Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

Editor: John Williams

Cover: Mr. N  by REG


1993 – 1994 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Tim Large
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Membership Sec.     John Watson
Floating Members     Nigel Taylor



Exploration Club Subscriptions for
1993-94 are now due

Membership    £24 Joint Membership      £36

Discount for early
payment (before December 31st 1993

membership      £20 Joint membership        £30



Hello everyone. Well; now i find myself the official B.B.
Editor and thus in need of the creative input of the membership!  This is basically a plea for articles of any
kind from anyone who feels the urge, desire, compulsion or need to write.  This is the club journal and should
therefore, in my view, reflect the activities, views opinions and imaginations
of the members.

I have a small stock of articles that i inherited from ted
that will be published in future issues but these will dry up fairly quickly so
i will need more.   The B.B. Will only be
as interesting as the articles i have so in a sense the ball is in your court
… It is after all your journal. (’nuff said).

I hope to include some regular features such as a song per
issue – this issue due to many requests i’ve included the ‘other one’ sung at
the dinner, by dickfred & myself, as well as an odds & sods page.   I’d be interested in opinions on this as
well as ideas for other features.

Unfortunately i’m not on the ‘phone at present but hope this
will change shortly.   I can usually be
contacted via the Belfry at weekends and my address is as published on page

That is enough waffle for now, i hope this issue is up to
scratch … If not let me know … !


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the

Exploration Club held at the Belfry
October 2nd 1993

The meeting was convened by the Treasurer, Chris Smart at
1045.  The meeting was not quorate at its


Chris Smart, Tim Large, John Buxton, Chris Castle, Andy
Sparrow, Estelle Sandford, Mike Wilson, Jingles, Hilary Wilson, Babs Williams,
Jeff Price, Rob Harper, Bob Cork, Ted Humphries, Kevin Gurner, Dudley Herbert,
Ian Gregory, Nick Gymer, Richard Payne, Ron Wyncoll, Terry Early, Phil Romford,
John Watson, Pete Hellier, Colin Dooley, Barry Wilton, Dave Ball, Dave Glover,
Brian Prewer, Dave Aubrey.

Present(Later ):

Nigel Taylor, Matt Tuck, S J McManus, Alan Kennett, Andy
Sanders, Fish, Dave Turner, Alan Turner, Ian Caldwell,


Martin Grass, Glenys Grass, Chris Batstone, Lavina Watson,
Jim Smart, J Rat, Lil Romford, Ruth Baxter, Chris Harvey, Robin Grey, Rich
Long, John Freeman, Jeremy Henley, Steve Tuck, Alan Thomas, Trevor Hughes,
Martin Gregory, Clive Betts, Graham Johnson,


Bob Cork was elected as Chairman with the full support of
the meeting.  There were no other

The Chairman noted that the meeting was inquorate.  It was decided to continue with the AGM with
the proviso that the minutes are published at the first opportunity for
discussion and comment.

Minutes of the
1992 AGM

Previously published in the BB

John Buxton noted that he had been missed from the
attendance list.

For acceptance of the 1992 AGM
minutes by the meeting.
Proposed: R C Harper.
Seconded: Phil Romford.
Carried with two abstentions.

Matters arising
from the minutes

1. Long Term Plan: Phil Romford asked as to the progress of
the Long Term Plan.  Various discussions
ensued.  The AGM was told that a meeting
was held and that work has progressed albeit not to the exact letter of the
resolution.  It was suggested that the
Committee put forward a 1-2 year plan of immediate priorities.  The AGM agreed to continue discussion of this
item in AOB following the Treasurers report.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Brian Prewer.
Seconded: Dudley Herbert.
For 31, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Secretary’s Report

Previously published in the BB.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Jingles.
Seconded: Rob Harper.   Carried unam.

Caving Secretary’s

Previously published in the BB.

Mike Wilson asked about Jeff’s Stand at BCRA.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Mike Wilson.
Seconded: Mac.
For 31, Against 1, Abstentions 1

Hut Warden’s

The Hut Warden was not present, no report was given to the
meeting and none had been published in the BB. It was agreed that this was an utterly disgraceful state of affairs and
there was no excuse.  Nigel and Mac asked
the Committee to either obtain Zot’s report or publish a summary report as soon
as possible in the BB.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting. Proposed: Nigel.
Seconded: Mac.
For 32, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Dr Andrew Newton was given a unam vote of thanks for
obtaining new mattresses for the Belfry.

Brian Prewer was also given a unam vote of thanks for his
midweek policing of Belfry usage.

Pete Hillier asked about bednight totals.  Blitz replied (later) that the numbers were
as follows:





















Hut Engineer’s

The following was read out at the meeting:

The Belfry is now over 20 years old and gets subjected to
heavy use and abuse.  During the year
minor repairs and routine maintenance have been carried out but there remains
much to be done. 

The major work has been:

  1. Completion
    of repairs to Changing and Drying Room ceilings following water leaks
    during the previous winter.
  2. Installation
    of a new electric shower which is working well.
  3. Modification
    of the coin meters to accept the new 10p coin.
  4. A
    start has been made on the repairs and replacement of floor and wall
    tiling in the Showers and Drying Rooms
  5. Painting
    of the Main Room.  Thanks for this
    go to Terry Early and Dave Aubrey, especially for the novel paint work on
    the Hut Warden’s locker.
  6. Rationalization
    of the plumbing system to simplify the pipe work and eliminate problems.
  7. Removal
    of the old night storage heaters and white meter now that the central
    heating is in place.
  8. The
    purchase and installation of a thermostatically controlled radiator to
    provide separate heating for the Library
  9. Installation
    of a new cooker and 2 hobs.  The
    cooker has been professionally fitted as our old pipe work was less than

One working weekend was held during the year which was
attended by about twenty people. Grateful thanks to one and all. Much was achieved including painting, repairs and some serious
cleaning.  As always much time was spent
on clearing rubbish away from the Belfry site.

There is always much to be done and hopefully in the coming
year we can complete more essential maintenance and repairs.  Then perhaps, money permitting, we can move
onto improvement projects to enhance the living conditions further and
encourage more people to stay at the Belfry.

Tim Large 2nd October

John Buxton asked about the hot water supply to the hand
basins.  Bob Cork expressed surprise that
older members were getting soft and wanted hot water.  Tim said that Mac would look at the immersion
timer clock.

Phil asked about maintenance and repairs to the
exterior.  It was decided that the
Committee would need to look into this following more discussion under AOB.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Nigel.
Seconded: Jeff Price.
For 33, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Secretary’s Report

Previously published in the BB.

Quiet John expressed his disquiet as to non payers of this
year who had said they would rejoin next year, that is they have had a free
year.  After much discussion it was
proposed that the 31st December is a warning date.  A letter will be sent out with a second class
sae informing the non payers that their membership will be terminated on
January 31st, and that they will therefore loose any rights to publications,
their Cuthbert’s leadership, Club insurance, their use of club tackle and the
right to members rates at the Belfry, the return of their Belfry key would also
be requested.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Dave Turner.
Seconded: Nigel.
For 35, Against 0, Abstentions 0

The Chairman asked the Committee to look into individual
membership cards and to consider hardship cases on their merits.  It was agreed by all that the Club took a dim
view of people taking it for a ride.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Tim Large.
Seconded: Dave Turner.
Carried unam.

Tackle Master’s

Previously published in the BB.

Rob Harper informed the AGM that he had recently left two
ladders in caves and was unlikely to retrieve them in the near future

………….. except it was probably OK as they were


Mike Wilson said that:

1.                    The drop tester was nearing completion

2.                    Tackle bags are still going missing.  Brian Prewer suggested yellow bags and a
permanent marker.  Phil Romford also
suggested we could probably buy customized ones at the same price.

Blitz asked as to the current locations of our survey kits.  Mike replied that one set was with Blitz, one
set had been stolen from Trevor’s car and was probably not covered on any
insurance.  The third set was missing.  There was some considerable discussion.  Blitz said that he had one set that had been
given to him by the
expedition, that this was used in
last November and taken to


this summer.  It would be required for

February 1994.

Rob Harper proposed that the club buy another set as soon as
possible and consider buying a third set if our third set did not appear
following a plea in the BB.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Rob Harper.
Seconded: Blitz.
For 25, Against 6, Abstentions 5

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Jingles.
Seconded: Mac.
Carried with one abstention.

BB Editor’s Report

Previously published in the BB.

Ted asked that the meeting appreciate that J Rat has saved
the club a small fortune in postage by distributing BB s.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Mac.
Seconded: Rob Harper.
Carried with two abstentions.

A vote of thanks was then proposed to Ted for all his work
over the last few years.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Blitz.
Seconded: Mac.
For 35, Against 1, Abstentions 1

Hon Treasurer’s

This was handed out at the meeting and the Treasurer
explained that due to his only having received the last batch of hut sheets
from the Hut Warden that week and that the Auditor having been on holiday the
accounts are not audited.  It was agreed
that the meeting would vote on their acceptance subject to auditing and that
Barry should publish his auditor’s report as soon as possible.

Dave Turner asked as to why we had so much money in the
Cuthbert’s Account.  He then proposed
that we pay back 50% of the pledges now. Blitz explained that the original 22 pledgers had been written to and of
those 5 required their money back, these had been paid.  The other 17 people agreed to loan their
money for an additional year.  Ian
Caldwell said that probably the only people who should be discussing this were
the 17 people concerned.  Blitz said that
only six of the 17 were present.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Dave Turner.
Seconded: Mac.
For 19, Against 4, Abstentions 9

Dave further also proposed that the new Committee consider
paying back another 50% if the balance rises above £800 in the coming year.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Dave Turner.
Seconded: Mac.
For 24, Against 0, Abstentions 9

Dave Turner next asked about BMC membership.  The Treasurer replied that as no one had so
much as mentioned membership, staying in BMC huts, High magazine etc he had not
rejoined.  The AGM accepted that Blitz
had not followed the letter of last year’s proposal but appreciated the saving
that had been made.  Dave also proposed
that the new Committee review this decision.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Dave Turner.
Seconded: Phil Romford.
For 25, Against 1, Abstentions 8

Dave then asked about the high printing costs of the
BB.  It was agreed that the next BB
Editor would look into this.  Dave
suggested that Alan Turner may be able to provide a cheaper service.

Bob Cork asked about the £10 we pay to Lloyds for looking
after the Deeds to the Belfry.  Blitz
suggested that as this was the only bank charge we incurred it was best left
well alone.  Dave Turner suggested that
we could take out a minimal mortgage on the Belfry and use the Deeds as security.  Blitz also suggested they could be lodged
with the Club archives.

Jeff said that he would take Cuthbert’s fees in advance at
the time of booking in an attempt to not lose income.  Blitz accepted that some of this might be in
the accounts as donations from the box on the Changing Room.  The fees would be £1 per head.

Blitz said he would investigate income from hut keys and
that this would be presented to the auditor in the final accounts.

Blitz suggested that we acknowledge the free fire
extinguisher service that we had received this year, with grateful thanks to
Ron Wyncoll.

The subject of Belfry electricity was next raised.  There was a long discussion as to the
possibility of operating a coin meter system for the lights.  The debate went around in the usual ever
decreasing circles as per previous years until Mac suggested that this was
another job for the Committee, that the electricity consumption be reviewed in
the light of the removal of the storage heaters.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Mac.
Seconded: Rob Harper.
For 29, Against 3, Abstentions 3

Somebody, probably Dave Turner asked about Central Heating
costs.  Blitz answered that no oil had
been bought this last year but that we would need to buy some soon.  Nigel explained that he buys in bulk, at
discount, for the Belfry and a consortium of houses.  It was suggested that the Committee look into
buying the oil prior to the imposition of VAT in April.

For provisional acceptance of the
report by the meeting.
Proposed: Rob Harper.
Seconded: Tim Large.
For 32, Against 0, Abstentions 3

Auditor’s Report

The Auditor was unable to comment on the accounts for the
reasons given in the Treasurer’s report.

Ian Dear Memorial
Fund Report

Jeff gave a brief verbal report.  He stated that no grants had been given in
the last year.  He undertook to publish
the conditions for a grant.

A proposal was then made by Mac that the BEC do not transfer
any money to the IDMF this year.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Mac.
Seconded: Rob Harper.
For 34, Against 1, Abstentions 3

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Phil Romford.
Seconded: Rob Harper.
Carried unam.

Librarian’s Report

Previously published in the BB.

The Treasurer read out a letter from the Librarian saying
that he is not happy to continue.  It was
requested that the new Librarian publish a list of Library contents and any new

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Mac.
Seconded: Mike Wilson.
Carried unam.

St Cuthbert’s

Blitz said most of this had been covered already in the
Treasurers report.

Dave Turner said it was essential that we must accept that
the St Cuthbert’s Report is going to be a long term issue.

Andy Sparrow asked what was happening about a locked box,
locked with the Cuthbert’s lock, containing Cuthbert’s reports that leaders
could sell.  Nigel said that this was in
hand again after our experiences with the Belfry thief.

The Treasurer again drew the meetings attention to his
report.  If it were not for the 17
pledgers who are carrying the club we would be £1800 in debt.  Everyone must sell them.  Rob Harper suggested repaying the 17 people’s
pledges in Cuthbert’s reports.

1992-93 Committee

Bob said that only six of last years Committee were prepared
to stand again additional nominations were required.  Blitz informed the AGM that Jingles had been
proposed and seconded by Martin Grass and himself but not in sufficient time to
meet the AGM deadlines.  A nomination for
Estelle Sandford was also received from the floor.  Her nomination was supported by the

For acceptance of Jingles to the Committee.

Carried unam with 2 abstentions.

For acceptance of Estelle to the Committee.

Carried unam with 3 abstentions.

It was then announced that Estelle was not yet a ratified
member and in the light of this information the vote was called again.

For acceptance of an un-ratified Estelle to the Committee.

Carried unam with 1 abstentions.

Post                                                       Proposer                              Seconder

Secretary:            Martin
Grass.              Phil Romford.                       Mac.
                            Carried with 1

Hon Treasurer:     Chris
Smart.               Mike Wilson                         Andy Sparrow
                            Carried with 1
against and 1 abstention.

Caving Secretary:                                 Jeff
Price                             Mr.
Nigel   Blitz      Carried unam.

Tackle Master:     Mr Wilson.                  Phil Romford.                       Mac.                     Carried unam.

Hut Warden:         Estelle
Sandford.         Babs Williams                      Mike Wilson          Carried unam.

Hut Engineer:       Tim Large.                  Phil Romford.                       Mr Nigel.
                            Carried unam.

BB Editor:             Jingles.
                     Rob Harper                          Jeff Price
                            Carried with 1
against and 1 abstention.

Membership Sec  Mr Nigel.                    Brain Prewer                        Mac
                            Carried with 1

Possible commercial interests/conflicts of interest were
then asked to be revealed.  Chris Smart
declared that he was no longer the Treasurer of the Council of Southern Caving

Non-Committee Posts


Post                                                       Proposer                              Seconder

Librarian:             Dave
Turner.               Mike Wilson.                        Mr. Nigel.
                            Carried unam.


             Mac                                    Mr. Nigel
Carried with 1 against and 1 abstention.

Mid Week Warden: Brian Prewer.
                            Carried unam.

Archivist:              Alan
Thomas.             Mac.                                  Mr. Nigel
                            Carried unam.

At this point Rob Harper suggested that the Chairman be
instructed to discuss the club archives at length with Alan Thomas.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Rob Harper.
Seconded: Chris Smart.

This was then amended that both Alan and Bob come to the
next convenient Committee meeting to discuss the archives.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
Proposed: Barry Wilton.
Seconded: Mr Nigel.

The Chairman over ruled both the proposal and the amendment
and no vote was taken.

MRO Team Leader:
Phil Romford and Alan Turner were elected by the Committee as joint team
representatives earlier in the year, to be reviewed at the AGM. Both stated
that they were happy for this sharing to continue.  The AGM accepted this arrangement.

Carried with 1 abstention.

CSCC Representative:
This was deferred to AOB.


  1. The
    BEC instructs the BEC Committee to invite only one guest per club to its
    annual dinner.

Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded:
Tim Large.

Nigel explained that inviting
guests (from three other clubs and the guest of honour) incurred a penalty of
over £1 per ticket buyer.  There was
considerable discussion and Dave Turner suggested no guests at all.

For acceptance of the resolution
by the meeting.
For 32, Against 1, Abstentions 1

  1. This
    AGM instructs the BEC Committee to write to each life member to ascertain
    their current interest in the club

Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded:
Brian Prewer.

This was originally part of a
larger proposal that sought to request a voluntary annual donation from the
life members.  In the discussion this
second part was withdrawn.  The feeling
of the AGM was that these members did now represent a financial liability but
that we have made a moral, if not a legal, contract with them and this must be

For acceptance of the resolution
by the meeting.
For 20, Against 11, Abstentions 3

  1. This
    AGM instructs the BEC Committee to receive only cash type subscriptions.

Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded:
Tim Large.

Nigel explained that in the last
year there had been an element of confusion as to whether or not certain
members were paid up or not, their subs having been paid in kind.

Blitz and Quiet John agreed that
there had been some confusion but Blitz thought that the system was workable
and that we did in fact benefit overall. The AGM disagreed.

For acceptance of the resolution
by the meeting.
Carried with 1 Against and 1 Abstention.

Any Other Business

Direction of the

This had been held over from Matters arising from the 1992
AGM minutes.  There was a general
feeling, following a heated discussion that we should not be pursuing exclusive
private hire of the Belfry at any time, but that we should not exclude
commercial use midweek on a commercial basis. Mac said that this was very much against BEC feelings in the past.  He suggested that as this AGM was inquorate
then this subject needed a full airing in the BB.


The Treasurer proposed no increase this year.  After some discussion it was proposed that
the subs were kept fixed at £24 single membership and £36 joint membership for
people paying between January 1st 1994 and January 31st 1994.  The early payment discount to be £20 single
membership and £30 joint membership for payments received up until January 1st
1994.  The AGM proposed that the full
membership fees would stand after the January 31st 1994 deadline but the renewal
of membership was at the discretion of the Committee.

Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded:
Tim Large.
Carried with 1 Against and 1 Abstention.


Alan Turner asked Blitz to confirm that he and Kirsten
Turner were joint members as she did not appear on the membership lists.  Blitz said that joint membership had been
agreed at the Committee meeting immediately following the 1992 AGM and said he
would look into the membership lists.


Andy Sparrow asked about the club’s representation at CSCC
and said that little if anything was published in the BB.  This was accepted by all.  Bob Cork informed him that this was not a
fixed position but that the Committee usually sent either the Secretary or
Caving Secretary.  Blitz added that as
the ex CSCC Treasurer he had kept an unofficial eye on events over the
years.  Andy proposed that the Committee
nominate a representative so as to ensure continuity.

Proposed: Andy Sparrow. Seconded:
Carried with 2 Abstentions.


Brian Prewer informed the AGM that car theft was a major problem
on Mendip with up to 17 in a single weekend. Action is needed by both cavers and ramblers and he requested that the
BEC send representatives to any relevant meetings.  The AGM fully concurred with his sentiments.

Use of the Belfry

It was proposed that no accommodation would be offered or
tolerated in the loft.

Proposed: Alan Turner. Seconded:
Dave Turner.
Carried with 6 Abstentions.

Belfry Break in

Nigel informed us that a gentleman had been arrested last
Monday and was helping the police with their enquires concerning two thefts at
the Belfry earlier in the year.

There being no other business the Chairman closed the
meeting at 1614.


Diving In


From a letter from Bob Hill written earlier this year …..


has a mountain range along its North-East coast with peaks up to 3000m.  A lot of the surface geology is limestone and
the potential for caves is enormous. Unfortunately due to the rather waterless environment, cave development
is not what it might be.  Having said
that though, I have had some very interesting trips to a few sites and am
planning some more.  Distance and terrain
are a problem here and the sites visited up till now are all close to roads.

Khaf Guhbrat Tanuf is a small stream cave about 1Km long
with a year round stream of VERY warm water. It is much too hot in just a thin overall in this place.  A single stream passage is entered at the
resurgence and followed for about 600m through one duck to a flowstone pitch of
about 6m which is easily free climbable. After another 300m or so the cave used to end at a sump, obviously
perched, with a good stream issuing from it. This was obviously worth a dive but I had to wait until my then caving
buddy, and local BS-AC club diving officer, had left the country as he promised
to expel me from the diving club if I started dragging my pony up this
passage.  He went to

a few
months ago and I revisited the sump soon after. A dive of about 8m (no depth) leads to 30m of passage followed by the
stream coming out of a six inch diameter hole in the wall, which may yield to

That same weekend I visited Khaf Hoti, a 5Km through trip in
large cave with several abseils, classic fossil and stream passages and a 1km
swim near the end.  6 hours fun caving
and a lot of Batshit (Batspiss’ brother????-Ed.) near the resurgence exit make
this an interesting and moderately sporting trip.

Recently I have turned my attention to an altogether more
challenging prospect.  Near the

village of
along the coastal track to Sur is a
large sinkhole about a kilometre from the sea. The hole is almost certainly the result of collapse and is completely
flooded.  It is also very large and very
complex with many big chambers and passages. It has been dived in the past to a depth of 60m with a major passage
still going down and has had many visits from sports divers, all on base fed
line, looking for something challenging – and they all come back with a
different description of what it looks like.

I have managed to recruit a couple of like minded souls and
we have started by laying line in one direction through a layer of absolute nil
vis about 5m thick (this varies) to a depth of 16m in the direction of the
sea.  The major problem is now the depth
and we are building side mounted kit sets to carry twin 10 or 121 cylinders as
we expect to be operating at 30m + before we have laid much more line.

More news on this if; I make any

Bob Hill.


“Them Muddy ‘Oles”

By Chas.

“You won’t get me down one of them muddy
‘oles.”  This is more or less what I
said to Robin (Gray), less some emphatic expletives, back in 1976, when I
accompanied him and a group of our sixth formers to the Mendips.  They had come to cave, I to booze.  Seeing them emerge, each looking like
“The creature from the black lagoon” from what looked to me impossibly
small, wet and rocky holes, I could not imagine how seemingly intelligent,
normal people could actually enjoy this activity.

I had like most tourists visited walk in, walk out show
caves on various holidays.  Cheddar and
Wookey Hole, St Clements Cave in Hastings, the Blue John Mines at Matlock Bath,
Crystal Canyon Cave in Sequoia National Park California.  There were too, many evenings spent playing
Skiffle, listening to Jazz, boozing and wenching in

Chislehurst Caves

but that’s another story.

In recent years, coming down to Somerset and visiting The
Hunter’s, meeting the amazing collection of characters who congregate there, a
disturbing and nagging notion had started to grow … maybe I might like to
look into one of them “muddy’ oles” after all.  I was teetering on the edge of sanity.  After a lengthy period of hints and begging
(not quite on bended knee) my old mate Robin said we would go and have a look
at Sandford Levvy …. “We’ll see if you like being underground and take a
few snaps.  “One of my raisons
d’etre being photography, I readily agreed.

So we set out on a sunny Sunday afternoon in June this
year.  We drove to the dry ski slope near
Sandford, parked and kitted up.  I forced
myself into a strange one piece garment decorated with soil and well placed
holes.  It seemed two sizes smaller than
me and was, it appeared, a PVC coated nylon oversuit.  A site helmet with Petzl lamp and battery
pack, my walking boots and I was dressed as a caver, so far so good!

“It’s somewhere along this path” says Robin.  We hiked for what seemed like hours along a
densely wooded hillside, my oversuit emitting vast amounts of steam!  “I think we’ve missed it somehow”
admitted Robin.  With a merry quip of
“Oh how very vexatious!” on my part, we retraced our steps.  A good three quarters of the way back, and
nearly hidden by a fallen tree and a kids ‘camp’ we found, at last, a lowish

In we slid, me on my backside.  The well placed holes allowing a quantity of
mud and water to lubricate my nether regions but it didn’t seem to matter.  We were in a tunnel, both high and wide,
partly paved and about three or four inches deep in water, at least my boots
didn’t leak.  We strolled to the far end
of the passage not attempting to climb a fixed chain in a cross tunnel, as we
were assessing possible points to take my snaps.  A light tripod, the camera set on B, the lens
at about f8 and 35mm on the zoom range. We fired two small flash guns several times for each of about fifteen
exposures, of which two or three are not too bad, great room for improvement.

After what seemed like a few minutes but was in fact two
hours, we emerged into daylight. “Where are we going next” says I with the enthusiasm of an

A few days and a phone call later, Robin and I now joined by
Trev, set out for a trip to a “real” cave.  Clad this time in a furry undersuit beneath
the oversuit (which was now four sizes smaller than me!!) helmet and
wellies.  Across a field and into a bushy
dip, there was an iron box which we entered. Down the fixed ladder into a “great

“Gor Blimey!!!”  I thought as I
followed my companions down and saw, horrified, Rob ooze into and disappear
through what looked to me a tiny mousehole with a floor of loose stones and
water.  A silent prayer and I slid my
bulk after him.  To my great surprise and
relief I found that I barely touched the sides and roof.  With much bashing of elbows, knees and helmet
I slid, slithered, stumbled and clambered along with my easy moving
friends.  Trev and Rob called out the facts
that we were in various places with some odd sounding names (well known to
those bothering to read these ramblings) . I took their words for it, they had, after all, been there before and
anyway I couldn’t see!!  Two layers of
clothing and many layers of Butcombe inspired flesh equals a very hot lad.  This, coupled with cold cave air caused my
specs to achieve a total opaqueness. Sliding my glasses down over my nose and peering over them I saw, in
very soft focus, some attractive formations. I voiced my enthusiasm greatly,
although somewhat incoherently as my nose was being pinched by my specs.  I sounded like one of life’s less
fortunates.  Arriving a little breathless
at the terminal choke, I was amazed at Trev and Rob’s touching faith in me as
they suggested that I should lead out!  I
have since come to the conclusion that this was so I could be shoved from the
rear if necessary.  Off I went, being
told to go left, right and up at the appropriate places.  Sweating profusely and gasping like a leaky boiler,
with a bit of squeezing and a lot of climbing, a dip through the ‘mousehole’
and we arrived, all too soon, at the iron box.

What fun!!  I was
hooked, even next day when every joint and the bits between were aching.  Bruises and scrapes appeared in picturesque
patches on elbows, knees and other places. Sanity had now given way to a troglodyte madness, I had enjoyed myself

About a fortnight later I was back in

from my S.E. London home, to play
washboard with ‘The All Weather Welly Band’ at Priddy Folk Fayre.  It was, of course, only natural that another
trip was mooted … to the realms of subterranean Mendip.

Robin suggested that Goatchurch Cavern would be different to
my previous excursions, it was … !!! The nearest I can get to a description is Piccadilly Underground station
in the rush hour …. hordes of people, it seemed, rushing hither and yon.  Rob and I entered by the Tradesman’s
entrance, he lifelined me down a fixed rope and away we went.  Dodging groups of boys and girls of assorted
ages going in many and various directions. One group was being led by ‘Snab’ and we heard his dulcet tones
reverberating from above and below, left and right from time to time.

The surfaces we passed over (with, in my case, very unusual
parts of my anatomy) were, by much use, glacial in their slipperiness.  Excellent, I found, for going down.  Getting up was going to be something else
though.  Rob called out various
names.  Caves seem to have some oddly
named sections.  One, “The
Coffin”, loomed large in my fevered imagination.  I was, of course, by now boiling hot and
misty spectacled again.  All too soon we
were on our way out/up.  It was then I
found that my boots had minds of their own, wanting to go mostly …. down!!  With the help of Rob’s knees, shoulders, head
and whatever else of him I could stand on, we arrived at the entrance again, in
spite of my ineptitude on the rope.  I
emerged hot and totally shattered; a great morning’s fun.  Next morning … the agonizing joints and
muscles, bruises and scrapes appeared in glorious Technicolor and almost
stereophonic sound!

Another visit to
this time to play with the band at “Folk in the

” at Cheddar and to celebrate Anita
and Snab’s 25th anniversary.  The
opportunity for more caving was demanded by me. Rob said “If there is some rain ‘Swillies’ should be
were losing a test match to


so, of course, the heavens opened for several days.  The following Wednesday evening, among
several vehicles parked on Priddy green, our party assembled, six in all.  Along with your chronicler were Robin, Trev,
Davey and two lads from Felsburg, Jens and Amin.

Once kitted up we set off across the fields to the entrance
of the famous Swildons Hole.  (I’d seen
this cave, with many “faces” from The Hunter’s, on 999 on the telly
so I knew it was famous.)  In we went, a
distant sound of rushing water accompanying my wheezing.  Not a great deal of water at first but as we
got further down the others made gleeful sounds of approval as the streamway
gushed over our wellies.  The way was, of
course, all downhill, so slithering and crawling, down we went.  My knees, elbows and bum coming into frequent
violent contact with unyielding rock, as did my helmet, without which what
remains of my brain cells could have been totally disposed of.  Then came a ladder pitch, a new experience
for me.  It was, of course, in a
waterfall so I twisted and spun down, with a reasonable impression of
Niagara entering first one ear then the other.  Not content with flooding my memory, it
entered my oversuit (still several sizes smaller than me) went down my neck and
filled my boots from the inside.  The
next highlight was Double Pots.  I
negotiated the first with “great skill” only to become a fully
baptized “Son of Mendip” at the second.  Completely wet, inside and out, my glasses by
now had become almost vision proof so all was exceeding well!  Real caving … Great fun!!

After much squeezing (and bumping by me) as well as
straddling apparently bottomless chasms and wading through raging torrents we
arrived at our goal for this trip …. Sump One.  By this time I was puffing and blowing and
feeling somewhat “Cream Crackered”, unlike my companions who had
barely broken sweat.  With closing time
looming up at a fast rate of knots I realised with horror that it would be all
uphill!!  After a short “blow”
and a bite of snickers, we proceeded up.

Those familiar with cycling will have heard of a rather rude
sounding condition …. “The Bonk”. It is far from being a state of sexual arousal, but is a total draining
of the body’s energy.  I was at the start
of the inclined rift when it struck!!  I
tried to ease myself up only to get progressively lower, not what was intended
at all.  My legs seemed to be made of
jelly as did my arms and I began to feel a little apprehensive.  With a little help from my friends (a lot in
fact) at length the obstacle was, at last conquered. Then with frequent rests
and pounding heart I gasped squeezed and clambered onward, until there was a
strange smell to the air and we surfaced. A hurried paddle through some particularly soft and aromatic cowpats
back to the changing room at the farm.

Wet things off, dry things on and a quick dash to The
Hunter’s for a reviving pot of Butcombe and many thanks to the other chaps for
helping an exhausted, bruised but very happy idiot.

I should now confess to those who haven’t met me that I am
not quite in the first flush of youth, but am a lumpy fifty three year old who
in March of 1992 had a quintuple heart bypass operation.  (There is a rumour that when the surgeons
opened me up and proceeded to reroute my plumbing, a B.E.C. sticker was found
in my Aorta!!  All I want to know is how
and who??!!)

It would seem to be a rather daft time to take up a
“dangerous sport”, but I have never been cursed with a lot of sense, so why

I have now also visited


and Brownes Hole and can’t wait for the opportunity to get down one of
“Them Muddy  Oles” again.

Chas; a new and proud
member of the B.E.C


My Mate He Is a Caver

Sung to the tune of “The Smuggler” by Ian Woods.

My mate he is a caver, he goes
down underground,
He squeezes and he thrutches, new passages he’s found,
Oh and he climbs down them pitches with his hands upon the line,
Is a mendip caver down where the sun don’t shine.
He goes down to Bat Products to buy his caving boots,
And then he visits Kermit to get his oversuits,
There is carbide in his Fisma there is charge in his NiFe cell,
He knows about them ladders and S.R.T. As well.

He goes down into Swildons all on a Friday night,
Where he do find a boy scout, who hasn’t got a light,
Oh and if he cannot move him he do give him the heave ho
Then goes to Brian Prewer – to call the M.R.O.

On Wednesdays he goes digging, with Snablet and with Jake,
He takes his vacuum cleaner down into Barrow Rake,
And when he turns it on – it sucks out the CO2,
Then Alex tumbles down the pitch and turns the air quite blue.

The Wessex and the Shepton, he treats them with disdain,
But he do like the Hunter’s, yes he’ll go there again,
Whenever he is able he is caving fast and free,
And ask him which his club is, he’ll say the B.E.C.

My mate he is a caver, he goes down underground,
He squeezes and he thrutches, new passages he’s found,
Oh and he climbs down the pitches with his hands upon the line
Is a mendip caver, down where the sun don’t shine.

Jingles ’93.



By Fish.

The Earth hath
bubbles, as the water has and these are of them.  Wither are they vanished? 

Macbeth Act 1. Scene 4.

Dan gazed out from “Crook’s Rest” control into the
mists of Avalon’s Vale, today the view brought him no pleasure.  As acting controller of the 2020 Wookey push,
he was feeling old and alone in having to give account for the loss of Faith
Gail Berg.  She had not died, Dan could
have coped with that ,Gail’s existence had simply ceased.  Time and again he had followed her inertial
guidance track on the log, only for it to stop to be replaced by the computer’s
infernal green blip.  Gail’s young life’s
trace had ended 0505 December 24 whilst complying with a routine decompression
stop at the shallow/deep junction, shortly after her last communication
recorded on the vocal log, a request for the relay of a video to help her pass
the time.  Subsequent searches had failed
to reveal her body or to shed any clues as to her disappearance so close to
journey’s end.

Dan felt her loss sharply. Gail had arrived out of an undergraduate’s obscurity and it had been his
help and sponsorship that had gotten her the coveted diver’s status.  Physically she was both powerful and slender,
her face held striking pre-Raphaelite Celtic features, excepting her hair, no not
long red tresses but worn short, within millimetres of her scalp.  It gave her a boyish air which coupled with
an impish playfulness had driven the boys wild. Gail was also fiercely independent, if she had a lover she was discreet,
choosing to keep her Mendip peers strictly at arms length.

Another part of her crafted mystique was her beloved 916
Ducati, archaic transport today but her skill with the motorcycle could not be
denied.  Gail had passed him on several
occasions whilst riding around.  Dan
recalled vividly the image of the curved arc of her back arched gracefully
between the seat and the bars, her thighs forced astride the scarlet fuel
tank.  En passant she would raise the tip
of her boot and scribe a small circle in the air, as to whether the gesture was
in greeting or contempt, Dan could never decide.  Then in a single fluid movement she would
lift her lithe body up onto the foot pegs, her pert derriere climbing up over
the saddle as she hauled the bellowing beast down into the next bend to exit in
a crimson blur.

The stage within Dan’s mind darkened with the fading of the
Ducati’s booming exhaust.  Enter the
magician who could procure her release with spells weaved in the logic of
coincidence and fate that cohabits so uneasily with reason in the twilight of
all our minds.  Dr Sefton A.
Longwood.  Imperious Sefton whose
intellectual arrogance had commanded Dan’s subordination.  Sefton: thin features, thinner hair and an
unpredictable tight bound aggression that he shared with his father and Dan
hadn’t liked him either.  By training Sefton
was a geophysicist and he was also Mendip’s current geological guru.

“Know anything about Bouger anomalies?” Sefton had
asked.  Dan had responded in the negative
and received the condescending answer, “It’s a geology student’s trick
question, not your province exactly, is it Dan!?”  Sefton continued with a layman’s definition
by describing them as local gravitational distortions that occur when bodies of
greater or lesser density are found within strata of uniform density, a useful
fact to have at hand when prospecting for metallic ores and you happen to have
a gravimeter.

Sefton went on to explain that his current research was into
the lighter, or to give it its proper term, the’ negative Bouger anomaly’.  He was exploring the known chain of both negative
and positive Bougers beneath Avalon and their relationship with Mendip’s
southern scarp.  He was hoping to prove
that the negative anomalies were remnants of the paleozoic era’s subduction
event that had given birth to the batholiths of magma that had pushed up
through the fresh devonian sediments to form the granite moors of Devon and

.  Further north he was proposing that plutons
had become trapped like hot air balloons filled with magma floating beneath a
sky of tougher carboniferous rocks and were now the sources of radioactive gas
that had leaked out into the Mendip area.

As Sefton’s survey progressed he could not help but notice
that his work had been duplicated several thousand years before him.  He noted that the focus of each negative
anomaly always coincided with one of the area’s mystical sites.  Bemused by the fact that wherein he was armed
with state of the art technology, his ancient predecessor’s unerring accuracy
was achieved with little more than a hazel twig.

Thus Sefton had been drawn into realms of mysticism, of
laylines, legend and how those Celtic priests could manipulate the fabric of
time at the sites of what they believed were the gateways to the other
world.  Sefton began to toy with the
relationship of observed time within an increased field of gravity according to
the laws of relativity and contemplated what time was inside a negative Bouger,
perhaps those old beliefs should not be so easily and curtly dismissed.

Sefton began a speculative search of the areas literature
and was rewarded by serendipity whilst browsing through Savory’s journal of
early Mendip exploration and the brief mention of something that had happened
on a visit to Wookey in 1911.Savory did not dwell on that occurrence although
he went on at length to give reasons for similar phenomena witnessed at a later
date.  The author does however refer the
reader to his report on the 1911 incident that was to be published in Balch’s
forthcoming book on the cave.  Intrigued,
Sefton turned to Balch’s book to find the eerie account of a phantom party that
could be heard but not seen.  In Sefton
it sparked an uncanny parallel with the C.D.G.’s record of their first fatal
accident at Wookey.   Could it be
possible that Savory’s party had been eavesdroppers on a tragedy that was not
to happen until almost 40 years into their future?  Had Balch inadvertently published what Sefton
was seeking, evidence of the distortion of time?  Sefton produced a photocopy of the original
caving diary entries made by other members of the 1911 expedition that he
discovered in the M.N.R.C. archives.  At
a glance, Dan could see that the entries would not have made sense in 1911,
they included diving terms that did not exist in the English language until
after 1920.  The ensuing silence between
them was broken by Sefton pronouncing, with a distinct chill in his voice,
“Just such an event may have put Gale out of phase from our observed time

Sefton strode up to the survey of the known cave mounted on
the wall and declared “Do you know what this place possesses other than
legend, well I’ll tell you Dan, although the cave lies within a Bouger anomaly
that has an overall mean value of -1, its focus is one of the most powerful yet
discovered!”  Sefton pulled out a
notebook and began a series of quick-fire questions, stabbing a finger at the
survey all the while.  “Is this the
place called the junction where Gale was last known to be?  The time about five after five a.m.?  This feature here, is it the limestone –
conglomerate boundary? “He muttered aside “God’s transistor.”

Sefton said “Do you know what occurred just after five
0 clock this morning?  It was high tide
Dan, maximum local terra gravitational flux, that was the trigger for the
‘event’ and Gale was unfortunately in its field.”  He continued “Savory gave us not only
the date in 1911 but also the time, from the diving logs we can derive the time
when that hapless party dragged a lifeless body onto the floor of the third
chamber, on their respective dates both times correspond with the high tide of
the full moon!”

There was concern in Dan’s voice as he asked how Gail fitted
into Sefton’s scheme of the universe. Sefton slowly drew his breath, considering his answer, “Gale is
still here in Wookey, only the clock she now observes is that of the sun,
sidereal time.  She will be aware that
she has left Wookey 20, she suspects that her dive and communication systems
are down, her onboard computer will dictate the need for a decompression stop
and she has decided to do so at the shallow/deep junction.  Gale can approach but never quite reach that
nexus as that rendezvous is now in her past. She will dimly know that something is very wrong but her awareness is
that of the cave diver, no past, no future only the battle for
‘now’!”  Sefton’s eyes were glazedly
fixed on the survey as he said  “Oh
yes, time’s sea will give up its dead, come the tides of spring’s equinox her
body will be found, corrupted, her gas supply long exhausted; it’s not the
first time it has happened is it Dan?”

Dan detected an unasked request in Sefton’s soliloquy, very
gently he said “Sefton, what are you trying to tell me to do?”  Sefton swung his gaze back onto Dan, he
became animated saying “You have three hours, the next high tide is the spring
tide of the new moon and with its extra power Gale could be released or,
“Sefton hesitated …..”  Be
replaced, beyond that window of opportunity it doesn’t matter as we both know
that Gale will dead.  Sefton turned
suddenly for the door, its closing slam was like a blow that left Dan in a
confused desolation.

It was high tide minus two hours; Dan decided that he needed
to be out in the sharp, razored air, he needed to think and decided to walk
along the path toward the cave.  It was
on the path that Dan encountered Gail’s familiar, the pale winter light glinted
on its scarlet bodywork … wheels of fire! Involuntarily Dan reached out to touch it, to be reassured by its
existence.  Out of the mist Sefton
appeared beside the machine, his former arrogance had deserted him, now he
seemed as mad as Lear on the heath, blinded by an incomprehensible personal
grief.  Sefton held out a time worn
envelope saying “I swore that I would never do this but now there is no
choice.  Dan recognised the handwriting,
it was addressed to him and as he read Sefton added “My mother died two
years ago, Gale is my sister, and she chose to use her grandmother’s maiden
name.”  Dan looked up from the
letter and watched the slip sinking sun, there would be no visible moon tonight
but her invisible force, now, was ever rising towards her unforeseen zenith in
the beckoning darkness.  Dan shuddered;
knowingly he had to relinquish control of his own destiny to that of the moon
and sun’s conspiracy.  Sefton was right,
there was no choice.

“Crook’s Rest, I have arrived at 13!”  Dan could hear within the confines of his C.
D. G. systems helmet, the muffled clack of a distant keyboard back at the
base.  The sound helped to suppress the
feeling of surreality that threatened to push him over an unknown edge.  The swim to 13 had been made on automatic
inertial guidance, a mistake, as it had given him time to reflect, turning the
journey into a pilgrimage through his own life. Dan’s mind became refocused by the ever changing time base on his face
plate, ticking away at him in dumb accusation. In his vision’s periphery another series of figures on the head up
display reduced his existence to mere numbers within this Mendip hill.  The coordinates of his being calculated by
satellites to be logged by computers; his slightest movement would allow the
third decimal place to race and its spinning helped to induce a whirl of
vertigo as he peered down the unearthly shaft into the mystery of the
subterranean river axe.

Dan hated the virtual reality screen’s representation, it
was real enough to make him feel as though he could fall into that river below
him and be swept away forever.  He
squeezed a sensor in his glove; his eyes immediately narrowed in the fierce
white light of the helmets lamps as they obliterated that hellish view.  Dan squeezed his glove again, now there was
only the dark glow of the instruments bathing his features in a deathly pallor.

In the darkness Dan thought that perhaps this thirteenth
chamber did not exist, it had never existed, until that fateful night when its
existence meant life or death for its discoverer, perhaps it was like an
Aboriginal song line and that Davies’ sheer will to survive had dreamed it into
being.  This barren place served no
purpose other than as a refuge.  Then Dan
became overwhelmed by a feeling of foolishness, had Sefton lured him here with
his weird reasoning?  A young Hamlet’s
revenge on a man whom he perceived as wronging the memory of his father.  Dan was about to call up control but
hesitated, the time base display had stopped its ceaseless run, it was now
locked in a flashing insistence; it was time!

The soft whine of hydro turbines filled the shaft as Dan
began his slow descent into the stygian river. A phrase from Dylan’s parable of betrayal between the sexes ran as an
endless loop through his thoughts “Lilly had taken all the red dye out of her
hair” … it was the point in the narrative when Lilly and Rosemary are
revealed to be one person and Dylan acknowledges the loss of his wife as a
lover as she becomes transformed into the Goddess Isis; custodian of all that
men most fear within the feminine mystery; desire, fertility, the future as yet
unborn and ultimately redemption.
daughter of the moon, sister, wife and mother of Osiris; Dan too was ensnared
in her web.  In 13’s green twilight Dan
saw a vision of Clare as he had known her all those years ago.  A small dark look of doubt flickered across
her face; an eerie backlight illuminated the highlights in her long auburn
hair.  She turned towards him with a radiant
smile of recognition.  Dan yearned to
reach out to her, to tell her why they had parted, he unknowing that she was
carrying their child.  Gail was his
daughter, he knew that now.  The circle
was almost closed, Dan owed God a death and if this was the tryst that fate
demanded, he was prepared to give his life so that Gail might live.  Clare’s spectral vision began to fade from
his consciousness, only then did he become aware of the sound.  Dan’s throat tightened as pain stabbed across
his chest and terror strangled the fibre of his being.  He could hear it plainly now as it came
towards him.  He knew that sound so
well.  The thin metallic hiss followed by
the explosive rumble of exhausted compressed air.  A sound forgotten by cave divers for almost
20 years.  Whoever it was below him was
not of this time.


B.E.C. Team Practice Rescue

Saturday 4th December 1992.  1000 hrs. at the Belfry.

The objectives of this day are to familiarise ourselves with
a range of equipment held in the MRO store. Brian Prewer has kindly agreed to
allow us an open day, provided that this doesn’t conflict with a real rescue!

I would like to see all new members attend this day, since
you may not have seen or used much of this specialist gear.  It may also be useful to older members who
are out of practice.  In particular we
will look at the Hot Air Kit, Entenox and the stretcher.  An emphasis will be on the proper
implementation of the drag sheet and stretcher and, carrying/hauling
techniques.  If it is available to us, we
will learn to use the Molephone and conduct correct and effective radio

After looking at and using this kit, we will progress to a
surface exercise, where we can put some of the ideas into practice.  This will be doing rigging and hauling in the
nearby trees where, we can all clearly see what is going on.

After an early evening break, Andy Sparrow has offered the
use of the Gym at the

.  Andy will have a scaffold erected, from which
we will demonstrate various lifting methods. We are all free then to try these methods and form our own conclusions
as to their efficacy.  This session will
be from approx 1900 to 2100hrs.  Then, if
you really have to, you may go to the pub!

This session costs you nothing, but will offer you valuable
knowledge ready for the real thing. PLEASE MAKE THE EFFORT.

For further information or to book your place, contact Phil


I am aware that some people may have a problem with
Saturdays.  I would therefore like to
obtain a consensus of opinion on whether we run these sessions Saturdays or
Sundays.  Perhaps we should
alternate?  Please give feedback.


Phil Romford.


Odds & Sods …

This page, which will hopefully become a regular feature, is
a forum for any notices, announcements or info members wish to make public….
Lost & Found, For Sale etc. Feel free to make use of it.

The AGGY key is now kept in the locked key cupboard at The
Belfry. See Committee members to book it out.




ROBIN GRAY would like to invite all cavers to view an
exhibition of paintings, drawings and photographs (by Robin) at the Woodspring
Museum Gallery,
Weston-Super-Mare.  Every day between 10.00 and 5.30 from Weds
3rd November until Sun 28th November.

Signed copies from original drawings will be available….
could make interesting Xmas pressies.


GLENYS GRASS would like it known that as a result of the
‘uncalcified ads’ run in the last B.B. offence has been taken.

The editor would like to apologise unconditionally for any
problems that may have been caused to individuals as a result of this.  It seems that the telephone number published
for Glenys’ visiting massage service was incorrect and business has been lost
due to this.  The Correct number (for
those of you suffering from ‘Executive Stress’ and in need of ‘relief’) is
WOOKEY 12  0 0 OOHH.


Warmbac Oversuit …. missing from The Belfry.  New Warmbac with yellow & blue patches on
the bum, if anyone has inadvertently removed this please contact Jingles C/O
The Belfry.


And Finally ….. overheard at the A.G.M. from a certain
chairperson (who shall remain nameless) to a certain new librarian (who shall
also remain nameless) …….

“Look, I wrote the F***ing Amendment …. so shut

Nice to know the membership still flexes its intellectual
muscle from time to time!

© 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.