Exploration Club, The Belfry,

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

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

.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Editorial Notes

……changes to B. B. & changes to club exchange copies.

Following discussions with the Committee a small, but
significant, change will be taking place in the B.B. contents from the June
1980 issue.  Over the years the Club has
always re-affirmed that members want the B.B. published monthly even though
there has been a strong case for a bi-monthly or quarterly publication.  This policy remains unaltered, members will
still get a monthly B.B.  The proposed
change will be experimental until the A.G.M. in October enabling members to
have their say and to make any necessary changes.

Basically the change is this.  The Belfry Bulletin is a newsletter for
members and so each month a bulletin of some 4 to 6 pages will be published
with considerably more club news and information and less actual caving
articles except for the usual club trip reports and news in brief notes.  The longer and more serious caving material
will be kept back for a quarterly issue of the ‘BB’ so that a larger issue,
hopefully, of between 20-30 pages can be produced known as the ‘Belfry Journal’
but subtitled ‘Belfry Bulletin’.  The
‘Belfry Journal’ will have its own numbering system but will also retain the
sequential numbering of the ‘Belfry Bulletin’ (do I hear the bibliophiles
moaning!?)  Further, the Belfry Journal
will be the ONLY publication produced by the Club for exchange with other clubs
so enabling the B. B. to be for ‘internal consumption’ only allowing a greater
concentration on club affairs and, if necessary, the full airing of
controversial views to a greater degree than has been possible in the past.  The changes will also allow a better
presentation in the Journal than has been possible in the past as there will be
more time to concentrate on its preparation and it will, hopefully include
photographs and off-set surveys to make it a more saleable product in line with
other clubs.  Apart from essential Club
notices and other news the Journal will be exactly what it claims to be – a

The Editor will retain the right of selection of the
material submitted but obviously any important news will find its way into the
general issue of the B.B. in précis form with the fully detailed article
eventually published in the Journal itself.

There are times when material runs short and issues have to
be produced in a bi-monthly form (as with this issue) as has happened, so often
in the past when material has just not been sent in for publication.  A quarterly publication primarily for caving
material gives time for an accumulation of material to be gathered and allows
the Editor to give a better balance. Further, it will save the Club about £20 a year on postage on the Club
exchanges with other organisations we rarely get monthly exchanges – and those
that issue on a monthly basis tend to send out their copies on a quarterly
basis to save postal expenses.  If you
have any views on the change then come along to the AGM and air them or send a
letter top the Editor for publication.

For the first time since becoming Editor of the B.B., I have
to say there is no material in the stockpile – so get your pens to paper and
send in your trip reports; surveys; reports on digs; holidays; technical notes;
the Bulletin/Journal combination allows a greater flexibility for material of
all kinds.



The B.E.C. Get Everywhere Part II –


Continuing his tales of his world
travels with the Royal Navy, Trev Hughes in addition to being a keen caver,
smasher of the Belfry (1) and a well oiled beer drinker at the Hunters Lodge is
also a keen sub-aqua man

Having enjoyed a rather alcoholic and gastronomic Christmas
at the Belfry, HSM Bulwark’s remaining few days in


quickly passed.  Two weeks at sea chasing
submarines came and went and the 18th January, saw us tie up alongside Mayport
Naval Base, N.E. Florida.

I don’t know how well the average BB reader knows

but about 2/3 of
the State is swampy woodland and the remainder low, sandy, wooded
farmland.  The highest point in the state
is 345ft above sea level, located in the north of the “Panhandle” –
the most north-westerly part of the state.

Being there for five weeks I was keen to try to dive in some
of the large springs I knew existed there. A trip to one of the local dive shops produced Ned Deloach’s
“Diving Guide to Underwater Florida.” This is an excellent book listing hundreds of spring, reef and wreck
dives.  Nearly half the book’s 160 pages
contain spring diving information.  I
therefore had a start but the next stage prior to diving so fell into my lap it
didn’t seem true but the story goes like this:

The scene: The Naval Base Officers’ Club, an official

The author: Full of rum, in his best blue suit, rather

My boss (a BSAC 1st class diver) comes up to me and says:

“Here’s somebody you’d like
to meet”

“Oh?” I thought,

But he was right, it was Commander B.J. McGee the base
supply officer and a member of the National Association of Underwater
Instructors (NAUI).  After an
introduction B.J.’s opening remark was “What are you doing this Saturday,
do you fancy a dive?”  ”Where?” I
replied with cautious optimism, for the sea temperature was about 48°F.  “Troy Spring, Branford.  Bring some buddies; I’ve room for four extra
in my minibus.”  “This mans
really talking” I thought, to myself. “I’ll be there” I
replied.  So came about me first of my
all too few trips to the Branford area to dive in the springs that abound in


My first visit to
Troy, on
the west bank of the

, was on
26.1.80.  A very rainy day but the vis.
in this large 15 x 20 m pool was excellent. A vertical descent to -16m is hollowed by a slope under the overhanging
roof to -23m.  The strong water flow
issues from 3 low passages and many small holes.  A brief look inside one of these passages at
-23m confirmed a way on approximately 1x3m.

We returned to


on 29.1.80 with a line, extra lights and backup bottles to investigate further
the passage looked at on 26.1.80.  After
two days of heavy rain the peaty

had backed up into
the spring causing the vis. to be reduced to 2m on the surface.  However, my buddy and I descended a shot line
to -16m where it was pitch dark and our 10 watt torches gave only a 0.5m long
cone of brown light.  We swam on a
compass bearing to the cave entrance and eventually found it after many painful
encounters with the tree trunks on .the bottom of the spring.  At -19m the vis had suddenly and totally
cleared as we met the clear cave water pushing out the dirty river water.  In the low passage we only progressed about
10m to a 5m diameter chamber of -23m as the outward flow was very strong and we
wished to avoid decompression, having wasted a lot of bottom time finding the

A group of four Bulwark divers including myself returned to
the area on 7.2 .80 and our first visit was to Orange Grove Sink, a large open
sink covered with duckweed.  A class of
trainee divers from a nearby dive school had beaten us there and reduced the
vis in the daylight area to 6m.  We
descended in daylight to -18m and entered the 5x2m bedding which sloped down to
-20m and entered into the roof of the “Coliseum”.  The Coliseum is a huge underwater chamber 20
x 25m with depths to 30m.  We descended
to -26m and explored the boulder floor and walls of this impressive
chamber.  The visibility was only limited
by the walls of the chamber lit by our torch beams.  We ended up over our no stop time and
decompressed in the vertical walled daylight sink.

Limited to -9m to avoid lengthy decompression we turned our
attentions to Pencock Spring where a superb cave is entered at -5.5m through a
3m x 1.5m bedding.  This quickly opened
up into a large chamber called “The Blue Room” 15m across and filled
with a pale blue glow from the sunlight streaming through the slot.  Depths reach -18m where a passage leads to
Pothole Sink after 125m and to Olson sink after a further 370m.  However we quickly spotted the large
horizontal passage running westwards at -8m: just right for us.  In crystal clear vis we swam westwards for
70m until the first of us reached his air margin, the passage continued for as
far as our 10 watt torches could illuminate. We returned slowly looking for fossils in the hard sand bottom and just
looking up the beauty, of the Blue Room.

That’s the limit, of my dives in the area, I wish I could
have done many more, however I’ll now attempt to give the reader some ideas of
the caves and the local divers.

Cave diving in


is practiced by possibly thousands of divers, the prerequisite being a
competent open water diver and not, as the CDG, a caver.  The warm water (22°C) large open passages and
generally crystal clear vis provide an obvious and sometimes fatal
attraction.  The real experts are the
Cave Diving section of the National Speleological Society (USS) who run
training courses in cave diving (total time approx. 8 days giving 10 divers in
5 different sites).  At the other end of
the scale are totally untrained novices or inexperienced open water divers who
are tempted into caves and disregard one or both of the two basic cave diving
rules, i.e. a continuous guideline and the ⅓ air rule or go deeper than the
maximum recommended 130 ft.

The accident figures for Florida Cave Diving are somewhat
alarming; since 1960 more than 150 cave divers have drowned, 1974 was a
particularly black year with 26 deaths. Thanks to the efforts of the NSS these figures have now reduced to about
8 per year despite increased activity in this sport.  During our stay there has been one death, on
27 January, when a diver drowned in the 12 m tunnel between Pencock Spring and
Pothole Sink.

Enough about accidents and onto the gear used by the
American cave divers.  A normal 80cuft
bottle back packed with either a Y shaped pillar valve and two regulators or a
normal pillar valve and octopus rig are most commonly used for shorter dives.  One valve has a longer hose for ease of air
sharing in emergency.  Very- deep and/or
very long dives mean more air and twin 100cuft cylinders are often used.  With a twinset a dual valve manifold is used
– this configuration enables 2 independent 1st stage reducers to be used
supplied from either or both bottles.

Buoyancy Compensators are universally used and enable a
diver to keep in mid or upper water in a passage to avoid stirring up any silt
from the bottom.  The designs used allow
a head down, feet up position for ease of motion.

The standard diver’s line used in

is white braided nylon of about
1/16-1/8″ diameter.  This size of
line has sufficient strength and is the most easily seen.  The line reels used in the area make some
English reels look positively archaic. They are not made commercially but by
private individuals and can cost up to 50 dollars in dive shops.  The design of line reel handles is such that
the primary light and the reel can be held and controlled with one hand.  I have made an excellent prototype copy for
approximately 50p in about 3 hours using simple workshop tools.  This reel holds more than 500 ft of
3/32″ braided nylon and works well. Normally one “team” reel is used by the team leader; every diver,
however, carries an emergency backup “splic reel”.

Although the primary guidance system is the line the correct
type of lighting is essential.  The
standard primary light is a rechargeable, waist mounted NiCad pack connected to
a hand held 30 watt lamp.  For backup lighting
at least two other lights should be carried. The first (and last) appearance of my twin helmet mounted aquaflushes
brought on some very amused looks from a pair of local cave divers.

Florida accounts for 17 of
the 75 1st magnitude (i.e. 100cuft/sec) springs in the

and 49 springs of the 2nd
magnitude (i.e. 10-100cuft/see).  One of
the largest in the world, Silver Springs, has a mean flow of some 500 million
galls/day.  Most have extensively
developed wave systems feeding them. Depths in excess of 250ft occur in some springs; e.g. Eagles Nest
Spring, the distance record is held by Sheck Exley and another diver who
started at -90ft in Hornby Spring and surfaces after a mile underwater – at
depths of 120ft, in a sink.  The story of
this epic reads very similar to our own KMC/Kelch Head dive.

Virtually all the springs and sinks are in very picturesque
settings, access is fairly easy and free camping is allowed at a lot of sites –
mostly in woodland.  These sites rarely
have any facilities apart from a lot of very clear water.  The springs all have a natural channel called
a run leading to the river they feed, some are only a few yards long but others
some miles (i.e. the

).  The run at
spring is about 150m long and deeper than most at 2-3 m.  It also has the remains of an 1863 steamboat
called the Mackson and some huge Alligator Garfish up to 1.5m long (and they
will bite!)

There are many dive shops in the area but certification
(e.g. BSAC membership) is required to purchase air.  Most have a good range of gear for sale or
hire but the specialist cave diving gear e.g. reels and lights are pricy, its
far better to design and make your own!

American cave divers are a helpful and friendly bunch; the
ones that I met always had time for a yarn or were willing to offer
advice.  Despite what might think,
holidaying in the states is not that expensive. My own personal feelings are that I can’t wait to get back to the area.

Trev Hughes


A Lost Cave Site At



I’ve recently acquired a bromide (real photograph) picture
postcard dated 1911 depicting a cave archaeological dig entitled on the picture
“DISCY. OF ROMAN COINS ETC. GOUGH’S CAVES CHEDDAR 1911”.  The picture is a sepia print and on the back
the imprint is ‘C.H. Collard, Photo, Cheddar’.

The photograph shows a steeply sloping ground surface with a
large rock outcrop on the left.  At the
top right there appears to be the lower right corner of a walled enclosure.  At the foot of the slope is an enormous rock
arch some 10 – 12 feet wide by some 3ft high. The floor of the excavation shows bones and a skull together with a
sieve of shards.  There are seven people
in the photo, one lying inside the hole holding a shovel or pack (this appears
to be Troup).  Standing above the hole
and against the rock outcrop is William Gough and seated above is Herbert Balch
with a four or five year old boy sitting on his knee (Stanley Balch?)  The other men in the picture cannot be

Chris Hawkes and I walked the Cliffs between Jacob’s Ladder
and Great Oone’s Hole keeping high up the cliff but could find nothing like the
outcrop in the photograph and so a search will be made down the middle and
lower reaches in the near future.  The
only written record we’ve been able to find is a single sentence in the
Somerset Archaeological Transactions for 1911 recording the fact that coins had
been found at Gough’s Cave, Cheddar.

Has anyone seen this card, or heard any details of this
site, was it located at the bottom of the Slitter to the west of Gough’s


and the site destroyed when the new buildings were built in 1934?  I’d be grateful to hear from anyone who has a
similar card or has any information that might lead to the rediscovery of the
site for it looks like a potential cave dig!


Link Pot; Easegill; Casterton Fell

by Dave Metcalfe

For the first trip of 1980, we decided to visit Link Pot,
not as a back door to Pippikin or as a side door to Lancaster Hole but as a pot
in its own right.

From Lancaster Hole the way is now well trodden through the
heather down to the steep sides of Easegill. The excavated entrance can hardly be missed and the ladder can be
belayed directly to a scaffold pole to hang down a narrow parallel, fluted
shaft.  There is no wide part or easy way
down.  All but fatties or well endowed
ladies should have little trouble here. After about 20′ the shaft widens to more convenient proportions and the
landing is made in a rift only a step away from an impressive square section
passage – Hilton Hall.

The main way on from here is a less than obvious narrow rift
downstream the left hand wall.  An easy
squeeze through this and upwards leads into the Bypass Route, a muddy passage
(it should be said at this point that anyone with a morbid fear of mud should
turn back here as there is no shortage of the stuff until the main streamway is
reached).  The passage continues at
stooping or crawling height past an obvious branch to the left which leads through
various stages of purgatory to Pippikin. Shortly after this, Night Shift Chamber is reached, with the exit down
to the main route.  Down the slope to the
left and under a trickle of water into a crawl, which quickly enlarges into a
walking passage involving some traversing over a dry muddy trench in the
floor.  The tunnel gradually enlarges
until China Dog Chamber is reached. Hopefully the delightful stalagmite which gives this chamber its name
will withstand the passage of clumsy cavers. Incidentally I would like to point out to anyone following this route
through the pot using the survey from the NPC Journal 1979 should not take it
too literally – it contains some notable inaccuracies.

A pitch out of China Dog Chamber reaches the canyon after a
25′ climb. A small stream emits from Tigers Inlet, which cannot be free climbed
from below.  So this passage must be
reached by a slippery traverse directly out of China Dog Chamber, above the
Canyon.  At the end of the traverse, a
handy chain is in position to assist the awkward little drop into Tigers
Inlet.  The Inlet meanders upstream until
a complex little chamber is reached (not shown on survey).  From here several routes radiate, one leading
back to Tigers Inlet, while another leads via a twisting passage to Handpump
Mall.  The main way is gained by
following the left hand wall of the chamber, to an obvious passage quickly
leading to a junction with a small cairn. This however is not Cairn Junction, and turning right here soon leads to
a diversification of routes at a large cairn. This is Cairn Junction where the right hand route should be followed
down Death Row past four small stalagmites. Shortly after these the left branch of the passages leads torturously
over large muddy cobbles in a low bedding plain, eventually emerging in a crawl
to a junction.  Bearing right here the
main route is easily followed finally emerging in a large bedding passage
where, to the right, the tantalising roar of a large stream can be heard.

The bedding plane emerges abruptly at the lip of a wide pit,
intersected on the far side by a clean washed stream trench with plenty of nice
clean cool water cascading 20′ into a pool. At this point personnel and tackle will all be well plastered with that
wonderful reddish brown substance – not for long!  An easy traverse around the right hand lip of
the pit crosses the stream trench and gains an easy climb down to the bottom of
the waterfall.  (The survey pitch lengths
should be ignored here).  A rope is
useful for this climb but is not essential. Downstream the water plunges on into a big shaft, where the furthest of
two bolt belays provides the best hang for the 70′ pitch.  It is an exhilarating climb as the ladder
hangs down the full force of the fall for the first 20’ with a sharp pinnacle
hidden underwater to trap the unwary. The fall then strikes a ledge and diffuses into a larger rift.  An almost dry hang is possible by positioning
the ladder over a projection.  At the
bottom the rift is well lashed with spray, and it is not a place to hang about
for long.  The last pitch follows
immediately – an easy 20′ scramble down a cascade where a ladder is probable
more useful than a rope.  The landing is
a wide pool with a spout entering about 25′ up.

Now begins the low march down stream passing several good
formations until Cobble Inlet enters on the right.  From here boulder obstacles become more frequent
until the stream disappears completely for a short section.  Soon after this the roof begins to lower and
crawling over shingle and in the stream leads to the sump.

Tackle: – Entrance: – 50′ Ladder,
Sling belay

Mainstream Passage :-1st – 30′
Rope;   2nd – 70′ Ladder, Krab
Belay;   3rd – 25′ Ladder, Sling Belay



by Hon Secretary Tim

April already – soon be the dinner again.  This year we shall be back at the Caveman in
Cheddar.  Within the next couple of
months we should be able to publish a menu. Don’t be surprised if the price goes up compared with last year.  Besides the naturally rising prices we have also
used up any dinner reserves that have subsidised it for the past couple of
years.  Do you want any entertainment? –
if so any suggestions would be mush appreciated.

A new supply of sweat-shirts is being ordered similar to the
previous issue.  If you would like one or
maybe even two send money with order to John Dukes, ‘Bridge Farm’ Dulcote, Nr.
Wells, Somerset.  Price £6 each.  Don’t forget to state chest size.

Recently a group of lads were given permission to stay at
the Belfry.  But they were unsupervised
and no members were present.  If you do
invite guests to the Belfry please ensure that at least one member is present
particularly if they are youngsters. This of course does not apply to our regular visitors whom we know well.

On Mendip recently has been Colin Priddle (The Pope) and his
wife Jan.  Colin went down Cuthbert’s for
the first time in six years.  Let’s hope
its not six years before we see them again.

Last month the Belfry improvement plans were published.  It is hoped to finalise these early in May
and modify the ground floor area before the winter.  Even though we have allocated money towards
this and raised funds by raffles, the finances will be tight.  I expect many of you may have odd things
lying around in the attic or garden shed not doing anything.  Any donations would be much appreciated.  Such items that spring to mind are – shower
taps etc, timber, floor tiles etc, paint. In fact anything you consider might be useful bearing in mind the work


Manor Farm: – Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell and (Quiet)
John Watson are renewing work in the rift near the end of NHASA Gallery.  Progress is good in soft mud.  The only problem is removing it along the

Tyning’s Barrow Swallet:- Some work has been done at
several points:-

1.                  ‘Shit in the eye’ Inlet: –  So called from its muddy aspect and the fact
that Tony Jarratt suffered with the said eye problem.  At the end of this passage were several large
boulders together with an abundance of liquid mud.  The boulders were removed to reveal a 10′
aven only to be stopped again by more precariously perched rocks.

2.                  Berties Paradise: – Has received attention at
two points.  One is a very tight tube
with an S bend which may produce something if enlarged.  The other is a rift in the roof of the
chamber from which issues a heavy drip. This was climbed by Quackers and followed for about 50′ and is still
going.  Another visit is planned.  The end of the cave is also planned to be
attacked in the near future.

Cuthbert’s: – Always a good place for finding new
passage.  If the weather holds this
summer sump 2 will be persuaded to reveal its secrets.

Sludge Pit: – Stu Lindsay is digging the sump.  At present shot holes are being drilled with
a kango, hoping to raise the roof of the sump.

Nine Barrows: – The choke at the end of Crystal
Chamber is being dug and looks promising.

Wigmore: – Our official club dig – not receiving as
much attention as it deserves – but well worth a visit (dig) if you have a
spare few hours – go see what you can find.

Some members have recently started climbing.  If you are interested contact Quackers alias
Michael Duck at the Belfry.



Bigger Better Enormous Extensions in


An article by Chris

As has already been reported in the B.B., Cheddar Caves in
general and Gough’s in particular, are being attacked by a motley crew of
Belfryites and assorted foreigners. Access is restricted to the times the cave is open to the public, and is
limited to working parties only (definitely no tourist trips!) and enquiries
should be directed to Martin Bishop.

Work started some months ago, but has gained momentum
through March, April and May, with groups going in both at weekends and
alternate Wednesday afternoons.  The
first site, in Gough’s, was at the back of ‘King Solomon’s

‘, where a small rift, about 15’ deep
to a hard mud floor was found.  Digging
was firstly halted by some helictites, and has now been abandoned for the
moment, as there seems to be a good chance that the rift is only an oxbow back
into another part of the same chamber.

After this episode, the diggers found themselves following
two separate interests.  One group, the
ones who like to get themselves wet and soggy on the outside, are digging the
resurgence pool.  They have so far only
managed to discover the interesting principal that the law of gravity still
applies to large boulders underwater, and when one removes what is supporting
them, they have a nasty habit of dropping on the next diver along!  Their excavation is about 15′ deep at the
beginning of May.

The other group is comprised of those who believe they
should only get their necks wet on the inside, and then not with water.  At an early stage it was thought that the
most promising passage was that to the north of ‘Sand Chamber’, ending in a
precarious boulder choke.  In fact the
first time we visited it, an anvil shaped “enrie” of several
hundredweight “spoke” to Quackers while he was under it!  This gave us considerable incentive to find
somewhere else, but after a number of trial ‘prods’ in other parts of the cave,
we had to accept the inevitable and start on the boulders.

The choke can be entered by an awkward chamber on the left
of the passage, leading to a chamber about 20′ x 15′, with some good curtains
and other stal.  Overhanging is a wedged
boulder, about 15′ x 8′ x 8′!  The thin
man team could then go past the “Speaking Enrie”, through a
horizontal slot between two boulders at a high level.  The upper one appearing to have no means of
support on one side, and weighing rather a lot, did not exactly inspire
confidence!  However several sessions
were given to digging under boulders beyond, by three intrepid cowards in the
group, which gave access to a gruesome right-angled squeeze.  Tim Large was pushed through this, to find
two alternate high level dig sites, draughting and with clean washed
rocks.  As all looked good we left Tim to
play and went for a wander and a quick fag. When we came back a couple of hours later, we found Tim still in the
boulders, sounding very excited.  He had
been prodding in the roof when there was a sudden shower of sh__ which filled
the squeeze with him on the other side, and the passage was too tight for him
to turn and dig it out!  Fiona, who had
been in the adjoining chamber listening for any problem, had decided that a
walk through the cave with Martin Grass held far more attractions than getting
muddy with Tim.  A unanimous decision was
made that Chris Bradshaw was the only skinny one (and one mug enough) to dig
out the squeeze for a second time, so after a ‘dead man’s footshake’, the only
part of Tim’s anatomy that could get through the remaining gap, he was dug out
in another hour.

After this episode it was obvious that no one wanted to
continue to dig this way, and that there was increasing instability in the
boulders.  After much debate it was
decided by majority, that the best way to continue would be to bang out the
talking “Enrie” and its adjacent squeeze.  This should give a safer means of access to
space against the (assumed) roof and a passage blasted over the top of the
boulders by banging from above to drop them. This would gain access to Tim’s two dig sites.  Well, that’s the theory!

On Wednesday 7th May the approach passage and chamber in the
boulders was resurveyed, and it was found that the side walls of the latter
were in fact pointing 40 degrees further west than is shown on the

1965 survey.  This places it aiming directly at, and 500′
from Cooper’s Hole, and on the same line as ‘Far Rift’ in Gough’s.  When the first 1lb charge was set off that
day, it was clearly heard in Coopers, and fumes disappeared into the
boulders.  Further bangs will be required
to regain the 30′ of passage we have now lost! We hope that the next time Tim examines the rock after banging they
don’t take revenge and jump at his right ear.

On Saturday 10th May, Tim climbed the aven just before
‘Thynne Squeeze’ in Coopers, to find that it had apparently not been looked at
before, and an open passage can be seen, through easy digging up a 30 degree
slope.  That’s the other theory!

POSTSCRIPT: Sunday 11th May, a digging trip in Coopers aven
was aided by a 20′ ladder borrowed from Gough’s Cave.  The fill at the top is comprised of stal covered
pebbles & grit, with moonmilk & tuffa. This was dug out to get at a small cavity surrounded by stal covered
rocks, at the start of what is apparently a draughting boulder ruckle, 30′
above ‘Thynne Squeeze’, and 110′ below Soldiers Hole.


Work continues………..all over the place, so bring your buckets
and spades to the dinner this year!


Mendip Rescue Organisation

Report by Hon. Secretary and Treasure for the year ending
31st January 1980

Last summer, Mr. Kenneth Steele, the Chief Constable of Avon
and Somerset retired after many years in the region.  We remember him in particular when he was in
charge of the old Somerset Police Force as the caving community owes him much
for his personal interest and support of the MRO over the past 25 years.  He was one of three Chief Constables who met
to further the links among Police, Mountain and Cave Rescue groups throughout
the country.  MRO was one of the first to
receive insurance cover whilst underground on rescues as a. result of his
foresight.  This model is now used by all
Search and Rescue Teams associated with the Mountain Rescue Committee. We thank
Mr. Steele for all this and wish him well.

The new Chief Constable, Mr. Brian Weigh, has already been
extremely helpful to us and so the welcome tradition of close support between
the Police and MRO continues.  On Mendip,
this is reflected by the interest taken in cave rescue work by those at
divisional control to the patrols at the scene. Superintendent John Lee at Frome has given us much advise and practical
help over the years for which I am very grateful.  When the call-out system transfers to Yeovil
shortly, we hope that his particular help over communications will
continue.  One of the last activities of
the year was to show Inspector Rod Deane and five of his colleagues from Wells
around top Swildons.  And they want to go

Another stalwart to leave the area was Tim Reynolds.  Apart from influencing the many sides of
caving here and throughout the country over several years, whilst an MRO warden
Tim did much where it matters at some very serious incident – so he was always
a great help to me as a neighbour here in Wookey Hole.  Dr. Tim Lyons also left the area to take a
new hospital post and we thank him, too, for making himself available for calls
whilst on Mendip.

New automatic pumps installed by Bristol Waterworks upstream
of Longwood and Swildons Hole led to most wardens being taken on a guided tour
of the former by Paul Hodge, Sources Engineer. He has taken a keen interest in the work of local caver and we thank him
for contingency plans to reduce stream flows at both sites when necessary.  These have already proved to be effective on
actual callouts.  Another get together of
wardens and other MRO cavers was in Manor Farm Swallet when a useful practice
with David Mager’s improved stretcher was held hauling out Albert Francis from
the bottom of Curtain Chamber to the surface. Albert has now been our standard patient on several practices.  He tells us what to do!

The Mager stretcher, as we now call it, also impressed
delegates at the Annual Conference of the South West England Rescue Association
in November.  This regional Mountain
Rescue Committee includes the RAF, Coastguards and the Police as well as moor,
mine, cliff and cave rescuers.  So, it is
a good one to exchange ideas, especially on equipment.  It is fortunate to be informally organised
with good sense and humour by Fred Barlow from Okehampton.  Apart from seeming to be a chunk of
Dartmoor, Fred is a ‘Devon Speleo’ and claims to have
been won to caving from climbing by Oliver Lloyd here on Mendip.

We continue to be fortunate in supplies of equipment from
interested cavers.  These range from
specially designed carrying bags made-up by David Mager, a wind fall of Nife
cells from the Avon County Fire Brigade with help from Adrian Vanderplank,
bronze descendeurs donated by Bob Drake and a couple of semi-water-proof
polythene suits from Tim Large.  Also we
are very fortunate in the generous and prompt help always given by Rocksport in
supplying MRO with a variety of equipment and ropes in particular.

Brian Prewer as Equipment Officer keeps all this
up-to-scratch and has also worked hard to secure both the instruments and
information for MRO to operate a private radio service during rescues.  A basic system has been installed and
sanctioned by the Home Office.  It will
be available for use as soon as we receive the official licence from

.  In developing and installing this equipment,
we are most fortunate for practical encouragement by John Eley, local
representative for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and,
especially, for the expert work and support given by Eric Dunford.  He has acquired much of the equipment for us,
installed it and advised us on the procedures to be followed.  Alan Mills provided and helped to fix the
base station mast from which the MRO will be able to go on the air.

All this has led to the greatest volume of correspondence
ever.  None would be possible without the
practical and financial help for MRO is entirely a voluntary body which relies
upon donations.  On the practical side we
must thank Charles Bryant for his hard work and unique information about old
mines in the

which will be
published elsewhere.  The record income
from donations is shown on the accounts which accompany this report. It should
be added that two-thirds of this handsome income has come through appropriate
fund raising by wardens including the raffling of a rucksack donated following
a rescue.  Also, the caving community
through MRO received a bequest which has both its poignant and propitious sides
to us on Mendip.

This report should highlight the principle of voluntary
self-help that is the tradition of cave rescue work on Mendip. Our preparations
are best judged by practice, of course, which was no better evident than at the
difficult Thrupe Lane Swallet rescue in November.  Perhaps Nigel Kermode who was so badly hurt
there will allow me to end this report to fellow cavers on Mendip with his
appreciation of their efforts.  “Since my
life was dependant on the rescue operation, my thanks cannot express fully the
gratitude I feel for those who saved me.”

J.D. Hanwell, Secretary
& Treasurer MRO.


Cave Rescues and Incidents for the year ending 31st
January 1980

There were eight calls during the year.  Six were potentially serious which is more
than in any other year throughout the seventies.  A general observation must be that several
involved parties made up of relatively experienced and well equipped cavers
with comparative beginners who were less suitably clad for the trip
undertaken.  This works on many
occasions; but, should conditions take an unanticipated turn for the worse
underground, the beginners need extra help which has not been expected.

The danger has been spelt out by an experienced caver whose
club relies on grant support for its activities.  He says that such clubs “have a problem
that they do not have much time to introduce people to caving but giving total
novices a chance to cave is one of the main ways we justify our existence to
granting bodies!”  Please note that
the exclamation is his.

The following accounts which are based upon the reports
written at the time by wardens concerned will tell their own stories.

Thursday 8th March 1979  Swildons Hole

An outdoors activities group from a large government
establishment in


went, down the cave in the evening led by Graham Burgess and Robert
Morgan.  Several members of the party
were inexperienced and lightly clad but no lifeline was used on the 20′
pot.  As a result, Mrs. Penny Baily, aged
30 from Chard fell from the top of the pitch and injured her back.

The alarm was given to Mrs. H. Main at Soloman Combe
Farm.  She alerted the Police and then
informed Alan Thomas nearby at 2100 hours. Whilst Alan made his way to Priddy Green to organise the first party of
rescuers, the Police contacted Brian Prewer who informed Dr. Don Thompson.  Dany Bradshaw and Bob Cork went to assess the
situation and encouraging news soon returned that Mrs. Baily would be able to
help herself.  Trevor Hughes and a fellow
Royal Navy Instructor took down the hauling rope whilst Fred Davies carried a
goon suit with some dry clothes and Martin Bishop organised a support party of
five.  With their help Mrs. Baily climbed
the pitch and was assisted out of the cave by 2300 hours.

As some back injury was suspected, she was advised to seek
medical attention as soon as possible once home.  Later, it was diagnosed that she had
sustained a crushed vertebrae and needed hospital treatment.  In the circumstances, therefore, Mrs. Baily
did particularly well to help herself once the rescuers had arrived.

Sunday 22nd April 1979  Longwood Swallet

Miss Julie Smith, aged 18 from Keysham, went down the cave
with seven others and Alan Mills.  On
reaching ‘Great Chamber’, she became faint and fitfully passed out.  Alan Mills speedily left the cave to summon
help through the Police.

William Stanton was alerted at 1605 pours and advised Alan
to return underground to keep the girl as warm as possible until others
arrived.  He then raised a party from the
Belfry with comforts and hauling gear led by Tim Large.  Dr. Don Thompson was informed and he stood by
the Reviva in case of hypothermia. Bristol Water Works Company was advised of the incident although there
was no immediate danger from the stream. The Police sent a patrol car to Lower Farm to relay messages and Mr. and
Mrs. R.S. Trim there kindly provided hospitality to everybody.

Tim Large’s party was able to give Alan Mills assistance in
helping the girl after she had been refreshed with hot soup.  It appears that she may have exhausted
herself due to lack of food before going underground.  The rescue finished at about 1700hors.

Monday 2nd July 1972    Combe Down Stone Mines

Brian Prewer was contacted by Bath Police via Frome at 1015
hours with news of a missing person down the mines.  Mr. Bernard, Landlord of the Hadley Arms, had
raised the alarm.  Apparently, he and
five others had gone down the mines with hand torches about midnight starting
Monday 2nd July.  They had lost contact
with one of the party, Nicholas Champion, aged 23.  A search later in the morning had been

Brian Prewer alerted a party comprising Bob Scammel, Keith
Newberry, Alison Hooper, Dave Turner, Rex Emery and John Richardson.  They went down the mine about 1115 hours with
Dave Walker standing-by at the surface. Meanwhile, Brian with Tim Large and Jim Hanwell made their way to

with full MRO
equipment.  They alerted Don Thompson and
Mike Palmer agreed to raise a party in Wells if needed later.  Brian Woodward was contacted in

and all met at the
site about 1230 hours with the Police.

Champion was fortuitously found and brought to the surface
by 1310 hours after some 13 hours alone. He was cold, tired and only had a feeble glow left from his torch;
otherwise he was in good shape.  It is
tempting to regard this as a fair case of being stoned-out in a mine!

Sunday 16th September 1979      Swildons Hole

Brian Prewer was contacted by Frome Police at 1600
hours.  A girl was reported stuck in the
entrance series at the bottom of Kenny’s Dig with a dislocated knee.  Martin Rowe, the informant at Priddy, could
not give any further details so Brian alerted Tim Large at the Belfry to form a
small rescue party.

At 1638 hours, the Frome Police reported that all were
safely out of the cave and that the girl’s injuries were minor.  The rescuers met the party concerned just
inside the entrance.  The cavers
concerned were given as members of Kingston Polytechnic Caving Club.

Sunday 17th November 1979    Thrupe Lane Swallet

Three friends, Colin Gibson, Kevin Senior and Nigel Kermode,
who had graduated from

the previous
summer and had been members of its caving club, re-met for a private trip down
the cave.  Fortunately, all three were
well equipped and fit.  They entered the
cave at 1320 hours and took two hours to reach Atlas Pot.  Here, they tackled the longer wet pitch by
mistake and, owing to the noise and some confusion over life-line signals,
Nigel Kermode the first man down fell the last 20′ of the climb from the bottom
of the ladder.  Senior descended to find
Kermode in great distress and Gibson left the cave to call the MRO.  The accident happened at about 1530 hours and
it was subsequently found that Nigel Kermode had sustained a fractured skull
and pelvis with broken wrist and bone in palm of one hand.

William Stanton was the first warden contacted by the Police
at 1610 hours.  He got in touch with Mr.
and Mrs. Butt at Thrupe Farm and was told that Simon Meade King who was digging
near-by would go down to give assistance. By 1615 hours, Brian Prewer had been alerted and a full scale callout
was initiated.  Dave Irwin and Chris
Batstone organised the surface arrangements and equipment from the store.  Alan Mills and Graham Nye hurried after Simon
Meade-King as runners and were followed by Dr. Don Thompson, Fred Davies and
Ray Mansfield with medical equipment. Meanwhile, calls were made to assemble three separate carrying parties
with Martin Bishop, Tim Large and Brian Woodman respectively.  These parties eventually included Ken James,
Ian Caldwell, Graham Wilton-Jones, Martin Grass, John Dukes, D. Horsewell, T.
Mintram, Chris Bradshaw, Bruce Bedford, Steve Gough, Richard West, Phil
Romford, Steve Tuck.  Brian Prewer and
Albert Hill laid a telephone line from the farm as far as ‘Marble Chamber’.

Ray Mansfield soon came out to advise on the seriousness of
the injuries and the need to enlarge the crawls if possible.  He returned underground with Dave Turner and
Brian Workman whilst Gary Cullen and, Richard Whitcombe went to dig open the
crawls and Colin and Clare Williams cleared stones to stabilize the slopes of
the entrance rifts.  The Reviva was taken
down by Chris Foster and John Kettle. Martin Bishop followed with a party of five to undertake hauling on
Atlas Pot.

Jim Hanwell brought MRO emergency foods from the Belfry
which Mr. and Mrs. Butt and family kindly agreed to prepare.  Indeed their home was a most welcome and
friendly open door throughout the night, for which all concerned are very
grateful.  Hanwell returned, to Priddy
later to stand-by cavers there as it seemed likely, that the operation would
continue well into Monday.  Offers of help
were kindly given by a number of local people who had done little caving on

At 2018 hours, Martin Grass surfaced with Kevin Senior of
the original
Southampton trio who seemed to be
in reasonable shape.  The former then
returned underground with Steve Woolven carrying comforts requested by the
hauling parties.  Reports came out that
Nigel Kermode was being hauled up Atlas Pot at about 2200 hours and a lengthy
carry into Monday was confirmed.  At this
point Tim Large’s team entered the cave to take over from Martin Bishop’s party
where appropriate.  Brian Woodwards group
followed about an hour later to do the hauling on Perseverance Pot.  In view of the injuries and length of carry
anticipated, it was agreed to request medical back-up from Doctor’s Michael
Glanville and Nigel Mizrahi.  Both
responded and arrived at 2343 and 0135 hours respectively.

Michael Glanville was accompanied underground by Pauline
Gough just after midnight.  About then,
it was reported that the patient had arrived in Marble Chamber and had been
given warm air from the Reviva.  Further
soda lime was requested and taken down by Dave Walker.  Nigel Taylor who had just joined the rescuers
from work, agreed to drive to Priddy for a CO2 adaptor.  At 0200 hours, Nigel Mizrahi went underground
to relieve Don Thompson and Michael Glanville when it was reported that the
casualty was nearing the bottom of Perseverance Pot.  When Dr. Thompson arrived at the surface at
0217 hours, he telephoned the hospital in


to advise them of the patient’s injuries and condition.  The local ambulance was then alerted.  At 0415 hours Nigel Kermode was brought to
the surface and left for hospital by about 0430 hours, some 13 hours after the
accident happened.

This was the most serious and prolonged rescue dealt with by
the MRO for many years.  It was made the
more difficult because it was the first incident in the awkward

Thrupe Lane

system.  It is, therefore, worth
recording the carrying times for the various stages of the hauling started from
the bottom of Atlas Pot: to Marble Chamber, about 3 hours; then to the top of
Perseverance Pot; about 2 hours and, lastly, to the entrance another 12
hours.  In addition to a carry lasting
over 6 hours, another problem in such constricted system is to plan the
exchange of essential relief parties when it is difficult for one to pass the
other.  As hauling up Perseverance Pot is
best done from the bottom of the pitch, for example, unless an exchange occurs
below, the relieved party is effectively blocked from overtaking and unable to
get out for another hour or so, behind everyone else.

Apart from hearing that Nigel Kermode was making good
progress from his injuries, perhaps the most rewarding feature for the many
Mendip cavers wholeheartedly involved throughout the night was to be so warmly;
thanked by all concerned, particularly his parents and fellow cavers at

.  Nigel himself has also written later to say
that he is now well enough to be back at work. He is full of praise for the rescuers efforts made on his behalf and
wishes to thank all concerned.

Saturday 24th November 1979    Manor Farm Swallet

A Cambridge University Caving Club party consisting of
Jeremy Drummond, Hibbert, David Flatt, Robert Kingston, Duncan Howslay and Heather
Wall were on the way out from a trip to the bottom of the cave.  Heather Wall was particularly tired and, on
climbing the ladder up the entrance shaft, she fell off from about 25 – 30 feet
up.  No life-line was available.  Another member of the party standing at the
bottom of the shaft was able to break her fall without further injury occurring
to either one.  This is a rare case of
two wrongs turning into a right!  Apart
from a cut chin and feeling very shaken, Heather was otherwise not badly hurt.

Members of the party already up the pitch raised the alarm
to Frome Police.  Dave Irwin was alerted
and contacted a rescue group from the Belfry at about 1755 hours led by Chris
Batstone and Tim Large.  This team
included Trevor Hughes, Ross White, Tony Jarratt, Dave Glover, Simon Woodman
and Garth Dell.

The injured student was strapped into a Whillians Sit
Harness and quickly hauled up the shaft by 1840 hours.  A Police patrol car then took her to the
Cottage Hospital, Wells, for a check-up and stitches for the cut chin.  After an overnight stay for observation, she
was discharged on Sunday morning.

This incident could so easily have been prevented had a
lifeline been used.  Those concerned
admitted that they had not even bothered to take one along.

9th December 1979    Swildon’s Hole

An Oxford University Cave Club party with several beginners
went down the cave about 1430 hours.  One
of the novices without good protective clothing for a very wet trip was 19 year
old Martin John Vickers from
Birkenhead.  Although the stream was running quite high
and the weather turned in rather wet later, the party went beyond the 20′
pot.  When the water began to rise
following heavy rain, they started to retreat but Vickers Got into difficulty
at the pitch as he was very wet and cold by then.  Other members then surfaced to call MRO out,
via Frome Police.  Dave Irwin was
informed and organised a rescue team with hauling gear, hot soups and medical
equipment if needed.  As Dr. Don Thompson
was unavailable, Dr. Michael Glanville was contacted and he made his way to
Priddy.  Bristol Waterworks Company was
advised of the incident and the flooding risk in view of the continuing
rain.  They quickly responded by turning
on their pumps upstream and the effect on the water going into the cave was
soon noticed.

The rescue party was led by Tim Large and was able to assist
Martin Vickers out of the cave by 2045 hours. He was examined by Dr. Michael Glanville and it was found that he was a
known sufferer from asthma.  However,
this was not known by his fellow cavers beforehand and may help to explain the
distress he experienced when the conditions worsened underground.

Cavers with such disabilities that might flair up
underground ought to their colleagues know, especially in the event of a rescue
which may require use of emergency medication.

Thursday 27th December 1979    Swildons Hole

Four former pupils of

, went down the cave
about 1730 hours intending to visit the Black Hole.  They had travelled to Mendip earlier in the
day; hoped to be out of the cave by about 2300 hours and had arranged to stay
at the Mendip Caving Group Hut, Nordrach, afterwards.  However, none of this was known to anyone on
Mendip at the time for they had left word with someone in

that they would telephone them on
getting out of the cave.

The party consisted of Edward Taylor, aged 25 from
Leicester, Adam and Ben Williams, aged 19 and 18 from

and Philip Cash aged 18, from
Daventry.  All were ell equipped and apparently
experienced but they were not members of a caving club.

Heavy rain followed by quickly melting snow set in during
the evening.  At about 2030 hours, Tim
Large and a group from the Belfry went to the entrance and found water flowing
into the blockhouse.  The stream was
still rising.  Noting a blue Ford Cortina
parked at Manor Farm, they alerted Brian Prewer about ten minutes later.  It was agreed that Tim would make a quick
search of the streamway before the water became too high if no one surfaced
earlier.  Brian Prewer informed the
Police then stood by Jim Hanwell and Dave Irwin.  Other local cavers were asked to be ready if
called out later.  Bristol Water Works
were contacted and Paul Hodge, Sources Engineer, came to Priddy.  Unfortunately, however, their pump-house was
flooded and the pumps were out of action. By this time, the worst of the storm had passed so Tim Large, Dany
Bradshaw, Bob Cork and Michael Duck entered the cave about 2230 hours with
comforts and basic hauling Gear.

The search party found the missing four making their way up
the 8′ in good shape.  All were safely
out of the cave by 2330 hours. Apparently they had become aware of rising water beyond sump 1 and so
had turned back.  On reaching the
waterfall at the 8′ they found it impassable and so had waited about 2 hours
below for the flood to pass.  As it
abated the search party arrived.

With the increase in the number of cavers making flying
visits to Mendip from far a field, yet not making contact with locally based
clubs, the problem of leaving information about trips with the appropriate
people becomes more acute.  In this case,
for instance, one wonders what the contact in Oxford would have done had the
party not phoned by about midnight, one hour after the estimated time out.  This is the worst time to raise a rescue
party quickly of course.

Another problem of the flying visit is to get a picture of
what the weather is and has been doing on Mendip compared with other areas of
the country.  By 27th December 1979, the
ground was fully saturated and it had already been the wettest December since
1965 owing to very wet days on 5th, 9th, 13th, 14th and 18th.  On 27th in fact, a 100 millimetre storm
caused serious flooding in south east


and 51mm fell at Priddy.  Just as the
party went underground the rain became particularly intense.  The storm has claimed to be the heaviest of
the decade over the area as a whole. Thus, it is of interest that cavers in Swildon’s Hole were able to
detect rising water beyond Sump 1 and were capable of sitting out the event for
the critical 2 hours that it took for the flood peak to pass.

All cavers are urged to note that, after 1st April 1980,
re-organisation of the Police Divisions in Avon and

will mean that Emergency 999 calls
for Cave Rescue and Cliff Rescue will go to Yeovil rather than Frome as at
present.  Ordinary calls should be made
to Yeovil 5291 asking for the Control Room. From some locations on western Mendip, such calls may also go to
Bristol and

.  The same procedures must be used to alert

In these circumstances it is even more important that
everyone contacting MRO through the Police must:-

  1. Give
    precise information about an incident.
  2. Give
    exact instructions of where they can be contacted by telephone and
  3. Remain
    at that telephone until spoken to directly by an MRO warden.

The last point is particularly important, of course, for a
rescue action to be successful.

J. D. Hanwell
Hon. Secretary & Treasurer MRO
1st March 1980


Just a reminder to everyone

OF AN ACCIDENT  DIAL 999.  ASK FOR POLICE.  THE REQUEST POLICE FOR CAVE RESCUE.  Give details and stay at phone until
contacted by Mendip Rescue Organisation

The above information is posted by the entrances to all
major cave systems in the area.  The same
Emergency Call procedure should also be used for CLIFF RESCUE and all incidents
underground in Avon,


and Wiltshire.

In the event of an Emergency Call for both Cave and Cliff
rescue services, the Police will contact the first MRO Warden available in the
order on their list.  The Warden will
call others as required.  Informants must
give instructions to the Police on where they can be contacted by telephone and
stay there until called by an MRO Warden for all details.

The appropriate Police authority decides jointly with the
MRO Wardens alerted what course of action to take.  All helpers should report to the warden in
charge so that a full record of the rescue can be compiled.  MRO reports are published annually.

MRO is entirely a voluntary service organised by the Wardens
listed below.  All are cavers who live in
the area and are members of Mendip clubs. The support of experienced club members and any rescue teams they form
important to the work of MRO.  Funds are
solely from donations and used only for providing equipment and rescue

J.D. Hanwell Hon. Sec.

MRO Wardens in order of call: B.E .Prewer, D.J. Irwin, A.R.
Thomas, F.J. Davies, T.E. Large, M. Palmer, M.Bishop, J. Dukes, J.D, Hanwell,
B. Woodward, N. Taylor, C. Batstone, A. Butcher, R.D. Craig, S. McManus,
W.Stanton, P. Franklin, P. Davies, O.C. Lloyd, F. Frost.

Medical Wardens: Dr. D.M.M. Thomson, Dr. P. Glanville, Dr.
M. Glanvile, Dr. S. Parker, Dr. R. Everton & Dr. N.Mizrahi


The Odd Note

……..Club and general news…….

Charterhouse Caving Committee.

Tim Large is now Hon, Sec. of the C.C.C.  Permits are available at the Belfry.  These are free to members for a three year
period and the Temporary Permits now costs 25p each.

Otter Hole

Any member wishing to visit this cave should contact the
Caving Sec. Martin Grass.  The RP of DCC
have requested that all applications from the Club must be via the Caving
Secretary and not direct to them when applying for keys.

Belfry Bookings

In addition to Tim’s note in lifeline the Committee have
stated that only known bone fide groups may stay at the Belfry un-attended
during the week.

Slide Show

On the 20th September 1980 in the Hunter’s Long Room, Paul
Deakin will be showing a section of his superb slides.  Members not acquainted with Paul’s work
should come along to see the show as he’s one of the current masters of cave

New Caving Guide

Guide with a difference! ‘Speleo Stamps’ by J & V Cullen is a catalogue of over 1,000 stamps
depicting cave scenes, bats, paintings etc. A 6pp, A4.  Available from Tony
Oldham. Price about £2.

Ogof Dydd Byref

N. Wales.  After a decade of negotiations with Tarmac
the cave conservationists have finally lost the day and the cave had been

Lionel’s Hole

Diggers have made an 80ft extension above the downstream
sump.  Aindy Sparrow will be giving an
overall account of the cave, together with a new survey, in the near future.


Following the inquest on the drowning of the two cavers in December
last year the OFD Management Committee have decided to install marker posts at
the Confluence, Marble Showers and Maypole Inlet (places where one can leave
the streamway) indicating the water flow rates as a guide to cavers on the
stream condition.  Secondly they have
ruled that all cavers will be kitted in a wet-suit before entering the
streamway and there will be no novices.

As many will know, the Columns have been closed to cavers
and may only be viewed under strict control. Dates will be published when cavers wishing to see the Columns may join
to form a party.

Read’s Grotto

In February


carried out a dye check to establish whether the waster from Read’s entered GB
or went its separate way.  Samples taken
from the flooded bottom of the cave proved negative.  It would appear that the water from Read’s
goes its own way for the time being – there’s plenty of time for it to join GB


The terminal choke in


is to be attacked by the CSS and Graham one man band.  Price is to co-ordinate the work

BRCA Meetings

AGM.  Ingleton
Community Centre, June 21st.

Annual Conference:

September 20th

Afton Red Rift

Devon.  Access to this cave is now controlled by

Box Mines

The owner has complained about the attitude of various
cavers crossing his land to the Backdoor Entrance.  Remember courtesy costs nothing, lack of it
could mean loss of access.

Lamb Leer

The ladder to

Drive is to replaced with a rope to be used for hauling up individual ropes or


The Scilly Isles

The Scilly Isles are not renowned for their large caves but
Piper’s Hole has been the interest of many cavers for several years for
archaeological remains since the land mass there was only flooded a few hundred
years ago …..

Piper’s Hole

Tresco ~ Isles of Scilly

Length 270ft. 

, 20ft.

Piper’s hole is a sea cave at the north-east corner of the

island of
. When approached, the site, at first, appears to be a sea worn inlet in
the granite coastline measuring some 20 ft in width and partly filled with

Climbing down into this inlet, a 5ft drop with a fixed
handline, the cave entrance is seen at the top and is roughly 6ft high by 12ft
wide.  The height decreases to about 4ft
just inside as the boulders in the inlet slope upwards.  For the first 40ft or so the roof is composed
of cemented boulders and steadily increases in height.  For the first 25ft the boulder floor also
rises, after which it drops by about 6ft so that 40ft into the cave the passage
is 14ft high by about 5ft wide.

At it this point the roof becomes solid rock and increases
in height quite sharply with one more patch of cemented boulders where it
reaches its maximum height.  The floor at
this point is fairly level though still consisting of boulders.  It seems as though the water level in the
cave may have reached this section at one time and moved the boulders about a

Sixty feet in, the passage reaches a height of about 20ft,
begins to veer to the right and starts descending so that daylight penetrates
no further.  After another25 ft the
“fresh water lake” is reached. There is a metal ring fixed to a boulder by the edge of the water,
probably dating from pre-war days when daring tourists were given BDI boat
trips across the lake.

As the water is reached the 4ft wide passage suddenly
broadens out into a 15ft side by 30ft long and 25ft high chamber.  At the far end of the chamber is an archway,
about 15ft high, through which the water continues.  The roof of the chamber has white shiny marks
on it which could be either salt or calcite deposits.  The water in the lake is clear although there
are numerous pieces of flotsam floating in it and it proves to be brackish,
though less salty than sea-water.

Keeping to the right hand side where there is an underwater
ledge it is possible to wade across the lake. The deepest point us under the archway where the depth is about
5ft.  Beyond this, the cave widens into
another chamber about 40ft long by 20ft wide. The floor is now composed of fine mud or sand and rises so that halfway
along the chamber; the lake comes to an end. The fine gravel beach rises steeply for a fee feet and then levels off
as it comes to the end of the chamber. Another archway about 5ft high leads on into a third chamber.  Looking back into the second chamber a white
deposit can be seen along the walls about 6ft above the water level.  This seems to be at the same level as the
flat section of passage near the entrance and possible represents a maximum
water level reached in the past.

In the third chamber is another steep (raised?) beach with
ripple marks at its top right hand. Water may flow here in winter!  At
this point, the walls, roof and floor begin to change their character.

From close to the entrance the walls and certainly the
archways, if not the roof, are composed of solid rock but from the third
chamber to the end of the cave no slid rock is seen.  The walls and roof now consisting of cemented
gravel and the floor of coarse gravel probably broken down from the walls.

At the end of the third chamber another archway leads to a
fourth chamber which is hardly more than a passage.  This passage continues for a further 80ft or
so, gradually decreasing in size until the end of the cave is reached at about
270ft from the entrance and aboutv20ft above the high tide level.


The following is a theory of the possible origins of Piper’s
Hole: –

Piper’s Hole probably began as a fault in the granite which,
with, changes in sea level, was expanded to form a series of sea arches.  The sea level then changed drastically
causing the fault, sea arches and all, to be filled with gravel.

When glaciation occurred, rocks were deposited on the
gravels, and became cemented together to form the old beach.  After the ice age, when the seas were at a
higher level that at present, the gravels began to erode away.  When the cave had been eroded to its present
depth, part of the beach collapsed forming the present storm beach in the

The level of water in the cave was then 6 or 7ft above its
present position.  The sea level then
gradually fell to its present level and the water in the cave followed suit but
in a spasmodic fashion as holes occasionally created, by storms, in the storm

Ted Humphreys
1 May 1 980


Notes from the CSCC:

SSSI Revision. Work on this has continued throughout the year.  All the major cave surveys have been
transferred, in outline, to 1:10,000 OS maps; however further work on these, including
the drawing up of boundaries, is awaiting guidance from the working group
convenor.  Most of the write-ups have
been completed but some will need further work to a standardised format.  Only the Banwell and Pinetree Pot
descriptions are outstanding.  The Nature
Conservancy requires the work to be completed by September 1981.

CAVE CONSERVATION FILM.  Sid Perou has now completed filming work, a
certain amount of which was done on Mendip. Wookey Hole and

were filmed.  The film grant aided by the Nature
Conservancy through the NCA has been shown in a rough-cut black and white
version and David Attenborough has agreed to record the commentary.

been extensive discussion on the use and administration of this fund being set
up with the proceeds of the SSSI Revision. No final decision has been made but certain funds have been made
available for the Cave Conservation Film.

SINGING RIVER MINE. A problem existed with this site when three houses were being built in
the field and ‘No Trespassing’ notices put up. However, after discussions with the landowner it was agreed that a
pathway would be kept allowing access to the mine.  It is vitally important that the mine
entrance gate be locked at all times.

CSCC ACCESS BOOKLET. Chris Hannam has completed the text and publication of the booklet is

BROWN’S FOLLY AND SWAN MINES.  All entrances are being gated and an access
agreement is being negotiated with Sir Charles Hobhouse through the Southern
Cave Club Company Ltd.  Surveys of these
mines have been prepared by ‘Wig’ and will be published when the agreement is

CUCKOO CLEEVES. The gate to this cave is closed with 1¼AF bolts which should be
tightened down when leaving.  On several
occasions they have been only finger tight – please ensure that they are locked
tight with a suitable spanner.


Access to
Surrey Mines

Notes on access to the mines in
the Chelsea Newsletter………..

CARTHOUSE – Access denied by the owners.

MARDEN – Access via 72ft. shaft.  Permanent entrance being constructed, time
make sure that the entrance is well hidden from children.

QUARRY HANGERS MINE. Dig in progress

MERSHAM (East of Bellum’ s Bank).  Access via 35ft shaft in private
grounds.  Access by Unit Two members
only.  For information about keys phone

QUARRY DOWNFARM – Contact Unit Two.

BEDLUM’S BANK No.3. Maybe made a National Monument by D.O.E. Contact Unit Two.

GODSTONE – Arch. Entrance locked.  Contact Unit Two.

MAIN.  A22 entrance locked by police and Surrey C.C.
due to cover being left off.  Key held by
Unit Two.  Roman Road Entrance filled in
due to vandalism.

Odd Notes

OFD II Piccadilly Chamber was flooded to a depth of 20ft
during the Christmas flood.

CHECK all fixed aids in caves for security.

Aggy – reports state that a boulder has moved at the top of
the 4th boulder choke and may have blocked the way through.  If you are intending to do the

Grand Circle
, be
prepared to come out the same way.  The
report also states that there is bad air at the upper end of Biza Passage.

OFD – Column Hall now gated. Opened six times a year only.

John Dukes, the tacklemaster.





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