Exploration Club, The Belfry,
Editor: Dave Turner
AGM -10.30am Sat 3rd October at the Belfry
Dinner – 7.30 for 8.00pm Sat 3rd October at the Caveman,
Cheddar tickets £8 from Trebor
- 1 Dinner Menu
- 3 Annual General Meeting – 3rd October 1987
- 5 Hon. Secretarys Report
- 7 Treasurers Report
- 9 Hut Warden’s Report
- 10 B.B. Editor’s Report
- 12 Caving Secretarys Report.
- 14 Membership Secretary Report
- 16 Tackle Masters Report
- 18 40ft Closer To Wookey, 35ft Closer To Cheddar
- 20 Eastwater – History Of Terminal Rift Digging Efforts
- 22 NHASA invited to Windsor
- 24 St. Cuthberts Swallet
Minestrone Soup with Parmesan Cheese
Liver and Bacon Pate with Melba Toast
Roast Sirloin of Beef Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish
with Bacon, Chipolata Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce
Brussel Sprouts Buttered Carrots
Roast Potatoes Parsley Potatoes Boiled
Home Made Sherry Trifle
Viennese Coffee with Fresh Dairy Cream and mints
Annual General Meeting – 3rd October
- Election of
of members resolutions
of the 1986 Annual General Meeting
arising from the 1986 Minutes
Dear Memorial Fund Report
of Committee Posts
of Hon. Auditor
Committee changes 1987
There will not be an election this year.
New Committee members:
Proposed Tony Jarratt,
seconded Steve Milner
Richard Neville-Dove Proposed Mike McDonald, seconded Tony
Barry Wilton has agreed to stand as Hon. Auditor as Joan
Bennett is retiring from the post this year
The following resolution has been compiled by the Committee
and submitted to the A.G.M. as the M.R.O. has requested that the arrangement
for the use of the Stone Belfry as the M.R.O. Store be put on a more formal
Proposed on behalf of the committee to the A.G.M.:-
That we instruct our solicitor to prepare a lease or
licence, giving the M.R.O. an official standing, regarding their tenure of the
present M.R.O. Store, which forms part of the ‘STONE BELFRY’. This document is
to be prepared with reference to the following guide lines.
1. The M.R.O. may not make any external alterations
to the building, excluding repairs to the roof or windows.
2. Either party may cancel the agreement, on giving
6 months notice of their intention to do so.
3. The M.R.O. may make internal alterations to
their allotted part of the store, providing that there is no damage to the
4. The M.R.O. will have the right of access to the
5. Any future proposed changes to the agreement may
only be passed at a general meeting of the club.
Hon. Secretarys Report
The A.G.M. cometh, once again another year has slipped
by. The Club has again been active
throughout the year both caving wise and in the other activities in which
cavers indulge. Membership is still
rising slowly and it was nice to see that only a few members did not continue
their membership this year.
Last years meeting requested that action should be taken to
secure a lease on the land surrounding the Cuthberts entrance. Work still carries on here, many letters have
passed twixt ourselves, Cluttons (Agents for Inveresk) and the appointed
“Inveresk” solicitor. The
progress so far has been; a lease being offered at a nominal rent (£100 per
annum) covering a rather larger piece of land than we originally asked for
provided that we were prepared to pay the legal costs incurred by the mill in
setting up such a lease. We agreed to
pay no more than £150 plus VAT and the ball was returned to their court, and we
await their reply.
Whilst on the subject of Cuthberts, Dave Irwin has been
hard at work on the Cuthbert’s Report, and has attended meetings of the
Committee to update the Club on progress. With the help of Barry Wilton and a small team of publication producing
specialists, he hopes to have it at the printers by Easter next year.
Wind is and always will be a problem at the Belfry, but
never so much as one night earlier in the year when a cool Mendip breeze
removed a large proportion of the tackle store roof (mainly above the M.R.O.
section). The M.R.O. were evacuated to
the library and the tackle to the showers. Obviously the M.R.O. section had to be repaired with great haste if the
service was to remain operational in its usual efficient form. The following agreement was made with the
M.R.O.; that the Club would bear the cost of materials to renew the roof and
would do the work in their own time. If
the M.R.O. required the job to be done in less time the Club had no objections
to them paying a builder to complete the work. The M.R.O. instantly agreed to stand any labour costs and the job was
done in double quick time. It is now for
the A.G.M. to decide if they want to collect such monies from the M.R O.
After the above, the M.R.O. realised that they have no
formal standing in relation to the rescue store, and asked the club if it would
be possible to resolve this. The
Committee saw no reason why this should not be done and has submitted a proposal
to the A.G.M. giving guide lines on how they feel this should be done.
The tackle store was built for the Club by “Alfie”
and Jill Tuck. The saddest news of the
year was that of Jill’s death. She was
well known and liked by the older members and, not long before she died, she
went on a trip to the Risca lead mines which her husband Norman and a number of
the younger members, who all enjoyed meeting her. She always had the club’s interests at heart
and in her will she bequeathed us £1000. The Committee decided to spend this on upgrading the library and
dedicating it to Jill. A tree will also
be planted on the Belfry site in her memory.
has now taken up Jills membership of the club.
On a brighter note the Club organised the Wessex Challenge
this year and again won it. A
substantial sum of money was raised by this event and credit must be given to
Andy Sparrow and his helpers for organising the event and to Dany and Brian
Workman for the catering.
A sad loss to the Club will be that of its long standing
auditor, Joan Bennett is resigning from the position this year after many years
invaluable service to the Club. I am
sure she has all our thanks for doing such a great Job for so long.
The Committee will also suffer the loss of three or its
number who have worked very hard in the Club’s interest. Brian Workman has been Membership, Sec. for a
number of years and has put the Club into the age of the computer with his
attempt to regulate the membership lists. Mark Lumley, the committee room will be a quieter place without
him. He has been Caving Sec. for 2 years
and the emphasis has definitely been on “caving”. Tony Jarratt leaves the Hut Warden’s position
so he may get to grips with the new Jill Tuck memorial library.
There is no election this year as three people have left the
Committee and two have been nominated, therefore these people are automatically
elected. I have again enjoyed the year’s
work but. I will tender my resignation now in readiness for the 1988 A.G.M. as
I feel that holding a post for more than three years you may become a little
fed up and not do the job as well as when you are first elected. Bob Cork, Hon.
1. This year has been a particularly topsy-turvy
year with lots of money going in and out of the accounts. Cash flow, as usual, has been a problem with
irregular and sometimes large sums being spent and received. Members can help by paying Subscriptions and
Hut fees on time.
2. A feature if this year’s income has been the
fall off of Bednight income (£1853 as opposed to £2195 last year) and desertion
by the Services (Army & Navy) in recent months.
3. We made a healthy profit on the Wessex Challenge
from Food and the Bar, not intentionally but perhaps we didn’t think carefully
enough about the cost of tickets and food. I see no reason why we should not make a profit on such events and as it
turned out we certainly needed the money, but we ought to set the level of
prices a little better next year.
4. The electricity bill is another large item which
is currently being investigated and the Electricity Board will re-checking the
metering for defect in due course.
5. Sales of sweat and T-shirts have not been up to
expectations and hence we still have a deficit of £214 to erase to break even.
6. The Belfry itself has not been self-financing
this year principally because we had to spend over £1300 on Act of God repairs
on the tackle store roof. We should
recoup some of this expenditure back from the Insurance Company in due course. If it had not been for this unplanned
expenditure then the Belfry would have paid for itself by about £500.
7. The Jill Tuck library fund has now been
completely extinguished by the completion of the purchase of new
bookcases. We still need a few more
cases to complete the housing of all our material and this will be done as
8. The Ian Dear Memorial Fund is slouching along
slowly. Our injection of £100 pa from
the General Fund is helping to keep the account in the black and as nobody drew
on it this year the amount available stands at £298.
9. Our priorities this year are recommended as
A) Complete the re-fitting of the library
B) Purchase caving tackle required by the Tackle
C) Complete the numerous Hut jobs, drying room etc.
10. I recommend that the Subscriptions and the Hut fees
remain the same. The members can help
financial planning and cash flow paying subs and hut fees on time.
11. A major project for 1988 will re the financing
of the St. Cuthberts Report.
12. I consider the year financially to have been
busy and productive. We have been able
to weather the storm of Belfry fire improvements and roof repairs out of our
own funds without the need to borrow. Providing members and guests use the Belfry regularly, remain actively
involved in the club and pay all dues on time, we should have a good year in
Hut Warden’s Report
The last year has seen regular use of the Belfry by many
members and guests. It has survived
numerous barrels, riots and even a visit from the Fire Brigade! In general the Hut Warden considers that
despite everything the place has been kept reasonably tidy by those staying
there and wishes to thank the usual hardcore who clean up the mess and all
those who were press-ganged into sherpering the dustbins down the track. The Hon. Treasurer has details of income,
expenditure and bed nights.
The present Hut Warden wishes to resign his post at the
A.G.M. as he would like to concentrate more on the library during the
PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN MEMBERS WHO REGULARLY
AVOID PAYING HUT FEES. They all know who
they are and if they dont cough up at the A.G.M., it is likely that they will
be banned from the Belfry until they pay up.
A.R. Jarratt 1/9/87
B.B. Editor’s Report
I have produced 5 Bulletins since the last A.G.M., somewhere
during the year I slipped a month or 2 mainly due to pressure of work rather
than lack of material. As last year I
have had a reasonable supply of articles and I thank all members contributing
to the B.B. I could always do with more
but would rather publish a smaller B.B. with interesting and relevant articles
rather than pad it for the sake of extra pages. The B.B. can only reflect the activeness of the Club and so as long as
we keep digging and going to Austria etc. my life as Editor will be reasonably
A couple of the articles published this year have already
been published in other clubs journals. In general I try to avoid this, but I will continue to print such
material if the information is useful or relevant to the B.E.C. and I apologise
to members who find that they have already read an article in another clubs
Last year I commented on the time it took to have the B.B.
printed, typically 4 weeks. I am pleased
to say that this year we have reduced this to about 2 days by using a small
printer in Frome, thus making the B.B. much less out of date by the time
members read it.
Dave Turner 23/9/87
Caving Secretarys Report.
The year got off to a slow start with regards to discoveries
on Mendip, diggers plans still being thrown off course by courtesy of the
NCC. However, BEC diggers being
resourceful types, crowbars were wielded in more obscure, remote sites where
the so called powers that be hadn’t poked their grubby little noses.
Wigmore was dug on a regular weekend and Wednesday night
basis throughout the autumn and winter and we progressed slowly but steadily
through a bedding in the marl. The site
still looks good but attention has been diverted elsewhere for the time being.
Hunters Hole has received a large amount of the club
diggers attention and Sanctimonious Passage has been extended for about 100ft
to a tight, wet constriction. The bad
air in this section has turned it into a fortnightly dig in recent weeks (J.
Rat’s face turned blue from excess of CO2)!
The Cheddar caves contingent of the BEC claimed fame in two
ways earlier this year, Andy Sparrow, breaking into 500ft of stream passage in
Pierres Pot with the cave family Moody. Meanwhile Chris Castle, made history by being the first man to be
rescued from 2 show caves in one day!
In Eastwater 50ft of new passage and the possibility of a
new route appeared with JRat & Co’s discovery of Aven Skavinsky just off
John Watson & Lawrence Smith have been tentatively
probing a horrific rift in Manor farm while the Eckford factor has pushed
Halloween Rift closer to Wookey Hole.
Meanwhile, the Rock Steady Crew staged a 9 day camp in Daren
Cilau and subsequently broke into 1200ft of gruelling passage heading towards
the Clydach Gorge. The club also
obtained its own Aggy key and began a long term dig at Midnight Passage.
More recently Andy Sparrow, Tom Chapman and Snablet managed
to break into a new chamber in Goatchurch which has a promising site for
The Keynsham crowd are determined to get back into caving as
soon as the Hunters is drunk dry and there’s a race on between the Worcester
Boys to see if they can get through Swildons Three before the turn of the
One of the major club projects of the past few months has
been the stabilising and subsequent push of Bowery Corner Swallet. The site was in a sorry state when we
started, with the loose, shale sided depression threatening to undermine the
adjacent field. With a labour intensive
effort under the supervision of Stumpy the Rocksmith we erected a solid, breeze
block foundation with a 12ft entrance pitch through three concrete pipes. The site is now stable and we have mined a
passage through the shale for about 50ft into a natural stream washed rift. Hopes are high for the near future- the way
things are going it looks as though the Wexeys will be buying the digging
barrel this year!
The club expedition to
year. Jagerhohle (last years discovery)
was pushed to a sump at minus 700m. Orkanhohle is now over 300 metres deep and still going strong while the
Croydons new discovery, Magnumhohle is down to 200 metres deep with the way on
I shall be in
consequently I dont feel that I will be in a position to do the job of Caving
Secretary efficiently. I’ll stand down
therefore and wish best of luck to my successor.
Membership Secretary Report
Although the post of membership secretary has only
officially existed for a year the job has been mine, along with the
distribution of the BB’s for nearly three years. In that time I have tried to make the job
more accountable in both the recording of membership payments and the cross
referencing of that information to the BB address list.
Needless to say any system you care to devise would be open
to the complex problems of extracting money and address changes from some of
the members within the club. It is
interesting to note that every year it’s the same group of members who fall
into this category, and I don’t believe theres an excuse that I havent heard.
Most methods of getting subscriptions from people have been
tried; one I would recommend not to try again is the standing order. These are always out of date no matter many
times you tell some members.
As most of you are aware the address list is now held on a
computer, which controls the printing of the address label you find on the
envelope of your BB. Within the file
that holds this information a record is kept of the current members (those who
have paid their subs before the following April). This record is used to control the output of
labels which means those who will receive a BB!!!
The current membership statistics are listed below and Ill
leave Alfie to produce any trends and caving habits from these in years to
come. A complete listing of members will
be available at the AGM to allow any changes to be marked up before the list is
published in the next BB.
I’m sure the next membership secretary will want to change
the way things are done but I do hope that the link between the membership and
the BB distribution is not broken as the BB is for some people the only contact
with the club, especially those abroad.
Finally one address change: Brian and Lucy Workman,
Tackle Masters Report
This year it has become plain that the club does not possess
enough tackle for general use. In
particular we are short of ladder and lifelines. Situations arise when all of the 19 ladders
are used: when places such as the West End, Hunters Hole and other
active-spots are rigged, when ladders are temporarily withdrawn for dipping
and when there is the inevitable borrow-and-forget-to-return ploy there is not
enough ladder for either members or visitors to use on a casual basis at the
To attempt to rectify this situation a ladder making weekend
was organised. With the help of a few
and the advice of many, a handful of ladders were made and put into circulation
and several were put aside for finishing. This was a happy situation until some old ladders were retired and one
of the new ones had a rung slip. We were
back to square one with not enough ladders. I am completing the unfinished ladders and we have purchased 4 more
ladders as we simply do not appear to have the time and expertise to make more.
Six 150′ lifelines have been purchased to complement the 2 x
150′ , 1 x 200′ and the 1 x 60′ (now missing). All the old tethers have been retired and 10 new ones of various
lengths have been made.
The SRT rope (plus hangers and maillons) are in excellent
condition and have been used only on a handful of club
trips. It is still available for use,
just get in touch with the Tackle Master and the conditions for use will be
described (give plenty of warning).
One or two grumbles; some people do not sign tackle in and
out, some return it in a filthy or rusty condition (4 ladders were returned 2
weeks ago in this state). It is your
tackle please look after it!
General. We have two
sets of Suunto Compass and Clino’s, these are about to be re-aligned. We have numerous tackle bags, ice-axes,
snow-shoes and digging tackle, all are available for use. If you can’t find anything get in touch with
the Tackle Master.
40ft Closer To Wookey, 35ft Closer
Two small but significant breakthroughs have occurred on the
digging fronts. Following another bang
in Sanctimonious Passage, Hunters Hole, the writer managed to pass the previous
limit to find his supposed sump was merely a 10ft long, 2 inch deep pool. Beyond this, some 40ft of well decorated
passage was explored to a stal blockage. Sadly the passage was not large enough to contain both the formations
and the explorer. A further bang at the
end should reveal more cave as there is a good echo. To make life easier a couple of spoil
shifting trips are needed. Any offers?
At our other promising site, Bowery Corner Swallet, we have
recently broken into some 35ft of relatively roomy stream passage degenerating
into a low, wet crawl with a floor of mud and stones. This is being actively dug as the way on
seems to be open. Water runs away easily
and there is a traditional “good draught”. Digging takes place on Wednesday nights and
Wigmore Swallet, Halloween Rift and various sites in
Eastwater are awaiting attention.
Tony Jarratt 21/9/87
Eastwater – History Of Terminal Rift Digging Efforts
During research on the history of exploration in Eastwater
Cavern it was noticed that there was nothing published on the major digging
efforts at Terminal Rift during the mid seventies. I contacted Keith “Ben” Bentham of
Eldon Pothole Club who kindly forwarded the relevant information which was clarified
and enlarged by Pete Eckford. For the benefit
of future speleohistorians the combined information appears below. The remains of the “aqueduct” are
still lying at the top of the 13 Pots and as the B.E.C. have taken upon
themselves to clean up the cave these shou1d be removed when convenient..
Tony Jarratt 18.8.87
On a visit to the terminal rift, Keith Betham (E.P.C.) Pete
Eckford (B.E.C.) and Pete Hiscock (S.M.C.C.) noticed that the water was sinking
under the right hand wall some 10ft from the pool. A dig was started in September 1974 with Martin
Bishop (B.E.C.) helping on one occasion and Jeff Price (W.C.C.) logged on two
trips (Wessex Journal 157). Excavation
of this sink revealed a choked descending 2ft 6ins diameter passage. Material from the dig was hauled in one
gallon paint containers into Sand Chamber where it was stacked using woven
plastic bags a stacking system which, in other digs, has proved very
In October 1974, the water which had previously prevented
digging at the site in wet weather was diverted from the Thirteen Pots by using
an aerial aqueduct constructed from 6in diameter plastic pipes and tractor
inner tube supported on a tightened rope. This carried the stream from Harris’s Passage, over the head of the
Thirteen Pots, into the Muddy Oxbow. The
pipes came from the old Cuthberts Sump One dig.
In November 1974, the dig broke into two avens about 20ft
and 30ft high but they were too tight and so digging continued in the
floor. The dig was hampered by tourists
treading on the pipe and breaking it, resulting in about half an hour of each
trip being spent in bailing the dig. After some 25ft of digging, the passage, alas, ox-bowed back into the
Terminal Rift and the Pool flooded into the dig necessitating abandonment of the
In the B.E.C. Log Book are recorded five trips by Pete
Eckford and Pete Hiscock, three by P.E. and Ben, and two by P.E alone. All were of the order of five hours duration
so treble that figure would give some idea of the man-hours spent on the dig. There are doubtless many unrecorded trips. The last trip seems to have been in late 1975
or early 1976 when P.E. and Ben spent two hours bailing the dig. It is thought that the site has not been
investigated thoroughly since.
Ben belatedly wishes to thank all persons who assisted with
the dig and to all the Mendip clubs who supplied equipment.
Keith Bentham (B.P.C.)
Pete Eckford (B.E.C.)
NHASA invited to
To devotees of the
and Dorset Railway Windsor Hill is the site of the twin single bore tunnels,
but to cavers it is the area in which the first ‘pretty’ was found on Eastern
Mendip, now known as
in that general area, and expectations were high for the
closed and general access had become easier.
The Windsor Quarry area is roughly three-quarters of a mile
by a half and lies at a mean height of 600ft. The surface streams, where present, drain southwest towards Croscombe
passing through Ham Wood. It is a quiet
area, peaceful in its new role as an industrial archaeological site, with the
exception of the regular vandal who tries to destroy our winching systems. The tree that supported our derrick was
nearly destroyed by an explosion and several efforts were made to cut it
down. [Unfortunately he has now
succeeded and the tree is destroyed – Ed]
As usual, interest was developing from several sources. The B.E.C. represented by Albert Francis,
Mike Palmer and others, dug on the north side of the railway in the late 60’s
and one would expect, others to have tried their luck as well. In the early 70’s, Hedley Hill, Shepton
Mallet Scouts Leader, was looking for a dig site, and his ploy when approached
by members of NHASA was to pretend that he was the landlord. Mike Thompson spotted the site on a walk down
the valley and he and Jim Hanwell followed up with a spot of dowsing. NHASA then adopted it after abortive efforts
at Doubleback and Rock Swallet.
The site comprises a little valley whose southern side is a
minor scarp slope at right angles to the dip, and the other side is the railway
on a small embankment. At the head of
the valley is a culvert emerging from the railway. The floor drains down to a quarry and there
are open holes for the water in the scarp and also adjacent to the
embankment. Our site lay in the valley
floor and may have been opened by the railway engineers in the 1870’s – now
there’s a thought for the record books!
Say seven years work, or about 350 Wednesday evenings, and
it can all be summarized in a few words. One can write pages of detail but unfortunately it must all be
compressed into a few phrases. We work
as a team and each person contributes his or her skills and talents, so it
isn’t generally necessary to mention any particular name in relation to an
incident or bit of kit.
The first stage of the dig was to enlarge the entrance in a
downwards direction to expose fully the dominant surface features. This left us with a hole some ten feet deep,
five feet wide and fifteen feet long. A
right turn was taken along the strike in a westerly direction, but this was
abandoned after a rock nearly killed our future MBE, Bob Whitaker. We then attacked the dip in a direct line
with the entrance, for ease of hauling, and dug southwards at a 30 degree
The passage exhibited a half-tube in the roof and we dropped
the floor to give ease of passage, such that it varied from three to six feet
in height, and where necessary the tunnel was wall or roof lined by our building
expert, Albert, using S&D coal ash for his concrete. For some distance there appeared to be a fill
between the roof and floor and spoil could be freed with a bar without much
trouble, and in one section we gained six feet by entering an open passage. This bit gave trouble in 1980 when there was
a minor roof fall and Albert and Prew were stuck on the far side, fortunately
they could come out after a few minutes heaving away at the debris.
We used the traditional Mendip sauceboat for transport to
the entrance hole, but not the ‘Guss and Crook’. Spoil was transferred to a simple bucket
hoist system to reach the surface. As
time progressed the sauceboat had to be pulled by a winch assisted and
pulley-guided method. It became very
labour intensive and it had an enormous drag factor.
The culverted stream caused trouble in winter and many
efforts were made to get rid of the water down adjacent beds and holes. It was an odd experience to divert a large
stream and see it sink away. The chief
gardener made us build all sorts of walls and dams to control the flow and at
one time we tried to bypass our hole and send the water further down the valley
by trenching it and by lining the trench with polythene tubing. Despite all this there were many occasions when
digging was impossible by virtue of excessive water. With so much quarrying in the vicinity the
water carried a good load of silt, and at times it could refill the space that
had been laboriously dug the previous week. When diverted down an adjacent hole it could be heard from our dig face
and it sounded just like the old forty foot, as we kept telling the youngsters.
Eventually the half tube disappeared and we found ourselves
staring at a bedded face with no obvious prospect. The lure of the water sound led us to deviate
eastwards and follow some thin gaps in the beds. Blasting became necessary to give us a decent
height and this was our downfall, for having cleared last weeks debris we had
to drill and bang again.
very hard, and we made slow progress. Plaster charges were tried but they did little work and minds were tuned
to alternative procedures.
Windsor Hill was probably the first caving site where a
compressor, owned by the diggers, was a regularly used piece of equipment. It was an intelligent cave, for provision was
made for the telephone line, the air line, the bang wire and the spoil transfer
system. One day, at some dig or other,
we shall have an injector, and we will have a cement line as well.
The first compressor, to which we had access, was a small
model designed for underwater use, and it had a hydraulic action, needing a
return as well as a supply hose. It made
a useful hole but was not really man enough for our purposes; neither could we
afford to buy one of our own. So, we
ended up with the navvy’s friend, the typical noisy but effective air
compressed version. It did us proud and
is still a good investment after use at other sites. Earmuffs are essential gear, for the risks to
hearing are well proven. The hydraulic
compressor, with its enclosed oil content, had to be sited close to the
entrance and this was a disadvantage to the social life of the dig. The ideal situation is to find a dig where a
compressor can be sited at a reasonable distance.
No measurements were taken, but the length of the main hole,
down dip, was about seventy feet when we rebelled at the transport system in
use and made the experts do something. A
monorail was devised such that the lengths of timber, say five feet long by six
inches by two inches, were fixed centrally in a line down the passage with the
six inch measurement being in the vertical plane. The sauceboat was fixed up with bogies that
had one wheel resting on the top of the monorail, which latter was steel-capped
to reduce wear, and one on each side. The leverage on these side ones was acute from a loaded boat but the
thing worked well. However, unlike
mountain railway systems there was nothing to stop a runaway, and the loaded
projectile was potentially lethal, especially as it had pointed ends. Up top a new winch was provided with two or
three handle positions at different gearings to suit various stages of
Our deviated eastern passage gave us a further problem. The floor was very rough, and solid, and spoil
had to be passed bucket by bucket to the main passage. Eventually a lightweight monorail was
suspended from the roof from which the buckets could be hung. All mod con in fact.
Our final session was on Nov 28th ’81. Everything that had been brought out-the
previous week was back in situ again, and we retired disheartened.
The area is still full of Eastern Promise for few sites have
been worked. We all have our own
interpretations for failure to find a cave, and it’s worth while listing a few,
for they can also relate to other sites.
1. The theory of open joints. Perhaps there is no cave. For a hole the size of Swildons entrance, say
3ft by 3ft, can also be represented on a surface 50ft long by 24ft wide. If the width contains 9 bedding joints each 1/4
inch wide then the Swildons water can in theory disappear within this area, and
limited erosional features can lead to wishful thinking about a theoretical
2. Surface disturbance. At
the stream may have been diverted when it was culverted under the railway, and
this happened twice as the line was originally single, then doubled. Any stream near the quarries would have been
used and possibly diverted for steam raising in machinery or for shunting
3. Streams that appear to sink in well-established
holes within the quarry area may in reality have had a short life.
4. If one can’t actually follow a stream then the
adjacent parallel bed may be too low or too high in relation to the theoretical
5. The labour force required to work the dig became
too large. No spoil could be stored
part-way to the surface for the stream merely washed it to the bottom again.
6. One of the best possible sites was too near a
Yes, we benefited from this experience. Our current dig has several localities that
can be used as temporary dumps with a small labour force. All spoil is put into poly bags so that it
cannot be washed down again, and we don’t have a stream, but that’s another
There is much more to NHASA than a weekly cave dig may suggest. Our average age is high, because we have been
around for some time, and we are no longer in the first flush of youth. We don’t do epic trips; we just have epic
spells of survival between trips. This
aspect of caving is not often mentioned, but we have helped one of our group to
overcome severe depression, we have convinced another that there is caving
after severe illness, we have helped each other to give up smoking, and we cope
with all the ailments to which middle aged gentlemen are prone, like a lack of
an excuse to go to the Hunters midweek. Some of us are young, though, and romance can blossom amongst the
buckets, boats and compressors. Brian
and Lucy will have many happy memories of
odd accidents, or how to cut your eye with a caving helmet or burst your thumb
with a lump of honest limestone.
It’s a rule that in order to attend the NHASA dinner one
must do some digging, and it is amusing to note the faces that appear at
infrequent intervals. Some of these
people are normally busy at their own digs, others are members of the Craven
‘A’ team, to whom we play host, and others are noted for their shy and retiring
habits. All are welcome, for we are all
equal participants in my last statement .
Wednesday evenings are a period of sanity in a doubtful
world, and if we find a cave, well thats a bonus.
(Note for new cavers) “NHASA”, or the “North
Hill Association for Speleological Advancement” was formed in the 60’s
when “NASA” or the “National Aeronautical and Space
Administration” was a new and upwardly mobile entity in the
St. Cuthberts Swallet
Following the gradual clean up of the cave by BEC members
and others over the last year or so, the place is looking a lot tidier,
especially around the Sump 1 and Gour Hall Rift area. Eight carbide dumps have been removed
together with over 175 assorted pieces of rubbish according to my count.
Now that the place is looking better, it’s time to clean and
tape the formations. Past taping has
disappeared and a number of nice formations have been trampled over
particularly in Long Chamber. This
chamber has now been cleaned and taping is being done imminently. We’ll then move on to Curtain Chamber and
September ……. One dirty mud bank recently was accidentally found to
actually to be a nice white stal boss!?
Periodic notices will appear in the Belfry or Cuthberts Log
as to which chamber or part of the cave is currently being spruced up so any
help is welcomed. Tape is available from
Trebor, together with sponges and water containers etc.
By the time the Cuthberts Report comes out we may have the
place in pristine condition again, as its meant to be.