Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

Editor: Ted Humphreys


The BB is late again. This time it’s my fault; I have several articles in hand at the moment
(a rarity) and apologize to the authors whose contributions are not included in
the present BB.  I’ll make sure they’re
in the next one.

If you have any comments about, or additions to, Oliver’s
cave diving article you may certainly send them to me.  I can either print them in the BB, if
suitable, or forward them to N.Y. with Oliver’s BB.

Please could those who have not already paid their subs, do
so at once.  Club finances are very tight
this year and late payers cost the club money! Those who do not pay will not get any more BB’s.

I’ve been asked to point out that the BEC is a member of the
British Mountaineering Club which means that members can stay at any of the
hundreds of BMC huts at rates similar to the Belfry.

Another date for your diaries: – The Cheddar May Fair and
Folk Festival is on Saturday 12th May. One of the events is the world championship of Manx football.  Teams of 10 to make 5.  1(2) goalkeeper.  3 out and 1 reserve in fancy dress can enter
for £5 and must get sponsorship towards Telethon.

HTV are filming this and Snablets aerial Morris Jig on High
Rock.  Cheddar Gorge (to the tune of

Coronation Street
on that day.  Also the MRO have been
asked to do a display).

The winning football team will be invited to the live
Telethon event two weeks later.


Membership Changes

Three ex-members have rejoined the club.   They are: –

620       Phil Coles.        Totterdown.


582       Chris Hall          Redhill.


570       Joy Scovell (nee Steadman).      

South Africa

We also welcome two new members who are: –

Sharon BeattIe.              Horfleld.


Roberst Bragg.              Odd Down.


Eastwater Clean Up

It may nave escaped the notice of a lot or people that the
BEC has, as of the early eighties, decided to adopt Eastwater Cavern under the
‘Descent adopt a cave scheme’, whereby the cave adopted is visited on a regular
basis (it is, by the way). No clearing trips have been undertaken for a couple
of years, however, though small amounts of crap are being carried out on
various tourist – digging trips.  The
amount of spent carbide and general rubbish in the cave is really quite
amazing; three tackle bags full between the crossroads and the entrance,
including two odd boots from Dolphin Chimney and unbroken lemonade bottles,
several months ago on a tourist trip:  So

Well, we’re having a clean up trip on Saturday morning the
7th of April.  Tackle bags provided free
of charge.  It is time to start these
clean up trips on a regular basis before the cave starts smelling and looking
like many caves in Burrington.  So please
make an effort to be there.

Graham Johnson



by Caving Sec

The party at the end of the universe was totally
wicked!!  Also down Daren Scientists have
discovered a hole in the Yohzone, the Rock Steady Crew will look into it next
camp.  A date for your personal
organizers. Saturday 31st March PRACTICE RESCUE.  Compulsory for all regular Daren
visitors.  Also in Wales a discovery in
Day-yr-Ogof by Rich Blake and Rob Harper of approx. 600ft. of passage ending in
a sump.  Rob will be diving the sump on
their return visit.

The BEC in Matienzo lived up to the motto, and also found
100m. of new passage (see the write-up by Blitz).

Lodmore Hole? an EMI (an electronics company – ed.) dig with
some BEC helpers was looking very interesting with sightings of new passage but
then unfortunately collapsed.  Bowery
Corner has a new passage heading down dip called Dipso.  Survey work has been going on in Wookey by
Trebor, Ross, Stumpy and

and also by the
choke busters in Welsh’s Green which is now complete.

Forget S.R.T. now there’s T.R.T.  A breed of lemmings in the BEC have started
practicing the sport of bridge jumping using the T.R.T. triple rope technique
(jumping either backwards or head first off bridges attached to ropes.  Head first is the more advanced and shed
spreading method).  Jumps have taken
place throughout the country.  There has
also been a lightning raid by the EMC/Steigl boot boys on the classic Bridge in
the French Alps at Pont de la Caille, just north of
on the main road to

known as the “Big Ride.

There have been some first Jumps on virgin bridges by
BEC/EMC members in the local area. Unfortunately one of the bridges has become a bit dodgy to jump due to a
local resident almost having a heart attack when looking out of her window to
see what she thought was people committing suicide en mass.  The reason for three ropes is because it
feels a lot safer than one and we can’t afford ten.

Even while you read this the E.M.C. (myself Included) are
mellowing out on a beach in the south of

after completing another
classic Jump!


Bob Lawder

Sadly, we have to announce the death of Bob Lawder of the
Wessex Cave Club.  Bob was one of the
long standing Hunters characters and most of us have witnessed his fine
renditions of the ‘Boatswine’, the “American Bum’ and “Mrs
O’Flaherty” at various New Year’s Eve sessions and barrel nights.  Our condolences to his wife Anne.  Within the next few weeks there will be a
memorial service for Bob at Priddy Church possibly followed by a barrel or two
and a memorial “sing song’ at the pub.

Tony Jarratt


New Cuthbert’s Leader Form.

A new form for applying to become a Cuthbert’s leader has
been issued, available at the Belfry. The qualifications are necessary (recommended by the St. Cuthbert’s
leaders meeting and ratified by the BEC committee: –

a)                  It is considered that the applicant is unlikely
sufficient knowledge of the cave system in less than 15 trips.

b)                  It is advisable that the applicant is shown
around the cave system by as many different routes as is possible, and must
cover all known areas of the cave. Particular emphasis be placed upon the forbidden routes to prevent
damage to formations.

c)                  The applicant is encouraged to ensure that he or
she is shown around the cave system by as many current leaders as is
practicable.  This application is likely
to be unsuccessful if most of the qualifying trips are signed by one leader.

d)                  Some of the qualifying trips shall be carried
out in conjunction with ‘tourist trip parties’ as booked by the Caving
Secretary of the Bristol Exploration club or guest leaders of other clubs.

e)                  The applicant must satisfy a nominated leader
for his final qualifying trip before his application will considered.  The nominated leader will be selected by the
Sec or Caving Sec of the Bristol Exploration Club.

f)                    The applicant must show their current third
party liability Insurance certificate to the current Hon. Sec of the Bristol
Exploration Club before the application will be considered.

The Good Old Days

From the
Rambler’s Club Journal Vol VII No 21 .1934.

“The Craven Pot-hole Club
camp in 1932 covered the week-ends 24th and 31st July.  Number of descents. 79.  On 27th Fell Beck was in flood.  18 inches up the wench and again on the 29th.”




The library is coming along slowly generally tidying up,
cataloguing and finding out exactly what we’ve got, so that if they go missing
we know about it.  I’m fed up with the
books going walk-about.

I’ve assimilated all the BB’s and thanks to certain people
such as Joan Bennett, Les Peters etc. we’ve got a load of old BB’s for our collection. Out or 450 odd issues I’m missing only 30 or so, which is not bad but if
you have any spare copies of the following perhaps you could donate them to
complete the set.



























(very manky)



(very manky)

















(very manky, trod on)


(photo copy only)

(no cover, worn)


( no cover)























(no cover)

I Know we’ve got an almost complete set of bound BB’s but we
were so close to another complete set.  I
thought we might as well continue – also to help out with Alan’s set in the



Trebor also included a list of outstanding un-booked in
books.  This is virtually identical to
the list published last year so I haven’t included it except to note that Henry
Bennett is now banned from the library – he seems to still have seven books out
(all since 1988!).

On second thoughts, I’ve printed the list on Page 29.  If these Books/Documents have still not been
returned you should really try to do something about it.


Safety in Cave Diving

by Oliver Wells

The arrival of the Belfry Bulletin is always an agreeable
moment and perhaps the efforts of the editor and of the regular contributors
are too often taken for granted.  The
happy feeling that this is really not my problem was ended rather abruptly in
my case when I found myself talking to this hard-working gentleman in the
Hunter’s Lodge.  He reminded me that as a
member of the BEC,  I was expected to put
pen to paper and then send the results to him. So I was wondering whether some notes on safety in cave diving might be
of interest.  Nothing that I shall say
here is new, but I have a special reason for writing this article that I shall
describe in a moment.

It has always seemed to me that there are two main schools
of thought about training cave divers, depending upon the degree of mental
strain that is put upon the trainee.  If
you join the army, as many or us had to do in the 50’s, then you will find that
the training is a rather ‘heroic” process in which the finer sensitivities
of the trainee are ignored.  In the same
sort of way, when I signed up for an underwater course about ten years ago to
see if I could still do it, I was dismayed to find that the instructor seemed
to be a frustrated marine sergeant who scattered tanks across the bottom of a
really quite deep indoor pool and then expected us to swim from one tank to the
next, taking only one breath from a mouthpiece attached to each of them.  I have never been so close to drowning in by
life.  I seem to remember that when I was
taught to use an oxygen respirator by Jack Thompson and John Buxton in 1954 and
1955, the training was equally no-nonsense but was carried out in a more humane
way (apart from the physiological tests, that is.  The dive store that I do business with these
days follows the more humane approach also.

Possibly you may have realised by now that I do not like the
“heroic” method for training divers, especially from the receiving end.  I prefer a more tranquil approach based on
extended periods of time spent underwater gradually becoming acclimatised to
the life below.  “Exercises”
such as mask removal, mouthpiece exchange and so on can then be accomplished
without any worry whatsoever (or can even become agreeable if you are on really
good form).

An important question is how often you should practice your
basic diving skills.  There are, it is
true, certain individuals who have the unfair advantage over the rest of us in
being able to perform underwater to perfection without regular practice.  But if you wish to be REALLY on form then you
should go below the surface at least once a week.  In the 1950’s I met this requirement by
swimming in a flooded gravel pit while a helpful colleague rowed a boat from
which a nylon rope came down from the sky, as it were.  Before my recent visit to

, I
spent well over an hour following a thin nylon line laid between weights at a
depth of about 9 feet in a lake behind a friend’s house.  Such has been the progress with diving
equipment that neither a boat nor a safety line tied to the diver were
needed.  While doing this, I deliberately
stirred up the mud and very carefully kept in contact with the line at all
times.  A colleague who tried to do this
expressed surprise that the line could suddenly vanish completely, obviously
you must concentrate your mind endlessly on this point.  After five dives at intervals of about a week
I once again felt ready for a cave.  At
the very least you should practice underwater within two weeks of diving in a

Another important point is what I call the “safety
reflex’ of the diver.  If you are an
open-water diver, then your idea of safety is the surface.  As a cave diver, your reactions must be
totally different.  You should have two
simultaneous responses if a sudden problem should arise.  Your first automatic reaction should be to
check your back up mouthpiece.  Your
second should be to check your contact with the line.  Then you can sort out your problem.

A friend who read the above paragraph points out that the
more general idea is of “penetration diving” rather than cave diving
if the above ideas are to apply.  His
interest is diving on wrecks.  At one
dive site, there is a wreck directly below the channel used by large oil
tankers that sail by at regular intervals with their propellers churning and so
on.  The divers lay lines from the side
and employ all of the precautions described above.  (Wreck divers generally carry an independent
aqualung supplied from a small “pony bottle’ that does not have the
duration of the backup system carried by a cave diver.)

Constant practice can pay dividends in many ways.  For example, during my recent swim back from
Wookey Nineteen with Bob Drake, it seems that I did not tighten the belt that
holds the cylinders around my middle to the degree that is required.  (That steep, restricted. muddy rock slope in
Nineteen is not the most comfortable place for putting on cave diving equipment
that I have ever been in.)  I knew that I
was on good form when I went underwater and the lines appeared to be more
“friendly” than the surface. About 15-20 feet along the line and while I was in a fairly compact
section of the passage, the tube from the regulator on my right cylinder
suddenly pulled tight so that the mouthpiece set off at a brisk speed in the
direction of my lower right wisdom tooth (possibly the tube was too
short).  It is amazing how fast the jaw
muscles can tighten at a time like that. Unexpectedly perhaps.  I did not
feel alarmed even slightly, and stopped swimming, checked the backup regulator,
checked my contact with the line,  and
THEN pulled the cylinder back to where it should have been (for the first of
many times that I did so on what was really a very agreeable dive).

Of course, the episode described above was fairly
trivial.  This sort of problem occurs to
cave divers all the time.  I only
mentioned it here to emphasise the need for constant underwater practice if you
do not wish to be alarmed by such a thing. The final five chapters in Alan Thomas’ book “The Last
Adventure” contain examples of happenings that were more dangerous than
the above.  In my opinion and if you want
to go cave diving, then you should read these chapters, think about these
episodes and then practice underwater until you are confident that you can meet
such crises in a totally calm way.  (And
even then please do not be in too much of a hurry to “push the limits” until
you have been doing it for some time.)

Crises that occur underwater can be all the more terrifying
for being unexpected.  Tony Jarratt told
me about a diver who was exploring in a mine working underwater, stirring up
the mud as he swam along.  When it was
time to return, he found that his line reel was jammed, and that he had been
pulling the belay block along behind him. There was no line through the muddy water back to the air surface.  Tony tells me that he got out
successfully.  It is a terrifying story,
but is useful perhaps in emphasising that you cannot be too careful.

By “redundancy” we mean that if the respirator should
suddenly stop working (or worst of all release its air) then you can change
over to a second mouthpiece on a backup system and reach safety using your own
resources alone.  Perhaps it should be
emphasised that this is a MINIMUM requirement since such failures can and do
happen.  For example, I had a friend In
Pittsburgh who lost the O-ring between his cylinder and the regulator at a
depth of 70 feet in open water.  In

.  I was in the boat when a diver emerged with a
stream of bubbles coming from his pressure gauge.  About two weeks later, a diver right in front
of me suffered a blow-out of some kind from the cylinder valve behind his head
and then surfaced in a cloud of bubbles that was larger than any such cloud
that I have ever seen.  One day when
practicing in an indoor pool with a borrowed regulator, I was surprised when
the rubber mouthpiece came off and I was connected directly to the water.  Oddly enough, in the 1950’s we dived
regularly in caves without any backup system apart from a second oxygen
cylinder that fed into the same breathing circuit, and it is not clear to me
looking back on it, how we could have felt so self-assured.  A totally independent backup system now
appears to be absolutely essential, in my opinion.

In response to a question from a non-caving friend, cave
divers nowadays wear a cylinder on each side (“side-mounts” in the
current Jargon) with a pressure gauge and a regulator on each of them.  The idea is never to get yourself into a
situation where you cannot get out with the backup system.

Head protection was neglected in the 1950’s.  Bob Davies wore a beret over the very thin
rubber hood on his dry suit with this idea in mind, but the rest of us did not
even do that.  Nowadays cave divers
always wear a helmet and with reason. The only question is how soon the use of helmets spread to open-water
divers also, because even there the diver can (and sometimes does) knock
his/her head.

Another question is whether it is safer to dive solo or
whether you should maintain close and continuous contact with a second diver at
all times.  Obviously it is a good idea
to have a second diver not too far away, but it is a delusion to expect that
he/she can help you if anything really serious should go wrong.  In fact, the chance of an accident underwater
in a cave is probably increased if there is a second diver too closely in
contact to delay you and generally cause confusion.  Solo diving can be very agreeable if you are
on form (and yet I WAS very grateful to Bob Drake when he appeared out of the
murk and unwound the guide wire from around my left regulator on the first of
my two trips back from Nineteen — although to be truthful about it, we were
operating separately for all practical purposes until I was delayed at that

Here, the reviewer wrote: “All dive certification
agencies emphasise the need to dive with a partner.  Your statement will be criticised
…”  Diving with a partner makes
very good sense in a very large number of cases, but I still think that in cave
diving the problems caused by a companion in continuous close contact in
causing delays, stirring up mud and so on can outweigh the advantages.  Having a second diver not too far away can be
very comforting, however.

Concerning deep diving when breathing air in caves.  I am against it.  In the late 1950’s I went with John Buxton to
HMS Vernon in


where we went to the equivalent of 200 feet in a pressure chamber in company
with some Naval Officers.  We sat on
benches along the two sides of a horizontal cylindrical chamber of diameter
about 5 feet while a naval gentleman at one end communicated with the world
outside by hitting the wall with a noisy blunt object.  We stared at the needle on a depth gauge as
it slowly rotated clockwise between us. There was nothing to report down to 170 feet, when nitrogen narcosis
came on with about as much subtlety as being hit on the back of the head with a
hammer.  It was a ghastly
experience.  I felt as if I was being
whirled in a centrifuge about ten times faster than I wished to go.  But the plan was to go to 200 feet, so on we
went.  By this time the air was so dense
that it was a major athletic enterprise to breathe either in or out, in
addition to the narcosis.  The Naval Officer
told us later about the incredibly stupid things that even experienced divers
had done at such depths.  Cave diving,

(Generally, people who dive deeply in caves either practice
endlessly to survive narcosis or use a different gas mixture to avoid its
effects.  Dive certification agencies
generally prohibit dives below 120 feet. In response to a question from the reviewer, the above took place
entirely air.  Presumably it would have
been worse underwater.)

Perhaps the final point that I shall make concerns the
EXPECTATION of the diver.  Of course, all
of us would like to be at the cutting edge of cave diving, and yet nowadays I
have been forced by a certain feeling of reality to regard myself as being in
the position of a tourist to the
Alps who is
conducted on an easy rock-climb by one of the local guides.  Of course, this does not excuse from the need
to practice my skills, mental attitude and equipment (you cannot escape from
this).  But in fact I find it not at all
bad to restrict my ambitions in this way, and I find trips such as Three to
Nine and the like to be enormous fun.

Oh yes, why did I write this article?  About six month ago I agreed to write a
chapter on the history of cave diving (which is more difficult than giving a
lecture because you cannot fluff over the difficult bits).  So this article is a partial dry run in an
effort to de-confuse my mind on this subject. The style of my chapter will be somewhat different from the
conversational tone I have used here.  So
if the reader would like to help me by sending me any comments on the above
(especially with reference to ORIGINS of these ideas or to alternative points
of view) then I shall be very happy to acknowledge any such help in the final
version.  Or perhaps the Editor might
wish to receive such items directly – I know I would be very interested to read
such things in the Bulletin myself.

Cave diving has a great future and it will be interesting to
see how it is made safer as it continues to advance in all aspects of
underwater exploration by human divers, by remotely controlled vehicles and
finally by autonomous computerised devices that will explore and record data at
distances, depths, temperatures, etc. that are far beyond anything that can be
done now.




Chewton Mendip

15th January 1990

Dear Friends at the BEC,

A belated thank you for the Acetylene cap lamp presented to
me on my recent retirement from the Police service.

The BEC has over the years been very kind and helpful to me
and the police service in general – in addition to being very hospitable to me,
the valuable service rendered at cave rescues has been appreciated.

This working cap lamp will constantly remind of your club
and its members.  With every good wish to
you all.

Yours sincerely,

Gerry Brice


Spanish For Beginners

by   Chris Smart

‘Come to


Blitz”. Rob said.  “It will
take your mind off things”.   How little
did Blitz realise the truth in that seemingly innocuous remark made over a
couple of pints as plans were made for the expedition of the century on the
back of a beer mat.

Indeed had Blitz thought back, he, and some of you, might
nave remembered the famous (infamous?) Harper and Blitz offensive on the
Dachstein in the winter of 1980/81, and things might have been different.  However memories and the

are both
short and the BEC Matienzo winter Expedition was born.

Deciding that people might talk if just the pair of our
intrepid heroes set forth, to explore caverns measureless to man and to do
battle with litres of Rioja, Harper decided to look round for suitable heroes
in waiting, men eager for a challenge, the would be conquerors of the Stygian
darkness and cavers of the calibre of Casteret, de Jolly and Wormhole.  After a long and fruitless search we had to
make do with some of the hardest armchair cavers that the Belfry could muster
­Snablet, Rich Blake, Steve Redwood and that all American, clean living, crew-
cut boy Chip Chapman.  They were all
easily enticed with carefully edited highlights of previous summer expeditions,
kilometres of virgin cave passage and quickly swallowed the bait.  The expedition was launched.

So it was that having played all the usual pre expedition
games of; lets hunt for the BEC rope (most of it left in Rumania); lets hunt
for the BEC hangers (found some or them); lets hunt for the BEC tackle sacs
(succeeded); lets hunt for the BEC surveying kit (still held by the 1988 Black
Holes expedition) and lets hunt for Snablets brain (failed); that Boxing Day
2300 hrs saw Rob and Blitz on board the Portsmouth – Le Havre ferry and Boxing
Day 2301 hrs saw Rob and Blitz happily ensconced on the after deck clutching a
carry out or three and, like two expectant penguins eagerly awaiting the
forthcoming adventures.  The other four
stalwarts of the team having promised faithfully to follow on the next day.

Midnight saw us pooping on the bivy deck (or something
similar) and like two giant comatose slugs we dreamed sweet dreams before
emerging butterfly like from our cocoons at six o clock the next morning.  You may be interested to learn that Blitz has
lodged a reward with the ferry company in an attempt to find the sadist who
seemingly took great delight in standing over his bivy bag at some unearthly
hour announcing in a very load voice, and with sufficient volume to wake the
dead, that “These two have picked a good spot to sleep in”.  On a more serious note a word of warning, if
you go to sleep on the Portsmouth – Le Havre cross channel ferry or even blink
your eyes for an Instant then somebody will sneak up on you and alter your
watch by exactly one hour, and the really odd thing is that they do the same on
the way back across the channel.

I understand that 0630 is not the recommended guidebook time
to see the sights and experience the delights of Le Havre but our thoughts were
not on such tourist attractions but on more alarming necessities such as why
wasn’t Matienzo on the signposts and you did bring the loose change for the
French motorways tolls didn’t you Blitz?

However we were soon on the way and within a few kilometres
Dawn’s rosy red fingers were seductively caressing the early morning sky.  Its times like this that a young mans
thoughts turn to love, poetry and the answer to life, the universe and Bowery
Corner but it only takes a few bars of Meatloaf with “Hits out of Hell” to put
the world to rights.  It seemed as it
nothing could stop us.  Little did we

The morning quickly turned to the afternoon and the thoughts
of our two heroes turned to the impending business of lunch.  Pausing only long enough to snatch a hurried
three hour gastronomic extravaganza we were soon back on the wrong side of the
road and the
Pyrenees were looming large on
the horizon. 
was soon behind us and


lay open and inviting before us.  Within
what seemed to be an instant, but was actually a couple of hours in the all
encompassing dark of the Spanish night we saw our first road sign for
Matienzo.  Not even pausing for a brief
smug self congratulatory smile we headed over the pass and drove down into the
enclosed Matienzo depression.  The time
was 9 pm and the advance guard of the expedition had arrived.

In good BEC tradition we stopped at the first bar and in
halting Spanish ordered two beers.  The
locals, who all appeared to be extras from a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western,
took it in turns to stare at us.  Blitz
had one of those rare and fleeting moments of pure genius and suggested to Rob
that a) that if the Brits had been coming to Matienzo for 20 years then one
might expect a least a photo or a surveyor some indication to be visible and b)
that there might just be another bar further down the road.

Consequently three minutes later we were in the next bar
down the road and were confronted with Tony and Roz Williams who had driven up


to see Pete and Carmen Smith, who have a house in Matienzo, and in order to
greet us.  Blitz then had another one of
those rare and fleeting moments of pure genius when he announced that this was
obviously the correct bar!

Introductions were soon made, food ordered and the wine
began to flow liberally.  All too soon
with tiredness catching up on everyone we decided to call it a night (i.e. the
dark time between successive days) and the final introduction was made.  To those of you who are ignorant of the
magical and therapeutic properties of a Matienzo Sol y Sombre then what little
we will say is that they consist of approximately equal measures of brandy and
anise (Similar to Pernod).  For the sake
of common decency and in case anyone of a nervous disposition is still reading
this then a veil is probably best drawn over the next few hours.  Suffice to say that by 2am, yes, only five
hours after our arrival Rob had been arrested by the local police for having
borrowed a car from the roadside, conveniently with the keys left in it, driven
in it for half a mile down the road, attempted to borrow another car, had a shotgun
fired over his head by two understandably irate locals and had managed to
demolish ten yards of barbed wire and several bramble bushes with his bare

The memories that Blitz has add little to these incidents,
he will admit that Rob did seem a little merry when they left the bar to go and
bivy in the field behind it, but as the night-time stars seemed to want to go
round and round in circles, at a breakneck speed, even when he closed his eyes,
his memory can be considered a little hazy. The only one event that Rob is adamant that he can remember from the
evenings proceedings is apparently being brought to the bar by the two Civil
Guardsmen, of them hunting out Blitz cocooned in his bivybag, of them waking
him and asking in Spanish “Is this your friend?”  To say that Rob’s heart stopped when Blitz
replied “Never seen him before in my life” would perhaps be an
exaggeration but only a little one. Those of you who know Blitz well must consider carefully whether such a
story is fact or Rob’s imagination working overtime and Blitz is adamant that
it never happened.  What he does remember
is of Tony Williams and Pete Smith waking him at 3am giving him Rob’s car keys
and telling him some cock and bull story that Rob was in prison and we would
sort things out in the morning.

The morning soon dawned and Blitz awoke to find himself
clutching Rob’s car keys and a growing realisation that maybe it hadn’t all
been a bad dream.  The remainder of the
morning was taken up at the local police station where the local inspector, who
bore an uncanny resemblance to a short slim Batstone, established the facts of
the case.  As Rob had managed to choose
the day when the entire Spanish legal system was in the process of change he was
unable to be put before a judge and was returned to Laredo jail for a second
night’s incarceration.

Blitz and Pete Smith returned to Matienzo and were met by
the other four stalwarts of the expedition who viewed the proceedings with some
incredulity.  After all weren’t Blitz and
Rob the two quiet ones – how could they hope to compete against such over the
top behaviour?  Snablet was not to be
daunted and asked as to what Rob had been drinking the previous evening, and
then asked a pint of it!  Four Sol y
Sombres later he was not sure what planet he was on, let alone where he was or
who he was, (or to put it another way just like a Saturday night at the
Hunters).   He found his tent but
obviously experienced a little difficulty as the morning found him with his
head inside the tent but his body lying in a discarded heap on the grass
outside the tent.  His comment that it
was a little cold and damp met with some sympathy as fellow sufferers attempted
to count brain cells and found several million to be missing.

Rob was finally released on the following morning and
approached Matlenzo with some concern. However he was greeted like a prodigal son by the landlady and was
subjected to a rib breaking bear hug, the offer of alcoholic refreshment and a
voluble torrent of Spanish welcoming him home. Pablo, the landlord greeted him in a similar manor and immediately
exhausted his complete vocabulary of English with the classic comment ‘No
problemo”.  It seemed as thought the
BEC had arrived.

The expedition having spent a little time on the above soon
decided that we should gain some credibility with the locals and that it was
about time we put our heads underground. Blitz and Harper opted for Cueva de Lleuva and spent a pleasant three or
four hours srt-ing the 10 metre pitch, looking for the ways on and finally
wandering about in enormous horizontal passages floored with sand and breakdown

The hard men chose to visit Cueva Uzueka.  This is a name that is meaningless in Spanish
but if pronounced in a Mancunian accent gives some indication as to its charms.  They returned to the camp site about six
hours later with tales of needing 4 hours to find their way through the
entrance passages (something that does only take 15 minutes when you know where
you are going) of a horrendous squeeze, of Darren sized passages (both very
large and very small, and of having dug into 200 metres of new passage which
reminded them of West End series in Eastwater. The expedition had obviously arrived.

All six of us returned to Cueva Uzueka the following day and
while the new passage was surveyed Rob. Blitz and Rich pushed on down the
Gorilla Walk.  This is a real collector’s
item and a previous expedition report describes it as ” … of roughly
stooping size in knee deep water, which sets the scene for the next kilometre
and is fairly described by its name.  Any
gorillas contemplating the trip should wear wetsuits, for in various parts the
water occupies more of the available space than the air does”.  Needless to say we were in furry suits!  We pushed on deeper into the cave, through
the “Near Stomps”, 500 metres of wide stream passage floored with
huge sand banks and Blitz found the way on at “Obvious Junction”,
which wasn’t, into “Cross Over Passage” and onto the easy walking
passage of “Las Playas” (the Beach). Unfortunately the others missed the strongly draughting connecting crawl
and continued for an extra half kilometre along ‘Far Stomps” before
reaching the sump.  However by a stroke
of genius we all exited together and returned to base.

It began raining that night at 3am and managed to rain
through to 3pm.  Having spent most of the
day drinking coffee in the bar we struggled out onto the hill side mid
afternoon to search out Cueva de los Emboscados.  This took ages to find but Blitz and Rich
Blake finally decided that having looked in all the not a chance places it must
be that obvious large entrance.  The cave
is only 180 metres long and consists of a single railway sized tunnel passage
but contains some prehistoric engravings of the body and heads of deer and

Pablo and family put on a special meal for us to celebrate
New Years Eve and it goes with no real exaggeration to say that stomachs were
severely bloated by the onslaught or several courses of wonderful food.  I shall gloss over the fact that one member of
the expedition chose to await the arrival of the first course before announcing
that he did not share our omnivorous eating habits.  On a word of warning to other vegetarians you
should be aware that the Spanish do not appear to indulge in eating vegetables
and that the word for vegetarian in Spanish is “homothexually”.

A day or so later saw the four hard men gong for gold.  Pete Smith has casually told us that, near to
end of Cueva Uzueka was a passage called “Shrimp Bone Inlet” which,
although 700 metres long, and ending in walking sized passage had not been
pushed.  The two old men Harper and Blitz
elected to act as selfless sherpas and plodded on in behind the young tigers
carrying spare food and kgs of carbide so as to establish a dump.  They made their way into the ‘Astradome’
which is a magnificent circular aven 30 metres in diameter and in excess of 100
metres high where a single voice sounds like a cathedral choir”.  It was a magical place for the sardines and
chocolate supper before exiting, with rampant indigestion, after a nine hour
caving trip.

Meanwhile “Shrimp Bone Inlet” had been reached,
the end survey station found and exploration and surveying conducted into the
unknown.  Five hundred metres of
relatively easy going passage later they emerged into a chamber with the way on
visible as a passage 10 metres up on one of the walls.  The other possibility, a draughting boulder
choke, was investigated but found not to go. The four of them exited after 16 hours underground and returned to the
camp site where they arrived at 7am to be met by a relieved Blitz and
Harper.  Survey calculations show this
passage to be heading into a blank area of the map.

All too soon the next day dawned and it was time to pack up
and go home.  The nearest town suffered
an onslaught of six BEC members all intent on purchasing their own DIY Sol y
Sombre kit and stocking up on those little delicacies such as tinned squid and
octopus in their own ink, very cheap olive oil and rough vino tinto.  One little gem was attempting to buy some
flowers as a gift, for our hosts but I’ll gloss over that one.

In conclusion, and to be serious for a moment.  We can say that Matienzo is well worth a
visit and is about a days drive on the motorways from

.  You could either go in with the 40 or 50
British cavers who regularly visit every summer (See Blitz for details) or as a
small group at any other time.  (There is
currently some talk about a return about next New Year).  Indeed the area is worth seeing and although
it is not spectacular mountain scenery the locals have that easy going friendly
and relaxed approach to life that is found throughout the world in small rural
communities and what’s more they appear to enjoy the antics or cavers, even the

A few facts:

A Matienzo box file will shortly appear in the Library
giving the real truth behind the expedition. Our main source of reference was BCRA Transactions Vol 8 No 2 June 1981
Matilenzo, but we now know that we should have consulted the “Report of the
1975 British Expedition to the Matienzo Polje” (Private publication).

The caves are not particularly easy to find but generally
allow relatively easy caving.  Permission
should be sought from the authorities in both

.  This is very important as access is
delicate.  No English is spoken in the
area so a phrase book and dictionary are essential.  Camping is easily arranged at the back of the
bar from which food and drink is available throughout the day.

The weather at New Year varied from two afternoons we were
in T-shirts to one morning where there was a centimetre of ice on the tents.


Grateful thanks must go to Pete and Carmen Smith of
Santander, Juan Corrin, Tony and Roz Williams and the people or Matienzo.  In particular Pablo, Anna, Cuca and Granddad
who made us feel not only like honoured guests but treated us as if we were
their family.


Puck Suds



you must be an expert with
“Jelly” and spend your week-ends at the bottom of a sink-hole
hopefully endeavouring to blow a way in somewhere.”


At ST 53135254. Opposite the lay–by in Plummer’s Lane, is a
swallet in Lower Limestone Shales which takes a considerable amount or road
drainage and run-off from the NW slopes of North Hill.  Recorded in

as Bowery Corner Swallet this site has recently been the scene or much digging
activity, most of which is here documented.

In 1988 Bob Williams (2) traced the original name of the
swallet as mentioned in a manuscript of 1768 and before this in a Judgement of
the Chewton Mendip Minery Court dated 1661 (see appendix 1).  It is proposed to reinstate the name Puck Suds
for this cave – a suitable addition to such attractive old names as Lamb Leer
and Cuckoo Cleeves.

Cavers became interested in this swallet in 1937 when Hywell
Murrell and friends looked at the site, though it is believed little work was

1960 saw Mike Thompson and Jim Hanwell of the Wessex Cave
Club at work here but after digging a deep muddy pit they failed to reach solid
rock and gave up.  This was before the
main road was re-aligned and there was some confusion as to whether the BEC dig
was in the same place.  This was recently
confirmed on a visit with Jim.  (The old
road still exists as the lay-by opposite).

In 1976 Willie Stanton (WCC) dye tested the stream in
reasonably high water conditions using Rhodamine.  This followed an earlier and only partly
successful attempt at Fluoresceine testing. The water was proved to feed Cheddar risings with a flow through time of
50 hours under the prevailing conditions.

Tony Jarratt.

The “Group Of Friends” Dig 1982-1986.

This site was visited during 1982 immediately after research
brought it to light in Willie Stanton’s


of Mendip, 1977.  As fortune would have
it I was employed by a National company. Whilst working locally I experienced a very heavy downpour of rain.  Looking to the north, thinking of the sink
which had been dry earlier that day, I resolved to drive the 16 ton vehicle in
my possession to the site.  On reaching
the site some water was present in the ditch close to the road and also in the
field ditch.  There was a steady stream
coming out of the concrete pipe that drained part of the field.  The flow remained the same for half an hour
after which it began to increase.  Within
another hour the bowl shaped base of the site was under four feet or
water.  Marking the levels of the various
streams showed they were still increasing though the level above the base
stayed at four feet depth.  Not believing
my luck that a sink such as this could remain untouched I first went to the
farmer, Mr Wesley Voke, and obtained his permission to dig there.  The only rider in the agreement was that the
fence be kept in good order to protect his livestock, namely lambs.

Wesley’s farm became our secure materials yard where we
stored all our equipment.  It was the
first time that I had found that a genuine interest in caves existed in the
people that live above them.  Much tea
and cake later we realised that the reason he didn’t mind us digging there was
because he didn’t own it!  Still, as a
neighbour he provided us with encouragement.

Further research began into the history of Bowery Corner,
though alas some leads were not available to me.  However, Mike Thompson furnished me with
first hand information.  When he had dug
there (1960 I believe) it had been down through clay with no apparent way
on.  It was also noted that some of his
contemporaries believed that the Bowery site was not the one that they had
dug.  This confusion dates from when the
road was under alteration and repairs. Seeking information from the

Office provided
no definite clear plans of “Before and After”.  I was happy with what details I had and
persuaded Ken James and John Widley to help me. Digging took place on Wednesdays and good progress was made until one
wet evening when alighting from my Land Rover we could hear an almighty
noise.  Looking over the grass verge we
saw that the top of the shaft had a white crown surrounded by bits of
vegetation.  The 12 foot shaft had filled
completely.  Before we had had a stream
almost permanently present but this was something else.  Stopping only to change underwear we went to
the bar.

I now checked Willie Stanton’s water tracing results of the
area (1974) and found that he had received a doubtful trace at the first
Cheddar rising after 72 hours.  Estimated
flow at the time was 10 gallons per minute. The experiment was repeated in January 1977, using 100cc of Rhodamine
W.T. in an approximate flow of 20 GPM, the result was positive at Cheddar.  Wookey, Rodney Stoke (Spring Head) and
Rowpits all proved negative.  A
rhine draining an apparently unpolluted area of moor gave
a consistently high reading in the Rhodamine range.

The effect of the flood that we witnessed was all too
apparent on the next visit.  The shaft
was previously 12 feet deep and approximately 4 to 5 feet in diameter.  It was now 8 feet deep and 8 feet in
diameter.  Both the walls of the shaft
opposite the two main streams had been carved away leaving an unstable area.  Over the next month the debris was removed
and work recommenced.  The main problem
was that there was no limestone to be seen or any hard rock for that
matter!  Again and again the sides of the
dig collapsed causing great disappointment. We were fearful of Mr Voke or the council complaining that either road
or field was fast disappearing.  The digging
team’s numbers had now shrunk to one. This meant that progress was painfully slow.  Still working in the area I regularly
hijacked the lorry I drove and utilized the road drill and pump to make digging
more enjoyable. You haven’t lived until you’ve used a road breaker in a
confined space.  Sometime later the
company realized that the mileage I was achieving to and from

and Frome was excessive, and on one
occasion followed me to the site.  As my
foreman made himself comfortable in the back of the lorry for the duration we
were interrupted by the nice Inspector man who looked down the hole and asked
what I was doing.  Digging was continued
through my suspension.  I now had
problems with the moving of spoil so the decision was made to involve others of
like mind.  The site was offered to both
the Severn Valley Caving Club and the Wessex Cave Club. No takers so the
L.A.D.S. were shown the site.  Shortly
afterwards they joined the B.E.C., where old diggers retire.  With this new blood the enthusiasm infected
many.  Once again digging became regular
and with this came the installation of concrete pipes for the entrance shaft
along with excellent prospects.

Pat Cronin

The BEC Dig  1986-Date.

On 10th October 1986 AJ cleared washed in debris from the six
foot long entrance passage which was occupied by a muddy pool.  There was no airspace or draught and there
were obvious signs of backing up by floodwater. Other projects then took priority for the next few months.

A major clearing operation took place on 24th May 1987 when
the floor of the collapsed depression was lowered and the entrance enlarged and
made more “cave-like”.  A very
low, scalloped bedding passage led off with the stream running away beyond.  It was decided that the site was interesting enough
to warrant the installation of concrete piping to prevent total collapse of the
adjacent field and roadside edges and to enable the swallet to be used as a
spoil dump.  Further clearing took place
and on 30th and 31st May PC and ML began construction of a concrete block wall
at the cave entrance.  Between the 5th
and 7th June the piping of the swallet was completed with help from a large
team, the pipes being brought over from the “cave entrance factory”
at Mells by DB using a hired trailer. Three lengths of 30” x 36”pipe were lowered into the hole by Land Rover,
positioned and backfilled (see appendix 2).

Digging along the stream way now took priority.  The low bedding in shale was enlarged to
hands and knees dimensions and spoil hauled to surface by hand.  This necessitated the ejection of the old
Tyning’s Barrows sheer legs over the entrance on 4th August.  The stream sank in a small hole on the RH
side of the passage but it was decided to try straight ahead and this was
enlarged for some 15 feet before being abandoned in favour of the sink.

By the end of August there were small lenses of limestone
appearing in the shale and chiselling through this was difficult and time
consuming.  This problem was solved with
the aid of a Kango drill and generator followed up by “banging”.  Fumes were encouraged to leave the cave with
the help of a Camping Gaz stove lowered down the entrance shaft to act as a
“Fire Bucket”.

By early September, after a lot of hard work, the descending
sink passage had been pushed for some 15 feet to a rock pillar blocking the way
on.  This was banged on 6th September and
when AJ and NS returned to clear the rubble they were amazed to find an open
rift passage leading on.  This was some
25 feet long and in one place was large enough to stand up in.  A choked bedding passage led onwards.  The cave now totalled some 50 feet and
qualified for the 1987 digging competition.

The next distinct session of digging lasted until November
and involved the clearing of the next 30 feet of flat out bedding passage –
Skid Row.  This involved hand pumping of
the first flooded section and considerable enlargement of the whole length of
passage by chiselling out the roof and floor with the occasional bang for good
measure.  Periodic flooding curtailed activities
as the crawl is not a good place to be in wet weather.  Wet suits were generally worn by those at the
face.  An alternating draught was
sometimes noted and the stream could be heard running on ahead.  On 29th November another rock pillar was
reached and CS and MG surveyed the cave at 80 feet length, the end being just
under the main road near the lay-by.

On 30th November the pillar was instantaneously removed and
the following day a further 10 foot section of roomier passage entered with a
small muddy inlet coming in on the LH side. Unfortunately a deep puddle almost filled the main passage and the onset
of winter made conditions here particularly unpleasant.  The site was subsequently temporarily left to
its own devices and a concentrated effort put in on the Halloween Rift dig in a
vain attempt to win the digging barrel. On very wet days during the winter the amount of water entering the cave
was phenomenal – a roaring stream with few signs of backing up.

Work restarted on 6th May 1988 when pumping was attempted at
the terminal pool but failed dismally due to blocked pumps and split
hoses.  Another attempt on 12th and 13th
May was slightly more successful – the pump actually working but being too
difficult to operate for any length of time as it was situated at the face
where there was little room to manoeuvre. A water valve was inserted on the surface to control stream flow.

Lethargy was about to set in when Tony Blick (Craven P.C.)
appeared on the scene with his dowsing rods and promptly predicted that not far
beyond the end of the dig would be a small chamber followed by more narrow
passage and then an enormous void – some 150 feet across and at a depth of over
200 feet with at least one inlet of about 60 feet width.  Passing motorists over the next few days
probably assumed that a mass breakout from


had occurred as hordes of bearded zombies clutching bent welding rods marched
across the road in front of them.

On the first available dry weekend (when the stream entering
the cave was almost non-existent) the pump was brought into action again and
thanks to various refinements by PC (The Digging Plumber) it worked to
perfection, the puddle being emptied within an hour after 150 gallons had been
hauled to the surface in 5 gallon drums. It was a pity that much of this rapidly returned to the end due to a
leaking reservoir.  This was resolved by
storing water in a variety of buckets and pouring it away in the field next to
the cave.  A little progress was made at
the end but it was felt that life would be easier if some of the ceiling was
removed.  On the following day, 26th
June, a charge was fired to commence this operation and the debris was cleared
on the following Wednesday.  It was found
that the ceiling could be easily brought down by using a crowbar.

The following five months were taken up with regular weekend
and Wednesday night clearing and banging trips, the latter courtesy of NT and
AB.  Well over 250 skip loads of debris
was removed and some 7 lbs. of explosives used during fifty visits.  Exciting interludes included the flooding of
the cave on 9th October when the stream overflowed the spoil heap: the near
permanent retirement of ML on 22nd October after he’d breathed in too many bang
fumes: the detonation of 4 ozs. directly below the Mendip Farmer’s Hunt:
several visits by
Yorkshire and Belgian
cavers; a surface survey by TH and the fitting of a hinged steel manhole cover
to the entrance pipe on 12th and 13th November ’88.  The fifty feet or so of passage gained during
this exercise was typical of the cave, low, wet and developed in shale with the
occasional limestone intrusion.  On 27th
November the diggers were somewhat put out to reach a minute sump.  Not deterred it was decided to bang over the
top of this and on 3rd December the first charge was fired here – upsetting a
large frog who had evaded capture!

On January 4th – nine trips, sixty five skip loads and 3lbs.
bang later, the sump was bypassed following some eight to ten feet of digging
and blasting a mud filled tube at a slightly higher level.  The sump itself proved to be some six feet
long and has been preserved as a “feature’.  Beyond, a typical and partly choked streamway
led on for at least, ten feet to a low archway. Once again we lost the digging barrel.

The rest of January (eleven trips, fifty skip loads and
4lbs. bang) saw the team some fifteen feet forwards and the inevitable sump
2.  During this episode the
indestructible frog was at last captured and liberated.  It had survived six bangs!

February continued in the same manner with several clearing
and banging trips until the second sump was turned into a pool and a small
chamber created to give the team some working space.  Despite atrocious weather conditions there
were six trips.  15 skip loads removed
and 14 lbs. of bang laid.

The wet weather kept up throughout March ’89 but this did
not deter the diggers and the regular Wednesday night sessions continued.  Some fifteen feet beyond “Sump 2″ a
third sump was reached which in dry conditions dropped enough for a 2”
airspace to appear with the sound of the stream running downhill beyond and a
good draught.  Much banging and clearing
in very wet and uncomfortable conditions was done in an attempt to pass this
obstacle and this was eventually accomplished on Easter Monday.  Beyond lay another low, flooded section where
more banging was necessary.  During the
month there were 11 trips, 60 loads to surface and 2½ lbs. of bang used.

April saw the team continuing as before and it was
noticeable that during the first weeks, three new diggers on three separate
trips suffered from bouts of claustrophobia. By the 24th “Sump 4” had been reached with a couple of minor
side passages nearby.  The noise of
falling water had been merely a foot high step in the passage.  It was decided to bang over the top of the
sump in a small, mud filled tube.  Over
100 loads removed. 3½ lbs. bang used and 12 trips this month.

Due to the breakthrough at Welsh’s Green Swallet, there were
fewer diggers available during May.  Even
so, some 50 loads were removed and another 2½ lbs. bang vaporised in the course
of 10 trips.  A heavy duty bang wire was
installed., being pegged to the wall to avoid the sledge run. “Sump 4’”was
eventually blown away, being some 5 feet long and running directly below an almost
body sized, mud filled tube.  The tiny
stream passage beyond this draughted and echoed well.

In June work continued in this tube despite problems with
bad air which gave one or two diggers a nasty shock.  A brief pumping and digging session was had at
the corner where Skid Row began.  This
totally silted tube was opened up for 6 feet or so before enthusiasm waned,
even though drain rods could be pushed forwards for a further 15 feet, 6 trips,
76 loads out and ½ lb. bang used this month.

In August the Romanian trip kept several of the team
occupied and progress was measured by 3 loads out and 1 lb. bang used on 3

September saw the commencement of a dig in the right hand
passage some 20 feet back from the end of the cave.  The main dig also continued, taking advantage
of the exceptionally dry weather conditions. Over 5 trips, 3/4 lb. of bang was used, and 46 loads came out to a
rapidly increasing spoil heap.

During 6 trips in October, 52 more loads were added to the
pile and another l½ lbs. bang dematerialised. The good weather began to change and the cave got decidedly wetter.  By this time the dig extended to a point
beyond the roadside at the edge of the lay-by opposite.

November ’89 saw 28 loads out and 3/4 lb. of bang used over
6 trips.  It was obvious that the cave
had recently completely filled with floodwater indicating another sump
ahead.  Most of the work this month was
concentrated on the right hand dig which was opened up for about 15 feet to where
a low airspace over the rubble filling was encountered.

Digging here continued in December and on the 10th the
writer, clearing spoil at the face broke into an open but small stream passage
with a tiny inlet sump to the left connecting back to Skid Row.  To the right this passage continued for some
10 feet and appeared to open up into a larger, body sized tube.  2 lbs. of bang was used during the month with
70 loads to surface and 12 trips undertaken.

During the last three years of work there have been well
over 153 digging and clearing trips during which about 900 skip loads of rock,
sand, gravel and mud have been dragged out and used to backfill the entrance
crater around the pipes.  Over 30 lbs. of
assorted explosive has been used at great expense (don’t forget the bang fund
box in the Belfry!).  Over 60 BEC members
were involved as were over 20 from other clubs – notably the SMCC.  A list of diggers to date follows.  Work is continuing in the right hand dig, now
christened “Dipso” – it goes down-dip and you have to be a maniac to
work there!  A further report will follow
as and when the writer deems it worthwhile.

Tony Jarratt   9/2/90

The Diggers


H. Murrell (WCC) et al.


M. Thompson (WCC). J. Hanwell

1982 – 1986

P. Cronin. K. James. J. Widley.
N. Burns. A. Porter. B. Court(TGOF)

1986 – date

P Cronin. A Jarratt. M Lumley. R
Brown. G Jago. D Bradshaw. R Neville-Dove. P

. C Smart. J Smart. K Jones. T
Chapman. S. Macmanus. M. Grass. N Sprang. P McNab (Jnr). P Eckford. R McNair. R
S Mendes. J Williams. E Humphreys. T.
Gould. M. Tuck. G Wilton-Jones. N Gymer. K Gurner. B Williams. J Watson. L
Smith. C

A Sparrow. H Bennett. M van Luipen.
S Milner.
N Taylor. S MacDonald. A Middleton. R Payne. A.Cave. G
Johnson. R Clarke. A Boycott. R Taviner. T Hughes. T Large. I Caldwell.
D.Shand. S Lain. J Clarke. R

A Carruthers. R Beharrel. P & S. Rose and kids. G.Timson. C White. P
He1lier. A Hollis. T Phillips. R White. A

J Stanniland. S.Loader. V.  Simmonds. R.
Chdddock. H. TuckeL A. Williams. M. MacDonald. (all BEC) T.Edwards (CCG). S
Prince (CSS). J Shaw (OS). A Millett (CSS).
S Tooms
(CSS). S Brown. Wendy. J Thorpe. R North (NCC). J. London. F. Easer (GSAB). E.
Bentham (EPC). A. Ward (NWCC). G

M Knapp. K Savory (WCC). N Sims. I Hollis & dog. J Lister, P.Collett. A
Edwards. A.& G. Taylor. M. Bareau. G. Douglas (all SMCC). S. Tomalin(GSS).
Dave ?( MEG)



– “Mendip – The Complete Caves
… ‘ 1977 p44

(2) Williams – “Axbridge
Archaeological Society Newsletter 107 March/April 1988


Appendix 1



1. — ‘PUCK(S) SUDS’

In this and ensuing notes the writer enquires into a few of
the many Mendip place-names which have faded from local memory. ‘PUCK SUDS’ was
mentioned in a judgement of the Minery Court which sat at Chewton Mendip on the
10th February 1661, (SRO.DD/WG); published by Gough (1931,p.45).  In these proceedings the Grand Jury heard the
complaint of a William Rudman ‘of great wrongs and abuses done unto him by
several disorderly persons as touching a Washing Pond or Pool and another
watering place for Cattell both lying and being adjoyning to a place commonly
called by the Name of Puck Suds’.  The
offenders were local lead miners who used the water for buddling.  The Grand Jury decided that such usage should
henceforth only be allowed with the ‘Special Licence and Consent of the said
William Rudman’ and harsh penalties were decreed for any abuses.  Although the place was obviously within the
Chewton Mining Liberty, which is clearly defined, no clue was left as to the
exact spot.  However, this can be
determined by studying the unpublished ‘Perambulation of the Royalty and
Liberty of the Manor of East Harptree and

, 10th June 1768′. (SRO.DD/WG,

Box 14
). In this
“Froom Barrow” is mentioned and this is the prominent round barrow at
the side of the road to the west of the Miners Arms (it is called Castle Barrow
on a map of the Chewton Minery which abuts in this area).  The East Harptree Liberty bounds continue
westwards ;- “to Toad Mead, the waste of the said ground near to the
Swallet Hole called PUCKS SUDS–“. This is clearly Bowery Corner Swallet recorded by


(1977, p.44) as being an intermittent stream which sinks close to the wall at
ST 53135254. (see sketch plan below).

The Mendip miners were very suspicious so could well have
believed in the mischievous sprite ‘Puck’ of English folklore and the word
‘suds’ was originally used for dregs or muddy water which would certainly suit
this area of marshy ground.

Bob Williams.


, N. & Stanton, W.L 1977 Mendip
the complete caves —.3rd edn.

Gough, J.W. 1931. Mendip Mining
Laws and
Forest Bounds. Som. Rec. Soc, ‘45.


Appendix 2



Library – Books Overdue

Here is a list of outstanding un-booked-in books in the
booking out book (if you get my drift). If you’ve still got them bring them back.  If you’ve returned them, you should have
booked them in.


Booked Out



Tony Boycott







Howard Price


Tim Large



Alan Thomas



Tim Gould



Andy Sparrow








Henry Bennett








Dave Glover




Alan Griffin













































1975 P3M Report




Cerberus. Latest Bulletins

CRG Dio-supplement


Pegasus Club Berger Report


Cerberus Newsletter 55/56

UBSS Proceedings Vol. 17(2)


All Wessex Journals for binding

BB Vol (4)


Caves of


Cave Explorers


Caves of Derbyshire



BB Vol 39 (6 )

Karst Geomorphology


West Virginian Caver


The Longest Cave

& Caving

Space Below My Feet


The Caves of Rouffiqnac

The Descent of PSM

Underground Adventure


The Caves Beyond


Descent ’85




Darkness Beckons


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