The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.
Editor: Dave Turner

In the next BB I hope to have an article on the Trou de Glaz
through trips and Wig’s history of Gough’s Cave.

Also I hope to include a report on the 1200′ of new passage
found in Daren Cilau at Easter by Mark and crew.  It could be a lot more by the next BB as the
end of the new passage looks promising and is heading straight towards the
Clydach Gorge.

*****************************************

I’m told by Trebor that the response to the Dinner
questionnaire can hardly be called overwhelming – in fact I think he’s only had
about 6 replies.  This BB contains a
letter from Jock strongly condemning the committee for even sending out the
referendum!

The current feeling of the committee is that the location
and style of the Dinner is okay but that we want a main speaker and after
dinner entertainment.  The sketches, such
as Oliver, done in the past have all proved very successful.

*****************************************

The new revised version of Mendip Underground by Wig and
Tony Knibbs should be on sale by the time this BB is distributed.


Austria

1987

Due to problems with the local cavers last year, the

Austria

trip will be split into 2 groups to keep the number of people on the mountain
to a minimum.  A small combined party of
BEC, NCC and possibly MUSS will set off in the last 2 weeks of July to rig and
push Wiesalnschacht (Hunters Hole).  The
work will be taking over and continued by a second team of DEC, NCC and MUSS
for the first 2 weeks of August.  They
will be joined by a small group of SWCC members who were active on the mountain
last year.  It is most regrettable that
numbers have to kept to a minimum but the local cavers were quite put out by
having what appeared to be an army of Brits descending on their territory last
year.  All clubs involved have agreed to
keep numbers low so as to safeguard future access.  MUSS were turned off the Terigberge last year
for no apparent reason.  Lets hope the
same does not happen to us with the Wiesberghaus.

Mark Lumley.

 

The Quest for the Rusty Tankard

 

This year’s competition will be a Chariot Race followed by a
‘Treasure Hunt’.  The theme is ancient
myths & legends, so come appropriately dressed.  The object of the quest is to locate each of
the Seven Sages of Mendip, who may require particular gifts to be presented to
them or tasks to be fulfilled.  The final
Sage will reveal the location of the mystical Lost Tankard, the recovery of
which wins the game.

Rules

1.                  Each team must bring a Chariot & a Standard.  The Chariot must have both wheels mounted on
the same axle (no Shepton bicycles!). The Standard must be of Sturdy Wooden construction being at least 8 feet
high and must bear the Emblem of the Clan.

2.                  There is no limit to the size of the teams.

3.                  The Sages shall only converse with the Standard
Bearer.  The Standard may be passed from
one Bearer to another at any time.

4.                  The Standard and Standard Bearer are not to be
interfered with or assaulted, neither are Chariots to be ‘nobbled’ while parked
at The Belfry between the opening and final races.

5.                  The 1st, 4th and 7th Sages will be located at
the Belfry.  The remaining Sages will be
in secret locations within one mile of The Belfry.

6.                  The Standard Bearer must travel by Chariot
during the opening race and from the 7th Sage to the hiding-place of The
Tankard.

7.                  The Quest is complete when a Standard Bearer
holds aloft The Tankard. 

Please register entries with Andy Sparrow, Priddy.  Queries possibly answered.

 

Sec’s Notes

Bob

Cork

Jill Tuck Bequest

In the last issue of the BB the club recorded the sad loss
of Jill Tuck, as is traditional in the club her life membership has been
transferred to her husband Norman.  In
Jill’s will she has left the club an amount of money with the suggestion that
the club does something positive with it. After discussion with

Norman

it has been decided to use this bequest to upgrade the club library.  Our grateful thanks to Jill for her kind
thoughts.

Tackle Store Roof

Wind has always been a problem in the BEC and this month is
no exception.  The strong March gales
removed a part of the tackle store roof causing sufficient damage that the MRO
stores had to be temporarily evacuated to the library.  Owing to the problems incurred with this roof
in previous years it was decided to replace the entire roof, an agreement was
reached with the MRO to ensure this was done with all speed.  This task was completed in a matter of two
weeks (a record for the BEC?).

St. Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting – Sat. 7th March 1987

A Cuthbert’s Leaders meeting was held in the back bar of the
Hunters on the Saturday evening to sort out a number of issues which needed
attention.

1.                  Firstly I pointed out that as BEC Caving Sec. I
had issued myself a key prior to completing all the required trips as I wasn’t
prepared to take responsibility for a cave I had no access to.  This met with general approval.

2.                  Dave Irwin told those present that the
Cuthbert’s report should be completed by May and would contain approximately 44
pages of text with photographs, surveys etc.

3.                  Two trips were arranged to remove digging
rubbish from the cave and to repair fixed aids and replace missing tapes.  These trips will be on 4th April and 13th
June.

4.                  The question of leaders insurance was brought up
with regards to whether all leaders were covered by BEC insurance.

5.                  It was decided that the number of guest leaders
should remain at 2 per club.

6.                  It was agreed that although preservation of the
cave was of paramount importance, the existing system for becoming a leader was
too rigid.  It prevented some people with
a sound knowledge of the cave from becoming leaders as they had not done a
certain route through the cave with a leader (even though they may know all the
elements of the route intimately).  Also
it was considered unwise that a person could become a leader by completing all
the trips under the supervision of just one leader.

Accordingly, the system will be changed while trying to retain the spirit with
which it was originally intended and still safeguard the cave.

The leadership application form will be amended subject to BEC Committee
approval.  It will be pointed out that in
addition to a knowledge of the main routes through the cave the attitude of the
leader is of paramount importance.  A
prospective leader is unlikely to be accepted before he has been assessed over
15 trips.  This form must then be signed
by 3 different BEC leaders.  Final
approval will come from the BEC Committee.

The above amendment was carried unanimously with one abstention.

7.                  Finally, it was decided to make the Leaders
Meeting an annual event.

If anyone has a copy of the original Cuthbert’s Rules (if
there were any) I would be most grateful for a copy.

Mark Lumley.

 

Eastwater Cavern

Recent work at the top of the ’55 ft’ Aven in Ifolds’ Series
has led to a further 15 ft being found at the top – making the total height
about 90 ft.  There is a voice connection
from here to our dig in the Boulder Chamber. Hopes are high for a passable route through – probably into the area at
the top of the Canyon.  Also, just below
the bolt for the ladder – 60 ft. up the Aven – a low side passage was cleared
to give access to a narrow, parallel aven 30 ft. high – Aven Skavinski.  Both these sites need more banging to
progress further.

A major slip has occurred in Boulder Chamber within the last
two weeks ­ large boulders and debris having slid down the chamber leaving a precarious
bank of gravel holding up most of the scenery – take care here.

On our last banging trip a party staying at Upper Pitts came
down without paying or even having the courtesy to inform Mrs Gibbons.  They were very lucky not to have received the
full force of 1/21b of H.E. right under their feet.  Ignorant cretins like this do not help the
caver/landowner relationship.

Tony Jarratt

 

Nine Days of Hard Rock Hospitality

By Mark Lumley

Friday 13th March – not the most auspicious date to begin an
extended caving trip but at 11.50pm Clive Gardener and myself (Gonzo) headed
into the entrance crawls of Daren Cilau loaded up with piles of BBC camera kit
and personal gear. 
Pete Bolt was several hours ahead and we were hotly
pursued by the fiery breath of ‘Enri (the

Camp
Drunk
)
Bennett, Tim Allen, John (Big Nose) Palmer and Steve Thomas.

The nine day camp had been planned a few months before. 

Andy
Cave
had the unenviable
logistical nightmare of catering for the crew and over several weeks Cardiff
Universities’ UC4 members lugged in over 40 loads of dehydrated food, thermal
gear, carbide and booze.

The main objective was to push west from 12 O’clock High and
Acupuncture with a view to an Agen Allwedd connection through the Gothic
Passage extensions.  The dig was also
used as a sponsored event raising £600 for the Black Holes Expedition to

Mexico
next
spring.  £100 was also raised for Gwent
CRO.

We split into three groups on day 1.  Tim, John and Steve went up to Aggy Passage
with Pete O’Neill & Dave King who were down for the weekend and continued a
long term dig through the boulders at the end. This choke has great prospects for a major extension but it is big,
vertical, unstable and self clearing. Over 8 trips more than 400 tons of boulders have come down!  Meanwhile ‘Enri and I opened up the crawls through
Hard Rock while Pete tackled a climb in the

Kings Road
, which ultimately led to 60ft
of well decorated passage – Pixie Boot Grotto (What’s in a name?)  Clive stayed in camp and tried to clean a
mixture of rice and orange juice off the filming lights we had so painstakingly
carried in.

Day 2, saw the departure of Steve Milner, Dave and Pete
O’Neill.  Clive had filmed the arrival of
‘B’ & Hugh in camp, the reel was taken out and used by John Cravens
Newsround (Stardom!)

We split into groups again, some pushing the shattered beds
of Acupuncture, others opening up the 12 O’clock High boulder choke.  (Overzealous digging on my part resulted in a
meaningful relationship with a large lump of limestone).

We found the idea of day and night irrelevant over the
course of the week and gradually adapted to days of 20-30 hours with 8-10 hour
sleeping periods in between.  Dehydration
got the better of some of us during the interim period and back at camp on
night 3, I became commode-hugging drunk in five minutes flat on a couple of
shots of rum much to the amusement of Clive who was recording ‘the Camp
Atmosphere:’

Our workloads increased dramatically by Tuesday and we found
ourselves eating vast amounts of carbohydrates to compensate.  The arrival of several groups of UC4 cavers
with fresh veg and bread during the week was most welcome.

Wednesday saw the departure of John Palmer and Steve
Thomas. 

Andy
Cave

and Steve Allen arrived for the, second half of the week.

During the midweek period we found some difficulty in
co-ordinating sleeping times and work shifts, so the labour intensive chokes at
the western end of the Hard Rock had a reprieve, while small groups pushed
straight forward digs in the area around camp, one of which is 40ft in and
looks quite promising.

A lot of work was also being done at Aggy Passage and we
sorted out a team to film the progress. This proved to be quite character building as the choke started to
collapse while Tim Allen was inside and Clive & I were lying on our backs
filming and lighting him.  Tim had a near
miss and Clive and I legged it down the rubble heap with the BBC’s pride and
joy an odds-on favourite for becoming a pile of scrap.  Half an hours sound recording of people
removing the spoil was rendered useless by the premature arrival of a Half-Ton
Herbert to a chorus of ‘F* .. K Me!!’ from those on the receiving end.

Thursdays 12 hour work period was spent removing more spoil
from 12 O’clock High and looking for high level leads around Catnap Rift (above
Oregano).  Banging 12 O’clock didn’t
sound as though much had happened but we all noticed that the draught had
increased on our way out.

By Friday we decided to cut our losses.  There was no way we were going to get through
Hard Rock in the two remaining days (although the dig is by no means
abandoned).  The same went for Aggy
Passage.  We only had about 200ft of new
passage to show for a hell of a lot of work. Putting connections to one side we just wanted to break into a big
healthy horizontal Welsh Virgin and see how far we could go!  Accordingly we split into two groups, Pete,
Enri, Clive and Tim tackling the choke at the end of

Frag Street
(High Level off Bonsai) while

Andy
Cave
, Steve Allen and I pushed the
shatter that blocks the way on in a bedding near the start of Forgotten
Passage.  This proved after 30′ to have
as much appeal as a weekend in
Slough so we
disconsolately went to help the others.

Meanwhile, the

Frag
Street
dig had broken almost immediately into
400ft of low, crystal covered bedding (

Frig Street
) with an extremely strong
draught.  This heads east and the end is
easy digging.  Potential is superb with
an interception of the missing lower reaches of Darens’ big fossil passages on
the cards in the next 100 metres (The Clydach connection gets nearer!)

Friday night was an extended celebration party night with
appearance of hidden stashes of Southern Comfort, Glace Fruit in Brandy, Spiced
Rum,

Champagne

and Caviar.  We swore undying allegiance
and crawled drunkenly to our mould riddled pits (a caver-friendly 20 metre
stagger).

After copious amounts of Tea, Coffee & Anadin, Saturday
was spent taking photographs in the Time Machine, then filming & digging in
Aggy Passage. 
Pete
Bolt
completed a long climb in the roof of the passage (it
didn’t go).  We then sherpered piles of
filming kit to the top to the ladder pitch to make life easier on Sundays’ mass
exodus.

Dave King had rejoined us during the day and while we slept
Steve Milner, Bob Cork & Dany Bradshaw arrived to give us a hand out with
the kit.

We were up after two hours sleep.  A busy couple of hours then ensured that
every scrap of litter was packed up to go out. Cooking and sleeping gear were then stashed and there was little to show
that we had been there at all except for an emergency brew kit and the all
pervading smell of paraffin.  Then we
headed out of Daren with a mixture of excitement and genuine regret at leaving
the place that had become our home.

A team of porters who were coming in to help never arrived
so we dumped an enormous pile of personal gear near the entrance crawl and
carried on with the camera kit (a soul-destroying array of heavy, 12inch ammo
boxes).

We emerged into daylight after 210 hours with a shock.  We all expected to be dazzled by the
brightness but having lived in a world of greys and subdued browns for so long,
anything blue seemed fluorescent and our eyes found it difficult to cope.

I lost a stone I never knew I had during the week.  Celebrations in the pub that night amounted
to little more than a pint there just wasn’t room for any more.  Over the next few days we all ate
voraciously.  Several of us found it
difficult to readjust to a 24 hour clock and a normal working environment.

In conclusion I think that the camp was a great
success.  We raised a lot of money for
two good causes, found one of the most exciting leads under the mountain and
put the Daren/Aggy round trip several hundred man­hours nearer to
completion.  Morale was high throughout
and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

I would suggest to critics of the ‘Hard Rock Approach’ that
the media interest the project generated (National TV, Local T.V. in several
areas, John Craven, Radio 1, numerous local radio stations, National &
local papers) showed cavers and caving in a much more favourable light than the
usual ‘Sill sods .. dark muddy ‘Oles … always need to be rescued .. ‘image
with which the sport is normally portrayed.

Many thanks to Troll, Speleo Technics & Bat Products for
their kind help with equipment. We’ll be back down at Easter.

Gonzo.

 

 

Hypocrisy is not dead

Letter to the editor (BB Vol:32 No.9, September 1978 (No.
365)

To the Editor, B.B.

Arriving at the Belfry on the 28th July (Friday afternoon) I
was somewhat staggered by the absolute chaos and filthy mess within.

The furniture, such as it is, was completely soaked and
thrown about the room, every article of cutlery was dirty and left in a heap on
the worktop.  The whole hut smelt like a
cow shed with rotting food, stale air and a general smell of filth.

I’m not saying that the type of piss-up that resulted in
this mess should not happen in the shed but the members involved (some of them of
many years standing) should ensure that the place is cleaned up
afterwards.  I hope other members will
support any action that the Committee might care to take.  If anybody thinks this is the pot calling the
kettle black – I clean up my mess.

Trevor Hughes, Aug 1978.

 

Thixotropia Blues

Rescued from the Jaws of Death in two

Show
Caves

in one day but out in time for the pub – or “Thixotropia Blues”

I’d been looking forward to March 30th; it was the day the
summer staff started their sentences at

Cheddar
Caves
.  Part of the morning was spent witnessing them
taking the Oath of Fealty to Sandra Lee, then we old hands introduced ourselves
with a few words (or in Andy Sparrow’s case, a lot of words).  Finally I had to sit through Chris Bradshaw’s
introductory lecture in Bullshit; things never to be mentioned (rocks falling
on people, Wookey Hole); and how we must never talk to the press because they
have a way of twisting statements, especially if something has gone wrong.

That over, I was free to get on with the job for which I had
been trained at vast expense: painting handrails.  Down at the Speleological Wonder of the
World, Cox’s Cave, I happily slapped the Hamerite on the railings, floor and
formations with only a few breaks for meals, coffee, craps etc. until about
4.45pm when ZAP! all was darkness!  Of
God, I thought, I’ve been struck blind. They said it would happen, but I couldn’t stop.  Then I thought, oh deary, deary me, the
lights have out.  Ever resourceful I used
the handrails I’d just painted to guide myself to the light gone and the main
entrance which was, of course, locked. It was vital to get out, it was Monday, and Monday night is digging
night!

Cheddar seemed deserted, but soon the rest of the staff
started to go home, so I waved and shouted at them, receiving friendly waves in
return.  Eventually the occupants of one
of the cars thought I was behaving in an even more erratic manner than usual
and returned.  Informing them in
carefully moderated tones that I was locked in the cave I dispatched them to
the office.  Soon Mr. Bradshaw drove up
to release me.  He explained that John
the maintenance man and two of my “mates” who were helping him had
skived off early, forgetting about me. He also found the incident most amusing, but I was soon to wipe the
smile off his face.

There was a good turnout for digging that Monday night.  One of the new guides had been digging
before; he even claimed to have done a bit of caving and said his name was Tom
Chapman.  Another new guide was a sexy
student called Carol who said she enjoyed a dirty night out so Tom had asked
her along to the Far Rift Dig.  Also
present were Grahame from Bath, a graduate from Adventure Caving and owner of
the Far Rift Pump last used in World War 2; Adrian Brewster, restorer of the
BEC’s first log; Miles Barrington, now a spy from a minor show cave down the
road; Robin Brown to supply vocal amusement; and Oliver Conte, a Frog guide who
was apparently there as a result of his imperfect English.

Far Rift Dig in Gough’s Cave was started by Andy Sparrow a
year ago, and we’ve been making steady progress towards Daren Cilau ever
since.  It’s only inches away from a
breakthrough (according to Andy) and (again according to Andy) has a slow
draught despite the fact that bang fumes take a week to clear and after two
hour’s work the air becomes so foul that diggers are forced to recover in the
Gardeners Arms.  Unfortunately it flooded
during the winter and we’ve spent the last couple of Mondays pumping the water
out until we were left with some superb slurry. On this Monday we were to remove the slurry by “Plan “A”,
which involved myself, wetsuit-clad, thrashing about in it to make it runny
enough to pour into 25 litre containers. The thrashing about went well, but the damn slurry wouldn’t pour because
it was like thick, lumpy custard, so “Plan B” was put into operation.  I crawled to the dig-face and started digging
out mud to mix with the slurry so that it would be thick enough to move in
bags.

Well, that didn’t work either, the mud wasn’t thick enough
and there wasn’t enough of it but ‘nil desperandum’ I had a third plan which
after much thought I had called “Plan CR.” This was to get myself firmly stuck in the mud so that the MRO would
have to rescue me and they’d get the slurry out in the process.  All started well – Tom tested the mud and
only got out by abandoning his wellies. The air was becoming nicely foul and dangerous, so I lowered myself into
the mire and got my right leg firmly stuck. Miles, Tom and Adrian couldn’t get me out so Tom; went off to realise
his lifetime’s ambition and made an emergency call.

While waiting, Adrian and I chatted comfortably about Neil
Moss, but the air became worse and I started to hallucinate because I saw Tim
Large underground!  A damn solid
hallucination, the miserable sod put a rope around my trapped foot and he and
some others pulled me out.  The mud is
still there, and “Plan D” is to leave it there.  Hell, even Chris Bradshaw was down the cave,
whoever next?  Wig?

A great reception committee was waiting at the cave entrance
­ the MRO in force, the police, an ambulance, reporters, probably even Lord
Weymouth.  I was sorry to have missed
Richard Stevenson with his bottles, I was told it was a sight to behold, and
Lori was left to push his Land Rover out of the way.  Receiving a glacial smile from Sandra I
splodged up to the Caving Room, got my wetsuit off, put my clothes on over the
mud and got to the Gardeners Arms with the digging team for a bit of peace and
quiet.  Holy shit, now what?  In bursts a papparoggi and being too pissed
to resist I get myself photographed.  I
did manage to prevent him getting my hooter in profile, but the damage was
done.  HTV, the Western Gazette, the
Daily Mirror, even the front page of the Cheddar Valley Gazette, who treated
the affair like the Second Coming.  Oh
well, its fame of a sort.

The next day I sidled up to the Caves, threw my helmet into
Sandra’s office and grovelled on the carpet. (This is, of course, standard procedure).  She was very nice about it, actually; we can
still go digging so long as we operate a written check-in and­out system.  She was a bit put out to see strange cavers
appearing from holes in all directions, so everyone who digs there please
note.  A book or blackboard will be
provided and must be filled in.

There’s a lot to do in Gough’s – the Font’s team are
continuing to find body-shredding passages, the new extensions above Lloyd Hall
are not worked out, the Sand Chamber dig is a comfortable place and may even go
somewhere; and Andy has his eye on a new patch of mud off the Boulder
Chamber.  I just hope I find more than
notoriety.

Finally, to everyone who was at the rescue, thanks.

Chris Castle – April
1987

 

Letter

Sturton by
Stow,


Lincoln

The Belfry Bulletin Editor
Mr. Dave Turner,

Bath

26th. March 1987.

Dear Mr. Editor,

It seems to me that during the past few years there have
been those around with good intentions who have been allowed to get away with
poking their sticky little fingers into the guts of this club and ending up
making a bugger’s muddle out of what they think they are about.

Prime witness to this is the present state of the Belfry
which started its life as a carefully thought out club facility and proved to
be in practice a model caving club hut in all respects, and continued so, until
it became the unwilling recipient of grandiose improvement schemes grafted into
its traumatified interior.  The prognosis
looks even worse.

It might be recalled by my contemporaries that a higher
echelon management was mooted to keep the eye of wisdom on corporate Club
interests during the annual incumbency of successive executive Club
Committees.  I have often thought it a
great pity this idea was never implemented.

And now I see that we are about to undergo unwarranted
intervention with the institution of the annual Club Dinner.

I find myself in total opposition to any change in the
conduct and traditions of the formal dinner proceedings.  The only area outstanding in obvious need for
improvement is the after dinner entertainment which has always been well within
the province of the Committee and organisers to do something about without
invoking this ridiculous referendum.

I urge long established and senior members to make
themselves heard on the subject of this Referendum on the annual dinner.

Yours sincerely, 624 R.H.S. Orr.

Sweetwater Pot

by Peter Glanvill

Since its closure some years ago the quarry at Berry Head
and Berry Head itself continue to provide interest and opportunities for
discovery.  At the end of July 1986 Brian
Johnson, myself and respective families converged on the quarry, ostensibly to
do some diving and photography in the sea caves.  Despite the unpromising weather the dive was
accomplished successfully although poor visibility caused the resulting
pictures to be less than satisfactory. After a barbecue lunch, Brian wandered off with some SRT rope to examine
a hole in the west wall of the quarry whilst I did some more marine life
photography in

Garfish
Cave
.

After completing my work and de-kitting, we drove up the
ramp to see what Brian was up to. The background to his exploration goes back
some months to when Chris Proctor and Tim Lee noticed a possible cave entrance
below an overhang 40 ft above the quarry floor.  Attempts to climb up to it had previously been
thwarted by loose rock which was piled up in a natural rift breached by the
quarry and which threatened to avalanche down on the unfortunate climber.  Brian had tried traversing along a bench at
the same level but again failed because a Neptunian dyke interrupted the
bench.  It was therefore a question of
abseiling down the quarry face when we could get the rope and manpower
organised.  Brian was the first to get it
all together.

I arrived near the top of the ramp to see Brian emerging and
bellowing that he had found the finest cave in
Devon
and a diveable sump.  I kitted up in
record time and was soon gingerly abseiling off the top of the quarry hoping
the fence posts used as belays were well secured!  Landing on the ledge beside Brian, I was
quickly briefed.  The cave was a rift and
had been breached and de-roofed at a point where it dropped steeply.  This meant that one had to climb down and
cross a pile of mobile rubble before entering the cave proper.  It emitted a noticeable draught, the origin
of which is uncertain.  Inside, the rift
was 10 ft wide and about 25 ft or more high. Straight over a lot of shattered rock was a continuation of the rift,
both up and down.  Downwards seems to
close down into small fissures whilst upwards the rift led to a branching of
the ways.  In the left hand wall was a
complex of sculpted tubes containing shattered rock whilst on the right lay a
small short rift.  Brian feels it may be
worth pushing one of the tubes which seems to draught.

Back at the entrance, the rift also descended back towards
the quarry face as well as ascending to another impassable upper entrance.  A downwards extension is the piece de
resistance of the system. A free climbable mud free rift steadily drops
(penetrating at one point a Neptunian dyke) until a sump pool is
encountered.  The pool contains fresh
water, which is surprising when you consider that only 50 metres away
horizontally lies a tidal sea water resurgence!

Feeling extremely chuffed; Brian and I called it a day.  After a period of wracking his brains, Brian
decided to call the new find Sweetwater Pot. We returned the following weekend with Brian’s “lads” and John
Whiteley plus diving kit.  Chris Proctor
turned up to survey and photograph the cave as well as push the remaining side
passages.  Before we did anything
underground, Brian and John cleared a lot of loose rubble before a traverse
line was rigged around the dyke on the bench level with the cave.  A rather cramped diving support team
assembled to watch Brian kit up for the sump dive.  He bravely submerged head first on a base fed
line.  The line steadily wound out and
the muffled boom of bubbles became more muted. At last, tugging on the line indicated Brian’s return; fifteen metres of
line had been laid out.  A brown glow
preceded Brian as he surfaced.  He
announced that the sump was a vertical continuation of the rift and bottomed
out in a mud bank.  The rift appeared to
have lateral extensions.  The sump depth
makes Sweetwater Pot one of the deepest in
Devon
and raises the question of what else might we find in the quarry.

More recently Chris Proctor has abseiled into a couple of
other caves in the quarry, both quite short but making up for this by being
surprisingly well decorated.  He will be
making a separate report on this.


SKULLCAP
CAVE

Taking climbing gear and some helmets with us, Brian
Johnson, myself, Brian’s sons and Jim Durston visited Chudleigh in late August
(1986) with the intention of inspecting the Palace Quarry side of the Kate
Brook.  Apart from Clifford’s Cave there
are no significant caves in this area despite it being a large lump of
limestone.  After a brief and friendly
meeting with Mr. Shears, the owner of Glen Cottage, we were given permission to
enter the quarry.  We started our trek by
examining an entrance at the edge of the quarry (West).  Here, Brian had noticed an entrance some time
previously.  He felt this was probably
associated with a tiny draughting hole on the other side of a rocky spur here.  We hacked our way through the undergrowth to
Tramp’s Hole, an excavated archaeological site about fifty yards or so further
on.  This has a large (3 metres by 2
metres) entrance but goes back only 5 metres to a heavily stalagmited boulder
choke.  The cave looks as though it might
have been a resurgence.  Further
struggles brought us to Black Rock, where Bruce’s Burrow was found to have
disappeared, possibly under over burden removed prior to quarrying.  We then climbed up the hill to emerge at the
top of the quarry.

What greeted us there was a large entrance only a few feet
from the top of the Eastern face of the quarry.   Mr. Shears informed us that it could not be
far from the Black Rock Shaft filled in when quarrying began.  Brian and Jim abseiled into the cave and
found it to consist of an eight foot square chamber with two choked passages
leading off.  Not surprisingly, it seemed
to be a popular bat roost.  Inspection of
other caves on the quarry face showed them to be choked but diggable
tubes.  Well pleased with the day’s
efforts, we went off and did some proper climbing.

Brian returned later in the following week and started to
dig out one entrance of the draughting cave. He found the cave to penetrate the spur but halfway along noticed a
tunnel leading into the hill into which he dug on another visit.  The discovery of some animal bones meant a
halt to the proceedings until in mid-September Dave Curry could take a look and
pronounce on the dig.  He felt the bones
were modern and that digging could continue. Brian forced his way to the end of the main tunnel and found that it
terminated in a sloping, mainly earth filled tube.

Since then, digging has widened and lowered the entrance
crawl whilst the end is now being attacked. The cave continues to descend, with the fill being soft easily dug
earth.  Points of interest are the
presence of a slight draught near the end and a narrow aven which seems not to
close down as rapidly as one would imagine. Scallop marks on the walls indicate a vigorous inward flow at some
time.  The cave lies 12 metres above

Cliffords
Cave
and does not seem to be associated
with it.

Peter Glanvill

 

Skullcap cave.

Progress Report. January 8th 1987.

Chris Proctor, myself and Pete Rose have been steadily
digging in

Skullcap
Cave
at Chudleigh, and a
progress report is necessary whilst I remember to do it!

In late November we were digging in a steeply descending,
metre diameter tube which was getting very awkward.  On the tenth of December we found our first
airspace, which just seemed to be a pocket to one side of the passage.  However, on December 17th, we broke through
into longer airspace and a passage continuation – we had reached the bottom of
the tube.  Gravel, shale and flint in the
floor beneath the mud seemed to confirm stream flow through the cave.  On the next trip we moved forward another two
metres to a point where an arm could be stuck through into yet another airspace
which appeared larger.  This was entered
by Brian Johnson on January 3rd 1987 and turned out to be a passage going off
into the distance, with a continuous foot or so of airspace.  Unfortunately the triangular passage shape
precluded further progress until digging had lowered the floor.

Digging was recommenced on January 7 1987, assisted by Wendy
Sampson and a small group from Rock House. Several hours were spent removing spoil before Pete Rose was let loose
on the end.  After an hour or so’s
digging, Pete broke through into a small grotto.  Directly in front was a stalagmite bank,
whilst a tiny aven could be seen to have been the source of the stal.  The way on is through the stal bank or under
it and I fear it is doomed.

One can peer through to one side of it and the passage can
be seen to continue in the same direction, i.e. into the hill.  I squeezed through and photographed the
stalagmite flow for posterity, whilst Chris Proctor surveyed the cave to Grade
5.

Digging will continue, as there is a quite definitely
discernible draught at the end.  The
problem now is that we will have to start enlarging the approaches to the
terminal stal bank.  Interested parties
should contact Chris Proctor (

Exeter

58467), myself (Chard 4262), Pete Rose (Crediton 2284), or Brian Johnson
(Ottery St. Mary 3212).

Would be diggers might also find it worthwhile calling at
Rock House to see if anybody there is free to dig.  There are plenty of digging implements at the
site.

Peter Gianvill

 

1986 Austrian Expedition Report For Ian Dear Memorial Fund

It was 31st July and we were due to leave between 5.30 –
6.00 pm but we were still re-packing the car for about the third or fourth time
at five past six.  We had a bit of
trouble with tying down the cover for the ‘Lads Away’ roof rack; it had a
tendency to cover up the front windscreen. I was travelling in Trebor’s car with Trebor, Gonzo and Steve.  We eventually got going, a bit behind
schedule, only to stop at a kebab house and off-license for a pit stop.  We were followed along the M4 by Clive
Gardener (off in search of the Holy Grail somewhere, little did he know it, had
he followed us he would have found something equally as sacred ‘STIEGL’).

On our scenic route to Folkestone we managed to arrive late
for the ferry.  Luckily due to the usual
summer industrial dispute the ferry had not yet left.  It was a calm crossing; we managed to find
the bar.  It was named the Wessex Bar
(must have been because you got a free cup of tea there).  We left a BEC sticker behind the bar and
partook of some of their stronger refreshment.

We continued on our long journey to the Wiesberghaus.  We eventually arrived in Hallstatt between
12.30 and 1.00 on the early morning of the 2nd, after the 1000 driven miles
which was only interrupted by a short break, a yop and a scenic tour 4 times
around a one way system in a German city.

We drove around Hallstatt looking for the others who should
have arrived earlier that day.  We set
out by looking for a pub with two British cars parked outside, then a camp site
with them in.  But we had no luck.  Little did we know they had parked in the
Police car park and were in the divers bar, pissed and buying drinks for the
whole pub.  Meanwhile, we hadn’t been
able to find them at a camp site open at that time of night, so we slept on
park benches on a beach by the Hallstattersee. We were up at the break of dawn before the park attendant came round at
6.30.

We ordered a full breakfast of croissant etc and got
horseradish and ham rolls and a bottle of Stiegl.  We ate breakfast outside a Hotel on the edge
of the “see”, the weather was hot and the place was superb.  We met the others in the village while
stocking up on fresh food.  We retired
under the shade of the umbrellas at the divers bar and decided on our plan of
action.

Blitz and company were to go up the mountain straight away
to see Robert and Laura about getting our kit up on the materialseilbahn.  While the rest of us loaded it up, then some
went up the mountain before it got dark leaving J’rat, Tim, Andy and me to stay
and finish loading the next morning, forcing us to go to a party in Obertraun
which we had been invited to by members of the local caving club, it was their
annual Forest Festival.  We went with six
of the local cavers out of which one of them drinks.  It was a really good night.  There was a drunken tank driver swinging
around, 30 feet up in the beams of the beer tent and people generally acting
like we do in the Belfry.

 

I got roped into doing a Morris dance on stage to music from
the Umpa band and got free beer the rest of the night.  There was a disco afterwards.  The next day we finished loading the
materialseilbahn and went up the mountain by the passenger selbahn via
Eishohlen.  There’s an amazing 3D survey of
the Mammothohle and Eishohle systems.  We
arrived at the Wiesberghaus in the early evening and were greeted by Robert and
Laura and had a drink with them and spent that night around a fire outside with
bottles of Stiegle and Bratwurst. Tomma Dave and Pete (NCC) arrived that night.

In the morning I went over to the Titians carrying rope for
Gonzo, Steve, Blitz and

Duncan

then went prospecting for caves all over the place with Tim and Andy.  Started several digs then went down HI C33
Miztendorfer Hohlen, a cave which is still going explored to a tight double
bend and a flake in the way.   Looks like
the cave floods with the first drop of drizzle. Tim and I discovered Marmutsnitenhohlen in a cliff face so named for
obvious reasons – Asshohlen was found then almost collapsed on top of
Dave.  It wasn’t pushed because of the
way it moves in its own draught.

We had a barrel of stiegl kindly brought for us by Herbert
the sailor who due to a misunderstanding unloaded our kit off the seilbahn at
bottom of the mountain, about half an hour after we loaded it.  Trebor had lost his clothes somewhere in the
transporting up the mountain and was stuck with only a T-shirt and a pair of
yellow shorts for the whole Expedition. At the bar large amounts of drink were consumed and an

Austria

melodeon player provided the music for me in another Morris dance, ending up
with more free drinks.  Extract from the
log about 4.30 am ­”Snablet demonstrated the traditional art of Morris
Vomiting, retching all night to the accompaniment of bells”.

The next day we suffered from tremendous hangovers not
helped by Robert dishing out Garlic schnapps as a hangover cure.  Wiesberghohlen was discovered on the 6th
(pointed out by Robert).  This was the
only cave to go any major distance in the first week.  250 m deep 600 long at its last push.  Also in the first week Titan Schacht (C.38)
was pushed to – 150 m deep and ended. Blitz, Steve and I spent a day going down a hole in the C.38 area.

There were three caves of interest; one was a small canyon –
but it way in the same type of fault as C.19 and draughts well.  The second was a shaft at the bottom of a
massive rift, it used to be full of snow put the heat had melted it, and we
could throw stones down at least one hundred feet.  We couldn’t descend because there were no
natural belays and we didn’t have any bolts. The third was a large shaft that we did descend.  We also found another entrance to Titian
Schacht.

The next day Blitz pointed out C66 so we pushed it.  The only good thing about it was that it was
so close to the Weisberghaus you could send people back for bottles of Stiegl
while putting bolts in.  It ended in a
tight bouldery choke in a 40 foot high moon milked covered rif.  Wies Alm hohlen as it’s now known (formally
Jager Hohle) was found half way through our stay by Chris Fry of the Croydon
and SWCC.  The Welsh? (most of which were
from

London

area), mad!  I pushed the cave to the 2nd
pitch and ran into difficulty and we were asked if we’d like to help rig the
pitch so we jumped at the chance and pushed it to 5th and Surveyer followed
along a couple of pitches behind.  That’s
where they stay (at the third pitch) until someone took over from the

Wessex
– (who
included lengths of rope protectors in the survey???)

Over the next week all our efforts were cantered on Wies Alm
Hohle while the MUSS were off finding interesting depths of cave as well, they
had now joined us on the Dachstein, they found Orllan Hohle (pity – we could
have done with that rope down Wies Alm Hohle). Also in the same area the Austrians found a large cave 260 m or so
breaking into an active stream needing digging.

During the second week we had a lot of problems with thunder
and lightning storms, forcing us to spend a lot of time in the Wiesberghaus (Oh
shame!).  I got friendly with Roberts
daughter Sandy, we drank the Wiesberghaus dry, an outstanding feat if you’ve
ever seen the amount of beer he keeps there. The rest of the expedition party had turned up at the beginning of that
week.  Our two weeks stay was too short
by we all had a superb time.  We left
Wies Alm Hohle at the 21st pitch, Dany, Alan and the Yorkys continued on to the
top of the 25th pitch finding a 250 ft 23rd pitch.

Pete (Snablet) MacNab

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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.