least once by members of the club. Cuthbert’s has seen 33 tourist trips to date and digging is taking place
at Sump 2 where Mr. ‘N’ is blasting away the roof with the help of Butch.  Dave Turner has also been digging at Sump 1,
hoping to enter a fossil system and has used various ingenious pieces of piping
to direct the water!

During the year the Wigmore site has been tidied up and the
cave capped but not locked.  The club has
re-opened Tynings and as soon as a stile and fencing has been put up the key
(kept at the Belfry) will be available to bona-fid caving clubs.

There has been a large increase this year in the number of
club trips to other regions particularly
Yorkshire.  Many members have visited the newly found
Link Pot at Easegill and I believe Stu Lindsey has been down it at least half a
dozen times!!  G.G., Mongo Gill, Peak
Cavern are just a few of the sites visited.

The last 2 points worth mentioning are that valid C.C.C.
temporary permits are now available at the Belfry.  The club also has its own Lamb Leer key which
is available at the Belfry.

A meeting between the B.E.C. committee and the St.
Cuthbert’s Leaders was held on Sunday 20th May to discuss insurance and I have
copies of the minutes for those interested.

Martin Grass

Tackle Masters Report, 1979

During the last year, 180ft. of ladder has been rewired and
all except the ultra-lightweight ladder has been dipped in lanolin.  We have purchased enough rungs to produce 15
twenty foot ladders (ultra-lightweight) and 15 twenty foot standard
ladders.  To complete this task of
building new ladders we are waiting for the delivery of taper pins and talurits
from the manufacturers.

At the beginning of the Club year the tackle key was removed
from general access and arrangements were made to enable members to apply to
the Committee for a personal key.  Four
ladders and 2 tethers together with two lifelines were left in the shower room
for general use by members.  This
equipment was rotated to even out the wear. Although members were able to obtain their own key to the tackle store
by first applying to the Committee only two keys were requested.  This system is by no means perfect but it was
felt by me and the Committee that a tightening up of tackle access was
necessary due to the fact that we had lost so much tackle in the previous
years.  We have had returned 5 ladders
but there is still a considerable amount of tackle still missing.

The following list is the accountable tackle as at 3 August

Spreaders 1, 2, 3

Tethers 7, 10, 12, 13, 16.

Ladders: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 33, 44, 45 and 48

Ultra-lightweight ladder: 24, 26,
28, 41, 42 & 43

450ft of super Braidline Nylon

1000ft of digging rope.

I would like to take the opportunity of thanking Graham Wilton-Jones
and Garth Dell for their assistance throughout the year and also the members
who altered the stone Belfry making tackle storage easier.

John Dukes, August 1979


B.B. Editors Report, 1979

This year has been, again, a good year for material. Graham
Wilton-Jones, Stu Lindsey and Martin Grass top the authors list, while Tim
Large, in his capacity as Hon. Sec. tops the Club Notes section.

The material that we have published has been outstanding and
‘speleologically’ important and has included the recently discovered 1829
letter from the Rev. David Williams to John Rutter which upset all previous
knowledge of the opening of the Banwell Caves and also the extracts from the
1756 diaries of Catcott indicating the existence of a cave in the GB field known
as Daccots Hole.  The current series on
the Viaduct Dig is also by a non-member!

On the debit side we have had some badly printed
issues.  This is not due to the machine
but the paper we have had in stock.  As I
have said before, in the July BB the paper was offered to us at a price that we
could not afford to miss even though it was known to be off-set paper.  However, we now have a good stock of
duplicating paper and the improvement in printing should now be obvious to all.

During the year we ran out of covers and a new stock was
kindly supplied by Garth Dell at a very small cost.

A couple of criticisms have been received, one regarding the
printing (Which I accept) and the other complaining of the lack of club news
from a regular Belfryite – obviously he has not read Tim Large’s Lifeline each
month.  Anyway this has resulted in a
column called ‘Club Notes’ which is intended to slot in with ‘Jottings’, both
compiled by your Editor as the critic was not prepared to do the work
himself!  Seriously though, a monthly
journal such as the BB can only survive so long as members are prepared to put
themselves out and write and so I urge anyone who wants to criticise the
CONTENT to think first to see if he has any offering to publish – if not at
least make the attempt to get someone to write a regular column or prepare

The offer of the two printing machines made at the last AGM
has not result in anything definite even though the Committee have reserved
money for the purchases.  However John
Noble has obtained a gestetner machine and has offered it to the club at the
price that he has paid for it.  No
decision has yet been made at the time of writing.

Finally, I would like to thank all contributors and helpers,
particularly Sue Tucker and the Belfryites for collating and posting the BB’s.

August 1979



a note by ‘Wig’

The survey of
and the

was made in 1976 by Marie Clarke
and Chris Richards.  They used a
Prismatic Compass, Clinometer and tape, calibrated thus to BCRA Grade 5.  The passage outline was sketched in from
memory.  So a BCRA Grade 5A is claimed
for this survey.  The original is shortly
to be given to the Mendip Survey Scheme for photocopying.  The surlvey is drawn on detail paper and will
be returned to Chris Richards.

The surveys, plan and elevation are reproduced on the
following pages.




Viaduct Sink – the end of the Phoney War

by Simon Meade-lung

Continuing with Part 2…

With the entrance shaft securely shored, and a passage
negotiated through an unstable rift leading off below, the exertions of the
combined Atlas and
West London teams could be
devoted to digging.  A bedding plane was
uncovered leading to a low crawl, beyond which a construction barred access to
a stal covered passage.

As the approach to the obstruction was so tortuous banging
was dearly the only feasible way of removing it, and so, with the application
of the magic potion, the floor ahead was blown away, and as the fumes cleared
we prepared for breakthrough.  After a
little more clearing, the first man squeezed through into a minute chamber only
just large enough to admit 2 people.  The
only way on was a miserable phreatic tube at floor level into which flowed a
small stream making more of a whisper than the roar optimistically heard by one
member of the team.

After this decided anti-climax we decided by general
agreement to move back into the chamber out of which the bedding plane had led,
and concentrate our efforts there.

There was obviously going to be no quick and easy discovery,
and in the following weeks tons of mud and rubble were winched to the surface
where Richard (Whitcombe) incorporated this material behind neat dry stone
walls, into structures not unlike prehistoric burial mounds – future
archaeologists beware!  The pithead daily
became more like the surrounds of a small mine, littered with the typical
impedimenta of the Mendip dig.  A
ramshackle corrugated shelter sprang up to protect the surface haulage team
from the worst of the weather.

Everything pointed to the way on being somewhere below the
slab in the floor of the small breakdown chamber we had entered in August.  The passage leading down into this chamber
was finally cleared out and by the beginning of October this slab had been
hanged and the floor probed beneath it. At a depth of four feet things begin to look interesting again with the
uncovering of a narrow winding rift leading off under the left wall, partially
sealed by a solid looking gour dam.  At
the month of the rift we dug up an enormous sandstone cobble – not unlike the
exposing of an unexploded mine.

Digging conditions were however growing wetter and wetter –
a stream flowing down into the face being ponded up behind the dam in the exit
rift.  As soon as this barrier was
removed the problem was solved and we made fairly rapid progress along the rift
by plastering the left wall.  Once we
could wriggle a few feet along, it was possible to look down to the right – and
it certainly seemed promising.  A two
foot high slab floored bedding plane dropping at a 45 degree angle to where a
formation obstructed further view.  A
sizeable shale band was in evidence on the right wall as we slowly dug our way
down the bedding plane and once past the formation another lower bedding plane
developed under the right wall.

But not far ahead our hopes were dashed again.  The passage which had appeared to be leading
down into regions unknown ended literally in a blank wall and the bedding plane
to the right, the more we probed it the less inspiring it looked.  It was continuously wet from the ubiquitous
stream and despite banging large chunks off the roof the headroom was minimal.

It was now the New Year of 1977, and after exactly a year’s
solid work digging both Wednesday evenings and. weekends we had got
nowhere.  The site still seemed perfect
for the entry into a sizeable swallet system but the dead ends reached wore
distinctly immature, certainly not the main route taken by the water.  We must have missed this route although this
seemed improbable at first and every foot of passage was carefully examined.  Various leads were followed until after a
titanic crowbarring session Clive (North) and Richard managed to dislodge a
colossal boulder from what had appeared to be a solid wall, opposite to the
mouth of the rift we had earlier followed.

When the air had cleared a floor level bedding plane was
revealed, draughting slightly – it’s height of a few inches increasing to the
right and in front as the floor falling away. On the following day – Sunday – we decided to break through into this
space at a point further to the right and a boulder was banged to enable us to
do so.

To our surprise the initial squeeze let into a sizeable rift
formed at right angles to the main passage. The rift was almost standing height at the point of entry but a large
water eroded slab lay in the middle on end. This must be one of the paths taken by the main stream, effectively
sealed off by collapse and silting.  The
rift was only about ten feet long, and the floor dropped away into a choked
pot.  Digging focussed on this point and
soon stones could be heard to drop through into a space below.  We redoubled our efforts and uncovered a
continuation of the rift to a total depth of seven feet.  At the bottom a hole led off under one wall
down which stones rolled for a short distance. But even after enlarging the access to this chemically, it was still too
narrow to got down.

But meantime our attention was diverted to a point in the
wall of the pot behind which could be heard the sound of a stream seemingly of
a fair size.  Perhaps if we could reach
the active streamway we could follow it into the main system even if the
present streamway was immature, this might enable us to bypass the older choked

However, before we could pursue this lead, the entrance to
the rift behind us began to show signs of instability.  We were forced to devote the next few weeks
to building a massive grouted wall to support the roof with days spent carrying
chippings along the railway track from the quarry and mixing loads of cement to
be to be lowered down the shaft.  We
finally set into position a steel arch to give us total security.

When we eventually got down to digging again it was a small
hole at the end of the rift above the point where we had heard the stream that
we examined first.  It was blocked by a
single boulder and although it didn’t lead towards the stream we could see past
the boulder into a small chamber.  By the
time the boulder had been removed and Richard had inserted himself, the chamber
had of course shrunk considerably.  In
fact to little more than a large ensmallment. But what was more interesting was that a hole lay on the far side half
blocked by a slab barrier.  There was no
indication of any draught but we could hear the sound of falling water from
ahead and it made a pleasant echoing noise as if it were falling in a sizeable
space.  So we set to work with hammer and
chisel to break down the slab and discover that lay beyond.

This was particularly resistant, but after several hours
work, I squeezed through, and we gradually cleared out a sloping bedding plane
behind it until at a body’s length from the squeeze, by looking up through a
slot, in the roof we could see into a largo black space –

to be continued.

Resolution For The Annual General Meeting

Change to the B.E.C. Constitution

The Committee propose the following alterations to the
B.E.C. Constitution:-

“That the 1979 Annual
General Meeting of the B.E.C. approves the following amendments to the Constitution:-

Para• 2, last para, delete
“under any circumstances whatsoever”.

Para 48, 2nd line, delete
“Full details” and replace with “Notice”.

Para 5b, line 5, delete
“.August” and replace “September”.

Para 5h, lines 3 & 4,
delete” or if that is beyond the powers of the committee shall be read out
at the annual general meeting”.


The Italian Connection 1979

Stan Gee’s Italian
articles have become a regular feature and so here is the 1979 contribution….

My friends, and I use the term loosely, were greatly amused
when in February I sustained a broken ankle as a result of attempting to ski on
a pair of antique wooden planks which are laughingly called “Cross Country
Ski’s”.  Of course I was going downhill
at the time and the cross country bit became obvious when I ended up literally
spread eagled ‘across country’.  Anyway
this effectively put a stop to any thoughts of serious caving for a few months
so’ this years Italian trip was basically a walking cum poking about for holes
trip.  Holes in the ground you dirty

Starting from
Verona we
ascended Monte Baldo to the east of
Lake Garda.  This mountain is about 7,000 feet high and
is, in the main composed of Limestone. It has yet to produce a reasonable size cave, though we saw many
interesting sinks and dolines.  The whole
mountain is dry, no springs or anything and the experts say that no cave can
exist, well; they said the same about Monte Corchia 10 years ago, but more of
Monte Corchia later.

With only a few days available we next went on a tourist
trip of the low Lessini Alps just below the high Lessini and Spluge della
Preta.  Here we had an interesting
encounter with Attilio one of the original Spluga explorers and he showed us a
gigantic cave entrance near to Campsylvano probably about 150ft high and
perhaps a 100 yards or so long.  The cave
does not continue, at least it is not possible to continue but strong draughts
blowing from cracks suggest that major excavation would reveal something big.  These cold draughts produce a very interesting
effect by actually forming clouds within the great entrance.  These clouds form to such an extent that
sometimes rain falls whilst outside the sun is shining.

From here we went to the Apuan Alps to search the north face
of the Monte Corchia for some caves that we thought we had seen the previous
year.  These we found after a long hard
thrutch through dense undergrowth which was alive with all sorts of
nasties.  The entrances proved to be 3
dry resurgences all requiring excavation. They are nicely positioned for a connection with the Buca del Cacciatorm
(Abisso Fighera) and if they do connect I would expect them to become active
only in the early spring snow melt.

Monte Corchia as I said before was considered, by the
experts, as an impossible site for large caves and was thus largely
ignored.  Our discovery in 1974 of the
Buca del Arturo and Buca del Mami Dandelanti put paid to this theory and
resulted in a lot of activity taking place near the summit.  At the moment of writing 23 caves have been
discovered, the biggest being Buca del Cacciatorm with 14 Km of passage and a
maximum depth of 850ft.  This year an
Italian group discovered yet another cave close to the summit.  This is called, for obscure reasons
“Abisso Baeder Meinhof” and at present stands at – 450m.  Thus if we consider that the Autro del
Corchia runs beneath this lot as well then to use Arthur Conan Doyle’s
words.  “If we could strike the
ground with some mighty hammers it would resound like a giant drum”
(Terror of the Blue John Gap).  Well he
said something like that.

The road to the Tavolini Quarry which was destroyed by an
avalanche in the winter has been partially repaired and it is again passable to
drive with care, to within 700-800ft from the summit.  Near to the summit and adjacent to the
entrance to the Cacciatorm now stands the “Cappanina Lusa”.  This bivouac built to commemorate the memory
of Antonio Lusa is provided with bunks for 8 people and can accommodate up to
12 people.  It is open all the time and
is an ideal base for the Cacciatorm, it was built with loving care and hard
labour, please take care of it for all our sakes.  If you use it before you leave please clear
the place out and also sign the visitor’s book.

Unfortunately the bivouac is positioned so that it just
shows on the skyline.  From below,
perched on top of the 2,000ft face of Monte orchia it appears as just another
rock but this apparently, is offensive to certain Alpinists from

who claim it is an
affront to the scenery and a danger to the environment.  I find this difficult to understand as

is some 40 miles
away, the villagers of Leurgliani are not complaining and the environment of
this face of the Corchia is already destroyed by massive quarrying operations
currently taking place.  However the

people are pushing
the club Alpino Italiano for the removal of this Bivouac and if they are
successful then a very useful base will be lost to the caving world.  I shall be keeping an eye on the situation
and if required I will ask for letters of support from British clubs, who visit
this area for these are the people who will get most use out of the Bivouac.

A return trip was made to the south side of Pania del la
Croee to the aptly named Vall d’ Inferno and the Borra del Cinallone.  It is difficult to imagine a more
inhospitable place than this with the sun beating down most of the day and
temperature in the 90’s.  However,
something in the region of 150 shafts have been noted in this area mostly at an
altitude of about 5,000ft.  We noticed at
the head of the Vall d’ Inferno a number of entrances and a large area of
explored Karst with several deep shafts in it. As I have not been able to obtain any written accounts about this area,
I presume that although the entrances have been noted no serious exploration
has yet taken place.  There are written
accounts of the descent of the Abesso Renella (-300m) and of the work of the
P.C.C. on the alpine meadow called Face di Valle.

To reach the area from any point a longish walk is involved,
long and uphill all the way.  From
Garfangnana a rough road may be used for part of the way but even from this
side access to the Vall d’ Inferno necessitates an hour long uphill slog.  The area is serviced by a small but very
effective Rifugro of the C.A.I. and there is ample space for camping and a good
water supply near to the Rifugo.  All
supplies for the Rifugro have to be taken up by mule and thus the fare is not
as elaborate as some of the lower Rifucro’s. However though simple it is adequate and has a plentiful supply of home
made cheeses.  The Rifugro is capable of
supplying the needs of small parties but any would be explorers intending to go
in force are strongly advised to make prior arrangements well beforehand.

Recent discoveries on Monte Tanibura are likely to prove
interesting with one cave already at 600m. Tanbura is situated to the north of
Corohia and is approached by the

village of
.  On the lower slopes and in the adjacent
valleys many small but interesting caves are to be found whilst bigger caves
are to be found high up.  Here again the
main problem is one of access and hard walks of 2-3 hours are not uncommon.  The only accommodation is the Rifugo Aronte,
a small bivouac with 12 beds that is quite wrongly situated for any caving

In closing I would like to say that I frequently receive
requests by letter, telephone and verbally for information and assistance.  These requests usually open with “Regarding
your article in Descent” now this confuses me from the start for I have
never written an article for that magazine. I have however, written many article for the B.B. and I presume that
some of these have been ‘snaffled’ by Descent. I’m not objecting to this but it would help if people requiring
information could be a little more specific in their requirements.

Stan Gee

P.S. The area in front of the Pania del la Croce is reputed
to be the home of wild boar.  So watch


Club Notes

compiled by ‘Wig’

In this issue the notes are combined with the odd note that
would appear in ‘Jottings’ which will back on course in the next issue of the
B.B.  The BCRA Conference at UMIST,

mid-September seems to be as popular with BEC members as in past years.  A mini-bus load is disappearing up the M6 on
Friday 14th September to what will no doubt be a rather beery weekend with many
hundreds of cavers from all parts of the country attending.  Glenis and Martin, with no doubt a hand from
the Wilton-Jones are setting up a BEC stand containing caving reports and
surveys for sale and also backboards dislplaying new surveys and photographs
supplied by ‘Wig’ and Barrie Wilton relspectively.  I understand that Martin Bishop, Barrie and
Stu McManus are leaving early Friday morning and hope to make it a great pub
crawl before settling down for the night somewhere in

. The BEC too, are making their contribution this year among the speakers
at the Conference.  Mike Cowlishaw is
talking on Ropes; Nigel Dibben will be lecturing on the Alderley Edge Mines and
Dave Irwin giving a lecture on ‘Isometric Presentation of Cave Surveys’.  On the sidelines will be Graham Wilton-Jones
prepared to give a lecture on the BEC Austrian Expedition that took place in
July-August of this year.  Not bad – 4
speakers from BEG out of 24!

Congratulations to Roger Stenner on being awarded the PhD
for his work on heavy mineral contamination in the Severn Estuary.  During August ‘Sett’ and ‘Sett’ Junior,
Julian spent a week at the Belfry, no doubt Sett was paving the way for Julian
on becoming a member of the BEC in about six years time!  Members who were active in the late ’50’s
will remember Oliver Wells and will have read of his visit to Mendip earlier
this year, well the second generation has seen the light, James, his son has
joined the BEC – a part rebellion against authority no doubt!

Seen recently on Mendip were Roger Haskings and John
Major.  Roger, who was once the Hut
Warden of the Shepton in the middle ’60’s and John, an old BEC member were
passing through on their way back from the US of A.

Alan Thomas gave me this note the other day… “Among
those to be seen in the Hunters on the night of the Buffet coincidently were
Roger Haskett and John Major both of whom now live in
.  John was returning


from the states via Priddy”.


Twll Gwynt Oer

A Significant Find in
South Wales

Having watched the rapid advance of the quarry towards OFD,
some members of SWCC decided to take a closer look at some of the shakeholes in
the dry valley above the quarry.  The
drainage of this region has already been proven by dye testing to feed into the
OFD system.  To his surprise Brian
Jopling found a hollow that gently breathed cold air.  Cold air hole was fairly intensively dug out
over the Easter weekend and later in the week a little Mendip digging fever saw
to the breakthrough into a small, fault-aligned passage carrying a sizeable
stream, whose sound had previously urged the diggers on.

Upstream has not yet been forced to any conclusion – the
size of the stream during the dry conditions prevalent in
at the moment suggests considerable development
upstream.  The results of dye tests (a
week after Easter) will surely suggest a connection with Cwm Dwr.  On the downstream end.  Unfortunately the way on along the fault is
blocked by the debris in the now 50 foot deep pothole that has been revealed by
emptying out the shakehole.  The water
appears to go round this obstruction in a very low bedding plane.  It is believed that the route onwards will be
found by completely emptying the pothole of its glacial fill, and the way will
continue via the fault.  Cwm Dwr Jama is
some 250 feet lower (my guess) so there must be considerable vertical
development downstream, hopefully not in an impenetrable narrow rift.

Whatever happens, it shows that OFD is not finished
yet.  While on the subject, may I be bold
enough to suggest that the new survey will prove OFD to be nearer 30 miles in
length, and not just over 20 miles, as usually quoted.

Access Problems

Visiting the area around Y Gwal and The Hole by the Wall
(Hutton Pot) just above Ystradfellte, recently I found that the top of the
latter had been almost blocked with very large boulders of grit.  I spoke with the farmer about this and he
confirmed that it was his doing, in order to prevent calves becoming stuck in
the hole.  He was unwilling to have it
re-opened and a fence erected around the site, as cavers rarely returned every
so often to maintain and repair such fences. He pointed to the gaping hole of Y Gwal, which had been fenced around by

(pseudonym for a more well
known Speleo. Soc.?).  The fence was
rusted and decrepit.  The farmer had
erected a new fence around the old one, and reckoned he would have to replace
this every couple of years.  What is the

Yorkshire at Easter we
wanted to look at the Red Moss system. The owner at the farm noted in


told us that he did not wish to be asked for permission (he had told CNCC
this).  He understood that if he granted
permission he could be more liable in the event of accident.  However, what we did on his land was our
affair, he implied, so long as he knew nothing about it.


Star Mines, Shipham

These mines have been known by
cavers for several years but no actual account of them has appeared before in
the caving press as far as the Editor is aware and so Neil Watson’s
contribution must be regarded as a key article…

Two shafts on an area of gruffy ground opposite the Star Inn
on the A38.  One close to a small wood of
holly and blackthorn, the second out in a field reclaimed from mine waste.

The first shaft was found last year along with others
located along a sunken track leading to Shipham village.  The second is marked by a large block though
there is enough room alongside to sling a ladder.


5ft of ginging (safe) to a small slope blocked at 20ft by a
mass of tin baths, bones and brushwood. Two levels head off at this point SE and NW.  SE slits into two branches, one leading into
a small chamber.  The second is very
tight and low, passes a second chamber to finish in a boulder filled shaft –
opportunities for clearing good but awkward.

NW is shorter – 25ft. and terminates in a choke from
surface.  The shaft itself continues a
further 5ft. below this to a choke.


Ginged at top 3′ – 4′ probably unstable and hanging.  Initial 20ft is vertical with a level leading
E.  The shaft continues a further 30ft on
to a large boulder choke. An off cut from the foot of the shaft leads into a
westerly trending level -roomy and ascends 20ft into a small chamber and a
short step leads into a tighter section of level terminating in a choke.  A second level leads back to rejoin the shaft
behind a wall of deads.  At the bottom of
the 20ft section (vertical) of shaft the E trending level carries on over stacked
deads and branches.  Left leads by way of
another tube into a small chamber. Right, after a duck under a low roof carries on E and rises to a chocked


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