The

Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells Rd.
Priddy,
Wells.  Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126

Editor: Robin Gray

From the Editor

Happy New Year…May I984 be a tremendous year for us all
with successful trips, magnificent discoveries, and everyone getting their
share of the action.

Well,here it is.  My
first BB.  Firstly, many thanks to
Bassett for the really superb job that he has done for so long and for making
it easy for me to take over.  It will be
a hard task for me to maintain his high standard.  At least my typing should improve!

Thanks to all of you who have provided material for this BB;
I have some held over for next time, but don’t let that put you off writing
more.

I984 looks like being an exciting year for the B.E.C.  The new extensions to the Belfry should. make
life easier but will take a lot of fund raising; something the B.E.C. have not
been heavily involved in before, preferring to spend all their time
caving.  That’s fine, but we can’t
complain if the living conditions become poor as a result.

Please have a go at my caption comp.  It seems like an easy way to raise a few
pounds. Dany has asked me to draw your eye to his note about the next working
weekend…..Page 3.  Many thanks to Fi
for her help with the typing and please keep the articles coming in.

Cheers, good caving.

Robin.

Library Additions

Collieries of Kingswood &
South
Gloucestershire
by John Cornwall

The Caves of
India
&

Nepal

by H.Daniel Gebaur (see review)

Bulletin of the S. African Speleo; Assn. 1956-1978 (Some
missing)

Many thanks to Dr. Steve Craven of SASA/CPC for these.

Cango – The story of the
Cango
Caves of
S.
Africa
by SASA


Scotland

Underground by Alan (Goon) Jeffreys.

Thanks to C. Batstone Esq. for donation of Descent, BB’s
,Wessex Journals etc, and to Jonathon Roberts (MCG)for a similar heap of
publications.

 

Caption Competition For Improvement Fund

PRIZE….A signed, framed copy of this REG cartoon with your
caption.


Send your captions to the Editor together with 50p per
caption.  No limit on entries.  Cheques/PO to BEC.

 

Mendip Notes

BROWNE – STUART SERIES FALLS IN.

Brian Prewer reports that on the evening of 5th Jan much of
the unstable passage at the start of the Browne -Stewart series moved blocking
the entire section.  Much work has gone
on in this part of Reads over the last year as reported by Mark Lumley in BB420
and Descent 55.  Two cavers must count
themselves lucky to be in the land of the living today as they were there when
the big rocks were on the move.  It is
unlikely that the series will be entered for a long time.


SWILDON’S HOLE

The farmer has requested that all cavers wishing to change
before and after visiting the cave should use the barn as local residents and
visitors have no wish to see your bum and various other bits and pieces.

He is aware that often large groups of novices visit the
cave and this causes him some concern as he is well aware of the caves ability
to flood and become dangerous.  He has no
wish to put any limit on caving at present. Please shut all gates and stick to the path to and from the cave.  The Council of Southern Caving Clubs Suggests
that the Burrington area is a more suitable training ground for novices and a
note to this effect is to be found in the Belfry.

WORKING  WEEK END

Only a few members turned out to lend a hand at the last
working week end but a fair amount of work was done non-the-less.  There is still a considerable amount of work
to be done much of which is urgent.  The
next working week end will be held on the 4th and 5th of February.  Please try to come and lend a hand and let’s
hope for good weather.

D.B.

 

Job’s For The Boy’s

Digging Projects which NEED YOUR HELP.   Compiled by Tony Jarratt

A member recently told me that not enough information was
printed in the BB about club digs.  He
suggested that a list be compiled and published in the hope of maybe attracting
some of the newer (and older) members into action.  All sites listed are either Official or
Semi-Official Club Dig Sites and their respective FOREMEN would be pleased to
see you turn out for YOUR shift!

EASTWATER (Westend Series)

A vast amount of work still needs to be done here.  A main line survey has so far been completed
as far as the squeeze before Lolly Pot, there is still over 1,000 feet of side
passages still to be done.  Much of this
is in the first part of the extension and could be done on a midweek evening
trip.  This area still has to be further
explored and there is a chance of a connection to the Boulder Chamber or

380 Foot Way
areas
which would make the route a lot easier.

The very end of

Greek
Street
still needs digging, but it is taking a
rather large stream making progress difficult, unpleasant and potentially lethal.  With the next dry spell the dig should yield
a lot more passage judging by the howling gale which is draughting out.  Water Tracing, further photography and Smoke
Tests still have to be carried out. Interested parties should contact Tim Large or Tony Jarratt.

EASTWATER (Morton’s Pot)

Temporarily out of favour due to recent discoveries, work
should hopefully restart soon with the help of NHASA’s compressed air drilling
rig.  A promising site with good
potential.  Main contact Tim Large or
Tony Jarratt for details.

TYNINGS BARROW (A-Day)

Digging and Blasting at the end of the cave making a nice
change from Eastwater – some 20 feet of low bedding passage taking a stream can
be seen ahead.  Some recent problems have
been experienced with CO2 build up making digging trips short.  A good midweek digging project.  Contact Tim Large or Tony Jarratt for
details.

MANOR FARM SWALLET

A very promising site at the very bottom of the cave, with
lots of potential.  Due to ROMANCE
digging has waned here in recent times so a new influx of blood is needed to
keep this superb site going.  See John
Watson for details.

HALLOWEEN RIFT

A nice cosy dry cave just five minutes walk from Biffo’s
teapot (and wine bottles) will hopefully be this years winters digging
project.  An ideal midweek dig with a
good chance of breaking into the further reaches of Wookey Hole.  Contact Trevor Hughes for details.

Gough’s Cave

Visit Mendips most luxurious dig site.  Helmets, lamps and overalls provided most
freshly laundered.  Warm sheltered
changing facilities with running water and hand drier – what better way to
spend and evening than building sand castles, and what about playing with a
model railway!  Fancy an adventure caving
trip (ITS HARD, ITS DIRTY, ITS FUN).  For
those with an eye to becoming a television personality the possibility is there
and especially for the ladies how about Page 3 of The Wells Journal.  The dig itself is a large black hole (don’t
all rush) heading out into the unknown. The HARD WORK takes place on a Thursday night 6.30-9pm followed by a
well earned drink in the

Cliff
Hotel
.  Contact Tim Large or Chris Bradshaw for
details.

WIGMORE SWALLET

Another temporarily lapsed site best left for a dry
spell.  Contact Tony Jarratt for details.

TWIN TITTIES DIG

Borrowed from NHASA a couple of years ago and now returned
to them (in better condition).  Contact
Brian Prewer far further details.

WEST COTTAGE DIG

A new site directly above the presumed route of
Swildons.  No obvious surface indications
but should be excavated just in case. The area to be covered is some 20×60 feet and grass seed will be
provided for those with a conservationist outlook.  For details contact Jane Thomas.

ADDRESSES & TELEPHONE NUMBERS OF CONTACTS

TIM LARGE, Wells,

Somerset
,

TONY JARRATT & JANE THOMAS, Priddy
Somerset. 

TREV HUGHES, Wookey Hole,

Somerset

CHRIS BRADSHAW, C/O

Cheddar
Caves
.

BRIAN PREWER, West Horrington, Nr
Wells

Somerset
.

 

The 1983/4 Committee Of The

Bristol

Exploration Club

Hon. Secretary: Tim Large, Wells,

Somerset

Hon. Treas: Jeremy Henley, Shepton
Mallet,

Somerset

Hut Warden: Phil Romford, Coxley,

Somerset

BB Editor: Robin Gray, East
Horrington, Nr Wells,

Somerset

Caving Secretary:  Stu MacManus,

Wells Road
, Priddy Somerset. 

Hut Engineer: Dany Bradshaw, Wookey
Hole,

Somerset

TackleMaster: Bob Cork, Stoke St.
Michael,

Somerset
.

Floating Member John Dukes, Shepton
Mallet,

Somerset
.

Hut Warden Roster

As we have no full time hut warden a roster of members to do
2 weekends a year has been established. The following have agreed to help:-

Nick Holstead

John Dukes

John Turner

Ian Caldwell

John Watson

Paul Hodgson

Chris Castle

Robin Gray

Greg Villis

Mac

Brian Prewer

Dave Aubrey

Axel Knutson

Pete & Joyce Franklin

J Rat

Keith Gladman

Bucket Tilbury

Chris Smart

Jane Clarke

Trev Hughes

Nigel Taylor

Andy Lolly

Bassett

Bob Cork

Danny Bradshaw

Tim Large

Chris Batstone


 

If your name is not on the list and your conscience allows
you to volunteer please do so a.s.a.p. to me. Keeping the hut in good order is a high priority on the administrative
requirements of the Club so the more volunteers the better!

J.  Henley

 

Hut Wardens Report I982

It must be pointed out that I took this post by default,
since no other person would take the responsibility.  I made it clear that that I would accept the
post on my terms and that it would not be entirely satisfactory in that I was
not regularly staying at the Belfry over Weekends.  However, I did set out to improve the declining
services offered.  A major concern was
that the Royal Navy may move to another club for their mid week activities,
thereby depriving us of considerable income. After a lot of hard work with the help of a very few, the condition of
the Belfry was considerably improved resulting in the RN coming to us again and
regularly.

Early in the year I fitted a new front door and look which
required issuing new keys on request, about 60 have been issued since.  During my term I went into business with my
own caving shop.  Unfortunately this
resulted in not being able to put in the effort that I should have over the
last four months.  However, I have kept
up to date with the Belfry accounts as the Treasurers report shows.

Bed nights.  During
the year 82-83 there were 1547 members and guest nights and 693 Navy nights; in
61-82 there were 1866 ordinary nights and 621 Navy nights.  Thus we were down by 339 ordinary nights and
up by 72 Navy nights, on balance there was less income this year than last.

It is my recommendation that the new Hut Warden should be
both regularly staying at the Belfry and that he should have a well developed
sense of responsibility.  Members should
be strongly discouraged to not use the Belfry as a Pig Sty and giving guests
the wrong impression.  My thanks go to
those few who have helped me through this year.

P. J. Romford
Hut Warden

Would those who have lockers in the Belfry please let me
know which they have and send me the fees due. Locks on lockers unidentified at the end of March 1984 will be removed
and the lockers emptied and relocked with new locks.

Large lockers round Belfry Table
– 50p.

Tall lockers – £1.00.

J. Henley
3-1-84


 


University Of
Bristol
Paul Esser
Memorial Lecture 1984

Our Lecturer for 1984 will be the canoeist, Dave Manby.  He will be describing some of the white-water
canoeing expeditions that he has made, under the general title of:

“SO YOU CAME ALL THIS
WAY JUST TO GET WET.”

This was the conclusion arrived at by a Yorkshire man on a
coach tour of Austria, when he saw the canoeing party climbing up the river
bank into the car park in Landeck.

Dave Manby has been canoeing since 1968, has visited the
Himalayas three times, the Orinoco Naipure Rapids,
British
Columbia
, the
U.S.A.
and

Alberta
.  In 1982 he paddled the greater part of the

Coruh
River

in N.E. Turkey.  His
British
Columbia
expedition in 1979 included the first British descent of
the
Overlander
Falls,
an 8 metre vertical drop on the

Fraser
River
!  His 1983 expedition is another attempt on the
Braldu River of K.2. – solo – returning in November. 

The lecture will be given at 8.15 pm. on Wednesday, 15th
February, 1984 in the large physics lecture theatre,

Tyndall Avenue
,

University of
Bristol
.  The Vice-Chancellor will be in the chair.

If parties coming from a distance will let me know
beforehand, I can have seats reserved for them. Admission is free.  Write to Dr. Oliver Lloyd, Withey House,
Withey Close West,

Bristol,
BS9 3SX

1st November. 1983

 

Darfar Pot

As I read In a recent BB that I was soon to be supplying a
write up on the above find in the

Manifold
Valley
it looks as though
I’ll have to cough one up.  Although I
have visited Derbyshire on relatively few occasions, the secretary of the

Trent
Valley

caving Group, who made the find, is a patient of mine.

The TVCG consists of a small core of young caving
enthusiasts whose keenness and methodical approach more than makes up for their
lack of experience.  They have been
digging in the

Manifold
Valley
for about 4 years
and the result of their work has been a significant contribution to the
knowledge of the underground drainage of the Manifold, and the excavation of a
very attractively decorated dry system at Darfar Ridge.  For those curious about this Tolkienesque
name-it means badger.

For those who do not know the

Manifold
Valley
,
most of the river sinks in dry weather at Wetton Mill and resurges at Ilam 4
miles away and 160 feet 1ower.  During
spring and summer, as the rainfall diminishes, the river is progressively
captured by a series of swallets in the river bed further and further up the
valley.  It is fascinating to watch these
swallets in action because they behave like bath plugholes.  The river bed is dotted in some places with
little gurgling whirlpools.  In wet
weather or flood these swallets act as resurgences and in fact one or two finds
have been made when concrete cappings placed optimistically over swallets to
stop the river drying up have been blasted off by resurging flood water!  The best known cave sites in the valley are
Redhurst Swallet and the severe Ladyside Pot, both thought to be part of the
same drainage system.  The resurgences
have also received the attentions of a number of cave divers but have both
proved dangerous and impenetrable.

Despite the fact that the Orpheus had attacked the main sink
at Wetton Mill on a number of occasions (one dig in the river bed went 5 metres
through boulders), the TVCG were undaunted, and after some initial poking about
in the valley, began a dig just below Wetton Mill at the base of Darfar Crag,
on the river bank.  They received help
and encouragement from Simon Amatt, an Opheus member.  A trial trench led to the excavation of a
choked entrance at river 1evel.  This was
found to happily take the entire river without backing up so the diggers
pressed on.  As one would expect with a
dig in such a location, wet weather digging was impossible so effort was
sporadic.  However, in I986, a series of
tight crawls and squeezes was entered and the river reached.  Unfortunately it rose and sank in boulders
and in dry weather completely disappeared. Some avens off the second chamber were briefly examined before the
weather deteriorated and the cave became un-enterable again.  The cave was not then accessible until mid
1981 when in the far chamber, a rift was extended to a point where through a
cleft, the dull roar of the river could be heard again.  Again bad weather and other digs meant little
progress until the drought this year when the breakthrough was made.

As is often the case, the breakthrough was unexpected.  The avens were being re-examined when a
previously unnoticed hole in the wall of one of them was noticed to swallow
stones.  It was opened up and progress
was then swift.  I am a little hazy about
the exact details but it appears that a series of rifts above the Manifold
streamway were entered which give access to it at various points.  The initial section reached revealed the
stream roaring down a tube with little airspace.  It was so intimidating that nobody pushed it,
but fortunately a bypass soon found and a 25 metre section of streamway
explored to a sump.  Although short, it
is apparently impressive, being a steeply inclined 5 metre wide 1.5 metre high
bedding cave with a meandering phreatic tube in the roof.  The water flows into the sump with incredible
force – only suicidal cave divers need apply. A possible draughting bypass to the sump is in the process of being excavated
– weather permitting.  Altogether Darfar
is now about 1300 feet long and 135 feet deep – one of the longest: caves in
the valley.

Current work is being directed; at finding a drier route
into the system.  There are one or two
potential sites nearby which have already been partially excavated and I am
sure diggers will not be in short supply after the recent finds.  One curious feature of the discovery is that
the cave is at present going up valley instead of in the direction of the
risings!  If anybody wants to know more
about the TVCW’s work at Wetton Mill, contact their secretary, Steve Johnson,
who lives at

27 Bracken Way
,
Fernwood Estate, Rugeley, Staffs.

Peter Glanvill  Oct. 83

 

Review……The Caves Of
India
&

Nepal
.

H. Daniel Gebauer

Obtainable from Tony Oldham; Bat Products; etc; Price £5.00.

A new publication in the style of the old Britain
Underground, listing all known cave sites in the two countries.  Surveys of the larger cave and a very
compreh6nsive bibliography are included, as is a report on the Speleologische
Südaisen Expedition 1981/82 of which the author was a member.

Written in both English and German with one or two
entertaining translation errors: – . . . ‘of course there are hundreds of bats
and- an abundance of porcupine’s pricks’.

Essential reading for those with an interest in the
potentially very promising karst areas of the Indian Sud-continent.

J’Rat’

Discount Dying

In a recent article in a management journal, the Ilkestone
Co-op (nr
Nottingham) are giving 50% discounts
on the price of a funeral if you arrange it before you die!   The offer apparently also gives the person
preferential treatment and discounts at all its retail outlets.  This could mean up to 3 extra barrels at the
wake!!!

Pegasus C.C.
correspondent.

 

Merstham’s Underground Stone Quarriers

The firestone and hearthstone mines along Surrey’s
North Downs have, for a long time, been used as a training
ground by the south east caving clubs. But it is only recently that the historical significance of the mines,
or quarries as they are rightly called, has been appreciated.  The workings occur all along the base of the
downs, where the narrow strip of upper greensand joins the chalk.  But it is at Kerstham where the most
important in terms of industrial archaeology occur.

Most study of the industry has centred on an area known as
Quarry Dean to the east of the A3. Quarry Dean lies in the small valley formed by the
Downs
to the north and the Rockshaw Ridge, lower down to the south.  The valley contains a series of depressions
up to 30′ in depth and as much as 100 yards long, lying in a fairly straight
line running west to east.  These
depressions are of course, the remains of old mine entrances, which have been
back filled or blasted shut, and over the years have become overgrown and
wooded.  Locals have little ideas of what
lies below and that the south ridge is virtually hollow.

It was from those mines that much of the stone used for
building

London

in medieval times was quarried, and for building such things as canal basins
and bridges during the industrial revolution. The stone itself is a calcarcous sandstone which is found in a layer up
to 40′ thick at Quarry Dean.  The stone
is found in varying qualities and it was known as ‘Firestone’, that was
principally sought by the quarrymen.  The
stone was largely used as a building stone, but some was used for lining
furnaces and it is from this use that it gets its name of ‘Firestone’.  The stone is nearest to the surface in the
valley floor, and it dips away north and south under the chalk and greensand
ridges.

The mines were dug along the valley at its lowest point, by
sinking a sloping trench until the stone was struck.  The trench was then continued until there was
a sufficient depth to enable tunnelling in the stone itself, similar to adit
mining, where horizontal tunnels are driven into the hillside.

The stone was extracted on a ‘broad face’ and one contemporary
reference of 1819 describes passages of 30′ wide, though today’s explorers see
little of this.  As the quarry men worked
forward on their broad face they trimmed the blocks to size so that only usable
stone needed to be moved.  This was known
as ‘scappling’.  The rubbish or ‘deeds’
were then stacked neatly along the walls leaving only a narrow access for
hauling stone to the surface along the un-stacked wall.  In some mines, there is evidence of part
finished blocks, and splitting wedges and spike hammers of varying length have
been recovered.  These hammers or picks
were called Maddocks or Jads or sometimes Jadders.

As the quarrymen advanced, they left pillars of rock to
support the roof – a technique known as ‘pillar and stall’.  In some places, deads can be found neatly
stacked around these pillars giving the impression of pillars composed only of
rubbish stone.  During the nineteenth
century, continental miners were employed, and they insisted on using wooden
props.  These had little strengthening
effect and were often called ‘wind ups’ by local quarrymen.

The collapse of piles of deads into the passages in places
gives the quarries the appearance of natural cave and this has been encouraged
by low routes forced over deads by explorers. In addition to this stal formations abound in the oldest mines.  Many unspoilt areas still remain however, and
there are passages which bear the foot prints of the old Quarrymen as yet
untouched and it is hoped that they will continue to be preserved.  In one passage a pair of boots, left behind
by a quarrier around 1750 still lie untouched, where they have collapsed but
are still undisturbed.  A credit to the
local cavers and historians who regularly visit the area.

The quarry’s were all named and many of the original names
are evocative of days gone by.  Names
such as Quarry Banfield, Bedlam’s Bank, and Stonefield bring pictures flooding
into the imagination.  The entrances
forced by today’s explorers have nothing of this magic in their names which
help only to put them into order – i.e. No 3, plastic pipe or football field.

Quarry Dean is believed to date from Roman times and indeed
a section of ‘Roman Arches’ bears Roman characteristics in its stone brick
lining.  This particular mine lies
beneath 50′ of tipped flyash and is now entered by concrete pipes which have an
interesting deformation half way down. The bricks are in fact beautifully cut
stone blocks fitting with hardly any mortar. The mine was entered by Mr Harrison who farmed at Quarry Dean.  He dug his way into the mine in 1960 and it
was he who gave its contemporary name when he found the arched section.

The earliest mention so far found is a reference dated 1522
to Quarrepitden the farm house.  Since it
has been known as Quarryhouse, Quarryclale, Quarrydene and Quarrydene
Farm.   Merstham Manor was owned by the
monks of

Canterbury

in 1018 but was reclaimed by Henry VIII in 1540 when he gave it to Robert
Southwell.  This early church and state
connection throws light on the fact that Merstham stone is to be found in
Westminster Abbey and

Windsor
Castle
.  It can also be found in the Guildhall and was
used in the construction of the medieval

London
Bridge
.  Merstham stone was used again in the

new London
Bridge
, as infilling which was then
faced with Granite.

This stone came, in all probability from Lower Quarry which
was sealed in 1911 and it has so far been impossible to find a way in
again.  It is thought that stone used for
the rebuilding of London after the great fire, came from the massive workings
known as Bedlam’s Bank and from here it is possible to get into much older
workings known as Quarry Ockley.  It has
been suggested that stone here may have been worked for the first 500 years of
the Norman Conquest.  This old section
has peculiar grooves in the floor, similar to those in Roman Mineral Mines on
the continent and it has been suggested that Ponies or Oxen may have been used
to haul stone from here.  In more modern
times flat barrows (Circa 1750) and railways (Circa 19th Cent) were used.  In many places flagged plate rails may be
found inside and hidden by undergrowth outside.

Much work has been done, in sorting out the history of the
Merstham Stone Quarries and much still remains to be done.  Their full extent, for instance, is still not
known.  Legend abound to tantalise the
explorers.  The legend that I like best
concerns an underground lake with a boat that was left by the Jollifes when
they surveyed the workings prior to purchase in 1788.  It might be there:

It is hoped that a weekend trip can be arranged sometime in
the summer for anyone interested when it should be possible to see a great
proportion of the workings and their important remains.  Anyone interested should contact Mac or
myself.

Ref:  Various papers
produced by Unit 2, Croyden CC and Croyden Natural History and Archaeological
Society.

P.S. The Fremlins Ale is superb!

Robin Gray
January 1984

 

Offensive In The
Ardennes

A TALE OF THE BEC IN

BELGIUM

Friday 2nd December saw the invasion of the continent, once
again, by the BEC.  An initial team of
fifteen had dwindled to a mere six due to the problems of legally obtaining a
university minibus for the transportation of uneducated drunks.  Those with the willpower and cash who
remained were Mac, J’Rat, Barrie Wilton, Matt Tuck, Bob Cork and Alan Thomas –
divided into two car loads.  After
crossing the channel at different times on Friday we eventually met up at the
Speleo Nedarland hut at Bohon near Dubuy in the Belgium Ardennes.

Unable to gain access to the hut we headed for the bars of
Borveausc – expecting to meet the Dutch lads in (at least) one of them.  Meanwhile the Dutch lads were in Dubuy
1ooking for us.  Late that night we
returned to the hut – full of ale and “joi de vivre” and minus the
usual carrots and tomato skins.  With no
Dutchmen in sight we removed a wooden window pane and attempted to get some kip
in the prevailing artic conditions – only to be disturbed soon after by an even
more paralytic bunch of Nederlanders.

Late Saturday morning, with blazing international hangovers,
the assembled planned the days caving. Alan accompanied Peter Staal and Co on a gentle fester to the Grotte de
Bohon whilst the remainder were taken to the steep swallet

cave of
Laide Fosse

(Ugly Shaft) near Rochefort.  This cave
was initially dug open by Marc Jasiniki and his team in the fifties and
consists of a few hundred feet of usually dry passage on two levels.  In our delicate state we only visited the
fairly well decorated upper level where all are under the impression there is
more to be found.  A couple of
interesting climbs and an exposed traverse were not made easier by the general
lack of balance of the party.  Despite
this we moved a lot easier than the

Belgium
novice groups infesting the
cave.  It was near the entrance to Laide
Fosse that a small foreign field will remain forever polluted by Matt’s gastric
juices.  Too bad the electric fence was
turned off!

Consciences eased we descended upon Rochefort.  While John, Fransh and Josh returned to the
hut for Laurens Smits and Peter (Speleo Limburg) the BEC found the roughest
cafe in town where a homely lady (Sylvie Hobbs double) turned out to be the
local brothel Madame.  Following a visit
to several other cafes and fritteries we returned here to meet the Dutch.  By now a regular fight was in progress
amongst the locals with Mademe well in the thick of it – having forgotten all
about her offer of free young ladies for the English Speleos.

With little to keep us here we were forced to take up
Laurens Smits offer of an overnight caving trip.  One pub and many drinks later we were all
gathered in a field, at midnight near the Grotte Le Han.  One of
Europe’s
most renown show caves with some 3km of tourists trails it is difficult to
obtain permission to visit the several kilometres of undeveloped system
beyond.  This can be solved by enveloping
Laurens and Bob Cork in neoprene and persuading them to swim a hundred metres
or so up the river exit from where they are able to open the show cave
door.  Meanwhile the dry clad must creep
past the restaurant trying to keep quiet in the foot deep frozen grass, very
difficult.  Once safe inside a whole
underground world is yours to play in.

We followed the tourist trail to the underground river,
pausing to admire the huge underground cafe with its helium balloons and locked
booze cupboards and the enormous Salle du Dome – 154m long, 136m wide and 200m
from the base to summit of its underground mountain.  At the river a plastic dinghy was acquired
and, like Jules Verne heroes, we embarked on a subterranean voyage across the
mighty Lene to the far bank where the entrance to the Resau Sud led off.  Several hundred feet of walking and crawling
passage ended in a huge boulder strewn hall with some of the finest formations
in the cave – mainly tall white columns and pillars.  After some three and a half hours we returned
to the entrance via the Salle du Dome, where a quick burst on the show cave
lights revealed this gigantic chamber in all its glory.

The hut was reached at 5am on Sunday and sleep indulged
in.  By 1pm we were inspecting another
cave.  The Grotte d’Alexandre must be one
of the most ideally situated caves in the world.  Leading from the back room of a caving pub
with a very friendly Belgian landlord (who was a soldier in Melton Mowbray
1945!).   As we had already planned to
visit another cave we left this one for another time and concentrated on the
front room and beer.

Our afternoon trip was perhaps the most novel yet.  The entrance to the Resurgence Lucianne
consists of a small hole ten kilometres up the inside wall of an active railway
tunnel!  Keeping an eye out for passing
trains and the other for passing gendarmes a large team of BEC, Speleo Nederland
and Speleo Limburg climbed up the electron ladder into the system.  A series of thrutchy tubes is followed by a
maze of much larger passages, cascades and streamway with well decorated
chambers.  Perhaps the most memorable
part of the trip being the babble of French, Flemish, Dutch, German and English
as various hordes of illegally exploring cavers attempted to converse with each
other.  An excellent trip, marred only by
the fact that Peter Staal was not carried off by the train which hurled past
him as he was climbing down the ladder!

For some this superb weekend finished with a Chinese meal in
Danant – for others another nights drinking had to be endured.  In conclusion, our thanks to Peter, Janet,
John, John, Fransh, Josh (Speo

Nederland
)
and Peter Goosens and Lauren (Speleo Limburg) and to Alan Thomas for looking
after us.  Over eleven cafes, five caves,
one railway tunnel and some superb scenery were visited.  Roll on the next trip.

Tony Jarratt
January 1984

 

Mendip’s Oddest Cave Entrance

Although previously noticed by others it was only on a
recent Swildons trip that the writer spotted a third potential way in, almost
directly above the grilled ‘flood entrance’. From inside the cave it is possible to look up an aven, 15 feet high
approx: and circular in form, to daylight. Though slightly too small for human passage it could be widened using a
carpenter’s saw as the aven is straight through the trunk of the large old tree
adjacent to the blockhouse.  If passed it
would add a completely natural extra 15 feet of depth to the cave though the
fine crop of toadstools growing from the underground roots would be somewhat
upset.

J-Rat

Club Trips For I984

I initially thought of producing a 12 month trip list for
1984, but no sooner had I started, when I found other events on the caving and
social scene clashed with my suggested trip dates.  Oh well! What made my task even harder was that except for a few suggestions by
others, the trips were my own suggestions. This I thought is NOT what it’s all about so come on you club members
(young and old) give me your suggestions for caving trips; the ones you’d really
like to go on.  Perhaps you could even
lead one of them!!

I’ve decided therefore to produce a trip list for the next
six months and as you can see, cover the major caving areas within the
U.K. (and
Eire).  Other trips are constantly to being arranged at
the Belfry and the Hunters, and trips to OFD, DYO, Rock and Fountain can be
arranged at short notice.

One final word – ‘CLUB EXPEDITION’ (OK I know that’s
two!).  Bob Cork and Dany Bradshaw are
looking for people to join them on their trip to

Austria
to continue their success
in the Barengassewindschact in June/July. Response at present is slow, so come on lads and lasses, see Bob or Dany
if you’re interested.

Mac.  3.1.84

P.S. If you have already arranged or are intending to
arrange a trip and you have spare places to fill, you can always ring me at
home on Wells 74061.

 

Sign Here Please

A large parcel from the

USA
was received recently by the
Librarian.  Feverishly opening it, he
found three American car licence plates (
Colorado,
Virginia and

Wyoming
) and a metal sign advertising The
Chinese Physical Culture Assn; in two languages!

Our thanks to Dave ‘the Skunk’ Newson for these Belfry
trophies – and lets hope he doesn’t want us to pay for the postage.

New Locks for the Belfry

At the AGM it was decided to fit new locks to the Belfry and
tackle store.  A special security lock
has been purchased and this will be fitted to the front door.  The key will also open the tackle store.  Paid up members may request a key on the form
below.  £2 cheque or
PO
should be included with your request for the key.

NAME
………………………………………………………………………………………
BEC Membership No……………

ADDRESS
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………
POST CODE ……………………

I enclose cheque/PO for £2 made payable to the B.E.C.

SIGNED
…………………………………………………………………………………………..

B E C Caving Trips for JAN – JUNE I984


DATE


 

CAVE

CONTACT

JAN 15th

 

JAN 28th/29th

 

FEB 10th-17th

 

FEB 12th

 

FEB 25th/26th

 

 

 

MARCH 24th/25th

 

 

APRIL 20th/23rd Easter

 

 

APRIL 20th/27th Easter week

 

MAY 5th

 

 

MAY 26th/28th.

 

 

JUNE 16th

Rock and Fountain

 

Derbyshire (Giants etc)

 

‘A week in the Lakes’

 

Derbyshire (Peak Cavern)

 

Northern Dales (Alston)

Cliff force. Smelt Mill Beck

Caverns,& some very good mines

 

Yorkshire(Dowber Gill Passage, Goyden Pot
(Nidderdale)

 

South Wales DYO, OFD, AGGIE, R&F etc

 

Co.

Clare,
Ireland

 

Otter Hole (Provisional).  Limited to 6 persons. 7.00 car park

 

Yorkshire. Various trips and show caves

 

Devon Prid: Bakers Pit, and Reads – hopefully

MAC

 

MAC

 

TIM LARGE

 

MAC

 

MAC

 

 

 

MAC

 

 

MAC

 

 

MAC

 

MAC

 

 

MAC

 

 

MAC

 

© 2024 Bristol Exploration Club Ltd

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

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