The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Editorial

I made a bad mistake in the last BB saying that I had some
articles in hand.  Not one has come in
since!  Please can I have some!

There’s nothing much to report on the digging front, just
lots of hard work with little to show for it. J’Rat has reopened the corner dig in Puck Suds and has found a mud
filled tube going in the opposite direction to Skid Row.  Graham tells me that Spade Runner in Daren is
being awkward and they are thinking of revisiting Twelve O’clock High which was
banged just before the Micron was discovered but has not been looked at
since.  Graham and Richard (Blake) have
finished the survey of Welsh’s Green so a report should soon appear.

Now to bridge jumping. I tried this for the first time the other Sunday!  The theory of bridge jumping is as
follows.  If you tie a rope, securely, to
one parapet of a bridge, pass it under the arch of the bridge and up to the
opposite parapet, then anything tied onto the rope and dropped from the second
parapet will swing under the bridge like a pendulum provided that the distance
from parapet to parapet under the arch is shorter than the distance from the
parapet to the ground (otherwise the dropped item hits the ground very hard and
very fast, as proved by Newton!).

My first jump was at Windsor Hill viaduct on Mendip.  The distance from parapet to the ground looks
to be 60 to 70 feet and from parapet to parapet under the arch about 50 feet so
it’s quite safe to jump!  However,
jumping into 70 feet of nothing is a bit daunting and although one rope would
probably be quite sufficient to take the strain three were actually used  (We can’t afford ten – Snablet).  The next nerve-racking thing is waiting for
the ropes to be properly tensioned while standing on a tiny ledge hanging onto
the parapet for dear life.  Of course,
you know its perfectly safe as you’ve seen others doing it before you but
actually pushing off when told that the ropes are ready is something else!  Hesitation makes things far worse as you
start questioning your own sanity and wouldn’t it be better to go home and have
a nice cup of tea!

The most courageous jumper was J’Rat who hesitated for
several minutes but still jumped.

When you’ve actually jumped your life doesn’t flash before
your eyes, after all, if it wasn’t for the ropes you’d hit the ground at about
45 mph in about 2 seconds.  I can’t
remember the free-fall stage (about 15 feet) at all, the first memory being of
the tug of the ropes under the bridge. Then it starts to get really exhilarating as you zoom up the other side,
almost to the height at which you started, and then proceed to pendulum on a 50
foot arc.  My verdict was that it was
tremendous fun but probably not for the faint-hearted!  We offered jumps to passing Sunday-afternoon
walkers and although some showed lots of interest and stayed awhile to watch,
there were no takers!  Zot wouldn’t jump
in spite of the fact that everyone who did was saying how great it was.  Jingles jumped twice (he’s now an addict) and
the rest of the first-time jumpers would have liked to as well except that the
Hunter’s was, about to open!

A word of caution! Bridge jumping is completely banned in many countries and at many sites
in this one.  The reason is obvious!  In caving you can go without all the proper
gear or use equipment incorrectly and nine times out of ten you would get away
with it (for the tenth occasions – see the M.R.O. incident reports).  In bridge jumping these odds are reversed
(and the reports would be obituaries!). It is essential to have all the proper equipment (which is expensive!)
and to use it correctly.  Also the jump
must be tested with, say, a tackle bag full of rocks, with observers posted, to
ensure that neither the ropes or the bag come anywhere near any obstacle along
their flight paths!

Back to club matters. Alfie has presented me with a large box-full of old B.B.’s in response
to Trebor’s plea.  Thanks Alfie!  With my collection as backup we should be
able to produce all the missing ones from about number 80 onwards.

Chris Falshaw has sent us a generous donation and, in his
words, would be very pleased if it could be applied to help any “Sump
Passing Efforts” in Cuthbert’s during 1990.  Thanks Chris, we’ll see what we can do!  The Aswan Dam, below the ten foot drop in
two, is complete (with steps on both sides so that one just walks over it) and
I believe fire hoses are being organised to go from the surface to sump 2.

Clare Coase, Damien and Nan duly arrived on Mendip (Damien
and Nan were on their honeymoon – so they travelled 12,000 miles and then went
down a hole in the ground, they must be prospective BEC members!) and a large
party visited Cerberus Hall. Unfortunately I could not accompany them as I was down to take another
party to Straw Chamber, Pearl Passage and Canyon Series on the same day.  I will put in the account of their trip and
other extracts from the caving logs in the next BB.

As a very early warning, it looks as though the B.E.C.
dinner this year will be at the “WEBBINGTON COUNTRY CLUB” and will be
on Saturday 6th October.  This will be a
bit plusher than recent venues and the cost of tickets will be a bit
dearer.  However, our club dinner
sub-committee, Mr. N and Wormhole, are recommending it.  (Most other possible venues were already
booked anyway!)

 

A General Run Down on the Caves of

Western
Australia
.

Mike Wilson

During a recent holiday in

Western Australia
I managed to do some
walking and caving.  The best walking by
far are the Kalbarri Gorges – north of

Perth
.  They are well mapped and documented.  The ideal base for these routes is the town
of

Kalbarri

situated on the coast.  Plenty of good
camp sites.

Most of the well-known caves, including the show caves, are
situated in the in the
Margaret
River
Albany area
south of

Perth
.  Obviously Mammoth, Jewel and
Lake are the three most well known tourist caves and well
worth a visit.

In fact many caves are open for caving but are quite
difficult to find in the bush.  The five
I visited were Devils Lair, Strongs, Moondyne including the snowflake
extensions (very eerie and beautiful), Golgotha an old show cave and

Giants
Cave

which is a nice 1½ hour through trip. There are three others worth a visit; – Block,

Crystal
and Dingo’s. All about 45 minutes
duration.  Fairly short by English
standards.

There are longer caves in the area, Easter being one, but
they are all locked and controlled by the W.A.S.S., limited numbers allowed on
trips, and you have to sort out trips in advance (not possible on a short
holiday).  Many other caves abound in
this area, 170 have so far been mapped and logged by “one man”.

Although there appears to be great potential I wonder if any
new finds will exceed the standard depth and short length!!  The average depth appears to be about 60′,
usually in pothole form, and the caves are all well decorated.  The floors tend to be flat or level.

I had a lengthy discussion with a geologist (female) and was
told that the limestone is a capping of approximately 60′ to 70′ and the rock
is a sandstone-limestone mix.  This
accounts for the odd flooring and ease of caving.

In the north and east of
Perth
there are the
Nullabor
Caves (east) and the Oscar, Cape, Windjana and

Geike
Ranges

(north).  The Nullabor caves are the
deepest and longest caves.  The longest
being Mullan Ulang with 11 km. of passages. Wee Bubbie is 120 m. deep, and the other big cave is Cocklebiddy.  I have no information on the latter.  The W.A.S.S. have made several trips to the
Nullabor and are, therefore, the best people to contact for information.

North of Perth is the most interesting area!!  No-one appears to have made much effort into
exploring the various limestone regions. This is probably due to the vast distances involved.  I feel the best way would be to use a 4×4
vehicle and go with the intention of carrying everything one needs
“including water”.  The WA park
rangers would be a great help I am sure (don’t bother with the rangers at
Yanchep, they were very unhelpful).

Anyone who wishes to follow up this article will find maps,
guides and national park info. in the library at the Belfry.

 

Sandstone Mines,

Broomers Hill
Lane
, Pulborough, W.

Sussex

TQ063193

I don’t know if anybody will find this of major
interest.  Not exactly earth shattering
news that will warrant a stampede of thousands of cavers clutching BA’s,
harnesses, miles of rope and Elsan’s, but it is a hole or rather several holes
in the ground and I suppose, as J’Rat suggested to me, it does warrant a
mention.

I carried out a survey trip on these mines on Sunday the
18th November 1989, with the help of a friend, Rod Donaldson.  The only reason I asked him was because he is
an architect and the proud possessor of an electronic digital measuring thingy,
which he forgot to bring, along with the torch! So the survey was carried out with a 3M tape and a cigarette lighter.

Rod found that even with the lighter it was very difficult
to see, until he realised that he was still wearing his dark glasses a half
hour after we’d started!  Still it was at
the crack of 10am on a Sunday morning.

However we did manage to measure up all the passages
theand  result is the attached plan (see
next page).

Research has brought very little information to light save
for two mentions.  One in Sussex
Industrial Architecture a field guide. “Sand mining in Pulborough. Deserted for many years, overgrown, a series of shafts driven
horizontally 25m. into hillside”.

The other, a mention in the history of Pulborough by J.
Pedley.  “Mr. Perrier dug sand
(moulding sand) in Adits in small ravine at Broomers Hill till 1890”.

The mine is a series of 6 adits (one now partially blocked)
driven into sandstone and the system covers a mined area of approx. 340 2/M,
Pillar and Stall. (612 3/M).

Apart from the above information local legend abounds with
tales of tunnels connecting to houses in the village, much used by
smugglers.  Also a local farmer unearthed
two Roman lead “pigs” (now in
Chichester
museum), at the entrance.  Certainly
there is much evidence of Roman habitation very near to the site.  Pulborough is situated on ”

Stane Street
“,
and nearby Hardham, on the River Arun, was an important Roman river
garrison.  However, there is no evidence
to suggest Roman working of the mines and it remains open to speculation.

If anyone is in

Sussex
at any time and fancies a
visit, contact me on 07982 5257 and I’ll be happy to conduct a guided
tour.  Rod has also asked me to mention
that he and his wife Kay do own the local hotel and offer very reasonable rates
as well as serving excellent ales. Brakspears, King and Barns and Marstons. (This mention is his “Architects fee” for, as he puts it,
“crawling around in the dark and muck by the light of a flickering
Zippo”.)

Andy Garrod

 

 

Dordogne 1989

By Vince Simmonds

3.9.89

Brian Murlis, Steve Redwood and I met at Steve’s at about
5.30 pm and set off for

Weymouth

at about 6.00 pm.  We arrived at

Weymouth
nice and early
for our 10.00 pm sailing only to discover it had been delayed for 6 hours.  So we had a wonderful meal of cod and chips
and imbibed ‘fizzy’ ale in some local hostelries – Hunters was sorely missed
already!  We returned to the ferry port
and tried to catch some kip under the stars in the car park.  We eventually boarded the ferry at 6.00 am.

4.9.89

11.00 am saw us arriving in

Cherbourg
harbour and going straight through
customs and immediately taking a wrong turn. When we sorted this small problem
out we set off, a happy little bunch, not quite realising we had 12 hours solid
driving ahead of us.  We discovered after
several towns and several errors that the easiest way through a French town is
to head straight for the ‘Centre Ville’ and then picking up the required
road.  After nearly running out of fuel
and tempers getting a touch frayed we eventually arrived in Gramat about
midnight only to find the directions to the camp site vague to say the least.  Luckily there was someone in the station to
give us directions.  Amazingly when we
arrived at the site we managed to locate Nick Geh and his diving party and by
about 1.00 am we were nicely tucked up in our tents after having hysterics
watching Steve erect his one-man tent for the first time.

5.9.89

We arose to a marvellous morning so we proceeded to have a
quick recce of the camp site.  This site
proved to have quite excellent facilities, as with most French camp sites, hot
showers, toilets, electricity points and running water.  The next task was to go to Gramat to buy the
days supplies bread, cheese and Salame and the liquid refreshment necessary in
this heat – good excuse that.  ‘Digger’
Hastilow had also arrived the same evening as us so four of us set off to explore
the River Dordogne planning to go swimming, however the low water levels (the
area also experiencing a drought) put paid to this idea so we went back to
Fontain St.Georges a very cold resurgence pool which proved excellent for
swimming and diving though the water was extremely cold after having been
underground for months.  A small cave
above the resurgence was explored but was only about 40 feet in length if
you’re caving in swimming shorts and a zoom. We spent the evening, as most evenings would be spent eating bread,
cheese and meats and drinking beer and talking with the divers who had reports
of quite stupendous ‘vis’ and large swimming passage, so much that they were
becoming quite blasé about it.

6.9.89

Today was to be the first day of serious caving since our
arrival so we chose two relatively close caves, Reveillon and Roque du
Cor.  We had located the entrance to
Reveillon yesterday, to say it’s impressive would be an understatement.  The huge entrance porch which measures
approx. 150 feet by 150 feet leads down to a passage 30 x 30 feet with some
fine gour pools.  There are a few pitches
which we managed to negotiate with a 50′ handline or free climbable using combined
tactics.  Some side passages were
explored, Steve leading us into one particularly interesting muddy one with a
rope climb that proved a little awkward to get out of.  An interesting thing at the bottom was that
the sump had dried out and some passage beyond was explored, this was to prove
uninspiring being jammed with flood debris and mud.  On the way out we noticed a good few large
toads in the muddy sections that were the sumps.

So then on to Roque du Cor, just a few kilometers away.  This cave also had an impressive entrance, a
huge doline with a path leading to the bottom where the cave entrance was a low
but fairly wide arch leading after about 75 feet to larger passage, perhaps
about 1500 feet in total.  There were
some quite nice decorations.

After the caving we stopped off in the ‘Supermarche’ for
supplies and the evening was spent reflecting the days adventures before
retiring to our respective pits.

7.9.89

Another lovely morning! Today’s mission was to locate 3 caves, the first of them was Les
Vitcirelles which proved to be just a stream sink with no known cave – (when we
returned to

England

we discovered that Les Vitcirelles is an impressive river cave located in the
centre of a nearby army camp and access is, as far as we know, virtually
impossible).  Lots of caves seem to have
the same name.  The next cave we visited
was Pert du Themines which proved to be an excellent cave.  Situated in a blind gully the entrance is
right under a pile of flood debris as was the whole cave, evidence of flooding
was everywhere.  The cave needed just one
20′ ladder near the entrance, we were later to regret not carrying the 50′
handline.  The walls of this cave were
superbly scalloped, leaving rocks like Thomas Moore sculptures, and coloured
orange and browns.  From the pitch an
obvious passage leads to the streamway, with a little wading this can be
followed for about 100′ until a sump is reached.  A tube just back from the sump can easily be
climbed to a large fossil passage.  To
the left, a slope down to a large chamber and the stream rejoined.  The chamber is about 50′ high and flood
debris can be seen jammed in the roof. The stream meanders to a second sump. A clamber up a muddy, gravel slope leads to another fossil passage.  To the right, an extremely muddy passage can
be followed past some fine gours for 200′. To the left, the passage leads on to a decorated chamber and gour pools
deep enough to swim through.  Returning
to the first fossil passage and turning right we followed a small series of
passages and by a process of elimination we eventually found ourselves in a
clean washed passage full of gours which went on for several thousand feet
through to a beautifully decorated chamber approx. 150′ high.  Continuing along the passage, mainly by swimming,
led to a 30′- 40′ drop, which would have required the handline, to another
section of streamway.  We believed this
streamway to be a continuation beyond the sump. After these passages we made our way out.

The third cave we planned to visit was Theminette’s in a
village of the same name, as was Themines. The cave was very similar to the previous cave except that the entrance
was completely blocked and exploration was impossible.

8.9.89

We had decided that today’s cave was to be the Igue de St.
Sol, part of the Lacave system.  On the
way to the Igue we stopped and had a quick look at

Lacave
Show
Cave
natural entrance.

The Igue de St.Sol is located at the top of a track next to
a cemetery just beyond Lacave.  The walk
of about 1 km. is not difficult and the entrance is found in a fenced area just
to the right of the main track.

The entrance shaft requires about 250′ of rope. We started
with a back-up to a fence post, down a slope and belayed from a tree for a drop
of about 60’ to a muddy ledge with a rebelay just below the edge.  This gives a further 80′ drop to another
rebelay about 60′ from the bottom.

The Igue intersects an old fossil passage about 40’x 40′ and
about 2000′ long.  To the right are some
old parachute cases left over from the war. Also to the right are the best of the formations, huge bosses, columns
30′ to 40′ high, flows and grottoes.  At
the end of this passage is an old dig face in mud which has various sculptures
littered around, these are made from mud. From the left of Igue the passage is muddier and has fewer formations
and soon closes down.

On the way back down the hill we had a quick look at the
Grotte de Combe-Culier, a small active dig that is well worth the look.

9.9.89

We deliberately left the Grottes de Saut de la Pucelle to be
our last cave because of the reports we had of it being a good fun trip, this
was proved to be the case.  We took 6 x
25′ ladders, 50′ handline and various tapes and slings.  The advice we had was to check which was a
pitch and which was not, as some were easy to go over but not quite so easy to
get back out again.  On the way down we
met a couple of French caving parties who let us pass them, one party using
S.R.T. in a cave with the biggest pitch being 30′ and avoiding the water.  Although this active 3 km. streamway was relatively
low whilst we were there it must really be impressive with a bit more
water.  At the sump there is a plaque to
the memory of Martel who was instrumental in the discovery of the cave 100
years ago (1889 – 1989).  Other points of
interest were a rather smelly dead trout in one passage; a pool halfway into
the cave had a resident white fish (trout like) and the first leech we had seen
had taken up residency on one slippery climb.

All in all we had a fantastic week in an area well worth a
visit.  It also has to be said that there
is enormous potential in the area for new caves.  Also anyone with time on their hands might
also like to visit one of the many show caves in the area – with time being so
short we did not get around to seeing any.

We would also like to thank Rob Taviner (BEC & Wessex)
who supplied us with much information on the area visited.

 

Daren Cilau.

12.8.89. Vince Simmonds, Rob Taviner, Steve Redwood and
Pete Bolt.

The aim of this trip was for Pete to attempt a dive in Duke
Sump just beyond St. David’s.  We left
Pete disappearing into the sump then made our way back to Hard Rock Cafe to
brew up and wait.  We had a look round
for some food and managed to find some rice and a ‘boi l-in-the-bag, – Pete had
already claimed this as his.  We had only
just started cooking when Pete arrived complaining of ‘no vis’, he was however
still hungry so we continued cooking. 25 minutes later the rice was ready and
so was the ‘boil-in-a-bag.  The rice was
dished out and the ‘boil-in-a-bag’ opened to reveal …… a whistle, matches
and two bars of chocolate – a very tasty Survival Kit.  The rice ended up very bland!

Vince.

 

St Cuthbert and the Yorkies

A MONOLOGUE

By Mike Wilson

They were a greet bunch of lads
were t’Yorkies
And theyd coom down t’Mendip for cave
We’ve heard of a saint called Cuthbert!!
And quite fancy a visit t’grave.
 
Having “tanked up” in Hunters till closing
They arrived at t’shed for the trip
Their outfits were many and varied
With overalls straight down from the tip.

We toddled on down to the entrance
And Yorkies jaws opened reet wide
“By heck” its locked and gated
Theer moost be t’crown jewels inside.
 
Having turned of tap at the entrance
And stopped village water at source
They all slid down rift by the ladder
And locked gate behind them of course.

Well the trip to Sump II in general
Was just like most tourist trips go
With cries of this reminds me of Knacker Cracker
And look out your lamp’s a bit low.

At last stopped for a breather
And passed the Mars bars to hand
Wot no bloody mint cake
Theers nowt like it throughout the land.

We decided to return to the surface
By various devious ways
Make haste and dont miss Hunters opening
Faggots peas and Butcombe on trays.

That trip were cracking said Yorkies
As we shut the lid on the way
Saying crown jewels were left theer by queenie
She’ll be back for t’divi one day.

 

Blitz’s  Bitz

British Mountaineering Council Huts

In keeping with the idea of the club being an exploration
club with interests other than caving (and drinking!) the committee have this
year rejoined the British Mountaineering Council.  This allows us access to all huts maintained
by BMC and the Mountaineering Club of Scotland. The BMC has sent us a 19 page list, covering over 80 huts throughout
England,
Wales,
Scotland and

Ireland
.  In some instances bookings need to be for a
party only or need to be made by club secretary to club secretary but these are
exceptions rather than the rule.  The
full list will be housed in the library but there now follow a few examples to
set you thinking.

Yorkshire Mountaineering Club Hut, 3 Irish Row,
Coppermines,

Coniston,
Cumbria
.  NGR 293985

18 male, 12 female, drying room, cutlery, crockery, hot
water, showers, electric and gas cooking, coal fires, flush toilets,
mattresses, access by car, £2.00 per night

George Starkey Hut,

Patterdale,
Cumbria
.  NGR 396160

20 places for men and women, drying room, bedding, cutlery,
crockery, fridge, hot water, showers, flush toilets, slot meters, access by
car, electric light, cooking and heating by gas and electricity.  £2.75 per night.  Payment in advance.  Club or group bookings only. (min 8)

Climbers Club Hut, Bosigran Count House, Pendeen,

Cornwall
.  NGR 422365 .

18 places mixed, cutlery, crockery, £3.00 per night


University of
London
Graduate
Mountaineering Club Hut
, Fallcliffe Cottage, Grindleford, Derbyshire

NGR SK240771

15 places mixed, electric lighting and cooking, living room,
3 bedroom with alpine bunk beds, kitchen, washroom with shower and flush
toilets.  Access from road, car
park.  £2.50 per night.

Mynydd Climbing Club Hut, Blaen y Nant, Llanrwst. NGR
738603

30 places mixed, cutlery, crockery, hot water, electric
shower, flush toilets, access by car, electric light, gas cooking. £2.00 per
night.

Junior Mountaineering Club of
Scotland
Hut
, The Smithy at Little
Loch Broom.  NGR 095877

10 places, cutlery, crockery, slot meter, access by car, no
bedding, full cooking facilities.  50p
required for electricity meter.  £1.50
per night.

Irish Mountaineering Club Hut, The Bloat House,
Annalong.

NGR J 38 20  24 places
mixed, bedding, cutlery, crockery, access by car, gas lighting and cooking, 4
weeks notice of booking required.

 

News

A news flash just in from the

Netherlands
……

Born on Sunday 18th March 1990 a daughter and sister,
Jennifer Carmen to Bob, Marijke and Angela Hill.

Quote

Some quotes from Lisa Taylor who is currently working in

South Africa

“Managed to write off a company car the first week I
was here!”   “Christmas Day, we
all went water skiing and we also managed to pack in a little wind surfing,
barbecuing and playing on a giant water slide”

“Did I tell you I went caving with Colin Priddle down a
hole called The Knocking Shop.  What a
hole.  Porcupine quills in the entrance
that was a tight wriggle.  It then opened
up into the most beautifully decorated cave I’ve ever seen.”

The Working Saturday

The committee would like to record their very grateful
thanks to the people who turned up and participated so fully in the recent
working Saturday.  It was a small but
very select bunch of friends who managed to transform the Belfry into something
not resembling its usual slum appearance. It is wrong to single people out for special attention but would you
have spent 3 hours cleaning, disinfecting and painting the small toilet as Babs
did?  Would you have had the nerve to
paint the large bunkroom that oh so subtle shade of blue that Lavina
chose?  Would you have had the civil engineering
expertise to build the speed bump, where the cattle grid used to be, quite so
high.  Would you have slaved over a hot
stove for days before, as Hilary did, to provide the working Belfryites with a
never ending supply of cakes and biscuits? Similarly the food in the evening, with just the merest hint of 5 garlic
bulbs, provided by Glenys was especially welcome as were the slide shows by
Zot  (The Antarctic and Penguins I have
loved), Blitz (Oh No, not more cone karst!) and Skippy, (Why are all my bridge
jumping slides upside down?) with his show after the pub.

Indeed we liked it so much that we are going to do it all
again this summer and combine as a barbecue and exterior painting session.  Lets hope we see a few more faces this
time.  Grateful thanks to:

Mike and Hilary Wilson, Martin and Glenys Grass, Lavinia and
Quiet John, Blitz, Nigel Taylor, Zot, Mac, AlanThomas, Stuart, Graham Johnson,
Dick Fred, Nick Gymer, Kevin Gurmer, Carol White, Jeff and Babs, Slug and
finally last but not least Arthur.

 

CSCC AGM May 12th, 1990

The CSCC AGM this year was a fairly quiet affair with little
of note.  However the subject of training
reared its (ugly?) head again and member clubs are being asked to consult their
members as to their needs and requirements. Currently the NCA has in the region of £2000 to be spent on caver
training and the CSCC is considering holding a weekend in the autumn covering
topics such as cave photography, SRT, An aspect of practical First Aid
awareness. etc …..  But I hasten to say
these are only suggestions.  The CSCC
needs to now as to the extent of demand, if any and for what.

CONSERVATION AND ACCESS

The CSCC were informed the both Cow Hole and Ubley Hill Pot
are no longer accessible as the entrance depressions have been filled in.  This has been going on for some months but
has only just been noticed – an indication of the popularity of the two sites?


Wessex

Challenge 1990

The

Wessex

challenge is to be at The Belfry this year and will be on Saturday, June 23rd
at 7.30 pm.  The fancy dress theme is –
Civil Wars.

Tickets are £4.00 and are available fromany committee
member.  Zot says that the pig is
organised!

 

M.R.O. Incident Reports. 1989

These are descriptions of the nine cave rescue call-outs
that occurred during the year.  They (the
descriptions) were abstracted from the annual report of the Mendip Rescue
Organization for 1989 in which further details, statistics and letters from the
grateful rescued may be found.

Sunday 29th January Swildon’s Hole

Brian Prewer was alerted by Yeovil Police at 4.05 p.m.  They reported that a 16-year old caver, Lee
Parker, had fallen down a 12 ft drop in the

Wet Way
and broken his leg.  The injured caver’s brother had left to raise
the alarm whilst another brother had stayed to help.  A Westminster Speleological Group party in
the cave chanced across the incident and assisted.

A rescue party comprising of Tony Jarratt, Geoff Price, Pete
McNab, Mark Lumley, Duncan Prew, Pete Hann, Mike Duck, A. Taylor, Pete Moody
and Babs Williams entered the cave at about 4.20 p.m. with First Aid and
hauling equipment.  The patient was given
two Temgesic tablets and the broken leg immobilised in neoprene splints.  He was then hauled up the pitch in a
“baby-bouncer” and brought out within the hour, including being
carried across the muddy fields in the Paraguard stretcher.  The ambulance left for Bristol Royal
Infirmary at 5.45 p.m.

The three Parker brothers had been caving before, but Lee
wore trainers which probably explains why he slipped.  They also misinformed MRO that they were
members of a club in the Hampshire area, which was officially refuted shortly
afterwards.

Thursday 2nd February Swildon’s Hole

Fred Davies was contacted at Bruton by Yeovil Police at 5.45
p.m.  An army party had been reported as
missing.  He requested Stuart McManus,
Dave Pike and Dave Turner to form a search party and obtain further
details.  Barely 15 minutes later, HTV
gave a news flash that a “major search” was under way on Mendip.  How they came by this and who confirmed the
story is a mystery!

Nineteen Junior Leaders from RCT/RAOC, Azimghur Barracks,
Colerne, Wiltshire, were led down the cave at about mid-day by corporals Ward
and Bruce; the former being the most experienced caver.  A third staff member who would normally have
been with such a large party was ill. They went as one group to Sump One without incident, but, on the return
above the Twenty Foot Pot, Corporal Bruce and nine others strayed off ahead of
the rest and became lost in the

Dry
Ways
. Unaware of this, Corporal Ward’s party surfaced at about 4.30 p.m.
having come out via the

Wet Way
.  After waiting an hour, he raised the alarm.

When Stuart McManus and Fred Davies arrived at about 6.10
p.m. there was some uncertainty as to how many were still underground.  Meanwhile, the lost party was chanced upon in
the Water Chamber by two other cavers from
Dorset
and escorted out safely.  “Major
Search” McManus thus called a parade on the Green and carried out a
complete count to find all present and correct!

Sunday 26th March Charterhouse-on-Mendip

Mrs Fry was exercising her Labrador dog over the mineries
when it crawled under the grill protecting the entrance of Rakes Shaft No. 14
and fell about 20 feet.  She went to the
Mendip Caving Group hut at Nordrach for assistance and Jonathan Roberts alerted
Martin Bishop and Chris Batstone, who were already changed for a trip, at the Belfry.  Brian Prewer was also informed and all went
to the site with ropes.  The large dog
was neatly trussed up, hauled out and returned uninjured to its grateful owner.

Tuesday 28th March Swildon’s Hole

Ruth McBride suffered a bad asthma attack at the Double Pots
whilst caving with Ravenskaff Venture Scouts from Clevedon.  One of the scouts left the cave to raise the
alarm and the police contacted MRO through the Hunters’ Lodge Inn at 9.57
p.m.  A dinner party at Upper Pitts was
informed and those not indisposed turned out to assist; namely, Fred Davies,
Brian Prewer, Tony Jarratt, Steve Pickersgill, Mark Foyle, M. Heard, Graham
Johnson, Ric and Pat Halliwell.  On
arrival at Priddy Green, they found that the patient had surfaced safely with
assistance from her own party.  A
convenient stand down at 10.20 p.m. followed.

Saturday 8th April G.B. Cavern

Graham Heriot of the Victoria Caving Group fell about 25
feet from the top of the Ladder Dig pitch early in the afternoon and sustained
a badly fractured jaw with lacerations and severe bruising to his head, legs
and arms.  He was wearing slip-on type
Rigger Boots and the single band chin strap of his helmet broke at some stage
during the fall.  He was lucky to get away
so lightly in the circumstances and to have the support of two nurses, Sue
Grimstead and Nickie Trill, who happened to be in the cave.  Another party in the cave was also able to
assist for they raised the alarm when the Victoria Caving Group member hurrying
from the cave for help slipped and badly twisted his own leg.

Brian Prewer received the call from Yeovil Police at 3.10
p.m. and was told that the fallen caver had “multiple injuries”.  A major call-out followed.  Rescuers were raised from Upper Pitts through
Murray Knapp and Dave Pike, whilst Trevor Hughes and Dave Lennard were
encountered en route for Swildons in full kit and diverted to G.B.  Dr. Tony Boycott was called from a meeting at
the Hunters’ Lodge Inn.  The first MRO
party, Trevor Hughes and Dave Lennard, went underground at 3.28 p.m., just 18
minutes after receiving the call-out. Stuart McManus organised the underground teams and Tim Large established
the surface control.

Murray Knapp and Alison Hutchings took down medical supplies
at 3.36 p.m.  Others followed in
succession with necessary kit: Nick Pollard, Rob Taviner and Dave Pike took
down the Mager stretcher frame and hauling ropes at 3.39 p.m; Tony Boycott and
Stuart McManus ferried in the carrying sheet at 3.45 p.m; Brian Prewer went in
with a bag of splints at 4.03 p.m; Pat Cronin and Ken James took down further
medical supplies, and Nigel Edwards and Tim Hall of the Border Caving Group set
up radio contact at the entrance. Communications with those underground were made when Stuart Lain and Jim
Rands took down the Grunterphone at 4.40 p.m. Alan Butcher, Jeff Smith, Keith Capper, Linda Wilson and Graham Mullen
entered the cave to support at 4.41 p.m. Heat packs and the hot air breather were taken down by Nick Sprang and
Richard Payne just before 5 p.m.

Good progress was made underground and Tony Jarratt, John
Beecham, Barry Hanks, Mark Lumley with two others went down to give a hand on
the final stretch of the haul out.  The
patient was safely out of the cave by 6 p.m. and taken to

Weston-s-Mare
General
Hospital
.  This incident involved over 25 people underground
with additional cavers standing by on the surface.

Saturday 6th May Drunkard’s Hole

Yeovil Police called Brian Prewer at 7.15 p.m. with news
that someone was stuck down the cave.  No
further details were available.  It was
subsequently found that Mr. G. Townsend from Bridgwater YMCA had been leading a
group of novices comprising of one other adult and four 12-year olds when it
was decided to turn back.  Being now in
the rear, he experienced difficulty in keeping up with his retreating party and
exhausted himself in a tight passage. The youngsters immediately ahead could not help.  A rescue team consisting of Tony Jarratt and
Andy Sparrow went to assist with Brian Prewer, Pete Hann, Nigel Graham, Dave
Pike, Jim Rands, Pete and Alison Moody in support.  Tony and Andy had the stuck caver out by 8
p.m. none the worse for his ordeal.

Thursday 18th May General Search

Brian Prewer was contacted direct by a Mrs Ferguson from

Bath
30 minutes after
midnight.  She said that her husband had
gone caving straight from work the previous evening and had not returned.  He had been expected back at 11 p.m.  The informant had no further details of the
cave or the other members of the party, except that they could be driving a
green and white Citroen 2CV.

Yeovil Police were contacted to formalise the incident and
they offered help with a patrol car to search likely sites.  Nigel Taylor was alerted to check the popular
places in Burrington and John Beecham did likewise at Charterhouse. Brian
himself did a tour of Priddy.  Twenty
minutes later, Mrs Ferguson rang again to say that her husband Toby had returned.  He had been down Manor Farm Swallet and taken
longer than expected because of another slow party in the cave.  On surfacing late, he had tried to contact
his wife but the pay phones he found only took 999 calls.  Cavers relying upon remote telephones must
beware of this situation.

Thursday 6th June Swildon’s Hole

Roger Dors received a call from Yeovil Police at 9.20 p.m.
with a report that a caver in another party had fallen somewhere beyond Sump
One and sustained serious injuries.  No
further details were known.  A major
operation followed during which it became apparent that two experienced

Bath
University

cavers had been on a trip to the bottom of the Black Hole but had belayed their
ladder to an unsound boulder.  Douglas
Gauld, aged 23, was the first to descend, but tried this unprotected and so
fell about 35 feet with all the tackle when the boulder pulled out.  His distraught partner, Kevin Martin, was
unable to go to his assistance and, whilst hearing moans from below and even
seeing his friend crawling round, he clearly expected the worse.  There was nothing for it but to leave the
scene and call for help.

Upstream of Sump One, he met a party with two army
instructors from Colerne.  Arrangements
were made to alert MRO and Kevin was accompanied back to the Black Hole.  To his relief, they discovered that the
fallen caver appeared to be remarkably composed and able to assess his injuries
coherently.  For some reason, the long
rope available to the cavers on the spot remained in its tackle bag in the
streamway.

The university students had gone down the cave at 7.15 p.m.
and the fall occurred at about 8.30 p.m. So, the injured caver was stranded and unattended for about 90 minutes
until Jonathan Swift, who headed the first MRO team, arrived at the Black Hole
about 10.10 p.m.  The rope was put to
good use at last when Jonathan belayed it and did a classic abseil to reach
Douglas Gauld.  He was closely followed
to the pitch by Graham Price, Mike Breakspeare, Keith Savory and Stuart
McManus.  By now, Richard West had set up
a control on Priddy Green and many other teams were called and stood by.  It promised to be an all night job at least.

Graham Johnson acted as an effective runner until full
communications were established; Tony Jarratt carried in the neoprene splints
and Dany Bradshaw the hot air kit.  Nick
Pollard took down extra heat packs and Andy Sparrow hauling ropes and a
harness.  At 10.26 p.m. Bob Cork and Dr. Tony
Boycott went underground with the Mager stretcher.  Shortly afterwards, Jonathan Swift surfaced
with first hand news that the patient had wrist and back injuries, but seemed
to have had a remarkable escape from such a fall.  Dave Pike brought the Sump Rescue apparatus
along and several cave divers were alerted. Although there was a possibility that Douglas Gauld might be willing and
able to be pulled through whilst holding his breath, this could not be
guaranteed, of course.  So, the bulky
equipment was taken underground to Sump One by Martin Bishop, Chris Batstone,
Pat Cronin, Ian Brown, Ashley Houlton, Aubrey Newport, Robin Brown, Pete McNab,
Max Milden and Steve Redwood.

More hauling and medical equipment was taken into the cave
by Nigel Graham, Rob Taviner and Dave Grieves whilst the Grunterphone and sump
telephone went down at 11.30 p.m. with Nigel Taylor, Phil Romford and Trevor
Hughes.  Ted Humphreys followed in
support.  By midnight, a surface team
comprising Brian Prewer, Brian Workman, Jim Hanwell and Nick Barrington were
listening in above Sump One and Dave Pike maintained a radio link at the
entrance.  Good three-way communications
with control were established at 1.14 a.m. The hauling party was reported as approaching the downstream side of
Sump One.  Hot air spares and a dry furry
suit were requested and taken down by Fred Davies and Alan Mills.  The patient agreed to be towed through the
sump without using breathing apparatus.

Throughout the night, the long haul continued: 1.22 a.m.
through the Sump; 2.53 a.m. at Barnes’
Loop; 4
a.m. at the Twenty Foot; 4.25 a.m. at the Eight Foot; 4.53 a.m. in the Water
Chamber, and 5.23 a.m. at Jacob’s Ladder. The patient was brought out of the cave to the awaiting ambulance and
press at 6.03 a.m., over nine hours after falling so badly.  He was taken to the
Royal
United
Hospital
at

Bath
.

This was the longest distance that MRO has had to carry
someone injured out of a Mendip cave.  It
is a tribute to all concerned that it ran so smoothly and relatively quickly in
the event.  The inevitable media reports
were also reasonable and we are learning how to deal with this side of things
too.  Thirty cavers were involved
underground and ten more directly on the surface.  Many others stood by in case they were needed
later in the day.

Saturday 2nd December General Alert

Brian Prewer was called by the Police at 50 minutes past
midnight because someone from

Bristol

had been reported as overdue following a trip with a party of scouts to a
Priddy cave the previous evening.  He
stood by Dave Turner and Brian Workman, then went to check both the Green and

Eastwater Lane
.  On returning home, he was contacted again to
say that the caver concerned had just turned up at 1.35 a.m.

Saturday 23rd December Goatchurch Cavern

The Police called at 6.50 p.m. to report that a 15-year old
scout had slipped and dislocated his right knee.  Nigel Taylor was alerted and at the cave to
help within ten minutes of the call-out. He found that a party of four adults and nine teenagers, all members of
the 21st Swindon Scouts, had been coming out of the cave when Paul Bannister
slipped on the polished rock below the cut steps in the main entrance
passage.  His knee was badly dislocated
and he was in great pain.  The fall
occurred at about 6.30 p.m.  The scouts
rigged a handline to the surface whilst waiting for MRO.

After assessing the injuries, Nigel called for a
stretcher.  This was brought to the cave
by Tim Large, Fred Davies, Tony Jarratt and Dany Bradshaw at 7.25 p.m.  The patient was soon evacuated and carried to
the roadside to await the arrival of an ambulance.  This was delayed until 8.15 p.m. owing to
industrial action.  A paramedic in the
ambulance crew administered Entonox and relocated the injured knee.  The patient was then taken to Bristol Royal
Infirmary for further treatment.

What’s In A Name?

(Any errors or omissions in the following? See Alan – Ed.!)

Alan Thomas

When I was first asked to compile this list I thought it was
because members would be interested to know how others came by their
nicknames.  I have since found that many
members are interested to know the real names of people they only know by their
nicknames.

Ian Caldwell was given the name Wormhole by Trevor
Hughes because he had a propensity for digging small holes and because he was a
womaniser (which I suppose is another way of digging small holes).

S.J. Collins is called Alfie for a reason that I have
already adequately explained in “The Story of Priddy”.

Pat Cronin is called Stumpy for obvious reasons.

Chris Hall was known as Snogger Hall as a description
of his behaviour.  On joining the police
force he became known as “Evening all”.

Chris Harvey became known as Zott because when he was
first seen on Mendip he had a puke-coloured (and occasionally puke-covered)
Consul with a mascot suspended from a spring which he was in the habit of
pulling.  As it flew up to the roof he
exclaimed: Zott.

Colin Houlden became known as Colin the Screw when he
worked at Shepton Mallet Prison.  I last
saw him last November when I was making my way to
Guernsey
on Channel Island Ferries, but Tony Jarratt (pronounced J’Rat) tells me that he
is still about.

Trevor Hughes is called Biffo

Dave Irwin is called The Wig, which is (strangely
enough) short for a corruption of Irwin.

When I was staying at the Hill Inn in February the Landlord
(Pissy Riley by name) reminded me that in the late 1960’s the definite article
was put in front of names and nicknames. For instance, when he was in

Australia
he went call on Phil
Kingston and was greeted with:  “Ah!
It’s the Riley”.  I have never had a
nickname but in the 60’s was sometimes called the Thomas.  John Riley, by the way, was called
Pissy Riley because on one occasion he objected to someone passing his
cigarettes round the Hunters.

Mike Jeanmaire is called Fish because he was declared
by the D.H.S.S. to be temperamentally unsuitable for anything except diving.

Greame Johnson (as opposed to Graham) was given the
name Bolt because he resembled Frankenstein’s monster.

Ron King is known as Kangy which, when we were young,
we meant to be a corruption of King.

Mark Lumley is called Gonzo after one of the Muppets,
whom he resembles.

Stuart McManus is known as Mac usually but
occasionally Mac Anus for obvious reasons.

Peter McNab is known as Snab. When he was in the
R.A.F. there were so many Peters that every Peter had to have a nickname.  He called himself Snab to avoid being called
Macscab.  It is obvious that his son
would be called Snablet.

When we were staying at the Hill Inn in February he was
heard to say wistfully:  “Peter used
to be known as my son; now I am known as his father”.

Mike Macdonald is called Trebor after an
impersonation of a newsreader done by Lennie Henry.  The newsreader is called Trebor Macdoughnut.

Richard Neville-Dove is called Mongo because he
resembles a character in “Blazing Saddles”.

Dave Shand is known as Wobbly, for reasons that
become obvious on Saturday night.

Chris Smart is known as Blitz because he was struck
by lightning in

Austria
.

Nigel Taylor was given the name Mr. Nigel by Gordon
Tilly because when he first became a member he called everybody Mr.  In fact he called me Alan long before he
called my wife Hilary.

Brian Van Luipen is called Loopy for obvious reasons.

Graham Wilton-Jones is called Bassett because his
surname is said to resemble Wootton Bassett.

© 2024 Bristol Exploration Club Ltd

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