Exploration Club, The Belfry,

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

Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells,

.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Bad News From Nordrach

The New Year celebrations were sadly marred by news that the
recently completed H.Q. of M.C.G. had been destroyed in an explosion.          The sight of the ruin shocked all who saw it
the next morning.  What remained of the
building will have to be demolished and a complete rebuild undertaken.  Luckily it was insured and we all wish the
MCG good fortune and every success in 1980.

Dates For Your Diary

April 5th NCA Symposium ‘Caves
and Community’, Buxton.

September 22-28 European Regional
Speleo Conference,



Address Change

Phil Kingston,

9 Linfield Street,
Queensland, 4122,


For older member the address of Bob Mayhew (of the Shepton)
may be of interest:

40 Park Road

The Odd Note

Charterhouse Caving Committee Permits

Members are reminded that permits are valid so long as you
are a member of a CCC member club.  When
your membership lapses or the permit is outdated are no longer covered by the
insurance policies of both the CCC and the BEC. Secondly, only people over the 16 are allowed to descend the CCC
controlled caves – this rule also applies to married minors.

Tim Large and Chris Batstone are the BEC leaders for the
Cerberus controlled

.  Members wishing to descend this cave should
contact either of these people.  Should
you write direct to the CSS they will refuse to take you and point you into the
direction of the BEC leaders.  This
arrangement has been revived following protracted negotiations with the CSS and
the club committee.

DYO – Graham Wilton-Jones is our leader into this cave.

In case you have not yet read the last page in this DB –
this is your last BB until you pay the 1980 subscription.

Recalling orgies of the past Alan Thomas now has his story
for the Absent Friends at the 1980 BEC Annual Dinner to be held on October
4th.  MAKE A NOTE.


Sludge Pit

Stu Lindsey notes the
work carried out in Sludge Pit recently by club members…. 

Since the cave was first opened numerous persons have
unsuccessfully pitted their wits against the very imposing sump, or the choked
passage above (an exercise which never fails to fill the sump pool with an
excess of un-required spoil!!!!)   It was
over 2 years ago that Tom Temple and myself commenced our first digging trip,
at the time it was a diversification from Wigmore, ‘the international
one’!  During those winter months up
until April, when most of our tools walked, we laid a pipeline between the dams
to allow us to dump spoil in the streamway. Our efforts, with occasional assistance from others, soon showed a
marked lowering of the sump pool area, about 2 ft. being attained, mainly by
Tom’s aggressive spade work after he had removed the greater part of his
clothing?  Activities began to decline
when Tom’s “Exped” tour ended, and as previously mentioned the tools sprouting
legs and walking.

However the turn of 1979 saw a new set of tools, a new
digging team (at this time a bit conspicuous by their absence) and a renewed
assault on the sump.  The area was
cleared up, and prepared for some “MENDIP MAGIC”.  After three visits by the chemical activator,
progress was determined at -3ft plus. This depth was however short lived, the Austrian Exped and holidays
allowed vandals to kink, and thus block the pipe.  This resulted in water washing over the spoil
heap, and the head of the water behind the dam finding a way through the shale

Two attempts were made to stabilize the site, with no
success.  I have decided since that the
only way to combat with the interference etc: is by removing the roof, thus
handling only nice solid “BUILDING BRICKS’; at present Tim Large is giving
occasional assistance; but anyone else who fancies themselves with a lump
hammer would be welcome.

Stu L.



– another view



of course is not all drinking Stiegel, or trekking miles and miles – sorry kms
and kms for the dubious pleasure of ripping to shreds an Enduro suit in less
than 3 weeks.  For one the Exped does not
finish until the reports, surveys and notes have been translated into a readable
digest for the BB reader to gaze over. It is to this end this article has come about, for his tireless effort
in this department, and for co-ordinating the social side of Austria ’79, I
would on behalf of all concerned like to thank, most profoundly Graham W-J for
his effort ……thank you.

On the social side, one cold windy night Trev, Hand and Stu
L were on the receiving end of a friendly German party.  PFIRSICHBRAND (Peach Brandy….it really works,
and how) was the villain of the piece, they succeeded in relieving them of the
greater part of the two bottles offered. Less than half an hour later on his way to bed, Trev managed to honk and
dewater over the cars in the car park???? (Ed Note….the Weisberghaus is at about 6,000ft, the nearest road about 10kms!!!!!!!)  Stu managed to miss this, he was bedding down
for the night in the KHAZI ….. apparently in preparation for his oncoming
assault on the Glacier!

Amongst some of the funny looks often directed toward this
motley crew, the one that surely sticks out must be that of Siegfried Gamsjager
at the top of the 100m pitch in the Mammuthohle.  The source of his amusement….awe….was one the
party nervously fondling a brand new, unused 6 bar GOLDBLOCK rack, complete with
price label, its owner had never used one, lessons please-!?*?!  Whilst on about tackle wasn’t it the same
person who had an experience with a French sounding expedition ascendeur……using
it as a self lifelining device imagine the horror, sheer fright, the heart
stopping, adrenalin generating situation wanting to stop……having to stop……but
noticing how lucky – that the ROPE WAS HANGING FREE.  The why was because the spring loaded, two
action cam was in the locked open position. (After this trip the device was
shelved for a Gibbs…..well it worked pundits!) A separate article may be forth coming in regard to this device and how
to try and combat its killer instinct!

On the return journey Jrat, Blitz, Big Jim and Stu L dawdled
Europe to visit the cave of Han-sur
Lesse.  This superbly decorated show cave
has been desecrated by a three tier cafe in its largest chamber.  It is well worth a visit and provided a
little light relief on the journey home. In the town is a very interesting museum, it shows slides of the cave,
its excavations etc… English spoken commentary accompanies it.

The final scene was a backstreet cafe, the town was

, and the stage
was set for the double DOUBLE “Rip Off”. We drank of the houses well watered, and very expensive vino, consumed
an even more costly item ‘pommes frites’ at £3 per plate full, 11, and didn’t
really enjoy the superb miniscule portion of steak (which was probably horse
anyway).  So the ensuing argument was a
reasonable diversion, especially when in the heat of it, the proprietors Parker
Falcon got mixed up with the trips account book!?  Cheap meal for one of us anyway…scribble

The local bier, Stiegel cost about 23p at supermarket level
to 85p at Simmonyhutte level, this is per 500m l/9 of a pint.


Viaduct Sink

Simon Meade-King
continues his in depth account of the attack at……..

Part 3 – On the right track at last

After several promising leads got us nowhere, the dislodging
of a huge slab from the right hand wall of the main passage revealed the mouth
of a rift.  A squeeze, 10ft ahead, in the
roof of the rift lead to a small enlargement. From beyond a barrier came the sound of falling water and through a slot
in the roof we could see into a sizeable space.

Only one awkward jammed rock prevented us getting through
into this space and this was soon removed. After a bit of thrutching, I squeezed up through the slot into a man
sized rift petering out to the right, but running off, with the roof rising in the
other direction.  It looked as if we were
in – a stroll down and ever growing passage, with pitch following pitch, into
the main drain.  In reality however,
although the rift was standing height at one point, where an aven rose to 20ft,
it came to an abrupt end after only 15ft. Here, a small stream of water fell through a narrow hole in the floor –
the only way on.  But the sound of a
larger stream wafted up from below, and we decided to face the hole the
following Wednesday evening.

Before doing so the aven was climbed, but lead only to on
horrendous boulder ruckle.  The
alternative -proved more interesting with a 10ft deep, tights fissure dropping
into a low descending crawl blocked after a few feet by a bank of mud.  The water disappeared to the left into a
choked bedding – plane running across strike, and from which comes the roar of
a stream.

Taking it in shifts, we cleared out enough of the choke to
crawl in for 6 feet until a large flat slab prevented further progress.  After a short struggle this was roped, and
gradually slid out.  We then had a
clearer view ahead.  Across strike the
bedding plane continued only inches high and falling at a steep angle from left
to right to where there appeared to be a lip 4 or 5ft away over which stones
rolled into a trench presumably carrying the stream.  A well placed charge on the following weekend
and all would be revealed, and hopes again ran high for entry into the long
awaited streamway.

The next Saturday April – 16th 1977 – was set aside for this
operation, and it turned out to be a much harder task than expected.  The fumes from the bang failed to clear
properly, and this coupled with the constricted access proved almost literally
fatal.  But the day’s objective was at
least achieved, although the result was disappointing.  Richard Whitcombe disappeared down the
bedding plane into the thick haze, only to return with the news that the roar
came from a tiny stream.  This after
emerging from a minute hole up dip crossed the bedding plane – itself only 6
inches high, and a hopeless prospect. All present suffered very unpleasant after effects from the bang fumes,
end the return to the surface was something of an epic.

Only one real possibility now remained, the mud choked end
of the passage off which the bedding plane had led, and there was evidence of 3
passages of varying sizes converging on this point.

We could see ahead along the limited airspace to where a mud
slope rose into a boulder ruckle making it seem as if we were following an
inlet back up to the ground level. However as we started clearing out the passage it was shown to be
considerably deeper than the mouth of the bedding plane, and the floor gave no
sign of rising towards the ruckle.  We
were able for a short time to dump the spoil in the bedding plane, but it soon
became obvious that we were going to have to take it to the surface.  The next 2 months were therefore spent in
enlarging the approach fissure to take buckets.

When we finally resumed digging it was the middle of August,
and progress was necessarily rather slow. The process of moving each bucketful of spoil from the face to its final
resting place on the valley floor involved three separate sessions, and two
intermediate dumps, including winching up the entrance shaft.   But there was no alternative in the absence
of dumping space.  Vandalism to the
surface works further delayed progress at this time.  The isolated nature of the site encouraging
this – a contrast to the dig at

where we never experienced this problem.  Several times we arrived to discover the wooden
lid removed and almost everything moveable thrown down the shaft.  It was a depressing task clearing up each
time and led to the unfortunate step of fitting a locked steel lid.

But to return to the digging – the easier disposal of the
spoil with the improved access began to pay dividends as the true size of the
passage emerged.  It was four feet high
and clearly phreatic in origin.  Whilst
the floor had been level with the ill-fated bedding plane, the water running
into the dig had been able to escape down the bedding, but as we progressed and
left the mouth of it high and dry flooding became a problem.  The resultant morass soon became christened
the Grimpen Mine from the glutinous mixture left behind when the water

Despite this, by mid-September we had passed the lowest
point beyond which the roof began to rise. If the floor rose with it, then prospects would be bleak, but this did
not happen.  The solid floor remained
level as the passage turned slightly to the right, and intersected at right
angles a rift several feet wide.  This
terminated quickly to the right, but to the left assumed an impressive
size.  An aven in its roof had spewed tons
of debris which now perched in a threatening mass on our left flank.

Before any further progress was possible, this danger had to
be reduced, and this provided same exciting moments.  To try and bring clown the boulders by direct
crow-barring would have been suicidal as there was no quick escape route.  Various methods were tried, including tying a
rope to a bar and pulling from round the corner!  One particularly large slab with no obvious
anchoring points was seemingly defying gravity, and clearly holding back a
large quantity of material.  Richard
started throwing stones at it, perhaps, in the hope that it might go a
way.  Nothing stirred until we aimed our
backs on it, when with an almighty crash the whole lot came down, fortunately
without killing anyone.  Quite a close
run thing.  On another occasion Bob
Cottle had his Nife cell cable sliced through by a dislodged boulder.

A large black space view became visible and more material
continued to be brought down and as soon as it looked safe enough we climbed up
to investigate chimneying above the still unstable slope.  The roof of the aven was at least 20ft high
and contained two inlets, both too risky to enter.  Down rift was a solid uninspiring choke.

We decided to ignore this rift, and with the resumed threat
reduced and digging across its base into a choked continuation under the far
wall with headroom reduced to a couple of feet.

The autumn and winter of 1977/8 brought unusually heavy
rainfall, and as we probed further away from the rift, a second stream was
heard from somewhere ahead, we redoubled our efforts.  A left bend followed a stal barrier and
things looked exceedingly promising with the roar of the stream drifting up the
meandering crawl towards us.  The passage
turned to the right only to be cut in half by another stal barrier, requiring
banging.  Beyond, perhaps 10ft away, we
could see the main stream at last –

to be continued.



By Tim Large

Christmas at the Belfry was enjoyed by about a dozen
regulars.  The shed was well appointed
with colour TV, plenty of food and drink. With the films coming thick and fast on the TV everyone was reluctant to
leave.  We received complaints from Roger
Dors that we failed to report for duty one night.  Over the Christmas period we had visitors

a group with Julia James; Speleo Hollan who enjoyed a very wet trip down
Swildons, and over the New Year the Pegasus joined us for the festivities.  The Australians were entertained at the
Belfry with Belfry table cricket and sofa rugby – but much was to be learned
from the B.E.C. team.

The club has now applied for a licence under the Lotteries
Act in order that we can hold raffles to raise money for the Belfry
improvements.  Other fund raising schemes
are being considered and ideas from you would be welcome.

The Digging Competition has started in earnest.  Pete and Alison have found 150′ of passage at
the upper end of Sarum Inlet in manor Farm. We are still busy at the lower end of NHASA Gallery, but are investigating
sites in Tynings.  It looks like our
major project this year is to dig the bottom of the cave.  All help will be gratefully received.  Happy New Year.


The Marble Pot Saga

By Tim Large

I first visited Marble Pot in November 1975 encouraged to
this section of the cave, by the details in the Cuthbert’s Reports and the
vivid descriptions of the vertical squeeze as discovered by Wig.

The trip to Marble Pot and Hall provides an interesting
route off the beaten track.  There are
three ways of approaching it:-

1.                  From Rocky Boulder to Coral Chamber, climb to
top of chamber and through hole in southern wall which brings you to the start
of a large rift.  At the far side of the
rift a hole leads to a spiral climb down with squeezes into a small
chamber.  To the north is Marble
Pot.  To south under a large boulder is
Marble Hall.

2.                  Via Boulder Chamber, Annexe Chamber, Fracture
Rift, Coral Squeeze, Coral Chamber and then as route one.

3.                  Instead of descending halfway along Fracture
Rift, climb up to a higher continuation of it. Here much evidence of fallen boulders is seen, the walls being heavily
scarred – ignore this!  At far end is the
obvious beginning of a boulder ruckle rising above you.  A short straddle climb to the right at this
point and you gain the ruckle proper.  A
meandering route upwards over large boulders brings you to Long Chamber
Extensions.  To your left will lead back
to Long Chamber.  High up in the roof is
Straw Chamber.  By an indefinite route to
the right amidst boulders and dropping to a slightly lower level is the
northward continuation of Far Chamber. Just off this route is a hole in boulders, (sometimes difficult to
find).  This is the start of Ruckle
Passage.  A twisting route downwards,
best tackled one at a time, eventually brings you out to the start of the large
rift which marks the start of the route to Marble Pot as described in route
1.  I can recommend this route as
providing the most interesting stimulus – Terror!

On the first visit with Bas Slade the bottom of the pot was
examined, but also a hole was noticed 15′ above the floor at a point usually
passed on descending the pot.  This was
found to be partially blocked with stal deposits and pebbles.  With a minimum of digging it was possible to
descend another vertical squeeze of about 6′ to a point where a rift opens
up.  A further drop of 8′ brings you to a
sandy floor with a rift going off.  This
is blocked with pebbles in the floor after 15′ and has a too tight continuation
in the roof.  A draught was felt and
eventually located at the beginning of the rift immediately under the climb
down.  At floor level there was a tight
bedding plane partially blocked with sand and a cool draught blowing out.  On this trip nothing more was found.

A week later, with John Dukes, the bedding plain was
attacked with hammer and chisel and by crawling backwards down it, using boots
as a snowplough, the sand was excavated allowing entry via a 5′ drop to the
base of an aven.  It is about 35′ high
continuing in one direction upwards over a boulder and the other, a tight rift
descending about 15′.

Nothing more was done until July 1977 when John Dukes and I
dug in the first rift of the new extension filling the entrance to a small
passage filled with large cobbles.  The
possibilities at the northern end of the rift were examined and proved
virtually impossible to dig in the space available.  By the way, if anyone finds a 4lb hammer
buried in the rift its mine!

After the Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting on the 30th September
1977 Martin Grass, Kangy and myself visited the dreaded pot again.  This time the final aven was explored at the
upper end and a vertical connection with the bottom of Marble Pot proved.

One year to the day later accompanied by Fred Davies, Al
Mills and Ross White, more digging was undertaken in an attempt to remove the
squeeze at the top of the descending tight rift.

As you can see from the accomplishers so far, very few
people are keen on a return visit, even Fred and Al did not think much of it.

During February 1779 the Wesex digging team of Alison and
Pete were recruited to visit the passage. Alison was encouraged into the hole but found it very tight and doubted
whether the return through the squeeze would be possible.

So fast running out of time and support I spied ‘Clever Trevor’
in the pub late one Saturday night. Being a keen lad he agreed to visit the Pot – ‘Stupid Boy’ – more
digging was done at the squeeze but still too tight for us.

On 20th May 19 I spied the Hunters once more for recruits
and lo and behold one J’Rat.  Having
nothing better to do he agreed to visit the site after being recounted the
visions of caverns measureless—– After removing various items of apparel he managed to slip through and
descend 15′ to a U tube which he negotiated backwards to slight widening of the
passage but to be narrowed down after 10′. Tony’s return was eventful to say the least, both of us with visions of
Neil Moss.

So ends the Saga having found only about 70′ of
passage.  Highly recommended for a once
only visit.  At least it proves the
theories that passages exist below Marble Pot.

© 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.