Exploration Club, The Belfry,
Editor: John Williams
Cover: No comment.
- 1 1993 – 1994 Committee
- 2 Editorial
- 4 Sandpit
- 6 Tax changes affecting caving clubs.
- 8 From Chas Wethered
- 10 Down Swildon’s Hole.
- 12 Skiing In Crans Montana
- 14 (Under) Ground Rules.
- 16 The Butcombe Blues.
- 18 Blasts From the Past.
- 20 Letter
- 22 Working Weekend.
- 24 OO- ER Missus … !!!
- 25 Digging Fund.
- 27 Sarah Bennett
- 29 “And the lion shall lie down with the lamb”
- 31 Odds & Sods …
- 32 More Odds & Sods …
1993 – 1994 Committee
Hon. Sec. Martin Grass
Treasurer Chris Smart
Caving Sec. Jeff Price
Hut Warden Estelle Sandford
Tackle Master Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer Tim Large
B.B. Editor John Williams
Membership Sec. Nigel Taylor
Inside Cover: Emma
Porter (a prospective member) is interviewed by J-Rat & Jingles.
April fool it the Belfry Bulletin!
Hello again folks, BB
time is here … whoopee!!!
Judging by the response to the last issue I considered it
wise to let “Spike” loosed again so he’ll take over in a minute. I’d just like to appeal to you all for some
more articles. This has been the main
reason for the delay in this issue, or rather the lack of articles has. I know that there are those that that have
promised and are indeed at this very moment scribbling away, but I could still
do with more input.
I’d also like to apologise for the poor print quality or
some of this ish .. .its cos I’m between computers at present and Im having to
beg borrow and steal time on other systems (once a hacker etc.) Im hoping to improve the look of the BB with
the next issue, thanks to Dave Turners Laser printer so I hope that will make
up for it. Oh and if there is any
smelliung pisstakes in the prunbtong its cos I was in a Harry!!
I managed to escape from my cage to attend Rich Blakes
Birthday bash at the Belfry, little did I realise that it was the official
Belfry “Winter Olympics. (See
Belfry Walls for evidence!?!?!?). I was
greeted at the door by a wall of sound, the first time Ive seen a stereo that
size in The Belfry (and some would say hopefully the last ed). Having struggled through the almost solid
decibels I was nearly fried alive by the resident fire breather and flame
thrower Ivan. I hear tell that Zot was
banned for this many moons ago!! When
the flames had cleared I realised that the kitchen had been transformed (as
usual) into a ski jump. The kitchen had
been transformed into a ski jump. A
highly lubricated Belfry tale was mounted at a Black Run angle at the far end
and extreme mirth was had watching Snablet, Rich Vince et al Luging, skiing and
falling down it. This degenerated into a
tennis/cricket match where anything that could be thrown became a ball,
including certain individuals! Once the
throng were knee deep in broken crockery etc. (including Ivans suspected
broken shin!!) things slowed down a bit. Just before I departed someone put the Sex Pistols on the stereo (always
a recipe of disaster) and I have a vision of Blake, Snab and Vince dancing to
the beat. At least they say it was
dancing, all looked a bit iffy to me, needless to say various individuals were
differing shades of green the next morning.
I also Went to Sian Menabs 21st “Rocky Horror”
party at the village hall the other weekend. This was a dammed good bash and can be summed up quite succinctly. “Nurses, Stockings, Suspenders, Beer,
Dancing, Nurses, Stockings Suspenders, Food, Nurses, Stockings, Suspenders and
……… Nurses, Stockings, Suspenders. (Get the idea???) If you can’t imagine what its like I suggest
you speak to Snablet or Dave Lennard as they are both reputed to have had
“First hand Experience” later in the evening.
A good time was had by all who attended; even Andy Sparrow
was depressed up, tho I have to say that Mrs Sparrow looked better in her gear
than Andy in Basque. (As Snab said to
me, if one testicle fall out either side he would have been a Basque
separatist!!) I also saw the editor of
a BEC magazine dressed to the nines, best dressed woman there weren’t you
jingles. (Lies lies all lies Ed).
Personally I cant wait for the next one, Nurses, stockings,
suspenders … ad infinitum.
By Phil Romford.
Sandpit is a unique solutional feature on Mendip, situated
at the top of the catchments between Swildons Hole, Eastwater Cavern and St.
Cuthberts Swallet and at the head of Ebbor Gorge above Wookey Hole. It is a large, roughly rectangular solutional
depression about 50 by 23 metres and 11 metres deep, the longer axis is North
to South. Sand Pit may be an ancient
collapsed cavern; the possible evidence for this being the vertical cliff
sides, the highest being about 8 metres, and, the vast amount of boulders
infilling the floor. It is shown as a
small walled in feature on sheet 280, Wells area geological map at NGR ST
Sandpit is of great interest both in geological and
potentially hydrological terms. It is
situated only about 150 to 200 metres south of the South Western Overthrust
fault in Burrington Oolite (BO), which is faulted against the Clifton Down
Limestone (CDL) to the north. The South
Western Overthrust fault trends approximately
East at the Emborough Thrust near The Hunters Lodge Inn, where it is offset by
the Stock Hill Fault. The fault dips at
an angle of about 60 degrees SW. In
Sandpit the BO apparent dip is approximately 350, bearing 2600. The name Sandpit no doubt derives from the
fact that the limestone rots in localised lenses to a fine pale yellow/grey
siliceous sand. Generally, the limestone
beds visible in Sandpit are massive, averaging about 1.5 to 2 metres. The rock is fairly easily broken, unlike that
at White Pit; my assumption is that the limestone in Sandpit was not
sufficiently close to the fault to be affected by localised frictional heating
and consequent metamorphism.
Sandpit is owned by Richard Masters of Lower Pitts Farm and
is scheduled as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The basis of the SSSI schedule being Geology
and Biology. It is therefore, a site of
some considerable sensitivity in ecological and conservation terms. The land owner asked me to discuss the
prospect of digging with English Nature (EN) who are the body administering
SSSI’s. After careful discussion I was
able to ensure EN that digging would be carefully considered to take account of
the fragile nature of the ecology. This
was agreed on the basis of a very small team of diggers who would continually
update the landowner of progress. EN
granted a formal consent to the land owner allowing our team to proceed with
There has been a sporadic history of digging in Sandpit
since 1907 when the MNRC dug a small cave in the SW corner; in 1940 the UBSS
dug a 3 metre shaft near the centre; the SMCC dug near the UBSS shaft in 1962
and later in 1965 (My old dig); the WCC in 1968 and finally in the late 1980’s
by EMI Caving Club. None of the digging
revealed anything of significance. The
current dig, started Spring 1993 is at the lowest point of the hole near the
Tim Large and I sited our dig on the exact spot that I had
previously dug nearly 30 years earlier. This was following the West wall down
vertically; we very rapidly found that below infill level, the cliff was
stepping out in well defined ledges about 1/2 metre wide and deep. At a depth of 3 metres we had to dig outwards
away from the wall to gain more depth. By now Brian Murlis and Chris Towser had joined us on a regular basis. To date we have excavated to a depth of
approximately 5 metres at the deepest; at that point we found that once again
we were hitting solid bed rock. The
decision had to be made whether to tunnel following the rock down at an angle,
or, whether to move out another couple of metres and dig another shaft. After a lot of soul searching we decided on
the latter, which will most likely be concrete lined for safety. We are now
getting down into large blocks which may be promising. It least it may make it
easier to consolidate the shaft. The
soil infill seems looser and with less clay than the upper levels and is
certainly undisturbed by previous diggers. Since there may be items of archaeological interest, we shall take soil
profiles as we dig the new shaft to build up a picture of the prehistory of the
The situation of Sandpit is an interesting one: Since it is
more or less in the centre of the Swildons, Cuthberts, Wookey Hole triangle,
it gives rise to speculation on what lies beneath the Sand Pit infill. The
drainage patterns of the major swallets feeding Wookey Hole indicate that there
may be a major confluence probably nearer to St. Cuthberts sumps than any
other swallet (see St. Cuthberts Report-Geomorphology). The three major cave systems all terminate at
sumps north of the South Western Overthrust fault. This indicates to me that the confluence may
be in the fault itself, at a depth of around 180 metres, at or near the
saturation zone. This means that Sandpit
could be directly above major cave development. Indeed, White Pit, which is
only about 500 metres to the NW, has a high level well decorated passage which
trends due East. It is certainly possible that the two features may link,
ultimately joining with The Master Cave (sic).
Tax changes affecting caving clubs.
Tax changes affecting
Following further investigation the details of the likely
effects of the changes in tax legislation are becoming clearer.
The basic requirement of clubs and societies is simply to
inform their local tax office of their existence. The tax office will then send
a form on which the club can declare the amount of any taxable income, along
with instructions on how to fill the form in. So long as the form is completed and returned within the time scales
required there should be no further action required on the part of the Club and
in many cases no tax will be payable.
Clubs should note that there are penalties for not filing
their return within the specified period, but that these are only applicable if
the local tax office has sent out a demand for information and this has been
ignored. On the other hand, treasurers
and chairmen of clubs and societies may become personally liable for penalties
and any tax due if they wilfully attempt to evade tax by failing to inform the
tax office of the existence of their club.
A recent article in the NAMHO Newsletter (No. 24, January
1994), written by one of the Inland Revenue team responsible for the changes in
the regulations, clearly describes the action which should be taken by
treasurers and other responsible people in clubs and societies. Copies of this are available, free of charge,
by contacting the NCA Treasurer at the address below, enclosing an SAE. The
names of people requesting the information will be kept on file and if there
are any developments in the future the Association will try to keep people
Treasurer, National Caving Association,
Wednesday, February 9,1994
New tax changes affecting clubs and associations.
A new piece of tax legislation
became effective on 1st October 1993 (CT Pay and File). This legislation applies mainly to limited
companies but it also includes unincorporated associations, i.e. voluntary
clubs, associations etc. In the following text the following definitions are
Organisation – any voluntary
club or association
Inspector – the local Tax
District of the Inland Revenue.
2. Previous treatment.
In the past, organisations have
been strictly bound by the same rules as companies but the inspectors have
exercised a lot of discretion. Although
income from subscriptions is not taxable, bank or building society interest
is. Most organisations have a deposit or
building society account but the total annual interest received, and thus the
tax due, is minimal. In most cases the interest is paid net of tax anyway. Since it would cost more to assess and
collect the tax than would be received, the Inspector, sensibly, did not pursue
clubs where the tax liability was minimal.
3. New Rules.
In respect of accounting years
ending 1 October 1993 onwards, organisations, other than charities, are bound
by the same rules as other companies. These rules are as follows: –
a. Within three months of the organisation’s
accounting year end, the organisation will receive from the Inspector a tax
return (form CTIOO) and a formal notice to make a return.
b. Within nine months and one day of the
organisation’s accounting year end, the organisation must pay any tax due. They
will calculate the tax liability themselves on the tax return (CT200). Interest will be charged on any tax paid
later than this date.
c. Within twelve months of the organisation’s
accounting year end the organisation must send the tax return (CT200) to the
Inspector. Nil liability must still be
notified on a CT200. A penalty will be
charged where the CTIOO is returned later than this date as follows:
– £100 where returned up to 3
– £200 where returned over 3
Registered charities must still
return accounts to the Charity Commissioners as before but they are obliged to
make a return on form CT200 if sent one by the inspector.
At present, Inspectors are only
aware of the existence of a very few organisations. The Inspectors can only issue a notice and
Form CT200 if they are aware of the existence of the organisation and it should
be noted that the penalty for late return of Form CT200 is only applicable if
the organisation has received an official notice. There may, therefore, be a temptation to
refuse to notify the Inspector of the existence of the organisation in the hope
that the organisation never receives an official notice.
This is NOT advisable since the
Inspector may discover the existence of the organisation at a future date
through the activities of investigation units. In such cases the Inspector can not only assess the unpaid tax for back
years but also charge interest and penalties. Where an organisation is unincorporated the person assessed will be the
Chairman or Treasurer personally on behalf of the organisation.
For both organisations and the
Inland Revenue to comply with the new legislation would involve a great deal of
non cost effective work. However, the
legislation cannot be ignored completely. The answer is to obtain an “Extra Statutory Concession” from
the Inland Revenue whereby they agree that the organisations need not send in
details if their taxable income is below a de minimis amount. I have sent a submission to the Inland
Revenue Head Office asking them to consider an Extra Statutory Concession. I will keep you informed of future
Reproduced from NAMHO Newsletter No. 24, January 1994
From Chas Wethered
A little over three moths ago I met an old friend, Martin,
in The Hunter’s for Saturday lunch. We
decided it would be a good idea to take his two sons, James and Edward, for a
Goatchurch cavern, a gentle trip, as this would be the boys’
first underground adventure and Mart’s first trip in about 20 years.
We went to Brian Prewer’s to borrow helmets and lamps for
Mart and the boys, in exchange for a modest donation to the M.R.O. Martin and Brian then recalled that they had
caved together all that time ago, some reminiscence was indulged in as they got
their kit sorted out, then off we went to Burrington Combe where we changed
into our caving gear in Mart’s van. My
first trip to Goatchurch (see BB 470) had been on a Tuesday morning in summer,
Saturday afternoon in autumn found the cave ‘inhabited’ but nowhere near as
busy as on my earlier visit. In we went
by the main entrance, Mart and I kept up a running commentary of sensible
advice and naming sections of the cave for the boys, interspersed with ‘witty’
asides in Goon Show voices. Members of
‘a certain age’ will be familiar with the antics of the Zany characters
invented by messrs Milligan, Secombe, Sellars et al. (B*gger off Chas!! I can
remember that myself and still have my copy of ‘The Ying Tong Song’ certain age
The humour and daft voices were to allay any fears that
‘Little Jim’ & ‘Neddy’ might have had. They said later that they weren’t worried as they had enjoyed our jokes
(poor deluded children) and had found their first adventure in the depths of
the hill great fun and wanted to go again.
Next day, Sunday, lunch again at the Hunter’s then to Priddy
Green. To Brian’s for kit as before,
then after changing in the barn we crossed the field to Swildons Hole. Being the last man and being detained by a
call of nature (Butcombe), not wanting to delay my companions, I suffered a
hiatus of my mental process and dropped heavily into the entrance. I landed on a small loose rock with my right
foot, that ankle refocused my remaining brain cell with a sharp stab of
pain. A severe reminder to be more
careful, later diagnosed by my G.P. as damaged ligaments, not serious but
bloody painful. Once exploring and
pointing out the formations and intricacies of the dry ways to the lads (again
with Martin & I sounding like ‘Eccles’ & ‘Bluebottle’
etc ..”Oooooh ..He’s fallen in the water?!?!”) my hurt all but
disappeared only to return with a vengeance later. We took the boys to the top of the 20′ and
back, here was a good but light flow in the streamway giving the lads another
new experience. James wrote the
imaginative poem (which follows, Ed) based on the weekends exploits, which I
hope will give enjoyment to all us Belfryites.
Down Swildon’s Hole.
With heavy belts and mining
With nife cells, hats and lamps,
Down Swildon’s Hole go one, two, three,
Hoping now to chance,
The trip down Swildon’s hole and back,
But what dangers will there be?
Said one to others; Let us go,
And from all the things that I now know,
The trip all round, both to and fro,
Will take too long, and so,
I have thought another route,
That more our plan it does now suit.
Three boys they clambered down the hale,
And searching all throughout their soul,
They found no fear, or just for now.
The Rift, the Pipe, the tightest crawl,
Now would not divide them all,
But later, and now that is here,
The boys did not find cause for cheer,
And running out now was their hope,
‘Cause one of them had dropped the rope!
Now here they stand, just down a climb,
And all they could now do was whine,
And holler, bellow, scream and shout,
In hope that someone could get them out,
But alack, outside the rain did fall,
And forced these boys only to crawl
Through flooded chambers, pipes and rifts,
Come up for air or catch the drifts,
And float along until they saw,
What looked a lot like a smooth glass door.
A closer peer revealed the clue:-
The water now: backwards it blew!
This was the hole the boys came in!
Oh how they made a terrific din!
One by one, they clambered out,
And there and then they gave a shout,
Because now all of them were free,
And had not come to misery.
Now on this world were three less graves,
But there are some terrifying caves!
James Torbett Aged 12
Skiing In Crans
When Jingles requested more articles for the BB I bemoaned
the fact, in the Hunters one evening, that I could not help out as I had never
done anything remotely original or interesting in the caving world about which
to write an article. “Why not write
an article about skiing” says J-Rat, who like me believes that Jingles has
a lot to be thanked for the rejuvenated BB and who, of course, is dependent on
others for material to be published.
Well just as in the caving world I have never done anything
interesting or original so in the skiing world, but I am aware that not so many
cavers have skied so an article on the mundane will do just as well.
Are there any similarities? Well I suppose so, both sports depend on going downhill and then up but
in the reverse order; both involve getting cold and sometimes hot, but for very
different reasons; both require some nerve to enjoy to the full; both involve
boozing for added pleasure; both have seen an amazing development in the
fashionability of the cloths used; both depend on specialist gear to some
extent and finally in the case of an accident requiring rescue both involve
some trauma to the victim unless, in the case of skiing, you are taken off the
mountain in a helicopter and then the trauma is whether your insurance policy
covers the cost.
The main difference is the accommodation and food associated
with recreational downhill skiing which s normally quite luxurious, and, even
if it isn’t, very expensive. This I know
puts many cavers off the sport when they think of the weeks or months, for the
same cost, that they could spend enjoying themselves in the discomfort of the
jungles or arid zones of the world under canvas, living off the land and drinking
with the natives. Well there’s none of
that in recreational skiing, rather superheated chalets or hotels, five course
dinners, coffee at £2.00 a cup, a half of beer at more than that and a plate of
chips at 3,000m for a fiver. Now for
someone, dare I say it, who has never stayed at the Belfry, these disadvantages
are not serious rather they are positive advantages (excepting the cost). You can of course hire an apartment and
self-cater but even that isn’t cheap.
The other main difference is that most downhill skiing could
under no circumstances be considered “natural”. Purists who consider the fixed aids in
Cuthberts an outrage would have nightmares at the sight of the uphill
transport systems, the massive reshaping of mountains to produce skiable pistes
(originally French for paths) and the bashing of the snow by amazing tracked
machines (once seen in operation you would never bother to buy a 4WD vehicle)
that seem to be able to go anywhere and work all night to produce easily
What other differences are there? There are far more women skiers than cavers
and many are better than the men. I am
not sure whether this makes its difference for the better or worse as far as
the readership is concerned! The cost of
going uphill is astronomic once you are anything more than a beginner. In a resort with 100km or more of marked
pistes a lift pass for a week will cost about £100.00. If you don’t own skis and boots you will have
to hire both, if you’ve never skied before it makes sense to have lessons.
Skiing is very weather dependent with a short season, except
on glaciers, on which you can ski all year – during the 1985 Berger trip I took
off for a day to ski the glacier at Les Deux Alpes its often too cold, too
sunny, too limited visibility, too much snow, too little snow but for all that
it is often just right.
Off piste skiing, of which I have no experience, would I am
sure appeal to cavers more as it is natural to the extent that you are skiing
the untouched mountain snow. It requires
a different technique from piste skiing. Of
even more attraction to BEC members would be ski touring, or
mountaineering, in which you go uphill as well as down on your skis and move
from hut to hut. You need an excellent
knowledge of the mountains, or better still a guide, and joy upon joy the
accommodation and drinking habits get much closer to caving as mountain huts,
though warm, cannot be described as luxurious and the camaraderie and boozing
legendary if a bit expensive.
This resort is on the north side of the Rhone valley about
80km east of the eastern end of
up the mountain to
in time for tea. More often than not now
we drive leaving
catching an evening ferry at
and then driving
through the night arriving in Crans in time for breakfast, a
journey of 550 miles across French motorways, then lesser roads across the Jura and finally more motorway in
lunchtime on Saturday.
We tend to go to the same place most years for a mixture of
reasons. We have a friend who lets us his
luxury apartment, three bedrooms and two bathrooms for the two of us. On a day when there is no cloud the sun
shines for eight hours when in other resorts less well positioned it will shine
for one or two hours. The resort is the
but hardly used by the Brits. It is
difficult to understand why except that it all faces south so that when the sun
shines the snow melts quickly, but in the early season, provided there has been
a good fall of snow the sun and snow can be a wonderful combination – from
10.00am to 4.00pm in hot sunshine in mid February on a mountainside between the
altitudes of 1,500m and 3,000m can be magic.
The guidebooks say that Crans lacks challenging runs and
this is true to some extent but for us this is compensated by the fact that
Maggie and I can ski the whole mountain together, over 100 kilometres of marked
piste, without Maggie getting scared and the views across the Rhone Valais to
the Southern Alps with their rows of peaks higher than 4000m is spectacularly
beautiful, to say the least. Whatever
the guidebooks say, in certain conditions the runs are challenging and sections
of some of them are always challenging at least for the intermediate skiers
that we are and always will be.
The apartment we hire is 50m from the “Les
Violettes” lift from the resort, a six seater gondola, which takes just
over 10 minutes to lift us from 1, 500m to 2, 200m initially over banks of fir
trees and then, above the tree line, rugged mountain scenery. From there we can transfer to a cable car
which, in another ten minutes takes us together with 100 other skiers, packed
like sardines, to 2,950m and the edge of a vast, aptly named glacial bowl,
“Plaine Morte”, which has little attraction to us downhill skiers. Instead we head off down the one route from
the glacier. This is reasonably steep
but wide in most places, interspersed with short, narrow and scary tracks
traversing the more precipitous sections, the more daring players ski over the
edge of these tracks but not us.
The view down and outwards is one mass of snow covered
mountain with no trees and across the Valais a vast range of high alpine
peaks. Further down our route cuts into
a wide valley, on either side of which we can now see other ski lifts and other
skiers taking other routes from these lifts that mainly stop at about 2,
500m. Towards the bottom of the valley,
which is still a good 700m above the resort, it levels out and we ski faster
and in a straighter line, not having to turn continuously as we have had to until
now to avoid going too fast and losing control. We ski out onto a mountain path which is almost flat, past the “La
Toula” lift, at the tree line and pole along for about a km until the
track reaches the “Cabain du Bois” lift and then tilts down hill on
narrow paths between the trees in the forest. These tracks are fun when we are on our own but horrid when there are
lots of other skiers as there is very little room to manoeuvre and much danger
of collision. We are always pleased when
we reach one of the many open spaces, which in the summer are mountain
pastures, which allow some relaxation whilst skiing down to the door of our
apartment. From the glacier to the door
it is an uninterrupted run of just over 11km and takes about half an hour if we
ski non stop but we seldom do this as it is very tiring and misses all the
point of being in the mountains, enjoying the views, the fresh air and the
sunshine if we’re lucky. It can take
much much longer if its snowing hard and a white-out with the only guide as to
where we are the posts that mark the centre and edges of the piste, no view,
freezing cold, mind chillingly frightening and requiring vast quantities of
gluwein at the first mountain restaurant we come across.
Most of our skiing is above the tree-line from 2, 500m to
about 1, 900m across the wide southern facing, interlinked mountain slopes of
Petit Bonvin, Cry D’ Err, Bella Lui and Chetseron, with some on the tracks down
to the resort through the trees most of which end at one of the four main lifts
out of the resort. If we time it right
and the snow is good we can always get back to our apartment on skis from
wherever we are on the mountains but normally we ski into the centre of town to
spend an hour or so in the late afternoon at Gerber’s, a wonderful tea room
with a three piece band playing gentle afternoon music, with a stunning array
of Swiss cakes and confectionary and a range of fizzy beers that would look out
of order at the Hunters.
Still wearing cumbersome skiing boots, we leave Gerber’s
suitably refreshed to window shop at Cartier, Gucci and other elite houses of
consumerism before picking up the planks and heading off for the apartment on
the bus, the cost of which is covered by the ski-pass. The day ends with a long
lie in the bath, supper cooked by one or other of us and a good book. Sleep comes easily after all the fresh air
and the need to wake early the next day to get the best of the skiing.
(Under) Ground Rules.
Purloined from ‘The Mendip Caver’
Make of these what you will …
Do not question the leader’s decisions – Obey his
instructions! Always stay in sight of the party – Do not lag behind – or rush
If you are Cold/Tired/Sick/Scared or Hungry – Say so!! There is no room for pride or martyrdom – so
Distraction can cause trouble – Focus on the task at hand
and stay concentrated.
Know where each step is going before you take it.
Relax at every opportunity. Conserve physical and mental
energy. Panic worry and uneasiness waste
energy! Stay calm and collected.
Apathy and boredom are your enemies – they will exhaust you
very quickly – keep a positive and vital attitude.
The only barriers are those you create for yourself!!! Believe you can do something and create the
possibility …… Intend to do something and create the probability …..
– Then create the reality ….. do it!!!
The Butcombe Blues.
By Mike Wilson.
Its pleasant to spend weekends
Doing the rounds with friends and he likes,
Pots clinking, people chatting, shoulders rubbing,
Jake and Blake wobbling around minus bikes.
Having drank all night at the Hunters,
And managed to stay standing up,
You find to your horror some punter’s,
Gone and purchased a barrel to sup.
So you stagger to the bog in a stupor,
And manage a fumbling pee,
Then back to the bar for another,
Is this twittering wreck really me???
Last riders are called and the lights flash,
Finish your pint at a push,
Chip in for the barrel with hard cash,
Then have a last pee near a bush.
The nights not finished till morning,
You crawl out of your pit looking grim,
Climb over the bodies still yawning,
All having indulged alcohols whim.
Short of cash and totally exhausted,
Lets go down to the caff for a bite,
Last night couldn’t really be faulted,
Shall we have another barrel tonight???
Blasts From the Past.
Some more entries from the club log, from years gone by …
Lloyd, to St Cuthberts, the latter trying to learn the way. During 3 hours any holes were entered,
bottomless pits explored and a lake waded. The level of the lake was very low. O.C.L. found a way of getting up the
entrance rift: with one foot in the bottom rung of the ladder – he recited one
of Ramsay McDonald’s speeches, the hot air so engendered rapidly got him to the
top of the rift. – O.C.L.
Harvey + Novice – Trip to Trat’s
Swildons Hole. – As we came back to the streamway, I noticed a hole high up in
the roof and tried to climb to it. Unfortunately on the way up I slipped and fell about 15 feet where the
novice was there to stop me. Otherwise
an uneventful trip. Chris Harvey.
(Who??? ….. Ed.)
R. Stenner, Joy Steadman, Brenda Plummer, Jock, Paul Morrel, Peter Fich, Dave
Connolly, leader: Joyce Rowlands.
A miserable trip (inevitable in this cave) made hilarious
for a while when one of the party (not the writer) got well and truly
– Balch Memorial trip.
Party: B. Wilton, C. Harvey, K.& P. Franklin, D.&K.
Searle, H. Kennett.
60 years ago Eastwater was opened up by Balch et al. To commemorate this fact a party was
assembled in period dress to descend the cave. The illumination consisted of standard no. 7 candles carried between the
thumb and forefinger. The route taken
was the 380′ way, Traverse, Canyon, S Bends, Top of verticals and out via
Halleluiah hole. Time of trip one and a
bit candles length = 2hrs.
Withybrook – Henry Oakey, Nick Miller.
By dint of taking off all our clothes we were able to get
through a certain squeeze and get down into the streamway. Extraordinarily tight, painful etc … ‘
Better than flagellation!!!’
not put in B.B. (Couldn’t resist
it could i? … Ed)
At 1.30 precisely Messrs. Palmer, Kingston, Wilton &
(Snogger) Hall – were supping ale at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn, when a phone call
was received with information about an exhausted caver below the 40′ pot in
Swildons. The above four, plus Biddle & Petty, descended to the water rift
and found the bloke had already got up, so the party was guided out. – A half
hour fiasco. P.Kingston.
1.1.66 Hunter’s Lodge Inn. WIG HONKED!!!!
Trebor received a letter from Steve Milner in
here is an excerpt which may be of some interest.
I noticed in Descent, that there is a slightly warped
account of the blowing up of a cave in Sellicks Hill, just down the road from
us here in
it was in an attempt to avoid the possibility of a conservation order being
laid on the cave by the elected government. (The blast was on the eve (almost) of the election). Nevertheless the majority of the cave exists
and we are negotiating access, conservation orders, independent enquiries etc
… The Australian quarries are far more brazen in their activities than
the new cave that we have found on
beautiful, well worth preserving.
days at Easter to push the caverns measureless to man; I expect we should have
lots of success.
Happy Caving ….. Steve
The Belfry (as regulars will know) is currently in desperate
need of some ‘tender loving care’. Well
we all know its not going to get any of that but it might just get the once
over at the next working weekend. The
date has been set for the weekend of 21st & 22nday. Members attending and working will not be
expected to pay hut fees (the usual arrangement) and hopefully there will be a
meal on the Saturday evening as there was last time. Trebor & Estelle have prepared a
provisional list of tasks and these were agreed at the last committee meeting
1. Investigate and rectify intermittent hot water
to left hand shower unit.
2. Investigate and rectify lack of hot water to
shower room and hall we wash basins, in conjunction with defective immersion
heater/hot water tank in roof space.
3. Shower room wash basins loose.
4. Replace various missing tiles to shower room
walls. (May be difficult until walls are
allowed to dry out thoroughly.)
5. Continual problems with right side shower coin
box – always breaking, jamming etc. Suspect left side shower box would be similarly afflicted if that shower
was used more.
6. Central heating erratic – radiators very hot on
mild days. Still significant smell from
7. Shower holder to right side shower
loose/incapable of holding shower head.
8. Flourescent tube in changing room needs
9. Dented/Broken inner face of changing room
external door needs plating like the external face.
10. Repair broken right side bulb holder in guests
11. On going repairs to hall WC cistern.
12. Two electric bar heaters in boxed-in section of
roof space not on during cold weather recently.
13. General all round spring clean required.
1. New porch roof.
2. Up-grade front door to security door. Wired safety glass??
3. Tune up delay mechanisms to external lights so
they stay on for 1 minute?
4. Form gulley to base of front left gutter downpipe.
5. Replace missing downpipe to rear left corner of
building, together with repairs to rotten/missing soffit and fascia board in
6. Rectify bad leak to gutter/downpipe to front
right corner of building.
7. Replace rotten sill/frame to guest bunk room
left end window.
8. Re-decorate externally.
9. External emergency light over main fire door
10. Replace poor quality, broken guest bunk room
11. Belfry site.. General clear up and disposal of
rubbish. (Big bonfire … ???)
Obviously these repairs etc are ongoing so some may have
been taken care of by May. But as always
there will be plenty to do and the support of the membership is needed, so make
a note in your diaries.
OO- ER Missus … !!!
About four or five weeks ago (maybe longer by the time you
read this) we had a party of students staying at the Belfry from Kingston Uni.
previous occasions and aren’t a bad bunch at all. Unfortunately this time the hut was
‘oversubscribed’ resulting in too few bedspaces. On the Friday night some of
them had been happy to sleep on mattresses on the bunkroom floor.
The saturday in question there was a barrel at the Shepton
hut, which is another story altogether and I don’t intend to go into that here,
save to say that the party got continued at the Belfry and lasted till quite
late …. During this time some of the
lot, who had been asleep in the Belfry kitchen were wakened. The high spirits of the partygoers resulted
in a lot of crockery getting smashed and all of
did they not have anything to eat their breakfast off, but also had no
breakfast to eat. They were understandably
upset about this. The result being that
Estelle had to buy replacement food for them as well as reimburse hut fees to
the tune of about £20.00. It would also
seem that we have lost what had become a regular hut booking.
This was discussed at the last committee meeting and it was
felt that there is a balance between having a good time (even a wild one) and
the upsetting of paying guests to this extent. Need I remind you that we need to have guest parties stay at the Belfry
for financial reasons let alone anything else.
It seems a shame that this sort of thing has to happen when
even a modicum of control would avoid such situations in the future.
It was suggested at the last committee meeting that a
digging fund be set up for the regular digging teams. No decision has yet been taken but comment
and feedback are invited from the membership …….. what do you think?????
A possibility would be to subsidise the purchase of tools
and equipment for use on club digs, with individuals or teams being able to
approach the committee and request funding for projects.
It is important to stress that this would be a club fund for
club digs only and not a ‘top up my tankard please’ fund …..
Any comment is welcomed and can be forwarded to the
committee via the BB editor, whose address is at the front of the ‘rag’.
Martin “I’m not a yuppie Honest.” Grass would like you to know that his new
Carphone (Poseurphone) number is 0385 xxxxxxx.
1st October 1959 –
27th January 1994
The Caving world has suffered a sad loss with the death of
Sarah Bennett on Thursday 27th January.
Sarah clearly derived a great deal of satisfaction from her
caving activities, particularly with the
on Llangattock and the BEC on Mendip.
A pleasure to cave with, she not only contributed with her
considerable expertise, but with cheerfulness and an exemplary team
spirit. Her positive attitude was never
more remarkable than on the Daren rescue in the winter of 91/92. Faced with the daunting prospect of the
journey from the Restaurant at the end of the Universe to the surface, with a
dislocated shoulder, she was clearly concerned with the wellbeing of her
rescuers as with her own predicament.
Sarah enjoyed the social side of caving with equal
enthusiasm. Barbeques at Whitewalls,
singsongs at the Belfry, parties at the Restaurant – all were entered into with
admirable high spirits. The caving world
will be all the poorer in her absence. Our sympathies go out to Henry, Sarah’s family and her many close friends.
“And the lion shall lie down with the lamb”
Luke William English
18 October 1920 – 24 February 1994
Mendip today is a sadder place for me, L.W.E. DEVENISH,
known to many affectionately as “Dev” or as I have had the honour to
have known him simply as “Luke” has died.
I have known Luke for only a fraction of the time that
others have known him, just a mere 25 years in fact, but I have lost a dear
friend and one of “life’s gentlemen” is no more. However, Luke’s wife Norma, and their
children Peter, Colena and Janine, and grandson Sam have a greater loss, and it
is to them that we must send our deepest sympathy and respects.
Everyone that I have spoken to, that was fortunate enough to
have known Luke, admits to having been touched by that magical spirit of
his. He was a perfectionist in all he
attempted. He would endure great
discomfort, yet never complain of this. He would chide me for failing to wear ear-muffs or a dust mask when we
were drilling and blasting, yet he would then sacrifice his own health and
insist I use his equipment, when there was only one set in the Landrover, as I
had mislaid mine.
One of the many tales that cheers me now is that of a young
James HANWELL, Esq, who having been spotted walking at Priddy, towards Wells,
was accosted by Luke and summoned to sit up in his open-topped windscreen-less
jeep. Together the pair tore off at
break-neck speed, headlong down over Deer Leap towards Wookey Hole, as they
neared the lower part of the road a thunderous and blinding crash occurred,
shards of wood and curses profound …………… Luke is alleged to have
exclaimed a great oath and cried “that’s the third bloody gate I’ve hit
across this road!!”
In recent years, in the coldest of weather, Luke could be
seen about the City of
in a bright lumber-jack type short-sleeved shirt, he was at that time hardy in
health, but always with a soft nature. As a tutor and mentor he was like a lamb, gentle and considerate. In recent years, after terrorist incidents,
Luke would often telephone me at odd hours with valid suggestions and say, I
wonder, have you considered this?” He always kept a keen, sharp and active mind and he was ready with a
suggestion that others would have overlooked.
L.W.E.D was a man whose interests in life were so strong,
rich and colourful, it was almost infectious. He was a student of H.E. BALCH and with Oliver LLOYD and both Richard
and Howard KENNEY, acted as pall bearers to the great pioneer on his death.
Luke was one of those characters in Mendip Caving, that
dwindling Hall of Fame, who gave us much of our caving heritage on Mendip. He was one of the discoverers of the Black
Hole series in Swildons Cavern. An
ardent caver, not just on Mendip but also in the early days of speleology in
part of an early electron ladder he had constructed, and may well have been the
first maker of such equipment.
I was fortunate in being Luke’s next door neighbour in
Chilcote, and one day on being offered employment by him, I readily accepted
and there followed one of the most rewarding and formative periods of my life. Luke’s constant stream of tales and anecdotes
could, with little effort, be encouraged from him, and often he would gruffly
conclude these and dismiss them as being of no great import, yet to a
starry-eyed youngster, this was history in action.
At work Luke’s sheer physical strength and grit always
manifested itself. There are countless
tales that those who resorted to his services of blasting, diving and
demolition, or like Mike THOMPSON and Ian JEPSON, who have also assisted him,
I shall always remember seeing the dumb-struck awe that even
hard-boiled Irish Navvies and site workers would hold him in, on the many
construction areas we worked on. A job
well done was Luke’s own satisfaction and reward.
On leaving a muddy, icy, wet site, tired, aching and with
thumping “bang-heads” we would travel many miles at the end of the
day to return to Washing pool Farm at Chilcote, Luke puffing in his King Edward
cigar. He would tell me of days long
past, digging with H E BALCH at Badger Hole, Wookey, or when he had lived at
the Star Hotel in Wells, and as an M.N.R.C member, he would spend hours at
sorting out bones under BALCH’s tutelage, or walked from Wells to Loxton, and
after caving, slept the night in a cavern prior to his return to Wells.
Luke was the man who helped build the Wessex Cave Club Hut
at Hillgrove, in one mad weekend, and later held the club together and took
over the Chair of the
from George WILLIAMS. He later became
President of the
resolved to re-establish the Mendip Rescue Organisation after the War and was
the number one call-out Warden until he retired on his 50th birthday.
Luke had a strong conviction that a man should always retire
when he reached his peak, rather than overstay his welcome and thus was a man
of his convictions. He found the Roman
lead pig ingots at Rookery Farm, which now lie in the
he was also the maker of the first underwater cave diving photograph at Wookey
Hole in 1959. He was the man who could
move at all levels and not seem out of place with those in any section of
society. He was the man whose vision and
interest and sheer downright professionalism, lead to the foundation of the now
earnest, truthful, jovial, loyal, strong and loved his family, of whom he was
immensely proud. He was a lion of a man,
called Luke DEVENISH.
Odds & Sods …
Address Changes …
Andy Sparrow, Priddy,
N.B. Andy requests that any ‘visitors’ do not park outside
his house, but park at the Green and walk up to the house from there.
From Estelle, The Hut Dragon, oops sorry, Hut Warden.
Four lockers are still unclaimed but still padlocked. If contact is not made with Estelle or they
remain un-emptied by the 1st of May they will be forced open, emptied and given
to someone else. (There are people
waiting for lockers) So if you have a
‘Guilt Factor’ and have not yet paid your locker fees (£2) get in touch with
Anyone visiting the Belfry is requested to bring old
newspapers for fire starting as long as the cold weather persists. We need cups and plates too, preferably
plastic and UNBREAKABLE if anyone has any spare.
BOB HILL is active (as ever) over in
I have recently visited Majli’s AI-Ojinn ‘Meeting hall of
the spirits’. Second largest chamber in
the world I am told. 900′ by 600′ with a
520′ free hanging abseil, which was pretty impressive.
The sinkhole I mentioned in my last article has been pushed
to 120m in. We are now at – 50m and the
passage continues downwards, with the roof appearing to level out at about
-55m. We intend to push it again soon
but need some more gear and a few workup dives in the sea first as it will probably
be a 60m dive. An article on this and a
survey and on Majli’s trip will be forthcoming shortly.
I had a letter from John Nicholson a non member who visited
recently with his son Martin and two Venture scouts … an excerpt follows ….
Please thank the
others for the friendly way in which we were welcomed to your HQ and shown the ropes. A highlight of the weekend for me was to
visit the Hunter’s (after at least 35 years) and to find myself talking to
someone who recognised me from the ’50s. This last visit and a couple of other trips made in the last year, have
wetted my appetite for some more caving and I would be interested to know if
there are any other ‘Antique Veterans’ who would be willing to let someone of
my ilk join them occasionally.
Once again thanks for all your assistance and for helping to
make it a great weekend. I hope it is not too long before we all meet again on
I have John’s address and telephone number if anyone wishes
to contact him ..Jingles.
Quote of the Month .
From a Caving Secretary who wishes to remain anonymous, on
introducing the committee to a new member ….
“Nigel’s not here but he takes all the Cuthberts
PLEASE SOMEONE OUT THERE WRITE ME SOMETHING SO I CAN DO THE
More Odds & Sods …
St Cuthberts Reports …. for visiting Parties….
There is now a locked box, fixed on top pf the key cabinet
at the Belfry, containing Cuthberts reports and surveys. It can be opened with the Cuthberts
key. Money for the reports should be put
in an envelope, marked as such, and posted to into the hut fees box.
(In the event that there are no surveys available, take a
name and address and the survey can be forwarded.)
BEC T-Shirts and stickers are now available from Tony
Jarratt. (Usually to be found at Bat
Products .surprisingly enough).
The editor apologises to any members who have joined
recently, I am still working on the updated Membership list at the time f
publication. As soon as I am able I will
Local members are reminded of Cheddar Folk Festival, taking
place in Cheddar, of all places, 7/8/9/May 1994. See Snab for more info.