Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

.Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G.

Once again there are no apologies for this late combined
issue. The timing bands (for the non-technical, they’re important bits!) on the
printing machine snapped in January, and I have been waiting since then for
Gestetner to supply new ones.  They
arrived yesterday (16.3.82), I rebuilt the machine last night, and Herr Blitz
is assisting with printing tonight.

In the last issue I suggested you make a resolution: to write
an article, a line, anything.  Somebody
took me at my word.  Dear Ed. Rotten
idea.  Not well hidden in this paragraph
is somebody’s version of ‘anything’.

Edited, it reads:


Yes, I am prepared to consider ANYTHING for publication.

I did not manage to get the M.R.O. reports in this issue,
but I’ll make every effort to get them in next time. 

Also in the next issue, another of Kangy’s songs, some
useful info on dry nickel cadmium cells; a description of the Geevor tin
processing plant, an article about one of the old Belfries plus the usual
up-to-the-minute news from around the country and indeed, the world.

From the Daily Telegraph, 11th March, 1982:

“There are also rumours of vast, underground
wine-lakes.  Why were a team of
potholers, exploring the cave system at Grampus Moor near Nerdley, last
week-end, staggering about helplessly drunk when they reached the


The Grottede lde a Diau survey printed on page 28, kindly
reproduced by Jeremy H. and his underlings, belongs with the article in last
bi-month’s B.B.  Just in case you


Club Committee

Hon. Secretary:        Tim Large                                Wells                  (0749) 73860 (work)

Hon. Treasurer:         Sue Dukes                              Shepton Mallet    (0749) 4815

Hut Warden:             “Quackers”                              (Belfry) Wells      (0749) 72126

Hut Engineer:           Ian “Wormhole”


Tacklemaster:          John Dukes                             Shepton Mallet    (0749) 4815

Caving Secretary:     Martin Grass                          
Luton                  (        )

B.B. Editor:              Graham Wilton-Jones               Aylesbury           (0296)

                               Nigel Taylor

                               Stu. Lindsey

Non-Committee Posts

Membership secretary & D.D. distribution:           Fi
Lewis, Wells

Librarians: Hon.  Chris


Jarrat, Yatton (rarely!)

Monthly notes.

O.F.D.  Columns
week-ends are: June 12th & 13th.  Sept.
4th & 5th.

The South Wales C.C. prefer it if cavers can make the
Saturday rather than the Sunday.  Also,
if a club plans to turn up with a large number of members, the S.W.C.C. like to
know in advance.

Bleadon Cavern: A trip to this cave has been arranged for Saturday 8th May at
1500hrs.  As numbers are limited, names
to Martin Grass, please.

Dan Yr Ogof: The Club has been granted permission by
the South Wales C.C. and the D.Y.O. cave management to dig and blast in Dali’s
Delight, an area in which we have been showing a lot of interest during recent
months.  All are welcome and anyone
interested in giving a hand should see Martin Grass or Graham Wilton-Jones for

, Vol. 2
& 3
:  At long last new and
up-dated editions of the above guide books have become available.  Although of the same format as previous
editions these new ones have stitched spines, and hopefully will stand up to
the wear and tear cavers put guide books through.  Volume 2 has no new major systems or
extensions, but the caves of Ribblehead (previously in Vol.4) have a few
extensions, mainly by members of the C.D.G. This volume retails at £2.95 and covers Penyghent and Malham.  Volume 3 (Ingleborough) contains major
extensions in Roaring Hole and Marble Pot, as well as many new explorations by
the C.D.G., including upstream Ingleborough Cave, although the elusive
connection to Gaping Gill is still to be found. Slightly thicker than Vol. 2, this edition costs £3.20.  Volume 4 of


is due to be reprinted and available by mid-1982.  This is the volume we are all waiting for as
it will contain the classic Three Counties System, with all the new finds, such
as Link Pot, the Keld Head connection, King Pot and many more.  Let’s
hope Dalesman do not take too long in producing this much-sought-after edition.

Speleo Nederland: Ten of the lads from Speleo Nederland (Peter, Frans, et al) coming over
from Friday 30th April to Saturday 8th May. They are going to
Yorkshire for the
week and will be staying at the Bradford P.C. H.Q. at Brackenbottom and would
like to see as many of their Mendip drinking partners as possible!  I have arranged various trips for their stay
and they would like anyone who knows systems to show them around.  Caves booked/planned are: Magnetometer Pot;
Hammer Pot; Swinsto/Simpsons; Birks Fell cave; Outsleets Beck Pot;

, Easegill
system; plus a lot of drinking!!

Anyone who thinks they can help or will be coming up, please
let me know.



By Tim Large

The AGM was not very well attended and again finished in
record time, but in the evening 140 members and guests attended The Caveman
Restaurant in Cheddar to enjoy the dinner. Roger Dors was our guest of honour along with his wife Jackie and was
presented with Honorary Membership to mark the occasion of our 1000th
member.  An open air cabaret was provided
by Cheddar Cliff Rescue as they had a callout to

Coronation Street
that night.


Many of you will know (or perhaps you don’t) remember it
depending on how much beer you drank that an after dinner barrel was to be had
at The Belfry – Well at present the contributions for the barrel are £15 short
and our Hut Warden Quackers would like to hear from anyone who has not yet paid


The dinner will probably be at The Caveman Restaurant,
Cheddar again.  There are a few who would
like to incorporate a disco with it, probably being held in the Grotto
Bar.  I feel his would detract from what
the BEC dinner is reputed for, that is a chance for members old and new to meet,
reunions, renaissances.  Members opinions
are most important on ¬this issue or else some of you may end up with a dinner
not to your liking.


Hon. Secretary:     Tim Large

Hon. Treasurer:     Sue Dukes

Hut Warden:          Mike Duck

Hut Engineer:         Nigel Taylor

Tacklemaster:         John Dukes

Caving Secretary:    Martin Grass

B.B. Editor:              Graham Wilton-Jones

                                 Stu. Lindsey


Membership Secretary & BB
Postal        Fiona Lewis

Publications Editor         Alan Thomas


995       Brian Johnson

996       Terry Earley Sandra

997       Eckford

771       Pete Eckford (rejoined.)

998       Christine Bissett

999       Rob Harper  .

1000     Roger Dors (HON MEMBERSHIP)

1001     Graeme Johnson

1002     Alan Sutton

1003     Rachel Clarke

459       Keith Gladman (rejoined)


Our congratulations go to the following members who have
been married in the last three month:-


on 20th of
November 1981.

JOHN RILEY and SUE who were
married on the 5th December 1981.

DAVIBS daughter of FRED in late December.


Due to the pressure of work Nigel Taylor has been forced to
vacate the position of Hut Engineer, but will stay on as a general committee
member.  In his place the committee
thought fit to co-op Ian Caldwell and Bob Hill to the position of joint Hut
Engineers.  Bob Hill has now been
fortunate in gaining a position with Shell working in

from mid March leaving Ian as Hut
Engineer.  Our congratulations to Bob on
gaining his new job.


A final reminder that the subscriptions should now be
in.  The fee this year is £10 for single
full membership and £15 for joint.  All
subscriptions should be given or sent to Fi Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset
BA5 2BQ as soon as possible.


Sue Dukes and Fi Lewis are proposing to organise a jumble
sale in mid June to raise money for the Hut Improvements Fund.  They are at present collecting jumble.  If you have anything you wish to donate
please contact either Sue Dukes on Shepton Mallet 4815 or Fi Lewis 53 Portway,
Wells where the jumble is being stored or via the Belfry at weekends.  Your support is needed in this venture.


Christmas at The Belfry was this year enjoyed by 10 members
for Christmas Dinner and many others over the following week to New Year.  Mendip had a reasonable covering of snow
which lasted over the period and temperatures at the Belfry on Christmas morning
were recorded 150C below.  The
festivities started on Christmas Eve when Tony Jarratt decided to take his new
Suzuki land rover ‘skating’ on Waldergrave Pond.  All went well, Tony projecting his vehicle
around the pond.  But on venturing to the
far side of the pool it went straight through the ice into 3′ of water.  Attempts to remove it at 1am in the morning,
in a very merry condition, proved pointless. Tony was far from happy.  Next
morning the whole Belfry contingent complete with MRO rope winch and cameras
returned to haul it back to dry land. Tony donning wet suit could be seen wading into the Suzuki and baling it
out with a caving helmet.  It was
successfully pulled out, baled out, plugs dried and would you believe started
first time.  It is apparently non the
worse for the experience apart from a few bodywork dents where it argued with a
six inch thick piece of ice.  The weekend
after new year the snow end sustained low temperatures came in earnest and Saturday 9th January saw only eight
people at The Belfry.  On the Sunday a
magnificent Belfry Sledge was constructed and great fun was had by all at


Members will be saddened to hear of the death of Mark.  He was killed in an unfortunate accident
whilst climbing sea cliffs at Babbacombe in
Devon.  He was 20 years of age.  Mark joined the club in October 1979.  Many of you will not have known him.  For a short period before joining the Police
Force he caved regularly with his step-brother, Mike Barnes.  Together they made an enthusiastic and
resourceful caving team.  Not long ago I
met Mike in Rocksport and he told me that their caving had taken second place
to climbing – having already reached lead standard on VS routes.  Our condolences go to Mark’s family and


Recently Phil Coles turned up at the Hunters having returned

.  He found The Belfry somewhat different from
the hut he knew in the 60’s.  Phil kindly
made a donation £50 to club funds.  Many
thanks from us all.



Exploration Club – Membership List January 1982

828 Nicolette Abell               Faulkland,


988 Tony Atkinson                Green
Ore, Nr Wells,


987 Dave Aubrey                 

, Wiltshire

20 L Bobby Bagshaw            Knowle,

392 L Mike Baker                 Midsomer

818 Chris Batsone                Bathford,

390 L Joan Bennett               Wesbury-on-Trym,


214 L Roy Bennett                Wesbury-on-Trym,


731 Bob Bidmead                 Middle
Street, East


998 Crissie Bissett              

145 L Sybil Bowden-Lyle       Calne,

959 Chris Bradshaw              Wells,

868 Dany Bradshaw             

Eastwater Lane
Priddy, Nr. Wells,


967 Michael Brakespeare      Dilton
Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire

751 L T.A. Brookes              

, SW2

992 Mark Brown                   Little


981 Terence Buchan             Shepton


756 Tessie Burt                    Harpendon,

956 Ian Caldwell                   Clevedon,

977 Tony Callard                  Southsea,

955 Jack Calvert                   Dilton
Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.

902 L Martin Cavendar          Westbury-sub-Mendip,


785 Paul Christie                 

London Road
, Sunninghill,
Ascot, Berks

655 Colin Clark                     Redland,


983 Jane Clarke                  

Bath Street
, Cheddar,


1003 Rachael Clarke            

Bath Street
, Cheddar,


211 L Clare Coase               

New South Wales, 2259,


89 L Alfie Collins                  Bishop
Sutton, Nr Bristol,


862 Bob
Cork                       Stoke St. Michael,


585 Tony Corrigan                Stockwood,


827 Mike Cowlishaw            
Cleveland Walk


890 Jerry Crick                     Jaggaris,

Jaggaris Lane
Nelson, Wiltshire

680 Bob Cross                     Somewhere


870 Gary Cullen                  


423 L Len Dawes                 

Main Street
, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire

449 Garth Dell                      Ord


815 Nigel Dibben                  Poynton,


164 L Ken Dobbs                  Beacon

1000 L Roger Dors                Priddy,

972 Mike Duck                     Emborough,
Nr. Bath,


830 John Dukes                   Shepton


937 Sue Dukes                    Shepton


847 Michael Durham            


779 Jim Durston                   Chard,


996 Terry Earley                   Wyle,
Warmister, Wiltshire

771 Pete Eckford                  Itchen,

997 Sandra Eckford              Itchen,

322 L Bryan Ellis                  Westonzoyland,


269 L Tom Fletcher               Bramcote,

404 L Albert Francis             Wells,

468 Keith Franklin               
Victoria 3175,


569 Joyce Franklin               Stoke


469 Pete Franklin                 Stoke


978 Sheila Furley                


769 Sue Gazzard                 Tynings,
Radstock, Nr Bath,

835 Len Gee                        St.
Edgeley, Stockport,


993 Andrew George              North
Wooton, Shepton Mallet,


459 Keith Gladman               Holt,
Trowbridge, Wiltshire

648 Dave Glover                   Pamber
Basingstoke, Hampshire

1006 Edward Gosden            Brighton
Basingstoke, Hants

860 Glenys Grass               
Luton, Beds

790 Martin Grass                 
Luton, Beds

432 L Nigel Hallet                 No
known Address

104 L Mervyn Hannam          St

999 Rob Harper                    Hanham,

4 L Dan Hassell                    Moorlynch,


893 Dave Hatherley               Cannington,


974 Jeremy Henley               Leg
, Shepton Mallet,


917 Robin Hervin                  Trowbridge,

952 Robert Hill                     Chippenham,

905 Paul Hodgson                Hoo,


898 Liz Hollis                       Milborne
Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 Tony Hollis                    Milborne
Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

920 Nick Holstead                Trowbridge,

991 Julie Holstead                Trowbridge,

387 L George Honey             19044,


971 Colin Holden                  Bruton,


770 Chris Howell                  Edgebaston,


923 Trevor Hughes                HMS
Bristol, BFPO Ships,


855 Ted Humphreys              Moorsite,
Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

73 Angus Innes                    Alveston,

, Aven

969 Duncan Innes                 Traherne

Uywn Grant Road
Penlyn Hill,


540 L Dave Irwin                   Townsend,


753 Sue Jago                      

Church Lane
, Farrington Gurney,

792 Ken James                    Worle,

922 Tony Jarratt                   Station
, Congresbury,


51 L A Johnson                    Station
, Flax Bourton,


995 Brian Johnson                Ottery

1001 Graeme Johnson         

East Park Road

560 L Frank Jones                Address

907 Karen Jones                  Kynance
Hospital (Treiske)


285 Jonah                           

Oriental Road
Woking, Surry

567 L Alan Kennett               Henleaze,

884 John King                      Partridge


316 L Kangy King                 Pucklechurch,

542 L Phil Kingston              St.


413 L R. Kitchen                  Horrabridge,

946 Alex Ragnar Knutson      Southville,


874 Dave Lampard               
Springfield Park Road


667 L Tim Large                   Wells,

958 Fi Lewis                        Wells,

930 Stuart Lindsay               Keynsham,

574 L Oliver Lloyd                 Westbury-on-Trym,


58 George Lucy                    Long
Lane, Tilehurst,


550 L R A MacGregor           Baughurst,
Basingstoke, Hants

725 Stuart McManus           

Wells Road
, Priddy, Somerset

106 L E.J. Mason                 Henleaze,


980 John Matthews              


979 Richard Matthews         


558 L Tony Meaden              Westbury,
Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset

963 Clare Merritt                   Chippenham,

704 Dave Metcalf                  Long

957 Dave Morrison               


308 Keith Murray                 


989 Andy Nash                    Downend,


936 Dave Nichols                 

852 John Noble                    Tennis
Courts Rod, Paulton,


880 Graham Nye                  Horsham,

938 Kevin O’Neil                   Melksham,

964 Lawrie O’Neil                 Melksham,

624 Jock Orr                        Winklebury,
Basingstoke, Hants

396 L Mike Palmer               YarleyHill,
Yarley, Wells,


22 L Les Peters                   

499 L A. Philpott                  Bishopston,

990 Jem Pague                    Frogwell,
Chippenham, Wiltshire

337 Brian Prewer                  West
Horrington, Wells,


622 Colin Priddle                  Wadeville

South Africa

481 L John Ransom              Patchway,

945 Steve Robins                 Knowle,


970 Trevor Roberts                Yatton,

986 Lil Romford                    Coxley,


985 Phil Romford                  Coxley,


921 Pete Rose                    

Ford, Hants

832 Roger Sabido                 Westbury-on-Trym,


941 John Sampson               Knowle,


240 L Alan Sandall               Nailsea,

359 L Carol Sandall              Nailsea,

760 Jenny Sandercroft         
Victoria Park,


237 L Bryan Scott               

Havestock Road,


482 Gordon Selby                 Wells,

78 L R Setterington              

, Somerset

213 L Rod Setterington         Chiswick,


915J Chris Smart                  Woking,

823 Andrew Sparrow             Weston,


984 Dave Speed                   Dinder,
Nr Wells,


1 L Harry Stanbury               Bude,


38L Mrs I Stanbury               Knowle,


575 L Dermot Statham         

Cole Road
, Bruton,


365 L Roger Stenner             Weston
super Mare,

865 Paul Stokes                   Bagshot,

1002 Alan Sutton                  Alveston,


968 James Tasker                Westbury-on-Trym,


772 Nigel Taylor                   Chilcote,
Nr Wells,


919 Tom

                   Address unknown

284 L Alan Thomas              

Nine Barrows Lane
Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                   Little
Birch, Bartlestree,


571 L N Thomas                  

Norwich Rd.


994 Martin Thompson           Matson.


699 Buckett Tilbury              
High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                 
High Wycombe, Bucks

80 Postle Thompsett-Clark    Great

74 L Dizzie Thompsett-Clark  Great

381 L Daphne Towler            Nyetimber,

Bognor Regis,

157 L Jill Tuck                      Llanfrechfa,
Cwmbran, Gwent,


678 Dave Turner                   Leigh
on Mendip,

912 John Turner                   

Launceston Rd.
, Tavistock,

925 Gill Turner                     

Launceston Rd.
, Tavistock,

635 L Stuart Tuttlebury          Boundstone,

887 Greg Villis                     Banwell,

982 Christine Villis                Banwell,

175 L Mrs. D. Whaddon       

, Somerset

949 John Watson                 Westbury-on-Trym,


973 James Wells                 


553 Bob White                     Wells,


878 Marine Ross White         HMS
Endurance, BFPO Ships,


939 Woly Wilkinson              Melksham,

940 Val Wilkinson                Melksham,

934 Colin Williams                St.


885 Claire Williams               St.


916 Jane Wilson                   Portswood,

568 Brenda

27 Venus
, Clutton,


721 Graham

-Jones     Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie
Wilton-Jones        Olton, Solihul,

813 Ian
Wilton-Jones            Olton, Solihul,

943 Simon Woodman           Burrington,
Nr Bristol,

877 Steve Woolven              


914 Brian Workman             

South Street
, Castle



Cave, Gurney Slade

by Dave Irwin

On September 1st 1980 the writer visited

‘s Garage at Gurney Slade for car
repairs when he was told by the Wareham Brothers that they had broken into a
“bit of a cave”.  They were
clearing an area of ground to the south of the Garage to build a bungalow.  Part of the excavation was to clear some of
the sloping bank on the east side.  A JCB
did its job well and eventually a small hole some two feet high and 18″
wide appeared at ground level.  The
writer immediately took a look and, saw a phreatic tube extending eastwards,
sloping downwards at about 150 for a distance of 15 feet.  A slight draught was felt.  It was agreed with the Brothers that digging
could take place and the author, suffering from his recurring leg problem, said
he would wait until Ray Mansfield had returned from holiday when we would have
a look.  It was emphasised by the
Brothers that they did not want any publicity and did not want to be plagued by
large numbers of cavers.  However, as it
transpired, they obviously mentioned it to the landowner of the


opposite the Garage and the connection with the Mendip Exploration Group was
complete.  Digging was started by Chris
Hannam et al. and the writer paid the site a visit a fortnight later to see
what had happened.  An hour’s fruitful
digging took place under fairly cramped conditions and it became obvious that
open cave lay beyond.  He continued to
dig down under an arch to the left. Further digging became difficult until the only means to attack the site
was by lowering the floor back towards the entrance.  The passage was then surveyed.  A few days later Chris Hannam phoned to say
that a breakthrough had been made revealing some 150 feet of passage.  On September 22nd yours truly, together with
the help of members of M.C.G., surveyed the cave after a number of photographs
had been taken.  The cave will be sealed
again when building activity commences in the Spring.


SURVEY NOTES: The survey was made to B.C.R.A. grade 5
requirements except that there was not a suitable area locally to check the
magnetic deviation of the compass; therefore the whole has been downgraded to
B.C.R.A.4.  The instruments used were an
ex-W.D. prismatic compass, an Abney level and Fibron tape.


Book Review.

The Cave Explorers.

Jim Eyre Published by the Stalactite Press 1981, in 264 pp,
13 b & w photos, 5 line drawings,

Should you manage to obtain this superb book at all you may
well receive it carefully wrapped in plain, brown paper.  That is, the unexpurgated, uncensored
version.  Lewd, pornographic accounts,
literary scenes of explicit sex, unadulterated filth, disgusting photographs
and depravity – there is nothing of these in this work of Eyre’s, and yet it
has been banned from sale in

.  $16.50 in

but you will soon find the
price rocketing in G.B. as the book becomes a collector’s gem.

The book is a humorous account of Jim Eyres caving from his
birth in the early forties, through numerous expeditions and noteworthy events,
largely abroad right up to, the present day. Those of you who have read Jim’s accounts of scrapes and disasters in
Descent will already be familiar with his style, his ability to see the funny
side of every situation, his cunning at extracting the Michael out of the
variety of characters he meets all over the world.  For those of you who not yet read any Eyre,
there are few of you who can fail to be totally engrossed by this latest

The photographs are a little disappointing, apart from the
first, which shows a typical bunch of cavers, and two which show Kelly’s winch
and Rocket.  The cartoons are a very
important part of the book, and there should have been more – dozens  The Provatina fiasco has tremendous scope for
the humorous artist, and Jim Eyre must have lots of other cartoons that are

Perhaps the book banning is all part of a plot hatched up
between Eyre and Kelly to boost the sales. More likely, though, it is typical Eyre. His whole life seems to be one long series of scrapes, near misses and
disasters, and the recent court case is just one more.

What court case?  Who
is this Kelly?  Read the book, and ask
Alan “Hoss” Thomas who tells us he has gone legal and burnt his
copy…..and there are fairies at the bottom of my garden too:



Early Cave Photographers And Their Work

by D. J. Irwin.

Cavers are generally interested in old caving photographs
and illustrations – partly from an historic viewpoint, or quite simply just out
of interest.  In general books, pamphlets
and periodicals of the Past are eagerly sought after for this type of
material.  In addition to books are early
prints, usually removed from 18th or 19th Century books, illustrating cave
interiors or entrances.  All categories
of publication contain historical illustrations and perhaps one of the most
important catalogues produced in modern times was the B.S.A. “Cave
Illustrations before 1900” by Trevor Shaw, now long out of print and in
great demand on the second hand caving books market.

Photographs taken by early cave explorers tell a
considerable tale when one views them: what did the various entrances look like
when the cave was first open?  what –
gear did cavers wear in 1900?  how much
damage, regrettably, has been caused since the opening of the cave?  who were these photographers?

When one compares the original bromide print with that
published in books or other publications it is easy to see much more detail,
which indicates the quality of photograph itself.

Many of the prints which have survived reveal the mind of
the early explorer.  The “Savory
Collection” at the

unveils the
recording thoughts of the photographer. Of the known parts of Swildons Hole in 1925, virtually everything of
note had been photographed or sketched meticulously by the explorers – a very
different attitude to that of the present day, where the sole ‘raison d’etre ‘
is to find ‘more cave passage, without first fully investigating and recording
what has already been discovered.  The
Wookey collection of photographs, a few of which have been published in the
books by Balch and others, again recorded all known passages and
formations.  Not only is the general view
of each chamber recorded but the detailed level of recording is quite

By searching through old prints and postcards many new
photographs are corning light, all of which are of great importance to the
speleohistorian, and it is the aim of the author to introduce some of these
early pioneering photographers together with a list of their work known to the
author, and its location.  Some of the
work produced by these men is nothing short of miraculous when it is remembered
that the cumbersome equipment then used must have caused great problems of
transport through the smaller cave passages, and when one considers the
patience required in waiting for the smoke to clear after using flash-powder
lighting techniques.  Though their work
is not consistently good, there are many photographs that rival the best that
the modern cave photographer produces.

Many will be familiar with the Balch and Baker
“Netherworld of Mendip” published in 1907 but it may be that the
reader had not fixed in his mind the name of the photographer – H. Bamforth of
Holmfirth (the setting for the T. V. series, Last of the Summer
Wine”).  A caver and mountaineer,
Bamforth was also a photographer (professional) and owner of the famous
printing works.  This successful business
background enabled him to travel and, as a result, a fair number of his cave
photographs have come to light in addition to those so well known to Mendip
cavers in the Balch books.

A little careful searching will uncover many gems –
photographs of such national classics as

Swildons Hole, Lamb Leer, Gaping Gill, Peak Cavern, Speedwell Mine, Gough’s
Cave, Eastwater Cavern, Hunt Pot, Hull Pot, Rift Pot, Sell Gill Holes and many
others.  It is then important that the
reader is aware that there is much material around, mainly in private hands or
in museums; much more than has been commercially published and is readily
obtainable on the caving market – if your pocket is deep enough!

Mendip has been particularly fortunate in having had to hand
a number of outstanding cave photographers, two of whom must be recorded. I
will mention the work of Balch himself but, though there are a few examples of
his work still about, the work of Savory and Evens is significant.  Savory will be a name known to all cavers but
Evens will probably be new to most, even though some examples of his work
appeared in Balch’s books.  Unfortunate
duplication of photographs with those taken by Savory slightly dimmed Evens
standing in the caver’s memory.

J. Harry Savory was a professional photographer, having his
studios in Park Row,
Bristol, and it is believed
to be connected with the printing firm of E. Savory that published many
postcards and souvenir booklets for

.  Savory is best remembered in the

area for his work
on the photography of birds, but Caver are forever in his debt for the,
comprehensive studies of Swildons Hole and Wookey Hole.  In his professional capacity as at photographer
he was responsible for a series of 27 photographs published as postcards
between 1913 and 1923 for

. Many of the
original photographs still exist and the fine quality of his work is there for
all to see.

The other man, a virtually unknown and forgotten figure,
died in1973, at the age of 80, in

.  A Bristolian, Evens was professionally a
chemist and for a time, taught chemistry at

.  Apart from chemistry, his other main
interests were microscopy and photography. It was this latter interest that caused him to explore all the byways on
Mendip with his bicycle.  His entire
Mendip work is now housed in the

, and may be viewed
provided that prior arrangements have been made.  I am grateful to Dr. Curtis, Head of the
Geological Department, for being allowed to see and record the photographs of
caving interest.

Another photographer found in Balch’s “Great Cave of
Wookey Hole” (1929) is S.W. Chapman. Chapman roamed the west of
England photographing all and sundry and
included in his work are a number of photographs of


and Wookey Hole – a very mixed bag but a fine record of the major formations,
and most were published as postcards during the 1920’s sand 1930’s.  Most interesting, perhaps are two cards of
Gough’s Cave showing details of the entrance before the takeover by Longleat
Estates in 1933 and of the restaurant just after completion in 1934.  Little is known of the private life of this
photographer except that he hailed from Dawlish in
Devon.  Does anyone know if Lilian Chapman, whose
painting of the ‘Great River Chamber’ (in Wookey Hole) frontispiece to Balch’s
“Great Cave of Wookey Hole”, is any relation?

Nothing quite so extensive as the Mendip collection exists
for the caving areas in
Yorkshire or
Derbyshire except for two names that occasionally appear – Shaw of Blackburn
and Sneath of Sheffield.  Their work is
confined to cave entrances and interiors of show caves, but their early
postcards are genuine bromide prints; later, reprints of their work printed by
lithography lack the immediacy of the earlier specimens.

A number of postcards have been available over the last 50
years or more recording interior scenes of such caves as
Gulf, Gaping, Gill and Alum Pot, plus
many entrances such as Rift,

Hunt and Goyden Pots.  Who the photograph
were is unknown and the only clue is the printers imprints on the back of the
cards.  In many cases it may well be a
printing house staff photographer but the early photographs reprinted by Walter
Scott in the 1960’s are certainly early shots take by the pioneer Dales

A set of intriguing photographs of White Scar showing Long
standing on boulders and surveying gear by Long Stop Lake were published in the
early 1930’s but no photographer can be associated with them.  The Long photograph has been published many
times in the White Scar pamphlets.

That, then, is a brief summary of some early cave
photographers but the names of Frith’s, Valentines, and many other local
photographers play an important part in this story and perhaps later a complete
list of their work will be published, so they cannot be ignored.  Frith, for example, famous for their rather
‘static’ sepia postcards, published over 70 cards of Cox’s Cave, Cheddar, alone!  Details of these photographs may be found in
“A Catalogue of the Postcards of Gough’s Cave, Cox’s Cave and Wookey Hole,
Somerset, 1900 -1980” written and compiled by the author.

The following list of photographs recorded by the author has
been gathered from a number of sources. Their location is abbreviated in the list and full details of each are
given below:

Caves of Mendip

H.E.Balch, Folk Press Ltd.,

. (1926)



of Wookey Hole, H.E. Balch, Clare, Son & Co. Ltd., Wells, (1929) (lst. ed.)

The Caves of Mendip

Mendip – The Complete Caves and a
View of the Hills,
Barrington &
Stanton, Barton Publications, Cheddar Val Press, Cheddar,

. (1977)


Moors, Crags and Caves of the
and Neighbourhood, E.A. Baker, John Heywood, Ltd., Deansgate & Ridgefield,



The Netherworld of Mendip, E.A.
Baker & H.E. Balch, Simpson, Marshall,

& Co.,



Les Cavernes et les cours d’eau
souterrains des Mendip Hills Somerset, Angleterre (Explorations de 1901 – 1904)
H.E. Balch, Spelunca, No. 39, December 1904.


Mendip – Its


and Rock Shelters, H.E. Balch, 1 st.ed. (1937) Clare, Son & Co., Ltd.,


Wookey Hole, Its Caves and Cave
Dwellers, H.E. Balch, O.U.P. (1914)




Where the authors records only
show a single copy the initials of the owner are given.  It should be pointed out that the owner may
not be prepared to show this material unless a bona-fide reason can be given.

(D.J.I.)               –
D.J .Irwin

(R.W.M.)           -R.W.

(T.R.S.)             –
T.R. Shaw

(M.D.Y.)            –
M. Dewdney-York.

Where photographs exist without a title a brief description
is given by the author.  Such titles will
be shown in (         ).

Those wishing to view the Savory Collection should first
write to the Curator of the

so that
arrangements may be made to get them ready for inspection.


(1)  Savory Photographs

Wing, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard &
Caves of Mendip p.18/19)
The Peal of Dells, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
The Fonts, Gough’s Cave, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
The Fairy Grotto, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
90ft.- Cascade in

St. Paul
Gough’s Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
The Organ Pipes, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard
Pillar of Marble, 15ft. high, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
In Aladdin’s Grotto, Gough’s Cave  (Caves of Mendip p.16/17 & Postcard W.M.)
Aladdin’s Grotto, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.) note C
Pillars of Wonderful Variety and Form, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard)
Curious Erratic Pillars, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard)
Imperceptibly Growing Closer (Feb. 1922), Gough’s Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C
A Marble Curtain and Stalactite, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
Magic Traceries, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard

Forest of
, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
The ‘
Zambezi Falls (Feb. 1922), Gough’s
Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C
Countless Stalactite Pencils, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard)
The Diamond Stream (Feb. 1922) Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.) note C

Niagara Falls
Gough’s Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
A Fallen Giant, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard)
note A
A Most Beautiful Curtain in Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
A Group of Pillars of Wonderful Form, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard (D.J.I.)) note D

Gough’s Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
Outlet of

after passing
through Gough’s Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
A Beautifully Reflected Group, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
Still Reflections, Gough’s Cave  (Postcard W.M.)

Niagara Falls
Gough’s Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C
& B


(A)    This
photograph is distinguished by the hideous lamp holder held over the
formation.  There are two basic versions:
a) horizontal format; b) vertical format.

(B)    This
photograph, taken in 1922; is heavily retouched in order to remove the hideous
lamp housing.

(C)    These
photographs were taken on 9th Feb.1922, whereas the remainder were taken much
earlier- c.1912 (earliest postally used postcard seen by author is April 1913).

(D)    May
also be found entitled; “Pillars of Wonderful Variety & Form, Solomon’s


N.B. All of the above photographs are the titles to be found
on the 1923 set published by William Gough at the Lion Rock Bazaar.  The set was also published (1913) by another
Gough brother, Arthur.  The titles vary
slightly and a number of photographs from the earlier set were not re-used by
William Gough; these are listed below:

Marvellous Coral Stalactites,
Gough’s Caves  Postcard   (Postcard)
(the photo. is inverted; formations are “pool type deposits).   ()
Part of Roof with Marvellous Stalactites, Gough’s Caves   (Postcard)
Wookey Hole, The Witch of Wookey   (W.H.
(frontis),’ W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The First Chamber (with Wheeler & Barnes)   (W.H. p 20/21 W.M)
Wookey Hole, The Third Chamber     (W.H.
p 20/21 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Conglomerate Roof      (W.H.
p 28/29 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, An “Oxbow”     (W.H. p
Wookey Hole, The 2nd Chamber (man with left arm outstretched)   (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Looking towards the Unknown (with Balch)   (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Suspended Boulders  (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, “The Spur and Wedge” (with Hassall)     (W.H. p132/133)
Wookey Hole, “The Head of the Ravine and the Source of the Axe”.   (W.H. p132/133 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, “The Index Grotto” (The Inner Grotto)   (W.H. p188/189 W.M.)
Group in Water Chamber (1919)     (Mendip p153 W.M.)
The Great Pool      (Cheddar p 72)
The Old Grotto, Swildon’s Hole      (

p 27 W.M.)
The Water Rift, Swildon’s Hole   (

p 29 W.M.)
The Folded Limestone beyond the 40ft. pot, Swildon’s Hole   (Swallet Caves p 31 W.M.)
The Shrine, Swildon’s Hole   (Caves of
Mendip p 50/51)

White Way
Loop, Swildon’s Hole   (
Caves p 37 W.M.)
The Tower-Capped Pillar, Swildon’s Hole  (

 p 39 W.M.)
Upper Grotto (Tratman’s

(1922) Swildon’s Hole   (
p 41 W.M.)
The First Party at the Trap (Sump 1) Swildon’s Hole   (

p 43 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Stalagmite Pillars from Floor to Roof .(1911)   (Caves of Mendip p 42/43)
Swildon’s Hole, Streamway in the First Chamber  (Caves of Mendip p 52/53)
Swildon’s Hole, Grotto in the Lower Series (Tratman’s Grotto)   (Mendip p 189 W.M.)
Eastwater, The Author (Balch) among the Boulders   (Caves of Mendip p 56.57)
Eastwater, At the
Bend in the


(Lower Traverse)   (Caves of Mendip p
Lamb Lair, The Beehive   (Caves of Mendip
p 68/69)
(see note (E) under Bamforth)   ()
Aveline s Hole   (Mendip p 27 W.M.)


(Gen. Whitley) (the General owned the Caves)  (Mendip p 34 W.M.)
Swildon’s Hole,
Lower Anchorage for the Rope
over the ‘Double Pots.(1921)   (Mendip p
189 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, (Balch and Allen climbing rift)  (Mendip p 192)
Wookey Hole, Massive Columns of Stalagmite  (W.H. p 196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole,  The Sentinel   (W.H. p 196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, A Typical Group of Stalactites  (W.H. p 204/205 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Massed Pillars   (W.H. p
204/205 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Grill   (W.H. p 204/205
Wookey Hole, A Stalagmite Flow   (W.H. p
213/212196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Terminal Western Chamber  (W.H. p 213/212196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, In Purgatory   (W.H. p
213/212196 W.M.)
(foot of entrance pitch)   (Mendip p 57)

   (Mendip p 59 W.M.)
Eastwater, Balch further down the boulders  (Mendip p 68 W.M.)
Gough’s Cave, Simock, climbing up from the Lower Boulder Chamber    (Mendip p 89 W.M.)

(entrance)(Ebbor)   (Mendip p 120 W.M.)
Plumley’s Den (entrance)(1911)   (Mendip
p 123 W.M.)
Rhinoceros Hole (entrance)   (Mendip p
128 W.M)
Rowberrow Cavern (entrance)(1921)  (Mendip p 132 W.M.)
Sandford Levvy (entrance)   (Mendip p 140
Swildon’s Hole (Water Chamber)   (Mendip
p 162 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Upper Grottoes (1926)  (Mendip p 178 W.M.)
Yew Tree Swallet (Burrington) 1911  (Mendip p 182 W.M.)
Lamb Leer, party at foot of drop into the Great Chamber   (Mendip p 185 W.M.)
Swildon’s Hole (Brewing
Cocoa in Barnes
Loop)   (Mendip p
185 W.M.)
Lamb Leer (top of Main Pitch)   (Mendip p
186 W.M.)
Lamb Leer (bottom of Main Pitch)  (Mendip p 187 W.M.)
Swildon’s Hole (40 ft. Pitch, bottom showing “Elephant Trunk”).   (Mendip p 188 W.M.)

All the following Wookey photographs are housed at Wells
museum and do not appear to have been previously published.

Looking up to the entrance from
below (from valley floor to upper entrance);
The cliff face from near the Badger’s Den;
The source of the River Axe (very similar to Chapman photo);
The arch at the water’s exit;
A nearer view and another witch found by John Hassall (resurgence); (Stream and
Boulders in the streamway (view of stream below weir);
Another point of view (of previous photo);
A good flood coming down (waterfall at resurgence);
Source of the River Axe (title on photo -is this a Savory?);
At the foot of the first cascade (below weir);
Balch at the Upper Rock Entrance;
Hassall and Balch (at entrance);
John Hassall (at entrance);
(original entrance);
Upper Rock Entrance;
Long festoon of ivy above the entrance (resurgence);
Looking back to daylight from top of first rise;
Chalk inscription at top of Hell Ladder (E.H. 1769);
The pathway at top of first rise near branch to “Spur and Wedge”.
First Chamber (including Witch and River);
Stalagmite flow behind Witch;
Photographing the Witch in silhouette;
(resurgence) (March 1928);
North side of First Chamber;
Wall and Terraces behind the Witch;
(resurgence and canal)(March 1928);
(First Chamber) (March 1928);
The First Chamber (with boat on river) (March 1928) ;
First Chamber from river (showing steps below Witch);
(Witch and steps);
The large stalagmite in First Chamber, (1911);
The large stalagmite from a more distant shot, (1911);
Large mushroom behind Witch;
Pools in Second Chamber:
Looking back into First chamber (with Island Stalagmite);
Nodular formations below surface;
Second Chamber (looking up stale slope);


pearl cavities (from above);


pearl cavities (from front);
Little pool in corner of. First Chamber;
A white vein (S.E. corner of Second Chamber);
Fallen boulder in Third Chamber;
Third Chamber showing sand ripples;
Third Chamber (with Balch, Sinnock and Troup);
Third Chamber taken with Limelight;
Wheeler, Balch, Sinnock leaving the First Chamber;
The Sentinel;
The Index Grotto; Index Grotto (1928);
Curtains in the Index Grotto;
Stalactites and stalagmites just touching (1911);
Ernest Gardner by Four and a Half Columns;
(Top of Rift at far end of Purgatory);
A fine group of columns, Western Terminal Chamber (a similar shot to that
published in W.H.)

As in the case of Wookey Hole, all the following photographs
are housed at

in the Savory

Swildon’s Hole Swallet (entrance);

The entrance;
* The Upper Waterfall;
(Stream in entrance passages);
Coral-like stalagmite;

Dry Way

The “Imp” group of erratics;
A group of erratics below drop boulder, (1919);

Dry Way

– In the Chamber below the “Imp”(1919);
Party (18.8.1921) in Old Grotto;
The roof of the large grotto (Old Grotto) (1911);
Lower extremity of grotto (1913);
The wall round the Pagoda Stalagmite (1913);
(Above 20 ft. pot) Aug.1925;
(Double pots) Aug.1925;
Curtains (Old Grotto) 1913;
Curtains (Old Grotto) 1913;
The Alcove (Old Grotto) 1913;
(similar view) 1925;
Shelf of stalagmite just beyond the first turn to right after 40 ft. fall.

Ever wet terraces just below Grotto;
Troup passing round the Giant stoup (1911);
The Giant stoup;
(formation between Old Grotto and Water Chamber);
Curtains in Barne’s
Loop, (1922);
Nodular lining, Barne’s
Loop (1922);

Blake in Water Chamber;
Stream running in Water Chamber;          .

Curtains on either side of stream below Water Chamber;
Waterfalls in streamway above Water Chamber (1911);
Loop, top of

White Way
Pure white formation, Barne’s
Loop (2 diff.
Nov 12th Grotto (Tratman’s

Columns on far wall;
Creep in Barne’s
Langford prepared to take rope across the Double Pots;
Loop (detail photo.); .
Entrance to Water Rift;
Giant Boss;
Approach to Barne’s
Loop (2 diff. photo’s.);
Wall above the Great Pool, Darners
Water passage from Great Pot (40 ft. Pot)(1921);
Pencils (straws), Barne’s
Nov 12th 1921 Grottos;
Exquisite formations in Nov 12th 1921 Grottoes first entered by Tratman and
Pencils, pillars and curtains (Tratman’s);
Water passage and undermined stalagmite table (just above 20 ft. Pot)(1921);
Gear required for a day in Eastwater or elsewhere!

Eastwater photographs:

Looking up the stream;
Evening shadows across the valley (Eastwater entrance);
General view of valley;
Cleaning out a few dangerous stones from entrance;
A party ready to enter swallet (Balch photo.),
Balch in Boulder Choke at head of 380 ft. Way (1912);
Where one leaves the boulders for bed-rock, (Webb in photo.);

(Wheeler, Balch, Holly and Webb) 1912;
Wheeler and Holly with nothing much below them;
Webb and Balch in 2nd Great Rift Chamber (1912);

Gough’s photographs:



Pencils under shelf in side passage near entrance, 1922;
Water-worn passage – smooth and carved, near entrance, 1922,
Wall and pool opposite

, 1922;
Two curtains with fine folds;

(published by AGHG);
A fine stalagmite wall;
Columns and Curtains (see postcard section) 1922;
A fine erratic stalactite in Aladdin’s Grotto, 1922;
Aladdin’s Grotto, reflected (Feb. 1922);

, (Feb. 1922),
(Aladdin’s Grotto);

Niagara Falls
Looking up into Solomon’s

(Feb. 1922);


(Stalagmite Columns);
Peal of Dells (AGHG); Column in Fairy Grotto;
(Curtains and straws);
Organ Pipes (close up view);
(Pagoda stalagmite);
A broken up stalagmite floor; (A. Gough in photo),
(Suspended limestone floor);
(Climb to Sand Chamber);
In the


A more distant view;
Two views of

Niagara Falls

Two views of Lower Boulder Chamber;
Two detail views of Solomon’s


A side chamber near entrance;
In the
Lower Boulder Chamber (incl. Sinnock);
Examples of crystal stalagmites;

White spot Cave (1918?);



A good ‘freak’ (wall formations);

(Wall formations);
The best of the few pillars;

Cox’s Cavern photographs:

(Speaker’s Mace) Feb. 1922;
(Speaker’s Mace) Feb. 1922;

(Long Hole)

(Entrance, looking out);
View of entrance.

Outlet of the Upper stream;
Outlet of the Lower stream.


A small cave mouth (east ‘side);’

A little Cave shelter in eastern cliff;

– first small chamber;

– looking out towards entrance;
Remains of an old cave pot-hole;
A small cave mouth;
A small rock-shelter;
Three views of cave mouth under shoulder of western cliff face.


Party at entrance;
The slope of boulders and arch;
(Stalagmite boulders);
Examples of coral-like formations;
A tributary passage;
Looking back to Arch.

Entrance to Sandy Hole,




Rough steps from top to bottom of
the large chamber;
Fallen flakes with stalagmite bosses, west side of large chambers,
Deep Cave
One of the few signs of stalagmite on right hand wall before reaching large
The Bishop’s Chair;
Two views of stacked bones in Banwell Bone, Cave.

Lamb Leer:

Party starting down the Entrance
The Entrance and the

Old Bristol
The Beehive, Largest known English stalagmite boss (with

Looking down into

Cave of
Falling Waters
the top;

Burrington Coombe:

Two views of mouth of Fox’s Hole
Langford Rising (1911);
Rickford Rising (1911);
Whitcombe’ sHale
Two views of Plumley’s Den (1911);
Looking down into Plumley’s Den (1911);
Steeply tilted strata in Aveline’s Hole;
In Aveline’s Hole;
Entrance to Aveline’s Hole (1911);
At foot of first slope – Aveline’s Hole;
A stalagmite wall in Aveline’s Hole;
Univ. Spelaeo. Soc. at entrance to Goatchurch; .
Entrance to Goatchurch (1911);
The Swallet cliff, Keltic Cavern;
Valley – cliff and swallet, Keltic Cavern;
Keltic Cavern, group of erratic stalactites – Main Chamber;
Main Chamber;
Keltic Cavern – The

– Main Chamber
(with Tratman) 1921;
Keltic Cavern – west end of Grotto 1921;
East end of the Grotto (Keltic Cavern) 192.1;
Keltic Cavern – the Main Chamber looking east, 1921;
Tickenham Rock Shelter (six views).

The Plantation Swallet (looking out);

St. Cuthbert’s Mines,


(2)  Bamforth Photographs       (Mendip):

Hyena Den and Badger Hole, Wookey
Hole;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 23)
The Great Swallet of Bishop’s
Priddy;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 28)
In the First Chamber, Wookey Hole Cavern;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 49)
New Stalactite Grotto, Wookey Hole;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 57)
The Grill, New Chambers, Wookey Hole, (5744);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 58)
The Source of the Axe, Wookey Hole;  (Postcard (D.J.I.)  W.M.)
Entrance to great Cavern of Eastwater, (5760);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 59)
(shows artificial dam built during digging)  (Netherworld of Mendip p 62 W.M.)
Entrance of Stalactite Chamber, Swildon’s Hole;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 78)
Stalactite curtains, Swildon’s Hole;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 79 W.M.)
Stalactite Chamber, Swildons Hole (5763);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 80 W.M.)
In Cox’s Cavern at Cheddar;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 92)
Great Rift Cavern, Cheddar Gorge, (

);   (Netherworld of Mendip p 93)
Entrance to Lamb’s Lair, Harptree, (5746);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 116 W.M.)
(E) The “Beehive” Chamber, Lamb’s Lair;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 118)
Stalactite wall, Lamb I s Lair;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 119)
Entrance to Great Chamber, Lamb’s Lair;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 120 W.M.)
Stalactites in entrance gallery, Lamb’s Lair;  (Spelunca No. 39 p 8)
Eastwater Swallet;   (Spelunca No. 39 p
Swildon’s Hole in 1901 (entrance);  (Spelunca No. 39 p 26)
The subterranean river, Wookey Hole;  (Spelunca No. 39 p 28)
Wookey Hole, The Witch;   (Spelunca No.
39 p 29)
Wookey Hole, Stalagmites in the New Grotto;  (Postcard (T.R.S.) W.M.)
Entrance to Goatchurch Cavern (5743)     (

1st. ed. p 79)
The Beehive, Lamb Lair;   (Caves of
Mendip p 68/69) note E


(E)    There
are two quite different photographs of this formation.  The first published (Spelunca and
Netherworld) shows a man at the top of the Beehive whilst the second shows two
(?) men on the side above a wooden ladder. It is probable that this photograph was taken by Savory as he is Quoted
as being the photographer in the earlier publication.

Gough’s Cave, Mendip Hills (
(5742);                                                        W.M.
Gough’s Cave, Mendip Hills (


Chamber) (5750);                                          W.M.
Wookey Hole, Som.,

(Second Chamber)
(66); Postcard (D.J.I.)           W.M.
Lamb Leer (roof of Great Chamber) (5758); .                                                         W.M.
Beyond the Grottos, Swildon’s Hole, Mendip Hills (5762);                          W.M.


Chamber (5728);                                                                    W.M.
Wookey Hole, looking into the 1st. Chamber (man in white clothes);                      W.M.
Swildon’s Hole – The Pagoda Stalagmite (Ap.1912);                                              W.M.
Swildon’s Hole – looking towards upper end of Grotto (5766);                                  W.M.
Gough’s Cave, Mendip Hills (un-numbered) (view looking up to Solomon’s

The Font, Cox’s Cavern, Cheddar (no number);
In Cox’s Cave, Cheddar, Mendip Hills (Transformation);
In Cox’s Cave, Cheddar, Mendip Hills (Speaker’s Mace);
Lamb Lair, Harptree, Mendip Hills (5751);
Above Beehive, Lamb Leer, Mendip Hills (no number);

N.B. A mutilated postcard of

Cheddar exists (T.R.S.) but though displays the characteristics of Barnforth it
must remain the work of an unknown photographer until another copy comes to


Crystal Cavern, Blue John,
Castleton;   –   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Reynard ‘s Cave, Dovedale (4576);  –   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Blue John Cavern, Castleton (5695);  –   Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5697A);   –  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5699);   –  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Variegated cavern, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5700);   –  Postcard (R.W.M.)


waterfall; Blue John Mine, Castleton (5702);  –   Postcard (D.J.I.)
The Fairy Grotto, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5703);   –  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Canal, Speedwell Mine, Castleton (5705);  –   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Halfway, Speedwell Mine Castleton (5706);  –   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Speedwell Cavern, Castleton (Bottomless Pit) ( 5707)   –  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Waterfall, Bottomless Pit, Castleton (Speedwell Mine) (5712);   –  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Speedwell cavern, Castleton (above the Bottomless Fit) (5713);   –  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Peak Cavern (entrance) (5714);   –   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Arches and River, Peak Cavern, Castleton (5718);   –  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Devil’s Cellar, Peak Cavern, Castleton (5720);  –   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Peak Cavern,  Castleton (5721);   –  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Arches, Peak, Cavern, Castleton (5722);  –   Postcard (R.M.W.)
Peak Cavern, Castleton, (entrance, looking out) (5723);   –  Postcard (R.M.W.)
Looking down steps to Speedwell Mine, Castleton (5731); (view   looking DOWN steps)   –  Postcard (R.M.W.)
Peak Cavern, Castleton (5747);   –   Postcard (T.R.S.)
(N.B: Title of this photograph in Wide World Magazine “’Mr. Puttrell arriving
in the Peak Cavern by way of the new opening”)  –  
Unidentified photograph (5749);   –   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5753);   –   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5757) (probably Speedwell);   –  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5759);·   –   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Descent to Speedwell Mine, Castleton; (view looking UP steps)   –  Postcard (M.D.Y.)

(3) Chapman Photographs

(All postcards of Gough’s Cave, Cheddar)

Gough’s cave Cheddar                (7);
Gough’s cave Cheddar                (8);
Niagara Falls                             (4516);

Gough’s Cave, Cheddar (4522);
Cascade of

St. Paul
Archangel’s Wing                       (4525);
Curtain                                      (4536);
Aladdin’s Grotto                         (10564);
Fairy Reflections                        (10656);
Fairy Reflections                        (10566);
Aladdin’s grotto                          (11034);
Gough’s cave Cheddar                (11035);

Prehistoric Man                         (13761)
The Grotto                                 (13764)

Organ pipes                               (13766)
Diamond Stream                        (13767)
Niagara                                     (13768)
Pillar of Solomon’s

Stalagmites by Pool                   (14123)
Artificially positioned stalactites (14124)
Stalagmite Flowstone                 (14125)
The Fonts                                  (14126)
Entrance to Gough’s Cave          (15721)
Entrance to Gough’s Cave          (160o2)

(All postcards of Wookey Hole)

Resurgence                                                       (16010)
The Witch’s chamber on entering                        (16785)
The entrance to the hall                                      (16786)
Terrace above Witch                                           (16787)
The Sentinel                                                      (16788)
The Witch’s Dog                                                (161789)
Eastern Wall of the Hall                                      (16790)
Great Stalagmite                                                (16791)
Hall of Wookey                                                  (16792)
The Witch’s Chamber looking down the river         (16793)
The Witch                                                         (16794)
The Witch of Wookey                                         (16795)
The Hall of Wookey                                            (16796)
Entrance to the Parlour                                       (16797)
The Grotto and Big Ben                                      (16798)
New Grotto                                                        (16799)
New Grotto                                                        (16800)
On the subterranean River Axe                            (16908)
Parlour                                                              (16909)
Island Pool                                      (16910)
The Boat on the River                                         (16911)
Inner Grotto                                                       (16912)
Source of the Axe                                              (16193)
River Axe                                                          (18486)

Entrance to Gough’s Cave, Cheddar                    (20006)

The Hyena Den entrance (Wookey) (?)
The head of the of Wookey (?)

(4) E.D. Evens Photographs

(N.B. Nos. quoted are the



P8016 Devil’s Punch Bowl (1919);
P8027 Wookey Hole entrance (1920);
P8052 Wurt Pit, Harptree            (1920);

P8053 Wurt Pit, Harptree            (1920);

P8064 Longwood Valley, (incl. swallet entrance)   (1921);
P8067 Devil’s Punch Bowl (1921);
P8144 Burrington, West Twin stream (1921);
P8253 Lamb Leer, Entrance (1923);
P8254 Eastwater Cavern, entrance          (1923);

P8266 Dundry Stone Mines (1923);
P8276 Goatchurch, inside entrance (1923);
P8277 Goatchurch entrance (1923);
P8278 Goatchurch plan (by Mr. G. James) (1923);
P8279 Goatchurch, Waterfall Chamber (1923);
P8280 Goatchurch, Stalactite at Fonts (1923);
P8284 Plantation Swallet, entrance (1924);
P8285 Entrance to Swildon’s Hole . (1924);
P8290 Entrance to Bone Hole (1924) (initialled by H.E.D.);
P8291 Entrance to Bone Hole (1924) (initialled by H.E.D.);
P8308 Swildon’s,

Upper Dry Way

P8309 Swildon’s,

Upper Dry Way

P8310 Swildon’s, Old Grotto from

P8311 Swildon’s, Column in

Dry Way
P8353 Wookey 1st. Chamber (1925);
P8354 Wookey 3rd. Chamber (1925);
P8355 Wookey New Chambers (1925);
P8439 Swildon’s – Wall of Old Grotto (1926);
P8440 Swildon’s (large formation below Old Grotto) (1926);
P8441 Swildon’s Old Grotto (with Mr.& Mrs. James & Capt. Ellison)
P8445 Goatchurch,


Chamber (1926);
P8449 Swildon’s, Stalactite in 1st. large chamber (Boulder Chamber) (1927);
P8450 Swildon’s passage leading from 2nd large chamber in

Dry Ways
P8451 Swildon’s Old Grotto curtains (1927);
P8587 New swallet just formed in St. Cuthbert’s Lead Wks, nr Priddy, Mendip,

. 1.5.1937 ;
P8591 Swildon’s, Old Grotto (1938);

Notes: A number of these photographs, including scenic
pictures of Mendip, were published in a series of postcards entitled
‘Antiquities of Mendip’.  These include
photograph nos. P8285; P8353; P8354 and “The Source of the Axe” (Wookey

No. 8587 was published in D.E.C. Caving Report No. 13A

(5) Dawkes and Partridge (Wells) Photographers:

Wookey Hole, 2nd. Chamber (man
with arm on right hip);
Wookey Hole, 2nd. Chamber (near entrance) (man with arm on left hip);
Ebbor Gorge. – Scree slope.

(6) Sneath Photographs (c.1905  –

The First Crossing in Peak
Cavern, Castleton (352);                                  Postcard
Crystallised Waterfall, Blue John Mine, Castleton;                                                Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (351);                 Postcard (M.D.Y.)
Bridge of the Great Cavern, Blue John Mine, Castleton (361);                     Postcard (M.D.Y.)

(7) Shaw Photographs (c.1910)

Gaping Ghyll (entrance shaft);                                                     Postcard
Gaping Ghyll (entrance shaft);                                                     Postcard
Hunt Pot (entrance);                                                                   Postcard

(entrance);                                                     Postcard


The author would like to thank the following cavers who have
supplied him with information or have made material available to him for

Ray Mansfield; Trevor Shaw; Chris Hawkes; Mike Dewdney-York.


From Yellowstone To


by Karen Jones.   (Part 3 of Karen and



From West Yellowstone we took the bus to

on the west coast where stayed in a
Youth Hostel.  It was situated in a
rather depressed area and we saw more drunks on the streets those two nights
than in the rest of the holiday.  It is
quite an interesting place to visit and we spent an enjoyable day around the
market and at the aquarium, where there was a tank that you walked through
surrounded by the fish – quite an experience.

The following day we ‘took a tour’ to
Ranier, a dormant volcano, in a trio
with Mount St. Helens and


Mount Rainier
is 14,100 feet and it is capped by snow. It has 27 named glaciers.  Our
coach took us to

at 7000 feet,
where there was a hotel and visitor centre. The valley was very beautiful, being carpeted in wild flowers,
especially lupins, and the scent was lovely.

Once away from the inevitable crowds the peace and scenery
was overw¬helming.  When we first arrived
the summit was shrouded in cloud, but this gradually cleared giving us
tantalizing views of the mountain.  The
summit looked quite close (don’t they always) but in fact was over 7000 feet
and eight miles way.  Unfortunately we
only had a couple of hours so we did not get a chance to do very much walking,
although I hope that someday I’ll get the chance to go back.  One interesting sight was the pine-trees,
which were smothered in ash from
Mount St. Helens
when it erupted in May 1980 over 50 miles to the south.



we travelled down the west coast, spending a few days in the National Park,
walking below 300 foot trees which made me feel like an ant crawling
around.  There was surprisingly little
animal or bird life, although the racoons were partial to any food they did not
have to forage for and were therefore considerable pests, and each site was
equipped with a solid wooden food-store to use.   The racoons were very tame and could often
be heard very near to the tent at night. They are frequently carriers of rabies, however, and are therefore not
very desirable camping companions.

The Redwoods are a gradually declining species and only live
in a very narrow belt along the west coast. They require 70 – 100 inches of water per year which is provided by
rainfall and a thick fog which rolls in off the Pacific.

We then travelled down the Californian coast calling at
Santa Cruz and
San Diego
from where we travelled across to the Grand Canyon in the

.  There is no Greyhound service to the Grand
Canyon and so we had to travel up to there from

on a tour bus, which cost us $8.00
return.  The land around the canyon is
very flat and forestry is a major industry. There are several state parks to preserve the area.

We managed to get a pitch in the National Park campsite;
those travelling by car have to be at the campsite by 10am, but fortunately
they reserve an area for people travelling without their own transport.  After getting ourselves organised we went to
the shop and visitor centre for information; we were hoping that we would be
able to hire a couple of bikes and travel along the South Rim, visiting some
Indian remains and the museum; unfortunately they had abandoned that scheme as
there were too many accidents and stolen bikes! The only way to travel was on a tour (half day £7.00) or by foot,
neither of which really appealed.

We returned to the tent for lunch and to sit in the shade
for the hottest part of the day.  The
temperature was 970 on the edge of the canyon and 1200 at the bottom.  The walk down is eight miles long and you
have to carry a gallon, of water for each day, although there is water at the
bottom.  We decided not to bother going
as we had nowhere to leave the kit we did not need, and it seemed too much like
hard work anyway.

Later on we went and got our first view of the canyon.  It is a mile deep, varying from one to eight
miles wide and is 280 miles long!  It was
a fantastic sight, almost unbelievable, and the rock formation and strata were
fascinating.  As the sun sets the colours
and shadows change and move and, the scene changes from one moment to the
next.  The rock is red in colour,
although at midday in the bright sunlight the colour is duller.

The following day we took the shuttle-bus along the rim of
the canyon and got several good views from different angles.  We found it very hot going even though we did
little walking.  For our lunch we found a
pleasant spot over¬looking the canyon, under some pines.  Unfortunately I did not realise until I got
up that I had been sitting on some sap and consequently had a very sticky
behind!  Be warned!

We left Grand Canyon the next day and headed for
Carslbad Cavern,
New Mexico,
passing through the
Arizona desert and
spending four hours in a coach ¬station in

because we could not stand the heat –
120oF. – and that was cool; a few days before it had been 125oF.  How people live and work in these conditions
I’ll never know; I suppose they must be used to it.

To get to Carlsbad Cavern, which is situated in the
Guadalupe mountains and desert, we took the coach to


and then had to get another up to the cave. Again this was a private tour operator, but as it would have otherwise
been a seven mile walk it was well worth the expense.  There is a private camp-ground in

but as we had no transport and wanted to see the bat flight at dusk we decided
to camp out.  This was easily arranged by
seeing a Park Ranger and getting a backcountry pass, which allowed us to camp
out among the cacti!

After warning us about the rattlesnakes, tarantula spiders,
scorpions and other various delights, he let us set out to find ourselves a site.  We had to be half a mile away from any track
or road, and hidden from view.  We
managed to find a flat piece of ground where we could pitch our tent.  There was nothing to put tent pegs into as we
were on flat rock, so we carefully collected some rocks, avoiding any
‘nasties’, and secured our tent, tying the guys to an available cactus!

We then headed back to the cave and bought a ticket for the
full tour.  This takes you in by the
natural entrance, whereas the half-tour takes you to the main chamber by
elevator.  It is a self-guided tour using
hand-sets and way-side information, which was a good idea as the whole cave is
so vast that you need a while to take it in. Most visitors seemed to be intent on covering the course as quickly as
possible and we were continually being overtaken.  Several of the Rangers, who were at points
all around the cave, gave us odd looks and seemed to think that we were after a
souvenir, but when we explained we were cavers from

they were very helpful and

The cave entrance is an incredible sight, dropping 830 feet
in half a mile.  There are very few
formations until you get into the main chambers, where they were incredible and
almost every available surface was covered. The limestone is pale compared with that over here, and a lot of the
formations were covered with aragonite, or cave ‘popcorn’, which describes its
appearance well.  It is thought to have
formed by two methods, both of which were present in the same area, indicating
that flooding must have occurred at one time.

The first type of aragonite occurred on only one side of the
stal and is thought to be formed by small particles of limestone carried in the
air; the second form is all around the stat and is thought to have been formed
after flooding as the water level fell and the limestone particles were

The cave is of almost unbelievable proportions.  The ‘Big Chamber’ covers an area of over 14
acres and contains some extremely large formations, including one stal over 60
feet tall and ten feet across – the Great Dome – and two smaller ones at 40
feet!  The formations were too numerous
to count or describe, and I’m sure you could easily spend days down there just
looking around.  The cave was well lit
and there were no garish colours to spoil its natural appearance.  It was a really fantastic sight and was well
worth going all the way to


to see.

Another fantastic sight was the bat flight at dusk, when the
300,000 Mexican freetail bats leave the cave to go to their feeding grounds.  The bats circle anticlockwise out of the cave
and fly around several times to get their bearings before flying off in swarms
to feed on insects.  At the height of the
flight more than 5000 bats per minute leave the cave; another fantastic sight
and well worth camping among the cacti to see.

Carlsbad we headed to
Florida via

and spent a week lazing in the sun and
snorkelling on the coral reef before heading for home.  We had a fright on arriving on the Florida
Keys when, at 1am, we were woken from our sleep by an announcement over the
tannoy that all campers were advised to leave the Keys, as Hurricane Dennis was
thought to be heading that way.  No joke
at 1am.  Fortunately we got a lift from
some very kind people who took us to their home near

and treated us like part of the family
until the storm blew over, although it never actually developed into a

Our holiday was really worthwhile and something I’ll never
forget.  I’m now busy saving for my next


Wigmore Revisited (Again!)

by Chris Smart

After a brief (!) interval of 15 months the Wigmore dig was
revisited by Tony Jarratt, Ron Bridger (Luton Ron) and Chris Smart on Sat. 30th
January.  We were suprised to find almost
all the cave open and digging was only required for a total of ten minutes in
‘Christmas Crawl’ and ‘Pinks & Posies’. The dig out of the ‘Smoke Room’ was attacked and the loose mud and
pebble infill was easily removed, along with a few boulders to be stacked back
in the ‘Smoke Room’.  The dig was draughting
well and looked promising, if a little worrying when one pondered on the
stabi1ity of the roof.

On returning to the digging face later in the afternoon I
noticed a small slot under the wall immediately before the ‘Smoke Room’ that
appeared to have taken the stream at some time in the recent past.  This was enlarged to allow one to get one’s
head under the lip to see open passage for 3 m (10ft.).

The decision was made to dig this new passage (Blitz
Passage) and Sunday morning saw the attack remounted by J-Rat and Trev
Hughes.  They managed to excavate
sufficient of the passage to be able to see into a l½m. (5ft.) diameter
chamber.  The original Smoke Room dig was
also revisited and both were reported as draughting strongly.

The following Saturday (6.2.82) saw J-Rat and Chris Smart
return to the dig to discover approximately 2 ton of collapsed mud, spoil,
boulders and conglomerate in the Smoke Room. This was blocking the old way on and took J-Rat about an hour to clear
sufficient of the debris to re-open the entrance to the dig.  During this time I managed to enlarge Blitz
Passage and squeeze in to see the way on continuing down dip.  However a point of interest was noted in that
the stream water could be heard dropping some distance through the boulders
forming the floor of the small chamber. Some more gardening was completed in the ‘Smoke Room’ but further
collapses will occur here and it was decided to concentrate solely on the Blitz
Passage’ dig.  Combined work in the small
chamber has now exposed an upstream section running parallel to ‘Pinks &
Posies’ and the partly mud-infilled downstream section that is easily dug.  The way on is open and digging must
continue.  Stacking of spoil is probably
best in the ‘Smoke Room’ (with care!) or by a determined effort in the chamber
at the start of ‘Pinks and Posies!.

Some additional, random thoughts:

1)       1)I
should like to thank the Club for the purchase of some plasticated cloth bags
that have proved excellent for the Wigmore mud – the water oozes out and the bags
set like concrete;

2)       The
new manager of the farm area (Rob?) is an ex-caver and ex-Axbridge, ex-Wessex
and ex-U.B.S.S. member.  He is more than
interested in the dig and its results, but is concerned that the entrance grill
is not locked;

3)       In
Trev’s last Wigmore article he states “it is credible to suggest that the
conglomerate passage bifurcates at this point (the terminal choke), but this is
not my belief.”  I think that Blitz
Passage shows that bifurcation is present and may be an example of differential
solubility of the Triassic conglomerate. Frequent roof falls in the past and a
subsequent build up of mud and gravel, etc., would exploit such weaknesses;

4)       A
digging team of two is feasible, but with three or even four, well, who
knows?  The

Cheddar Master

can only be a few metres away!

Ref:  Wigmore Swallet
+ survey, A. Jarratt. B.B. No. 371 (March 1979)

         Wigmore Revisited, T. Hughes D.D. Nos.391/392
(Nov/Dec 1980).


From Vercors Plateau To Ardeche Gorge

by Jane Clarke.

On August 13th, somewhere in southern

, a little rural campsite
plus French residents heaved a sigh of relief as the English circus removed
their tents, washing lines of muddy caving gear and exploding petrol stoves, to
drive south-west to the Ardeche region. After a super week’s caving Graham and I were to join the Bradford
Pothole Club on the second part of their French holiday ¬canoeing down the
Ardeche gorge.

“Snake” (Raymond Lee) owner of the exploding
petrol stove, had been taken to catch his train home to
Bradford.  Soon afterwards the rest of the B.P.C. left
for the Ardeche.  Time-keeping not being
one of our strong points, Graham and I set off some hours later and, by way of
an indirect route, arrived in the Ardeche a day behind everyone else.

Part of our route took us through the Verors.  After crossing the very smelly


we soon arrived in Font-en-Royans.  I had
only seen the Vercors in its February guise; it now looked quite
different.  Then the roads had been thick
with snow and ice and were overhung with huge, precarious icicles.  Cars carrying skis travelled up the gorge to
the busy ski slopes higher up on the plateau. Those of us on that trip (Stu. Lindsey, Brian Workman, Colin Houlden and
Dave Turner) even spent a few hilarious days trying X-country skiing.  Returning down the Bourne Gorge to our
campsite one evening we were held up for some time by an avalanche that had
swept across the road and blocked it.

Towards the end of the February visit the sun had shone just
as brightly as in August and had started a tremendous thaw.  On a hot August day, looking over the
railings at the

from the small car
park in Pont-en-Royans, it was difficult to imagine the roaring floodwaters
that had plummeted down the gorge, fed by tremendous, gushing streams of brown
melt water from the caves along its route. Then the Dournillon was not accessible for more than 200m. from the
entrance porch and the Choranche show cave was flooded to within 12 inches of
the entrance arch.  But now, in August,
the hot sun had certainly changed the appearance of the gorge.  The leafy poplar trees and the green plants
at the water’s edge were quite a contrast to the parched grass and dry soil on
the higher slopes beneath the towering cliffs, which looked so glaringly white
in the sunlight.  After buying food and
wine we left Font-en-Royans and drove up Les Grands Goulets, a gorge equally as
impressive as the Bourne, and bivouacked for the night at the top.

Having seen many signs to nearby showcases we decided to
visit a few that were on our ‘indirect route’. Grotte de la Luire at st. Agnan-en-Vercors is an old resurgence cave,
which in times of flood acts as an overflow for the Bourne river which is some
way beneath the tourist route.  During
the last war the large entrance of the Luire was used by the local Maquis as a
field hospital.  A plaque commemorates
the three doctors, seven nurses and the wounded members of the Resistance who
were killed when the cave was discovered by the Germans.  With our tickets we were given a typed
description of the Cave in English. Either some meaning was lost in translation or the French are claiming
another speleo record:

“It has been dug gradually between the years 7 million
and 10 million B.C. date of the last glaciation during which some caving took

Having stuck a B.E.C. sticker on a nearby caving hut we
drove to Chapelle-en¬Vercors to see Scialet-Grotte de la Draye Blanche.

We continued our journey to the Ardeche following ‘D’ class
roads and lanes as much as possible and seeing some superb limestone,
scenery.  The only main town we passed
through was Montelimar where every other shop sold the local product, nougat.

We had arranged to meet the B.P.C. at Vallon-Pont d’Arc, a
town at the head of the Ardeche dorge where most of the canoe hire companies
have their bases.  As we got nearer the
number of vineyards increased.  Finally
we could resist no longer and pulled up to one of the huge storage sheds which
housed the wine¬ storage vats.  The next
few minutes saw upheaval in the back of the car as we rummaged through piles of
camping stuff and muddy caving gear to find as many receptacles with lids as
possible.  I did feel a little silly,
standing clutching armfuls of empty tupperwares and lemonade bottles, whilst
the French were buying their wine in huge jerry-cans.

After a peaceful and scenic drive from our original campsite
at Nantizel, the town of


was a shock for which we were not prepared. It may well possess six 17th century tapestries illustrating the
deliverance of


but what the guide book does not mention are the six 20th century campsites,
all absolutely crammed with tents and caravans and bursting with people.  Having driven around one site looking for
Yorkshire faces (and been removed by
the camp’s security patrol) we finally found the right site and the B.P.C.
pitched on a dusty corner near the river. None of us were very impressed by either the town or the campsite, but
as canoes had been booked for the next day, everyone decided to stay put.

Although Vallon itself was a disappointment, the surrounding
countryside and river scenery were not. The guide book describes the

as passing through
a very diverse landscape of vertical cliff walls, basalt strata, ravines and
spectacular gorges.  It is one of the few
rivers in the region which has not been harnessed by man and, as such, its flow
varies greatly depending upon the season. At the time of our stay, mid-August, it was obviously at its lowest, but
all along its course we were to see flood debris some 100 metres or more away
from the river’s edge.  The spring flood,
caused by melting snows, must be spectacular to see as it is said to advance as
a wall of water travelling at between 10 and 15 miles per hour.

The main Ardeche Gorge begins south of Vallan where the
river divides a large limestone plateau into two extensive plateaux, the Gras
to the north and the Orgnac to the south, both of which have may caves.  It is because of the superb gorge scenery
that there are so many boat hire companies at Vallone.

There is no problem in hiring some kind of craft to get you
down the gorge (and no-one asks to see your Junior school swimming
certificates!).  There is the choice of
being ferried down in an inflatable raft or in an ‘unsinkable’ punt or you can
paddle your own canoe, with or without an escort.  The unescorted double canoes sounded much
more entertaining.  Everything you need
for the trip (bar plonk and food) is provided by the hire company – canoe,
paddles, life-jackets and water tight barrels for keeping gear dry when/if you
capsized (provided that you remembered to screw the lid on.)  We had also been given a profile of the river
showing the general features such as cliffs, footpaths, fresh-water sources,
caves, beaches, camps de naturistes, and rapids, each of which was graded on a
three star system – 1* being easy and 3* being more difficult.

Having been shown by a very patient Frenchman which was the
front of our canoe, Graham and I set off in lazy pursuit of the Bradford P.C.
flotilla, who were some two hours ahead of us. (Oh, what it is to be organized!). After drifting under the huge natural arch from which Vallon Pont d’Arc
takes its name, we soon left the crowds of holidaymakers behind.  The only sounds were the splash of paddles
and the plop of fish jumping.  It soon
became obvious that nudism was an acceptable part of the scenery so it did not
take long for us to become ‘naturistes’ so. For most of the way the current was slow enough for us to just slide out
of the Canoe and have a swim to cool off. Getting back in proved to be a little more difficult, particularly if
someone decided he needed paddling practice just as you reached the side of the
canoe (no names mentioned).

Despite the tranquillity, in the backs of our minds was the
thought of the rapids yet to come. Gliding unsuspectingly around one of the river’s many gentle bends we
could see ahead a crowd of people perched on some rocks in the river.  A little closer and we could hear their
cheers (and also see an ominous looking first-aid box).

Sacre Bleu!  It was
the first 3* rapid!  There was no time to
paddle or screech instructions at each other. Without really knowing what happened we popped through he rapid
unscathed and dry, the water having decided our course for us.  Feeling very brave and intrepid we paddled on
to find the B.P.C.

Having caught them up, the rest of the afternoon slipped by
as we drifted, paddled and swam, and looked at the beautiful scenery.  It was rather like being in extremely warm
river cave with no roof.  The sides of
the gorge are canyon-like cliffs, many of which have been given names after
their shape such as the Cathedral Rock and Madeleine Ramparts.  That evening we bivouacked on a wide, sandy
beach near the river.  Behind us, in the trees,
there was more than enough wood to build a lovely fire.  The distance of this wood from the river,
debris from the spring floods, showed how much water must flow through the
gorge in the spring thaw.

Someone had very thoughtfully brought along enough fresh
melon and wine to supply us for the whole trip. So passed a very relaxing evening listening to cicadas (tree crickets)
eating melon, drinking wine and yelling drunken oaths at a group of cavers who
appeared from one of the many caves in the river cliffs on the opposite
bank.  Not a carbide flame flickered as a
heathen French accent (with a touch of Aylesbury) yelled, “Je suis le spectre
de Marcel Loubens.”  We watched them as
they made their way up the steep, winding footpath to the road above.

One of the nicer things about laziness and idleness is that
they easily become habits.  After the
first day’s tranquil drift down the river the second day began with a very
uncharacteristically energetic competition: B.P.C. v Ardeche river.  The ‘team’ began, by filling a two man canoe
with five – enough to give Plimsoll heart failure.  Chanting unintelligibly and looking like
something from an animated version of Hiawatha they tried to paddle back up one
of nearby rapids.  After many attempts
they eventually won.  Not to be outdone,
Graham, Geoff Crossley and I also had a few goes but, being a rather scrawny
threesome by comparison, was defeated. With gear packed and watertight barrels stowed, the flotilla set off,
drifting lazily along the canal like straits and paddling furiously through the
rapids. We stopped for lunch on a pebbly bank which lay below the ruins of the

.  Finally the smell of rotting flesh fish sent
us further downstream to a more pleasant eating place.  After lunch we stuffed our melon skins and
empty Camembert boxes into rubbish sacks which were lying on the beach.  Although you are requested to bring your
rubbish out of the gorge with you, we saw quite a few of these sacks lying in
obvious places.  A day later we saw the
gorge Rubbish Collection Service – a large punt piled high with rubbish
bags.  It seemed to be a realistic way of
keeping the water’s edge clean.

We soon discovered that the grade given to each rapid bore
no resemblance to what it was actually like.  Apart from running aground, colliding with
boulders, sinking the canoes and actually capsizing, the only real casualty was
Liz and Brian Sellars’ water-tight barrel. Each one thought the other had put the lid on after lunch, until they
next capsized.  Hmmm.  Before long the final rapid came into view at
the end of a long section of canal.  From
the crowd gathered along its edge and the frequent cheers it seemed that Rapide
de la Caville justified more that its 1*, rating.  Up to this point the B.E.C. canoe was the
only one not to have sunk or capsized, more through good luck than anything
else.  Determined to keep our record we
lined up our canoe to try to avoid a large boulder which was causing most of
the problems.  We ran into the side of it
and began to tip, but before the
could let out a cheer the canoe gave a little wiggle and slid through the small
gap into the faster water; leaving our record intact.

Rounding the last bend the cliffs melt away and the valley
widens out.  The final paddle along the
Canal de Situze was not particularly pleasant, being like a glorified swimming
pool for the crowds along the bank. After handing over our cane in Sauze, from where they are transported by
road back up the gorge, we said good-bye to Sheryl and Jim, Abbott and Brian
and Liz Sellars, who were returning to Vallon by bus, provided by the canoe
hire firm.  The eight of us that were
left, Gep John Green, Claire and Mark Ferry, June and Brian Smith, Graham and
I, went off in search of a restaurant. Some hours later we were asleep by the river’s edge.

Although it is possible to canoe down the river and walk
back up the gorge in two days we were not going to rush things.  The canoeing and return walk, were to take us
four days.  Unbeknown to us at the time, Buckett,
whom we were supposed to meet in Vallon, canoed down in one day and took the
bus back up to the town, and somewhere along the route we must have passed each

The gorge footpath follows the river’s course to within a
few kilometres of Vallon.  Occasionally,
where the cliffs came right down to the water’s edge, we had to paddle, or wade
across to the opposite bank.  In a few
places ‘via ferrata’ helped with the steeper sections.  Being so hot it was a great relief to wear
only a pack and a pair of training shoes and to be able to jump into the water
to cool ¬off, which we did frequently. Unfortunately Graham must have plunged in with his mouth open as later
that evening he refused supper and was violently ill.  Away from the water’s edge the gorge was
absolutely filthy and in some places stank. No doubt, the whole place is scoured clean by the floods each year.  On reflection the best plan is to canoe down
and catch the bus back.

Once back in Vallon a shower, clean clothes and a super
‘French meal’ restored everyone’s good humour.



Late News

Underwater Naval Manoeuvres on Mendip

An item of stop press has just arrived at the editorial
offices of the BB and would appear to be of interest to some of you.  The Navy, it seems are to indulge in a variety
of underwater exercises in the near future on Mendip and have requested that
all ¬members of the Bristol Exploration Club pay particular attention.  The operation will involve individual
submersible craft and should have commenced on January 1st.  When questioned about the late beginnings of
the manoeuvres the Secretary for the Member Ships involved is reputed to have
said, “Its always the same with anything to do with the BEC, nobody seems
to care that our underwater craft have not arrived.”   I think it is probably easier to sum it up
in one short phrase….


Mendip Rumour

There have been persistent rumours recently on the Mendip
Grapevine; of vast, new cave systems. The BB can now give you the full story, the hole story and nothing but a
story.  It would appear that the as yet
unnamed cave shows signs of ‘T’old Man’ having worked it in the not too distant
past as a goldmine.  Whether or not it
can still be worked for the good of the club remains to be seen.  It seems that some quite minimal investment
is required, a figure in the order of £10 per head has been quoted by some
learned gentleman and his financial sub-managers.  Perhaps I can add my plea to theirs and urge
you all, if by some inexcusable error you have not yet invested, to pay up now
and help keep the goldmine going as a viable concern.


A party of junior officers of the Army was reported as being
somewhat late back from a caving trip recently. What makes it all the more serious is that when one considers the amount
of time involved… almost three full months. It is virtually unbelievable that anyone could survive that length of
time without the required sustenance, but such is the endurance of Army
Subalterns.  In fact no one seems at all
concerned and I think it will probably happen again and again.  Perhaps we should consider another approach –
that of the re-education of people, to show more interest in the future
whenever junior Army Officers are overdue….that is to say when the Subs are


I make no apologies for the above. It is contrived, yes I
know that, but consider for a moment the reasons behind the necessity to write
it….and I don’t care if I repeat myself……If you have not yet paid, then do so,
your subs are so overdue by now, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were still
using pre-decimal money.



Monthly Notes continued.

THREE COUNTIES SYSTEM: In Gavel there are now two sites off
Glasfurd’s Chamber.  One is a sump while
the other is some kind of choke.  The
sump needs bang.  The choked passage
could head towards Notts.  In Pippikin
the end of Gour Hall has been extended and digging there continues.  Lost Pot was the scene of a rescue recently,
only a day after it was connected through to Lost Pot Inlet in Lost Johns.  The boulders of one pitch fell in seriously
injuring one caver and trapping three others.

DIDO’S RESCUE: Dido’s, in Derbyshire, is 30 yards of dry
passage leading to a sump pool in a pit. Some scouts went in and one, without a
light, fell into the pool and disappeared. Some time later this lucky lad was discovered, severely suffering in the
foul air of a small air bell some sixteen feet into the sump, on a mud-bank.  The divers first tried to empty good air into
the bell, and then tried to persuade the scout to dive out.  This failed so, with their own air becoming
desperately short, they jumped the lad, tied a rope on him, and dragged him
through the sump.

Correspondent – Geoff Crossley, who was very much involved.

A trip has been booked into this cave for Saturday 26th.  Those interested should contact Martin Grass.


            Dan yr Ogof


                        Martin Grass.                tel.

Wilton-Jones     tel. Aylesbury 28270

            O.F.D. 1

above  + Mike Palmer           tel. Wells

            Dave Irwin          tel. Priddy 369

Hole (winter months only or mid-week evenings)

Grass, Graham Wilton-Jones, Dave Irwin, Stu Lindsey. Tel. Keynsham 68088.

Members requiring trips into these caves should contact the
leaders direct, giving as much notice as possible.  Electric lighting is essential in all the
caves.  Trips for members can be arranged
into certain other restricted access caves, including Peak/Speedwell Cavern,

, Wookey Hole (dry
series), Gough’s Cave and Ogof Craig ar Ffynnon.  Anyone interested in a trip should see me or
telephone me on
Luton (        ) 35145.     Martin Grass

Swildons.  The Moodys
are at it again.  This time it is Pete’s
turn.  He has found about 400 feet of
passage in Swildons 9, heading due east, into the unknown.

B.B. membership: It has come to my ears that certain people
who feel that they cannot afford membership of the club, or use no other of the
club’s facilities, would still like to keep in touch by making a subscription
to the B.B. only.  Although this is
probably a matter for the A.G.M. to decide, your views would be welcome.

Batmanhole.  In the
Tennengebirge of Austria, S.C. Marseille have explored Batmanhole to a depth of
1150 m, according to a report by Ian Thrussel in Caves and Caving No. 15
(p.30).  This makes it the eighth deepest
system in the world, and the 15th system over 1000 m deep.     Bassett.


Dates For Your, Diary

Fri. 9th. Apr. -Mon. 12th. Apr.

South Wales.
Camping near Crickhowell.  Caving,
walking, diving, drinking, hunting (blind white fish!) Agen Allwead, Rock &
Fountain, Pant Mawr, Llanelly Quarry Pot Dan yr Ogof (banging and digging),
O.F.D. (perhaps), Porth yr Ogof (annual bathing trip), etc., etc.  (see M.G. or G.W.-J).

Thurs. 1st; Apr.

Wig baiting day.  Send Wig a (dirty) postcard.

Fri. 2nd. Apr.

G.B. (Friday Niters)        (7.30 at the cave entrance)

Fri. 16th. Apr.

St. Cuthbert’s (Friday Niters)

Fri. 30th. Apr.

Manor Farm (Friday Niters)

Sat. 1st. May -Mon. 3rd. May

Devon Great
Consols Mine.  Diving.  Climbing. (see G.W.-J. or Quackers)

Fri. 30th. Apr. -Sat. 8th. May.

Speleo Nederland in
Yorkshire.  See
page 2.

Sun. 9th. May.

O.F.D. (Smiths Armoury, in via
Top Entrance and out via O.F.D. 1) (see G.W.-J.)

Fri. 14th. May.

Stone Mines (contact B.E. Prewer,
Wells 73757 ) or G. Villis, W.S.M.27641 – work)

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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.