Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

. Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Shortly after buying himself one motorbike, Wig has replaced
it with another.  It has an engine bigger
than that on Jane’s car, and has already taken the Wig to

back.  Wig is a little new to
motor-biking, hence the cartoon on p.14.


Wig met up with Helmut, et al, and did a number of caving
trips in
Austria and

.  Articles will be forthcoming.

Bristol Exploration
Club Annual General Meeting.


This is a meeting for all members of the Club.  Yes, ALL members.  If you have any Views on Club business or
policies, this is the time to air them. If you know that you will be unable to attend but you have some point to
be raised, then please forward this, preferably in writing, to a member of the

Nominations For The
1982 – 1983 Committee

Your nominations are now requested for the new
committee.  If you know of someone who
wishes to stand for the new committee, they must be proposed and seconded by
paid up members of the club.  Please send
your nomination/s, in writing, as soon as possible, to our Club Secretary, Tim

A JOKE:  Wormhole has
taken Nicola to the South of France IN HIS CAR!


Stretching Time In


by Jane Clarke

After three days of good caving and general mirth and
merriment the South Wale Easter meet was brought to a close.  The B.E.C. still had its white ensign, the
Beaufort Arms still had beer in their barrels, the Boy Scouts had retrieved
their latrine tent, and Gooff Crossley’s tent resembled a chicken’s latrine.

A small group of us (Martin & Glenys, G.W-J. and myself)
had decided to extend the Easter holiday and so arrangements were made to visit

. With visions of Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cream before us we left
Crickhowell camp-site heading towards Fishguard.  As we were travelling on a middle of the
night ferry there was plenty of time to visit a few sites on the way.

The first stop was

, a superb ruin set
up high from the surrounding countryside on a large limestone outcrop.  A short drive from the castle we reached
Llygad Llychwr, having planned to do a hasty en-route caving trip.  Eventually we found all four of the river
chambers after plenty of swimming and wading in quite a strong current.  I kept an eye out for the Lewd Letcher but
was disappointed.

The ferry arrived in Rosslare and a few hours later we were
brewing up and cooking breakfast by the roadside.  Sometime later, having visited

on the way, we pitched tents in a
field on the outskirts of Doolin and spent the evening foot-tapping and glass
raising in O’Connor’s Bar.

The first cave we visited was just up the road from the
campsite; the Doolin Cave System.  St.
Catherine’s 1, the entrance, to Fisherstreet Pot, the exit, is a 3 km long
through trip, and is considered to be a


classic.  Having first tackled
Fisherstreet Pot, we were then driven by Glenys to St.  Catherine’s 1.   After a partly wet crawl we dropped into the
stream way,  where there very good examples of limestone shelving. Climbing up into the
Beautiful Grotto we stopped for some good photo’s of straws and stal.  I was very impressed by the Main Streamway,
named the

, and described by the guide book
as being “high, wide and handsome.”  The
stream covered the floor of the passage and, in some places, was quite
deep.  Apart from the cave entrance and a
short distance in bedding cave much of the trip is in large walking
passage.  Although there do not seem to
be many decorations the passage shapes and rock sculpturing definitely make
this a worthwhile photographic trip. Another point in its favour is that the trip begins in a field in the
middle of nowhere and comes out not so far from O’ Connors Bar.  Who is to say that the first visitor to


was not a Burren peat-digger escaping from his nagging wife to O’Connor’s for a
quick Guinness.  Cunning folk.  Wednesday evening saw us foot-tapping and
glass raising yet again, this time in the company of a mixed bunch of D.B.S.S.
and Cerberus.

On Thursday we drove the short distance from the campsite to
see the Cliffs of Moher which, in some places are up to 700 feet high and face
straight out into the
Atlantic.  It seemed that every horizontal surface was
occupied by some type of nesting bird. Kittiwakes, gulls, fulmars, cormorants,
shags, sea-duck and puffins were either bobbing below us on the water or flying
aimlessly around the cliffs.  Wandering
aimlessly with both feet firmly on the ground was yet another familiar face –
Mike Cowlishaw.

Sitting in the nearby information centre, writing postcards
and drinking coffee, we chatted to Mike Russell, a well known figure in Irish
folk music.  At the mention of caving he
told us all about a concert tour made by himself and his late brothers.  This tour included meeting with Durdy and
playing at the Pegasus dinner, which he had obviously enjoyed.

Driving east from Lisdoonvarna, which was our main
food-shopping town, we spent some time at the Kilfenora Burren Centre.  Various displays showed the flora, fauna,
geology and archaeology of the area – well worth a visit.

As the weather was so good, with not a cloud in sight, it
seemed a good opportunity to visit the most flood-prone of

caves – the Coolagh River System.  The
flood warning in the guide book was enough to keep the adrenalin flowing in my
system for the whole trip:



has a very large catchment area (approximately 6 sq. kms) and responds both
quickly and violently to rainfall.  During
a major flood the cave fills to the roof and water fountains out of the surface
holes around the and of the cave under a 40 metre head of water.”

We entered the system via Polldonough South, following the
stream into the low entrance.  Crawling
over pebbles we soon passed daylight – the small B 9a entrance.  The stream soon cuts a channel in the floor
and the passage takes on he appearance of an hourglass.  Traversing along the top section  of Double  Passage,  as it is known,  we soon reached an ugly  flowstone column after a rather slippery
climb down.  There appeared to be lots of
vegetation stal-ed into the column, presumably flood debris.  Another short crawl leads into Gour Passage,
particularly notable for a series of cabite dams, remnants of an old
false-floor.  A 6m pitch drops down into
the Lower Main Drain, where we met with the Main Stream and continued to follow
it downstream over several cascades. Looking up some 20m. to the roof of the high, sheer-walled, scalloped
canyon we were constantly reminded of the flood potential of the cave by the
debris draped around the ends of stal and the foam way above our heads.  The

, with its walls
covered in slimy sump mud, was our downstream limit.  Back upstream, just beyond the Gour Passage
climb, we stopped for a few photographs of Balcombe’s Pot, a 5 m. deep
pool.  To avoid the cobbly, wet entrance
crawl we exited via the B 9a entrance, amidst brambles, and walked back to the
car.  As the weather was still good we
crossed the road and went for a short romp into the beginning of
Polldonough.  After passing a couple of
very dead farm animals, definitely not smelling their best, we returned to the

Our days were beginning to take on a pattern of sight-seeing
in the morning and early afternoon followed by caving.  Evening meals were, on occasions, early

On Friday morning we followed the coast north towards Black
Head, and then on to Ballyvaughan.  The
countryside was very rugged and barren, most of the hillsides being bare
limestone an with the occasional glacial erratic.  The edge of the sea cliffs were littered with
dead sea urchins and, nearer to the road, spring gentians grew from seemingly
bare rock.  Having stopped to look at a
well preserved 16th century castle,

, and a roadside
Pinnacle Well, we drove through Ballyvaughan to see a turlough, the Irish
equivalent of a polje.  Two miles from
Ballyvaughan is Ailwee show cave, discovered by Dave Drew and opened to the
public in 1976; the entrance buildings well deserved their architectural award
and could certainly teach

a thing or
two.  Aillwee is famous for its bear
hibernation pits.  Driving across
country, away from the coast, we passed many archaeological remnants,
particularly stone ring forts and the odd dolmen.

As we had spent much of the day sight-seeing we decided to
do a few, short caving trips that evening. Pol-an-Ionain seemed a good idea as a first trip.  Having heard all kinds of tales of farmers
dumping animal carcases and rubbish down the hole I was not looking forward to
the crawling sections, anticipating oozing bags of giblets and mammoth sized
maggots, none of which we found. However, there were some very suspicious looking black poly sacks, tied
up with string.  I was very careful not
to trend on any.  The Main Chamber, one

‘s biggest, was quite unexpected
after the grovelly and uninspiring entrance. In fact, the only justification for doing the trip at all, in my
opinion, is to see the very impressive Pol-an-Ionain stal.

Emerging hot and sweaty from the cave, we set off to find
Faunarouska, carefully following the guide book.  After some time wandering over the moor land
ferreting down many other holes we returned to the car and to a rather bewildered
Glenys who, having seen us set off, then watched as helmets bobbed up and down
and dark figures hovered on the skyline. We did not find the cave.

The campsite had all that we heeded in terms of loos and
water supply.  The only thing missing was
a shower.  Although it bore no
resemblance to
Chamonix in summer the cold
water stand pipe that stood, caressed by Atlantic gales breezes, in the corner
of the field served its purpose.  Not
only were we much cleaner and less smelly but Martin had a batch of action-packed,
good entertainment value slides.  (For
the information of those of you privy to Mr. Grass’s slide show, I was grabbing
for Graham’s towel).

On Saturday we crammed in yet more sight-seeing.  The Craggaunowen Centre has some excellent
reconstructions of an Iron Age lake village and ring fort.  Quin Abbey is a well preserved monastic
building with a ruined village clustered round its walls and now buried by

To get to Cullaun 5, our first caving trip of the day
entailed a drive across peat land and through coniferous forest.  The entrance was in a small collapse on the
forest boundary.  Memories of this trip
are of stooping, crawling and black, sticky mud.  On reaching the final bedding crawl of 80
metres there were plenty of pine needles in the roof, indicating that these
sections must flood right up.  It is not
often that I have come eye to eye with a frog but in part of the cave we met

In Cullaun 2 we followed the main streamway to the
sump.  Although not as large as some of
the caves we had visited Cullaun 2 still had a canyon-like main passage.  Chert bands and nodules were in abundance, as
was iron staining in the stal, one of which was called The Bloody Guts.

Our last day, Sunday, was to have been a gentle drive back
to Rosslare for the evening ferry. However, Graham in particular was very disappointed at not finding
Faunarouska, and so we decided to visit the cave and then hurtle for the
ferry.  It did not take long to find the
entrance, going on directions from Tony Boycott, whom we had met earlier in
O’Connor’s Bar.  After ¾ mile walk we
came to the large entrance.  Once again
the passage was canyon like, but very narrow, twisting and turning for much of
the way.  There are a few crawls and
ducks under flowstone, with some quite pretty decoration.  The stream has exposed ledges and nodules of
chert which, in a few places, have formed small cascades.  Eventually the cave changes to being
phreatic.  Having reached the Letterbox
we turned back and made a rapid exit, saving the rest of the cave for our next
visit to


A speedy change and an even speedier, but pleasant, drive
across Ireland, squeezing in a visit to Dunratty Castle and Folk Park on the
way, got us to the ferry just on time, which, in turn, got us back to England
just in time for work on Monday morning.

We had been absolutely exhausted by five days of intensive
caving, touring and pubbing.  As a first
time visitor to

I was very
impressed by the scenery, the caves and the friendliness and generosity if the
people, particular Gussie O’Connor and his wife, and Arthur the fisherman.

 –  Easter 1983

We are currently planning a trip to

for next year, visiting
over the whole of the Easter weekend as well as the week after.

We are considering staying in a cottage, perhaps McCarthy’s
Cottage, although the campsite by the strand is perfectly good, provided that
the weather is reasonable.

If you are interested in coming along – perhaps you have not
yet visited
Clare or maybe you would like a change from
Crickhowell at Easter, then contact Martin Grass (


Mendip Rescue Organization

Cave Rescues and Incidents for the Year ending 31st December. 1981

This account covers the calendar year 1981 and so starts by
repeating the note on the lengthy rescue in Agen Allwedd,
, ending my last report. The list below continues the format of the thirty year record also
published last year.  It shows that we
have now passed 200 incidents over half of which have occurred during the past
decade.  I have not listed an incident in
which some boys were lost in the so-called Devil’s Hole Stone Mine, Bathampton,
last July because they were found by the local Police.  Nor have I included two call-outs of the
Cheddar Cliff Rescue Team to Salthouse Cliffs, Clevedon, on 27th June and to
High Rock, Cheddar Gorge, on 3rd October for these reports are best left to our
climbing colleagues.  They have been to
three cliff rescue calls in as many years.

The fourteen cave rescue call-outs during 1981 were as

l7/l9th Jan

14th Feb

15th Feb

5th Mar

13th Mar

6th June

11th July

28th July

1st Sept

13th Sept

20th Sept

14th Nov

14th Nov

29th Nov

Agen Allwedd,
South Wales Longwood Swallet

Swildon’s Hole

Swildon’s Hole

Read’s Cavern

St. Cuthbert’s Minery

Swildon’s Hole

Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire



Swildon’s Hole

Goatchurch Cavern


Swildon’s Hole















fall, broken leg

Fall, badly bruised



Lost, lights f.

Presumed missing person

Fall, broken leg

Lost, lights f.




Fall, broken ankle

Diving fatality


The details of each rescue given below are based upon the
field reports prepared by Wardens during incidents.

Weekend l7-l9th January            Agen

Three dozen Mendip rescuers went to help cavers in
South Wales who were bringing out a patient with a broken
leg from Southern Stream Passage. Another two dozen stood by.  The
full report of this mammoth operation belongs to the South Wales Cave Rescue
Organisation, of course.  However, we may
record that the controller, Brian Joplin, found our radios a great help and the
Little Dragon warm air breather proved invaluable.  We are especially grateful to the Warden of
Crickhowell Youth Hostel for his hospitality to all from Mendip.

Saturday 14th February             Longwood Swallet

MRO was alerted to standby when an Oxford Polytechnic caver
in a Wessex Cave Club party fell from an aven in the Upstream Galleries of the
August Series.  It appears that unsound
rock gave way when she was climbing.  In
falling about 6 metres she was lucky not to be badly hurt and then plucky to
get out with assistance from the

party.  On being advised of the incident by Yeovil
Police at 4.30 pm.  Brian Prewer stoodby
parties at the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio. Dr. Don Thomson was contacted and remained available until the
underground party surfaced safely at 5.30 p.m. An examination at

revealed bruising
to head, hip and foot.

Sunday 15th February                Swildon’s

A call was received concerning a party overdue.  It was not necessary for a rescue party to go
underground.  No further details are

Friday 5th March                        Swildon’s Hole

A call was received from Yeovil Police about midnight.  They had been contacted by a Mr. Pearse from
the New Inn, Priddy, concerning a party of Venture Scouts who should have been
out of the cave much earlier.  Brian
Prewer telephoned the informant at Priddy and, during his conversation, the
scouts appeared having under-estimated the time that their trip would take.

Saturday 13th    March               Read’s Cavern

Alan Dougherty from Wrington and Alan Hutchinson from
Southville Bristol, went down the cave early in the evening expecting to return
home by 8.30 p.m.  Both were experienced
cavers.  They left their car off the
track approaching the cave.  When they
had not returned by 9.45 p.m., Mrs. Dougherty informed the Police at
Weston-s-Mare, but their patrol was unable to locate the car in Burrington
Combe.  A neighbour drove her to the area
and she found her husband’s Mini Clubman near the U.B.S.S. Hut.  She contacted the Police again at 11.15 p.m.
to alert MHO.

Brian Prewer received the call from Yeovil Police at 11.20
p.m. and raised search parties from the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio.  Bob Hill and Mike Duck took a quick look
around the cave whilst Ken Daws and Chris Batstone checked out Rod’s Pot and
Drunkard’ s Hole nearby.  These initial
searches proved negative and so specific routes were followed.  Tim Large led a group to Z- Alley whilst
Alison and Pete Moody covered the Browne-Stewart Series.  Radio links were set up on the surface.

The missing pair were found at the lower end of Z-Alley and
brought safely to the surface at 2.25am on the Sunday.  It appears that they had lost the way when
lights gave trouble and then failed. They huddled together in a polythene bag to keep warm and this appeared
to be effective in the circumstances. All search parties returned by 3.00am.

Saturday 6th June          St.
Cuthbert’s Minery

Wells Police called Brian Prewer at 3.30pm concerning a
report of an abandoned tent and sleeping bag on Mr. M. Cotter’s property
bordering the minery.  Mr. W. Foxwell
suggested that it had been there for about a week and so the Police were
concerned that the missing occupant may have gone caving and failed to return.

Tim Large was contacted at the Belfry.  He inspected the site for signs of caving
equipment and made further enquiries from local residents and cavers.  This investigation indicated that the camping
gear was unlikely to belong to a caver and no one had been reported overdue
from a caving trip.  The Police were
advised of this at 4.30 pm and no further action was taken.

Saturday 11th July         Swildon’s

Phillip Casemore, aged 37, from Crawley,
was returning from Sump I on his first caving trip when, on approaching the Old
Grotto, he stumbled and fell headlong. He sustained a fracture to his right leg below the knee and was in
considerable pain.

Dave Irwin received the alarm through the Police at 2.15pm
and alerted Stewart McManus, Chris Batstone and Alan Thomas to organise
rescuers at the Hunters’ Lodge.  Since
the informant was unsure exactly where the incident had occurred in the Upper
Series, Alan and Trevor Hughes searched the

Dry Ways
and reported the site to a team
consisting of Martin Bishop, Mike Duck, Ross White, Tony Jarratt, Roger Gosling
and Phil Hendy.  Dr. Stewart Parker was
called from


and arrived at 4.15 p.m.  Meanwhile, Martin
Bishop had plastered the leg and a routine haul out was in progress.  A relief team of

cavers was organised by Glyn

The patient reached the surface at 4.35 p.m. and was met by
the ambulance that had been guided across the fields by Jim Hanwell and Oliver
Wells.  He was taken to Bristol Royal
Infirmary for treatment.

Tuesday 28th July                      Box
Stone Mines, Wiltshire

Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at
6.21pm.  They had a request from Devizes
Police for assistance in finding three boys missing down the mines.  Apparently, the mother of a 13 year old had
reported that her son had gone with two friends, aged 13 and 11, to find the
Cathedral via the Back Door.  They had
failed to return and only had one torch.

Bob Scammell and Chris Batstone were alerted to organise
search Parties.  Several members of the
Oolite Mines Exploration Group took part, their knowledge of the area being
invaluable.  A radio link between the
Quarryman’s Arms and the Belfry was established and Alan Butcher and Dave Irwin
were asked to standby.

At 7.30 p.m. it was reported that a search to the Cathedral
had been negative and so two parties had set out to cover the B12 and Jack
Workings respectively.  The missing boys
were eventually discovered by Bob Scammell’s Party at the Four Ways
Junction.  They were lost and their torch
had all but faded.  By 7.55pm that had
been brought to the surface unharmed but, we must hope, rather wiser.

Tuesday 1st September              G.B. Cavern

At 2.30 p.m. Brian Prewer was told by Weston-s-Mare Police
that a party of four cavers had been reported overdue from a trip down
G.B.  Six members of the 1st Greenford
Scout Troop,

aged between 15 and 17 had entered the cave about 11.30am with M. Day and R.
Wheatley as leaders.  They split into two
groups to follow the Mud Passage and Devil’s Elbow routes.  When the Devil’s Elbow party failed to make
the rendezvous in the Gorge, Day left the cave, telephoned the Police and then
returned underground.  This meant that
MHO had no details to help in alerting rescuers.  Tim Large went to the cave followed by Brian
Prewer and Jim Hanwell.

Apparently, the Devil’s Elbow party had traversed across the
top of the pitch because they thought the chain was too short and did not
indicate the way on.  They retreated on
being unable to continue and met Day on his way back after raising the
alarm.  All were safely out of the cave
at 5.00pm to explain what had happened to Tim large.  He was told that the trip had been arranged
by the London Ambulance Service Caving Club.

Sunday 13th September.           


Paul Sutton and Graham Sweeper collected the key to the mine
from the Belfry at about 4.00pm.  As they
were camping in the area, they left details of their trip on the Belfry board
and estimated that they would be back by 7.30pm.  When they had not returned by 10.00pm, Chris
Batstone and Bob Hill went to Shipham and found that their car was there and
the entrance shaft was still laddered. They alerted the Belfry and search parties with equipment set off at
about 10.30pm.  Jim Hanwell informed the
Police of’ the incident and Dr. Don Thomson was asked to stand by.

The missing pair were found on the route to the

and all were safely out of the mine
by 11.10 pm.  It appears that they had
not been down the system before and had failed to find their way back from the

Sunday 20th September             Swildon’
s Hole

Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 2.54pm
that a Mr. Wick at


had reported his Son overdue from a trip by about 2 hours.  No further details were known.  However, when Brian telephoned the informant,
he discovered that the son had already rung home to say that his party was out
of the cave.

Saturday 14th November             Goatchurch

Richard Wright, a Scout aged 33 from

led a party of’ four novice and one caver with some experience down the cave at
about 2.30pm.  On his way to the Boulder
Chamber, the leader mistook the route avoiding the Coal Chute.  Instead, he found it and fell off the climb
into the Upper Chamber sustaining a Potts fracture to his left ankle.

Dave Irwin was alerted of the call-out by Brenda Prewer at
about 3.15pm.  He immediately contacted
Chris Batstone at the Belfry and a party led by Tony Jarrett left with medical
and hauling equipment.  A radio relay was
set up from the cave entrance to the Belfry. The patient was strapped up by Bob Hill and carried out to the awaiting
ambulance in about 45 minutes.  He was
taken to


for treatment straight away.

In a letter of thanks, Richard Wright compliments those who
helped him and and recalls the morals: “never treat familiar cave with the
familiarity that breeds contempt; always look before you leap, and always obey
the rules you teach others”.

Saturday 14th November             Wookey
Hole Cave

Keith Potter, aged 22, from nearby Wedmore and a medical
student at

drowned when diving to Wookey 20 during the afternoon.  He was a member of the Cave Diving Group and,
apparently, had done the route once before.

Martyn Farr, Ray Stead and Keith Potter arranged to dive to
Wookey 24 whilst other divers were training with Doctors Peter Glanvill and
Tony Boycott in the

.  Keith was given the benefit of the clear
water and chose the

Deep Route

from Wookey 9 to 20.  Martyn followed
along the

Shallow Route

and found Keith without his gag about 4 metres below the sump pool entering the
chamber.  He brought him out and
immediately started resuscitation.  Ray
then arrived to help but they were unable to revive Keith over a period of
about two hours.  Eventually, they
returned to Wookey 9 with Keith and were assisted by the two doctors in
alerting those concerned. Peter Glanvill retrieved equipment left behind in
Wookey 20 the next day.

At the Inquest, Mr. Fenton Rutter, the East Somerset Coroner
recorded a verdict of accidental death although exactly what went wrong remains
a mystery.  In giving this conclusion,
the Coroner noted that explorers throughout history had taken risks, and that
the world would be a poorer place without them.

Sunday 29th November   Swildon’s

At about 2.30 a.m. a Police Patrol car arrived at the
Belfry.  Someone in

had reported that a Mr. R. Lewis had
gone caving on Mendip with three young ladies and had not returned when expected.  The Police had apparently driven from
Bristol to search for Mr. Lewis’ white

car. Fiona Lewis from the Belfry (no relation) accompanied the patrol on a
search of cave sites visiting Eastwater and Upper Pitts before finding the car
on Priddy Green.

Pete and Alison Moody were aroused to start a search of
Swildons for the overdue party.  Before
this got underway, however, Lewis’ party returned safely having spent a lot of
time lost in the Upper Series.  It must
be noted that the correct call-out procedure through Yeovil Police Was not used
by those concerned, nor had Lewis left word of the cave being visited.  Such time wasting would be serious in other

Calling out Cave and Cliff Rescuers through M.R.O.

Visitors to caves and mines in Avon,

and Wiltshire should note the
following procedures for calling out MRO. Climbers in Cheddar Gorge use the same system to alert cliff rescuers.

In the event of an emergency, go to the nearest telephone,
dial 999 and ask for the Police.  When in
contact with the Police, request that the Mendip Rescue Organisation is called
MRO FOR FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED.  Whilst a few minutes may seem an age at the
time, there must be a short delay before being contacted by a Warden and this
is a vital step in initiating a successful call-out.  Please resist the understandable desire to
leave the phone after alerting the Police because your personal knowledge gives
MRO a better opportunity to organise a speedier response with appropriate
rescuers and equipment.  Time must not be
wasted.  In almost all cases rescuers
will arrive within the hour.

Please note that 999 calls in the region are routed to
Police Division Headquarters at Yeovil (Priddy-Wells-Frome),
(Axbridge Cheddar-Charterhouse), Weston-s-Mare (Burrington-Blagdon-Banwell),

(Harptree-Bath) and
Devizes (Box-Corsham).  All have details
of MRO and switch emergency calls for cave and cliff rescues to Yeovil.


Hanging Chamber – Again

by “Kangy”

The esteemed Alfie Collins could never understand a lack of
articles.  He reckoned that if one could
be written then that formed the basis for three:

1) “St. Cuthbert’s – A trip
into a Supersystem”

2) “St. Cuthbert’s –

3) “Caves I have known – St.

This may be my second comment on Hanging Chamber.  I cannot remember my first.  It was probably something like, “Coo!
Lummy! Gosh!” or maybe we had simply had too much beer – that at least
cannot have changed.

Hanging Chamber has changed; at least, it has in the
imagination.  When we first violated it
with a maypole it seemed vast and mysterious. It was always a damp and chilly trip, time consuming and difficult.  We persevered because it seemed the best hope
to extend the Maypole Series.  Always,
away up in the darkness beyond our acetylene flames, were the dim promises of
high holes to climb into and, seemingly, a huge aven poised so high and so far
above that we, with our limited resources, were content just to dream about
it.  This is the stuff of Romance!

Jonathan and I were at the Belfry early in the year waiting
to take some Boy Scouts or


or something on a tourist trip.  They did
not turn up.  With a low profile we
hurriedly took the opportunity to join Bassett and Jane.  They intended to recover the gear from the
oxbow passage which had been climbed into from Hanging Chamber.  Intriguingly this was that “inaccessible
aven” which had haunted my imagination for years.  By all accounts it was an opening which
formed a high level loop back into Maypole Series.  Yet another oxbow to tick off from possible
extensions to St. Cuthbert’s.   We
eagerly seized the chance to see the area again.  I hope to read about it too! (see previous
B.B., Ed.)

The huge canyon which is the start to Maypole has retained
its impressive character and the same draughty dampness.  From the bottom of Maypole Pitch the dark
wall climbs in two large steps to the curved lip of Hanging Chamber about sixty
feet above.  Previously we had left a
wire hanging off a bolt for use as a pulley. This had been replaced by a wire ladder which we climbed easily to
Hanging Chamber.

By the excellent light given by my Nife Cell the wall looked
free climbable.  I enjoyed taking my time
and looking around.  Everything looked
amazingly near.  Graham got on with the
job of Prusikking, Jumarring, Clogging, Gibbing, or whatever it is, up the
hanging access rope and rapidly climbed the thirty feet to the hole.  This was our mysterious hole, now easily seen
in the sum of four powerful electrics. Its position was now seen to be vertically above the landing ledge of
Hanging Chamber.  Certainly it was too
far to maypole but it is much nearer than we had thought.  Just opposite was the “ledge” where
Pete Hiller and Fred Davies had hung off slings managing the bottom of the
maypole.  It was scarcely a ledge, more a
mud slide and tremendously exposed. Bloody optimists, I thought.

Snug in my furry suit, enjoying the well lit spectacle, I
suddenly remembered how it was when Fred Davies and I stood looking for a way
on.  Two skinny, shivering blokes in wet,
floppy, muddy boiler suits, peering short-sightedly into the gloom cast by
fitful acetylene flames.  We could not
see the “aven” from the landing of Hanging Chamber and from the next
level up it seemed to be far away over the gut-gripping drop into Maypole
Pitch.  To get where we had had meant
exceeding the current technology of Maypoling. This had been a consequence of failing to free climb to Hanging Chamber.

I had managed to free climb to within 2 few feet of the lip
but the crux quite put me off.  It was a
long way up un-roped.  It was wet and I
kept wondering what the hell I would do if a drip extinguished my light.

We were obliged to find a way to avoid this climb.  We succeeded by maypoling from the ledge
opposite but, once in the chamber, we simply could not see any way of using one
to get into the “aven”, even if we could see it.  We speculated about hydrogen balloons and
went home.

S.R.T. is neat and powerful and, with good, warm clothing
has opened out a lot more cave.

The moral must be – keep up with progress!



by Graham Wilton-Jones

Sixty years ago U.B.S.S. first paid attention to the
swallets and shakeholes around G.B. and one of their first successes came with
a breakthrough in the easterly, active swallet. This was Read’s Grotto, named after the same Reginald Read of Read’s
Cavern.  The grotto itself, several tens
of feet in through a restricted entrance passage, marked the end of the cave –
the boulder chokes were considered a waste of time.  Twenty years ago the entrance fell in and an
undisturbed chaos of brambles and weeds conceals the shakehole.  Only a few feet away from Read’s is an
outcrop of limestone split by a wide cleft. Boys from

dug here for some
time, revealing a number of narrow passages, small chambeers and loose
boulders.  In 1976 the last digging trips
were made and interest waned – the loosest of the boulders had won.

Earlier this year Pete and Alison Moody had a look at the
abandoned digging site and Alison pushed on down a narrow rift below loose
boulders to arrive at a three inch wide slot through which the draught
blew.  Two bangs and they were into
another rift from where the way to the present end of the cave was wide open.

After the squeeze, which is now gated, the rift drops gently
as walking height passage until stals and some false floors in the roof force
you to crawl beneath.  Already much of
the stal is becoming muddied as it is very vulnerable and great care is needed
in this and several other sections of the cave. The discoverers have put in protection tapes in a number of places and
have also taken in water containers and scrubbing brushes to use as
necessary.  Beyond the crawls it is
possible to stand again for a while.  The
rift passes a smaller rift on the right through which a beautiful white
stalactite is visible – the main route passes this a little more closely later
on.  A second passage on the right is the
way on but when Jane and I visited the cave we continued straight ahead and
thence up through a dig in gravel and false floor deposits to enter a much
larger passage.  This has only recently
been found.  It is thought to be the old
entrance passage to the system, deriving from a glacially obliterated
swallet.  It is well decorated and ends
in breakdown and stal having headed out towards Longwood.  The passage can be seen from further down the
cave but cannot be entered from there. Back at the way on it is necessary to grovel through a shallow pool and
then pass underneath the beautiful white stalactite.  After another rift with a pool is a drop into
a larger rift leading down cave, and there are now no complications in the
route.  The passage gradually enlarges and
soon enters a big chamber about half way between the floor and the roof.  The chamber is about 80 feet high and 40 feet
long.  On the right is a near vertical
well of mud, boulders and stal, beneath which the floor slopes steeply away
over mud and large boulders.  Clearly
there has been a monumental collapse in the not too distant past.  On the left hand overhanging wall, some
twenty feet down from the roof, perches a precarious pile of mud and
boulders.  On the right water running
down the wall is just be beginning to wash off the mud and gravel to reveal
clean white stal underneath.  There are
passages at the top which could prove quite awkward to reach.  At the bottom of the chamber the main passage
continues to drop quickly, often over boulders, sometimes across small
potholes, and after a short distance there is a slight, left hand bend.  Climbing up here leads to the top of the main
chamber and the route to Pearl Passage. Carrying on downwards shortly drops to the base of the Main Chamber
underneath a G.B. type bridge of large boulders.  The roof quickly comes down to form the end
wall of the chamber but a crawl among stal leads to the final chokes, which
seem to lie under the edge of the Great Swallet.  It may be that a way around these chokes can
be found and dye tests have been carried out to determine whether this would lead
back to G.B. or into the great unknown.

The climb up into the top section of Main Chamber is a
slightly awkward overhang – at present many of the holds here and elsewhere in
the cave are liable to drop off at the mere mention of their presence.  Above the climb a passage leads past good mud
formations to an excellent view of the Main Chamber.  This has been estimated to be about three
quarters the size of G.B. Main Chamber.  There
is a good vantage point for viewing the chamber and its very good stal.  This is at the end of a mud and rock floor
close to the edge of the lower passage. A path has been made through the floor formations but most of the other
stal will remain inviolate, being high up in the roof.  One of the alcoves has been reached high up
at the south-western end.  Other passages
at roof level remain to be entered.  At
the beginning of the chamber, up in the right hand wall, is Pearl Passage.  The pearls and the passage in which they lie
are to be taped off, but an aven beyond leads to passages that lie within a few
feet of Devil’s Elbow in G.B.

Like all the caves in the G.B. area


is on Bristol Water Works land and is controlled on their behalf by the
Charterhouse Caving Committee.  Our rep
on this committee is Tim Large who is also C.C.C. secretary.  C.C.C. have decided that, in view of the
vulnerability of the formations in the cave, the site shall be gated (this has
already been done) and that each member club of C.C.C. shall hold a key.  Each member club shall supply two leaders for
the cave, presumably for their own club and for trips requested by non C.C.C. clubs.

All trips at the moment are working trips – exploration,
taping, surveying, etc. and tourist trips are not yet possible.

Congratulations to Pete and Alison on this fine
discovery.  They surely deserve something
like this as a result of their efforts instead of those tight, muddy grovels in
that love of their life, Swildons.

At the risk of putting a bat among the stalactites,
condolences to Sidcot schoolboys (who should really be spending time on their
studies, anyway!).


Bi-Monthly Notes

THE BELFRY. Various members have spent some time tidying
between the Belfry and Walt’s track.  It
has been raked free of stones and has been mown.  If you fancy a mow when you are visiting,
bring a pint of petrol.  Please do not
park your ten-ton trucks on the lawns.

There is talk of acquiring a Belfry croquet set!

The Drinking Pond has been enlarged, presumably to
accommodate those larger or wilder members who have occasion to be thrown

Walt Foxwell has replaced his old man-hole cover near the
Pond with a new one, and has autographed the cement surround.  He said something on the lines of, “Oi maynt
remember you buggers, but youm buggers ‘ll remember Oi”  He has also agreed to act as the Club
marriage guidance councillor.

Don’t forget to make a few newspaper pulp bricks for the
stove using our Brick-making Machine, next time you’re at the shed, and keep
bringing those newspapers.

Members: Bolt celebrated his birthday at the Belfry recently
with a Barrel but, the highlight of the evening was surely watching him try to
blow out his own trick candles – they light up again immediately of their own

Fi did a special cake for the event, and she also made one
for Tim’s birthday, a few weeks later.

Trev Hughes is now permanently on Mendip (heaven help us
all) and is living at Wookey Hole (in a house).

Brian and Lucy Workman have now moved onto Mendip and are
living at Oakhill.  So that should be two
good house-warnings soon.

Several members gave caving and digging a miss recently (so
what’s new) to help Mac build an enormous set of concrete steps concealing the
front of his house.  Each step is
individually sized to accommodate all states of inebriation in his visitors.

being ‘fettled’ and many gaps in series of journals; newsletters, etc. have
been noticed.  The Librarians would be
most grateful for any old caving books or publications by any clubs.  Spring clean your bookshelves, my pretties,
and help fill up the Belfry shelves.

Any duplicates are passed on to W.C.C., M.C.G., S.M.C.C. and
M.N.R.C. to ensure that all the Mendip Clubs’ libraries are up to date.

Many thanks in anticipation,


N.B. Collection can be arranged – just phone the Belfry

B.B.’s – vol’s 3, 9, 19, 20, 21, 24, 29 & 30 are missing
from the library.  W.C.C. journals nos.
43 – 59 are also missing.

Many thanks to all those who have donated old publications


Golden Oldies On The
Isle Of Skye!

from Kangy.

The Black Cuillin Ridge is the finest and most difficult
mountaineering expedition in the
British Isles.  It stretches for six miles, has climbs on it
graded V. Diff. which are not easy to avoid, takes anything from a record 4
hrs. 9 mins. to two days, and is succinctly described in “Classic

To their credit, Roy Bennet and Alan Bonner have just
completed it in sixteen hours.  They went
from Gars Bheinn to Sgurr nan Gillean in good weather on the 3 rd. June
1982.  They share over one hundred years
of age between them!  They reckoned the
hard part was the continuous concentration required to avoid falling off the
extremely exposed ridge.

John Stafford and John Attwood did the ridge in May
wonders if anyone from the Club has done it in between times.

T.G.O.F. Finds In


Around Easter time this year Ken Jones and Pat Cronin, both
of T.G.O.F., were in Western Ireland, caving in
Clare and doing some exploratory work
near the
Galway – Clare border.

They explored and surveyed five sites altogether:

Poul a Crab;

Poll behan;

John Quin’s Cave;

Poll blath Gairdin;

Poll E Puthe Kittleon.

Pat tells me he has been dying to use this last name on an
Irish site for ages. 

The deep pool in Poll behan remains to be explored.

The caves vary in character from a small solution hole, 4 m.
deep, which is John Quin’s Cave, to the vertical depression of Poll behan which
is 28 m. deep to water level, and the 23 m. deep Poll E Puthe Kittleon, with
its 4 m. x 4 m. 450 passage ending in a suicidal ruckle and the sound of a
stream beyond.  Pat and Ken both plan to
return to the area around the first week in November.


Long Chamber Extension

– an extract from the Cuthbert’s log, 18th April

Pushed bedding plane of chamber 47* (above Long Chamber
Extension).  A low trench with many fine
formations leads up to a slot on the left onto more confined passage.  This was followed for 40 feet to a 20 foot
wide chamber.  This chamber is very well
decorated. The flow being white stal with many crystal pools.  Beyond this chamber is a 20 foot climb up a
decorated rift, ending in stal chokes or an upward crawl and a tight squeeze
into a final bedding plane.

Andy Sparrow and



* ref. Wig’s Long Chamber Extension Preliminary report for
numbering system of chambers.


Bi-Monthly Notes, continued.

LARGE POT: While N.C.C. were digging the old N.P.C. dig of
Little Pot, near the bend in the Turbary Road, N.P.C. attacked Large Pot
(within spitting distance) and broke through to a series of shafts leading down
several hundred feet.  This is of
particular interest because it is directly above the drainage route from Marble
Steps to Keld Head, so its potential must be considerable.

GAVEL: Ian “Watto” Watson has dived the sump here
towards Pippikin and Beck Deck Head for 1,500 feet, at an average depth of 20
feet, apparently without breaking air-surface.

HURTLE POT: Geoff Crossley hoped to lay lots more line in
the sump here, but the route dropped through a slot from its average depth of
90 feet and has now reached a depth of 115 feet.  It now has the deepest average  depth of any sump in


: Chris Bradshaw
& Co. are digging here, and its about time Chris had written something
about it for the B.B.

: The Army have been
digging here, but I cannot imagine what for!

CASTLE FARM DIG: Work continues here on sunny, summer
weekends.  Glenys was struck by flying
debris the other month, and proudly showed her bruise to all.  How about a note from the diggers, on
progress and potential?

DAN YR OGOF: The 40 foot pot, banged into at the end of
Tubeways, has been called Falklands Pot. The narrow streamway at the bottom, Exocet Passage, had to be banged a
second time to allow the passage of bigger-than-Jane sized cavers.  At first it headed a short distance
southwards, but then curved around and dropped down two pitches, 10 feet and
then 15 feet.  At the bottom is a static
sump and the stream gurgles away in a low passage which has yet to be
pushed.  Disappointingly, it seems to be
heading north, away from Mazeways.



Entered by two tight squeezes over a static sump, the
passage enlarges to join a large rift. Downstream there is a short distance to a choke.  Upstream, awkward traversing in a large rift,
is followed by steep ascents to a 40 foot aven, which is stal choked at the
top.  A very tight side passage goes to
another aven where a twig was found. Other side passages are being banged. There is, apparently, an old swallet passage terminating below Swildons
dry valley, with the possibility of a new entrance.


The Diggers’ Song

(Dedicated to a rare body of men and, in particular, to the
stalwarts of St Cuthbert’s by KANGY)

I wanted to go down a cave
And now my ambitions I’ve got ’em,
In Cuthbert’s I’m all the rave
At the dig in the hole in the bottom.

Digging away, digging all day, dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,.

I only went out on a spree,
Thinking to sup and be off, when
I encountered a crowd, BEC
All lewd and licentious and tough men.

Digging etc”

They said – -Young man it will go
If you carry these ladders and drop ’em
Into a hole that we know,
That’s not really too much of a problem.

Digging etc”

Now the entrance pitch is divine
So long as you’re skinny and narrow,
The walls are all covered in slime
From the drippings of Walt’s old wheelbarrow.

Digging etc”

We continued on down the Arête
The shaky old ladders appalling,
But, as the other bloke said
“Its a ruddy sight better than falling”


Two ladders and then the Wire Rift
Were next on the menu they brought me,
To traverse I needed the gift
That my ape-like ancestors had taught me.

Digging etc”

Mud Hall and Sta1 Chamber too


with boulders abundant,
My mates disappeared from my view
As they hurried to show me what fun meant

Digging etc”

A hole at the end gave the clue
Leading to Everest and gravel.
We slid down the scree in a queue
More or less in the right line of travel.

Digging etc.
I staggered along in a daze
Dimly noting the Sewer in passing
They’d knotted me up in a maze
When I suddenly noticed the splashing.

Digging etc ••

A wall immense and quite tall
Traversed the passage we trod in.
Blocking the flow in the Hall
And changing the level of Oggin.

Digging etc ••

At the side stood a large bucket wheel
Fixed in it’s bearings by packing.
This fiendish device seemed to deal
With the drive of a pump double-acting.

Digging etc ••

So sloshing the water about
It pumped from one place to another.
A muddy great hole was washed out
Without any effort or bother.

Digging etc ••

A spade all corroded and rough
I was given to my consternation.
They invited me kindly enough
To get digging and start exploration.

Digging etc ••

So now I’m a digger of note.
To be found at my post every Tuesday.
On cave exploration I dote –
I’m sure I’ll be digging till Domesday.

Digging away. digging all day. dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.



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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.