The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Cover Picture: The Balcony Formations, St. Cuthbert’s
Swallet

(Part of a photograph taken by Phil Romford )

 

1989 – 1990 Committee

Hon. Sec                 Martin Grass
Treasure                  Christ Smart
Caving Sec.             Peter McNab
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Stuart McManus
B.B. Editor               Ted Hunphreys
Hut Engineer            Nigel Taylor
Membership Sec.     John Watson
                               Ian
Caldwell

 

Editorial

The big push in Cuthbert’s was a success in so far as the
power cable and telephone from the Belfry to Sump 2 and the electric pump
actually worked.  Unfortunately the pump
could not handle the glutinous stuff at the bottom of the sump so the attempt
was abandoned.  Plans are afoot, however,
for further efforts.

The 60’s/70’s disco was a great success and enjoyed by all
who came.  There was a report on a local
radio station the following morning that an ‘acid house’ party on Mendip was
raided by police but that no arrests were made. The BEC disco was visited by the constabulary but the suggestion that
this was the party referred to is, of course, a wild exaggeration and totally
untrue!

Last year I included the treasurer’s report and club
accounts in the BB and was told that this was wrong as these should be
available only to members.  This year,
therefore, they are produced separately. Those of the members who have their BB’s posted to them will get their
copy with it.  The rest can get them from
any committee member.

In June 1959, the club published the Belfry Bulletin Digest
Number One (price three and sixpence) edited, I believe, by Bryan Ellis.  This contained a selection of the better
material that had appeared in the BB up to that time, I think it’s time that
Digest Number Two appeared with a selection from 1959 onwards and also, maybe,
some of the items from the first digest. It makes fascinating reading the discovery of Stoke 2 – the discovery of
the Ifold series – the ingredients for a Belfry Binder etc … If there are any
budding editors among you, step forward and be recognised!  I’d help out with the typing, to get it all
on disc.  The club might even make a
profit!

Please could I have contributions for the Christmas BB.

There are no articles whatsoever in hand and an attempt is
always made to make the Christmas edition a special one. Anything would be
welcome – articles, anecdotes, puzzles, games, cartoons, jokes, poems etc ..

 

B.E.C. Secretary’s Report, 1990

Martin Grass

This year I honestly believe the club had one of its best
committees for many years and much work has been started and more importantly
completed.  The most important of these
has been the signing of the St. Cuthbert’s lease which now means we are
responsible for a large area surrounding the cave.  This year should also see the publication of
the long awaited St. Cuthbert’s report. Everything is ready for the printers and it should be available for
Christmas.  Thanks to everyone who has
worked extremely hard on these two projects.

As can be seen from the Hut Engineer’s report a lot of work
has also been carried out on the Belfry, it is just a sad fact that work it is
normally the same people doing all the work.

I have not found the post of secretary to be too taxing as
most of the hard work has been handled by the other committee members (it’s
called delegation).  I have had the usual
letters from prospective members etc. to deal with and the usual minute-writing
which Glenys Grass has typed.  A big
thank you to her for this.

Unfortunately this year has seen a deterioration of our
relationship with our neighbour Walt. Mainly over his various tree felling activities in the

Plantation
. Hopefully our lease to this area will stop this type of destruction.

I have always maintained that continuity on a committee is
very important and I am prepared to stand for secretary next year.  I also hope that the majority of my fellow
committee members will stand and hopefully, some of the younger club members so
we can get into a position of having new committee members each year but not
having to change the whole line up which I believe adds to confusion.

Finally we have had a meeting every month this year and the
attendance is as follows (10 meetings up to August)

Martin Grass                 8
Nigel Taylor                  8
Chris Smart                  10
Ian

Caldwell
                 8
Ted Humphreys             9
Chris Harvey                 9
Stuart McManus           8
John Watson                8
Peter McNab                5

 

Caving Secretary’s Report, 1990

Peter McNab

This will be read out at the A.G.M.  Snablet has written it but keeps leaving it
in

Bristol
or
goes gallivanting all over the place doing silly things like caving!  I left this big space for it and now, since I
need to get it to the printers as soon as possible, I haven’t got anything that
fits – Ed.

Tackle Master’s Report. 1990

S.J.McManus

The tackle located within the Belfry store has been in
constant use as usual.  The quality of
the lifeline ropes has been reviewed with the outcome of two additional ropes
(1 x 45m. and 1 x 20m.) being purchased, the existing ropes have either been
scrapped or cut into shorter lengths. Tackle bags have also been provided to carry lifeline rope and so
protect it from damage within the cave. Please remember to use these tackle bags.  Ideally I would have liked to have bought
more life lining rope but due to club finances being low this will have to wait
until the next financial year when additional ropes and tackle bags will be
provided.

The only real complaint I have is that ropes and ladders are
sometimes being left dirty and lying in the Belfry changing room.  I would appreciate if members would assist by
either making the culprits see the errors of their ways or I would ask members
if they see any tackle lying around the hut please would they clean it and hang
it up to dry within the store, after all it is your tackle!

The SRT rope which is kept by the Tackle Master has not been
used that much over the last year.  Their
main use has been on expeditions abroad. (Matienzo at Xmas and

Austria

this summer).  Perhaps this reflects the
lack of organised or other trips by club members to Yorkshire etc.  Remember the ropes can be used for trips on
Mendip as well.  Newer members may not be
aware of the SRT rope and so I have taken the opportunity to list it at the end
of this report.

The club has bought four 10m. ladders during the year and
these together with two ladders donated by a member of the club are also kept
by the Tackle Master for use on home or away trips.  I would appreciate it if members borrow this
ladder for away trips, to ensure that some tackle is left in the Belfry store
for other members to use.

It would be appreciated if organisers of expeditions book
tackle in advance so that rope and ladder can be made available to other
members whilst you are away.

Members have been donating old rope for digging and it would
be appreciated if these members would hand them to the Tackle Master, and not
just put them in the store as, believe it or not, old SRT rope etc. sometimes
finds its way onto the active lifelining hooks! I would therefore prefer to hold on to the digging rope myself and issue
it to members who will know exactly what it is for rather than leave it in the
store.  I do have quite a few 100 feet of
rope available for digging purposes, so please diggers don’t hesitate – come on
down!

Equipment held by Tackle Master.

SRT Rope.

1.         54m. Blue Water
2.         18m.
3.         33m.
4.         40m.
5.         100m.
6.         40m. Edelrid
7.         Rope Protectors.
8.         Tackle Bags.
9.         Hangers and Maillons.

Ladder.

4 x 10m.  Ladders
2 x 25 ft.

Survey Equipment.

3 sets of Clino and Compasses.
1  30m. Survey tape.

Other Items

1 Cement Mixer
(For Hire on a day rate)

Please contact Tackle Master two weeks in advance of any
trip to organise issue of tackle.

Mac.

 

B.B. Editor’s Report. 1990

Ted Humphreys

Only five BB’s have been produced again this year.  I keep scratching my head for ways to attract
more material!  We have currently about
225 members in the club but over the last year only 25 or so have contributed
to the club journal (and this number includes all the committee members!).  To those 25 thank you very much your
contributions were much appreciated by all. As for the other 200 members – how can I get you to put pen to
paper?  Even if you no longer do mammoth
super-severe trips, there must be some unrecorded caving exploit(s) that would
interest members.  Everything ought to be
recorded, even if it’s only for posterity!

Perhaps I should quote some statistics about the BB.  The current print run per copy is 250 (I
always have a few left over).  I did try
reducing the number to 240 once and some clubs on the exchange list missed
out.  When the BB arrives from the
printers, J’Rat kindly volunteers to hand out as many as possible before the
remainder are posted (Thanks J’Rat!). The number posted is about 120. This is an important number – if it’s less than 120 I have to stick the
stamps on and get very gluey – 120 or more and the Post Office franks
them.  The number of pages per issue
drops as the year progresses, from 33 at Xmas to 14 in August, being directly
related to the amount of material available (perhaps the editor should hoard
articles – were it only possible!).

Although being Editor involves many hours sitting at this
keyboard, I have quite enjoyed the experience and would be prepared to continue
next year if the club so desires.

Hut Warden’s Report, 1990

Chris Harvey

The year started well with quite a few bookings from Clubs
who normally stay.  During the second
half of the year the bookings dropped off somewhat and seem to have levelled
out on a low.  The reasons for the
decline in bookings in my opinion are as follows:-

1)       The
general condition of the Belfry leaves a lot to be desired.

2)       Working
weekends must be more frequent as the place is deteriorating rapidly. 

3)       Only
a small number of members are keeping the place clean and up together.

4)       Babs
says members are nice.

We have had no service bed-nights again this year.  This is due to some of the points mentioned
above in my opinion.  On a positive note,
Roger has put his beer up again.    

Zot

 

B.E.C. Hut Engineer’s Report. 1990

Nigel Taylor

Since joining the B.E.C. nearly twenty years ago, I have
undertaken three different committee posts. Hut Warden, Caving Sec, and Hut Engineer.  Though I cannot speak with any authority
regarding the other committee posts.  I
have always felt that the most challenging of all these positions is that of
the ‘Hut Engineer’.  So it was that I
felt great trepidation in putting my head ‘into the noose’ for another year of
Belfry maintenance and associated trauma!

Thus it is with great relief that I can report that, in my
view, it has been a most rewarding year, made possible by both the firm support
of this years committee and membership alike. Cries from the usual ‘Doubting Thomas’s’ (Not Alan) to the effect of
“It’s no use having working weekends, no b—-r will turn up for ’em”
were definitely not true.

I decided that, in order to make a Belfry working-meet
successful, certain basic criteria exist; to ensure sufficient tools and
materials for the proposed tasks are assembled in time for the event (This is a
prime requisite) to make a major event out of the meet and for it to last only
one day of the weekend so that the keener cavers amongst us can get underground
on the Sunday.  Further I reasoned that a
‘Belfry Binder’ of yester-year would round-off the working day, most especially
if followed by some form of entertainment and perhaps a barrel!

So it was, that on Saturday 10th. March 1990, nearly twenty
B.E.C. members, wives and girlfriends descended upon the Belfry and spent the
rest or the day, in near perfect weather and harmony, completing the following
jobs: –

Clear out of attic space, complete site clearance of waste
and scrap and loading into two commercial waste skips and re-storage of useful
items, full glass fibre insulation of loft space, insulation of water tanks and
pipe work, repair of shower system and installation of thermostats and timers
etc., replace broken sanitary-ware, cleanse toilets and shower areas in full,
removal of old broken cattle-grid, refill with stone and build speed ramp and
tarmac over, re-felt wood-store roof, re-point storm damaged main roof tiles
and ridge, fix ridge tiles to carbide store, build carbide-store fire sand
waterproof cover, general cleaning and much repainting of Belfry interior,
clean-out Fair Lady Well stream and pond, fit new outside economy light
switches, all of this and much, much more!

The end of the working day came at last, and a superb repast
was prepared, cooked and served by Hon Sec’s best, Glenys GRASS.  This was followed by ZOT’s magnificent slides
of pre-Argie
Falklands.  Penguins etc. (With and without wrappers!).
This in turn was followed by Chris SMART’s “Antics on a Chinese
bicycle” (I think that was the title), both slide shows accompanied by the
usual banter!  The Belfry was
packed.  After a brief respite at the
Hunters, all returned to the hut and savoured barrels of further nectar.

The support for the event was excellent, though I have
mentioned some names above I dare not mention more, for fear of ignoring
someone from the list.  I was greatly
impressed with the efforts made, especially by some of the ladies in cleaning
the ‘Bogs’ etc.  Even flowers and a vase
appeared in one!

As you will see from the Treasurer’s accounts, I had managed
to inveigle from his clutches a very large sum of money for the hut and the
basic necessary materials to effect certain non-recurring jobs.  The working weekend alone swallowed up in
excess of £250, though the long overdue full insulation of the Belfry attic
accounted for £144 of this sum.

Last October’s A.G.M. directed a replacement fire to be
installed, accordingly, in November we travelled to Wiltshire and purchased a
fine new ‘Arctic Stove’; this set the club back another £250+.  We then re-sited this in a far better
position against the Library wall.  This
not only gives more useable main room space but also adds heat through the wall
to the library and books.  To offset an
‘Anon member’s’ outstanding hut fees, a new wall surround was added.  The provision of a new chimney and flue to
conform to new building regulations, as well as fire-safety risks, added nearly
a further £300 to this expense.  I hope
that the 1990 A.G.M. will agree however that this has proved to be monies well
spent.

The A.G.M. may also care to note that the new stove and loft
insulation partially negate any need for an expensive Central Heating system in
the hut.  The night storage heaters
combined with the extra insulation are now more efficient when allowed to work
properly.  It is my personal view, based
upon research into costing a system for the hut, that the expenditure is in
excess of what this club can afford. Therefore, the proposal of last year’s A.G.M. should, with this year’s
1990 A.G.M., be voted to be held over for at least one further year, in order
to monitor the revised state of the hut’s heating and insulation system.  Regular Belfry stayer’s have said to me that
the hut can in fact be too warm on a weekend if the fire is going well.  I would welcome the direction of the A.G.M.
upon this point, as I hope to stand again for Committee this October and should
like to offer myself again for election to the post of Hut Engineer.

You may also have noted that new ‘high-security’ locks have
been fitted to both the Library and changing room doors.  Your main Belfry key no longer fits the
changing room door and I should like to explain the idea behind my thinking on
this subject:- This ensures that guests given the special ‘Guest Key’ can enter
the hut (via the changing room) but cannot gain access to the club’s
tackle.  The tackle-store key now being
available to all members from the key box inside the front door, opened using
your main Belfry key.

I should most especially like to thank Pat CRONIN and Stu
(MAC) McMANUS, who have both worked hard, and freely given of their time, in
installing the new ‘Super-Shower’ system.

Constant small jobs around the site have been tackled by
members and myself this last year and the amount of time it involves cannot
always be measured by outward appearances. For example, I have surprised myself in discovering that I have made
over five dozen telephone calls to planning depts., rating depts., fire
officers, lawyers, builders merchants etc., and driven over 720 miles upon Hut
Engineer business this year.  If, as I
suspect, these figures are matched by the other members of the outgoing
committee.  I believe this is no mean
feat and should be borne in mind by the very rare but sometimes vocal
complainant within the club.  Usually
this beast absents itself from any work or club effort!

I am indeed proud to have worked with a very active B.E.C.
committee this year.  Much effort and
work has been done and I believe this has most fittingly culminated in the
signing this month (August 1990) of the “St. Cuthbert’s Lease” after
much effort by many past and present committee members.

I end in thanking you all, may the club continue to go from
strength to strength, yours in caving and comradeship.

Mr. ‘N’

 

Membership Secretary’s Report. 1990

John Watson

This year will be my 4th year as membership secretary and
each year late payment of subscriptions is a problem.  This year more than most!  The need for a new stove and other expenses
has left the club extremely short of funds, especially at the start of the club
year.  Prompt payment of subscriptions
would alleviate this problem considerably. I would like to remind all members
that subs. are due after the A.G.M. (1st weekend in October).  To avoid the unnecessary expense of sending
B.B.’s to members who do not wish to rejoin this year, no one will receive a
B.B. after the 1st of January (i.e. 2 months after the A.G.M.) if they have not
paid their subs.

On a brighter note membership is up again on the previous
year.  Although some have fallen by the
wayside, a few older members have rejoined after a slight lapse.

 

Librarian’s Report, 1990

Michael McDonald

Slowly progressing to some sort of order.  Various pictures are being prepared to go on
the wall – Jill Tuck, Zot, J’Rat and his barrel in the Mineries plus cave
photos and the odd decent survey of local prominent caves.  We are also at capacity so we need a few more
units, especially to house Club Journals which in their own way are the most
valuable source of reference material. Cataloguing is proving difficult as so much is missing and it’s
difficult to catalogue if you don’t know what you’re supposed to have in the
first place.

BOOKS NOT BOOKED IN (as at 18th August)

Potholing by Heap.  Andy Sparrow since 20.4.89
Darkness Beckons by Farr (sic).  Stewi
since 15.10.89
Mines of Mendip. 
Pete
Bolt
since 9.12.89
Darkness under the Earth.  Jake since
21.1.90
Cheddar Climbs.  Brian Johnson since 1.3.90

Mendip Underground. 
Pete Bolt since 3.3.90

I’m concerned at Darkness Beckons as it’s out of print and
now a collector’s item, probably.  If we
lose it getting another may be difficult. Return it please.  ‘Mendip
Underground’ is a guide reference book and should not have been removed anyway!

I might get rid of the photo-copier.  It’s broken more often than not, is hardly
ever used and takes up valuable space, which is at a premium.  Old Climbing etc. magazines are being stored
in the attic for want of space.  Maps and
surveys are now sorted and classified in the map chest.  Most of them are a little dated, so if anyone
has any useful up-to-date material, maps, surveys etc. please let me have
them.  Any other contributions also very
appreciated.  ‘Expedition’ box files have
been made up ego Mexico, Jamaica, Perth, West Virginia etc. so if you have any
snippets to add, or a load of bumff an anyone area, let me have it so I can add
to the collection.  I feel much of our
stuff is very dated, so we need constant modernisation of our collection and
info.  We only have a limited budget for
new books and this is usually spent replacing what is pinched or lost, so we
need contributions from the membership to keep our library flourishing.  Has anyone got any spare plastic covers for
the two library strip lights?  The two I
got off the back of a lorry are just too small.

Trebor.

Membership Changes

We welcome seven new members, who are: –

1141       Gary Jago. Farrington Gurney
1142       Angela Garwood. Cathays.

Cardiff

1143       Jane L. Evans. Roath.

Cardiff

1144       Sophie Crook. Roath.
Cardiff
1145       Roz Bateman,
East
Harptree
.

Bristol
.

Somerset

1146     Leslie Robert Williams, Prestleigh.
Shepton Mallet,

Somerset

1147      Simon Benedict Taylor, Draycott.
Cheddar,

Somerset

 

Nigel’s Dirty Weekend?

(or, The BEC Cleanup)

A monologue by Mike
Wilson

We set our alarm for 7.30 and climbed out of warm cozy bed
Quick scoff down snap and coffee, we’re off up Mendip T/shed
We arrived at the shed fairly early, to find mates all sitting intsun
“Hey Up” has anyone seen Nigel? He’s got list of work to be done!!
Nigel arrived at 10.30 and we all got stuck in reet good!!
Babs cleaned out “crap” in toilet. Whilst Blitz hung a new door of soft wood.
Zotty had a grand row with Walter, and we all took his side in some way
Don’t let him get away with it Zotty, he ne-er gave us his timber I’d say.
Come tea time it were rock cakes and biccies. All cooked by the “Dragon’s” fair mitt.
Snap tin were guarded reet close like, in case Hannah got paws into it.
By midday tasks were progressing.  Shed
were real shiny and bright!!
We’re all looking forward T/barrel and slide show with Zotty tonight.
First of all there’s a grand feast by Glenys. “Wow” what a blow out that became!!
Gorging spuds, garlic bread and beef wellie. Hurrah for chef Glenys “What’s her name?”
Well it’s time to put tools away tidy and say well done lads  “Proper Job”.  Reet sad
It’s too bloody hot in the Belfry.  Some
idiots lagged roof space, Real Bad.

 

The End is Nye or is it?

Steve Woolven

Having spent a week in the
Dordogne
in July we couldn’t leave without visiting the Grottes de Saut de la
Pucelle.  Echoing Vince Simmonds article:
‘it’s a superb fun trip’ we also took 6 ladders, 1 rope and various slings,
belays etc.  The problem we would like to
clear up is the END???!

Graham Nye and myself entered and followed the main stream
passage leaving ladders at every would-be pitch and jumping in and swimming the
deep pools, even though there was some kind of drought on and only a trickle of
water flowing through the cave.  After
having laid out all the tackle, we passed a very large deep black pool by
traversing to the right some way down the cave only to come up to a 30′ pitch
which definitely needed a ladder.  Rather
than call it a day I back tracked to our last ladders and took them back down
(Quite a few of the first pitches are easily free-climbable, so don’t make our
mistake of laddering everything that can be laddered).

From here we followed the streamway down quite a
considerable distance, with very nice formations, till there was some breakdown
and boulders, followed quickly by an insignificant pool of water.  Here we could find no way on?  After a good look around; there being a lot
of writing in the mud on the walls where other people had stopped; one thing
bothered us!!  Where is the Plaque to
Martel?  We could not find it (Ref: Vince
Simmonds article, May ’90).  We concluded
either: –

1)       Somehow
we missed a small hole that passed this sump? or

2)       Some
buggers nicked the Plaque as a souvenir?

Can anyone put us right?

I would like to thank Trebor and Steve Redwood who supplied
us with literature on this area, which helped us tremendously.  Apart from the trout in Vince’s article we
found an evil looking lizard sitting static on a rock, about twice the size of
the outdoor ones.  Black in colour with
orange markings down its back; which I thought a fake rubber one until Graham
gave it a prod (That’s another beer I owe him).

I would also like to say hello to Peter and Maria from
Speleo Netherland, who were caving on our ladders and left a note on the car,
whom we never did meet.

U.B.S.S. – Sessional Meetings 1990-91

Members are invited to attend these illustrated talks, which
will be held in the UBSS room on the 2nd floor of the Students Union, Queen’s
Road,

Bristol

between 8 pm and about 9.30 pm on Wednesday evenings.

31 October 1990.           “The
Exploration of St Cuthbert’s Swallet” by Dave Irwin.

5 December 1990.          ”
New Mexico 1988 including the
Carlsbad
Caverns
” by Chris Howes

13 February 1991.         
“Cave diving beneath Cheddar Gorge” by Rob Palmer

 

Cave Excursions on

Cebu
Island
.

Philippines

(Part 2)

Jim Smart

Sat March 25 – Tues March 28, 1989.  Tabunan Talamban, Adlaon,

CEBU
CITY
.

Roque Cuasito does not operate on Pilipino time.  He arrived at my lodging with his 6 year old
son Brian at 6.30 while I was still breakfasting.  By 7.15 we were at the Jeepney terminus in
downtown

Cebu
City
fighting to cram three large
backpacks plus a small one for Brian into an Adlaon-bound jeepney.  A short while later one of Roque’s employees
arrived to act as porter and cook during our excursion.

By 10.30 the jeepney had brought us to Adlaon, a ramshackle
one-street village at the road head. Here we met Liam, a middle aged simple country boy, whom Roque knew from
many previous explorations in the area. Liam was already half drunk and happily agreed to come along with us and
carry a pack, for a few pesos.

Our route into the hills to Tabunan Talamban was mostly
along steep, single-file tracks.  Six
year old Brian slowed our progress somewhat as did the hundreds of people we
met travelling in the opposite direction. It was market day.  We haggled
over various items and though we couldn’t get a good price on a live chicken we
did buy a large joint of lechon (roast pork) to supplement our diet.  By midday we were far beyond the reach of wheeled
transport, across two deep valleys; outcrops of limestone were to be seen
everywhere on the rolling and grassy landscape. (A few days later, in

Cebu
City
, I was shown a book
recounting the exploits of the Philippine resistance movement in this area during
WWII.  There were numerous references to
caves but what struck me most, looking at the pictures, was that this entire
area – as far as the eye could see – was forested.  Today trees, in isolated clumps, account for
probably less than 2% of the surface area. All gone in 45 years).

At last we arrived at the place Roque had planned for us to
camp.  We waded our final river and,
before we could unpack, received an invitation to crash out in the house of
Alfredo Arcayan.  We readily accepted the
invitation as storm clouds were rapidly gathering.  We’d no sooner charged up Roque’s primus
stove on the verandah of Alfredo’s thatch and wood home (pigs occupy the ground
floor) than the storm broke in a deluge that left market returnees stranded on
the far side of the river and us assured that there would be no caving
today.  Delighted, Liam held a whip-round
(my money) and danced into the storm in search of a gallon of tuba, the local
hooch.  We had a lot of visitors that
night.

Day 2. Easter Sunday. March 26, 89.

The usual train of men and small boys followed us to the
caves.  A man by the name of Perfecto was
our guide: a wonderful, knowledgeable, shy man with no English whom I’d have
liked to know better.  We followed him
down river for an hour and a half, sometimes scrambling over boulders or
walking along gravel banks and sometimes pushing through damp scrub: the sun
was not yet high enough to dry the aftermath of the storm.

At last Perfecto led us along a trail rising high above the
river’s left bank, into some thorny secondary vegetation, to the entrance of
the cave known as MIT-OL.  We were about
200 ft. above the river.  The climb over
the entrance ledge was guarded by thousands of little stinging ants.  Mit-ol was a focal point of resistance against
the Japanese in World War Two.  It had
been a hard hike and we posed proudly for photographs.

It took quite a while for our team to negotiate the short
climb down into Mit-ol ‘s main passage. Only about half of them were affluent enough to have their own
flashlights and batteries though one enterprising fellow carried the standard
domestic illumination: an old whisky bottle filled with kerosene with a
corn-cob for a wick.

A few minutes along the Main Passage and Perfecto led us up
a short climb to the left where we gained a narrow rift passage which in turn
led to larger passage until we were halted by a couple of pitches above an
enormous chamber about 100 ft. high containing some magnificent
formations.  Even a veteran B.E.C. man
would need a rope to continue here so we made a slow retreat while I sketched a
survey.

Back in the Main Passage we continued away from the entrance
until some extremely dodgy caving amongst some very loose boulders brought us
up to a second entrance.  Jungle bashing
brought us back to the Main Entrance about 100m. away.

Sadly most of the team surfaced with bats or speleothems as
souvenirs.  Several of the boys had taken
catapults into the cave and, though their hunting had mostly resulted in broken
stal, enough bats – each about the size of a Greater Horseshoe – had been
killed to provide a small feast.  A small
stick fire was quickly prepared and the dead bats – fur and wings and all –
were flung onto the embers.  One nimble
bloke had even caught a couple of swifts but these were far too decorative to
be eaten.  I saw them the next day in his
house, tethered by their legs to his door frame.

In a nearby pasture we cooked rice and opened tins of fish
which we ate with our fingers off a communal banana-leaf plate.  Then we turned our attention to

Cathedral
Cave
.

An exposed and bouldery entrance chamber leads to large
walking passage on the left.  A fire was
lit in anticipation of the bats to be eaten later.  A notice in carbide smoke on the wall of the
Main Passage warns guano collectors to keep out “signed Barrio
Captain”.  While most of the team
remained in the Main Passage playing with their catapults I followed Perfecto
past a Crossroads to a T-junction.  To
the right the passage soon petered out in a couple of ascending calcited rifts,
but left led to about 100m. of comfortable walking passage until a sharp left
turn into a tunnel passage 20ft. high x 30 wide led to a definite
conclusion.  I grovelled around in some
painfully sharp alcoves here without success. A nearby high level passage was not explored.

Retracing our steps towards the T-junction we explored a
passage on the right which returned us to the crossroads in the Main
Passage.  A tricky climb on the far side
of the Main Passage that only Perfecto and myself were able to negotiate
brought us after a short while to three alternative entrances – 2 vertical and
one horizontal.

After a short rest for cooked bats and cigarettes we headed
for base arriving there about 4 p.m.  We
cracked open the tuba and as the glass was passed round – the custom here is to
have only one glass and wait your turn – so the tales of our activities
expanded and improved.  Liam decided
there wasn’t going to be enough tuba to get us through the evening so he held
another whip-round (my money again). Roque and I accompanied him to the store – about 20 minutes walk away
where we found the majority of the villagers roaring drunk.  While Liam haggled over the price of tuba,
Roque and I spent about 60 pesos (US $3) on a mountain of food and that night
about a dozen people ate and drank to their heart’s content on the veranda
while another storm lashed its way up the valley.

Easter Monday. March 27.

Everybody very hungover. Reluctantly about five of us got ourselves to the store by noon where we
employed an old guy to lead us to some springs about 45 minutes away
upstream.  The associated cave passage
was disappointingly small but they did provide the Filipinos with some more
bats which they cooked while we sheltered from another passing storm.

After lunch we decided to call it a day.  We were too hungover to care much about
caving.  On our way back to base Brian
and I stopped for a swim in the river until an agitated cry from the bank
caught my attention.  Looking upstream I
saw a flood pulse bearing down on us. Within two minutes the river which was about 35 ft. wide at this point
turned muddy and threatening and the water level rose about 18 ins.   Fortunately we managed to get ourselves
stranded on the right side.

Tuesday. March 28.

We started the long hike back to the road head unaware that
it was local government election day and all public transport had been granted
a holiday.  Worse, there was a 24 hour
ban on liquor sales.

At the first store we came to the owner agreed to let us
drink beer in her private kitchen since she didn’t think the law applied to
foreigners and their friends.  She also
cooked us an excellent breakfast.  We
then continued our way on foot towards

Cebu
City

in search of the elusive transport. Every liquor store we passed agreed to serve us beer and we were quite
drunk when, way after dark, we cadged a dangerous ride into town in the company
of the electoral ballot boxes and a dozen heavily armed and equally drunk
members of the Philippine constabulary.

Jim Smart. Sept 1989.

California
.

 

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