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.

The Editor, The Belfry Collators, Sue, ‘The Post’ wish all
our readers A Very Merry Christmas and A Prosperous New Year…

Swildon’s 13 in 1980?

Cuthbert’s 3 in 1980

Tyning’s Extended in

Cuthbert’s Survey in

OUT.  Happy New Year!


Don’t forget your subs. They are now due……

Full Members:   £8.00
Joint Members   £12.00
Junior Members £6.00

Pay up and look big!                   Merry
Christmas, after you’ve paid your subs


The BEC Get Everywhere –

From the Belfry ‘horror’ (worse
than Zot ever was!) Trev Hughes gives us an account of his recent visit to the
world famous Rock of Gibraltar.  I’m led
to understand that it is still standing……

By Trev Hughes

A three week working visit to the Rock of Gibraltar by HMS
Bulwark over the period 22 Sept to 12 Oct provided plenty of spare time to plan
and carry out a reasonable amount of dives, caving trips and walks/cycle rides
about the upper Rock.

As most people won’t have been to Gib I’ll start off with a
few historical and geographical details to help set the scene.  The earliest known inhabitants were
Neanderthal Man and various stone age animals known, by their remains found in
various caves, to have lived on the Rock up to 40,000 years ago.  The Romans called the Rock “Calpe”
as one of the
Pillars of Hercules, believing
it to mark the edge of the world.  The
next owners of the Rock were the Moors under Tark-ibn-Zeyad after whom the Rock
was named: Gibel-Tarik (Tarik’s Mountain). They held the Rock until 1462 when it was surrendered to the
Spanish.  The British, under Admiral
Rooke, captured the Rock in 1704. Gibraltar was ceded to
in 1713 following the treaty of


and became a Crown Colony in 1830.  The
work to turn it into a modern naval base began 1893, most of the subterranean
fortress was dug during World War Two. Today about 31,000 people live on the Rock.

The Rock is basically a limestone peninsula lying N-S about
55km long by 1½km wide, the highest point being 424m above sea level.  The shape of the Rock, a sharp ridge, was
determined by the near vertical dip and a major fault which caused the east of
Gibraltar to slip into the sea, hence the steep eastern
cliffs and water catchment.  The top
outline was affected by frost shattering in the Ice Age which lowered the
height of the Rock by several hundred feet. On the western side the land drops-down, in a series of levels, to the
reclaimed land just above sea level.  On
the rugged Upper Rock there are many wild flowers including the Gibraltar
Candyfuff – a unique in
Europe.  Lower, in pockets of ochreous soils grow
pines, Eucalyptus, Hibiscus, Oleanders and other Mediterranean plants.

I’ll go through each type of activity separately and what
better to start with than caving.  Being
a big ship Bulwark has its share of cavers and apart from myself onboard there
are Geoff Ford (BEC and Ex HMS Daedalus) Len Tyler (ex HMS Daedalus) and Chris
Waterworth (Manadon Caving Club) all known to Belfyites.  Of course there are the forty or so people
prepared to “give it a go” for whom trips to lower St. Michael’s cave
(more correctly called New St. Michaels) were arranged.  By far the best cave visited was the lower
series of Old St. Michael’s Cave (the lower lower series).  Geoff, Len, Chris and myself with a local
caver called Tits spent a most energetic 2½ hours in this cave.  It is not very extensive but has a vertical
range of 240ft and is comparable to a Fairy Cave Quarry cave turned on its end.  It is a superbly decorated system whose
chambers are joined by a collection of fine sporting squeezes and boulder
ruckles, it also contains the finest tasting water on the Rock.  I must mention it is not a cave for the Chris
Batstones of this world.  Apart from the
St. Michael’s caves other caves visited included Martin’s Cave which is full of
huge bats and, as Tony Jarratt will know, there is a fine engraving available
to those who search – I bought a print in a local junk shop for a most
reasonable sum.

Another interesting cave visited by Chris and myself was Fig
Tree Cave No.2 (we couldn’t find No.1) marked No.3 on map.  This cave has very good dig potential, a low
sand and pebble choked crawl heads into the Rock.

Many smaller caves were visited while out walking and to
this aim I recommend the Mediterranean steps which descend the steep Eastern
Cliffs – rather like the path up to Crib Coch but with the additional hazard of
huge cactus bushes at every corner.

There are many other caves worth a visit especially, so I
hear Georges Bottom, not found this time but I have marked the location on the
map (No.4).  It is said to be tight and

The best person to get in touch with reference to caving is
a local shopkeeper and part-time soldier: Ernest (Tits) Serra

SPQR Tobacconists

146 Main Street

Gibraltar            Tel.4395
(shop hours).

Its is a very helpful contact and will arrange trips for any
visiting caver, most easily at weekends.

With so many cave sites on the Rock (about 170) a fair
selection can: be found on the Upper Rock especially if the show cave bar is
visited first where there is an excellent cave location map (1:5280).

Key to Cave Sites on Map

1.                  St. Michael’s Caves

2.                  Martin’s Cave



4.                  George’s Bottom



6.                  Gorham’s Cave







For the sub aqua enthusiast there is plenty of scope around
the rock.  In general the underwater
visibility is good (10-14m) and the water fairly warm, about 19OC at 10m. Even
in the winter months the water never drops below 15°C.

The tidal range is about 1m and as a result, of this a
moderate current sweeps round Gibraltar Bay just after the turn of the tide,
the strongest currents are off Europa Point and at these times this area must
be avoided.

The best diving is to be had off the Western side of the
Rock and I’ll go through the better sites visited.

At the Northern end of the detached mole are two wrecks
(site A) – the “inner” and “outer”.  The inner wreck may be located by swimming
out about 25m from a green water tank on the mole.  The outer wreck is linked to the inner by a
rope tied to both, it bears 290° magnetic from the inner wreck.  The depth of water is about 20m, vis. good,
and the current negligible except at turn of tide springs.  Both wrecks are well shattered and much dived
on.  A first world war

machine gun has been recovered from
this area.

Further down the remains of a gate across the mole gives the
location of the SS Excellent (site B) about 25m out from the mole in 20m of
water.  She is upside down the sandy
bottom.  Both sites are good for octopus
but beware of large conger eels.

By far the best wreck to be dived on is the SS Rosalyn on
the Southern side of S mole (site C). She is very easily found by swimming out about 20m from the mole leaving
it at the northern end of the central casemate. The wreck is largely intact, sits upright on the bottom in 21m of
water.  I don’t know her exact history
but Rosalyn dates from about World War 1 and was sunk in World War 2.  Her stem and stern are complete but her
centre castle has been demolished in recent years.  The wreck may be entered but extreme caution
is required.  The engine room and holds
are open but “finds’ will be limited as she is dived on regularly,

Moving off wrecks and onto the delights of nature.  The Seven Sisters rock pillars in 10 – 22m of
water are well worth a visit (site D). Many varieties of fish are to be found and all are so used to seeing
divers that you will be treated with total disinterest.  The occasional octopus, some of a fair size,
are to be had in deeper water.  They live
in such things as old car tyres and the like. The occasional stone gin bottle may be found in deeper water (25 m +).

Further south at

(site E) are two
sunken barges in 10m of water.   This
site is where the old Men-o-war used to anchor for victualling purposes.  In 15m of water many stone gin bottles and
for the lucky, glass


can be found.  Of our four dives in this
area with about 25 man/dives we collected seven

and ‘enough’ stone bottles.  This area is also good for fair sized octopus
but in deeper water the current is N-S and fairly strong.


Scale 1:20,000


Further south Little Bay (site F) is an interesting dive
site, shelving steeply to 23m, it is well worth a visit to study the marine
life.  The current (N-S) is fairly strong
here at times.

Further south there is a good reef dive to be had in 13m of
water off Europa Point (site G).  A guide
is needed here for location and for checking the current which runs up to 1½
knots here.  I have not dived on this

The Joint Services Sub Aqua club of
containing a mix of service and civilian divers are the mainstay of resident
diving on the Rock.  They are a very
active and social bunch and meet on Monday evenings at their superbly equipped
(also has a bar) hut on

.  They may be contacted on Dockyard Phone
No.4460 any day except Monday and Tuesday. They have charging facilities and plenty of gear and make visiting
divers most welcome.

Points to note are that boat cover is needed at most sites
for accessibility and safety, diving is not permitted in Rosia Bay and for
diving off the moles the AQHM should be notified on Dockyard 5901.  The best way of diving in the area is with
JSSAC and ask for their assistance for boats etc.

I hope all this has been some help to anybody thinking of
visiting Gib.  As a postscript I must add
that there are over 200 pubs and bars on the ROCK “Everything to Excess”.


The Odd Note

Alderley Edge Mines by Chris J. Carlon.  Paperback book on these interesting mines
144pp, photographs, surveys and diagrams. Useful bibliography included. Published by John Sherratt and Son Ltd., Altringham.  Price £2.85.

It has been fairly well documented that Jerry Murland has dived
to a depth of 160ft in the Magpie Mine Shaft, Derbyshire thus beating the 150ft
depth record in the U. K. by Martyn Farr in Wookey 25.  With only 10ft in it one wonders how accurate
the depth gauges are.

Cerberus break through in Maesbury Swallet.  First dug by BEG about 1969.  The CSS have re-opened the site and have
discovered about 150m of passage.  This
club is also at work attempting to connect
Cave with the now blocked

. Though they have not found Fernhill itself they appear to have found new
cave over the position of Fernhill.

More new books of interest to members: Bath Stone – A Quarry
History by J. Perkins, A. Brooks and A.McR Pearce.  Kingsmead Press 1979.  Price £1.25. The Situation Level and Future of caving in

– A Strategy for caving by
Frank Baguley, 28pp.  Price 25p + 13½p
postage, available form the author.

From the latest British Caver –

‘Any caver who wants a rope for a
climb I do without it is chicken.
Any caver who climbs a pitch that turns me back is reckless’

New Members

967 Mike Breakspeare, 7 Red Pit,
Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wilts.
968 James Tasker,

281 Canford Lane


Gary Chubb, Wheels,

Southwater St.
, Southwater, Nr. Horsham,
691 Dudley Herbert,

20 Rundwick
, Brislington,

964 Lawrie O’Neil (nee Hiscocks), joint with Kevin O’Neil,

99 Forest Rd.
, Melksham, Wilts.
969 Duncan Innes, 18 Davids Close, Alveston,

966 Pete Johnson, R & IT Section, HMS Daedalus, Lee on

Address changes:

Martin Grass and Glyn,

13 Granville Rd.
Luton, Beds. (Tel. Luton 35145)
Jim Smart, 73 Queen’s Rd.,


FRIDAY NIGHT TRIPS might fill the bill….

For those that want to get in
that extra trip over the weekend then the

The programme for 1980 is given below…..only make a mental
note where to find this programme as space in the B.B. may not be there to
reproduce all tips in detail.

Jan 4th – Manor                          Jan
18th Cuckoo Cleeves

Feb 1st – Lamb Leer                               Feb
15th Tyning’s                                   29th
– Swildon’s (Black H)

Mar 14th –
Cave Quarry                  Mar
S. Wales

Apr 11th – Reservoir                               April

25th St.


May 9th – Stone Mines              May
23rd GB (Great Chamber)

June 6th – Longwood                              June
20th Barbeque – Candles in Burrington

July 4th Singing River                             July
18th Cow Hole

Aug 1st – Tyning’s                                  Aug
15th Swildon’s Round. Trip   29th Pinetree

Sept 12th – S. Wales                              Sept

Thrupe Lane

Oct. 10th – Eastwater                             Oct

24th St.


Nov 7th – Rods and Read’s                      Nov
21st GB                                          and

Dec 5th – Longwood.

Meet at the cave at 7.30 p.m. or contact Brian Prewer, tel.
Wells 73757


Letters To The Editor

Dear Dave,

I agree with Tim Large’s comments in the October B.B. about
Life Members.

It was because I considered the B.E.C. offered the finest
value for money on Mendip that I became a Life Member.  The Life Membership fee seemed realistic at
the time, but there is no doubt that soaring inflation has made it look
silly.  I look forward to reading my copy
of the Belfry Bulletin but have no wish to be subsidised by today’s
youngsters.  Why not work out the
estimated cost per member per year and, at the same time as you ask for annual
subs, you could ask for a magazine levy from long-time Life Members.  I for one would be quite content to pay up,
and I reckon most of my contempories would too.

Yours sincerely,
Len Dawes
Matlock Derbyshire. 2
8th November 1979.

P.S. Please thank whoever it was who posted the sweatshirts
to me.  They’re great – worth the 12
month wait!

Thanks Len for your letter.  Roy Bennett and myself have been preparing a
letter to be sent to all Life Members suggesting the same idea and this should
be in the post by the time this B. B. is published.


From Cross Bob.

Dear Dave,

By popular request, I have contacted our friend Mr.
Sanderson at Chapel Stile in the Lake District with a view to renting his
superior dwelling for our annual Lakeland Epic in February next year.  If for some reason he cannot accommodate us,
I propose to try Yorkshire Mountaineering Club at Copper Mine Cottages at
Coniston, or possible Fell and Rock at Solving House, Borrowdale – unless
anyone has other suggestions.

The dates, by the way are February 14th – 18th inclusive,
and the activities will no doubt take the same form as on previous winter meets
so sharpen up your winter ice axes and crampons, and shake the mothballs out of
your Duvets!

Let’s try to arrive at some numbers etc., as soon us
possible so we will not be disappointed.

Bob Cross, Mountaineering Sec.


Some Smaller
Yorkshire Pots

From Derek Sanderson comes
another of his interesting articles on the smaller caves and potholes of the
Yorkshire Dales.

Often, the smaller caves and potholes can give as much fun
as the more frequently visited deeper systems. They can also give much needed practice in use of ladders.  Here are three such caves.


768 Length 780′ Depth 200′ Grade III

I first visited this cave two years ago.  We (Keith Sanderson and myself) parked the
car just north of the Hill Inn and followed the footpath towards
Ingleborough.  The entrance was soon
reached at a loop in a drystone wall where stream rises from High Douk Holes and
drops down a gulley into the cove mouth. The climb down can be slippery.

The cave is a simple one, being linear, yet there is
considerable variety to be found.  The
passage varies from narrow meanders to crawling over black cobbles in the
streambed.  There are some remarkable
‘cauliflower’ deposits on the walls and whole streamway is clean.

After about 700′, we arrived at the head of the first pitch
of 90′ where we found a choice between two bolts and a metal bar for belay
points.  We chose one of the bolts for
the abseil rope as it gave an almost free hang. The descent of the magnificent shaft was invigorating and wet.  The first 15′ is not quite vertical, but
below the descent is one of the best I have encountered.

The landing is a flat circular platform from where the
stream drops into some narrow cascades. Beyond the cascades is the second pitch
of 45′.  We belayed to a bolt on the
right.  The takeoff point is an exposed
little ledge.  The stream drops away to
the left giving a fairly dry descent.

The chamber into which the pitch loads is a strange
place.  It is formed in cross-rift with
the stream falling directly into the sump pool at one end.  The sump itself is a flooded shaft of
considerable depth.  The presence of the
sump is unexpected because beyond it the stream drops over 150′ in less than
half a mile before it reappears in Hurtle Pot on its way to God’s Bridge.

The climb back up the big pitch is wet but the ladder hangs
perfectly against the smooth grey rock for a fairly easy ascent.

The cave is one of the best of the smaller ones we’ve done,
though I have visited it when the pitches were impassable due to flooding.  The trip takes about 2 hours – which gives
you ample time to get to the Hill Inn before closing time!


753 Length 1000′ Depth 226′ Grade III

Situated about half a mile north of Sell Gill Holes, a few
yards off the

Pennine Way
.  We first visited this cave with Roger Wing in
the hot summer of 1976.

The entrance is an impressive 75′ shaft with an elliptical
top about 15′ by 10′.  A stream normally
flows into the hole but on this occasion it was dry.  Establishing a belay point can be a bit
difficult, and we experimented with some timber posts across the corner of the
pot before we finally settled for an outcrop of rock 10′ away in the dried-up
river bed.  Roger is a bit sensitive
about belay points, but eventually he accepted it.  We also had to protect the rope from abrasion
on the lip of the pot.

Eventually, we all abseiled to the boulder floor below.  The shaft bells out slightly and the wall are
smooth with occasional beds of coarse black limestone.  The view up to daylight is particularly
pleasing and the climb back looks inviting.

From the base of the shaft the rest of the cave is governed
by rift development.  Easy walking leads
to a traverse on ledges over a deepening rift. The traverse develops into a passage about 3′ square formed by the
washing out of a decaying shale band – that white pasty stuff.  We dropped a 25′ ladder down the rift just
before this passage was reached.  Below,
the rift continues to drop over a number of climbs, one of which, according to
Northern Caves Vol.2, needs a 30′ rope, though we didn’t use one.

By now the rift is quite narrow with rough brown walls.  Beyond the rope pitch is a false floor of
wedged boulders with numerous holes down. Ahead, the rift is choked and a tight 40′ descent is necessary.  The first 25′ we did on a ladder and then
traversed onto a wedged boulder from where the last 15′ was
free-climbable.  The floor of the rift
then becomes a painful crawl over pebbles until the way on is too tight.  A disappointing finish.

JINGLING POT – Map Ref. 699 784 Length 200′ Depth
220′ Grade III

If you need experience of long pitches, then this is where
to start practicing.  It consists of a
magnificent daylight shaft which gives a free-hanging pitch of 140′.  Once down, there’s not much else to do except
climb up again!

Roger and I first plucked up enough courage to do the pot
about a year ago.  It is situated just
off the

Turbary Road
a short distance from Rowten Pot.  When
we got to the entrance, I think we could easily have been persuaded to go
somewhere else standing by the tree on the S.E. side and looking down the shaft
we felt very exposed and vulnerable. However, we soon made the decision to go ahead with it, and with
slightly wobbly knees we rigged the pot using the main stem of the tree as the
belay point, the abseil rope being belayed about a foot above the ladder.  We had the rope protector with us, but this
was not needed as the lie of the rope was completely free.

The abseil was a good one, but I was a bit too anxious to
enjoy it very much!  For much of the 140′
descent, the dark walls are out of reach. About 50′ from the bottom, one of the walls leans towards the rope to
form a sloping ledge which is not quite suitable as a resting place, and the
last part of the pitch is a bit awkward due to swinging.  The rope creaked horribly, as is the habit of
Marlow ropes when dry.

The base of the shaft is a narrow rift.  We dropped down the lower end to the deeper
part of the rift and grovelled about in the blind pots at the bottom, but we
were too preoccupied with the thought of climbing up the ladder to spend too
long exploring.  The climb, however,
turned out to be very enjoyable and not particularly difficult.

Roger climbed first. Silhouetted against the daylight, he would have made a good subject for
a photograph.  When it was my turn to
climb, I found the first few feet awkward, but once I’d got started I found the
free-hanging ladder fairly easy to deal with, though I grabbed onto the rungs
for a rest a few times towards the top. One such resting point was about 80′ up, where I could still just see
the foot of the ladder, and where the walls were at least 20′ away – a position
of exposure which I found very satisfying. The climb itself took us little more than ten minutes each.

Jingling Pot is only a small cave, yet it gives a good
introduction to long pitches, and the trip is a memorable experience.


The last date for payment of subs is 31st December
1979.  If you HAVE NOT PAID, PLEASE send
yours to Sue Tucker, 75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock,
Avon.  Those not paying by the above date will not
receive their January B. B. and. will have to re-apply for membership.

Members £8.00; Joint Members £12.00 and Junior Members £6.00



To catch up with the news over the last few months we
present an extended version of

Compiled by ‘Wig’

B.C.R.A. Winter Meet, Wells on December 8th 1979.

About 100 cavers attended this mini-conference organised by
Jim Hanwell for BCRA.  The programme was
wide ranging and including last minute change of the programme with Bob Cork
outlining recent events in Wookey.  Fred
Davies gave his account of the marathon dig in Swildon’s Cowsh Aven that was
eventually opened up to within 20ft of the surface.  ‘Prew’ demonstrating his radio location gear;
Chris Hawkes summarising the work at Westbury Quarry and Willie Stanton
propounding a theory of the increase in ground water flow on
.  In an adjacent room
an exhibition of old caving prints and postcards gave a new insight to armchair
caving.  It looks as if a selection of
those caving prints will be on display at the 1980 BCRA Conference to be held

next September.

BOOK OF 1980?  THE
by Martyn Farr.

Martyn Farr’s first attempt at being an author will make its
appearance early in 1980 in a 224 page book entitled ‘The Darkness Beckons’ –
The History and Development of Cave Diving’. The Forward is by Mike Boon.  In
addition to the 50,000 word text there are 60 black and white and 16 colour
illustrations plus 20 maps and illustrations. Price £8.95.


‘Rocksport’, the cavers shop in Wells, has entered the book
market and books are changing hands at quite high prices.  This is not because of their individual
pricing, but due to price changes in the book market generally.  Recent prices from various sources will give
an idea of what the market rate is at the moment.

Wookey Hole, Its Cave and Cave Dwellers.  Balch, 1914

£40 – £45


.  Balch (Somerset Folk Series, 1927).


Caves of

. Coleman, 1965


Mendip, Its

and Rock Shelters.  Balch 1937 1st


Mendip, Its

and Rock Shelters.  Balch 1937 2nd


Delineations of
, Rutter, 1829

£40 -£50

Heart of Mendip, Knight.  1st Edition.


Seaboard of Mendip, Knight.


Cave Hunting, Boyd-Dawkins.


Cave Hunting, Boyd-Dawkins (reprint)

£2 – £3

Caving. Baker


Netherworld of Mendip.  Baker and Balch


The Mysterious World of Caves, Bauer, 1971


Subterranean Climbers, Chevalier, Dub.  Faber & Baker


, Balch (bound copies of the three books)

£10 -£12

Mines of Mendip, Gough (1st Edition)


Casteret – various books and reprints

£5 – £8

Les Abimes, Martel


Perhaps you should have a look at your old caving books and
insure them


Yorkshire ‘79

From the pens of Martin Gross and
Stu Lindsey comes a summary of their activities in
since la Easter….

After many beers and a puncture, four B.E.C. members arrived
at Brackenbottom during the early hours of Good Friday.  As Graham Price was sleeping like a babe,
Graham W-J decided to abuse Liz, ‘to help me sleep’ as he stated in the
morning.  Still, back to caving.  On Saturday Graham, Jim Watson and myself

, Old Ing and Dismal
Hill.  The intention had been to visit
Red Moss Pot but when we arrived at the farm to obtain permission we were
turned away by the fanner because he said that if he gave us per mission to
cross his land he was legally responsible and we could sue him.  It looks as if insurance problems have reached
the north as well as Mendip.

Although Birkwith was short, but interesting and the water
bitterly cold.  By the time we came out
poor Graham was near to exposure!  Dismal
Hill starts with a series of interesting free climbs and a very tight bedding
plane which Jim could not pass, ending in a large but short section of
streamway.  We had the impression that
the bedding plane flooded quickly and quite often.  Old Ing was stomping size in the streamway
with an interesting inlet (Rough Hill Inlet) containing an interesting duck –
quite pleasant.

That night we were joined in the


by Stu Lindsey and Sue Jago inviting us down Link Pot the next day.  A very fine trip was had and a detailed
report on the cave is given below.  Sue
didn’t go down but went into Calf Holes and Browgill, her first caving trip in
11 years (and I didn’t think she was old enough!)

Having separated Graham and Liz, given him a cold shower, a
peaceful night was had by all!  Graham,
refreshed, descended the Buttertubs to the great delight of the tourists who
snapped away with their cameras at him in his bright orange suit.  When all the excitement was over, we went

.  The entrance to the cave was completely blocked
by snow and some time was spent making it large enough to emit Stu.  We found this site to be rarely visited and
very dismal, everything being covered with a thick glutinous mud showing signs
of complete flooding.  One very
interesting part of the cave is Shower Chamber with fossils the size of side
plates projecting from the walls and roof.

Monday saw us all off to Mongo Gill making a trip from
Shockle Shaft to North Shaft.  This is a
reasonably sporting trip taking about 1½ hours if the route is not known.  The cave has some good stal, but considerable
quantities it was removed by the 19th century miners.  The route is not complicated but old mine
workings tend to be confusing.

Link Pot – to find Serendipity (the Big Pitch) ….

The day began with the YES contingent set to clear a blocked
cess pit!  So a slightly depleted group
assembled at Bull Pot Farm, where the mud of two weeks hence had improved to
become unpleasantly cold but firm.  Soon
the intrepid quartet marched off across the moor, the old pores oozing sweat
under the blistering midday sun but eventually this tract, from

to Link will
become easier as a thousand feet blaze a new trail.

Again navigation was spot on and it wasn’t long before we
set about tackling the entrance (which looked bigger! – 9 – 10”).  The beck was dry, and according to rumour
even when in full spate, Link Pot remains free of water.  Soon, with Martin G and Steve Throstle, muted
shrieks of delight was echoing form the depths. Stu L did a quick ‘free fall’ before landing again on the most trodden
part of the cave.  Graham W-J brought up
the rear as we headed down passage toward the boulder slope where we met NPC
bods photographing in the chamber that leads to


The two chaps from NPC hinted that they would take us into
China Dog Chamber and maybe beyond. Using the ½ tube route we gained the ‘T’ Junction and Rybers Bypass
(this is only 30 feet from the entrance!). The way on is via Night Shift Chamber, through a black hole in the
floor.  This awkward but short bouldery
crawl leads, after a bit of stooping, to the aptly named ‘China Dog’.  This is at floor level, so beware, do not
step on it – it bites!  It was here that
NPC Bod No.1 requested a ladder; No.2 Bod hung it exclaiming that it was too
short, used another and descended. Meanwhile Graham and Throstle, much to consternation of Bod No.1, had
traversed out along the very dangerous traverse route and back again while
looking for ‘this very dangerous traverse’! Back at the pitch Martin followed Stu L down the ladder and through the
meandering traverse trench to the Chamber where the rest of the party were in
the throes of ‘piccy’ taking – Graham and Throstle being the willing
models.  The ‘hard traverse’ route is the
best to follow bringing you out level with the fixed chain and the main way
on.  If a ladder is necessary, a 20ft
belayed to a dubious stall boss is sufficient as the pitch is not exposed.

At the bottom or the chain we were in a decidedly muddier
section and with the departing words of ‘turn right, up a passage’ echoing in
our ears we endeavoured to pick the right ‘Right’ from the three or four
available.  The chosen passage, the most
obvious, led into a superbly decorated mud floored passage, the ends of which
appeared choked.  Entry into this
panoramic vista was delayed as Stu modified the position of a jammed
boulder.  After a brief exploration we
disappeared down a 2ft diameter ‘phreatic drain hole’ which became bigger and
bigger, and bigger, till we suddenly turned a corner and found a pile of
maypoles – we had spent over ½ an hour going round in a circle, but it was
worth it.

Venturing on up the passage, we left all the gear at a
three-way junction.  Stu and Martin’s
route led to a boulder choke and Stu was saved from a flat-out crawl in a wet,
gravely 10ft wide bedding plane, by Throstle’s shouts.  Investigation found Graham and Throstle at
another three-way junction, this one marked with a cairn.  Splitting up again, Martin and Stu’s
exploration of yet another bedding plane was curtailed by the muffled shouts of
the others.  Pursuit was in a low (8” –
15″ high) bedding, superbly decorated with stal pillars and miniature
straws.  After what seemed like 1,000ft
(more probably only 100ft) a ‘T’ Junction was reached.  The way to the left in a more spacious
passage where eventually the roof began to rise and the passage became really
big with the floor dropping down 25ft into a cross-rift.  Opposite, the passage carries a large stream
which cascades down the rift and disappears off to the right.  Martin was first down and soon back again
with the news that 20ft down the passage was the Big Pitch (65ft?).  We had only brought one ladder this far (the
remainder was at 3 way junction) so we might go as far as the head of the pitch
only.  A quick view of the pitch gave us
the basic tackling requirements.  To
belay the ladder a small natural bridge can be used.  The take-off is very exposed but the pitch is
dry.  A lifeline is necessary – 80ft,
doubled, for the return.  Time was
running out and so a quick exit was made without fuss or mishap and we surfaced
in 50 minutes after an interesting five hour trip.

Later in the year, Stu L journeyed north again, it being the
epitome of his achievements in the Dales. Snugled down on the back seat of the car between two of my mates and
buried under a massive framed rucksack, was a reel of ‘Bluewater 3’.  Nearly 500ft of prime nylon, untested, and my
passport to the spectacular confrontation with the beauty of the main chamber
of Gaping Ghyll.

Next day we despondently left the Y.S.S. cottage at

accompanied by a fine
drizzle.  Would we be denied the Main
Shaft?  Could the weather thwart an
ambition I had nurtured for nearly two years since that fatal day when all my
ideals had been smashed and I did my first SRT descent?  By the time we had reached the wild expanse
of the Clapham ‘Free’ car park, the drizzle had lost its fizzle, but the sky
was still heavily laden with black storm clouds.

Q.  Oi! What are you doing here?

A   Oi! What are you doing here?.

Q . Oi!  Oi! What are you doing here? – I thought you were doing Otter with Graham
W-J et al.

A.  No! That’s next week wasn’t it?

Well, if his wasn’t is, or his is, wasn’t, Bit Jim
perpetrator of Eric Watson has dipped out of that one!

So began the sheer hell of trudging up the nature trail in
sweaty wetsuits with sensitive shin being chaffed from sensitive parts, aching
backs arched arc under bulging; rucksacks swollen with tackle, on we pound, on
and on and on, leaving the hardcore roadway to crawl laboriously up Trow Gill
to the slippery mud walkways that deposit us at the entrance to Bar Pot.  Making our way over to GG with the plateau
hidden under a thick blanket of cloud and the air full of fine drizzle, it was
trying so hared to rain – an hour, one hour is all we needed, no rain for an
hour!  We closed in on the fenced in
shaft, our haste leading us occasionally to peat bog mantraps.  The fence was reached and the view
marvellous… the beck was quiet – it was a dribble, a big dribble flowing meekly
into the abyss — it looked really good.

Walking upstream we inspected a couiple of sinks taking
water and were able to relieve their burden by clearing natural blockages in
the stream bed, thus allowing a quicker flow. My heart began to beat faster, all systems go!  The ‘pit of the stomach’ feeling increased;
it could rain now, I didn’t care.  The
rope, belayed to a rather rusty looking angle iron bolt some three feet out
over the drop, had been carefully fed down through the swishing waterfall after
checking the back-up belays – a bolt on the left and a large boulder
outside.  It was friendly in Jib Tunnel,
its water hissing off into the spray filled void.  My anxieties eased, the first man was down; a
few seconds to get off….pulling hard….oops, too early, an aggressive tug from
below warns me he is not off yet.  I
wait.  I held the rope – it jerks, it’s
free.  Am on my way.

Checking, double checking my knots, my gear, my screw
gates.  It’s difficult to feed the rack,
rope heavy, hands cold…..the last bar is on. I begin inching out, out towards that frail looking belay, forcing my
rack higher up the rope and squirming towards the pitch head, searching
forlornly for footholds on the slippery rock. My time had really come.  I was
hanging on my rack, poised above an abyss of roaring spray.  The rope, a thin blue line disappeared into
the quagmire of emptiness – there was no return, for me at least as I had never
changed from abseil to prussic before, and not wanting to try it on this glorious
free-hanging 340ft.

Four feet down.  The
weight of the rope is difficult to feed, legs dangling helplessly in the
torrent pouring from Jib Tunnel.  Eight
feet down, still fighting to feed the rope. Now totally immersed in the water; fighting the rope, freezing water,
heavy and cold, bouncing  – ‘Oh gosh’ I
thought ‘The belays, the rope….’ 20ft, 40ft, 70ft, gentle bounces, cold icy
fingers, now spinning gently, turning, the rope is easier now.

Oh!  How majestic are
the waters of Fell beck as they cascade effortlessly into this spray filled
void, now whispering peacefully and beauty in slow motion painted against the
back-cloth of the fluted shaft.  Ten
million diamonds were sparkling on their afternoon dance of delight.  A wall accelerates by – a wall – no
resistance – wet rope – must brake – not too fast – easy.  I look still braking, a shout from below
’30ft’.  Splash – bump – a bit fast – I’m
down – it’s over!

Pulls from above, the next man is waiting.  Time to get off the rope and into the warm –
its cold standing under the 340ft waterfall and in the howling gale.  I want to do it again.

The last member of our party is descending.  A thin needle of light appears, very slow,
seconds melt into minutes.  At last he is
down.  We’re all down and did we enjoy it
– thank you – YES!

Ed Note.  Next month
Stu L will be reporting on a visit to October Grotto in the Kingsdale Master
Cave; Tim Large on work in Marble Pot, Cuthbert’s and sometime in the future
there promises to be articles on visits to Ireland and Florida.  Lastly though not least a Jottings column
dealing with



from Tim Large

Club Sweat Shirts – As many of you will have already
seen, the first order has now arrived. Those members wanting to order should contact John Dukes as soon as

Carbide:   A
new supply of carbide has been purchased. Price will be 45p a lb.

Digging Competition: This was eventually won by the

with 700ft against our
400ft.  A celebration barrel was held at
the Belfry on the 2nd of December.  The
competition is being held again over the next 12 months.  All new cave gratefully received from all

Eastwater Cavern. The cave is now open again after a fine engineering job by the

making a
15ft shaft.  It is about 3ft square and
drops to a more stable section of the ruckle in the lower reaches.

C.S.C.C.  The
Hon. Secretary, Dave Mockford has resigned. A meeting is to be held in January 1980 to elect a replacement.

© 2024 Bristol Exploration Club Ltd

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