Exploration Club, The Belfry,

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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones,

24 Redland Way
, Aylesbury,

Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) 28270.

Club Officers for the year 1980/81 as elected at the Annual
General Meeting: –

Hon. Secretary

Hon. Treasurer

Hut Warden

Hut Engineer


Caving Secretary

B.B. Editor

Committee Members

Tim Large

Sue Tucker

Dany Bradshaw

Nigel Taylor

John Dukes

Martin Grass

Graham Wilton-Jones

Sue Dukes

Stu Lindsay










(0749) 73960 (work)

(0761) 35165



(0749) 75686

(0582) 35145

(0296) 28270

(0749) 75686

With this, my first B.B., I have already managed to build up
a small, relatively local editorial team who have assisted greatly in
production.  I am still hoping to find
more people able and willing to help with the initial copying of stencils.  Three people so far have offered photo-copying
facilities, usually at their place of work. Are there any more offers, please. Let me know when you see me (I’ll probably be nagging for articles at
the time!) or drop me a line (with an article, of course).

It’s a long time since we had decent photographs reproduced
in a Belfry Bulletin.  If anyone has
access to an electrostatic stencil cutter and can therefore copy photos onto
Gestetner stencils please tell me a.s.a.p. Alternatively if you can reproduce slides or prints onto offset litho
plates and can do the necessary printing, we need you.  At present we need about 220 copies of each
B.B.  If you have to make a charge, let
me know how much – it could still be worth it.

We will shortly run out of B.B. covers.  At current rates of production we need 5000
for two years.  Look at yours this
month.  Can you make 5000?  For nothing, or very little?  Offers please.



Visit To October Grotto

Last year we read of Stu Lindsey
dangling over the drop into G.G. in Yorkshire Now he relates his visit to



The day after the G.G. achievement saw me as the guests of
Messrs Younitz, Hudson and Kinghorn in the

Kingsdsle Master
.  These three intrepid Y.S.S. bods had spent
the fast few weeks bolting an aven near Philosophers Crawl, initially with the
aid of a maypole, and one more bolt should do it…. it did.  The honour of being first in was to be denied
to Steve Y; constricted access and the low hang of the ladder required the
efforts of the midget of the party. Access was gained to about 20ft of passage and the look of
disappointment was paramount on the faces of the digging team.  But, they had found a superb, heavily
decorated chamber – Helictite Grotto.

The obvious way on was blocked by a series of large, very
solid stal flows, stalactites and stalagmites. The floor was also of stal. Turning around to descend, one cannot help but notice the straws in the
solid roof opposite, they are in excess of 4ft (more probably 5ft.).  All possible ways on were investigated,
except for the stal blockage.  There were

The name October Grotto was given by S.Y.  The maypole and other gear has been removed
although a bolt has been left at the 30ft level.  A small, intermittent draught is present possibly
caused through the volume of traffic relative to the volume of traffic – its
one place that could challenge Swildon’s for most people per minute, per
passage!  The bottom of the aven is
liquid mud, the top clean rock so it is probable the mud has been deposited by
the stream 8ft lower.  The fluting of the
wall provides reasonably conclusive evidence that the passage was once quite an
active inlet.


Monthly Notes

Recently an ex-member of the club, Denis Read, turned up at
the Hunter’s (he left in 1952!!).  After
donating some old copies of the B.B. his and Wessex Journal to the club library
he invited any member round to house to help him get rid of 91.75 gallons of
home-made wine that is cluttering up his living room.  Any takers!!

Denis’s address is: 37, Broomground, Winsley,
Bradford-on-Avon. tel.
Bradford-an-Avon 6315.

On 26th Oct. Dave Morris, Rob Palmer and Martyn Farr dived
the terminal sump of Agen Allwedd. Visibility was poor and much loose line had to be removed from the sump
(4) before progress could be made. Eventually 300 feet of new line was laid in the sump and a line reel
left in.  Exploration was terminated
here.  The trip lasted 17 hours and was
the first attempt on the sump since the tragic death of Roger Solari during
June 1974.

A small expedition, mainly of S.W.C.C. members, left the
U.K. last month for

.  Originally a much larger party should have
gone in August but the main sponsors, British Caledonian Airways, withdrew and
the trip had to be drastically reorganised.

Pages 8 and 9 of this issue show the long awaited survey of
the Lionel’s Hole extensions.  The end
sump has recently been dived again, this time by Chris Milne (WCC) but again
without success.  However two promising
digging sites were noted near to the sump and it is hoped that these can be
probed soon.  Lionel’s is nowhere near
finished yet.


Triple Troubles in the Double Troubles

The writer of this poem wishes to remain anon., but wonders
if the characters portrayed recognise themselves!

We lay in ‘The Hunters’
where we were in training,
and then we got worried
because it stopped raining.

We looked at each other
and let out a curse,
we would have to go caving
now what could be worse!

All three staggered out
feeling quite sick,
when some silly bugger
felt like a ’round trip’.

Frank was all keen
his mind must have blown,
for no word of a lie
he must weigh 18 stone.

Dave gave us a grin
and said he felt queer,
we all knew what that meant
as he brings up the rear.

Now I lit my pipe
and thought I would show ’em,
I’m the best of the lot
’cause I’m writing this poem.

So off to the green
and with lifeline and belay,
we got up the staircase
without too much delay.

On over the fields
it seemed like five miles,
and with Dave’s half a pint limit
he soaked all the stiles.

Now into the blockhouse
and sit in the stream,
this just can’t be true
it must be a bad dream.

Now trampling on cubs
and people in jeans,
we cleared out ‘The Twenty’
with blasts of baked beans.

Up through the ‘


and through the ‘Mud Sump’,
with Frank in the middle
the ‘Incredible Lump’.

We pressed on with haste
and passed ‘Shatter Pot’,
falling into ‘Blue Pencil’
a right shitty lot.

T’was at the first trouble
we got in a muddle,
it sumped off completely
when Dave pissed in a puddle.

He thought it quite funny
but soon lost his grin,
when ‘we bailed with his helmet and left his head in.

So we pressed ever forwards
on sore hands and knees,
and Frank’s moment of truth came at ‘Birthday Squeeze’.

It took Dave ten minutes
and many a groan, 
Frank looked at his guts
and let out a moan.

He took off his helmet
and left off his light,
and shoved his head in
’till it fast stuck tight.

His bum seemed the problem
as his belly moved down,
it filled up his trousers
and they began to come down.

Dave pulled and I pushed
Frank let out a wheeze,
and said ‘Deary me’
this is a tight squeeze.

He just couldn’t get through
in his rubber suit,
even with help
from a size 14 boot.

So I pulled him back out
and he had an idea,
he said he would undress
I said ‘That seems queer’.

He pulled off his jacket
and I said stop there,
’cause under his trousers
I know he was bare.

Some things are alright
and all this seemed fun,
but for one thousand quid
I won’t look up his bum.

Dave said we need ‘bang’
So I put in the boot,
and low  and behold
out did Frank shoot.

Now just at that moment
Dave was pulling him too, a
and he ended up
somewhere near ‘Swildons Two’.

So next tine you’re round there please give Frank a ring,
if you happen to find
a few layers of skin.

P.S. Now why do we do this
is it just for a lark,
or do we like groping
round holes in the dark

Couldn’t we just turn the lights out!!


More Monthly Notes

Wig is now confirmed as an OFD I leader once more.  His phone no. is: Priddy 369.

Last month (October) the aven in Cooper’s collapsed up to
daylight.  Full details will appear in
next month’s B.B.

Pete and Alison (WCC) have, as usual, been active all over
Mendip.  In Eastwater the rift at the
bottom of Primrose Pot is now 50 feet long, draughting but very narrow.

At the end of October a dye test was conducted between
Sludge Pit and Swildons.  If the results
are positive I’ll publish more details soon. In Longwood Pete and Alison are slowly but steadily pushing along the
narrow, aqueous end of Reynolds’s Rift towards the sound of roaring streamway.

Still in Longwood, Speleo RHal have found over 200 feet of
passage extending off the top of Waterfall Chamber.  It heads north and ends not far from the
surface, near the present entrance. Radio location has shown inaccuracies in the original survey of up to 60

Tim Large reports that a well decorated chamber has been
found at the very end of Goatchurch. Someone has dug under the ‘impassable’
rift beyond the Drainpipe and up through loose boulders to reach the chamber.

Thanks to Descent for the last two items of news.  It is good to see at least one of our
national caving publications carrying up-to-date news.

East Kingsdale, N.C.C.
have done it again.  At the end of a
previously known cave they have discovered a series of pitches, up to 90 feet
deep for the largest.  The system is
tight and strenuous.  That is a quote
from Lugger and Geoff Yeadon who also say that at the bottom is an uninviting
but promising sump.  “It’ll be a
long time before anyone dives that,” one of them said.  More on East, and West, Kingsdale next month.

On the international scene, news has almost been flooding in
during recent months of exceptionally deep caves, over 1000m in fact.  In May a connection between two of the
Sistema Huautla caves in


gave a depth of 1220 metres.

For some time now there have been rumours that Snieznaja
Pieszcziera, at the eastern end of the
Black Sea,
was 1200m deep.  Confirmation comes
through Descent once again that the 9 km system is 1280m deep.

Jean Pernette reports on a system 1195m deep in the lapiaz
beyond Anialarra, in the P.S.M. area. The underground river is enormous and must be the St. Georges that
resurges as the Cascade in the Kakoueta gorge. The cave has over 500m further depth potential.  The Cascade led to the original explorations
of the area and the discovery of the P.S.M. The new, parallel system should be even bigger than the P.S.M.  Thus may end over 30 years of systematic

One rumour – of a 500m deep shaft system ending only tens of
metres from the highest part of Lamprechshofen, 1024m.


Lake District Meet 1981


Saturday February 21st to March 1st  inclusive

Contact martin grass or Graham W-J for details and/or

Caving Secretary’s Report, 1980

Although no major finds have been made by the B.E.C. on
Mendip, 1980 has been an active year for the Club.  Let’s hope it continues throughout the
decade.  During the year access was
negotiated once again to the far reaches of Gough’s Cave, and through the
goodwill of the manager the Club has started two promising digs as well as
diving a newly found sump.  Other caves
in the Gorge which were previously ‘out of bounds’ have been visited and a dig
started in Cooper’s Hole in an attempt to link this with Gough’s.  In fact the management are so keen for this
to happen that they reported that the connection had been made to H.T.V.!  Both sites are being dug regularly every
Wednesday afternoon, by a small group of B.E.C. businessmen.

Other dig sites being actively pursued by Club members are
Manor Farm and a new site in Dan yr Ogof.

As far as organised Club meets are concerned, these have
been limited to caves where access is difficult, thus ensuring a good turnout
of members Otter Hole,


and Dan yr Ogof have all seen at least one visit this year.  Club members again attended the Gaping Ghyll
Whitsun winch meet and large group of B.E.C. and other clubs descended on
Crickhowell for the Easter holiday.

The main Club expedition this year was back to


to continue the exploration of Barengassewindschacht.  Last year’s limit was passed and exploration
eventually ended at a pitch, thought to lead to a depth of about 400
metres.  A return this winter is planned
to pass this obstacle.

Nearer home, in Cuthbert’s, the Arête ladder has been
removed to be strengthened and repaired but will be replaced in the near

(space for Editorial

Overall it has been a good, active year, with even a trip
into Mossdale while it was raining!!

Martin Grass.


Letter to the Editor

Dear Graham,

A note for the B.B. if of any interest.

“Whilst on holiday at Erze-sur-mer, near Nice in the
South of France, I visited the Club MarteI, 15, Av. Jean Medecin, Nice,
06000.  They meet every Thursday at 8.30
p.m. to discuss caving and the trips to be arranged for the following Sunday in
the Alpes Maritime.

The president of the club is M. Greach, who speaks some

There are many caves in the region up to 5 km long, some
with sumps for divers, and even with streams at temperatures up to 21°C though
some are down to 2oC.

Anyone interested in joining them for a trip should call in
to a Thursday meeting.

Obviously I gave them details of the B.E.C.

Yours sincerely, Jeremy Henley.


Many thanks to Tuska for donating his B.E.C. Dinner raffle
prize, a copy of Martyn Farr’s excellent book, ‘The Darkness Beckons’, to the
Club library.


Lionel’s Hole Extension Survey



The BEC Get Everywhere –

South Africa

a letter from J – Rat.

Having a couple of weeks to spare the writer grabbed rucksack,
aquaflash and borrowed diamond miner’s helmet and with thumb in the air tramped
into the uninteresting prairies of the Orange Free State en route to the Rand
goldfields and the Pope.  For newer
members this particular Pope is not the one that Macanus tells jokes about, but
an exiled Belfryite – Colin Priddle.  In
true tradition the pair downed copious quantities of ale, retold the usual
stories and then started thinking about caves.

A visit to the show
Sterkfontein, an hour’s drive from

whetted their
appetites.  Despite being situated in an
almost desert like scrubland area of low hills – with no sign of karstic
features – the cave was found to be an impressive phreatic network.  Several hundred feet of sculptured and well
decorated passages were visited.  The
rock formation here is Dolomite and bare rock walls resemble elephant skin –
dark grey and beautifully eroded. Unfortunately many of the formations were vandalised, partly due to
mining and quarrying operations and partly to an irate ex-leaseholder with a
load of dynamite.  In the depths of this
extensive cave lay a gloomy, placid lake which obviously stirred hidden desires
in the Pope.  He was talked out of
leaping in and removed from the cave to vent his passions on photographing the
multi-coloured genitals of some local monkeys. A notable point of interest on this cave is that it is one of

South Africa
most important archaeological sites – having yielded many remains of extinct
fauna and several examples of early “ape-men”.

A couple of days later the writer left the Pope to his gold
analysing and caught an overnight train to Nelspruit in the E. Transvaal.   From here the monotonous landscape of the
Veldt began to develop into picturesque hill country.  Some 20km from the town is the excellent show

cave of
, again a phreatic system in
Dolomite with both dead and growing formations. The “railway tunnel” entrance passages were once used by
Sobhuz to hide from invading Zulus. Fierce battles took place here and in the valley below –  the Swazis only surviving with help from a
BDoer commando camp.  Rider haggard also
visited the cave, using it as a prop for his books “She” and “King
Solomon’s Mines”.  During the Boer
War it was used as a Boer ammunition store for their “Long Tom” 94
pounder cannon.  The cave has over 4km of
explored passage – much of the original exploration, survey and research having
been undertaken by Derbyshire caver Harold Jackson and now in the hands of
C.R.O.S.A. (Cave Research Organisation of South Africa – more of whom later).

Having done the tourist trip, admired the pretties and
affixed “Bertie Stickers”, the writer enquired about trips beyond the
show cave and was told to try the following weekend.  He then headed off for the next cave, 100km
north, spending the night at one of
only decent pubs in the old mining

village of
’s Rest.

Two days later

was reached.  A tatty museum in Bushman’s Rock Shelter was
looked at on the road to the cave – notable mainly for the impressive digging
derrick which resembled a Medieval Catapult. This was duly photographed in order that Dark Satanic can weld one up
for us.  On arrival at


itself the writer was taken through the show cave by a Basuto Small Boy called
“Boy”, a sort of 10 year old black Dave Yeandle.  The tourist route is not over
impressive.  Loads of dry broken stal litter
and conspicuous electric cables with bare light bulbs were the main
impression.  At one point Boy beat
frantically on a stale with a rubber mallet to show off the echo from which the
cave gets its name.  Beyond the lights
several dark passages lurked – prompting the writer to ask about trips
beyond.  He was instantly sent back into
the cave with Boy (clutching a Tilley lamp) for a swift through trip via the
Western Series to exit from a shaft further round the hill.  Huge, gloomy phreatic tunnels and a 300ft
long by 100ft high chamber proved more spectacular than the tourist route.

Deciding to camp at the cave and explore further the
following day, your scribe later met Steve Sehoombe – Afrikaner ex-pro boxer
and new cave owner.  Steve had a survey
of the system but having little knowledge of caves he wanted the place explored
to confirm the existence of a supposed passage leading to another exit 16km
away.  In payment for this, free luxury –
accommodation and meals were offered!! Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth (and despite having to
go UNDERGROUND) the writer accepted this generous offer and promptly got rigid
with Steve and his mates to celebrate – swapping English jokes for Afrikaner
tales of one “Van de Murver” (a S.A. version of “Murphy”).

The following day, Friday, a phone call to the Pope elicited
a quick response.  He immediately took
the afternoon off and drove the 360km to the cave.  During the next couple of days the B.E.C.
Africa Section explored practically every passage, including several not on the
survey, for a total extent of less than 2km. The fabled 16km passage did not exist but much of interest was found in
the system.  A high level grotto
contained a superb old false floor.  A 15
ft wide gap was crossed by a 6 inch diameter tree root which bored off down a
side passage, dropped 12 ft vertically and – like a water main or grotesque
fossilised snake – continued off down another gallery for several hundred
feet.  The Pope’s fascination for monkeys
was again demonstrated when he was photographed hanging from the root where it
bridged the false floor.  Other finds of
note were three ancient beer cans left by previous explorers and some fine
quartz “Boxworks” formations. Two Afrikaner lads and a girl hitch-hiker were also shown round the

One of the systems most impressive sights was unwittingly
found by the writer on a solo evening trip – or rather they found him.  Several horseshoe bats had been noticed
hanging in ceiling pockets or occasionally flying about but just before 6 p.m.
a marked increase in activity was observed. Suffering from loneliness, severe hangover and a scalpel-like gash in
the leg, the writer was not amused when he was suddenly surrounded by scores of
dive bombing bats.  With nerves on edge and
thoughts of rabies and histoplasmosis – and not helped by skeletal remains of
6″ centipedes littering the place – he crept bravely across the floor of
the huge chamber with the increasing bat population whistling round his ears.  Realisation dawned that it was time for the
nightly bat flight and the writer and several hundred Berties shot out of the
shaft entrance in disarray.  Although
only a few bats were seen underground, a visit to the entrance the following evening
showed that at least 2,500 were in residence. They were coming out at about a hundred a minute and after half an hour
we gave up watching them.  It is to be
hoped that Pope’s photos of the flight came out – and also an interesting snap
of a Zulu night watchman with Bertie stickers on both his overalls and his knob

Having wrapped up our exploration we bid a fond farewell to
Steve and family and headed south in Pope’s car, pausing to look at the


and some superb sandstone potholes in the river bed en route.  On Sunday evening we were back at

. The tent was erected and some local cavers winkled out.  An evening of dedicated alcohol consumption
proved most entertaining when the cave owner, Phillip Owen, turned up.  Within twenty minutes it was obvious that
this as
Africa‘s answer to Trevor Hughes.  Standing on a table in the cave restaurant he
executed two superb striptease acts and then proceeded to do a “Ginger
Baker” act on the crockery – drumming several plates, cups etc. into
millions of fragments.  The rest of the
evening is just a blurred haze!

Our Feelings and language can thus be appreciated when at 7
a.m. next morning a hairy faced Afrikaner dragged us out of our pits for a trip
to Crystal Chamber – beyond the show cave. Pikkie, a C.R.O.S.A. member, sometimes takes parties of up to thirty
novices through this muddy, boulder-filled crawl.  The fine crystals and helictites made the
trip worthwhile though, and rounded off an excellent few days of caving and
boozing.  Our thanks to Steve, C.R.O.S.A.
and the S.A. Brewery Company for making the visit so pleasant.

Anyone interested in further information on the above caves
can obtain this from the writer (who is writing this from his pit in a mountain
chalet and worrying even more about Histoplasmosis!)

A.R. Jarratt.


Sept. ’80


Speleo Teaser

by Chris (Blitz) Smart.

The following is a variation of an old puzzle which consists
of a basic sixteen facts – your problem is simply to determine who drinks cider
and who caves in Rhino.  I wish you the
best of luck.  The answer will be published
next month.

1.                  There are five clubs which, due to rebuilding,
are now all next to each other in a row.

2.                  The Southerner is a member of the B.E.C.

3.                  The Northerner caves in Swildons.

4.                  Badger is drunk by the


5.                  The Welshman drinks Arkells.

6.                  The

is situated immediately to
the right of the U.B.S.S.

7.                  The caver who uses SRT does so in Cuthbert’s.

8.                  Ladder is used by the M.C.G.

9.                  Butcombe is drunk in the middle club hut.

10.              The Irish caver stays in the first club hut.

11.              The speleologist who crawls stays in the hut
that is next door to that of the Caver who visits Longwood.

12.              Ladder is used by the club next to the club who
cave in Stoke.

13.              The free-diver drinks

Royal Oak

14.              The Scottish caver free-climbs.

15.              The Irish spelunker belongs to the club next to
the Shepton.

16.              In each club one technique only is used, in just
one cave, by one regional caver who only drinks one particular brew.

In next month’s B.B. articles on South African caves and
cave art, by J-Rat, some thoughts on Wigmore from Trev Hughes, Elm Cave
exploration by Colin Houlden, more details about Coopers Hole,compiled by Chris
Smart, and MANY OTHERS, I hope!

© 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.