Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

Editor: Ted Humphreys

1989 – 1990 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris (Blitz)
Caving Sec.             Peter (Snablet)
Hut Warden             Chris (Zot)


Tackle Master          Stuart McManus
B.B.Editor                Ted Humphreys
Hut Engineer            Nigel (Mr.N)


Membership Sec      John (Q.J.) Watson


1989 – 1990 Non-Committee Posts

Librarian                           Mike
(Trebor) McDonald
Archivist                           Alan Thomas


We have several new members again.  This time I’ve listed them in the complete,
current membership list (Page 15).  If
anyone finds any mistakes or knows of any changes please let me know as soon as

Annual subscriptions to the B.E.C. are now due.  If you haven’t already paid, please do so
promptly.  The club needs the money.  The amounts are £14 for ordinary membership
and £21 for joint membership.   Payments
by cheque (made out to the B.E.C.) are preferred and should be sent to the
membership secretary, John Watson.

We have lots of members in the Club but only a tiny minority
ever contribute anything to the BB. Please write something for the BB. It is the club journal, after all, and should be the medium through
which members can find out what other members are up to!


Tackle Master’s Report

On taking over the job of tackle master my first task was to
find the tackle!  There wasn’t a ladder
in the store! and as usual not one ladder had been booked out!  I had to borrow a ladder from the


to go caving and on returning it they informed me they had two of ours!

Eventually over two or three weeks I managed to ear-bend,
grumble and cajole people into returning the ladders and we have ended up with
10.  This has become the basic number
held in the store throughout the year. The funny thing is they are not the same 10 ladders! that I inspect

Quite a few ladders have also come back from Hunter’s Hole,
Eastwater and Daren after quite a few months/years in the caves and have
basically been scrapped.  I am in full
agreement with the leaving of tackle in caves like
and Daren due to the basic difficulties and the frequent
visits.  However, I would recommend that
we construct/buy 100′ of ladder with S/S wire to enable them to stand up to the
effects of being left underground for months at a time.

The basic 10 ladders appear to cover the needs of most
people for caves locally though we have sufficient rungs etc. to construct
another 6 when the need arises.  Thanks
to Zot we now have a jig capable of setting up a ladder completely.

Thanks also to Nigel Taylor for obtaining and installing a
key cabinet to hold the tackle store key – members should be aware that their
Belfry key will open it.

The SRT equipment has been used on a few times for away
trips and the system is working well.  It
would be nice to see this equipment being used more frequently by members.

Finally, reflecting back over the year the tackle is being
signed out and back by members at last but I am still puzzled by the way our
ladders are cycled.  We have a 12″
spacing ladder at the moment, could somebody exchange it for a good 10″

Mac 07-10-89


Hut Warden’s Report (as received)

i   Bed night       Yes

loads of members have been
staying.  Not many groups of guests

ii  Fabric of Hut

Showers are not working

The problem is not with the coin
meters but the showers themselves.

Fire – This has been damaged and
will need repairs.  Is this central
heating by the back door?

Ceiling – need a fireproof
ceiling & there is still work to do on the fire reg’s.

Drying room.  Some work has been but there is still work to
do – a coin meter?

Loads of work to do.

The list Dany did years ago is
still endless and little progress has been made.


Finally my grateful thanks to anyone who has helped me over
the last year.  I will be standing for
the Committee but hopefully not as H/Warden.



Secretary’s Report

It’s been quite a quiet year, Secretary-wise.  I’ve had a lot of written enquiries from
various people about the Club, asking what the joining arrangements are, but as
soon as I tell them it’s primarily a caving club they can’t be seen for dust.  Our title as an “Exploration” club
is obviously quite enticing but nobody seems to like the caving element.  I had one young lady who came down from

by train via Weston
to try her hand and she took one look at the Swildon’s entrance and legged it
back over the fields.  I don’t know what
people expect?  However, quite a few new
members – mostly perhaps from other Mendip Clubs.

We’ve had some sad deaths, one of which is documented in the
recent B.B.  Enough has been said and I
feel and there is no need to expound it further here.  Bennett will be sorely missed.

The Poll Tax rears its ugly head in 1990 and I fear we may
be hit very badly.  The Rating Department
are unable to provide any figures or indications of the likely damage as even
they don’t know what they’re doing, but I think it will be considerable.  This leads onto another point, that of
charity status as a means of obtaining exemption from the Tax.  I’ve done some preliminary enquiries and am
having discussions with the MNRC and Shepton who are charities I believe.  This can be taken on by the next committee.

Morale in the Club I sense has been a little down of late,
for whatever reason.  It seems a lot more
fragmented with small groups going separate ways at weekends and hut occupation
down quite a bit.  There doesn’t seem to
be that active, busy and rowdy crowd around the hut at weekends.  I know Clubs all have little gangs that go
off to do their own thing; ours just seems more pronounced and isolated to
me.  Perhaps it’s just a phase, with
Mendip seeming a little quieter over the summer.

The Cuthbert’s Lease is now close to completion and should
be signed and sealed soon.  This will
give us a 10 year tenancy of a roughly triangular piece of land between the
Snake Pit and the Mineries pond closest to us. It obviously includes Cuthbert’s Swallet itself.  Basically we are responsible for the
well-being of this area.

Politics has thankfully laid low this year and the few CSCC
meetings that I’ve attended have been quite tame compared to a few years ago at
the height of the Nature Conservancy arguments. Long may this continue.  Down with
politics, up with caving I say.



Caving Secretary’s Report

All in all 1988/89 has been a healthy year for the club on
the caving front.  A lot of commitment
has been put into the various digging projects.

Bowery corner has been extended by the Wednesday nighters
for another 100 soul destroying feet, following the shale/limestone boundary
horizontally and showing every sign of putting up a good fight.


Graham Johnson’s dig (Welsh’s Green) has a 400ft extension
in an exquisitely distasteful, mud filled bedding in the blue lias and carries
one of the most enticing draughts on Mendip.

A fresh assault is being carried out on Wigmore and hopes
are high for an extension here (sounds familiar!) as we soon expect to break
out of the Red Marl.

Zot, Trebor, Mac and Mike Wilson have put a great deal of
effort into the building of another dam in Cuthbert’s and Mac has set the
wheels in motion for another push on the sump in October.  (This was cancelled – ed.)

In Wookey, Stumpy, Trebor et al have been resurveying the
system with a view to a dry route from twenty to twenty four.

In Daren Cilau, the Rock Steady Crew have extended the
system for a few hundred metres and are just 60 metres from Aged Allwedd.  The main dig is now directed towards the
unknown region beyond the Aggy sumps and hopefully off into the system under


Snablet and Mongo took part in the pushing trip down Orkanhohle, finally
bottoming the cave at -? metres (let’s hope we get an expedition report this

A good time was had by all in
and Loopy would like to thank Rohan for the contraceptive properties of their

Various BEC members have got everywhere this year – The
States, France, Ireland and Australia to mention but a few, but the award for
the most notably excessive member must surely go to Jim Smart for his ‘high
profile’ capture by communist guerrillas in the Philippines.

I shan’t be standing for the committee this year as I have
other commitments.  I would like to wish
the best of luck to my successor.

Mark Lumley


Meets List  (Provisional)

This is a brief list given to me by Snablet.  More details can be found at The Belfry or
direct from Snablet.

Xmas/New Year

Jan 27th

Jan 28th

Feb 10th

Feb 11th

Feb 24th



Mar 10th

Mar 11th

Mar 24th


King Pot



Little Neath


Gower – caving, digging, learning
to surf, climbing, drinking (and apparently there’s a high viaduct en route!)


Nick Pot





South Wales







Easter Apr 13-16 International Speleo-fest?  Caving in

and the Ardenne?

Bits. Pieces and Snippets.

The author of “Mendip Fauna”, in the August B.B.,
was Jingles.  This was not revealed at
the time in case he might have to do a Salman Rushdie.  No death threats were received, however.  Jingles has, nevertheless, skipped the
country and is, I believe, spending six months in


Alan Thomas, the club archivist is desperately in need of a
filing cabinet and asks whether any member can lay his or her hands on a
second-hand one really cheap (or free).

Clare Coase is coming to
at the end of March accompanied by her son Damien and his wife
Nan.  Damien will
be going down St. Cuthbert’s to see Don’s plaque.

Overheard in the Hunters:

            Stranger            How do you get to drink out of a pewter
            Local    Buy one.
            Stranger            How much are they?
            Local    They’re all different prices.
            Stranger            Oh. Well how much is that one?

contributed by Alan Thomas

Working and Social work day at the Belfry second Saturday in
March 1990

One and all are urged by Mr.N – hut engineer to descend upon
the Belfry for a “Working Day” on the second Saturday in March.  Working members stopping overnight will not
be charged hut fees.  Non-workers
double!  A “Belfry Binder” will
be cooked on the Saturday night and hopefully a “Star” personality
will entertain us with a lively slide show, prior to the evening session at The
Hunters, followed possibly by a barrel. For further details contact Mr. N or Zot.



– “Boonoonoonoos”

(or in the local patois, “Something Special”) .



Yet another Trebor/Stumpy wrecky/reccy extravaganza to

.  If you’re off anywhere nice, seek out Trebor
and Stumpy who’ll recce it for you.

How nice to get away from Butcombe, sharky caving gear
vendors and piddly Mendip caves.  Why
waft across flat grass fields to Swildons when you can sweat through
ganja-riddled, mongoose-ridden, rum-soaked jungle in the Cockpit Country of
Western Jamaica?  Oh the joys of shorts
and T-shirt caving amongst mountains of bat guano.

That’s the silly bit over with.  Now some proper stuff.


is not the only place with pinnacle or cone karst.  The Cockpit country is a quite outstandingly
dramatic, beautiful and remote circular area of
Western Jamaica,
some 20 miles in diameter and about 15 to 20 miles inland.  Access into its heartland is very pedestrian
– “Is this thing really a path?” Cockpit is a term used to describe a closed depression, perhaps on
average ¼ mile across, with sides lobed convexly inwards making them almost
star-shaped.  Numerous gullies run into
the centre, usually dry but carrying streams after heavy rain.  The residual cones or pinnacles are rounded
and quite evenly spaced giving a ‘basket of eggs’ appearance.  All of course is cloaked with thick matted
jungle with the occasional clearing for sugar cane, pineapple or ganja.

The Cockpit or depression obviously provides a neat
receptacle for water catchment and bedrock shafts at the lowest point of the
depression are a feature.  Cockpits with
steeper sides and a fair amount of exposed limestone resemble dolines.  Cockpit karst is generally found on pure,
massive limestone.  Often a depression is
linked at one point of its circumference with another depression, thus forming
chains of ‘glades’.  Annual rainfall in
the area can reach about 250cms. so in the wet season flash flooding is a
serious consideration.

Climate and vegetation is a very significant factor in
cockpit karst, as it no doubt is in all tropical karst forms.  The forest covering conceals the more
pronounced relief and floor litter, humus, roots and talus can cover shafts,
fissures and caves.  It also makes
perambulating very difficult.  Exposed
limestone can usually be seen         on
overhangs, cliffs and cuttings and here there is usually a profusion of stal
forming externally.  Bauxite is also
found in depressions and in some places is mined commercially for aluminium

The theory of depression shafts went out the window when we
had a gander around what is called

, on the northern
edge of Cockpit Country in a remote spot taking some finding.  At the end of an endless track in mid-jungle
next to a river, you shout at a hut for Rastaman Franklyn who stirs himself to
show you where this place is.  A brief
sweat into the undergrowth down an apology for a path you come across a small
cliff face with a stooping entrance leading into a magnificent entrance hall
dripping with speleotherms.  It’s all
very old fossil stuff but immense. Maximum passage width noted was 50yds and max height possibly 100
ft.  Bats and their heaped deposits are
everywhere.  Our Rastaman had some novel
illumination – a big bamboo pole filled with kerosene and a rag stuffed in the
end.  When the light looked as though it
might die he merely tips it up to rejuvenate the wick.  It looked like a mortar, probably potentially
explosive and the spewing fumes and black smoke not only gave the bats
something to think about but soon had us on the retreat.  But, as he said, it lasts for days and no
bulbs to blow.  It also had the added
advantage of incinerating the myriad guano eating flies that get in every
orifice.  I’ll stick to my clean,
anti-polluting petzl zoom.  Apparently
there’s 14 miles of passage but we’ve not come across any surveyor detailed
account of the place and we doubt that Rastaman has done all of it, so we took
this measurement with a bag of salt. Very impressive nonetheless.  He
told us of another large cave nearby,

but our time in that area was up.

Snippet of useless info’

As a point of archaeological interest, on the way up to find
this cave we passed through miles of cane plantation.  ‘Parked’ on the side of the road was a
wonderful old cane crusher a bit like an old washer woman’s clothes
mangle.  Made in

of all places.  Elsewhere throughout our travels we found
much evidence of old cane works, such as a very impressive wreck of an overshot
water wheel between Montego Bay and Lucea and numerous stone cone buildings, the
remnants of windmills, scattered about.

Local Waffle

The inhabitants of Cockpit Country are loosely called
‘Maroons’, who are supposed to be the interbred descendants of escaped sugar
slaves used by the British.  They were
slightly menacing at first and mesmerised by us whiteys, and Stumpy in
particular, scooting around is a beat up car asking about holes in the
ground.  They soon softened up with a
huge however when confronted by Stumpy, hands on hips going” ‘ere wang,
where’s t’caves, pal?” The locals exhibited a remarkable phenomenon though, a
magical codeword in the local patois – ‘jayratt’, which when uttered raised the
price of everything they were trying to sell you.

was a real day out
crunching along unbelievable ‘roads’ literally miles from anywhere.  We winced at every bang, rattle and thump as
it only needed a tyre to blow or an oil sump to rupture and we would really be
in the bat guano.  We were heading for
the metropolis of
Ipswich, a village spread
out through the jungle high up in the cockpit and one of the few places to have
the luxury of a ‘road’.  We suddenly
broke out into a clearing with, would you believe it, a station in the middle.  Stand back in amazement.

Taken aback we sought a cold drink and asked a local where
we were.  “Swich maan” he said,
“no problem, want sum ganja?”. The railway line is apparently the link between
Montego Bay and rumbles through the jungle
at this point.  A great piece of
engineering hacking it through this lot. The line had been ‘broken’ for 6 months or so and they hadn’t seen a
soul for some time.  Luckily a local lady
wanted a lift home to the other end of the village 4 miles away so she agreed
to show us the cave’s whereabouts in return for a lift.  After more bumps and rattles, we stopped
where the railway passes across the road and hoofed it up the railway track in
a northerly direction for three-quarters of a mile or so.  At the base of a big cockpit depression was a
small cliff face with the entrance in the side of it.  To get there, you walk along the line as far
as a small platform just before a big tunnel and then follow the obvious path
down to the right.  It’s a ‘show cave’ of
sorts meaning it’s got a gate on. Apparently you can take a train ride tour from
, part of which passes this way.  You stop at the little platform, leap out and
gander around the cave.  Since the
railway is bust nobody comes anymore but you can get the key from the station
master at Cadapuda nearby.  An impressive
place.  Pat poked his nose into a shaft
on the side of the path and a dropped stone indicated possibly 80 ft.  No tackle though?  There is also a cave entrance actually within
the tunnel itself independent of the main
cave.  Our lady guide was Icella Thompson
and she obviously knows the area well. She lives on the outskirts of the village right by the track where it
leads onto the road junction with the

village of
Ginger Hill
.  Ask and most people will know her.  A useful contact.

More Waffle

a)       Pat
invented some new cocktails: ‘Bovril Driller’, ‘Shirt Lifter’ and ‘Uphill

b)       Take
care not to succumb to the three G’s  –
ganga, grog and guano.

c)       The
‘restaurant’ at our hotel was called “The Seething Cauldron”. All it
seethed was Americans and cockroaches.

d)       Instant
hair dryer – just stick your head out the car window.

e)       For
a while we saw loads of ferrets leaping across the road in front of us.  Now Pat likes ferrets and was thus very
disappointed when they turned out to be mongooses (or mongeese).  There are two types of snake; both very shy
and you are very unlucky to come across them. So they say.  There’s also an evil
snake thing in the sea which bathers ran away from but in fact it’s only a
snake eel; blissfully happy, friendly, non-toxic and turns belly-up for a
tickle when encountered. 

has no
known sea snakes.

f)        We saw some limbo – a slip of a girl getting
under 6″.  A hell of a squeeze.  We’ll recruit her for the next caving

g)       Bars
had interesting names; one with a corrugated iron roof called ‘Silver Thatch’,
another called ‘The Hunters Bar’ and another ‘No Problem Cafe’.

h)       If
you go to Negril on the west coast where we were, the best taxi chap is
Leroy.  Ask anyone for him honest and
reliable.  He has a brown car and is
usually parked outside the Negril Beach Club.

Local Waffle

Whoever named many Jamaican villages was a real joker and
obviously quite a lad.  What warped mind
dreams up “Barbeque Bottom”, “Good Design”,
“Maggotty”, an area called “The district of Look Behind”,
“Sherwood Content”, “Quick Step”, “Big Bottom”,
“Gutters”, “Alligator Pond” and “Wait a bit”?

Perhaps the most fascinating speleological/geological and
hydrological bit we saw was the
River area at Petersfield, not far
from the largish town of


on the south western coast.  To begin
with, a stonking 8 ft. wide river, 2 ft. deep issues straight out of the
side/base of a cockpit cone.  Too
powerful a current to dive in against but a days digging could reap
dividends.  The river then flows down a
valley for ½ a mile until it widens into an area that can only be called an
oasis – palms, trees, ferns etc.  Quite
magnificent.  In the widened section, a
hole in the river bed 10ft.       across literally churns with up-flowing water –
obviously some sort of underground sump/passage.  Again too powerful to dive in against.  Immediately adjacent to this area, but
apparently independent from, is a so-say 6 mile cave system which we had a
quick shifty round.  Hydrologically and
geologically we couldn’t work the place out but then these subjects have never
been our strong point.  Some local kids
were messing around in the entrance chambers with illumination a bit like
Franklyn’s in

but these were milk
bottles filled with kerosene, lit and held high to decimate the bats.  A Molotov cocktail if ever I saw one.  We again retreated.  An outstanding area though.

Little has been done in the cockpit except a good six week
effort by
University speleos in 1977, based at

on the south eastern
edge.  Their one main find was Still
Waters Cave at 11,800 ft. mapped length. We feel the area is still wide open but would need 15 people minimum to
cover the terrain.  Locals say lots of
“scientists” have been over the years but not many speleos it seems.

Bay and Arawak caves, between Ocho Hios and
Montego Bay on the northern coast were real collector’s
pieces.  Not too far above sea level,
they were of magnificent white limestone. Amazing passage configurations, possibly sea eroded at some time. 


stretches inland for some distance, some say 14 miles but as usual we’ve learnt
to take these distances with salt.  A
feature is the profusion of tree roots which descend as far as 100 ft.
underground like tentacles searching for moisture.  Quite bizarre.  Some as thick as your leg.

was little more than
a large single chamber, possibly sea eroded. The rastaman who lives in a hut outside and who is trying to make it
into a show cave, has a party trick of leaping off a ledge 40 ft. up on some aerial
roots which dingle-dangle to the floor. We found the large, resident white snowy owl more interesting.

The final gem we unearthed was, for want of a better word, a
“blue hole” in the back

garden of
Hedonism II Hotel
Negril.  At first sight it’s just a lily
pond but on closer examination it has a limestone rim.  It’s only 50-60 metres in from the
shoreline.  We had minimal cave diving
gear so Pat made a spectacle of himself by donning two 80 cu. ft bottles,
borrowed hand torches and a water ski tow rope for a line.  He parted the lily’s and descended into the
crab-infested murk.  At 10 metres he
returned when silt from the underside of the lily’s blotted out
visibility.  Worth another good look with
proper gear.

There’s a box file in the library containing all notes maps
and other info we possessed.


a)       Karst
Geomorphology by


Underground by Fincham

b)       LUSS
expedition report by McFarlane

c)       Trebor
July 1989


Daren Cilau – First Impressions

by Jingles

I first heard of “Daren” in February 1985, when,
in Whitewallls, after having introduced me to Agen Allwed and listening to me
moaning about having to crawl for what at the time had seemed ages.  Duncan Price told me that “If you think
that was fun you should try a little hole further down the mountain called
Daren Cilau!”  He then proceeded with
a description of the entrance crawl that made me tired just hearing it.  I made up my mind there and then to avoid
this at all costs, it did not sound like the sort of thing I saw myself doing
at all.  Indeed, the more I heard about
it from others over the next couple of years only served to ingrain my
conviction even deeper.

It was only as I got to know the people “intimately
involved” with the ongoing pushes in the further reaches of the cave that
I came to realise the futility of my stance. Slowly but surely it became clear that sooner or later I would sample
its delights first hand, although I continued to fight against it doggedly for
some time.  Until a short while ago, when
I realised that my time had come…… !

And so it was that one fine Saturday morning I found myself
rising early (at 6.30 a.m. no less!) to set off for Crickhowell and my
appointment with destiny.  (or is that

It was fitting that I was accompanied by Stuart Lain,
himself a recent addition to those “caving elite” the Rock Steady
Crew, as he had done his first ever trip with me and for some strange reason I
felt that today was my first trip!!

We arrived at Crickhowell just as the cafe opened and spent
a convivial hour breakfasting, shopping and generally procrastinating before
heading up to Whitewalls where we killed another hour chatting etc … while waiting
for Ted Humphreys who had said he may join us. (Hunter’s talk – Ed.!)  At 11.00
we decided that Ted wasn’t coming and so got changed and headed off for the
cave, my head ringing with last minute excuses “not-to” and wondering
if I’d ever see Mendip again.!

One has only to look at the entrance hole to Daren, to get a
sense of what lies ahead, and indeed the amount of work that has gone into the
place over the years.  “Christ Stu,
they even had to dig out the bleedin’ entrance!” I said incredulously.  “Yes mate” said Stuart with an evil
grin!  Well he knew what we were in for
didn’t he.

Armed with a tackle bag and a couple of BDH’s, just to make
the trip a little more fun, we got down on our bellies and in the time honoured
fashion, in we slithered!  Ten seconds,
and less than three feet later, I was getting soaked – what a thoughtful place
to put a puddle, right in the middle of the first crawl/squeeze. The first
thing you notice is how much effort is involved in moving even the shortest
distance, but you haven’t got time to think about it ‘cos your too busy with
the bloody BDH’s.

Two hundred feet and a whole lot of cursing later we arrived
at “The Vice” and what fun it is too! Having been warned by Stu of the tackle eating hole half way through, I
naturally saw to it that the BDH’s found their way straight into the deepest
part of it.  A happy few minutes were
spent retrieving these and extricating myself from its calcite clutches.  I remember Hank telling me he’d had a whole
bundle of fun with this as he’s so thin he just slips right into the trench
that runs along the bottom and gets stuck. I’ve never been so glad to have a bit of a beer gut as I was then I can
tell you.

It was now that Stu decided to inform me that it’s at this
point most people consider the true beginning of the crawl to be.  We’d taken nearly twenty minutes to get this
far (200 ft or so) – I nearly cried!  A
nifty bit of mental arithmetic revealed that at this rate it was gonna take
nearly three hours to get through.  I
quickly changed my line of thought.  On
with the slog though as there really is little alternative than to keep
plodding on.

It’s at about this point that you realise what people mean
when they refer to Daren as “The Cave of a Thousand One Armed Press
Ups!” Could this be why regular “Darenites” have bulging bicep
muscles on one arm??? – and I always thought it was to do with the lack of
female company on prolonged camps!!!  I
must remember to go in on my other side next time, just to even things up a

After what seemed like an eternity of endless twists and
turns in the passage, which had by now “ballooned” to a majestic 18
inches or so across, Stu called back that we had reached the first Canal.  I didn’t remember anyone saying anything
about canals, I thought that was Dan Yr Ogof, but I was so hot that anything
with water in it was fine by me.  Indeed
my enthusiasm at this point was so great that I lost my balance and ended up
face down in the water ….. still breathing in … not too clever!  One coughing fit later, my breakfast decides
that it wants a first hand look at what’s going on and hurtles up my oesophagus
out of my mouth and into the canal.  (No
bits of egg stuck in my nose this time though Stuart!!!)  You think that’s bad … you should try lying
in it when it’s still warm!!!!  The Henry
Bennett school of caving ….

Once again the passage shrank and the roof dropped and it
was over onto one side again for a few more press ups (in water).  I was nicely cooled by the other end of
it.  Then, guess what, more crawling!

We’d been going about an hour when we reached the first
inlet where we stopped for a rest and a gratefully received drink of
Ribena.  Stu reckoned we were about a
third of the way here, which was in keeping with my earlier estimate of three
hours in total.  It’s not the sort of
place you want to hang about in, so pretty soon we were off again.

There are three more canals in between the first and second
inlets, each progressively more awkward than its predecessor.  The final one having a strategically placed
“s” bend about half way through!! It’s quite low at this point which makes it difficult to manoeuvre but
its not too bad, unless you happen to have long legs!  I’d heard some horror stories about this from
taller cavers, one claiming to have been stuck there for half an hour before
getting through, but was quite surprised at how easy it seemed to me.  Until I got stuck that is.  The trouble with lying flat out in freezing
cold water in a confined space is that it makes you over eager to get out of
it, a case of more haste less speed!  It
took me a couple of minutes thrashing around and making sure that any part of
me that was still dry wasn’t for much longer, before I relaxed.  Then Hey Presto – I wasn’t stuck any
more.  (There’s definitely a lesson in
there somewhere I’m sure of it!!)

More crawling, more “s” – bends, though dry this
time and bigger, even more crawling and then we were at the second inlet.  Apparently there is usually a small stream
comes in here, from which we intended drinking, but alas zilcho!  This meant that the cave was quite dry –
could’ve fooled me ¬there was enough water in those canals alright!!!  God, what’s it like when it’s been raining???
– Wet that’s what!  So no drink available
we once again set off on the last leg and me just about on my last legs (sic).

Something had changed – I couldn’t quite put my finger on it
at first, then it dawned on me – I could almost stand up.  The passage had become almost human sized –
quite uncanny.  What a pleasure it is to
be able to move at more than ten feet a minute, actual progress no less.  But – alas – it was not to last, pretty soon
and it’s back to the more familiar “rock in face” type stuff.  I was quite happy until we got to ”

!”  There I was thrutching along (not so) merrily
in passage so small I wondered that I could move at all, when on rounding a
bend I was faced with a circular squeeze so small all I could do was
laugh!  “The Round Window” – kiddies!

Fortunately there is a sort of trench thingy in the bottom
for the old “Malham” generator to go in – (as well as a goodly
portion of the old “Nuts!!”) – without which I wouldn’t’ve stood a
hope of getting past it.  So with a
wiggle and a kick and a few choice phrases, through you go only to be confronted
by the square window!!!  Again I nearly
cried, I’d thought the round one was tight – bloody hell!  I had much more fun with this one what with
getting my arms caught up, my helmet jammed; light failure etc etc et bloody

Eventually after a small eternity I emerged on the other
side (I swear I heard a popping sound too) feeling as if I’d just been born
….. actually that would’ve been far less traumatic.

Great, only 200 feet to go I thought famous last words
again!  Those last 200 feet are the worst
of the lot what with bloody great rocks in the middle of the
“passage”.  The passage being
no larger than it was before!!!!  Twenty
minutes later, five of which were spent trying to dislodge my helmet yet again,
we emerged into a very small chamber from where I managed to lead us the last
six feet out of the crawl into a passage that we could actually walk in.

It took me a minute to realise that we’d actually made it
and for the third time in as many hours – I nearly cried!



I received the following letter from
Dizzie Tompsett-Clark earlier this year, addressed to J’Rat, the librarian at
the time.  I mentioned it to Alfie and
discovered that he used to get lifts from


in Postle’s magnificent machine at that time.

Also enclosed with the letter was
a generous donation to the B.E.C. – Thanks Dizzie!

Sept.8th 1989

Dear Tony,

I was so surprised at seeing my name in print in the recent
B.B. (re additions to the Libraryvia the intrepid  Angus) that I have been inspired to send a
few more booklets to you.

My memories go back to Main’s Barn time around 1945, and
Postle’s triumphant arrivals from the Admiralty Establishment in
Surrey in his fabulous sporty Lea Francis.  On high days and holidays (mostly Saturday
nights) kind friends used to remove the distributor before a booze up, as
otherwise Poth had a penchant for roaring around Priddy Green as a finale to
the evening – an occupation looked on with some disfavour by local hard-working
early-rising country folk.

Anyway all Good Wishes to the B.E.C. – long may it live!

Yours sincerely



The Voyage of “The Calypso” The


So set sail the good van “Calypso”, a monstrous
vessel packed with a full hold of cargo – 12 * 80 cu.ft. 10 litre bottles,
buoyancy jackets, line, grotts, compressors, lights and other bits and
pieces.  She was on course for the
Dordogne with a motley crew of two, Trebor McDonald and
Nick Geh (S.W.C.C.)  The other
scallywags, Pat Cronin (B.E.C.) and John Adams (S.W.C.C.), wisely went by separate

confirm the obviously erroneous and previously held view that French sumps were
long. deep, and crystal clear.  We all
know British sumps are the best in the world, with their tight and murky
countenance.  We just had to find out
about these pretentious French things.

The secondary aim was to increase our knowledge of these
sumps and the diving potential generally, following good work by John
Cordingly, Russell Carter, et al.

limestone plateau centred around the Padirac system, roughly between the
and the Cele and
Lot rivers further
south.  Many of the dive sites and
prospects involve the very influential Padirac system and its numerous
resurgences.  The local base was Gramat.

Full marks to John for obtaining some good and useful
sponsorship from Remar Diving in
South Wales,
in the form of bottles, valves, lights, jackets, compressors and decompression
computers.  Also batteries, courtesy of
Ever Ready.  The length and depth of the
diving precluded usual British diving equipment, requiring bottles than the
ubiquitous 45’s and buoyancy jackets to maintain any one position in the huge
passages.  Decompression computers
allowed instant and trouble free indications of the stop times and
decompression information rather than having to work out the dive profiles
laboriously beforehand.  The use of
back-mounted gear also became most viable, again due to the size of passageway.  Plenty of air could thus be carried if
required, a maximum of 30 litres of air.

.  Well worth a visit on the race south.  We got the fully laden Calypso up to 60 mph
on the Mulsanne Straight, slightly less than the 220 mph some other vehicles
reach at certain times of the year.  The
pits, grandstands and motor museum can all be visited.

Assorted members of the team rumbled into Gramat over a two
day period, Pat having a trip fraught with stops, courtesy of “le
filth”.  He couldn’t face erecting
his tent that night so booked into a local hostelry.  A leisurely fettle of all the gear and we
were ready for a splash.

The first dive was to FONTAINE SAINT GEORGE, a very
impressive, sun-soaked Wookey-like resurgence pool in the side of a hill below
Montvalent.  It’s one of the Padirac
resurgences and most scenic.  After
initial buoyancy problems and mis-understandings as to which flashgun was to go
where, all four set off on a photographic excursion into the deep first sump to
some -23m.  Although initially clear, the
place soon silted up with all the thrashing around and it became reminiscent of
Wookey, something we had come here to avoid. At a mud bank at -29m., photography was getting silly so three exited
while Nick Geh proceeded to look around and on to rise to -8m. and still
going.  All retired gracefully after this
initial dive with Trebor nipping back to lay line as a parting shot for a
possible repeat on the morrow.

Next day, Nick Geh and Trebor returned to go a little
further and to get into the bigger, clearer passage we knew was further
in.  Some way in Nick had an attack of
the “Why the hell am I here’s?” and beetled out, leaving Trebor
rather lonely to continue for a bit. Line left in the entrance 200ft. or so, to connect up with the French
line encountered just beyond the first elbow.

DORDOGNE.  IGN Blue Series map, 2136 East.  Grid Ref. 3910-3288.  Follow N.140 from Gramat northwards towards
Martel and the

itself.  Pass through Montvalent and after about 1 km
downhill a track cuts back on the left, signed “Fne. St.  George” (the sign later nicked by 3
scallywags).  About 200m. down this track
there’s a barn on the left and the sump pool is obviously located set back in
on the left just past the barn at the head of a small stream.  No permission required of which we are
aware.  A dive at mid-day allows the sun
to penetrate deep into Sump 1.

Upon exit after the first days dive in St. George, we met a
young lady who approached us at the dive site introducing herself as Veronique
Le Guin.  She and husband Francis were
diving Fontaine du Finou just down the track a ways.  After pumping the bottles we went along to
say hello. A quite remarkable duo who have done some incredible diving over the
years, most recently reaching vast distances in Cocklebiddy in

also in Finou.  More of them later.

The following day it was to FONT DEL TRUFFE, down
near Lacave.  Another resurgence system
spewing out into the Ouysse with entry via a most unlikely conical depression
in the woods usually full of water but after the drought only partly full of
rancid stuff.  “Truffe” means
truffle, which abound in the woods apparently. In French, a truffle hunter is a “caveur”.  Quite poignant I thought.  Whilst we were kitting down, an old chappie
in a battered van came along.  Expecting
a rollicking for trespass, he went round and opened up his van doors and,
instead of the double barrelled shotgun, produced dirt cheap figs, grapes,
peaches, doughnuts and other goodies – a big bagful for a £1.  He turned out to be the owner of the
area.  With a “bon grotte” from
us, he departed smiling and happy.

The entrance wriggle into Truffe, over a boulder and under a
gravel squeeze, was quite hilarious under-weighted, with thrashing fins in thin
air trying to propel the body downwards. However, once through, it was the proverbial ‘wallop’ – mega crystal
clear passage some 5m x 5m at least in places. Further in, in Sump II, we met white limestone which made us feel like
flying through marble halls.  Quite
magnificent.  A load of photos were taken
for the sponsors, with Pat the Page 3 model, Trebor as assistant deputy flash
wallah, John Adams as Lichfield and Nick Geh as forward deputy back-lighting

No problems encountered on the way of any significance,
although the rancid entrance pool obviously affected Trebor’s deco computer
which failed to work in Sump 1 and one or two high pressure leaks to Nick Geh
had to be DIY’d.  We had a good look at
getting out at the end of Sump II to do III and beyond, but the low water
conditions and the awkward spot made exiting fully kitted a nightmare.

Now back to the Le Guen’s. A most pleasant couple we met while we were down St.George and they were
pushing Fontaine du Finou, more specifically Sump 5 which they finally passed
during our stay by a further 200m. dive to make Sump 5 about 600m., very deep
diving for sustained lengths with some constrictions and cold conditions.  They were diving with vast amounts of gear
and were usually unable to kit up out of water due to the weight.  Mostly two back mounted 20 litre bottles with
one or two bottles of tri-mix and a few tackle sax.

Francis has developed his own techniques for eating
underwater, pumping in the nourishment to keep out the cold, keep the muscles
going and to raise morale.  He said he
eats peanuts by letting them go beneath him so they float up and at the
propitious moment he whips out his gag and inhales deeply!  We still don’t know whether he was joking.

Sump 5 in Finou was passed to a dry passage with a huge mud
cone in it which he climbed to descend to another sump not entered.  On the return he slipped down the cone, tore
his dry suit, injured a leg and lost his watch. Veronique lost a fin.  They had a
long, slow, cold swim out!  Just as well
he didn’t injure himself more seriously as at that depth and length not many
people would have been capable of rescuing him.

Veronique has also just spent 4 months underground doing
Siffre-inspired experiments on deprivation, bio-rhythms and other such silly
things, mainly to try and counter jet-leg. Francis is a professional film-maker and photographer, so we got some
good tips on the subject.


DORDOGNE.   Leave Gramat on the Montvalent, Martel and

road and head for Rocamadour.  There, follow the signs to Lacave.  Descend into Lacave with an impressive
chateau on a rock bluff opposite.  Turn
left at the junction in the valley floor and travel away from the village for ½
a mile.  Just round a left hand bend,
right opposite the chateau and before a bridge, take the only track on the
left.  Go up 300m. to a right fork and
ignore the ‘no entry’ sign which only says “no access to river bank”.  Pass through an archway where a farm building
straddles the road and continue for 3 km. along the left bank of the Ouysse
until you get to an obvious conical depression, on the left by the track, full
of water.  Beware the odd “road
train” which takes punters to see the sump pool as part of the Lacave show
cave tour.

The following day, Trebor and Nick took a quick gander down
St. George again to try and get a little further without the encumbrance of
camera gear.  Pat and John went along to
see Padirac to swan about in the very impressive show cave opened by Martel –
one hell of a dig.  You can almost
imagine where he started digging at the base of the huge entrance doline.  Later, Nick and Trebor accompanied Peter
Harvey (SWCC and co-founder of OFD, Cuckoo Cleeves and Hunters Hole) down a
‘dry’ cave – Gouffre du Saut de la Pucelle, right by the road between Gramat and
Montvalent.  A most impressive flood entrance,
dry thankfully most of the time, leading to some very pleasant active streamway
with plunge pools, cascades and, so they say, “fine situations”.  In very low water a bit tame but in remotely
moderate conditions quite an undertaking we imagined.  We encountered the French equivalent of Andy
Sparrow, trailing a load of character-building businessmen wearing life jackets
though the place. We quickly ran in the opposite direction.

GOUFFRE DU SAUT DE LA PUCELLE.   Leave Gramat on the N.140 towards Montvalent,
Rocomadour and Martel.  After about 3-4
kms. on a long stretch of road there are two lay-by’s on the right.  Pick the second one, nip over the wall and
descend into the large and very obvious tree-lined depression.  The entrance in fact is almost directly under
the road.  Walk into the railway like
tunnel for 100m., pass through some static pools and ducks and then turn an
obvious left into big stuff.  Walk along
for 50m. and then duck left before a big mud bank into stooping passage.  Then just follow your nose as there’s nowhere
else to go but down.

Depending on the water flow, you can get away with one or
two ladders, handlines and tapes, plus a few hangers and crabs.  Certainly a wet-suit job.  Nice formations.  Plaque at bottom to Martel who found the
place 100 years ago.

Back to diving, with Trebor and Nick having a shufti at the
Source de Moulin de Cacrey (Creysse,
Lot) a
quite spectacular dive site and as beautiful a place as you can imagine.  A 13th C. mill backs onto a lovely scenic
sun-drenched pool fed by the massive Cacrey resurgence.  You merely kit up on the sluice gate wall.
keel over into the water and paddle across to the large overhanging cliff base
and descend into the crystal entrance with the sunlight following you in for
quite a way.  Decompression is
wonderfully relaxed – just perched on a boulder 3m. under in lovely sunlight
watching the frogs frolic about.  A
magnificent dive with two pots to descend, one 6m. deep and the other 9m.
deep.  Mega passage with fine situations
and as always crystal clear water. Trebor reached -26m. some 280m. in and Nick got to about -31m. some
300m. in.  The place continues on for
frightening distances at silly depths, and is still going.

The most bizarre trip of the lot came next, the Emergence du
Ressel at Marchilac sur Cele on the Cele river, south of Gramat and about a 25
min. laden van drive.  The resurgence is
actually in the bed of the river Cele and in normal water conditions the
crystal clear uprising water gives the entrance away.  In drought, however, the sump water is
probably static so the murky river water predominates.  Great fun was had trying to find the entrance
via a tatty minimal line tied onto a submerged tree root on the river bank.  A few seconds grope through zero vis river
water and you break out into the magnificent crystal entrance door and
arch.  From then on, a very pleasant
photographic dive passing two junctions, both being the two ends of the same
large loop.  Due to gymnastications
whilst photographing Nick. John and Pat met thirds at or about the second
junction 270m. in at -22m, whilst Trebor continued on to 300m.+ at -25m., just
short of a magnificent pot which takes you down to -45m.!?  The vis on the return was horrible, only 25m.
instead of 30m.!  All decompressed at
-9m. and -3m., the latter stop being courtesy of a tree trunk wedged across the
pot which you clung onto.  It could take
4 divers before starting to lift off the bottom if everybody breathed in at
once. Dive time 64 mins.

Beware.  Silly
photographers who fail to remove lens caps whilst carrying out well rehearsed
action shots in the entrance pot.

Jochen Hasenmayer has dived silly lengths and depths in
Ressel, without concluding the place, so it’s still going after 2.5 kms.

Later that week, whilst returning from a dive elsewhere, we
passed Ressel and saw the Le Guen’s pantechnicon parked on the roadside.  They were just off into the cave to finish
off filming some documentary or promotional shots with the help of a
Cocklebiddy battery powered scooter.  It
was quite bizarre to see them motor up the river like a WW2 limpet mine team,
trim the guiding blades downwards and submerge into the entrance.

Visit Padirac. A very impressive place but spoilt by
the tourist or rather, spoilt for the tourists. A feature is the ride by canoe/gondola/ barge along the river, piloted
by very adept gondoliers.  You are well
chaperoned so there’s little scope for taking illegal photos or scything off
from the crowd for an illegal look round. All French show caves seem pretty good.

Following a quick nip down Pucelle to take some photos it
was back to our last dive dow Le Trou Madame at Ceneviere,
Lot.  Pat and John had left early for home and to
do some sightseeing on the way so it was down to Nick Geh and Trebor and also
Dig Hastilow to go and have a look-see. Dig is a CDG member working in

so he came up for a few
days for a swim or two.  His fancy car
had tyres which were slick on the outside and treaded on the inner side to get
the best of both worlds.

A very attractive resurgence entrance, dry at this time of
year, with a 50m, stooping walk to the start of a long, crystal canal.  It’s an easy swim but so as to save air you
really need a snorkel until you reach the sump proper 100m. along the
canal.  Presumably in normal wet weather,
the canal shortens and Sump 1 lengthens. There’s a good 2.8 km. of diving to be done, at unusually shallow depths
with the roof often being no more than -3 or -4m’s.  There are several sumps, interspersed with
various air spaces and passages but due to the drought conditions we didn’t
have a clue which air space was which and which sump we were in at anyone
time.  We think we got 50m. into Sump 4
but we can’t be sure!  After a number of
dives in mega crystal clear sumps we confess we were getting a little bored
with the size of the stuff, so the return was livened up with Trebor visiting
every little air space he could find in the roof and also changing gags every
10m. for something to do.  You really
need a waterproof book and automatic paddle legs, or preferably a scooter.  Dive time 70 mins.  This vicinity was mind boggling for
lepidoptera, damsel flies, hornets, purple emperors and other wildlife, some of
which were very brave and had a good go at Trebor’s armpits.

So endeth the trip, with a brief look at Lasceax on the way
back – I thought it was much bigger – and a gander at the impressive

tapestry.  Some very good experience under the belt,
very clear, scenic sumps we only dream about here, loads of potential for
anyone that can dive 2.5 kms. plus at -45m. and a good chance to tryout gear we
don’t normally use in the

  Some very good dry caving too with few access
problems.  Roll on 1990.



The Berger, 1954

Whilst surveying a monstrous edifice in

, Trebor had cause to crawl about in
the roof space.  There he found a News
Chronicle dated September 28th, 1954. One small snippet therein ran as follows:


For the first time in history, man has penetrated over half
a mile below the Earth’s crust.

A team of eight French cave explorers claimed the record
yesterday.  They said they descended
2,962 ft in the Berger cave, near


“It was easy”, said M. Fernand Petzl, who led the
team.  “We passed through magnificent
natural rooms on the way”.


Rescue Team – Vehicle Appeal Fund



Dear Secretary,

I am writing to you as Hon. Secretary of the above Appeal
Fund in the knowledge that members of your club cave in our area from time to

The West Brecon Cave Rescue Team was formed in 1975 and as
part of the SWCRO deals with all cave rescues in the western part of the
South Wales caving region.  This role has made us one of the busier teams
in the


since the ever popular Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, the flood prone Little Neath, and the
easy access Porth yr Ogof all lie on our ‘patch’.  Since our formation we have relied on an
ancient Land-Rover made available to us by the South Wales Caving Club.  This vehicle can no longer be relied on and
we have set about raising funds to replace it.

We have an immediate target of £10000 and the caving
community in
South Wales has already
contributed nearly £3000 towards this. Whilst we hope to raise much of the remainder from local industry,
student rags and charitable trusts we are also extending our appeal to cavers
and caving clubs from other areas.  I am
therefore asking if you would be willing to bring this appeal to the notice of
your members and also if you would raise with your club committee the
possibility of your club making a donation to the fund direct.

Yours sincerely,

R. A. Hall
Fund Secretary.



Exploration Club – Membership List 18/12/89

828 Nicolette Abell                    Faukland,
987 Dave Aubrey                      

, Wiltshire.
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle,
Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Midsomer
Bath, Avon
818 Chris Batsone                     Radstock,
1079 Henry Bennett                  

390 (L) Joan Bennett                 Newtownmore,
1122 Clive Betts                        Clapham,
769 Sue Bishop                        Tynings,
1125 Rich Blake                        Horfield,
731 Bob Bidmead                      Leigh
Woods, Bristol
364 (L) Pete Blogg                    Chaldon,
Caterham, Surrey
Pete Bolt                         

, S. Gamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle          Calne,
1104 Tony Boycott                    Westbury
on Trim,
Bristol, Avon
868 Dany Bradshaw                  Haybridge,
Wells, Somerset
751 (L) T.A. Bookes                 

, SW2
1082 Robin Brown                     Cheddar,
1108 Denis Bumford                  Westcombe,
Shepton Mallet
New Steve Bury                        Worcester
924 (J) Aileen Butcher               Holt,
Trowbridge, Wiltshire
849 (J) Alan Butcher                  Holt,
Trowbridge, Wiltshire
956 (J) Ian Caldwell                  
Clifton, Bristol
1036 (J) Nicola Slann                
Clifton, Bristol
1091 William Curruthers             Holcombe
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge,
Stoke, Nr. Bath
902 (L) Martin Cavender             Westbury-sub-Mendip,

New Richard Chaddock              Butleigh,
1048 Tom Chapman                  Cheddar,

1030 Richard Clarke                  Axbridge,
211 (L) Clare Coase                  
New South Wales,
2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Litton,
377(L) Dick Cooke-Yarborough   Address
unknown for some years
862 Bob
Cork                            Stoke
St. Michael, Somerset
1121 Nicholas Cornwell-Smith    Oldham
Common, Bristol
1042 Mick Corser                     
Norwich, Norfolk
827 Mike Cowlishaw                 

, Hants.
890 Jerry Crick                          Leighton
Buzzard, Bucks
896 Pat Cronin                          Knowle,
680 Bob Cross                          Knowle,
1132 Robert Crowe                    London
405 (L) Frank Darbon                
British Columbia,

423 (L) Len Dawes                    Minster
Matlock, Derbyshire
815 Nigel Dibden                       Holmes
Chapel, Cheshire
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                   
Exeter, Devon
829 (J) Angie Dooley                 Harborne,
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne,
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy,
830 John Dukes                        Street,
996 Terry Earley                        Wyle,
Warmister, Wiltshire
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland,
Bridgwater, Somerset
New Stephen Ettienne               Hayes,
232 Chris Falshaw                     Fulwood,
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote,
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells,
569 (J) Joyce Franklin                Stone,
469 (J) Pete Franklin                 Stone,
897 Andrew Garwood                 Pulborough,
West Sussex
835 Len Gee                             St.
Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1098 Brian Gilbert                     Chingford,
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill               Chard,
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill                Chard,
1120 Alan Goodrich                   North
Cray, Kent
1054 Tim Gould                         Newhaven,
860 (J) Glenys Grass                 Ridgewell,
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Ridgewell,
1009 Robin Gray                       East
Horrington, Wells, Somerset
1123 Ian Gregory                      
York, Yorkshire
1124 Martin Gregory                  Clapham,
1113 Arthur Griffin                     Alperton,
1089 Kevin Gurner                     Theydon
Bois, Epping, Essex
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon
Bois, Epping, Essex
432(L) Nigel Hallet                     Address
unknown for some years
1119 Barry Hanks                     Has
moved – address unknown yet.  c/o Belfry
104 (L)

Mervyn Hannam             St

Annes, Lancashire
999 Rob Harper                         Wells,
581 Chris Harvey                       Paulton,
4 (L) Dan Hassell                      Moorlynch,
Bridgwater, Somerset
893 Dave Hatherley                   Cannington,
Bridgwater, Somerset
1078 Mike Hearn                       Bagworth,
Axbridge, Somerset
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnet
Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton
Mallet, Somerset
952 Bob Hill                              Assen,
Hills                      Billinshurst, W. Sussex
373 (J) Sid Hobbs                      Priddy,
Wells Somerset
736 (J) Sylvia Hobbs                  Priddy,
Wells Somerset
905 Paul Hodgson                     Burcott,
Wells, Somerset
898 (J) Liz Hollis                       Batcombe,
Shepton Mallet, Somerset
899 (J) Tony Hollis                     Batcombe,
Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1094 Peter Hopkins                   Keynsham,

971 Colin Houlden                     Briston,

, SW2
923 Trevor Hughes                     Bleadney,
Wells, Somerset
855 Ted Humphreys                  Wells,
73 Angus Innes                         Alveston,

, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                      Priddy,
922 Tony Jarratt                        Priddy,
668 Mike Jeanmaire                  Peak
Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
1026 Ian Jepson                        Beechen
Cliff, Bath
51 (L) A Johnson                       Flax
Bourton, Bristol
995 Brian Johnson                     Ottery
St. Mary, Devon
1001 Graeme Johnson               Cosby,
1111 Graham Johnson               Wells,
1127 Bruce Jones                     Northville,
560 (L) Frank Jones                   Priddy,
907 Karen Jones                      

, Chippenham,
567 (L) Alan Kennett                  Henleaze,
884 John King                           Wisborough
Green, West Sussex
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch,

, Aven
542 (L) Phil
Queensland, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge,
Yelverton, Devon
946 Alex Ragnar Knutson          Bedminster,
1116 Stuart Lain                        Yeovil,
667 (L) Tim Large                      Shepton
1129 Dave Lennard                    Wells,
1015 Andrew Lolley                   Kingsdowm,
1043 Andy Lovell                       Keynsham,
1072 Clive Lovell                        Keynsham,
1057 Mark Lumley                     Englishcombe,
1100 Sarah McDonald               London
106 (L) E.J. Mason                    Henleaze,
651 Pete MacNab (Sr)               Cheddar,
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (Jr)          Alexandra
Park, Redland, Bristol
1071 Mike McDonald                 Knowle,
Bristol, Avon
550 (L) R A MacGregor              Baughurst,
Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus                 Priddy,
558 (L) Tony Meaden                
Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
1106 Simon Mendes                  Droitwtich,
704 Dave Metcalf                       Whitwick,
1044 Andrw Middleton               Earlsfield,

1053 Steve Milner                      Felixtow,  Australia
936 Dave Nichols                     
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
852 John Noble                         Paulton,
624 Jock Orr                             Sturton-by-Stowe,
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley,
Wells, Somerset
1045 Rich Payne                       Sidcup
, Kent
22 (L) Les Peters                      Knowle
Bristol Avon
New Martin Peters                     Chew
1107 Terry Phillips                     Denmead,
499 (L) A. Philpot                      Bishopston,
Bristol, Avon
1037 Dave Pike                         Yarley,
Wells, Somerset
337 Brian Prewer                       Priddy,
Wells, Somerset
1085 Duncan Price                    Earl
Shilton, Leicestershire
886 Jeff Price                           

Inns Court,
1101 Christopher Proctor           Radstock,
1109 Philip Provis                      Paulton,
1109 Jim Rands                        Stonebridge


481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway,
Bristol, Avon
1126 Steve Redwood                 Banwell,
Nr. Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
343(L) Tony Rich                       Address
unknown for some years
662 (J) John Riley                      Chapel
le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs.
1033 (J) Sue Riley                     Chapel
le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs
1070 Mary Robertson                Stonebridge

986(J) Lil Romford                     Alcantarilha,
985(J) Phil Romford                   Portugal
921 Pete Rose                          Crediton,
832 Roger Sabido                     
Lawrence Weston, Bristol
240 (L) Alan Sandall                  Nailsea,
359 (L) Carol Sandall                 Nailsea,
760 Jenny Sandercroft               c/o
Barrie Wilton
237 (L) Bryan Scott                  

78 (L) R Setterington                
Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington            Harpendon,
1046 Dave Shand                      Address
unknown as yet c/o J’Rat
1128 Vince Simmonds               Eat
Harptree, Avon
915 Chris Smart                        Nr.
Bradford on
Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                          Has
moved.  Address unknown yet.  c/o The Belfry
1041 Laurence Smith                 West
Horrington, Wells, Somerset
823 Andy Sparrow                     Priddy,
1063 Nicholas Sprang                Leigh
Sinton, Malvern, Worcestershire
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                  Bude,
38(L) Mrs I Stanbury                  Knowle,
New Johnothon Stanniland         Worlebury,
Weston-super-Mare, Avon
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Westcombe,
Shepton Mallet, Somerset
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston
super Mare, Avon
1084 Richard Stephens              Address
unknown.  c/o Trevor Hughes
867 Rich Stevenson                   Wookey,
Somerset, Somerset
583 Derek Targett                      East
Horrington, Wells Somerset
1115 Rob Taviner                       East
1039 Lisa Taylor                        Weston,
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford,
1035 John Theed                       Farmborough,
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy,
348 (L) D Thomas                      Bartlestree,
571 (L) N Thomas                      Salhouse,

1067 Fiona Thompson               Fishponds,
699 (J) Buckett Tilbury              
High Wycombe, Bucks
700 (J) Anne Tilbury                  
High Wycombe, Bucks
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark   
Chelmsford, Essex
381 (L) Daphne Towler               Bognor
Regis, Sussex
382 Steve Tuck                         Coxley,
Wells, Somerset
1023 Matt Tuck                         Coxley,


1136 Hugh Tucker                     Wedmore,
1066 Alan Turner                       Leigh
on Mendip,
Bath, Avon
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh
on Mendip,
Bath, Avon
912 John Turner                        Tavistock,
635 (L) Stuart Tuttlebury            Farnham,
1096 Maurice van Luipen            Hayes,
887 Greg Villis                          Banwell,
Weston-super-Mare, Avon
175 (L) Mrs. D. Whaddon          
Taunton, Somerset
1077 Brian Wafer                      St.
Pauls Cray, Orpington, Kent
949 (J) John Watson                  Somerset
1019 (J) Lavinia Watson             Somerset
973 James Wells                      Has
moved.  Address unknown yet.  c/o Oliver Wells
1055 Oliver Wells                     
New York,
1032 Barry Wharton                  Yatton,
553 Bob White                          Bleadney,
Nr. Wells,

1118 Carol White                      Cheddar,
878 Ross White                        Address
unknown as yet c/o J’Rat
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle,
Bristol, Avon
1068 John Whiteley                   Newton
Abbot, S. Devon.
1031 Mike Wigglesworth            Wells,
1087 John Williams                   Address
unknown as yet c/o The Belfry
1146 Les Williams                     Shepton
Mallet, Somerset
1075 (J) Tony Williams              Soon
moving to Portugal
1076 (J) Roz Williams                Leigh
on Mendip, Bath
1130 (J) Mike Wilson                 Keynsham,
559 (J)
Wilton                  Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton                Haydon,
Nr. Wells, Somerset
850 (J) Annie Wilton-Jones         Llanlley
Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
813 (J) Ian Wilton-Jones             Llanlley
Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
721 G Wilton-Jones                   Address
unknown as yet c/o The Belfry
1112 Catherine Wood                Address
unknown as yet c/o The Belfry.
877 Steven Woolven                  West
Chilington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                   Bridgwater,


477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Hinkley,


Speleo Reconnaissance : Municipality of New Escalante, Negros


Jim Smart

Apart from all the usual hassles (the insurgency
“problem”, a new language to tangle with – there are over eighty
distinct dialects in the Philippines and the difficulties of explaining the
joys of caving to the local populace) my visit to New Escalante in the former
province of Negros del Norte was hampered by unseasonally heavy rain.  I arrived on the day of a national holiday
and, in the mayor’s office, was able to meet many of the local barangay
(village) Captains.  After some pretty
standard cautionary advice the Mayor gave me a written letter of introduction
granting me permission to travel at will within the Municipality.  By the time I had completed my work in this
area I had made many good friends: it took me two days to recover from a beach
party held in my honour on the day of my departure.

Baranqay Libertad

People spoke of “many caves” here including river
caves.  A preliminary visit revealed
limestone crags rising 200 ft. or more above the muddy cane fields.  But before I could reach them the rain
started again and I took shelter under a banana leaf cut for me by a former
guano miner, Dimitrio Dimitria.  Midday
brought out the sun and a quick recce revealed vertical limestone cliffs,
eroded pavements, small conical hills, enclosed depressions and a few small
caves and pots.  Things looked promising
and I arranged to lodge with Dimitrio’s family at a later date.

My return trip was a disappointment.  I was shown only small fossil caves and many
deep shafts that we could not descend de cause a promised rope did not
materialize.  Dimitrio showed me the
“best” caves first and as the day progressed and the quality declined
I realized there were to be no tinkling river caves here.  So I curtailed my explorations and turned my
attention across the

to Bgy Binaguiohan.

The Caves of Bqy Libertad

All guano miners have to register their claim with the
Philippine Bureau of Mines who then allocate a number to the site.  In the brief descriptions that follow I have
listed the caves by these numbers except where a local name for the site was
already in use.

JS ~ l.  A 35 ft.
diameter shaft, 60 ft. deep, free climbable except for the last few feet.  Exploration incomplete.  Feb 27/89.

JS ~ 2.  A couple of
25 ft. vertical shafts located in a 200m. by 100m. polje.  Unexplored due to lack of equipment.  Feb 27/89.

BoM ~ 5.  Large rock
shelter with two entrances & no dark zone. Mar 1/89.

BoM ~ 8.  Hidden in
thick bush.  Spiralling entrance passage
descends to main chamber 100 ft. long x 40 – 60 ft. wide and up to 60 ft.
high.  Some short side passages and three
alternative vertical entrances.

BoM ~ 12.  On summit
of hill near old winding machinery used in guano extraction.  A deep vertical shaft reputed to lead to a
chamber of two hectares area.  Feb 27/89
plus BoM ~ 8

BoM ~ 14.  A gaping
hole in the side of a doline; unexplored. Mar 1/89

BoM ~ 30.  Shaft c. 75
ft. to unexplored cave.  Mar 1/89

– A series of
arches and short caves in an area of extreme limestone erosion and poison
shrubs.   Feb 27/89.

A single chamber
& alcove open to the elements.  The
site of human habitation until just a few years ago.   Mar 1/89.

Pang pang Tuti – A 60 ft. long tunnel passage of spacious
dimensions.  Almost entirely man-made
(guano mine).  Mar 1/89

– Muddy cave about
220 ft. long; the home of cave swifts. Mar 1/89

Baranqay Binaquiohan

Disappointed with the Libertad caves and with four hours of
daylight left I asked Dimitrio to show me the best cave in Bgy Binaguiohan.


Length c. 200 ft.  A
muddy entrance chamber to walking-size passage with some small formations and
alcoves.  While pretending to be
impressed by one of these alcoves I heard the distant hammering of rock.  To my surprise guano miners miners were at
work in the cave.  I’d always thought
guano was mined with pick and shovel but it’s not: it’s hammer and chisel work
and very hard work too.

Before I reached the working face I came upon a small boy
about 10 years old – exiting the cave with two baskets of the stuff suspended
from a pole over his shoulder.  Twelve
men comprised the team working here, three of them sub-teenagers.  They each earn US $4 per ton delivered to the
entrepreneur’s truck a few km. away.  In
the rainy season that truck can be a long, long way away.  On a good day the team will extract about
half a ton.


“Langub” = “cave” in local dialect, so
the place seemed worth a visit though I only expected a sea cave or two.  Langub is situated on the coastal plain near
the sea 4 km. from the nearest “road”.  My time was limited: the last jeepney home to
Escalante passes Langub Crossing (= “junction”) at 3 p.m. and my
early start was delayed by torrential rain. It was gone noon when I arrived at the house of the Barrio Captain.  I had only two hours to locate and explore
any caves, a pity cos I found a big-un.


Situated about 2 km. from Langub, the enticing 15 ft. high x
30 ft. wide entrance opens onto a shallow valley.  Inside the large entrance chamber the cave
was less enticing.  Despite the heavy
rains of the previous few days the deep water that confronted me was stagnant
and filthy and floating a asum of batshit. About twenty people had accompanied me to the cave whooping with delight
at the fun of it all and never for a moment believing I’d venture inside.  Looking at that filthy water (and with one
eye on the time) I was inclined to head back to Escalante but my audience were
expecting a show so I changed into my swimming gear.  An old guy elbowed his way to the front of
the crowd and volunteered himself as my guide.

The water turned out to be no more than waist deep; the
slime and silt beneath the water was calf deep. I tried not to think of leeches and Weil’s disease and followed my guide
who was equipped with my only spare lamp. The entire cave was horizontally developed and ran very close to the
surface.  After maybe 250m. we came to a
collapse where we were able to climb out of the water and engage in some
crouching and crawling until the passage regained its normal size.  A couple of man-made shafts here led to the
surface about 20 ft. above.  I guess
these shafts were constructed for guano miners. A little further on the passages became small, flat-out and very
noisome.  We turned back, exploring
several flooded side passages on out way out.

Back on the surface my audience was now filled with
enthusiasm for cave exploration and miraculously remembered two more caves in
the area.  Don’t worry about the time,
they said, we can arrange a boat to take you home.  So we went in search of these other caves,
only one of which was located.

Buda de Franco Cave

When finally located this turned out to be a simple tunnel
cave about 200 ft. long with a skylight entrance at the far end.  Lots of kids followed me into this cave, the
tiny ones un-shyly holding on to my clothes and hands as we groped along with
my one tiny lamp.  At the far end of the
cave guano miners tallies are scratched onto the wall.


March 1989

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