Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

. Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G.

Fiona on her 21st birthday

Any of the articles which I promised would be in this B.B.
last month will definitely be in the October issue, if I receive them from their authors.  I also hope to make a start on Wig’s enormous
tome on Early Cave Photographers and their Work.  He did give it to me back near the beginning
of the year.

Just because Mr. ‘N’ has apologised for his low article
production this year does not mean he can do the same in the next Club
year.  Weren’t you going to do something
on East Mendip Mines, Nigel, and do you remember I asked you to write something
on Explosives Underground.

Tuska, where is thy article on
and by now you could add something about the



In the offing are R.N. diver’s courses by Ross, something
more from Batswine, B.C.R.A. Conference review by someone, a long-awaited,
multi-edited, word perfect, highly detailed account of I can’t remember what by
Greg, plus a host of other articles promised over the last year!

Happy Club year.  Bassett.




Jim will probably be in the States another couple of
years.  He visited
Cave in

National Park

about 2 months ago.  Perhaps an article….


Reef Diving In


by Trevor Hughes.

Having helped pay off my last ship (HMS Bulwark) and seen
her, sadly on her way to the breakers, I’m now back at sea again serving in HMS
Bristol a one-off guided missile destroyer. Within a week of joining her we sailed from Pompey dockyard, heading for



Our second port of call was
on the south eastern coast, 20 miles north of

.  We arrived on Wednesday August 5th for a week
of superb weather, 35oC every day.

On the day after our arrival the ship’s diving team spent a
day out on the local offshore reefs using one of the ship’s 13m workboats.

There are three

reefs, roughly running parallel to the
shore.  The Inner Reef is 30 – 100 m from
the beach and the depth varies between 3 and 7 m.  The visibility is usually only about 12m due to
the effects of wind and swell.  A good
variety of tropical fish can be seen but the larger species are rare.

Further out, ¾ – 1 mile off-shore, lies the second reef,
with a water depth of 12 – I5m.  The
diving conditions are better here, as is the variety of marine life.  Approximately one mile offshore lies the
third reef, with depths varying between 15 and 25 m.  This reef provides the best diving.  Many species of fish were to be seen,
including the larger reef fish such as goatfish, yellowtails, gruntfish (yes,
they really do!) and spadefish.  The
occasional barracuda was to be seen, keeping a beady eye on the diver.  The problem with this site was the strong
northerly current.

Using the local diving guide book and a large scale chart it
was a fairly simple task to locate our first dive site – the outer reef, called
Osborne Reef in the area we were interested in.

I was one of the first pair of divers in the water and we
anchored ready to dive.  The water was so
warm I only used a 3mm vest, more for comfort than warmth.  We descended quickly but the boat had dragged
its anchor and we had a hard up-current swim to cross the flat sand and reach
the reef.  To augment the flatter
sections of the reef, the local authorities have dumped huge lumps of concrete,
wired up tyres and various bits of wreckage. This policy has worked well and the area is covered with soft corals,
sponges and a healthy scattering of developing hard coral.  A wide selection of smaller, multi-coloured
reef fish are to be found.  The top of
the natural reef was at 15m depth and corresponds to an old beach level.  The visibility was around 25m and we spent an
enjoyable dive drifting over the reef. The boat was still having problems holding its anchor and as a result we
had another long swim back.  The other
divers fared better and all had a good dive.

We moved inshore to the inner reef where the current was
almost unnoticeable and, after a meal break, we got ready for a second dive.

The best features of this inner reef are the small, but well
developed, coral heads:

brain and chalice corals abounded.  Many
were covered with tube-worms which, until disturbed, display their feeding
feathers with radiant beauty.  The most
amusing incident on my hour long dive was playing with a spiny puffer fish;
when fully inflated they are totally unable to swim.

We finished the day by touring the extensive marinas of

Fort Lauderdale
there are
more millionaires here per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world.

My diving appetite fully whetted the next plan was to dive
in the
Florida Keys.  The Keys are a 180 mile long string of 200
islands connected together by a single main road.  They run from Jewfish Creek in the north to

Key West
in the
south-west.  The islands separate the
shallow flats of the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida Reef that lies on the edge
of the Gulf Stream in the
Atlantic.  The reef, which lies parallel to the edge of
the Keys, is the only living coral reef on the North American continent.

On the Friday another ship’s diver and I hired a car and
drove down to the Keys, a two hour, 80 mile drive to reach

Arranging the dive was simplicity itself, although it might
be better to book in advance.  The second
dive shop that we tried had space available on its boat for the following day,
not too bad going as it was by now 6.30 in the evening and the shop was officially
shut, but nobody seemed to care.  The
girl in the shop, a real “buxom barmaid” blond, rang round the local
motels for us and so there, very quickly, was the solution to our accommodation
problem.  A cheaper alternative would be
to camp but I had left my tent with Jeni. Camping costs about £5 per night for two.

Our sailing time the following day was 0830 so after yet
another “Big Mac and French Fries” aided by a 6-pack of michelob we
went to bed early: definitely not in the B.E.C. tradition – I must be slipping.

An American breakfast at 0630 takes a lot of getting down
but copious cups of strong coffee helped. We arrived on time, loaded our gear onto the “Sundiver” and
set off just after 0830.  The basic half
day trip was two dives so we hired a second bottle each.

Our first site, Molasses Reef, five miles off
Key Largo, seemed fairly crowded, but once underwater
there was plenty of space for all. Stated simply, the reef has to be seen to be believed.  The reef top at 3m depth drops down to flat
silver sand at 12m.  The edge is a maze
of gullies, sand pockets and small underwater caves.  The visibility was staggering, at least 30m,
probably more, and the water temperature was 29 C.  Since the whole area is within the

State Park
the marine
environment is protected by law.  The
coral and marine life have flourished as a result.

During our hour long dive we managed nearly everything, from
feeding the fish with chopped up sea urchin to being stung by fire coral, an
innocuous brown coral with a sting like a nettle.  Believe me, if you want to find out what
colour adrenal in is try a face-to-face meeting with a 2m green moray, poking
its head from its cave deep in a narrow gully. Actually the moray was so used to seeing divers that he didn’t react at
all, nor did a small spotted moray seen later on in the dive.  We picked up a couple of barracuda who
trailed us for most of the dive; they kept their distance and are not dangerous
unless threatened.  The coral here is are
extremely attractive and are covered in various sponges and tube worms, and
surrounded by a multitude of different fish. Additional interest was provided by the remains of an old schooner, the
‘Windless’, sunk at the turn of the century.

The second dive, on nearby Pickles Reef, provided my dive
buddy with two lobsters and me with badly stung legs.  Again an hour long dive in incredible
visibility, the reef here was flatter but numerous coral caves provided
sanctuary for the ever evasive lobster. While carefully trying to extract a reasonable sized ‘lobbie’ from its
hole my attention as well as my prey was totally lost as a school of at least
20 barracuda flashed past, at high speed, only about 15m away.  This reef has a wreck – an old barge that had
carried barrels of cement, whose remains litter the area.  The wreck was very broken up, but most

We were back at the boat marina by 1330 after an excellent
morning’s diving.  We finished the trip
off with a huge pizza and more millchelob before driving back to Lauderdale.

Any diver visiting the area should have no problem getting
himself a dive.  There are a multitude of
dive shops/charter boats along the length of the Keys all of whom offer trips
from half a day upwards. Some form of certification is required.  My green R.N. diver’s logbook was new to our
charter dive master but readily accepted. The most pleasing factor of the trip was that you were not treated as a
tourist or passenger: the boat’s crew were chatty and helpful, and made every
effort to use your first name from the onset. They were most interested in

diving, especially our wrecks.

As for costs, well, it’s not expensive.  If you have already forked out for a

holiday then to
spend a day diving, the extra cost is peanuts. Our hire car, a small Chevrolet, cost us under £25 for two days.  The motel was the expensive item at £16 for
the two of us but would not be needed for a day trip.  The half day diving cost us £14.50, including
hiring a second bottle.  A complete 2
dive, ½ day package, including boat fees and all the gear, would cost about
£28.  All you would need to bring would
be your log book.  Most boats also cater
for snorkellers as well.  So if you’re
thinking of holidaying in the area then don’t let Jaques Cousteau have it all
on his own.  Spend a days diving in the
Keys.  It’s a lifetime’s experience.


Providence Pot To


by John Noble

Providence Pot to
Cave is still a classic Yorkshire
trip, so after a few pints in the

, Chris and Ann, Al
Keen, Pete Slater (all wee) and yours truly decided to give it a crack the next

Sunday broke dull and muggy with masses of savage midges
taking great chunks out of arms and legs. The local booze seemed to have taken great chunks out of Pete who
remained steadfastly in his pit refusing to move for any sod.  Fancy missing out on your tenth attempt,
Pete.  One hour later, or was it two, saw
the four of us at Kettlewell changing into caving gear ready for the one mile
walk to the Providence Pot entrance.  Did
I say one mile?  It seemed more like two
to me.  Either the bloke who put up the
signpost has a bent sense of humour or I’m even less fit than I think.  In fact the only thing that kept me slogging
relentlessly on was that we were being followed by a bunch of wide boys from
the White Rose.  Say no More.

Providence Pot is a pretty unspectacular place that does not
warrant much of a description.  The
entrance series consists of drops and crawls including the aqueous Blasted
Crawl, before reaching a number of chambers’ near the streamway.  The Palace is the largest of these.  Route finding throughout

is very simple – just follow the
telephone cable.  At Stalagmite Corner
the main streamway is met – Dowber Gill Passage.

Now this was more like it and we bombed off down a large
passage through Skittle Chamber and on down a lengthy, boulder strewn rift
passage until we reached a watery crawl which slowed us down.  After the crawl a slit in the left hand wall
was followed to a rift which led to a window on the right.  We dropped through this and found ourselves
in Bridge Cavern.  I found this the most
impressive part of the cave.  It
consisted of a huge rift with a floor of massive blocks.  We got some particularly fine views of the
rift by traversing high up above the chamber (not by intention – we were lost).
Near the end of the cavern is the Bridge itself.  This is an amazing arch of different shaped
rocks, balanced against one another and spanning the rift.

After dropping out of Bridge Cavern we became more involved
with the water, a chest deep canal to be precise, although this quickly became
shallower and we grunted along two or three hundred metres of grim rift
passage.  This ended at an oxbow which
was followed to the so-called half way point of the cave, Eight Hundred Yards
Chamber.  This is a fairly large chamber,
which also seemed to be the half way clump, the floor being littered with all
kinds of junk left from speleo picnics.

On reflection, the second half of the Cave was most
definitely the bit with the teeth, especially as we chose to keep to the
streamway than chance getting lost on the traverses high in the roof.

Leaving Eight Hundred Yards Chamber is a rift into which Chris
and I dived headlong attacking the route with brute force while Al somehow
glided through telling us we were doing it all wrong.  After beaching on a rock pile we jammed and
chimneyed across Greg’s Horror, a smooth, hold less section, and dropped once again
to the streamway until we reached the boulder choke under Brew Chamber.

Here, beloved reader, your author drops a clanger, namely
ripping out his lamp cable half way through the choke.  We tried everything to get the lid off in an
effort to repair the damage.  We tried
belt buckles, fingernails, even the odd lump of rock, all to the accompaniment
of Milne, who shouted about bad maintenance, incompetent cavers, etc. Trust the


to get personal.

Eventually I gave up and we carried on with me between Chris
and Al while Ann stormed off in the lead. Actually the trip became very interesting from where I was, the
highlighted passage silhouettes, the distant, misty light reflecting…bloody
hell, I sound like David Heap.  Of
course, the disadvantages of no light quickly became apparent: the odd
misplaced boot in the face; the skull-denting rock face; the unforeseen
deepening of the streamway.  Glug.

The streamway after Brew Chamber was becoming tighter until
we hit chest deep water which lies under the Terrible Traverse.  Perhaps we should have stuck to the traverses
as the next section of the trip was a very demanding part consisting of tight
to very tight crawls and squeezes in the stream, coupled with some awkward
traverses just above it.  Soon the tightness
relented and, after clambering over some unseen obstacles, we came to the sump
where we met up with Ann.

At the mention of a sump Chris, our resident diver, turned
misty eyed and clambered over all of us to dive through.  Ann followed him and I went next, nearly
losing my eye-balls on her fingernails. Al quickly joined us and we continued on down a fine section of passage
in waist deep water until we reached the duck. This is situated under a large flowstone cascade which, apparently, can
be climbed to a well decorated aven.  The
duck itself was easily passed – the water just touched our chests – and we
proceeded up a beautiful minaret-shaped passage towards our goal.

The cave was becoming quite misty by now and the odd whiff
of carbide betrayed the nearness of the popular

.  It was in this section that we met a couple
of parties going the other way around so it gave us a chance to brush up on the
ancient rites of Ebah gumese.  The slide
up into Dow soon appeared and we climbed up into its well worn passages and the
route to the entrance.  We walked slowly
through the large entrance chambers taking in the views and discussing the
possibility of a larger system of passages extending beyond the present end of
the Caseker Gill section of Dow.  Soon
daylight could be seen and, after clambering over a party of school kids
(“Oh, look at the frogmen”), we emerged from the entrance of Dow,
after an excellent four hour trip, to be met by mist and drizzle.

Although not possessing large pitches or stonking great
stream passages or even any wonderful decorations Dowbergill has plenty of
problems to offer and of course, it’s a through trip, and we all like those,
don’t we.


The World’s Deepest Caves

The following list, based on those published in Caving
International but including certain, more up-to-date information, contains all
systems over l000m deep – thirteen in all. Hocklecken-Grosshohle is not included as its reported depth of 1022m,
reached during a solo trip, has not been verified by other cavers.

Jean Bernard

BU 56


Snieznaja pieszcziera

Sistema Huautla

Gouffre Berger

Pozo del Xitu

Sistema Badalona


Gouffre rUrolda

Sima G.E.S.Malaga


Felix-Trombe-Henne Morte



























How soon will this list be added to or out-dated?



Letters From


Karen Jones
Rocky Mountains,



We are at present sitting in the most beautiful
surroundings~ the scenery is very like that in

with pine trees and very
little undergrowth.  It’s been very hot –
about 95°F for the past few days but has now cooled to 71°F so we’ve got our
sweaters on!  The atmosphere is much more
pleasant and much less humid which makes life much pleasanter.

There are chipmunks here in the forest that are incredibly
tame – one tried to eat

shoelace!  They’re very pretty little
creatures but the Warden told us they’ll eat anything – that includes toilet
rolls and travellers cheques (they have expensive tastes!)

We found

New York

totally overwhelming~ very busy, dirty and smelly.  The buildings made you feel like an ant
crawling around and the view from the

incredible.  We took a ferry across to
Staten Island for 25c return (that’s about 12p) and that
took 20 mins each way and passed near to the Statue of Liberty en route.  Although there wasn’t much to see when we got
there, it was worth going for the cooling breeze.

New York we crossed
Canada to see

Niagara Falls
which were
very Spectacular but also very commercialised. The noise was fantastic and the spray rose about 50 feet above the top
of the falls. 

We then travelled overnight, stopping during the day in a
city which we found rather tedious and we felt that we weren’t seeing the

.  One difficulty about travelling on the buses
is that they do only go to the towns and cities so you have to travel for a
while to get into the country and find a campsite.

We then arrived at


stayed there to sorting ourselves out and planning our route.  We visited a drag-race meeting which was
quite fun but incredibly noisy.  The
Americans certainly camp in style, some even having fairy lights around the
doors and everyone has a TV.  We seem to
be causing quite a lot of interest as we travel along; one day someone will run
into a tree while they stare at us!

Bowling Green we got a
bus out to
and then hitched a lift out towards

National Park
, camping
just outside it.  We walked to

, about 9 miles, and went on the
half day tourist trip which took four and a half hours and covered four
miles.  It was supposed to be very
strenuous but both of us found the walk to and from the cave more tiring.  The cave consisted of large, phreatic passage
and vadose trench.  Most of the actual
length of the cave (all 224 miles) is smaller passages leading off one large
passage – this was on average about 40 to 60 feet wide and between 10 and 50
feet high.  Most of the passage was on
the same level and there was very little change in depth.  You could easily do a trip that lasted
several days without using any ladders or ropes.  The few formations that are to be seen are
either covered in soot or are under thick layers of sand and dust, which makes
the part of the cave that we saw rather unattractive.

At about half way through the cave there is a place called
the Snowball Dining Room.  This room has
a seating capacity for approximately 200 people, a canteen, a gift shop and
toilets.  Our cave trip ended after a
quick look at the only large formations that we saw in the cave: these were
called the Frozen Niagara formations but they unfortunately looked rather red
with dust.

As for organising any trips with local clubs, the distances
involved have prevented us so far.

Karen and Gary.



At present we’re in

National Park

where we’ll have spent two weeks, where we leave early next week.  That may seem a long time, but as it’s the
size of Wales (!) there’s a lot to see and do. The country is really beautiful around here, very much like that in

but a
lot more arid.  Over 80% of the park is
covered with lodge pole pines, the remainder being open meadowlands, rivers,
lakes, etc.

We visited
Old Faithful and
saw several other geysers erupt whilst we were there.  They really are impressive, discharging
hundreds, sometimes thousands of gallons each time they erupt, which can occur
every few minutes or only once or twice a week depending on that particular
geyser.  The

hot springs
are also interesting, and algae
add various colours to the water, which is sometimes as hot as 199°F.  The colours vary, depending on the
temperature of the water, the hottest allowing yellow and orange (the most
simple in structure) to grow, going to green in cooler waters.  We were lucky to go on a walk and see the
geyser basins at night, lit by the moon. Due to the cooler atmosphere there was more steam and you also noticed
the different smells (rather like. bad eggs from the sulphur) and the sounds of
the various steam vents and geysers more. It was quite eerie and well worth staying up.

The nights get pretty cold, the temperature sometimes
dropping to 40oF, but during the day it’s pleasantly warm and sunny.  The atmosphere is much less humid making
activity more comfortable.

We also visited the Grand Canyon of the

which was very impressive due both to the different colours in the rock and the
unusual formations.  We were lucky to be
able to see an osprey sitting on her nest (this through a telescope), and two
diving for fish.  The waterfall is
magnificent, falling over 300 feet.

We’ve spent about five days hiking in the back-country and
camping out overnight.  It was very
peaceful and quiet and we met few other people. We saw lots of wild-life, bison, elk, moose, mule deer, pelicans,
chipmunks and many wild birds and insects. One night we were woken by a pack of coyote howling which was rather
unnerving but also exciting, making you feel very close to nature.  To camp in the back-country you have to get a
permit and book your sites but this is all free.  A normal campsite is £1.50 to £2.00 depending
on amenities.  At the moment we are
spending about £42 per week which is pretty reasonable.

Today we went to the Mammoth Hot Springs which really are
beautiful.  They are like gour pools and
are formed in the same way, sometimes at the rate of 22″ per year.  They estimate that the water brings about two
tons of dissolved limestone to the surface every day.  These too are coloured by various algae.  A really magnificent sight.

I would love to stay here for longer, but as half of our
holiday is already over we don’t really have time, but it would certainly be
well worth coming back.  We’ve seen some
slides of the area in winter and that, too, looks truly beautiful.  From here we’re heading to the West Coast and
down to Yosemite and
National Park and then the Grand Canyon and across to
Florida, via




Letter From


(the B.E.C. African Section) gets everywhere!



As requested for just on a year now please find enclosed
what attempt I have been able to make at a “Biffo” song.  I should have liked to confer with Rob but I
think New Year was the last time I saw him and on that occasion I think I was
somewhat the worse for the demon brew.

The demon brew is very much in evidence here also and there
are between 6-8 types of local lager available. Unfortunately there is no bitter and no scrumpy.  However, the local substitute more than makes
up for it – this brew goes under the name of Palm Wine and has the colour of
milk and the texture of a very thin porridge. It is straight sap that is tapped off the top of the raffia palms into
plastic jerry cans that you see perched on top of the trees all through the
bush.  It is then left to ferment for a
day or so, by which time a scum/froth/crud/crust has settled to the
bottom.  Finally the larger flies and
insects are picked out and one gets it down one’s neck….the final treat in
store is that this stuff (if it’s good and fresh) continues to ferment in your
stomach which produces vast quantities of gas that even Quackers would be proud

There is, as a footnote, another story to add.  The palm wine is distilled to what is called
“kie-kie” and has the subtle effect of

a)       making
you fall over;

b)       making
you forget where you are

c)       making
you blind? (or just blind drunk.)

You can buy the spirit/rocket fuel for about 60p equivalent
for a bottle the size of a normal lemonade bottle – as long as you provide the
bottle.  Alternatively it’s 5p for a single
shot or 10p for a double.  If the cutting
crews get wet and/or cold during the day they will con you to though to the
nearest village and buy some.  After it
they will chop through the thickest jungle possible, and demolish even quite
fair sized hardwood trees.  It is not too
wise at such times, or indeed at any time, to be in front of their machetes as
they fly about.

We have seven ex-pats here now and we are running four
cutting crews (i.e. one white man with three or four local cutters).  A good crew can do approx. l½km/day in total
– that is clearing a trace about 2m wide; a fair to average crew will only
manage about 1km a day.  A lot, however,
depends upon the thickness of the bush, and how much around the villages and
houses it has been cultivated.  We
actually have ‘carte blanche’ from the State Govt. for whom the rural
electrification is being conducted, to destroy any crops or vegetation we want,
but it is a bit soul-destroying to plough through some poor guy’s livelihood,
so, wherever possible with crops particularly yams, we try to push them
aside.  To be honest, though, it is a
futile exercise as about two weeks after we survey through the main cutters
come through – there are about ten or twelve of these, with three or four
chainsaws, and they will fell anything within 11m either side of our survey
centre line.  If they are lucky they fell
them onto the crops.  When they are
unlucky they put them down right across the road.  I measured a big one they had just managed to
fell right across the main tarmac road – it was 60″ across the
diameter.  I counted in excess of 100
rings.  It took them 1½ days to clear the
road and repair the 6″ deep trench in the tarmac.

After a couple of weeks here you find that things are just
the same as on all overseas jobs from the Far East, to the Middle East, North
to West Africa – one becomes blasé about everything and tends to ‘go native’.

For example, the twice weekly dead fly in the boiled
cabbage, the nightly visit of cockroaches and lizards to your bathroom, the not
so common, but still not unusual sight of a bare-breasted woman walking along
some bush road – unfortunately these tend to be the ‘old black mamas and they
are about as exciting as a pair of kippers, which is what the breasts normally
look like.  One just accepts it along
with the filth and general decay of the; country – you would complain in the UK
if the electricity went off, but here it is a daily feature – the only question
is for how long – the record so far is 8 hours (and 24 hrs. for the water)

Herr Blitz.


Eating Contest

Some of the older members (Jok Orr and Bob Cross) may
remember the foul food eating contests held periodically at the Belfry.  Well, now we have a new Champion in Jen
Pogue, who performed against an itinerant Venture Scout from the Viking Unit.

Below is a list of things eaten or a attempted.  It must be noted that Jem ate everything
offered, and did not puke once.  Anyone
care to Challenge him?

Jem ate the following, on top of a Chinese meal.  His opponent failed to eat and honked at *

  • 1
    pint of salted water with raw egg in it;
  • the
    egg shells;
  • large
    bowl of dry cornflakes;
  • a
    raw sausage; *
  • 1
    tipped cigarette;
  • 2
    teaspoons cocoa powder; 
  • Chicken
    flavoured munchies (cat food);
  • Catkins
    (fish-flavour); (Jem said that it was funny tasting caviar)
  • 1
    sprig of nettles, freshly peed on;
  • 1/8
    th lb of butter
  • 1
    bottle of brown sauce;
  • 3
    live matches;
  • 1 marmited
    Black Shadow condom; (chewed only in accordance with rules)
  • 1
    chilli; *
  • 1
    bay leaf;
  • 3
    pieces chewing gum;
  • cup
    of milk with tea leaves;
  • 1
    tea bag; *
  • piece
    of cotton wool.











Inspired during a hilarious surface surveying trip along

.  Put together by Herr Blitz.

You could hear his black boots
pound as he raced across the ground,
And the knocking of his knees as they went round and round,
And he motored up to the Belfry, chewing upon a rubber vest,
His name was Biffo, and he did the hardest caving in the West.

Now Biffo loved his caving and he adored his digging too.
“Without it, chaps,” he argued, “there’s nothing much to
Some said it was too much for him. “It’s dirty and hard,” they’d say,

But Biffo got his lagging on three times every day.

Now Biffo had a rival, an evil locking man,
Called Three Gibbs Rob from Upper Pitts with a Petzl in his hand.
Poor Biffo said, “I like Cloggers, ‘cos Cloggers climb ropes best,”
But Rob replied, “I’d be happier with a Gibbs upon your chest.”



they quarrelled hard, each night in the camp,
And Rob went up to Biffo’s gear and he didn’t half kick his lamp
Whose name was Premier,
And it lit the hardest cave trips in the West.

Rob taunted him about his prusik knots and his fancy rope work too,
And when Biffo saw the size of his Petzls he didn’t know what to do.
He knew once he’d tasted a three point Gibbs he’d go no other way,
It looks so much better than sit-stand systems, slogging up pitches all day.

Now Biffo, he was pretty old – he’d been caving many a year,
But now he’s gone to Rocksport to purchase other gear,
Where all the clients are weegies and electric lights are banned,
And a hard man’s life is full of fun in that hairy, fairy land.

But a caver’s needs are many and Rob, he gave up string,
But strange things happened on his weegie trips that disconcerted him:
Is that the carbide a-rattling, as down Goatchurch he slogs,
Or Biffo’s ghostly toe-caps a-catching on the clogs.


More On Manor Farm 

by “Quiet”
John Watson

The very thought of going digging down Manor Farm can strike
terror in the hearts of the most hardened B.E.C. members, or so it seems when
trying to recruit diggers.  So the aim of
this short article, apart from keeping G.W.-J. happy, is to enlighten you of
the situation, if you do not yet know the merits of the dig.

After an absence of several months a visit was made to the
terminal rift which, although heavily choked, possessed an opening in which
carefully lobbed stones rattled down for three or four seconds.

Heavy rain had washed large quantities of silt down the cave
indicating severe flooding.  This was
confirmed by Axel Knutson and I, (the remnants of a once fine digging team)
when we reached the bottom the cave. Water had backed up from Blind Pot, where it was still in evidence, to a
depth of four feet in the main passage. On reaching the dig we were surprised to find a very large boulder in
the bottom and flood marks in the roof. The water, however, had almost completely drained despite a U-tube in
the dig which again was almost dry, confirming the guess that we are merely in
the top of a large rift, partially choked with stream debris.

This was the state of affairs until the end of August, by
which time I had managed to persuade Mark Brown to have a look at the dig, and
he was suitably impressed.  We have now
cleared enough room to start descending the rift, which has a very refreshing draught.

Due to the rift’s length (50+ft) the two of us have been
unable to, stack the spoil in a satisfactory place, making the dig even more
restricted.  A large scale assault is
needed, so come on Wormhole, Bob Hill and Jem, and any other willing diggers.

To keep our options open, we also have intentions of digging
Florence’s Bath Tub which, because of the dry conditions more recently, has
lowered somewhat and looks very promising. Both digs could prove very rewarding.


Caves At Redend Point,

by John Noble

Redland Point is situated at the southern end of
200m south of


, at G.R. 038828.  One cave is situated on the point itself
while the others are to be found in the cliffs to the north.

The cliffs are formed in the current bedded Bagshot Beds of
the Tertia Era, laid down some 50 million years ago.  They consist of sandstones and ironstones at
the base, followed by a thick band of lignite which is overlain by layers of
sands and clays.  Iron staining is
evident on the cliffs and pipe-like ironstone concretions can also be
seen.  These hard deposits are also
scattered along the wave cut platform which fronts the cliffs.

All the caves are formed in the sandstone/ironstone bed and
are developed along joints which have been opened up by a combination of
hydraulic and corrasional processes. These processes may have been assisted by chemical reactions between
seawater, surface runoff and the ferrous condition of the rock.  As the caves are found on small headlands and
the bay between them contains only small joint cavities, it would seem that the
caves must lie in more resistant sandstone. The leas resistant sandstone, which now forms the bay, yielded to marine
erosion along its joint and collapsed leaving the undulating platform now seen
before the cliff.

Cave No.1. Situated 100m south of the path to

at the beginning of
a small headland.

Basically a smooth, arch-shaped cave, 2½m in length with a
maximum height of just under 1m.  There
are a few ironstone protuberances forming a small ridge on the left hand side
of the roof.  The floor is entirely
covered in sand and slopes upwards from the front.  An interesting feature of the cave can be
found under the entrance lip.  It
consists of a wide, 20cm high crack ascending to a ledge formed at the junction
of the sandstone/lignite beds.  Seepage
water was noticed trickling down this

Cave No.2. Situated 10m south of cave No.1 on the same small headland.

This cave has a length of 4½m and a general width of 2m
until it narrows at an impassable archway. The cave has a height of almost 2m just inside the entrance but lowers
to under 40cm at the archway.  The floor
is grooved and potholed and filled in part with sand and pebbles.  The walls are smooth and undercut.  Ironstone deposits protrude from the roof and
small ironstone pipes are noticeable around the archway, no doubt influencing
its formation.

Cave No. 3. Situated on the extreme end of Redend Point.

This cave is the largest of the three.  It extends 6m into the cliff and has an
overall width of some 3m.  The height at
the entrance is 1.6m and rises to 2.5m inside before sloping down to the
end.  The walls are smooth and undercut
and the floor displays grooves and potholes partly filled with sand and
pebbles.  In the roof can be seen the
joint along which the cave developed.


Coastal Studies in Purbeck.  Canning and Maxted.

The Geology of the Country around

Swanage, Corfe and Lulworth.  Arkell.,

Quotes Of The Month:

From our latest addition to the Cuthbert’s Leaders’ Ian


“Where’s the ladder for the
entrance rift?”

“We’re not using one.”

“Can it be free-climbed

and on seeing the Cuthbert’s Two dam….”How long has
this been here!”


Walsall Gets That Sinking Feeling

from New Scientist 9th July, 1981, sent in by Ken James.

Black Country towns
may be on the verge of collapse.  A few
disintegrating pillars left behind from old limestone excavations beneath
Walsall, Sandwell and
Dudley could be all that
is supporting large sections of the towns. A government research programme starts this month to find out just how
serious the problem is.  Engineers will
spend eighteen months mapping the old workings – which began 300 years ago and
ended only as recently as the 1920’s – and deciding what action should be
taken,  Meanwhile, West Midlands County
Council has postponed plans to build major roads in the Walsal1 area.  The county’s engineers fear much more
subsidence of the kind that recently turned a sports field in
into a shapeless mass of earth and grass.

The chances of a disaster are worst in
town centre where there are caverns up to 14 metres high less than 70m below
the surface.  The miners extracted up to
95% of the limestone, leaving cavern roofs held up by pillars as much as 20m
apart.  Now acidic water flooding into
some of the caverns is eating away the pillars, which are collapsing under the

Consulting engineers Ove, Arup and Partners will use teams
of divers and remote TV cameras to explore the state of the workings because
few records were ever kept of the limestone extractions.  Some, near
where the seams outcrop, have been explored. “You could fit a pair of semi-detached houses into many of the caverns,”
says Tony Evans, Dudley Council’s engineer. “We’ve injected sand into some of them to stop catastrophic collapse,
but other caverns we simply don’t know about. They could cave in at any time,” he warned.


Book Reviews

Caving and Potholing
David Judson & Arthur Champion Published by

, in paperback. 192pp £1.95

This is another “how to do it and what you need”
book, aimed mainly at the newcomer to the sport.  Unfortunately the authors have also included
chapters on Surveying, Organising Expeditions and Caving Clubs &
Politics.  This last chapter is full of
political waffle about C.N.C.C., C.S.C.C. and N.C.A~ as well as giving a
political structure showing how we all report to the N.C.A.!!  This type of information is not required by
somebody taking up the sport. Inaccuracies in the text are high: in one chapter it states that
Derbyshire caving did not really start until the formation of the Cerberus
Spelaeological Society!  The chapter on
caving areas of the
British Isles could have
been a good introduction to novices, and a way of them saving pounds on area
guides, but instead, all it does is list the major systems with no proper
descriptions.  The maps, like all the
drawings in the book are of poor quality. On the good side, the photographs are excellent and it is refreshing to
see shots that are new and have not been constantly reproduced in other books
or magazines.  Overall this is a very
poor production and not the sort of material we would have expected from two
experienced and respected cavers.  I get
the feeling that it was written in the hope that it would become a standard
reference book on caving, being cheap and easily available.  If this happens and libraries and schools
adopt it as a standard work it will give novices a very bad impression of the

A caving Manual.
Jim Lovelock.  Published by Batsford, in
hardback. 144pp, 98 b&w photos. £7.95

The best way of totally depressing oneself for at least a
month is to read the previous book followed by this one.  James Lovelock’s writings on caving are well
known from his other books: “Life and Death Underground” and “Caving”, both of
which have been used to get the Belfry stove going!  I fear this one will not even burn.  Firstly, when compared with other recent
publications like “The Darkness Beckons”, by Martyn Farr, the price
extortionate.  The book is a general book
on caving and is written in James Lovelock’s normal, sensationalised style (he
is a free lance journalist and this sticks out a mile).  The eleven chapters consist of the usual
“how to do it and where” plus one on cave diving and another on caves
of the world.  In the chapter on vertical
technique a considerable amount of space has been dedicated to
“Spider”, the Clam products system for using abseiling and prusiking
on a single wire – totally useless and using to beginners in the sport.  A substantial number of the photographs have
been taken by Sheena Stoddard who, it says in the acknowledgements “is

Best Woman cave photographer”. Having seen the ones in this book I would say she must be the only one,
as they are of poor quality and, in many cases, show bad technique.  Dare I suggest she gives up photography and
takes up cooking!  The chapters on
British caves and caves of the world are most interesting but are not detailed
enough for my liking.  One rather amusing
part, in the section on Cave Diving, shows two photographs.  One is entitled “Cave Diver Ken Pearce
at Keld Head” and the other “Dr. Ken Pearce diving at Keld Head
attached to a lifeline”.  The first
shows a head sticking out of the pool at Keld (the entrance cannot even be
seen!) plus a lot of water. The second shows a body in the resurgence pool,
with an air tank on its back attached by a thick lump of rope to a man in
waterproof trousers waist deep in water! Two good shots of a cave diver! Another good shot is showing the “Latest rope for S.R.T. which
appears to be 30 feet of hawser laid nylon or polypropylene.  To sum up, this is another poor book at an
expensive price and I cannot see it getting beyond the sports section in the
odd public library.

Martin Grass.


A Girondin In The Quest For The World Depth Record


being a translation of an article in a French Newspaper
“Le Journal du sent to Rocksport in mid-August and borrowed there from.

The massif of the Pierre Saint Martin could well attract
renewed attention from the general public in the next few days.  A team of cavers has come as a result of
their discovery of a new underground river perhaps the deepest ever explored.

At the P.S.M. an important expedition is now exploring the
heart mountain.  The object of this
excursion – the pothole BU 56, so called because it opens in

on the
flanks of Budoguia; a pothole which, many years, has interested the

Last week their efforts were partially rewarded by the
discovery, at -1335m., of a sump which, if it is passed, opens the door for a
world first.

A Promising River.

The number -1335m., is significant of a great success, the
fact that BU 56, now the second deepest cave in the world, has thus pushed the
famous P.S.M. into third place.

The limestone massif of the P.S.M., famous for its karst
scenery, at an altitude unique in
actually contains several subterranean rivers. The best known opens not far from the frontier col.  It is the one in which Marcel Loubens died at
the beginning of the fifties.

Lower down, towards Soule, some pitches give access to the


The BU 56 system is developed, over 12 km, parallel to the
P.S.M. river and having no junction with it.  It is debated that it is the course of the

, for which cavers from all over
the world have searched for thirty years.

The autonomy of this new river course and its length permits
the supposition that one can go straight on, sooner or later, to reach a new
world depth record, via one and the same route.

The Sump of Uncertainty.

The expedition is led by Jean-Francois Pernette, who already
commands serious respect among international specialists.  This 26 year old Girondin who has lived for
some time in Escoussans, not far from Cadillac, is the Director of the big
expeditions of the Federation francaise de speleologie.

His experience will make him go cautiously over the next few
days of the course of this operation.  As
soon as the waters of the river St. Georges are lower it will be verified
whether the sump which thwarted previous continuation can be passed.  This task lies with Fred Vergier, one of the
best French divers, who will shortly set to work.  This reconnaissance in the glacial waters
(3°C) will be the deepest dive made to date.

Afterwards, assuming that the difficulties have been
surmounted, the descent into the unknown can continue.

Will it produce a record?

Jean-Francois Pernette does not discount this possibility,
and such a record would be of the BU 56 pothole alone, and not an imaginary one
obtained by joining up sections of other, known systems.

* I’m not quite sure what this bit means!


Access to Ogof Rhyd Sych.

Due to problems with the tenant farmer who controls access
to Ogof y Ci, presently closed, you are advised to proceed to Rhyd Sych via the
east side of the gorge.  Mr Williams, Pen
rhiw Galis Farm, is very helpful and will allow cavers to use his farmyard for
parking although there is only room for two cars.  Please contact Mr. Williams before proceeding
to the cave.  You should avoid any
confrontation with the tenant farmer on the west side of the gorge or use the
remains of the barn to change until the issue over Ogof y Ci is settled.

Monthly Notes

a couple of days’ worth, anyway!

Marathon: We
did it!  In 17 hours 57 mins., all the
caves were in flood, and Martin is going to write something about it for next
month’s B.B.

The Rumour:  Is it
Reservoir?  Is it Waterwheel?  Or is it, just rumour?

Red Hoss – Old Ing: These two caves in the Birkwith system below Penyghent have been joined
in a dive by John Cordingley.  The sump
at the end of the Red Hoss main streamway had been dived years 2 ago by John
Parker and was reckoned to be at least 400 feet.  However the link up, to the air-bell half-way
through the Old Ing free-divable sump, was made after a dive of only 215 feet.

Yorkshire Weekend.  A date for your diary – October 23rd to
26th.  We hope to be doing

, beyond the show cave section, and
there should be the opportunity for a dive in Hurtle Pot.  It’s also the weekend of Martin Grass’s
birthday, so …….


1981-82.  A number of teams are already
being put together for an assault upon Barengassewindschacht, to see what goes
beyond the 200m Ben Dol’s Schacht.  The
hut opens on Boxing Day, and it is my intention that we should be out there and
ready for then.  This means leaving

December 22nd as it may take a day or two to transport equipment up to the site.  All, of course, depends upon whether or not
the site of Barengasse is accessible in the winter.  Nobody knows for sure, but I believe that,
because of the location of the entrance high in a cliff, it will be relatively
snow-free.  Who’s coming?  You’ll need X-C skis.



Twin Titty Hole 

by Tony Jarratt

Part 1 – The Reopening.

The eventual arrival of the summer in July brought on the
usual spate of enthusiasm for a nice, secluded, surface dig (hopefully with a
cave tree in situ) at which to sunbathe with a clear conscience.  Various sites in close proximity to the
Belfry were looked at – none of exceptional promise and all with access
difficulties of one sort or another.  It
was then that we remembered that Martin Bishop had been negotiating with Bert
Boddy for permission to dig Twin T’s – Bert, being very worried about the open
shaft, was only too pleased to give this on the condition that a strong lid was
built over the six foot square hole.  The
Belfryites thus joined Martin on his project and our ready-made suntrap (with
cave tree!) was soon inundated with all the exotic paraphernalia of the Mendip


Ref~ W.C.C. Jnl. No.126, Vol. 10, Dec. 1969.

Twin T’s was dug by NHASA in 1968 – 9. The initial, dug,
foot timbered shaft collapsed after having reached a draughting hole.  An experimental shaft was then drilled and
blasted by Luke Devenish to the same depth where it entered some 80 feet of
natural cave on 12th October 1969.  A
well decorated passage was found ending in a hairy boulder choke.  This, and a couple of other passages, were
inconclusively dug by NHASA and S.M.C.C. men until other projects (and
collapses at the shaft bottom) lured away the diggers to more promising sites.  With the assistance of trundling local kids
the cave was soon buried under some eight feet of boulders and debris and
looked like becoming another of Mendip’s “lost caves”.

The reopening.

Work recommenced on July 12th when Martin Bishop and the
writer assessed the amount of blockage in the shaft and the capping
possibilities.  On the 17th they cleared
the site of nettles and prepared the shaft top for the construction of concrete
lintels on two sides.  The following day
Bert Boddy used his tractor to tow across the field a six foot by nine foot
steel compressor base which NHASA had intended as a lid.  This is to be fixed over the lintels.
Quackers, Batspiss, Val and Bev also arrived and much concrete was mixed and
expertly laid by Martin.  On the Sunday a
large team erected the sheer legs and experimented with various haulage
techniques.  Several “lager
kegs” of spoil, boulders and a variety of reptilia were removed from shaft

On the 20th, 25th and 26th the concrete lintels were
continued with until both fore and aft of the shaft top were made secure.  A nearby rubbish tip proved indispensable in
providing a perfectly fitting railway sleeper and an assortment of steelwork
for this task.

With this job completed it was now necessary to concentrate
on digging at the obstruction before fitting the steel lid.  After a pre-booze up “token
gesture” on Wedding Day, a major clearing session on 1st August took us
down several feet and revealed how desperately unstable was the wall between
the old and the new shafts.  The original
NHASA digging kibble was found and, though deeply embedded, was soon pulled out
with the aid or M.B.’s rigid winch, which was bolted to one of the new
lintels.  As man-hauling was bloody hard
work a winding system using the writer’s “Jap Jeep” was tried, with
great success, and this method was used henceforward.  Some timber shoring was installed in the
shaft on 2nd August.

On 15th August, after only five actual digging sessions and
the removal of some eight feet of (mainly) boulders, several holes leading down
into the cave were opened – all draughting strongly.   Because of the unstable wall above these
holes, half an oil drum was procured from the diggers “supply tip”
and used as a shield in which to sit and excavate downwards until a passable
squeeze into the cave was opened.

Tim Large, Bob Hill, Phil Romford and the writer passed this
into the superbly decorated first chamber and explored the rest of the cave,
Phil being one of the original explorers.

The horrific state of the entrance squeeze area was then
rectified by the use of three 1m x 1m concrete tubes which were obtained from
C.S.C.C. who had them stored for just this purpose.  If we had not undertaken the project the
farmer had intended to infill the shaft, and without concrete pipe sections at
this stage it would have almost certainly in-filled itself!  These were delivered to site by Zot and Bob
Cork and, using Land Rovers, Suzuki, rigid winch and much manpower, were
eventually consigned to shaft bottom and consolidated with all the debris that
we had removed which was thrown back down and packed around the pipes.  This was topped off with spoil from the dig
inside the cave.  The job was completed
on 23rd August and much of the site tidied, tripod removed, etc.

All that remains is for the steel capping to be positioned
over the shaft and an area of this removed for an “Al Mills Special”
gate to be welded in place.

The next article on the cave will hopefully give details of
the current dig below the entrance squeeze and a description of the vast
caverns encountered.  Keep your fingers
crossed, dear readers, and polish your ladders, repair your rubber dinghies and
wait for the summons or even better, scrape the crap off your gardening tools,
desert your honk-stained armchairs and join the merry throng.

25/8/81 A.R.J.

The Team.

Good support was received for the project.  Apart from the usual string of welcome
visitors, girl-friends and dogs, the team consisted of the following (in order
of appearance):

Martin Bishop, J-Rat, Quackers, Batspiss, Tim and Fiona,
Val, Beverley, Rich Warman, Ross, Honk, Bernie and Debbie (visiting climbers),
Phil Collett (S.M.C.C.), MacAnus, Bob Hill, Phil Romford, Zot, Jem
“Football Hooligan and Famed Crevasse Diver” Pogue, Terry the Tattoo,
Dave Aubrey, Quiet John and Bob Cork.

© 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.