The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.
Editor: John Williams

1996 – 1997 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel

Taylor

Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Ivan Sandford
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Estelle Sandford
Membership Sec.    

Richard St
ephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Librarian                  Alex Gee
Floating                   Hilary Wilson

 

Editorial

Well it’s been some time since the last edition of the
bulletin.  This is largely due to the
fact that once again I have been short of articles.  I can see little point in publishing a very
small edition or inventing stuff myself to pad it out.  At the AGM I indicated that I would aim to produce
at least four copies during the year, a target I am well on course for and will
probably exceed.  So my message to those
of you out there complaining that you don’t receive enough BBs is … Write
something. Simple eh?  As I have said
many times before the BB is only as good as the articles that are supplied to
the editor, whoever that may be.   There
are those that feel a change of editor would solve this problem, personally I
am not convinced but there you go. Anyway thanks to those of you that have contributed.

For anyone who hasn’t been there recently the Belfry has had
a facelift this year and now boasts an alpine style bunkroom in place of the
two separate bunkrooms of yore.  The work
was done largely by local club members and is of a high standard.  The kitchen has also received quite a bit of
attention and now has a pretty solid floor covering complete with ‘Bertie’ logo
….. a nice touch.

Sadly we have had three recent deaths in the club: Dan and
Stella Hassell (see separate article) and Brian Murliss (see Belfry
Table).  I’m sure we would all pass on
our condolences to the respective families.

On a different note I have stood down as director for the
Charterhouse Caving Company.  This was
due partially to my feeling somewhat overcommitted but also the fact that other
committee members felt I had a conflict of interest.  This has not been explained to me so I am
still rather confused about it.  Suffice
to say that Becca Campbell represented the club at the AGM of CCC after my
resignation.  The BEC no longer has a
director on the board of CCC as John Bell of SBSS was voted in, in place of
me.  I may choose to air my views on this
at a later date but do not wish to say anything until I am aware of all the
facts.

‘Tusker’ of the Weegies informs me that there is to be a
midsummer caver’s bash at Crapnell Farm in June … further details will be
available from myself or him …. only a telephone call away folks.  Also Jeff East of the Shepton tells me that
there will indeed be a Wessex Challenge type event in the autumn probably
called ‘The Mendip Challenge’, this is to be hosted by the Shepton and I will
announce details when I have them.

Swildon’s 13 is once again under attack by Mike Barnes and
Trebor.  I also know of several other
divers who have expressed an interest in this project.  This is an extremely arduous undertaking as
the dive is very remote indeed and 13 lies on the far side of a particularly
nasty underwater squeeze.  Preliminary
investigations lead the team to believe they are but one metre from air …
albeit one rather impassable metre at present. Best of luck guys.

Well reckon that’s about it for now, once again apologies
for the delay in publication …… perhaps one or two of you will be spurred
into literary action …. who knows??

Anyway regards to all, particularly those I have not seen
for some time.

Cheers and good caving …. Jingles.

*****************************************

Tony Williams would like to invite members to his birthday
celebrations at:

The Ring Of Bells, Hinton Bluett. Saturday May 17th
all are welcome. Irish Band and P*ss *p!!

 

From the Belfry Table

I begin this page with sad news yet again for the Club.

It is with deep regret that I must inform the Membership of
the recent deaths of Stela Hassall, and even more recently, of Brian Murliss.

Many of us shaken by Dan’s recent demise will be further
deeply saddened by the news of Stella following him so soon.

Brian Murliss, a keen digging member of the club and MRO
Warden died tragically in early April. Although perhaps not even known to each
other, both these people had a deep warmth of character, generous in heart and
humour, both of them enriching  the  lives of those who knew them, each will be sadly missed by their many friends.  To their respective families we send our
thoughts and heartfelt sympathy at this dark time.

*****************************************

A BCRA One day
seminar
, to be held at Priddy Village Hall on Saturday 7th.  June 1997, must surely be excellent value for
£1.  The event opens at 9.30 am, and runs
all day until 5.30 pm, Rich Whitcombe will speak on new finds in the Thrupe
area, Tony Jarratt on Five Buddles dig, Dave Irwin, Maurice Hewins and others
will give contributions throughout the day. Liquid refreshments are planed! Further details from the Belfry notice board, or Dave Irwin.

The MRO together with
the Explosives User Group
will host another technical day, hopefully at
Westbury Quarry, the following day, Sunday 8th. June 1997.  The intention this time is to pride several
different rock types, such as (Draycott] conglomerate, [Box Stone] Sandstones
etc, to show their diverse natures as regards bolt fixation, stability, and
susceptibility to effective explosive attack! It is hoped that matters covered in the two previous technical days can
be built upon constructively at this one. Further details from NT.

Travelling to Penwylt
or Ystradfellte?
  If you fancy an
alternative to the M4/132/A470 route via Aberdare/Mountain Ash/Hirwaun,
especially on a busy Saturday morning, try staying on the M4, come off at J43,
and shoot up the new dual carriageway, coming off at Glyn Neath instead.  It is longer, but can be much quicker, with
fine scenery in the Vale of Neath.  In
the last eight months I have tried several routes, except the newly opened one,
on a daily basis, and I recommend it!

A new Mendip Cave
Bibliography
is being published by Dave Irwin, it can be seen at the BCRA
event, at over 250,000 words, it is destined to be an informative work, and a
must for any research into Mendips karst systems.

MRO activities &
lectures dates coming up are: –

Saturday 17th.May. Box Stone Mines practice Rescue, Details
Martin Bishop.  Sunday 18th.May MRO
Wardens {Only} Meeting

MIDSUMMER BARBECUE?  The longest day [21st June] actually falls on
a Saturday this year, plans are rumbling amongst the Wessex for a do of some
kind this year, bear it in mind!

Roger & Jackie
Dors
have another grandchild, I expect the regular Belfyites are eager to
help them wet the babies head! Congratulations to Helan & Nigel & Brother William!  Born on 6th May, a baby girl Alice Rose, she
shares her birthday with her older brother William!  Some members were wondering earlier that if
it was a boy would Helan & Nigel consider calling him Bertie, as we already
had a BEC(ky).

BELFRY HUT FEES,
have been sensibly raised recently, these haven’t been raised for several
years, and nearly half the present committee can’t recall any previous
rate!  The increases have been kept as
low as possible, but reflect the view that the Belfry must be run economically,
any excess profit if made, can therefore be ploughed back into further
improvements and facilities.

FIVE BUDDLES DIG,
now has a resplendent locked gate, to compliment its equally fine draft!  Tony Jarratt, Trev Hughes, Quackers and
others are working hard on this site. Other members are hard at work at BARROW RAKE DIG, on a recent digging
session here, Jake and Rich Blake believe that they heard Alex Gee diving at
Wookey recently ……. no I jest.

BEC DINNER & AGM,
Saturday 4th.  October 1997.  Details still to be finalised, but BOOK THAT
DATE.

Remember to write that article for the BB, you keep thinking
about it.

CHARTERHOUSE CAVING
AREA.
  You must have a valid permit,
if you don’t have one, ask any committee member and obtain one straight away,
they are free to paid up members.  You
haven’t the right to lose what others have worked for.

C.S.C.C AGM,
10.30 am, Saturday 17th.May 1997, at the Hunters Lodge Inn.

SNAKES ALIVE!  The recent warm spell has seen a spate of
adder sightings, watch where you put your hands and feet most especially in
gruffy areas, leave them well alone, they are a protected species, and they
will normally leave you alone, but in case of being bitten Wells and WSM
Hospitals carry Serum, stay calm and don’t panic.  If your dog gets bitten, again kept it calm,
and contact a local vet or Bristol University Vet School at Langford House,
Langford who also keep suitable anti-venom treatment.

THEFTS FROM CARS,
these are again being committed in beauty spots, don’t leave valuables in your
vehicles whilst caving! Burrington, and Charterhouse and Priddy pool areas are
under constant attack, alternatively perhaps keep a pet snake in the car?

On that note, definitely time to leave the table!

Regards, Nigel. Taylor, Hon. Sec.   Thursday 1st.May 1997.

 

A Method for Reversing the Downward Trend in Membership Numbers of the BEC.

By Alex Gee.

PREAMBLE:

At the 1996 AGM a concern as raised by Andy Sparrow over the
decline in membership numbers of the BEC. This was generally agreed to be a common problem in caving in particular
and not just confined to the BEC.  The
feeling of the AGM, being that we do something about it: thus this is my
proposal. ..

BACKGROUND:

The local diving club, of which both my brothers are
members, hold ‘have a go’ diving sessions several times a year.  These not only bring in revenue for the club
but also attract considerable numbers of new members (on average 20 – 25 new
members per annum).  Some sort of
variation on this idea is what I propose the BEC adopt.

PROPOSAL:

That the BEC hold a number of ‘have a go’ caving days per
year (depending upon the success of the first one) to attract new members and
to promote the club and its activities.

PROPOSED ITINERARY AND ORGANISATION:

1)                  We hold the days on a Saturday; to attract the
maximum number of potential participants.

2)                  WE offer each participant 2 novice grade trips,
one a.m. and one p.m. of 1.5 – 2 hrs duration depending on the fitness and
aptitude of the participants (to be determined by the party leader on the
day).  To help continuity the same leader
to stay with each party for each trip wherever possible.

3)                  The leaders of such trips to be BEC members and
competent to take parties underground.

THE MAIN EMPHASIS BEING ON THE SAFETY OF THE PARTICIPANTS.

4)                  That we charge each participant £5 for the day:
… to include lamp hire and the use of Belfry facilities.  Participants to provide their own clothing
and suitable footwear.  This fee will
discourage those not genuinely interested as well as cover costs.

5)                  After the trips, a display of the clubs
activities could be on show in the main room along with an opportunity for a
chat with club members about caving and the club.

LOGISTICS:

Obviously the proposed caving days cannot go ahead without
the following …

1)                  The support of the BRC membership.

2)                  The support of the Committee.

3)                  Adequate Cover/Insurance: Hopefully our current
policy will cover it

4)                  Enough members willing to give up a Saturday to
take parties underground, clean the hut, mount displays. etc.

5)                  Enough serviceable tackle being available.

6)                  Adequate advertising for the day.

7)                  EFFICIENT running on the day, as long delays in
trips starting will cause nothing but disillusionment amongst participants and
nullify any advantages to be gained from our efforts.

As well as the above, I feel the following minor items, if
attended to in advance, would enhance our prospects of attracting new members
to join the BEC.

1)                  If the Belfry is cleaned the day before and left
in a tidy state, as well as the general Belfry environment.

2)                  To ensure enough lamps are available on the day
we hire them from either Tony or Andy, or both.

CONCLUSION.

This is only an idea and it is open to discussion and
amendment.  Finally if the committee sees
fit to approve the idea I am willing to undertake the organization.

Cheers …. Alex Gee.

 

Priddy Folk Fayre

This year Priddy folk Fayre is on 11’h 12’h and 13th July.

Acts include Friday:

Old Rope String Band,

Fred Wedlock,

Duende

plus dancing to: Eunice & the
Red Hot Bayou Band.

Saturday features dance displays, craft fayre and the ever
popular

‘Festival of Mendip Talent’

(featuring many local musicians)

starring:

John Kirkpatrick, Eddie Upton,
Chucklefoot, The Belfry Boys,

Jug  O’Punch, Macannabba, Humphrey’s Flail, Andy
James.

Plus more.

This event proved highly popular with attending members last
year … Don’t miss it!!

Tickets and info from Jingles. Or Bevis/Jacky

 

Dan and Stella Hasell

The death of a friend leaves a void in the life of those
left behind.  Just occasionally there is
a personality so great that whilst the physical presence is missing, the
character lives on.  It is really as if
(as the words of comfort say … ) “They have moved into another room.”  This applies to Dan and Stella Hasell dying
within a few months of each other towards the end of 1996 and the beginning of
1997.  As Dan would have said, Stella
always took longer to get ready for a big occasion than he did!

Cavers and divers all over the country knew Dan and Stella
and are familiar with their contributions and advice they gave to organizations
like the BEC and cave diving group, as well as with the stories and memories of
exploits underground.  But there were
other sides to Dan and Stella which with the caving and diving fraternity are
probably unfamiliar and maybe they would like to hear about the courtesy Uncle
and Aunt I knew for thirty seven years.

Dan and Stella lived in an old Somerset farmhouse in the
village of Moorlynch, a few yards up the lane from the cottage where Stella was
born.  She had lived in the village all
her life but was far from being an introverted country lady.  Like Dan, her appreciation of current affairs
was wide.  With no television, they
listened to the radio and read newspapers and were able to comment on any
political situation anywhere in the world. Dan. was probably the best read man I have ever met – able to comment
and give advice on any part of English Literature, History, Maths, Physics and
many other disciplines including the social structure of the miners in the
Somerset coalfields where he worked underground for a number of years.

Dan was a mechanic. Most people on Mendip will be aware of that – but how many know that he
was probably the finest diesel fitter in the south west of England?  Fleet owners had to join a queue if they
wanted Dan to work on their lorries.  He
worked with my father in a garage in Bridgewater, where he was reckoned to be
better at tuning petrol engines than the ‘new fangled’ Krypton machine.

The couple were prominent members of the Burnham on Sea
Motor Club and Stella always accompanied Dan on events.  She was not just there, as most wives were,
for the dinners and parties, but took the trouble to turn out in the middle of
the night to man checkpoints on all categories of events from small twelve car
jaunts to major restricted rallies as well as hill climbs, sprints and circuit
racing.  Speaking from both a navigator’s
and driver’s point of view, it was reassuring and comforting to find Stella and
Dan waiting in a sunken Somerset lane to stamp your card on a cold, wet muddy
winters night.  Dan and Stella competed
as well, with Stella navigating on daytime events.  I sat in the Hotseat for him one night and
was greatly amused at how he drove – he talked to the car just as if it were a
horse.

Both Dan and Stella came from country backgrounds, Dan
spending much of his early life on his Uncle’s farm in Herefordshire where he
learned to work horses and the penalties involved if you if you brought them in
late.  “You missed your dinner”
he once told me.  “I was sent back
to the yard to cool off and rub down Uncle’s cob when I’d brought him home in a
hurry so that I wouldn’t miss my meal. But then horses were much more valuable than boys!”

That was probably the attitude to life that made Dan and
Stella so great.  They never put
themselves first. I don’t think they were ever happier than when they were
seeing other people enjoying themselves or making something of themselves.  There are many young (and not so young)
housewives who owe most of their cooking skills to Stella and successful
businessmen, academics and mechanics have all benefited from Dan’s advice and
teaching.

You might think from this erudition, that Dan was a model
child at school.  He wasn’t.  He was educated at Dr Morgan’s school in
Bridgewater, but according to his stories, he seemed to have spent more time on
the docks, messing about amongst the coastal trading vessels than he ever did
behind a desk.  Probably he learnt more
from the old sailors he met than he ever did from a schoolmaster and maybe it
was from them that he got his first taste for adventure.

He could not up sticks and head for Valparaiso, but he did
head underground and he did travel the country on his cycle.  Stella did too.  Dan was a competitor in road races and it was
Stella who ferried the spare cycles around for him, perched high above the
crossbar and pedalling up and down hills that would daunt most of us.  They competed together in tandem events and
always maintained an interest in cycling. Dan was still challenging people to ride his old racing tricycle until a
few years ago.  He advised people to
cross their hands on the handlebars so as not to fall off on the comers!

Dan and Stella had no children of their own, but had scores
of honorary nephews and nieces, my own children included.  They were always assured of a welcome at
Moorlynch and were treated equally, there being no room for favourites in their
philosophy as they sat beside the warm Aga to be fed with currant buns and
teas.  If it was early in the year,
visitors were encouraged to collect green walnuts to pickle and if it was late
autumn, hard nuts went home with you in a plastic bag.  If you were very lucky, Dan would pick you a
ripe fig off the tree that grew just outside the back of the house.

Sitting out on the front lawn on Summer afternoons, both Dan
and Stella would tell tales of skating into Bridgewater across the frozen
fields of Sedgemoor in the good old days when the moor was allowed to flood to
improve the quality of the pasture, and in November, children would be treated
to bonfire parties that they will never forget.

The stories about Dan and Stella are legion.  Dan was the one that you thought was in
control, but it was Stella that would come quietly up with the solution to a
problem, as she did when we had dinner at Harvey’s in Bristol and were
astounded by the bill and Stella bailed us out. Nothing ever fazed her.  I have a
sneaking feeling that even at the last, it was Stella who got it right.  She always said that Dan was in too much of a
hurry!

Keep them in your memories. Talk about them and laugh.  They
would want you to do that.  After all, as
with all great people, they and their influence are still very much with us.

Jan.

 

Ramblings In The Philippines

January 1997

by TREBOR

The trip this year was mainly a consolidation visit trying
to finish off the Odessa-Tumbali system first looked at by Speleo Philippines
’92 and extended ever since.  Odessa is
in the Penablanca region of Cagayan Province in northern Luzon, not far from
the provincial town of Tuguegarao.  In
1996 a few more passages, sinks, resurgences and other related features were
encountered at the bottom end of the system so it was decided to go back and
finish all these off so the cave could be knocked on the head once and for
all.  If this was carried out and no huge
leads were found then a detailed article for “International Caver,”
complete with photos and surveys, could be produced.  Furthermore, a very large resurgence was
found in 1995 some 2kms around the escarpment from the Odessa resurgence
indicating another system in the same plateau. It was hoped to push on into this to see if it connected, or had
anything to do with, Odessa.  As a side
show it was proposed to dive a large resurgence down in Antique Province, Panay
Island poked at last year with goggles and a rubber ring.

I’ve produced this article in diary form, the verbage taken
verbatim directly from my own day-to-day Log.

9th January

After a day or so collecting and fettling diving gear on the
coral island of Boracay, just off the coast of Panay, we set off in Vince
Villarosa’s “Company car” to have a poke at this big resurgence at
Malumpati near Pandan, a small town on the Panay mainland only 50 mins drive
from Boracay.  A spine of reef limestone
mountains runs down this particular seaboard of Panay (already attracting
interest from marble quarriers) and the resurgence is at the junction of the
mountains with the coastal plain.  I was
joined by Matts Johncke, a Swedish PADI dive instructor, and his girlfriend
Jessika who were friends of friends on Boracay and who secured some gear for
me.  They fancied a few days off and came
along for the ride.

From Malumpati (three huts and a sari-sari store) an idyllic
amble alongside the river through butterfly-infested coconut groves leads after
2kms to a spectacular 40m diameter crystal resurgence pool fringed with palms.

The dive was intended to be only a recce using two small
6ltr. tanks and no buoyancy.  It was
naively expected that the gaping hole in the pool bed would go down for a few
metres or so and then flatten out into large passage boring off into the
hillside to emerge in mega-dry passage that I could skip and dance up for
25kms. to a 50m entrance shaft.  Chance
would be a fine thing.  The beautiful
5-6m diameter fluted shaft just kept on going until a vast boulder slope loomed
into view and I alighted on a load of big Henry’s at exactly -30m.

A large wedged coconut tree provided a convenient tie-off
point.  Ahead of me lay a big black void.
With small tanks, no line and no buoyancy it seemed sensible to retreat for a
beer.

The team (Fred “Amigo” Jamili, Jaylin Thorman
“Geek” Salazar, John “Snake” Delleva, Venus Guadalupe,
Matts Johncke, Jessika Swahn and I) thus returned to Boracay for a day to get
some 12ltr. tanks from Matts’ dive place and also an ageing, rusting, hulk of a
portable compressor held together with string, gum and a prayer.

11th January

The shaft was rapidly descended the next day in a wonderful
free-fall.  Tying on I set off down the
boulder slope only to encounter a big wall at -40m.  A little puzzled I searched to and fro and
realised I was in a large domed chamber full of mega boulders.  A circular sweep of the place revealed no
obvious way on.  Reasonable sized holes
amongst the boulders may have been a route but with mounting decompression on
the computer, big tanks and common sense I decided not to poke around them too
much.  A retreat was made with pleasant
15 minute deco stops at -6m and -3m in a sunlit shaft.

With some air left I invited Matts to have a swim around the
pool and to look at the top of the shaft but as he was enjoying himself and
quite obviously very competent he went to the bottom of the shaft on his first
cave dive.

On return to base at Malumpati village we found the locals
had chopped a big green evil-looking snake in half and curled it up on our
compressor.  Very droll.  A nightmare 4 hour pump of the tanks ensued
on the apology of a compressor which hopped around the village trailing the
tanks after it.  Surprisingly the air was
quite clean and tasty with not a hint of petrol or exhaust.

12th January

The compressor gave up the ghost at 175 bar so with slightly
low tanks we returned to the pool to have another look around.

To the side of the main pool is a smaller 5m diameter static
pool, clearly a flood overflow.  I
thought this may drop down beyond my limit in the main shaft.  Matts used a mask and fins to duck-dive down
and see what was what but he only found a muddy bottom with a small passage
leading off.  With a single tank he
investigated this passage only to pop out into the main shaft about 13m down.

I then made a detailed investigation of the main shaft,
spiralling my way down with powerful lighting but nothing of interest was
found.

I can only assume that the flow wells up through the
bouldery floor.  As the chamber is large
and the January water levels quite low the flow cannot be felt.

13/14th January

A while was spent wandering around in the hills above the
resurgence dropping various shafts to see if there was a top way in to the
system.  As is usual in the Philippines,
all the shafts were blocked with run in, boulders and trees.

Monday 20th January

Arrived in Tuguegarao in Northern Luzon for my main project
in Odessa to be met at the airport by my host and partner, Jun
“Criminal” Ocampo.  He said
“I have a surprise for you”. Thinking he meant cases of cool beer we wandered across the car
park.  Over yonder in an airport-side bar
was Mr James Smart Esq.  Stanley had met
Livingstone after all.  He had been up in
Sagada in Mountain Province for a month or more and decided he had enough time
in his schedule to mozey across to meet up for a chinwag.  He had a superb time.  Sagada is a wondrous place apparently, rather
like the old Raj hill stations in northern India.  A completely different country than the rest
of the Philippines with pine trees, pine-clad lodging rooms, air you can cut
with a knife, mist rising at dawn and a blanket required at night.  Lots of well known caves there but the French
in general and Monsieur Mouret in particular seem to have done all those back
in the 80’s.

In the pm myself, Jun Ocampo and Efren Munoz packed up and
made the arduous 30km trip to base camp at Tumbali.  Normally the trip would be made easily by
jeepney but the pesky October typhoon had knocked out the road which was only
fit for mad dogs, Englishmen and water buffalo. The jeepney got so far and then we had to hoof it.  A kindly village Kapitan lent us his buffalo
and sledge so we buffalo-taxied the rest of the day at a gentle plod.  We had temporary respite from James as he had
visa problems so made the overnight ‘bus trip down to Manila to sort it out,
hoping to join us later on.  True to form
he asked us to transport his gear to Tumbali.

On arrival at our host’s house, Segundino Tuliao, at Tumbali
we found his bamboo house had been destroyed in the typhoon.  He had re-built the salient parts but the
outbuildings, piggery, knife-sharpening area, kitchen and gin-drinking parlour
had not been attended to.  We thus just
set up the Ginebra (Filipino gin) operation in the courtyard adjacent.  As last year, locals began appearing out of
the shrubbery to swell the circle to a dozen or so for a celebratory arrival
session.

The plan was to look at, survey and finish off the
resurgence end bits of Odessa and drop the shaft found last year which may
connect with Odessa.  Depending on what
happens, to then go around to Noodle Doodle (looked at by Blakey and Henry in
’95) above the other resurgence to try and get down the pitch into the main
river the other side of the resurgence sump.

Around the gin table tonight was renewed talk of the
mythical “16 Chamber Cave”. Our host, his sons and locals all talk of this place but nobody seems to
know how to find it.  It almost certainly
exists but where is it?  Fingers point in
the vague direction above Noodle Doodle – anything in this area is of great
interest as it may drop down behind the Noodle Doodle resurgence sump and thus
into the system that undoubtedly exists in the plateau.  Last year we looked at a huge collapsed
doline feature up on the hillside used for some years as an NPA guerrilla
hideout.  I wondered if they thought this
was 16 Chamber Cave?

Tuesday 21st

Visited the Alum Pot-type shaft already referred to, locally
known as Bittu Cave.  The area had
changed for the better since last year as the October typhoon had knocked a
large tree over part of the shaft allowing a decent belay point.  One of the problems last year was a lack of
safe belay points due to rotten rock and calcite but even now we had to use
some outrageous deviations and “Expedition rigging” to get down
safely.  The shaft dropped into a fine
10m wide chamber via a small ledge two thirds of the way down and then into
pleasant walking passage, with several wet bits.  After 200m or so a 4m pitch was met with a
small lake at the bottom.  With no ladder
and the Filipino’s calling for lunch we had to call it a day.  This was an exciting prospect as the cave
seemed to be heading towards Odessa.

On the way to lunch I persuaded the guys to detour for an
hour to check out one or two things I wanted to see.  It seems caving in this place is controlled
by the stomach.  I am looked at with
incredulity when I say I don’t want anything to eat.  Trips can never be more than a few hours
long.

In the pm Fred Jamili arrived from Iloilo City down on Panay
Island.  He is boss of a Western Visayan
group of cavers and had been with me during the diving at Malumpati.

Wednesday 22nd

Intended to carry on the exploration of the Bittu shaft
descended yesterday but a change of wind direction brought in cooler wetter
air.  I even had to sleep in a sweat
shirt of all things.  A bit of rain that
night and a cloudy morning persuaded me to leave Bittu alone.  It clearly flooded to the roof but I had no
idea how it reacted to water.

So, we decided to try and get down the pitch in Noodle
Doodle which Rich and Henry got to in 1995. Last year I did not have enough gear but the prospect looked exciting
with a big black gaping void and a lake visible at the bottom.  I knew last year it was the other side of the
huge resurgence sump that can be seen from the outside but obviously it was
upstream we wanted to go.  However, I was
also a little concerned that I could not feel a decent draught or hear running
water.

We took loads of tethers and tapes and in the end fashioned
a safe enough belay to descend the slightly awkward 13m pitch straight into
out-of-depth water.  This place was
wonderful – a 30m long lake (the upstream pool of the resurgence sump) with a
lovely cascading river dropping into it. Myself, Mark Dia and Jun Ocampo thus skipped up this streamway for 50m
until three large circular lakes were met. Swimming across these I found myself faced with a big blank wall in
every direction.  Swimming through a small
hole I popped out into two more lakes but with no dry way on.  Half an hour searching for a way on revealed
nothing.  Another crashing
disappointment.  The way on is obviously
underwater, hence no draught felt at the top of the pitch?  This would make a really great diving project
though.

On the way back to base we stopped on a grassy knoll to
ponder the escarpment before us and conclude that the only way into the
undoubted system that exists in there is either by diving or by searching the
top of the plateau for a shaft or top way in, as with Odessa.  Its forest and thick scrub up there and would
be hard going but that’s what has to be done. Our host, farmer and guide thinks he knows of a cave some locals used to
go bird nesting in but when you ask him about the next day he’s forgotten.  We’ll have to grab him during one of his lucid
moments.

Fred Jamili, on arrival here at Tumbali from our diving
exploits at Malumpati, said two of his caving group went down the submerged
shaft at the risings after I had left, the first two Filipino cave divers.  They were competent sea divers and regular
cavers so thought it safe to just go down the shaft and back.  They both survived.

The wind had shifted back to its normal position and the day
was clear and hot so we decided Bittu cave was safe enough today.

Fred Jamili, Jun Ocampo and I descended to the previous
limit and dropped the 4m pitch into a nice lake with a very pleasant white flow
stone marking an inlet on the right, a change in the rock type and some nice
marbling.  The passage turned 90 degrees
to the left, away from Odessa unfortunately, reduced to low wide bedding and
ended in a filthy sump pool 50m further on. Another disappointment.  The
unknown leads in downstream Odessa are all wettish with flowing water but this
cave was dry apart from static pools and canals so God knows where this one
goes.  Dye tracing required again.  We surveyed out totalling 450m or so of nice
cave but it really hadn’t added to Odessa. On return to the pitch we noted with amusement that our rope had
disappeared.  Efren, our erstwhile
companion and observer from the DENR (Dept of Natural and Environmental
Resources) who looked after the rigging had pulled it up to adjust some rope
protection and the end was lying on a little ledge.  Much shouting and toing and froing eventually
retrieved it.

Friday 24th

Now that most of the Odessa resurgence area loose ends had
been tied up we turned our attention to the hill and plateau above Noodle
Doodle.  Our Wednesday descent into the
main cave beyond Noodle Doodle confirmed the obvious presence to a sizable system.

Segundino, our host and guide, suddenly announced last night
at supper that some years ago he had gone bird nesting in a big cave on top of
the hill above Noodle Doodle and it had a river in it.  We said “that’ll do nicely” and he said he
would take us.  However, having
experienced his memory before we were not entirely confident.

An hour’s hike in the hot sun (even at 8.30am) reached the
welcome relative cool of the forest and then the fun began.  I was told we were on an old logging trail
but I was damned if I could make it out. After 30mins of hacking up this “trail,” Segundino said “Tarry a while
my good fellows, I’ll go and find the cave”, or words to that effect.  So we sat down for a breather in dense
undergrowth and waited, and waited ……….. Two hours later we were getting
a little worried.  We had no idea where
we were and each way looked the same. Not much we could do really, get lost or wait.  He probably thought he had only been gone 10
minutes.  After another hour matters were
getting ridiculous so we slowly headed off in the direction we thought he had
gone and after a few hundred meters came across our lunch sitting in a
clearing.  Segundino had obviously dumped
the bag to wander off unhindered.  We
thought this was a reasonable place to wait and have lunch so a bit of leaf
litter and a few sticks of valuable hardwood were thrown together and the rice
billy was soon puffing away.  The smoke
also drove the mozzies away.  A rather
bizarre sight dear readers – one BEC, three Filipino cavers and a DENR goon
sitting lost in a gloomy sweaty little clearing covered in anti-mozzie smoke
brewing noodles and rice.  Not only that,
but the iron pot to cook in, two cans of pork and beans, five tin plates and
cutlery …. and the kitchen sink.  Unbelievable
these guys.

A crashing of undergrowth, a swish of a machete and a few
oaths in Tagalog heralded Segundino’s return out of a bush just in time for
lunch.  He had not found the cave.  We asked him when he had last been bird
nesting there and he said 40 years ago. No wonder he couldn’t find the place, he normally has trouble working
out what he did yesterday.

So, a hot trudge back to base.  On arrival, one of ‘Dino’s sons said he knew
where the cave was.  We nearly throttled
him.

Saturday 25th

A local bloke (but not from Rodney Stoke) said he knew of a
doline/wide shaft-type thing with a more or less horizontal entrance.  This was more like it, if it was true.
Anything vertical in these parts is likely to be choked, a la Dachstein snow
plugs, so what we wanted was a horizontal entrance at the bottom of a wide
shaft or depression which was less likely to be filled, as with Odessa main
entrance.

Off the intrepid team set at 9am to beat the worst of the
heat, up on to the plateau through quite difficult terrain zapping with poison
ivy.  After two hours of numerous choked
shafts our guide confessed he could not remember where this fabled place was
either?  Amnesia seems to be a local
trait.  Again out came the rice pot,
noodles and Pork & Beans and a pow-wow was had amongst the smoke of the
fire (to keep the mozzies at bay).  You
can picture the scene no doubt, dear readers. I said shaft bashing was OK as far as it went but I did not want to make
a habit of it as 99% were going to be choked. From past experience we could have been there all week but I knew just
as well that you have to force yourself to do as many as possible as that last
one may just be the way in.  After a few
more shafts were called it a day and retreated.

We reached base Camp to find that James had arrived from his
Visa exploits in Manila, three days late. He was rapidly told that caving here had finished and we were
re-locating back to Tuguegarao in the morning for R & R, fresh clothes and
regular food and drink.  He was not too
disappointed.

The other team had gone back up on top of the hill above
Noodle Doodle with Segundino’s son who had said the evening before that he knew
where this birds nest cave was, you know the one with the big river in it.  Apparently they found this place but it
turned out to be a squalid little hole 5m long with a fetid pool at the
end.  A typical Filipino caving
occurrence this.

Tuesdav 28th

Jun Ocampo had heard about cave potential a little further
north from Tumbali in the Baggao area. This area was also on the western flanks of the Sierra Madre and in fact
only 20kms or so north of where we have just been in Tumbali.  However there were no passable roads north
from Tumbali so we had to make a two hour regular ‘bus ride to Baggao from Tuguegarao.  We eventually ended up in the nice little
town of San Jose.  A friend of a friend
of Jun’s lived in San Jose, Edilberto “Chit Chit” Herrero, and he
knew something of the area so we descended on him for a chat and some grub
before tricycling the 5km or so to the even nicer little village of San Miguel
nestling beside the huge Pared River at the foot of the mountains.

Wednesday 29th

A kindly Sari-Sari store owner put us up in San Miguel,
which pleased James as it had a good stock of liquor, and over a beer we
planned to make a quick recce to a known river cave nearby.  The very impressive Pared River runs out of a
gorge and on to the San Jose flood plain at this particular point, although at
this time of year the flow is well down and only about 1/4 full, just nice
enough to wade across.  The river bed is
actually about 300m across, an awesome sight in the rainy season.  On the far side of the river from the village
an impressive resurgence issues out of a 30m high limestone cliff.  A short swim across a crystal pool and
through the entrance arch leads to a magnificent enclosed doline 40m high,
ringed with trees and encircling a sunlit area of limestone boulders and clear
pools.  The cave-proper starts immediately
in a 30m wide and 20m high passage.

As it was mid-morning and the guys did not want to start
work straightaway we just went in for a short way for a look before starting
serious work on the morrow.  After 300m
or so the dry land disappeared and we were faced with a 5m wide canal running
between soaring cliffs, most of it out of depth.  Captain Speleo (as I became know for some
reason) swam off trailing Filipino’s behind, it was too difficult to
resist.  After 100m or so of swimming we
alighted on a large jammed tree only for a few of the guys to say they were
getting cold.  It seemed nice and warm to
me!  Then Jun got cramp, then a
non-swimmer started to sink …….. Things started to look a bit dicey so I
ordered a retreat and we limped out in varying degrees of cheerfulness. I had
my pecker up by now and wanted to make a start so after lunch.  Fred Jamili and I returned to start surveying
and sketching the entrance doline and first section of passage to the canal.

Thursday 30th

It did not seem necessary for all five of us (plus the guide)
to proceed upstream so Captain Speleo, Fred Jamili and Efren Munoz intended to
carryon surveying upstream from yesterday’s work whilst Jun Ocampo, James and
Mat Batang, our guide, were going to hike up the hill to look at the top
entrance and hopefully cave downstream to meet us.

As I suspected, on reaching the canal it became very obvious
that surveying the out – of – depth canal would be a nightmare, especially as
Fred could not swim.  Although Fred had a
good buoyancy jacket and Efren had a 1 gallon gasoline can strapped to his
bulk, bobbing around surveying was a lot different than merely swimming.  So, we decided to abandon the surveying for
the time being and just go exploring. Capt. Speleo and Efren thus assisted Fred through the watery bits by Speleo
swimming ahead to provide Fred with a beacon to aim at and Efren swimming
alongside him.  Good fun was had by all
and Fred even got to learn a bit about swimming.  Around several corners we espied daylight,
half-illuminating the passage we were swimming up 30m high and 10m wide with
lovely banded limestone – Tiger Limestone as Efren poetically put it, a
brilliant description which should be entered in the Karst dictionary toot –
sweet.  The daylight marked another
doline collapse, again some 40m high and 15m in diameter.  This also coincided with a nice little
waterfall and was a good place to rest after the swimming exertions and to
re-charge the carbide.

Whilst Capt. Speleo was standing in the doline sketching, a
“yoo-hoo” from the upstream darkness heralded James’s arrival, his
unmistakable silhouette ruining the lovely curves of the passage.  Speleo waded across to say hello (Stanley
always seemed to be meeting Livingstone) and it was clear he was on his own, Jun
and the guide not fancying the swimming after the previous days wetting.  We thus continued surveying out to the
entrance where we met up with Jun and the guide.  A very pleasant lunch was had on a massive
boulder sitting in the huge sink entrance, darkness beckoning on one side and
sunshine on the other.

The upstream section of cave actually continues here; the
river water takes a dive to the downstream left further up the valley to gouge
its way through a smaller section of cave before entering the large main
passage downstream of the existing dry entrance.  This was looked at but time forced a retreat
until the morrow.

Friday 31st

The six-man team decided to go back up to the sink to survey
and investigate further.  A nice day up
in the river gorge with lunch, lounging about on boulders and doing a little
caving and surveying seemed an ideal way to spend a Friday.

Various activities were carried out; I and two others
continued surveying the cave and also a surface traverse to link the various
cave features and entrances together, whilst others did some photographing and
one or two lay about on the rocks.  A
leisurely lunch was had amongst the boulders and a doze in the sun. We
shuddered to think what this gorge must have looked like in the October
floods.  James’s caving sandals broke so
he caved barefoot for a while.  Never a
dull moment with Speleo Philippines.

In the pm your correspondent and Jun went to look at another
large entrance a little further up the valley, obviously once connected to
Dubba.  A vast dry sandy and guano tunnel
bored off into the hillside, our guide announcing as we left there was a little
stream at the end ……….. After an hour’s surveying we came to this
“stream”, a thundering river obliquely hitting the dry passage and
then sumping.  Knowing we did not have
time to survey it I followed this upstream for 10 minutes whilst Jun
waited.  What a place – superb stream
passage that just seemed to go on and on. Out of time we just continued surveying the main dry passage for another
few hundred metres to a large dry overflow entrance, daylight and some very
angry bats.

On the way back Jun ran out of water for his carbide so my
wellies that everybody laughed at came into their own.  Imagine dear readers this quality hunk of
British caving manhood lying on his back in the guano while his companion
filled his carbide from the water and urine mix pooling in his left wellie.

Postscript

That was it for your correspondent, end of holiday.  A few chores and enquiries in Manila were
required and then Lufthansa beckoned.  A
return was made to Tuguegarao as some of the others had to go back to work and
see families.  I then returned to Manila
by the overnight ‘bus (never again, now I know why I usually fly around) with
Fred “Amigo” whilst the others stayed in Tuguegarao.  They were planning to go back to Dubba a few
days later to finish exploration and surveying.

Once in Manila, Fred and I tried to find a) a source of
Flourescein and b) a tame Geologist who could enlighten us further.  I have come to the conclusion that you can
spend a lifetime caving in the Phils but 90% of the time down Caribou holes. or
grotty places with not much depth or length. You can find caves virtually everywhere but what I am after is the big
one.  It therefore makes sense to
identify the type of limestone that is capable of sustaining decent cave
systems ego Dubba, and then look for areas in the country where that limestone
predominates, just to give us a head start. The majority of the reef limestone is like clinker and seems unable to
span more than 4m or so.  The more I see
the more I think the Odessa-Tumbali system was just a fluke to be where it is
amongst generally naff limestone.  You
thus find lots of breakdown, blocked shafts and small caves.  We thus went up to the University in Quezon
City, Manila but the Geology Department was deserted.  Some local cavers will be continuing on the
search for a Geologist.  A source of
Flourescein was found via a Chemist somebody knew so that looks like a project
for the guys for next year.

As far as reports and articles are concerned I have a busy
three months ahead of me writing up recent data and finishing off various
reports already in production.  Various
reasons combined to delay the Speleo Philippines 95 expedition report so I’ve
decided to convert the draft of that expedition on my Word Processor into a
weighty tome covering all caving activities between the end of the inaugural
1992 Expedition and 1997.  This will
cover recce work by Alex, Rich et al in 1994, the 1995 Expedition to Mindanao, my
solo trips in 1996 and 1997, and those wanderings made by James Smart over the
aeons.

 

B.E.C. Membership List as at 8/3/97

1212 Julian Aburrow                  Southampton, Hampshire.
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle,
Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Henton,
Wells, Somerset
1150 (J) David Ball                     ConeyHurst,
Billinhurst, West Sussex.
1145 Roz Bateman                    East
Harptree, Bristol Avon.
1151 (J) Ruth Baxter                  Coneyhurst,
Billingshurst, West Sussex
1227 (P) Suzanne Becher          Churchway,
Ifley, Oxford, Oxfordshire.
390 (L) Joan Bennett                 Draycott,
Somerset
731 Bob Bidmead                      East
Harptyree, Nr. Bristol, Avon
1125 Rich Blake                        Priddy,
Somerset
364 (L) Pete Blogg                    Chaldon,
Caterham, Surrey
1114 Pete Bolt                          Cardiff,
S. Glamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle          Calne,
Wiltshire
1104 Tony Boycott                    Westbury
on Trim, Bristol, Avon
868 Dany Bradshaw                  Haybridge,
Wells, Somerset
751 (L) T.A. Bookes                  London
1196 Dave Bryant                      Salford,
Bristol, Avon
201 John Buxton                       Flitwick,
Beds.
1214 Rebecca Campbell            Priddy,
Somerset
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge,
Somerset
1062 (J) Andy Cave                   Gurney
Slade, Nr Bath, Somerset
1142 (J) Ange Cave                   Gurney
Slade, Nr Bath, Somerset
1197 John Christie                     Brompton,
North Allerton, North Yorks
211 (L) Clare Coase                   Berkeley-Vale,
New South Wales, 2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Draycott,
Somerset
1204 Julian Collinson                 Pemboa,
Helston, Cornwall
1175 Ali Cooper                        Goring
on Thames, Treading, Berks
862 Bob Cork                            Pen
Hill, Wells, Somerset
870 Gary Cullen                        Southwater,
Nr Horsham, West Sussex.
405 (L) Frank Darbon                 British
Columbia, Canada.
423 (L) Len Dawes                    Minster
Matlock, Derbyshire
1229 (P) Jeremy Dixon-Wright    West
Pennard, Glastonbury, Somerset
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                    Exeter,
Devon
829 (L) Angie Dooley                 Harborne,
Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne,
Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy,
Somerset
830 John Dukes                        Street,
Somerset
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland,
Bridgwater, Somerset
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote,
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
1218 Stephen Flinders               Burrington,
Somerset
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells,
Somerset
569 (J) Joyce Franklin                Staffordshire
469 (J) Peter Franklin                Staffordshire
1159 John Freeman                   Paulton,
Bristol, Avon
1182 Alex Gee                          Swindon,
Wilts
835 Len Gee                             St.
Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill               Chard,
Somerset
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill                Chard,
Somerset
647 Dave Glover                        Basingstoke,
Hampshire
1006 Edward Gosden                Twyford,
Winchester, Hampshire
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Draycott,
Somerset
1155 Rachael Gregory               Pentir,
Nr., Bangor, Gwynedd
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon
Bois, Epping, Essex
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam             Semington,
Trowbrdge, Wiltshire
1186 (J) Helen Harper                Wells,
Somerset
999 (J) Rob Harper                    Wells,
Somerset
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnett
Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol, Avon
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton
Mallet
952 Bob Hill                              Port
Gentil, Republic de Gabon
373 (J) Sid Hobbs                      Priddy,
Wells, Somerset.
736 (J) Sylvia Hobbs                  Priddy,
Wells, Somerset
1221 (P) Mark Howden              Street,
Sometset
1219 (P) Sean Howe                  Frampton
Cotterell, Bristol, Avon
923 Trevor Hughes                     Holcombe,
Bath, Avon
73 Angus Innes                         Alveston,
Bristol, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                      Priddy,
Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt                        Priddy,
Somerset
668 Mike Jeanmaire                  Paek
Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
1111 Graham Johnson               Wells,
Somerset
560 (L) Frank Jones                   Priddy,
Somerset
567 (L) Alan Kennett                  Charlton
Musgrove, Wincanton, Somerset
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch,
Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston                 Brisbane,
Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge,
Yelverton, Devon
667 (L) Tim Large                      Brislington,
Bristol
1199 Alex Livingstone                Clevedon,
Avon
1180 Rich Long                         Paulton,
Bristol, Avon
1057 Mark Lumley                     Stoke
St. Michael, Somerset
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (nr)         Iffley,
Chrchway, Oxford, Oxfordshire
1071 Mike McDonald                 Knowle,
Bristol, Avon
550 (L) R A MacGregor              Baughurst,
Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus                 Priddy,
Somerset
558 (L) Tony Meaden                 Westbury,
Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
704 Dave Metcalfe                     Whitwick,
Leicestershire
1210 Guy Mannings                  Croydon,
Surrey
553 Bob O’Malley-White            Wells,
Somerset
1228 (P) Ben Ogbourne             Westbury-sub-Mendip,
Somerset
1226 (P) Stephen Ostler            Nailsea,
North Somerset
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley,
Wells, Somerset
1134 Martin Peters                    Wells,
Somerset.
499 (L) A. Philpot                      Bishopston,
Bristol, Avon
1193 Emma Porter                    Mansfield,
Nottinghamshire
337 Brian Prewer                       Priddy,
Wells, Somerset
886 Jeff Price                            Knowle,
Bristol, Avon
481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway,
Bristol, Avon
985 Phil Romford                       Shepton
Mallet, Somerset
1208 Stuart Sale                       Romsey,
Hampshire
240 (L) Alan Sandall                  Nailsea,
Avon
359 (L) Carol Sandall                 Nailsea,
Avon
1170 Andy Sanders                   Gurney
Slade, Nr. Bath, Somerset
1173 Estelle Sandford                Weston-super-Mare,
Somerset
1178 Ivan Sandford                    Priddy,
Somerset
237 (L) Bryan Scott                   Cote
D’Azur, France
78 (L) R Setterington                 Taunton,
Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington            Taunton,
Somerset
1036 (J) Nicola Slann                 Draycott,
Somerset
915 Chris Smart                        Nr.
Bradford on Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                          c/o
The Belfry
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                  Bude,
Cornwall
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Warkworth,
Northumberland
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston
super Mare, Avon
1084 Richard Stephens              Wells,
Somerset
583 Derek Targett                      East
Horrington, Wells Somerset
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford,
Avon
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy,
Somerset
571 (L) N Thomas                      Oulton
Broad, Lowestoft, Suffolk
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark    Great
Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
1216 Martin Torbett                   Cheddar,
Somerset
381 (L) Daphne Towler               Bognor
Regis, Sussex
1023 Matt Tuck                         Plymouth,
Devon.
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh
on Mendip, Bath, Avon
635 (L) S. Tuttlebury                  Buck
Hors Rd., Farnham, Surrey
1096 Brian van Luipen                Wick,
Littlehampton, West Sussex
887 Greg Villis                          Weston
super Mare, North Somerset
175 (L) D. Whaddon                  0
1220 (P) John Walsh                 Glastonbury,
Somerset
949 (J) John Watson                  Wells,
Somerset
1019 (J) Lavinia Watson             Wells,
Somerset
1185 Chas Wethered                 Axbridge,
Somerset
1068 John Whiteley                   Heathfiled,
Newton Abbot, Devon
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle,
Bristol, Avon
1087 John Williams                   Gurney
Slade, Nr. Bath, Somerset
1164 (J) Hilary Wilson                Keynsham,
Avon
1130 (J) Mike Wilson (snr)         Keynsham,
Avon
559 (J) Barrie Wilton                  Haydon,
Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton                Haydon,
Nr. Wells, Somerset
877 Steven Woolven                  West
Chillington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                   Catcott,
Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Holycroft,
Hinkley

 

Extracts from the BEC Logbook

11.1.97 – Goughs Cave
                        T Chapman, P Bolt,
Alex Gee, Clive Steel

PB & AG went to Bishops Palace.  PB had no buoyancy.  AG had gear problems, so PB & AG carried
TC & CS’s bottles to Sump 2, then TC & CS went to Shepards Crook.  Then CS went to 36m in sump 3 and TC went to
40m.  Time: AG & PB – 3 3/4 hours.  TC & CS – 4 3/4 hours

11.1.97 – Swildons                    Estelle, Nick, Guy, Mike
Willett

Swildons to sump 2 with the reprobates.  Passed a few wee-gees on the way.  Very dry even the wet way.

11.1.97 – Eastwater                   Jeremy Dixon-Wright, Ben
Ogborne

Dolphin Pot – 13 Pots – West End Series.  Nice ice formations near entrance, smell of
sewerage Harris Passage, very loose rock at top of free climb above Dolphin.

12.2.97 – North Hill
Swallet                   Mike Willet
& Goblet (Anthony Butcher)

No bad air because cave was very wet, so we were able to get
to the end.  Nice sporting trip.  A good worthwhile dig at the end, if some
sort of silt trap installed and if air breathable.  Would make good winter dig.

Jan – Feb 1997 –
Dominican Republic              Rob
Harper, Helen Harper

1 .        Cuevas los
Patos – Los Patos, Barahona

Caves in cliff above river
resurgence at beach level.

Large entrance and passage approx
30m in length leading to second entrance and several low crawls all ending in
bat guano chokes.

Rift entrance above comes into
roof of left about 10m in from 1st entrance

2.         Marble Cave,
Cabo Samana

Single large chamber, approx
20x20x15m, easily visible from track. Possible high level extension over stal. flow approx. 10m up.  Needs ladder bolt.

There are other small caves in
the area

3.         Los Haitises
National Park

Three caves entered on standard
tourist trip.  All stunning and well
worth revisiting.

4.         Cueva del
P***t, Parc Nacional del Este

Follow the track until it is no
longer negotiable except on foot.  Then
follow the only path and the wooden signs to the cave.

Entrance leads to 15x15m well
decorated fossil passage to second entrance. Side passage to another entrance.

There is a continuation of the
cave on the other side of the entrance depression.  All in all about 500m.

 (Transcribers note – apologies for any
spelling errors, writing style most interesting)

09.02.97 – Wookey
Hole                        Tim Chapman,
Clive Steel

CS & TC carrying tanks to 24, TC dived terminal sump to
51.7m to gravel choke.  Time 5 % hours.

22.02.97 – Manor Farm
                                    Nick
Guymer, Mr Wilson, Mick Wilson

Trip to NASA Gallery dig. Quite wet. Formations in good
condition.  Farmer still in charge of
entrance fees.  Time 2 % hours

01.03.97 – Stoke Lane
Slocker              Becca Campbell, Mike
Willett, Guy Mannings, Nick Mitchell

Water fairly high and f . .f . .f . .freezing.  Formations stunning.  Secca’s first trip down and Mike Willett very
helpful in sump.  Especially when he
tried to drain it for her!  Very good
trip, enjoyed by all.  Time: Approx 2
hours

 

Interim Hut Warden’s Report

 

Submitted to the Members of the Club by Rebecca Campbell

I have decided to publish this report to the members of the
Bristol Exploration Club on the grounds that there have been significant
changes within the first six months of the club’s current financial year.

January 1997 saw extensive work undertaken on the hut.  The floor was painted throughout.  Alpine bunks were installed in the
bunkroom.  The kitchen gained a new sink
and work surface, together with tiling around the sink area.

The response to this work has been very promising.  Visitors have commented on the comfort of the
new bunks and the changes to the hut have instilled a greater degree of
cleanliness in its users.

I must offer my thanks to the individuals who gave up not
just 2 weekends, but in some cases long hours during the two weeks the work
took to complete.  Special thanks go to
Richard Blake, Ivan Sandford (Hut Engineer), Nick Mitchell and Alex Gee
(Librarian), who painted the Bertie Bat.

The Hut Engineer and myself intend to continue improving the
hut, throughout our terms of office.  We
would be grateful if any club members can procure the following items:

Kitchen work surfaces for
completion of the kitchen Microwaves

Fridges of standard size for
fitted kitchens

Shelving wood for constructing a
large rucksack kit storage unit in the bunkroom

Dry stone walling stone

Large wall mounted water heater

Please contact us if you have any of the above and we can
arrange collection, if necessary. Suggestions by all members for improvements to the hut are more than
welcome. (Tel: 01749674795)

Ivan Sandford mentioned the withdrawal of visiting cavers
from Mendip generally in his annual report last year.  To add to this dilemma our active Mendip
caving members have continued to move into the immediate area, which as can be
seen from the table below has had a fairly catastrophic effect on the income
from Members.

Income

1996/97

1995/96

%

1996/97

1995/96

%

Category

£

£

change

nights

nights

change

Members

290.91

819.00

-64.5

194

546

-64.47

Non-Members

562.16

887.00

-36.6

194

296

-34.46

Day Fees

6.00

8.50

-29.4

 

 

 

CCC Permits

86.50

131.50

-34.2

 

 

 

Cuthbert’s Fees

63.00

39.51

59.45

 

 

 

Other

71. 04

169.58

-58.1

 

 

 

 

1079.61

2055.09

-47.5

388

842

-53.92

Fig 1. Table displays hut usage during the first 6 months of
the 1996/97 period together with comparative figures based on the hut usage for
the first six months of 1995/96.

In the circumstances, the committee made a decision to raise
Hut Fees by more than the R Dors Index. The new rates are:

Members (sleeping indoors or
outside)                 £ 2.00

Non-Members – Indoor
accommodation                £ 3.50

Non-Members – Outdoor
accommodation             £ 2.50

Reciprocal Club Members                                   As per BEC Members

These new fees will come into effect as of Sunday 9 March
1997.

I know that this is a large increase, but there has been no
increase in the level of fees for some years and inflation alone accounts for
much of the amount.

I should also like to take this opportunity to request that
more of the more mature members, and that means all of you, considered staying
at the Belfry instead of driving home and abstaining on the booze at the
weekends.  To bring the current level of
income up to last year’s totals, I (being a very sad accountancy type person)
have calculated that we need to attain an average level of 15 member nights per
week and 11 guest nights per week, for the last six months of the year.

On the other hand, I must stipulate that the hut will
remain, as in the past, a cavers’ caving hut. Children under 16 (actually, not mentally) are not welcome without prior
arrangement with myself.

I am in the process of addressing the hut’s marketing strategy
and although I can guarantee that this will remain a bad year for the Belfry, I
hope to increase the property’s future prosperity significantly for the 1997/98
season.

© 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.