Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

Editor: Ted Humphreys


This Belfry Bulletin is late again because it can only be
produced when the number of contributions received makes it worthwhile.  If you want to have a regular BB then you
have to contribute.  It does, however,
include the second article from Jim Smart in the
about his adventures on
Negros.  I haven’t heard from him since his capture by
communist guerrillas on
Mindanao, except what
was in the press at the time (see the news clippings on page eight).

A lot of caving is being done by the Club.  The Aswan Dam in Cuthbert’s II is coming
along nicely and another attack on sump 2 will be mounted shortly. Bowery
Corner is progressing slowly but a lot of hard work is still to be done.  The big news, however, is that Kangaroo Swallet
(Welsh’s Green) has ‘gone’.  I hope to
have a full report for the next BB.  All
I have from Graham at the moment is as follows :- “It’s gone, 350′ to 400′
ish, biggish & shitty but probably the longest cave (in the world?) in Blue
Lias Limestone”.

Tony and Jane Jarratt have taken over Bat Products from Phil
and Lil Romford (who are shortly leaving for sunnier climes –

!).  The new management took over on 1st. of May,
though Phil and Lil are staying on for the time being to show J’rat the ropes
(and the krabs and wetsuits and all that). Steve Milner is also preparing to leave the country, and travelling even
further (Oz) (cheap foreign accommodation for wandering members?)

Alan Thomas’s book ‘The Story of Priddy’ is finally in print
and contains quite a bit about the local caves including some previously
unpublished stuff.  Copies can be
obtained from Alan.  It was only a small
print run so copies could become collector’s items.

Another example of things not mentioned in the guide books
that people may not have noticed: –

When going down Longwood Swallet you descend the two ten
foot drops, turn left to the Showerbath and then right down the narrow
rift.  When you get to the approach
passage to Longwood main chamber (on the left) a narrow passage goes straight
on and turns to the right to the bottom of a high aven.  This is the furthest the cave goes down the

. The aven is free-climbable, with care, and ends at chokes.  The question is, are these choked inlet
passages from a now abandoned swallet, or if dug, would they lead to old
passages leading further down the valley? I don’t know but wonder if anyone has ever tried.


Library Notes

Dizzie Thompsett-Clark has very kindly donated the following
books to the Club library.  They were
personally delivered by motor cycle despatch rider Angus Innes!

10 Years under the Earth (1940)
Gough’s Caves – early guidebook
My Caves (1947)
Underground Adventure (1952)

Jock Orr visited recently and gave the Club a pile of
Smithsonian magazines.  One of these has
an article on

and will be in the

The library is being regularly used these days and providing
a useful service to Belfryites.  Please
do not forget to return books A.S.A.P.

Other additions to the library are: –

Deep in Blue Holes – Palmer
Legal Aspects of Access Underground – N.C.A.
The Story of Priddy – Alan Thomas

Tony Jarratt


Speleo Reconnaissance, Negros Occidental,

Negros Island,

I arrived in
Negros with no
cave expectations.  I planned to visit
maybe two or three tourist sites and to be off the island within five
days.  I have now been here 20 eventful
and unhurried days and have not even visited the alleged cave country of Negros
del Norte.  If I haven’t exactly found
any earth shattering caves I’ve had fun looking for them and the two caves at
Km 107 (Ilog) Tubig Cave and the resurgence cave would make the Philippines top
ten for depth and length respectively if surveyed.  This is not particularly clever; there are
hundreds of known caves in this category. What is needed is the tools and the time to make the survey.

Most of Negros Occidental comprises a wide coastal plain a
few metres above sea level, largely given over to sugar and rice
cultivation.  But in the south, beyond
Ilog, this plain becomes quite narrow, virtually non-existent in places, and
inland the terrain rises in a series of sierras to maybe 4,000 or more
feet.  I have been unable to locate any
maps or find out if any name exists for these highlands.  Similarly many times I enquired after the
name of a cave or a creek or a prominent hill I was told that there is no name.

Due to various interesting hassles itemised in the following
report my explorations were limited to the first (coastal) range of sierras
where the maximum elevation was probably no more than about 300 ft.   Without exception, all the caves I visited
had been previously fully explored by the local people.

Log, Monday Jan 30 to Feb 14, 1989.

Day 1.

The 7.30 a.m. arrival in Vallidolid was not very
inspiring.  The three hour crossing had
been cold (COLD!) and wet and in choppy seas. Under the heavy skies the beach and sea and tatty food stalls all looked
miserable and dirty.  Worse; the boat was
overloaded and grounded before we reached the jetty.  We waded ashore.  All the public transport was packed with
Monday-morning commuters and this was no weather to ride on the roof, so I took
coffee and waited for a jeepney with a spare seat.

Although it rained almost incessantly for the next 48 hours
things began to look up as soon as I arrived in Bacolod City (BC).  By 10 a.m. I’d located clean lodgings, and by
noon I had enough cave-leads to keep me busy for a fortnight.  At 4 p.m. I was being interviewed by the
local press and this was followed by an invite to a local bar.  Midnight found a bunch of us nightclubbing
and I went merrily to bed at 4 a.m.; an eventful 24 hours.

Day 2.

Prepare to go south and look for caves.

Day 3.

Arrive at Ilog, settle in, and meet local officials.

Reasons for not
caving:  Part 314

You can’t just breeze into
an area and set off in search of caves. People are curious/suspicious of you and your motives particularly in
view of the current political situation (see below).  Anyway a guide will take time to locate but
he will save time in the long run.  Also
courtesy demands that certain bigwigs must be visited and that can lead to
long, long chats in this leisurely country. Typically, in a 12 hour daylight period you will be lucky to get in
three hours field reconnaissance.  No
problem though: plenty of booze and good vibes.

Day 4.

Local transport in this area is mostly by tricycle – i.e. a

125 equipped with
sidecar and capable of carrying an unbelievable amount of luggage, livestock
and people who cling on like a circus acrobatic act. I once counted 19
uniformed high school girls floating down the palm-lined road on one of these
contraptions: lucky driver.

I’d rented a tricycle for the day and was waiting for it to
arrive when I heard ” … Bristol Exploration Club sa

… ” on the seven
o’clock news.  I didn’t understand what
bull they were putting out but the publicity was to prove useful.  With local man Ramon Laforteza and by driver
we set off at 7.30 intending to visit a cave at Bgy Delicioso and some others
at Sitio (So.) Km 107.  At the local army
HQ permission to visit KM 107 was withheld.

Reasons for not
caving:  Part 793.

Government confesses it
has an “insurgency situation”. I would describe it more as a cross between Civil War and Anarchy.  The New Peoples Army (i.e. communist
guerrillas) are fighting to overthrow the Government.  The civilians are trapped in the middle and
both sides commit what we would call terrible atrocities.  But the Army’s hands are tied by the
International League for Human Rights.

So “private
armies” are encouraged to protect large businesses and plantations, and
vigilante groups protect local communities from any outside
interference.  There are a lot of guns
here.  You have to tread gently.

We headed off in search of the cave at Delicioso.  Leaving the tricycle in the sugar cane we set
off on foot up the high sierra and within an hour we had located a guide who in
turn had located the cave for us.  The ILAG
SHAFT turned out to be a vertical pot located in a pleasing patch of bare and
nicely weathered limestone.  Descent was
impossible without at least a lifeline.

With Km 107 closed to us we adjourned to a bar to discuss
tactics: it was still only 11 o’clock. Somebody recognised me as the face in the paper, somebody else had heard
the 7 o’clock news and soon the bar, and then the village, was abuzz.  Cave information came too quick and too fast
to assimilate I don’t speak Ilong-go.  I
decided to buy extra fuel for the tricycle and investigate as many villages as
possible along the foothills.  We ended
up travelling 50 km. as far as Caliling, picking up information all along the
way, and exploring a couple of uninspiring small caves at Tuod and partially
exploring Cave 1 at Caliling.  My
guide at Caliling spoke of many caves and offered his services as a guide.  I arranged to meet him in three days time at
his house.  So concluded an interesting
10 hour field trip.

Day 5.

The tricycle is late (puncture) and the priest happens by,
sees me, and invites me to lunch.  Thus
is a planned 10 hr trip reduced to 3½. It’s pouring with rain.  The army
has now cleared Km 107 of landmines and combed the area for insurgents.  Furthermore, they have a civilian guide
waiting for me there.  We set off into
the dripping forest and soon find a shaft, impossible without gear, but it
turns out to be an alternative entrance to walk-in

.  We explore as far as a pitch. “Many
caves here”, says our guide.  The
nearby “creek” is about the size of the Little Neath River.  It disappears merrily below ground.  Across the valley I can see another large
cave entrance.  But it’s already 11 and
my lunch date is for noon: exploration postponed.

Day 6.


Day 7.

Today is the day I have arranged to meet Angelico de la Cruz
in Caliling.

Reasons for not
caving:  Part 794.

Public Transport in the


is never boring.  Breakdowns, punctures,
missed connexions, amended “schedules” and the total lack of movement
after dark can turn a 100 km. trip over indifferent roads into a two day
adventure.  No problem, there’s always
somewhere for a beer and a chat, we’ll get someone to fix that flat.

It took me four rides and four fours to cover the 50 km. to
Caliling, the last section spent desperately clinging to the side of the bus
(the side with the cliff below) this being the Filipino response to the new
military ruling that riding on the roof is henceforth forbidden due to a few
unfortunate encounters with NPA snipers. Angelico had given up waiting for me and was somewhere working in the
forest.  He returned at four but there
was only time for me to complete my exploration of Cave I, Caliling.  A relaxed evening of rumcola followed in this
electricity-free village by the sea.

Day 8.

It transpires that Angelico can only show me three caves as
the others are too far away (more than 1 km.) and in NPA country.  We travelled through some pleasing limestone
valleys and plateau and carried out complete explorations of BAHAY CAVE,
Caliling Cave II (for which I have lost my notes) and Caliling Cave
.  By 9 a.m. the day’s work was
done.  Angelico announced that he had to
go to work now, but tomorrow morning he would show me two more caves at a
nearby village.  This was not very
cost-effective for me.  It would be nice
travelling slowly from village to village, exploring a few caves each morning,
but my time was limited.  Besides I had
to be in BC the following evening and that meant an early start.  I had a date with a gorgeous slender
chinky-eyed chick and I didn’t want to disappoint her.  I said goodbye to the de la Cruz family and
took the first bus north.

Note: “Chick” is the Filipino word for “young woman”.  It is not offensive, on the contrary it is
the polite expression.

Days 9 & 10.

The little bitch stood me up.  I spend my time preparing a return trip to
the Ilag Shaft and the caves of Km 107.

Reasons for not
caving:  Part 943

The Filipinos are very
gregarious: invite one out for the evening and chances are the best friends or
family will show up also.  Invite a
couple of members of the “climbing club” and the whole defunct
organisation will want to come along with maybe a dozen “prospective
members”.  I sit in the bar with a
crate of beer and 16 would-be cave explorers. The beer has been flowing freely, I still don’t speak llong-go and
everywhere there is chaos.  I slap the
table and try to explain that they’re all welcome but this is a serious project
and there is a schedule to keep: 10 people take longer to descend a pitch than
two.  I will cave with just one or two
companions: the others must find a different cave to play in.  Mayo Monteza, a veteran of overseas climbing
expeditions, understands the logistics and says he will take charge of
everything.  Unfortunately he is
critically injured in a shooting incident the next day and is unable to join

Day 11.

Set off for Candoni in the heart of the high sierras.  Miss bus connexion and spend the night in

Day 12.

The bus travels the long dusty road to Candoni very
laboriously and cave potential is everywhere. Unfortunately so is the insurgency as the frequent belligerent military
checks testify.  In Candoni the Police
Station Commander hails me as I get off the bus.  He knows who I am and he’s friendly enough
but he cannot let me travel anywhere outside “town” (about the size
of Priddy).  Furthermore after dark I
find I am confined to my lodgings.  It’s
Fiesta Day and guns + booze = trouble. I’d be an understandable target,

Day 13.

Return to Ilog and await climbing club.  By nightfall they’ve still not arrived; buses
have long since ceased running so I crack open the rum.  I’m half pissed when a posse of school kids
arrive at my gate.  With them is a jeep
and a motor cycle and a dozen pissed-up climbers.  It’s just like Saturday night in


Day 14.

We lose three hours over a welding job for the jeep and then
find the army major is at Mass so are further delayed before security clearance
is given for us to visit Km 107.  We have
only 5 hours to complete our (my) project. With my friend Ramon Laforteza, the guide and his son we are 14 people
in the Jeep.  Never mind, it’s a nice
day.  The Negros Mountaineering Group
possess only one rope.   I send everyone

to look at the pitch while Agnes
(Anec) Montano and I set off to explore the exciting looking swallet.  Anec can’t swim but I assure her there will
be no deep water.  I climb down the first
simple cascade still in daylight and fall into a six foot pool.  No problem though: Anec turns out to be a
superb climber.  (Later in the day she
led me on some climbs that I only completed to protect my dignity.)

In the cave a couple of short climbs brought us to the head
of a pitch after only a few metres.  The
water cascaded merrily down, but without at least a lifeline we could not
follow.  We surfaced and headed down the
dry valley in search of the resurgence.

And a fine resurgence it was too.  Beyond a walk-in entrance we found about 350
metres of fine river cave, lofty and wide, the water generally about knee deep
but occasionally five feet or so. Unfortunately it terminated in a silted sump and we could find no

We return to

and find the others
have still not surfaced.  Underground we
find that they have all successfully descended the pitch (lifelined) including
our guide and 61 year old Ramon. Descending from the pitch led to a third (high level) entrance and a
fourth walk-in one not far from the resurgence. In the opposite direction I explored alone into some enormous chambers
60 ft or more in height and found a spectacular fifth entrance more than 100
foot up to daylight the shaft opening in the centre of the dome-shaped roof of
a particularly large chamber.  I stupidly
tried to climb to some high level leads picked out by my penlight torch (my
only light at the time) and prayed a lot on the retreat.

Back at the resurgence Anec led everyone while I volunteered
to look after our gear.  I foolishly
forgot I was employing a guide for these menial chores.  Anec and I had taken about 20 minutes to
explore the resurgence.  It was more than
an hour before people started re-emerging with feeble flashlights and tales of
caverns measureless to man.  A flat-out
crawl at the top of a mud bank near the sump had led to enormous fossil
passage.  I set off for a look meeting
the stragglers on their way out and picking up Anec to show me the way.  The fossil stuff was truly enormous with
railway tunnel side passages left unexplored. Anec reckons she showed me about half the stuff they’d explored and we
used a length of rope to measure the distance on the way out: 700 metres.  There was no time left; we had done nothing
I’d planned, but smiles abounded.

Day 15.

Moved south to Hinoba-an. The bus was packed and my view was limited but the country around
Sipalay looks particularly interesting (plenty of large scarp-foot springs).

Day 16.

My contact in Hinoba-an is out of the area for a few
days.  Tired of travel I visit

and take the bus back to BC.  Time to look for another area.

Caves of Neqros Occidental

The caves are listed under the name of the municipal town in
approximate north to south order.  Bgy –
barangay (village)  So. = sitio (a more
precise location).


Reported to be an area of many beautiful caves and
waterfalls.  Visit impossible at the
moment due to heavy military action.


Frequent reports of caves here as follows:

1.                  Bgy Buenavista Himanaylan. So. Kamlented
Detachment.  A cave mined for guano by
the Lopez family.

2.                  Bgy Delicioso. ILAG SHAFT  Depth 70 ft. Alt c.
300 ft. Visited Feb 2 ’89  Un-descended.

3.                  Bgy Magballo. Many caves in this area including one named Molobolo.  Security clearance refused Feb ’89.

4.                  Bgy Tampalon. 6 km from Candoni; reputed to have many caves especially at So. Lordes


Bgy Dancalan.  Said to
have seven caves (a common tale in the

).  There are certainly more than seven caves
here including:

  1. Tubig
    .  Length c. 1,500 ft. depth 120 ft.  A cave with three vertical entrances and
    2 walk-in ones.  The through-trip is
    interrupted by a 25 ft. pitch; one of the vertical entrances is more than
    100 ft. deep.  Visited February
    1989.  (Sketch survey, J.S. Log)

  2. Swallet
    .  Length 50+

    30+ ft.  In creek near

    .  Terminates in an un-descended wet pitch.
    Visited Feb 1989.

  3. Resurgence
    .  Length c. 1 km. Depth (i.e. vertical
    range) c. 30 m.  A large river
    passage giving access to aven loftier fossil passage.  Visited Feb ’89.
  4. Cave.  A large entrance is seen on the far side
    of the valley opposite the upper entrance of



  1. Bgy
    ANGA.  Reported to have river cave
    with fish and eels:  took 4 hours to
  2. Bgy
    Caliling.  Many caves here usually
    mined for guano (a government permit is required for this: their register
    might prove a useful source of reference).


So. Bahay.  Length c. 400 ft.  A simple large passage up to 100 ft. wide and
60 ft. high which soon closes down to become too tight.  Visit Feb ’89; sketch survey in J.S. Log.

b)       Cave
I.  Length c. 200 ft.  Located behind MEG rice mill.  A large entrance leads to crawling passage
and becomes too tight. Sketch survey J.S. Log.

c)       Cave
3.  So. Bahay.  Length c. 130 ft. Depth 20.  Located on ptateau above Caliling.  A 20 ft. shaft opens onto a small
chamber.  Westwards a stooping passage
chokes after 80 ft. while eastwards a crawling passage with a fine false floor
ends in a choke.  Sketch survey J.S. Log.

  1. Bgy
    Danawan.  A deep cave reported here.
  2. Bgy
    Isio So. Tuod. 

    .  In prominent limestone outcrop about 250
    ft. above Tuod are two small caves.

a)       A
single breakdown chamber L. 60 ft.

b)       A
winding body-size phreatic tube c. 70 ft. long. Visited Feb ’89.

  1. Bgy
    Masaling.  Fine exposed white
    limestone noted here Feb ’89.


a)       Two
big guano caves have been reported here:


and Tagnoc.

b)       Bgy
Maracalom.  Reported to have many caves.


Bgy Bacuyangan.  Two
large caves here on the coast; scene of action in WW2:
Cave and

.  Visit Feb ’89.


Another area reported to have “seven caves”,

and Konog-Konog

James Smart   Feb. 20, 1989.

Philippine newspaper cuttings

Mountain rebels free explorer held as ‘spy’

WEST explorer James Smart was yesterday released after
being held for a week by Communist guerrillas in the

on sus
­picion of being a spy.

Bachelor Mr Smart, who left home in Queen’s Road,

in December on a world tour, escaped death when shells ex
­ploded near him while in captivity.

He was one of three detained from a party of 300
climbers on their way to Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak, 615 miles
South-east of Manila.


By Vikki Orvice

day, when they heard shelling
near the rebel cam.

“Every time we heard a
bang, we dived into the foxhole, maybe seven times,” he said.

Last night Mr Smart’s mother
who lives in Buttles Plantation, Hatch Beauchamp, near

, said: “I spoke to him this
afternoon and he said the captors treated him very well “They could go where
they wanted and in fact were treated like royalty.  It took so long to release him because the
captors did not want others to know where they were hiding in the moun

They were taking part in the annual convention of the
National Mountain
­eering Federation of the


The rebels ann­ounced earlier their
prisoners and a local interpreter would be freed on Wednesday, but delayed
for a day when they saw soldiers on the mountain slopes and heard a
105-millimetre howitzer fired.

“Investigations so far have shown that these three
climbers are innocent. Thus we are releasing them,” they said in a

Haggard looking and unshaven Mr Smart, aged 40, said
he was not happy to hear he was suspected of being a spy, but added he hoped
to return to

next year.

Fellow prisoner, Irish chemistry graduate Gerald Ken­nedy, 22, said: ”They treated us very well.  It would take me a long time to describe my

The third freed climber Trevor Anderson, 35, from

New Zealand
said they felt safe with the New People’s Army guerrillas until Wednes-





Smiling through … Explorer James Smart, centre, is
attended to by a nurse after his ordeal


West man in spy drama

WEST explorer James Smart plans to continue his
round-the-world trip – undeterred after being held hostage by Communist
guerrillas on suspicion of spying.

Bachelor Mr Smart, aged 40, who left home in

Queens Road,

December, was released on Wednesday after being held in a Philippine mountain

A keen caver, he was one of three detained from a group of
300 climbers on their way to Mount Apo, 615 miles south-east of


But his mother, who lives in Buttle Plantation, Hatch
Beauchamp, near
Taunton, said he plans to stay
in the
Philippines until
April 25 – before heading off to


“He was not scared and if he can afford it would like
to go back”


Progress In The Far Reaches Of Daren Cilau

by Mark Lumley

Another Daren camp took place from Friday 10th February to
Sunday 19th. 


and Jake (Graham Johnson) were fortunate enough to be able to stay down for the
duration while many others (somewhere in the teens) stayed for between one and
five days.

A great deal of important equipment was ferried to the
Restaurant at the end of the Universe, including four scaffolding bars with
couplings, more sleeping kit, sixteen litres of liqueurs and an inflatable
flamingo.  The ‘Best Dressed Caver’ award
went to Snablet who sported a pinstripe suit, trilby hat, tie and sunglasses!

Whilst left to their own devices midweek, Jake and Andy
cleared the bang debris in Friday 13th Boulder Choke, moved up, lost the
draught and found it again emitting from a tube half way up the choke.  This had been observed and discounted over a
year ago.  A day and a half of digging
saw them past a rocky squeeze (Another Bloody Valentine) and into ‘Payoff
Passage’ a few hundred metres of crawling and walking passage resembling the
Inca Trail.  This led to another

Next day, the dig was passed with a few hours of digging
into ‘Still Warthogs after all these Years’ – several hundred metres heading
south (see survey for details).  This
ended in a large rift passage severely choked with roof collapse.  The ensuing dig was named ‘Dig of a Thousand
Pricks’ due to the abundance of those all too familiar selenite needles which
permeate those all important places that only your next of kin and the Au Pair
are familiar with.

The most significant find for those interested in a
connection with Agen Allwedd is a large (5m by 5m) inlet on the western side of
‘Warthogs’ which ends in a large, impressive ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric
Sheep’ boulder choke.

With the arrival of reinforcements on Thursday night a lot
of effort was put into pushing various leads both old and new.  A compass and tape survey was carried out as
well.  The survey shows the extension to
be about 2000 ft. mostly heading south towards ‘Against all Odds’ and ‘Twelve
O’clock High’ while the ‘Electric Sheep’ choke is just 60m. From ‘Birthday
Surprise’ in the

Priory Road

As usual the work was done in 8 hour shifts, but this time
we were fortunate to have enough people for a night shift as well.

Two weeks later Jake, Gonzo and Mongo just happened to find
themselves in

Priory Road
!  An arch was found 6 metres to the left of the
main dig in Birthday Surprise.  This
appeared to take all the draught. Back at


a small passage was pushed for 20 ft. low on the edge of the boulders and a
bottle of champagne was left for the connection.

The next Daren camp began on March 31st.  Dalek soloed in on Thursday expecting to meet
up with us at the Restaurant. Unfortunately we were not able to arrive until 24 hours later, over
laden with two large tackle bags each, to find the campsite looking like a
rubbish tip courtesy of previous, uninvited guests who will be hearing from us




April the first saw an intensive effort on the ‘Electric
Sheep’ choke.  Dalek set the standard
with some certifiable crow bar work, 15 character building tons and 30 feet
later we reached a small chamber in the boulders.  Dalek and Gonzo continued to push this while
Jake and Inspector Gadget (Peter Bolt) went to dig ‘Thousand Pricks’.  Andy and White Meg (Carol White) worked on
the Bad Bat dig.  During the course of
the day several sites were banged and a radio link up from ‘Electric Sheep’ to
Birthday Surprise was tried to no avail.

On Sunday, Dalek and White Meg left for the surface.  While Jake went off to start digging
‘Stingray’ (close to ‘Electric Sheep’, draughting and heading west).  Andy, Inspector Gadget and Gonzo put a few
hours of intensive tunnelling into Bad Bat. This broke out into 50 ft. of

low, wide bedding sloping upwards and ending in an airbell and low, draughting

A weary of limb team headed up the extensions again on
Monday.  Andy and Jake continued digging
‘Stingray’ and then discovered another dig (Hot Dog), sloping steeply upwards
on the Eastern side of ‘Still Warthogs after all these Years’.  Meanwhile Gonzo and Inspector Gadget pushed
the dig of a thousand pricks and broke into ‘Spaderunner’ – 70 metres of
draughting passage beginning as a boulder chamber, degenerating from walking to
crawling passage and ending in a tight rift. This was given some chemical persuasion and then we left for a celebratory

Gonzo and Andy left on Tuesday, reaching the surface ln five
hours to find that Clive had laid on a snowstorm for us (the people he knows!)

Inspector Gadget and Jake stayed down for a further two
days, putting in more work on Spaderunner and pushing a draughting section of the
Electric Sheep boulder choke for a further 12 ft.

The connection with Aggy is an interesting prospect, but
more exciting by far is the possibility of reaching the main stream lower down
than its current limit at Against all Odds. This would enable us to establish camp 3 (The Last Resort) thereby
cutting out the 3-4 hours of dry commuting that is necessary every day to get
between the Restaurant and the digs. From the position now, with draughting Southerly and

leads the idea of a link to the Clydach
gorge or of going straight over the main streamway and off under Llangynidr no
longer lies in the realms of fantasy.


“Diving to Excess”

by Tim Large

Its Friday night again – 9pm – and yes, as usual, Tony
Jarratt’s Land Rover pulls up at the Hunters – just popped in for a pint.  The BEC commandeer the long table and comfy
pew and discuss caves, beer, latest scandals and gossip.  The

haven’t arrived yet – still
in their hut making tea.  Zot arrives – a
relieved grin on his face – Dan-yr-Ogof is cancelled – cave flooded – Mendip’s
awash – but we must do something.  Lets
have more beer.  Tony suggests a Swildons
trip to blow up Snablet’s dig in Shatter Series – aptly named many moons ago –
BAT DIG.  Interest in the site has risen
recently since yours truly placed a 3lb. charge in the small sump at the end
Snablet was quite impressed by the noise and pebble-dashing only had about 40′
of wire.  Ross was in Swildons 7 at the
time and heard it – 650′ away!

“OK Tone, we do it – Swildons will be nice and
wet.  See you for breakfast about 10
am”.  More beer!!  Saturday morning dawned – TL rose early and
cycled cross country over to Priddy arriving at West Cottage to the welcome
smell of a fried breakfast.  The bang was
packed another 31b. bomb – Wig arrives – latest postcard in hand  “What the f*** are you going to do with
that lot” – “Oh just a little digging Wig”.

Its raining still and very cold.  Time to go. Arrive at entrance – water level about 2″ below overflow pipe –
should be interesting.  Quick dash down
short dry way – no hold ups on 20, only had to walk over one party just before
the Double Pots.  Reach Barnes Loop where
TL has severe cramps in both legs.  Jump
up and down a bit, tell legs to behave and on we go.  Engage auto pilot for dash through St. Pauls
– stop for a fag at the Mud Sump.  Met
two guys just after First Mud Sump disappearing up side passage to

.  One guy stepped aside to let us pass.  On enquiring they thought that was the route
for Short Round Trip – they followed us to Mud Sump.  “It’s a bit wet Tone”.  All the dams were full and the soakaway back
up the passage was overflowing back into the Mud Sump.  We waded in to where roof met water at which
point we were standing in 5′ of water. Tony succinctly expressed his intention of not going any further.  TL being one not to be beaten and forgetting
the topography of mud sump decided it would only be a short dip, took a quick
breath and disappeared – down – down, down to 6′ – eventually found the slot
with the familiar nose groove in roof. Too late to turn back – might as well keep going – not very big in here
– Ah, through the small bit, now where’s the bloody airspace – roof is rising
but no sign – getting a bit short of breath – up up – must be there somewhere –
it’s a bit different doing a sump without a line.  Phew, at last I can breathe panting heavily
TL makes for yonder mud bank to recover. That was a long way and I’ve got to get back.  No bailing buckets on this side not much good
anyway when the squeeze is 6′ underwater. I wonder how long I would have to sit here before Tony went out to get a
bottle and valve.  No, can’t do that, it
would be too embarrassing – remember the Club motto.  Well got my breath back – better have a look
at that murky lake waded in – shoulder deep – waved my legs about – could not
find the squeeze – oh well, it’s down there somewhere!  Deep breath and duck dive – mm, don’t seem to
be going down very well – too buoyant – break surface again – no lead weights
here.  Could put some rocks inside my wet
suit – mm – not a good idea – might cause me to get stuck in the squeeze.  Oh well, nothing for it, just have to have a
more determined effort.  Deep breath and
go for it, Down, Down, Down, clawing at walls and roof – ah the floor, now
where’s that squeeze no not there and I crashed into wall – bit more to the
right perhaps ah yes, this feels like it – getting short of breath again –
through small bit, thank goodness for that now starting to rise, head banging
on roof, still rising how much further to air – must be here somewhere – At
last oh no – more cramp in the legs – panting for breath lying in water like a
drowned whale – “give me fag Tone I don’t think we’ll be going to Shatter
today”.  Ten minutes later cramps
easing – lighter won’t work.  “Lets
go home”.  Back in streamway find
another party who eventually get their lighter going – relax over a fag at
last.  Still very wet in here – ah the
entrance – no longer, the water level has risen 6″ now flowing into
overflow pipe.  Tone reflects –
“Every time you and I go caving together we have some sort of
epic!!!”  “Not really Tone –
just living up to the club motto – ‘Everything to Excess”’.  “Right” says Tone – “let’s go
down Bowery Corner now – it must be in flood” – “OK – should be

On checking the survey, looks like the length of the sump
was 30′ to 35’.

Cautionary Note: –  It
is not recommended that this dive be contemplated.  It comes into the well known Willie Stanton
grading of ‘Foolhardy and Dangerous’ .

Sketch Plan of Mud
Sump in Flood.



Caving Choice – Amateur or Professional

Having just recently returned to caving regularly on Mendip
after a short sabbatical, I was interested to hear of the debate and objection
to commercial caving enterprises which Mendip has recently had to adjust
to.   Much of the argument appears to be
directed at particular organisations on Mendip.

Cavers have always had an attitude of a God given right of
access to caves.  Now, some appear to be
taking the same attitude with caving activities outside the caving club

Caving has gone through a revolution in the last 20
years.  When many of us started there was
no commercial caving, no caving shops – apart from Tony Oldham’s front
room.  The most specialised caving shop
was the local WD store and cave training was only to be found within caving
clubs on a very informal basis.  We could
get away with it then when the only technical equipment was ladders, Krabs and
lifelines. Now, we benefit from all sorts of sophisticated hardware and
protective clothing.  Therefore people
need more specialised and formal training. If this can be supplied within the club environment, all well and good.

But we must not forget that these days there are people who
are not interested in caving via a traditional caving club.  They prefer a week or day course visiting
specific caves or undergoing specific skills training.  Next week, those same people will probably be
canoeing, windsurfing, mountaineering or whatever, again on a
“professional” course.  There
is nothing, as I see it, that the traditional caving club can do about this
type of leisure person or should want to do. As long as there is a demand for courses then someone will supply that
demand.  The only angle we can be
involved in is to influence these caving professionals in their approach to
caving with their clients and the skills techniques taught.  Our main concern is always the conservation
of caves followed by adherence to a safe caving code.  It is essential that newcomers to caving are
acquainted with the basic information about caves – their formation, history,
both geologically and exploration – to fully appreciate both the vulnerable
environment they are entering and the traditions of cave exploration.  As we all know, many hours have been spent
with landowners and others to foster good relations and permanent access arrangements.  These can easily be ruined by ill-informed

The second category of professional caving is within the
ever increasing number of management training centres who use caves and
mountains etc. as learning and management assessment aids.  Again, we cannot stop this kind of activity.  They are financially well backed
organisations who are here to stay as long as there is a demand for this type
of training.  Again, all we can do is
influence them as far as attitudes to caves go and safe caving practice.  Nobody should be forced underground against
their will.  Basic information about
caves, as I said earlier, must be given to the clients to ensure the right
attitudes to conservation and safe caving codes.  In any management training, caving trips
should firstly be undertaken to familiarise personnel with the cave environment
and basic skills of moving in a cave. Only once this has been accomplished should clients progress to
specialised activities such as surveying, ladder-work, SRT or whatever.  Good relations with these training centres
should be fostered as they have much to offer traditional cavers if suitable
liaisons can be arranged.  Such centres
will naturally hold large amounts of equipment, which is well maintained and
could be useful in the event of a major rescue requiring extra equipment and

It is a great shame that cave training ventures proposed
within the cream of Mendip caving circles have been shelved because of
ill-informed and unjustified criticism by local cavers.  If “professional” cave training is
demanded then it is far better to do it from within local caving circles by
respected cavers of proven knowledge and experience.

I suggest all those reading this – particularly those doing
all the shouting, think again, you could lose more than you gain by further
unjustified and unreasonable public denouncements.


Tim Large



Missing Library Books

I received the following note and list from Blitz who has
been checking things up :-

I’ve gone through the Library booking out book and checked
the shelves (not thoroughly).  This is a
list of the missing books.  It may be
that some of these have been returned But they are not signed back
in!  If all of these are missing, it
would be £150 worth at least, but some are irreplaceable.

Signed Out


Signed out to


1975 PSM BEC Report

Tony Boycott


CCG Famous Wilts. Quarrymen

Chris Batstone


Cotham Box Reports



SMRG Publications

Ian Caldwell



Mark Brown


Skiing ’85

G. Wilton-Jones


Sept ’84 Climber & Rambler

G. Wilton-Jones


Pegasus Berger Reprint

Howard Price


Cerberus Newsletters 55 & 56

Tim Large


Mendip Hills Local Plan & Maps

Tim Large



Tim Large


The Darkness Beckons (Farr)

Andy Lovell


Caving International (1-14)

Dave Turner


Netherworld of Mendip

Andy Sparrow


Cave Explorers

Tim Gould


Caves of Derbyshire

Andy Sparrow


Pocket book of Photography



Observers book of Geology



The Longest Cave



Down to a Sunless Sea



Darkness under the Earth






West Virginian Caver



The Caves Beyond

Dave Glover


& Caving



Caves of Rouffignac



Descent of PSM



Niwgini Caver Vol.3 & Vol.4



Excerpt from A.C.G. Magazine.

(with permission)

Ian Mildon and myself (Kevin Wills) took our lives in our
hands and paid £10 pounds each for a place on the B.E.C. mini-bus …. !! (to
the B.C.R.A. Conference, 1988) What an experience!  Ian’s report follows :-

We travelled up with 7 or 8 B.E.C. members and discovered
that they had planned to do at least two things during their trip to
Manchester for the conference: one was to drink the barrel
of Butcombe Bitter they had brought in the van; the other was to steal the sign
from a pub near


called ‘The Belfry’ . Fortunately, success in achieving the first objective
denied them the inclination to achieve the second i.e. a mega-hangover.

They started drinking on the way up and arrived tanked-up at
a local pub near to the hut we were to stay in that night.  The next day we attended the lectures and
anticipated the evening’s revelry.  The
B.E.C. lot got tanked up again at the stomp at the uni., and we discovered that
they didn’t intend going back to the hut, only to sleep where they fell.

We dossed down across the seats of the van at about 11.30,
only to be woken at 12.00 by the B.E.C., after the remainder of the beer.  Unfortunately, we were disturbed again at
3.00am by the van shaking … a car had reversed into us, and had run a
sleeping B.E.C. body over.  “You’ve
f****** killed him”, somebody shouted. However he was unharmed and didn’t remember a thing the next morning

The next day there were bodies everywhere.  We attended the Sunday morning lectures and
travelled home with a van full of subdued B.E.C. members.


More News Of “The Deepest Hole On Earth”

Daniel Gebauer has kindly sent the latest information on
this Indian cave.

It seems the B.E.C. have really started something here and
though not able to actually go there have indirectly managed to persuade
someone else to “Get Everywhere”! Perhaps now that Professor Smart has been released he might like to take
up the challenge.

Tony Jarratt

The letters from Daniel Gebaur and Narayana Reddy are on the
following page.  The sketch, however, I
just glues below on this one.  I hope
it’s decipherable!




Correspondent for


H. Daniel Gebauer / Marktplatz 32 / D-7070 S. Gmund / F.R. Germany

Tony JARRAT Prlddy



Schwabisch GmUnd
den 13.4.1969

Dear Tony,

About a year ago you have sent me a newspaper cutting (seen
by Matt TUCK at Abu Bai in a “Khalees-” or Khaleesi Times”)
concerning a “Deepest Hole on Earth found in Madhya Pradesh”.

I traced down the address of the widow of Dr. Vakankar whom
the newspaper report appealed to and got no reply.  And I told an Indian friend of mine, M.
Narayana Reddy, a former Police Superintendent, of the story and lately he
travelled the 873km from

where he stays, to Dewas and traced the “hole” down.

Enclosed you find a transcript of his letter and copy of his

There actually is a pit, 16m deep and so far the fourth
deepest of

.  And it actually is of unknown origin being
developed in the multiple layered “nappes” of the area, not in

Reddy’s description sounds like a subsidence sinkhole, but
into which void has it subsided?  I’d
really like to go there and have a closer look!

Well, if I can ever help you in questions in questions on


I’ll gladly try to solve riddles


Schwabisch GmUnd, den
13.4.1969, Pushkar (
North India).

… I left


on 2Jrd and was at the said “Hole”, called KATHAR KUVA (= layer’s well), at 7pm
on 25th and again at 2pm on 26th.  It is
at a distance of 873km from


by rail, plus 92km from Dewas by road plus 20km by Jeep through a chick
Jungle.  The Supdt. of Police of Dewas
was very kind and helpful.  On 25th he
himself dropped me in his jeep at Kantaphode, the nearest Police Station.  The Sub inspector from there took me in a
jeep to the spot by 7pm, since it was dark we returned to the P.S. and the next
day went to the spot by 2pm and measured the pit in daylight.

Location: 77oE/23oN, altitude 328m.  Kathar Kuva lies 6km from Surmanya village
(130 houses, mostly hill tribes and labourers), Kannoud (taluk), Dewas
(District), Madhya Pradesh (State).  It
lies in a plateau land covered with black soil on top of thin shale layers of
igneous rocks.

Description: The left rim (as shown in the cross-section) is
higher than the right, lower one, since it is situated on the slope of a
hillock.  For about 2m the top is
inclined due to weathering and covered with dust etc.  From there the rocky phase begins with
irregular edges as shown in the sketch. The bottom of the pit consists of flat silt with rocks. There is a small
pool of water at the bottom of one wall.

From the inner edge (lower edge) of the slope I measured 31m
width and a depth of 76m.  The pit is not
known to anybody, not even the S.I.  Luckily the Dist. Forest Officer at Dewas, who visited it, could tell me
its location when I met him at Dewas. Sorry, for this is not the deepest pit on earth.  In

I bottomed a 500’ pit,

M. Narayana Reddy


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