Exploration Club, The Belfry,

, Priddy, Wells,

Estelle Sandford

Committee Members

Secretary: Nigel Taylor
Treasurer: Chris Smart
Membership Secretary: Roz Bateman
Estelle Sandford
Caving Secretary: Andy Thomas
Tackle Master: Rich Blake
Deputy Tackle Master: Mike Willett
Hut Engineer: Nick Mitchell
Hut Warden: Becky Campbell
Librarian: Alex Gee



For those of you who have not visited the Belfry recently,
the mystery photo in the last BB was taken in Cuthbert’s streamway.

I have included a song for the benefit of our Belfry Boy,
Bob Smith and his apprentice, Toby Limmer, who has recently joined the club!!

It’s nice to see articles on activities other than caving
(see Mike Wilson’s article).  If anyone
else has articles on non-caving subjects as well as caving, then please send
them to me.  I am particularly interested
in responses to Dave Irwin’s article on the 1968 floods.  It would be interesting to hear recollections
and have a few photos so many of our younger members can get an idea of what
Swildons was like with the ‘old forty.’

Keep the articles coming. I can never have too many!!

The cut off for articles and letters for my last full BB of
this committee year is 22nd July.

Last minute news and dates can be taken until 25th July

The next BB is slightly earlier to work round the bits that
have to be published 8 weeks before the AGM (nominations for committee
etc.)  There will be a short issue out 4
weeks before the AGM which will contain committee member’s reports and voting
forms for the committee, if there are enough candidates for a vote.


Letters and
Articles in the BB are not necessarily the views of the Editor, the BEC
Committee or the club in general.


The Belfry Boy

Tune: Sweet Lorraine

Author: P. MacNab

Source: Belfry Bulletin Vol. 92 No 2 February 1978

Well, I’m the Belfry Boy,
I’m every other buggers favourite toy,
Oh how it always seems to give them joy,
To put me in bloody pain.

Oh how they treat me hard,
Kick me all around the Belfry yard,
Lord you ought to see how I am scarred,
From when they shoved me up the drain.

And when a member calls,
I dash inside so they can black my balls,
And splatter me around the Belfry walls,
Till I’ve nearly gone insane.
            They sit me in a chair
Rub jam and marmalade into my hair
I sit and smile as if I couldn’t care,
But later hang my head in shame.

And then they all insist,
That I am something called a masochist,
Especially when they all come back pissed,
And want to play their silly games.

But now I sit and wait,
Because I’m glad to know that some day fate,
Will bring along a brand new inmate,


Caving and BEC News


Photos are still required for the photo board at the Belfry
and also the Belfry Bulletin.  Slides or
prints or pre-scanned files are all more than welcome.  I will return any slides or prints that are
sent to me once copies have been made or they have been scanned in – Ed.

BEC Website

Is accessible at the following URL

If you try to access it from links from other Websites, you
will probably still get the old WebPage. It takes a little while to get other sites to change their links for new

49ers Party

For those of you who are not aware, there are quite a number
of BEC members and other regulars from the hill who were born in 1949 and are
therefore 49 this year.  They have
decided to celebrate in style Midsummer’s night (20th June) with a mass party
at the Village Hall in Priddy.  Tickets
are available from Tony at Bat Products and Quackers in the Hunters Lodge.  Here is a list of some of the known 4gers: –
(apologies to any I have missed (or added!) – list was compiled in the pub!!!)

Mike ‘Quackers’ Duck, Tony Jarratt, Phil Hendy, Martin
Bishop, Pam Watson, Pete Moody, Tim Large, John Dukes, Pete Slater, Wayne
Hiscock and also Tricia Walker who sadly died recently.

Committee Members on the move

Nigel Taylor will be moving to Cheddar, Somerset in mid June
(-ish).  The telephone number is unknown
at present, but will be advised soon.  If
you need to contact then the phone number will be listed under Mendip Demrock
at directory enquiries.

Nick Mitchell has moved to Priddy, Somerset.  He can be contacted on his mobile.

Sea Diving and Fishing

There are a few of us regularly going to the seaside at
weekends to go diving.  There are also
plans afoot for a couple of weekends in Cornwall, one in July/early August and
the other late August/early September. If you are interested in coming along either on the weekend stuff or the
weekends away, please contact either the Estelle or Quackers.

Note also that sometime in July/Aug there will be a
fishing/diving/walking weekend at Prawle point, contact Robin Gray for more
information on that one.

Burrington Cave Atlas – Estelle

For those of you who are not aware I am updating and
revamping the Burrington Cave Atlas. This was originally released as a BEC caving report in 1973, and has
been sold out for quite some time.  All
profits from the updated report will go into BEC funds, mostly for the
library.  Obviously there have been quite
a few changes in Burrington Coombe area since 1973, so I am hoping that some of
the membership of the club would be prepared to help me in getting some of the
information updated.  I am planning a
Burrington Atlas working day Sunday 19th July. There is plenty of work to be done, not all caving, so feel free to
bring noncaving partners and make it a day out.

If anyone can help me with information or photographs from
the Burrington area I would be very grateful. I would like to use different photos from the original, and also will be
looking for a good quality cover photo, painting or drawing.  Jobs to be done include:

  • Surveying
    of several extensions.
  • Checking
    locations (NGR) and descriptions of cave entrances match the references
    from 1973.
  • Photography,
    both inside and out of the caves.

If you can help me out on the 19th July or at any other
time, or have information or photos that I can use, please contact me at the
address and phone numbers (or e-mail) in the front of the BB – Ed.

Another Question from Blitz

Does anyone know how many Bertie Bats have we had over the
years? e.g. on headed notepaper and on the BB etc?  Contact Blitz at the Treasurers address if
you can help him.  (If someone can give
me/Blitz copies of as many of them as possible, I’ll publish them in a future
BB Ed.)

Speleoscene No.33

This is available from caving shops and is free, but how
about a donation to the local Cave Rescue Service.

Included in this issue is an incident report for last year
from the British Cave Rescue Council. Mendip had a quiet year with only 6 underground incidents, of which all
were rescued with no serious injuries. There is also information on the Cavers Fair to be held at Priddy on 3-5
July, 1998.  Life-lining systems are
studied and the general results are listed in a table of what is kit is
recommended in varying situations.

BCRA Meeting

Regional One-day meeting to be held in Priddy Village Hall
at 9:30am on 21/11/98.  Topics include in
depth lectures on Swildons and St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Details to be arranged.

The Cavers Fair is Coming!

The weekend 314/5th July sees the Cavers Fair being held for
the first time in Priddy.  Organised
jointly between the NCA Training Committee and CSCC this event is all about
getting underground, learning something new, and having a wild time!  You can book a weekend ticket in advance for
only £12.00.

For more information on what is going on, see the plan of
events later in the BB.


The Mud Sump drain hole was attacked again recently but
remains pretty well blocked.  There was a
small airspace recently but bailing is still difficult from either side, and
parties completing a reverse Round Trip or Priddy Green Sink through trip may
find exit this way impossible.

It has been free-dived by groups attempting reverse-round
trips but this is VERY DANGEROUS as the sump can be up to 10 metres long.

Mendip Technical Group

A meeting was held at the Hunters Lodge on Saturday 31st
January 1998 to try and hammer out a bolting policy for Mendip.  General conclusions were that re-bolting with
resin anchors will generally only be carried out when existing anchors are no
longer safe – i.e. no program of systematic bolt replacement although Rhino
Rift is an exception as CCC have already approved a complete re-bolt.  The technical group will not have an
independent identity (not another caving committee) but will be a loose
association of cavers prepared to get involved. Further details from Andy Sparrow.

BEC Library

There has been a disappointing response to the request for
donations to help out with new cabinets for the library.  If anyone wishes to donate contact Alex Gee,
but it is looking as though we will be needing to look into alternative methods
of raising funds for the library. Another stomp maybe, or has anyone got any
other ideas???

Caving Trips

Check out the rolling calendar on the back of the BB – Andy
has listed some dates for caving trips, mainly on Mendip.  Please contact him if you wish to go on any
of the trips.  Hopefully we can encourage
new members to get a bit more involved.

Working Weekend

The recent working weekend saw the same old faces who turn
up to most working weekends.  Lots was
achieved, including replacement outside door on the bunkroom, work on the
kitchen, painting and a general clean up inside and out.  Thanks to Roz and Becky for organising the
BBQ.  Next working weekend will be
21st/22nd August, it would be nice to see a few fresh faces there!!!

Club Rescue Practice

Saturday 13th June Tyning’s Barrow Swallet. Meet
at the Belfry at 10.00 am. Contact Andy Sparrow, Club rescue team leader for
further details.


Scotland 98 – The B(e)are Bones version

By Pete Glanvill, May

25th May saw Quackers and I leaving Mendip for the annual
Scottish migration it being Quackers first but hopefully not last trip to
Sutherland.  It was a no frills journey
with only one planned detour to collect (huh!) a dive light from Stuart Kirby’s
place near Gloucester.  Stuart turned out
to be in Wales, the light was not constructed and my cheque was buried under a
pile of invoices on a cluttered (that’s polite) workbench.  Quackers conducted a major but successful dig
to find some bulbs for his light before we departed muttering under our
collective breaths.

Many hours burning up the motorways, A9 etc. got us
surprisingly early to Taig nam Famh (the Grampian bothy) where despite dire
prognostications we manage to elbow out some bunk space before departing for
the Alt and a meal.  Eric was presented
with a photomontage of Northern Lights and a couple of individual shots of
Simon Brooks.

The next morning dawned sunny but with a low cloud
base.  I opted for Canisp while Trevor
Knief (who arrived the previous night with Peter Rose) opted for Ben More
Assynt.  In the end we went our separate
ways both getting some good walking in and fine views as the cloud base lifted
and the sun appeared.  After the descent
we repaired to the Inch for beer and Jimi Hendrix on the stereo.  He was still playing when Trevor and Pete
staggered in 3 hours later!

By this time J-Rat, Estelle and Tony Boycott had arrived.
Julian Walford appeared in the morning to announce that we had a blocked drain
– serious stuff when it’s feeding the cesspit. After obtaining some rods from Nicky at the tea rooms Pete Rose wearing
rubber gloves got down to it.  Leaving
him to it we had to think about caving. By mutual agreement the cave divers
decided a good attempt should be made to find a by-pass to sump 6b in Claonaite
so the plan was to transport bottles etc. up to the entrance and then do some
digging in Damoclean.


Pete Rose giving the cesspit a good rodding.

As we disappeared down the drive Pete shouted the glad news
that he had cleared the obstruction and we could again freely empty our bowels
into the toilets of Taig nam Famh.

The first of several long slogs up the ANUS valley then took
place with Quackers tagging along muttering about peat bogs.

On the way up J-rat and team rediscovered After Dinner Hole
and an assortment of old bones.  By the
time we reached Damoclean Quackers was distinctly unimpressed but cheered up
when we started digging – he hadn’t got caving gear!  Several cold hauls later and with several
hundredweight of crud dumped on the spoil heap we sat down for soup and cake
before packing up and returning to the Alt.

Very little cooking was done this year partly because the
food in the Alt is so good and partly because Trevor seemed to have gunned down
the contents of a country park.  One
evening we had duck, on another pigeons were on the menu and on yet another
venison.  Trevor claimed they were road
kill put out of their misery but I have my doubts in view of the fact that he
arrived at the hut armed with fishing rods, shotguns and probably had the odd
Kalashnikov stowed away in Pete’s glove compartment.

That night everybody retreated to another bunkroom – the one
Trevor was not going to be snoring in. We got away with it for the rest of the week until J-Rat let him in 6
days later to create a serious insomnia epidemic.

Tuesday looked very promising to the point of becoming a
shorts day.  This has nothing to do with
stuff in optics but that critical point where the weather temps one to bare
one’s legs.  Not today I decided.  J – Rat and co headed for Traligill with a
full programme of attacking Whinging Dog Dig, digging in Birthday Hole and
wallowing in Waterfall Rising.  After a
brief scrabble in Birthday Hole the wokless team left, before giving WDD some
stick and plaster.  Having gained an
appetite they had a quick lunch at Glenbain and returned  suitably wokked  up  to Birthday  Hole.   Quackers did sterling surface work again (how could he forget his caving gear) and J-rat was just about to
consider inspecting the end and the effects of Tony B’s last bang when a
loudish aerial rumble brought the proceedings to a halt.  A huge thundercloud had materialised over
Conival (think Close Encounters OTTK) and big sparks started flying
everywhere.  Wallowing in the streamway
of Birthday Hole seemed suicidal so a rapid retreat was made to Glenbain where
Quackers was entertained by seeing JRat twitch as he was hit by a secondary
strike.  I suppose it’s one way of
getting your fags lit!

The storm over Conival, (the one that zapped J’Rat)

Meanwhile in Claonaite Julian, Pete and Tony were oblivious
to all this.  All went well until we
started kiting up at which point a loud crack and hissing from every orifice on
Pete’s brand new virgin, never used, pristine Oceanic demand valve indicated
some kind of catastrophic first stage failure. Dive aborted apart from a quick dip by Julian.  Serendipity as far as I was concerned because
I managed to get some excellent pictures of Cavity Wall passage on the way
out.  The sun was shining as we wandered
down the hill and back to the hut.

On our way to Lochinver we noticed the clouds building over
Traligill and took several interesting pictures of the storm creeping over the
limestone block.  Down at the harbour we
found Jim Crooks removing a knackered engine from his boat – bang went thoughts
of asking him for a boat dive.  However
he was happy to fill our tanks and we repaired to his shed that was
unbelievably tidy apart from a half constructed wood panelled pond made with
Jim’s usual ingenuity from odds and ends lying around the place.  The usual “craic” developed.  Apparently the last winter had a been a time
of strange aerial sightings – not just displays of the Northern Lights but a
variety of spectacular UFO sightings (perhaps Pete Rose did see something last
year!) of a cigar shaped space ship and silent bright lights in the sky seen by
a variety of witnesses.  Sounds like a
case for Mulder and Scully.  Eric at the
Alt was happy to confirm that, yes, it had been a strange year in the sky.

Bottles filled we did the seafront timber collection crawl
before buying pies at the bistro which now boasts a conservatory.  Did you know the proprietor is an ex Mendip
caver?  Put my name on the list for
mail-order pies – just in case. 

Tony Boycott by the Montego at Kylesku

By the time we had reached Inchnadamph the flood pulse had
come through and the river was a raging torrent although the storm was very
localised for the trout farm stream at the ANUS valley remained at the same
level it had been earlier in the day.

On An Teallach Pete and Trevor aborted their ascent on
seeing the approaching storms.  According
to the log a vagrant sheep advised them to go no further.  So they retired to a hotel to chat up an
Aussie barmaid instead.

Quakers, Tony, Estelle and I rounded the day off with a
pleasant sunny dive at Kylesku although Quackers and Estelle had bad attacks of
ear pox.  Over the grilled langoustine
one of the local barflies admitted to sinking the blue Montego I had
photographed last year.  She wants photos
perhaps the insurance will believe her now!

The next day dawned seriously sunny.  This was the biz – shorts and sandals on and
an early start to attack Claonaite.  The
terrible trio of Boycott, Glanvill and Walford headed for the hills.  The Bone Cave route is quicker than walking
up the valley to Claonaite is my tip of the year.  Down at Sump 3 all the kit worked and 3
divers arrived in 4 ready for business. Julian and Tony tore off to 5 while Pete took a leisurely trip through
looking for possible side passages. Some boulders were pulled out of a hole to
the right of the choke at Sump 3 and a possible way on seen – later inspected
by Tony and pronounced unpromising. Fawlty Towers looked interesting but loose and PG was not keen on a solo
scrabble so moved onto 5 where photos were taken.  He then located a dig off an oxbow just
before the ramp down to the pool.  This
let him out of having to free dive 5 as Julian’s promised air space had not
materialised.  After taking some
excellent photographs of the area around the sump and armed with gloves plus
suitably shaped bits of pebble he began excavating a crawl ending in boulders
while Tony went to 7 to engineer a route he thought might get into Treen Scene.  However although he could hear Julian, Julian
could not hear him over stream noise and the route looked too tight.

I, meanwhile, was working my way into the boulders armed
with a crowbar Julian had found.  Several
rumbles and high speed reverse wriggles later a large spoil heap was accumulating
over downstream sump 4. I handed the tool to Julian and Tony when they
returned.  After a spell Tony handed the
weapon to Julian who started to get really mean with the boulders which came
trundling down the crawl in increasing size and numbers.  Suddenly Julian vanished and after a
tentative look at the walls and roof of this highly unstable passage we climbed
into a small ascending breakdown chamber which must be very close to Edward
Concretehead in 7.  I decided the
extension should be called ‘The Rock Machine turns you on’.  A few desultory pokes at the boulders later
we decided either bang or more digging energy was needed for further
progress.  It was time to slog on out.

Back on the right side of 3 the roar of water was ominously
loud and the stream from Rising Damp just before the climb down to Sump 2
seemed to be flowing well. The struggle out against the high water was
entertaining and the Sump 1 bypass was a nose in the air job to pass. On the
surface the sun was shining but my shorts hung out to warm in the sun were
soaked (as was all my gear).  The area
had copped a thunderstorm similar to that that had hit Traligill the previous
day and we were lucky not to have been trapped by the flood pulse

Tony Boycott at Sump 3 m Claonmte

Other members of the team dug in Waterfall Rising or went
for walks.

On the Thursday an enthusiastic team including Peter Rose
and Trevor Knief hauled clag out of Rana watched by an inflatable sheep – well
you need some home comforts.

Tony, Estelle, Pete G. and Quackers went for a coastal walk
out to Kirkaig Point near Badnaban.  This
proved to be a superb location for watching sea mammals including seals,
porpoises and dolphins.  On the way back
we did our bit to keep Scotland’s beaches tidy by removing all buoys, boulder
nets and digging skips (cans) that we could but having to leave the drums of
oil (!!) behind.  Coffee and browsing at
Achins book shop was followed by another air fill and twenty questions about
the strange bones Jim had found on the beach; the current consensus is that
they are a whale’s pelvis.

Later in the day another visit was paid to Kylesku for wreck
photography and scallops.  Pete found a
large lobster – it’s still there.

In the Alt that evening we learnt firstly that the services
of the GSG dog rescue section were needed at Strath Kanaird and secondly
messages had been left at various locations regarding a boat dive in the Summer
Isles.  I had been phoning Andy Hobrow at
Achiltibuie all week but he seemed to be involved in continuous S&M practices
– the voice on the answering machine kept telling me he was tied up. After some
fiddling with Eric’s phone I got through to Craig Barnes and booked a dive for
the Saturday morning.

Quackers at Kylesku – Note the Gaelic underwater god of
farts following closely behind!

The next day a strong rescue team went to look for Peggy the
entombed Jack Russell.  They found a
possibly previously overlooked area of limestone, a small hole and no dog.
However J-Rat and Trevor did explore another new cave nearby.  There is a sequel to this tale but I will
leave you in suspense.

Claonaite 8 consists of a short series of muddy, roomy but
very gloomy tunnels with a side passage ascending to a bouldery choke.  At the far end of a spacious chamber another
big ascending tunnel probably ends in a solutional hole.  The streamway is a narrow canal and the
contrast to the noise in 7 is striking. The canal ends in an impressively large sump pool into which Simon
quietly sank.  We stood shivering
patiently until the twitching line and a dim orange glow indicated his return.

Meanwhile a hard team consisting of Tony, Julian (back from
a day’s work at Dounreay), Simon and Peter were back in Claonaite.  Simon had designs on 8 while the rest of us
planned a bypass to 7 some surveying and photography.  Simon and Tony dived the sump while Julian
dived into a hole above it and started digging. Pete took photos and by the time he’d packed up everyone including
Julian’s feet had gone.               

Tony Boycott – Far side of Sumo 3 in Claonaite

He wriggled into the muddy hole Julian had excavated to
confront a very awkward squeeze a couple of metres in.  Then his lamp started to go dim!

Feeling a wobbler coming on he reversed out, got a spare
light and after some judicious digging wormed his way up a crumbly corkscrew to
within earshot of the others who had completed the exploration of Claonaite 8
rather quickly and were patiently waiting for Simon to find Claonaite 9.

The sump seemed to close down he reported but he decided to
have another look in view of the amount of air he had. After another cold wait
he surfaced to report that the route was choked by a roof collapse but could
conceivably be crow barred.  The flow
went through the choked section.

Tony, a hard task master, then insisted we survey 8 so with
chattering teeth and a borrowed Q-light I crawled up various passages carrying
the tape then made up likely figures to shout out.  An attempt to survey out through the by-pass
was aborted when I dropped my loaned light through a hole in the floor and
Julian had to dig it out!

Eventually all the kit was packed and we headed out with
photography next on the agenda.  I got
some excellent pictures of the Twin Falls of Jabaroo, the area round the bones
and some of the bones themselves as well as Portobello Promenade.

Tony Boycott at the Watershute in Claonaite

The trip out from Treen Scene was painfully slow and we
eventually reached the surface after 9 hours underground.

After a trip to the Alt – in shorts by yours truly, some us
returned to the hut to savour the scallops lovingly prepared by Trevor
earlier.  Here’s a tip though Trevor –
never boil scallops!  They should be
fried with wine herbs and shallots and served on a bed of rice, which is what
we did when we got back.

Next day the technical training section of the CDG and BEC
went on a boat dive from Achiltibuie with Craig Barnes.  A nice sunny day to travel over to the
Fairweather about which I have written before. All dived successfully except for Simon who sustained an attack of cold
(from a strategically placed hole in his dry suit crotch) agoraphobia, and
negative buoyancy all at once after hitting the water.

After some coffee and cake we chugged across the bay to a
rock known as Latto’s Island and had our second dive.  We were told it would be very unlikely that
we would complete a circuit of the island so it took me a minute or so to
realise that the wall Tony and I were swimming past 40 minutes into the dive
was one we had passed at the beginning.

Tony Boycott at the Cascade in Claonaite

The underwater scenery was nice with lots of starfish and
burrowing sea anemones. We surfaced and seeing the dive boat some way off,
headed to the island until we were rescued.

Meanwhile the caving contingent did some surface work, dug
or went walking.  That evening in the Alt
it was learnt the Peggy the deceased Jack Russell had reappeared emaciated but
none the worse for her period of incarceration. The pot will have to be renamed Resurrection.

The Saturday evening could be the start of a long
tradition.  Eric and Christine laid on a
mega curry session with umpteen dishes which was rounded off by a slide show
from Pete and Simon.  Pete showed local
slides and Simon showed some of Pakistan but was more successful by playing to
the gallery of boozed up Glaswegian fishermen who cheered every time fish was
mentioned.  Simon was a little frostier
when pictures of Jenny appeared.

The Sunday was Pete and Quackers’ last day.  Quackers mouldered in the hut while Peter
joined Estelle, Ivan, Tony and the inflatable sheep at Rana Hole for another
hauling session.  On the way downhill
Estelle, Pete and Ivan had a good job of changing the boulders at the rising –
so now you know who did it.

Pete and Quackers rounded the day off by attempting to find
the Kylesku lobster.  We failed but Pete
found Quackers a large crab as a consolation prize before proceeding up the
hill to dive for scallops in the harbour. He also earned brownie points from a local skipper by removing a rope
from his prop.

Well that’s it from me but Estelle can have fun now doing a
re-edit on the rest of the log.


Tankard Hole Song

Tune: Ain’t Gonna Need This House No Longer
Author: R. Lawder
Source: Alfie

Last summer a
dig was started by some blokes from the other Club,
In a shakehole by the roadside not so far from the Hunters pub,
With occasional draughts of cider, diggers soon had piled a heap,
To the envy of the weegies and the puzzlement of the sheep.

Chorus:            Ain’t gonna need this
cave no longer,
                        Ain’t gonna need
this cave no more,
                        With it’s
stalactites on the ceiling
                        And it’s
stalagmites on the floor,
                        Ain’t gonna force
this squeeze no longer,
                        Ain’t gonna bang
this sump no more
                        ‘Cos our Tankard
Hole is going
                        and it’s going to
beat them all.

Oh the Entrance it was narrow, so there wasn’t much need to shore,
But further down it’s ample, twenty feet by sixty four,
It was tedious to climb the pitches and a risk the gulf to jump,
So we built an elevator from the first pitch to the sump.

You can keep your Tratman’s Temple, and your Devil’s Elbow too,
And your Morton’s Pot with stemples, and your Cuthbert’s entrance queue
For our Tankard Hole is going, going steadily down the dip,
Taking Swildons as a feeder and St. Cuthbert’s as a drip.


Funny Insurance Claims

•           Coming home, I drove into the wrong
house and collided with a tree I don’t have.

•           The other car collided with mine
without giving warning of its intentions.

•           I thought my window was down, but
found it was up when I put my hand through it.

•           I collided with a stationary truck
coming the other way.

•           A truck backed through my windshield
into my wife’s face.

•           A pedestrian hit me and went under my

•           The guy was all over the road.  I had to swerve a number of times before I
hit him.

•           I pulled away from the side of the
road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.

•           The gentleman behind me struck me on
the backside.  He went to rest in the
bush with just his rear end showing.

•           In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove
into a telephone pole.

•           The accident occurred when I was
attempting to bring my car out of a skid by steering it into the other vehicle.

•           I had been learning to drive without
power steering.  I turned the wheel to
what I thought was enough and found myself in a different direction going the
opposite way.

•           I was on my way to the doctor’s with
rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an

•           As I approached the intersection, a
stop sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared
before.  I was unable to stop in time to
avoid the accident.

•           To avoid hitting the bumper of the
car in front, I struck the pedestrian.

•           My car was legally parked as it
backed into the other vehicle.

•           An invisible car appeared out of
nowhere, stuck my vehicle, and vanished.

•           I told the police that I was
uninjured.  But on removing my hat, I
found that I had a fractured skull.

•           When I saw I could not avoid a
collision, I stepped on the gas and crashed into the other vehicle.

•           The indirect cause of the accident
was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.

•           I saw the slow-moving, sad-faced old
gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car.

•           I was thrown from my car as it left
the road.  I was later found in a ditch
by some stray cows.

•           The telephone pole was approaching
fast.  I was attempting to swerve out of
its path when it struck my front end.

•           I saw her look at me twice; she
appeared to be making slow progress when we met on impact.

•           No one was to blame for the accident
but it never would have happened if the other driver had been alert.

•           I was unable to stop in time and my
car crashed into the other vehicle.  The
driver and passengers then left immediately for a vacation with injuries.

•           I had been shopping for plants all
day and was on my way home.  As I reached
an intersection a hedge sprung up obscuring my vision.  I didn’t see the other car.

•           I had been driving my car for 40
years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.

•           I was sure the old fellow would never
make it to the other side of the roadway when I struck him.

•           The pedestrian had no idea which
direction to go, so I ran over him.

•           The trees were passing me in an
orderly row at fifty miles per hour when suddenly one of them stepped out into
my path.

•           I ran over a man, he admitted it was
his fault since he had been knocked down before.

•           I ran into a lamppost that was
obscured by human beings.

•           The accident was caused by me waving
to the man I hit last week.


The 49ers 49th Birthday Party



A Letter From Harry Stanbury On Early Exploration In Stoke Lane Slocker

Harry and Glynn Stanbury
Bude Cornwall


Dear Estelle,

It is a long time ago that I wrote to the B.B. – so here

First – Congratulations on the “New Look” a great

I had intended to write this some time ago but Glynn is
recovering from a serious operation & so my time has been rather fully

I was very interested in Dave Irwin’s article in BB 494 on
Stoke Lane & feel that I could clarify a couple of things.

When we made the “recce” trip to Sump 1 it was
only the three of us – Graham B., Don C. & myself who went through Browne’s
Passage to the “dark & horrible pool” the others only went as far
as the entrance to Browne’s Passage.

We did not take down diving gear – the object of the trip
was to assess the feasibility of doing so.

When we reached the “dark & horrible” after
feeling about Don eventually vanished from sight – Graham & I waited &
waited – Graham turned to me & said, “Well, I suppose we’ll have to
get the silly bastard out” & with that Don re-appeared
triumphant.  Graham & I followed him
through & the rest is history.

Regarding the survey. Don decided not to publish the survey because there was a strong
movement locally to turn the cave into a show cave.  The survey showed that the Throne Room was
adjacent to a shake hole in the field above. The alternative would have been to “throw” the survey by
several degrees, but this was regarded as unethical & was rejected.  Regrettably I have no information of the
whereabouts of the original drawings.

On a lighter note; for several years I was on the extramural
circuit in Bristol & N. Somerset giving caving talks to groups ranging from
Scouts to O.A.P.S.  I took them on a tour
of Mendip & of course this included Stoke Lane.  When I called for questions at the end one
question invariably cropped up “How did that man who went through first
know that it was safe to do so?”

I pointed out that he knew it was safe as when he put his
arm through first he knew that there was air space because when he brought his
hand out it was dry!!

This was usually met with a sagacious nodding of heads.

I hope you can read this, Estelle, I regret that at 82 my
writing is not more legible.

All the best in 98



Stoke Lane Slocker – History

By Dave Irwin

The short extract from my notes on the history of Stoke Lane
Slocker prompted ‘Tommy’ Thomas to send some extremely useful info on the
relationship between Max Unwin and the newly formed SMCC and of the extraction
of the human and animal bones from Bone Chamber in Stoke Lane II.  Harry Stanbury has also made some comments in
a letter, published elsewhere in this BB, and, by the time members receive this
issue I shall have been to Bude and talked to Harry, as I’ve done on a number of
occasions in recent years relating to early club activity.  The note relating to the diving gear is quite
correct and it was a slip of my memory – related to a comment made once by Don
Coase’s younger brother, Alan.  Many
apologies to all readers.  Alan told me
that Don felt cheated by the Stoke Lane sump as it was so short!  The question relating to the location of the
remaining members of the party, in Cairn Chamber or at the beginning of
Browne’s Passage is one of the points that Harry and I will be discussing.  All will become clear in the final text of
the full version history which commences in the 1880s and records the first
descent in 1905.

Whilst we are in a ‘remembering mood’ perhaps older members
may be able to help on a number of queries: –

Stoke Lane Slocker:  In 1949 there were two rescues in this cave,
one involved Sybil Bowden-Lyle, of which there is plenty of independent
information – what happened to cause the other? No records exist in MRO files and no mention of a problem is to be found
in the local papers.  The reference to
these rescues come from,” no sour jokes please … a note by Frank Frost
in the then Wessex Circular.  No clues
have been found in their caving logs for that period.

Burrington digs:  Snogging Hole and Burrington Hole.  References to these two 1946 dig sites are to
be found in Volume II of the BEC Caving Log. Does anyone have details of their exact location?  It seems from various comments in the Logbook
that Snogging Hole might well be the entrance to the site now known as Pierre’s
Pot.  An additional note to the entry
implies that the digs were started sometime before and the reader is referred
to Volume I of the Caving Log.  I have to
report that the first volume of the BEC Caving Log is missing does anyone have any
information relating to this invaluable record? It contains details of activity during the years immediately after the
reforming of the club in 1944; early electron ladder construction and
subsequent trials on the 40ft Pot in Swildons among several other importance
references.  Any information to either
Alex Gee, the club librarian, or to the writer.

Swancombe Hollow Dig:  Dug by BEC members, including the late Dan
Hasell, during 1946-1947, the site is in the Swancombe Valley near
Blagdon.  Does anyone have any notes that
might relocate the site and any details of the work?

The area surrounding the St. Cuthbert’s Depression has
several features that have attracted cavers in the past.  Bog Hole, originally opened and dug by the
UBSS was later continued by the BEC. Where exactly is the site, it is said to be under the farmyard laid by
Walt Foxwell but that’s only hearsay. Any offers of information. Further, another site, this time a shaft was recorded by the UBSS and an
entry in their caving log for the 7th August 1944 contains the following note:
‘The shaft opposite the old mine workings was also examined and found
unpromising …. ‘  Where is this?


Thirty years ago – the great flood.

By Dave Irwin

Seems like only yesterday that one of the most talked about
occasions in the history of 20th century Mendip caving occurred.  At the time it happened I was caving in
Ireland with a bunch of BEC, SMCC and WCC members.  The weather had been perfect and several wet
caves had been visited or pushed, including St. Catherine’s II with its
thrixotropic mud filled passage.  Just
before our return we met a party of UBSS who told us of the rain storm that had
hit the Bristol area a couple of days previously.  Hardly had we got in the door to the flat in
Bristol, with our sodden rucksacks, than Tim Reynolds and I were set upon by
Roger Stenner!  ‘You know about the
floods in the area’ he commented.  Then
suddenly with great excitement he uttered ‘The Forty’s gone!’  ‘Settle down Roger.  What do you mean the Forty’s gone?  It can’t go anywhere.’ Gradually, regaining
his senses, he told us the story that the Water Rift in Swildons Hole had been
scoured out by the flood waters and that no-one any longer needed to ladder the
pitch.  A way had opened up near the

There then followed a few days of intensive caving in the
evenings and as a result the BB, published a week after the flood, contained
the first detailed article, written by the writer of this note, on the changes
that had occurred in the caves about central Mendip.  This was reprinted in the CRG Newsletter and
British Caver shortly after.  To amass a
good summary of this famous occurrence perhaps caving members who were about at
this time would put down on paper their observations and perhaps Estelle could
published the lot as joint article in the next BB.  Just to give a gentle nudge, Pete Rose, Nick
Chipchase and Pete Glanvill were among the last to see the Forty Foot Pot in
action, Dave Turner and Brian Prewer were among the first down G.B. Cave and
Swildons Hole respectively – so get pens to paper – or fingers on those
computer keys.

Just to whet your appetite here are a few piccies from my
photo archive collection of Cheddar Gorge the day after!



Scotland 98 – The Alternative Report from the Log Book

Estelle Sandford


Pete Glanvill, Mike ‘Quackers’
Duck (25/4 – 6/5)
Pete Rose, Trevor Knief (25/4 – 2/5)
Tony Boycott,
Estelle Sandford, Tony
Jarratt (26/4 – 7/5)
Julian Walford (27/4 – 29/4, 30/4 – 3/5)
Simon Brooks, Nick Williams (29/4 – 4/5)
Robin ‘Tav’ Taviner, Graham ‘Jake’ Johnson, Richard ‘Rubberman’ Blake (1/5 –
Ivan Young (1/5 -4/5)
Pete ‘Snablet’ McNab, Anette Becher (1/5 – 3/5)
Steve Bellhouse, Kate Janossy, Dave Robinson (1/5 – 4/5)
Fraser Simpson (1/5 – 4/5)
Roger Galloway, Liz Millet (1/5 – 3/5)
Rebecca Campbell (4/5 – 10/5)
Martin Hayes (5/5 – 10/5)

On Tuesday 28th J’Rat, Estelle and Quackers went to Whinging
Dog Dig and then to Birthday Hole. Firstly to Birthday Hole where an attempt
was started on reopening the cave after the winter floods.  We moved all the large boulders, but needed
the wok to progress any further. It had been left in the car at Glenbain.  On to Whinging Dog Dig via the Waterslide,
V.C.P. and Deeply Depressed (thoroughly blocked).  W.D.D. was given some chemical persuasion,
and then back to Glenbain.  After lunch,
back to Birthday Hole with the wok. J’Rat dug in the thrust plane while Estelle hauled the spoil out and
Quackers built an anti-flood wall.  After
PA hours of bloody hard work the digger booted his way through into the
streamway, but was then put off going to inspect Tony Boycott’s last bang by
the resounding echoes of a major thunderstorm. The froth on the roof also discouraged lying in the stream while it was
pissing down above!  The team then made a
rapid retreat to Glenbain and just beat the rain (but not the lightning as AJ
found out to his distress as he lit up and tingled near the power pole at
Glenbain.  He has had 2 past
“strikes” to his credit already!) With spectacular lightning, thunder, rain and hail hammering the
mountains a further rapid retreat was made, this time to an unlit Inch to drink
bottled beer as the electric was down. An interesting day (all thoughts of diving/digging Waterfall Rising   were abandoned.)

Wednesday saw a visit to Waterfall Rising by Estelle and
J’Rat.  Each did about 20minutes worth of
underwater digging, clearing out a lot of the silt that had been washed in over
the winter.  Caution beware of swimming
towards the waterfall in flood conditions – it nearly ate Estelle.  This dig is very cosy in a dry suit.

After the initial ‘callout’ on the Thursday night in the
Alt, Friday  1st May saw Nick W, J’Rat,
Estelle, Quackers, Pete Rose, Trevor, David the Gamekeeper, attending an
attempted Dog Rescue.


Ben More and the Storm that zapped J’Rat!

An introduction from Eric at the Alt, who got wind of a dog
having been lost in a pot near Strath Kanaird. It turns out the dog actually went missing last week so our chances of
finding it alive were slim, but it was a chance for a look at an area none of
us had seen before and the gamekeeper was grateful for our efforts.

The land is managed from Langwell Lodge but access is gained
by driving up to the hydro dam and walking N.E. onto the ridge.  The area is the normal peat hag, but about
5-10 acres of top of the ridge is limestone with numerous dolines and
depressions.  Above 50m level in
altitude, travelling NW off the ridge, is a small resurgence where water
appears between boulders, could be interesting for a days digging, although we
did not have time to investigate.

Work concentrated on the hole that David said the dog
(“Peggy”) had disappeared down. We worked for about 4 hours, but all we were doing were chasing a hole
about big enough to roll a grapefruit down. No sign or sound of the poor dog, and so we called it a day at about
3pm.  Not a bad day nonetheless: splendid
weather.  About 50m from Peggy’s Demise
an open pot about 10m deep was explored by Trevor and J’Rat – through a bedding
to a conclusion in a small chamber.  The
obvious name is Strath Kanaird Pot.  This
could be a new limestone area if Jim Salvona hasn’t been there first.

View of Sutherland area from Strath Kanaird

On Saturday J’Rat walked from Ledmore Junction to the
obvious limestone area near the pine copse behind Ledbeg.  At 233, 141 is a small open hole in a doline
with a possible 10′ deep open pot below. Needs digging.  PLEASE AVOID TillS
AREA FOR THE TIME BEING as the writer let free a caged crow found nearby and he
assumes the local keeper will not be happy! There is some superb limestone pavement and a possible mine or quarry
tips in this area.  J’Rat’s suggestion
was to call the cave “Pot of the Relieved Crow” or something similar.

In the bar (Alt) the day after the failed dog rescue David the
Gamekeeper appeared to let us know that Peggy had appeared on the doorstep this
morning – very thin and bedraggled but also very much alive.  The digging and noise must have helped in
some way.  We were bought beer as a
reward, which combined with Christine’s mega curry and Simon and Pete’s slide
show (with Glaswegian fishermen heckling) made a great night.  So, mucho brownie points for the GSG and we’d
better re-name Peggy’s Demise as Peggy’s Pot.

Nick, Kate J. and Steve B spent more time on Sunday prospecting
at Strath Kanaird.  Fine limestone
pavement, but no real speleological potential.

A bang clearing trip to Whinging Dog Dig on the Bank Holiday
Monday.  Removal of the debris gained
view into about 12′ of low thrust plane. This was pushed to conclusion on the following day, as it ended in a
foot sized pool of shite.

Tav and Nick Williams returned to the obvious sink by the
footpath just before the footbridge over the Traligill near Lower Traligill
Cave.  Hilti’d a couple of boulders and
dug down between ‘solid’ rock walls to reveal a practically penetrable passage
for 6ft.   Reasonably promising prospect
but looks a watery place. Name awaiting inspiration.   The following day Tav returned with J’Rat
and removed a few more boulders to access the ‘open’ passage revealed
yesterday. Just as the team were about to progress, the ‘solid’ rock roof
dropped an inch or so and they had to collapse it over the way on.  To regain the lost ground they dug a round
hole down on the other side of the sinkhole and after a couple of hours,
uncovered a sizeable open cavity which took the whole stream and looked very

Simon Brooks and Tony Boycott on the Summer Isles diving

Just as they were about to go in however, the entire
sinkhole shuddered and collapsed big style taking one crowbar, tonnes of bloody
big rocks and nearly two diggers with it. The way on is now effectively blocked. There is definitely a cave under here but scaffolding is essential as
it’s a seriously dangerous place.  As it
doesn’t appear to have a name Tav and J’Rat suggested Earthquake Sink.

Birthday Hole was then blocked at the entrance with loads of
boulders and left to fend for itself; it was taking a good sized streamway.

Wednesday arrived and finally Estelle extracted Rich from
the bar and got him underground!  Filled
up quite a few bags at Damoclean, but the spoil behind the shoring is
collapsing in.  Needs a lot of attention
before removing move gravel from the floor; scaffolding and cement may be the
safest way forward.

Tony Boycott visited Snablet’s dig in ANUS cave and gave it
some more chemical persuasion.  He also
lost his watch somewhere in there, but after a later attempt to find the watch,
it was assumed that the bang probably blew it into space wonder what the
altimeter thought of that???! ! !

Tony Boycott at Waterfall Rising

Rana Hole was also attacked again and another 60 odd skips
in 5hrs or so removed.  A haulers seat
was constructed above the entrance using the Mole Hole tripod, a fish box lid
and a small boulder net.  The parasol,
ashtray, etc. are yet to be provided. There are small holes appearing under the floor boulders.  This should hopefully provide the non-divers
route into the Great Northern Time Machine (one day!!).

The last day for most of us saw Estelle and Tony in
Waterfall Rising emptying bottles.  Water
rose 6 inches while underwater and flow increased considerably.  Reached the bottom of the loop and can look
up ongoing thrust plane.

J’Rat and Martin went to ANUS Cave to Jim’s Drip Chamber Dig
(Snablet’s dig).  Cleared bang debris
using new skip (left in situ) to find infilled passages trending ahead and
uphill to the left.  Banged 3 boulders to
enable Snablet to dig the crap out for the foreseeable future.  Tony’s watch still not found (Probably vaporised)

The weather had deteriorated and the remainder of the team,
were forced to seek refuge in the Alt and the Inch for most of the last 3 days.


Edward Whymper

Climber and Alpine Traveller

By Mike Wilson

I decided to write a segment for the BEC climbing division
because: –

1.                  Some people probably know that the climbing
division exists.

2.                  I have yet to see anything written in the BB by
said division – let’s hope the climbers may respond!

This extraordinary young man was born in London in 1849 and
became a wood engraver.  This skill and
artistic ability inherited form his father served him well throughout his
life.  When he was 20 years old the
publishers William Longman asked him to make a series of Alpine Sketches.  The year was 1860.


Edward Whymper, aged 25 years – Courtesy of the Alpine club

The result was Whymper’s first visit to the Alps, which
fired up his climbing interest in the peaks! Bearing in mind that many summits had not been reached!  His prime target was the Matterhorn and in
all he made 8 ascents of varying heights – from 1860 to 1865.  (More of July 1865 later!)  He also ascended Mt Pelvoux!

A sketch of Michel-Auguste Croz by Kay Wilson

The Breche de la Meije – Pointe des Ecrins – the Col de la
Pilate – and Mont Dolent!  All of these
were first ascents in the French Alps by a young 25 year old Englishman!  Albeit aided by local guides.  He also managed the first ascent of the Grand
Cornier – latterly of course, in 1865, he is credited with the first ascent of
the Matterhorn with the following guides: – Croz, Peter Taugwalder and his 2
sons (as porters) Lord F Douglas Hadow and Hudson, a top amateur climber in
1860.  He travelled to Paris by boat and
train then from Paris by train via Sass and Stalden to Zermatt in
Switzerland.  Travelling alone with just
a sketchbook and his diary.  Fortunately
he had a working knowledge of French, which stood him in good stead during the
short 5 years from 1860 to 1865.  A
gentleman called Hinchcliff who had recently climbed the Riffelber kindly
offered to teach him some rockwork.  He
agreed to accept this kind offer which proved to be his first step towards

I feel that this mans subsequent exploits are amazing
bearing in mind that up until 1860 he had only read about mountains and had
never seen any, or attempted to climb some of the highest peaks in France!  He very humbly describes his scrambles in his
diaries.  In those days, the 1800s, rich
tourists travelled the Alps on mule back but Whymper had to use his legs and
hire the occasional guide.  One such
guide ‘Inho’ had agreed to get Whymper from Bionaz to Valtournache via a
mountain pass accompanied him to the top of the pass and then refused to go any
further, making off with Whymper’s rucksack and all his sketching gear.  He was forced to buy all new equipment and
(make do) with his sketches!  He returned
to Bionaz managed to find the errant guide and retrieve his kit!  Needless to say the guide received an earful
for his pains.

Whymper’s first serious ascent was Mt Pelvoux 12,973 ft in
the French Dauphine Alps.  The start
point being the town of Briançon. Whymper then walked up the valley Aile Froide to the village of La
Pisse.  Here he engaged a guide (common
practice in those days) called Semoind. He then walked up to the Sapeniere glacier and camped for the night with
his companions Reynaud and Giraud.  His
other companion Macdonald had not shown up. The group then spent a day casting about on the approaches to Pelvoux.  Eventually Semoind admitted he was lost and
they returned to the bivvy.  Macdonald
was discovered on the next day!  So at
0400 on the 3rd day a second attempt was mounted.  By midday they had reached the snowfields and
a previous cairn, the limit of the route 30 years ago.  At 1345 they finally climbed the last
precipice and stood on the summit of Pelvoux. The return was not without incident. Macdonald fell at the glacier but fortunately was roped up, also the
bivvy was not reached by nightfall and the group spent the night at 10,500 ft
in very miserable conditions with no food or cover, just some wine, a spirit
lamp, and some brandy and water.  They
all contrived to sleep under Whymper’s plaid shawl.  The next day the camp was reached and a
descent to La Ville was completed. Whymper and his companions all suffered from fleas picked up in dirty
inns and guesthouses the problem being discussed from time to time.  His guide Semoind stated (quote)  “As to fleas I don’t pretend to be
different from anyone else, I have them!”

In 1861 Whymper revisited Breuil and discovered Antoine
Carrel, who lived in the village of Valtournanche, he had already attained a
height 12,650 ft on a previous attempt at the Matterhorn in 1859.  Whymper also knew that that had been 3
previous attempts at the summit, one by 4 Frenchmen guided.  One by 2 Englishmen unguided who reached
12,000 ft and were only forced back by high winds and bad weather.

The third attempt had been made by Vaughan Hawkins and
Carrel Bennen.  The latter was to die in
1864 on a mountain called the Haute de Cry. The 4th person in the party was Professor Tyndall who engaged a poor
quality guide but only managed to reach the Chimney above the Col de Lion.  His guide gave up and he was forced to
retreat.  Needless to say he resolved to
return with a small team and use Carrel as guide.  So ended the first attempt!

There were several more abortive attempts on the Matterhorn
by Whymper which are well documented. The final important ascent was on the 13th July 1865 at 5.30 in the
morning when he set out in a party of eight: – Croz, Peter Taugwalder and his 2
sons, Lord F. Douglas, Hadow and Mr Hudson. Hudson and Douglas being the experienced alpinists along with Whymper
and Peter Taugwalder.  So there were five
experienced alpinists and three relatively inexperienced people.  Two being engaged solely as porters.

The first day was taken up by just attaining height in a
steady manner and the group decided to camp at 12 o’clock approximately 11,000
ft up.  The afternoon was spent sketching
and waiting for two of the party who had gone ahead to recce the route for the
following day.  In good spirits they all
settled down to sleep 4 in the tent and surprisingly the other 4, by choice(?)
slept outside!  At dawn they all started
out, 7 going on up and one of Taugwalder’s sons retreating back to Zermatt.  The original intention was to leave the two
boys at the camp.  Sadly the arrangement
was changed, allegedly “over a problem with food distribution”.  At 9.55am they reached a height of 14,000 ft,
the experienced men leading and step cutting where necessary.  Croz now took up the lead followed by
Whymper, Hudson, Hapow, etc.

Hudson was going well but Hadow required continuous
assistance, probably through lack of experience!  Eventually a bold step around a corner led
the group within 200 ft of the summit. Foremost in everyone’s mind was the fact that an Italian group had set
off from Breuil on the 11th July.  Four
days earlier there had been talk of sightings of “men on the
summit”.  Croz and Whymper ran neck
and neck up the slope and reached the top most ridge at 1.40pm.  “The peak was theirs”.  “A great achievement”.  They saw the Italian group 1,200 ft below on
the Breuil side led by a Signor Giordiano. This group turned back!  But
Giordiano tried again on the 17th July with 3 other people and gained the
summit!  Whymper’s victory had been a
narrow one!

Whymper actually stated that Giordiano should have stood on
the summit with him, which was generous. The party spent one hour on the summit and then Whymper and Hudson
decided on the order of descent (a crucial decision in the light of the
following events!).  Croz 1st, Hadow,
Hudson, Lord F Douglas, old Peter Taugwalder, young Peter Taugwalder and
Whymper last.  At the first difficult
section, Whymper noted the additional rope had not been tied to the rocks as
had been previously agreed.  They
descended for some distance then Whymper tied himself onto old Peter at the
request of Lord Douglas.  What happened
next is history and tragic, Croz was helping Hadow by placing his legs in the
proper footholds, apparently a common practice then!  Whymper states the end of the party, him
included were unsighted by a mass of rock but he believes Croz must have turned
round to descend a couple of steps himself when Hadow slipped, fell on him and
knocked him (Croz) over.  They flew
downwards dragging Hudson from his stance and Lord Douglas after him!  Peter Taugwalder and Whymper took stances,
kept the rope tight between them but the rope parted between Taugwalder and
Douglas.  Whymper was forced to watch his
companions fall one by one from precipice to precipice, 4000 ft onto the
Matterhorn glacier.  The 3 men left were
transfixed by fear and stood for half an hour unable to move.  The young Peter being in front would not go
down.  Eventually old Peter moved to a rock
fixed a rope and they managed to reach a stance together.  Whymper states (quote) “I asked for the
rope and found to my horror it was the weakest of the three and should not have
been employed for the purpose which it had been used”.  It was just a reserve to be attached to rocks
and left behind if necessary.  For 2
hours they descended totally unnerved, fixing hand lines and cutting the rope
when necessary.  Finally bivouacking on a
ledge and spending a miserable six hours, then at day break descending via the
Hornli ridge to Zermat.  On the 19th of
July the bodies were recovered but Lord Douglas was never found.  So the first ascent of the Matterhorn
occurred and the mountain claimed its first lives.

Whymper suffered a great deal because of the accident and
was accused, rightly or wrongly, of “cutting the rope” to save his
own life.  If Taugwalder’s account and
Whymper’s are to be believed this is not possible because it would have been
old Peter Taugwalder who would have had to cut the rope.

Whymper stayed in Zermat for 8 days then returned to
England, “blasted by the Times Newspaper”, in spite of the fact that
the editor and staff knew very little, except reports from Switzerland with no
factual backup.  The Punch Newspaper
later apologised for their “scurrilous” attack.

Old Peter Taugwalder, who was exonerated of any blame by
Whymper, left his country for America and subsequently returned to Schwartzee
in 1888 and died there and Young Peter lived to a great age.  Whymper returned to Haslemere in Hants and
spent 6 years writing “Some Scrambles Amongst the Alps”.  He revisited the Alps between 1877 and 1886
just walking the valleys and glaciers.

Several visits to the Arctic were made in 1867 and
1872.  He also made 2 trips to Greenland
which were regarded as failures in his eyes! The Matterhorn was revisited in 1874. He ascended with the guide Carrel and took photos to illustrate his
lectures in England.

Five years later, 1879, Carrel and Whymper went to the
Andes.  They ascended Mt Chimborazo,
camping at 16,000 ft, where they tried to study the effects of high
altitude.  Sadly although having spent 2
weeks at 10,000 ft all three suffered terribly from altitude sickness.  Carrel states “I thought we were
dying”.  Eventually they managed to
camp at 17,283 ft and finally reached the summit “the highest climbed peak
at that time”.  Carrel and Whymper
both suffered frostbite due to poor quality clothing at altitude.  The Andes tour was a success with several
more mountains climbed accompanied by the Carrels.

Andean Indians were not Whymper’s favourite people.  A dirty and impoverished country with even
dirtier natives is how he described them. His views were not improved when he was “ripped off” by a hotel keeper
who locked the expedition mules in a compound and made him pay “an
exorbitant bill”.  Whymper was not a
man to be crossed.  Subsequently Whymper
returned and horse whipped the man in the main street as revenge!  Poor Carrel was paid off in the port of
Suayanquic and warned to “take care”. He and Bersagliere went out drinking and gambling, ending up “like
you do” at the local police station “penniless the next
day”.  “A warning to all young
climbers” Whymper returned to Haslemere and spent twelve years writing
“Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator” (Read it – ED).  The Times applauded the double volume in
1891.  Wood engraving declined as a
profession, Whymper used books and lectures as a means of income.  His lectures were well attended and his grand
appearance in later years plus his dramatic flair held people spellbound.

Later in life he returned to the Alps several times, wrote 2
guide books on Zermatt and Chamonix.  He
married and had a daughter Ethel.

During 1901 at the age of 60 he made several expenses paid
visits to the Canadian Rockies (CP railways stood the bill).  He had a free hand but they were not happy
trips.  He turned down several ambitious
climbs proposed by his guides.  For
example Mt Robinson and Mt Assinbourne. His passion and fire had gone.

Whilst never giving up travel he suffered from dizziness and
insomnia which (quote) “troubled him greatly”.

In 1911 he did the rounds in the Alps finally stopping at
Chamonix.  He locked himself in his room,
refused all medical aid and died alone 4 days later.

So ended the career of one of England’s most controversial
climbers of the Victorian age.

Ref. books:-

‘Some Scrambles Amongst the Alps’
– Whymper.

‘Matterhorn man’ – Walt Unworth.

‘Travels amongst the Andes’ –


Correction to Last BB

From Roger Stenner

The maps of the streams which feed St. Cuthbert’s Swallet,
in Frankie and Roger Stenner’s article in last month’s BB, was not very
clear.  Sorry.  If the following key is used, the links
between the article and the two maps should be easier to find.

The grid references of points numbered 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10
were measured from the original drawings, and the other references are from the
survey data, rounded to the nearest metre.
















St. Cuthbert’s Swallet Entrance

Sample Site 1 Mineries Pool
Outflow Stream

Sample Site 2 St. Cuthbert’s
Stream near main stream sink

Sample Site 3 Fair Lady Well

Maypole Sink

Intermittent overflow channel       From


Maypole Overflow Corner

Intermittent tributary complex


Source of former (pre 1985) St.
Cuthbert’s Stream

Pool, now breached (not numbered
on the 25 inch map)

Lower Corner (wall corner near

Upper Corner (wall corner near
Fair Lady Well)

Wall Junction (behind the Belfry)









54368 54331





















(Apologies – the printers couldn’t quite cope with the
fineness of the maps – Ed)


Attborough Swallet Progress report

By Dave Shipton

A run down of Attborough Swallet over the last 2 1/2 years.
Report 22/11/94

Attborough Swallet like Wigmore Swallet is in an unusual
geological location, the cave being located in Dolomitic Conglomerate and
marl.  A hydrological connection exists
between this site and the up stream sumps in Wigmore.  The cave was entered and explored by the
Cotham Caving Group in late 1992, previously the site had been dug by W.C.C.,
M.N.R.C., and S.V.C.C. between 1956 and 1966. The cave is also known as Red Quar Swallet and was originally dug by the
MMRC in the 1930s.  (See “Caves of

The concrete piped entrance shaft requires a 15ft ladder and
a short belay at the bottom.  A short
crawl then gives way to a rift, 40ft long and 30ft deep – a 20ft ladder is
required.  15ft from here is a bold step
across the rift and climb up via a tight and slippery muddy tube (break
through: 7-10-92) great care needed on the climb up, this leads into a small
decorated chamber – The Attic (break through: 11-10-93).

A drop in the floor leads down a twisting descent through
boulders reaching a fixed ladder which gives access to the second chamber
(break through: 4-11-93).  There is a too
tight dig in the left corner.  A climb
through  loose boulders            and scaffolding supports enables
access to the third chamber (break through: 16-12-93).  Directly below the scaffolding is a very
awkward and tight squeeze down, entering the Quick Link.  To the left is an inlet tube in the roof that
gives a draught. This must be close to the surface, but it’s too tight after


Attborough Entrance – note the digging bags!!!

Directly below in the floor of the chamber is a 5ft drop
through boulders and 20ft of narrow passage (Pain and Passion) ending too tight. Going back to the entrance rift and carrying on down through scaffolding
to a squeeze leading under the floor into Happy
(break through: 30-8-93).  To
the right Quick Link Passage is
entered, 40ft of narrow passage leading back to the upper chambers.  Opposite this is a small connecting tube
which leads to Cotham Hall.  Carry on down Happy Mondays 20ft, and on the right you can enter Nigel’s Dig,
20ft long ending in a mud filled passage. Continue down the narrowing passage of Happy Mondays and you enter Cotham
, 90ft long, 12ft wide and 10ft high.

To the right and down a fixed ladder is the Shower Room, continuing down through
boulders to a T -junction.  Left is too
tight, but connects with the hole in the roof of the left hand lower passage of
Cotham Hall; to the right and you
enter “Nasty, Nasty
(break through: 1-9-93).  90ft long and
very muddy, 30ft along and a standing chamber is reached, with a squeeze at
floor level.  Continuing the crawl
through and you reach a passage on your right which goes into a small chamber
and a very tight duck at the top end (possibly sumped) this enters Mud
(break through: 4-5-93) 40ft long narrowing up a slope to a dig
possibly heading towards Nigel’s Dig.


Attborough Swallet
Red Quar, Chewton Mendip
Surveyed by BEC Sept 93 – Feb 95
Drawn by T. Hughes
Scales 1:200, 1:2500
Entrance level based on OSBM (accepted value 273.16m) on cottage at road to
Wigmore farm


Continue down Nasty,
to what looks like the end and then go up and over a mud bank.  To the right is a very narrow squeeze upwards
which leads to May Chamber (break
through: 1-5-94) a small calcite chamber. By turning left at the mud bank a small squeeze and flat out crawl leads
down to a 10ft pitch, Pit Pot (break
through: 13-2-94).  At floor level a
squeeze leads to a stream way, up stream is too tight.  5ft down stream leads to a tight sump.  The stream feeder is unknown so it will be
very interesting to dye test some of the surface inlets around the area to try
and find the source.

Back in Cotham Hall the
passage on the left hand side gradually narrows down.  Just as you enter there’s a small hole in the
roof which leads down about 20ft to an on going dig possibly towards Pit Pot.  Continue down the
narrowing passage 15ft to a Letter Box
on the left, which floods in heavy rain – possible dig?  Just past this is an elbow which enters Twist And Shout (break through
12.10.93) with a very tight squeeze down an 8ft drop, then a 4ft drop and
finally a 15ft pitch down the water rift to a sump 6ft long and 3ft deep which
leads back under the right hand wall; this is where all the water flows
off.  The rift has flooded up to the top
in very wet weather.

Just above the water level there is an inlet on the left
which feeds from Pit Pot stream
way.  This does not dry up in summer
whereas all of the rest of the cave inlets do(!?).  Back up the rift in the roof there is a 20ft
tight passage leading over the top of the rift, but it is too tight.


Nigel Denmead in Cotham Hall

WARNING:  In very wet weather beyond the Mud Bank, Nasty Nasty will back up and
flood, blocking access.

N.B.  The entrance system was B.A.R.A. dye traced
to Cheddar Rising in 1973 (travel time 5 days) Wigmore Swallet (travel time, up
stream sump, under 56 hours)

Digging by D. Shipton, D. Bryant and P. Evans.

Wigmore Swallet (top) and Attborough Swallet (bottom) in
relation to the surface features.  Based
on 1886 and 1903 OS sheets and original survey work (1:25000)


Newspaper Headlines

The following is a bunch of actual newspaper headlines.

  • Grandmother
    of eight makes hole in one
  • Deaf
    mute gets new hearing in killing
  • Police
    begin campaign to run down jaywalkers
  • House
    passes gas tax onto senate
  • Stiff
    opposition expected to casketless funeral plan
  • Two
    convicts evade noose, jury hung
  • William
    Kelly was fed secretary
  • Milk
    drinkers are turning to powder
  • Safety
    experts say school bus passengers should be belted
  • Quarter
    of a million Chinese live on water
  • Farmer
    bill dies in house
  • Iraqi
    head seeks arms








Some become unintentionally suggestive:

  • Queen
    Mary having bottom scraped
  • Is
    there a ring of debris around Uranus?
  • Prostitutes
    appeal to Pope
  • Panda
    mating fails – veterinarian takes over
  • NJ
    judge to rule on nude beach
  • Child’s
    stool great for use in garden
  • Dr.
    Ruth to talk about sex with newspaper editors
  • Soviet
    virgin lands short of goal again
  • Organ
    festival ends in smashing climax







Grammar often botches other headlines:

  • Eye
    drops off shelf
  • Squad
    helps dog bite victim
  • Dealers
    will hear car talk at noon
  • Enraged
    cow injures farmer with axe
  • Lawmen
    from Mexico barbecue guests
  • Miners
    refuse to work after death
  • Two
    Soviet ships collide – one dies
  • Two
    sisters reunite after eighteen years at checkout counter






Once in a while, a botched headline takes on a meaning
opposite from the one intended:

  • Never
    withhold herpes from loved one
  • Nicaragua
    sets goal to wipe out literacy
  • Drunk
    drivers paid $1,000 in 1984
  • Autos
    killing 110 a day let’s resolve to do better




Sometimes newspaper editors state the obvious:

  • If
    strike isn’t settled quickly it may last a while
  • War
    dims hope for peace
  • Smokers
    are productive, but death cuts efficiency
  • Cold
    wave linked to temperatures
  • Child’s
    death ruins couple’s holiday
  • Blind
    woman gets new kidney from dad she hasn’t seen in years
  • Man
    is fatally slain
  • Something
    went wrong in jet crash, experts say
  • Death
    causes loneliness, feeling of isolation






Dicking About in the Desert, or Never Mind the Kalashnikov.What about the
Pomegranate Stains?

by Tony Boycott and
Peter Dowswell

During late October/early November 1997, Simon Brooks, Peter
Dowswell, myself and Daniel Gebauer from Germany participated in the 5th
Pak-Britain Caving Climbing Training Expedition to Baluchistan.  Simon has been going to Pakistan since 1989
and has built up a useful partnership with the Chiltan Adventures (sic)
Association of Quetta, who were our hosts during the expedition.

Local contacts are essential, as without them the problems
of obtaining ‘No Objection Certificates’ (allowing access to normally
restricted areas and providing for native levies) equipment and transport would
be virtually insurmountable.

Following a couple of days travel we arrived in Quetta to
much razzmatazz at the airport – tinsel garlands, welcoming banner – the full
biff.  This was followed by a solemn
opening ceremony at the local Provincial Assembly Members Hostel during which
Koranic prayers were recited and many fine sentiments were expressed, followed
by Suleimani (black) Chai and biscuits. Simon and Daniel were then whisked away to the Pakistan TV studios for an
interview – broadcast to over 40 nations by satellite – what superstars!

Quetta (population about 500,000) is the capital of
Baluchistan, the largest and westernmost province of Pakistan, and lies
surrounded by mountains at an altitude of 1700 metres.  It lies at the junction of the main roads to
Iran, Afghanistan and via the Bolan Pass the main more populous Pakistan
heartland.  Most of the city is modern,
the previous buildings having been destroyed by an earthquake in 1935.  It has the air of a frontier town to it and
thrives on the import/export business. Although Pashto (aka Pathans or Pashtun) is the dominant culture it is
ethnically diverse and has large groups of Baluchs, Brahuis and Hazaras.


Local transport near Thang Ghara, Kharan

There is a large amount of traffic of all types, including
autorickshaws, camels, donkeys, handcarts, bicycles and lorries and a traffic
smog tends to hang over the city in the morning and evening.  It is also reputed to be the cleanest city in

The evening was spent discussing the forthcoming programme
with Hayat Ullah Durrani Khan, our host and expedition co-leader.  This was then typed out for use in obtaining
the No Objection Certificate (NOC).

The following morning was spent obtaining the NOC, after the
usual prolonged discussions, and then a late start for Sirkii Kaach Cave in the
Zarghoon Range.  A long drive along a
rough road up the side of a mountain (the norm) led to ‘base camp’ next to an
old cemetery. Having missed the Halal butchery demonstration (a volunteer sheep
having been brought in the Land Rover) we continued a further two miles up the
track before walking the remaining mile or so in the gathering twilight (also
the norm) to the cave entrance.  The cave
(previously described as having a chamber 500 feet by 100 feet) turned out to
be a vadose canyon in mudstone with an overlying sandstone cap.  Eighty-five metres of cave was surveyed by PO
and TB whilst noting various varieties of wildlife – ghundak (spider)
cockroaches, bats (the norm) and a porcupine. Returned to camp to devour the aforementioned sheep and returned late to
Quetta (the norm).

Pushto hospitality knows no bounds and is a matter of honour
for whomsoever you should call upon – it is never too late to stop for a meal –
and justice has not been done unless the guests have had three square meals a

Daniel Gebauer climbing up into Gundak Crawl in Pir Ghaib
Ghara No I

Thursday 30th saw a trip along the Mastung Valley to
Mangochar and a couple of caves in the Mountains.  The first (plus a couple of smaller nearby
caves) Kaddi Coo char, was an old remnant about 150m above the valley floor
consisting of a very impressive entrance, about 10m diameter, at the head of a
gully in the cliff, leading to a series of low crawls.  PO & OG surveyed whilst waiting for the
rest of the party to arrive with the cameras. The usual dicking about and food followed before departing for a cave on
the Jolan road beyond Kalat (having picked up some levymen on the way).  The cave, Ziarat Sheikh Hadje Ghara, was
located at the foot of Koh-e-Maharan (Snake Mountain) about 20 km beyond Kalat,
and as it was dark by now, took a little time to locate.  The cave itself, although relatively short
(29m) was interesting, being a shrine (ziarat) to Sheikh Hadje (and containing
his grave) and being quite well endowed with stal.  Survey and photographs were followed by a
return to the vehicles where quite a few local tribesmen had gathered.  They were a little unhappy on two counts, one
that a few of our party had failed to remove our footwear in the cave and
secondly they appeared not to want word of their holy cave to be spread
around.  Returned to Quetta late.

Friday saw us off to Kharan in the west of Baluchistan a
good 8 hours away by land rover.  We
stopped at Noshki, about halfway and were given hospitality by the local
magistrate, a friend of Hayat’s, and a couple of levymen.  Shortly after leaving Noshki and the main
highway the offside front wheel bearing on the landrover collapsed.  Not daunted, this was soon changed at the
side of the road and we continued on our way, the land rover again almost
coming to grief, soon after, when the road abruptly stopped at the edge of a
wadi where the bridge had been washed away, and it came to rest slightly over
the edge.  A little manhandling, however,
and we were on our way again, over a particularly rough section of road,
eventually reaching our destination about 10 km beyond Kharan after midnight.

Rising early the following morning, we surveyed and
photographed Thang Gara, a large remnant at the foot of Koh-e-Bajarat,
truncated by a wadi.  A very large
entrance soon gave way to a rising sandy crawl with the usual bats in residence
which pinched out about 100m from the entrance. Some time was also spent surveying/climbing the upward continuation of
the entrance rift which rose to a height of 30 metres or more.  Lunch was punctuated by some impromptu Pushto
dancing and singing followed by an attempt at teaching them how to do eightsome
reels – one of the more surreal moments of the trip!  After looking at a few promising holes in the
surrounding area and talking to a local tribesman and his camels, we set off
for Quetta, stopping briefly at Kharan to weld a broken shock absorber, Noshki
to return our levymen and buy food and then later at the side of the road to
eat, eventually arriving after midnight.

Sunday was used to rest and to feed data into Daniel’s

Monday 3rd November provided a day trip from Quetta to the
Lak PasslMastung Valley area.  Whilst
looking for one cave, some locals guided us to the nearby village of Bathora to
examine a different one.

Although initially regarded with some suspicion (people
often think caves may contain treasure and can’t really understand anyone
wanting to look at them for sport) we were eventually shown to the entrance of
Kodi Ghara an interesting little cave of 82m, with some odd little chambers and
an interesting low crawl, smelling strongly of porcupine and bats.  Then over the Lak pass to an entrance,
previously observed, which turned out to be little more than a rock shelter,
Ghosabad Ghara.  Thence back towards
Quetta for another two small caves, Kassiabad Ghara 1 & 2.  Back to Quetta in daylight!

The following morning we set off on a four day trip through
the Bolan Pass to Pir Ghaib, Sibi and the Nari River.  After the usual stops for supplies, we
reached the Bolan Pass at about mid-day.

The Bolan is an impressive place, a deeply cut gorge
surrounded by high mountains and with the railway and main road south to
Karachi running through it. The railway is a monument to Victorian engineering
skills and to the many men who must have built it under extremely harsh
conditions.  There are a number of
impressive tunnels and bridges, although as is often the case in Baluchistan
with its flash floods at least one of the bridges was washed away and has been
replaced.  One of the more interesting
hazards of the Bolan (apart from the huge potential for installing crash
barriers at precipitous drops) is the propensity for overladen trucks (mostly
extremely colourful old Bedford lorries appearing to carry about twice their
design load of 20 tons) to get stuck underneath railway bridges (where they
cross over the road) thereby stemming the flow of traffic.  The usual response is for the traffic then to
drive up (or down) the river bed until the problem is sorted.

Continuing down to Mach and the local District
Commissioner’s office we picked up four levymen before going on to Pir Ghaib.
Mach has a thriving coal industry seemingly run under the most basic of
conditions with the surrounding hillsides riddled with small drift mines with
extremely rudimentary equipment and worked by hand.

Entrance to Snake Cave, Bolan Pass

Pir Ghaib is a pleasant contrast, a beautiful tropical oasis
in the middle of the stony desert surrounded by date palms and with a warm
spring.  A large pool just downstream
from where the water gushes from the rock affords an excellent place to swim
and relax.  Close by is a shrine to a
local mullah (and grave) which was our base for the next two nights, the only
disadvantage to this otherwise idyllic spot being the large numbers of
hornets.  Pir Ghaib Ghara, at 1.3km
Pakistan’s longest cave lies in the steep sided gorge upstream and had been pushed
to about 680m on previous visits.  It is
reached by climbing part of the way up the mountain and then dropping down into
the gorge.  The first night seemed rather
a noisy affair, with barking dogs, falling rocks and SB’s snoring.  My night was enlivened by being wakened at 2
in the morning by a dog licking my face.

The hillside was duly climbed the following morning and most
of the party descended to the cave.  Most
of the party returned at around sunset that evening apart from Daniel, myself,
Simon and Wali Mohammed (Wallo) who decided to sleep overnight in the gorge,
having emerged at dusk and decided that sleeping overnight with minimal food
and no sleeping kit was preferable to climbing back up the gorge in the dark
with no ropes.  The night was enlivened
by a move into the lower cave after a careful inspection for snakes as sleeping
on the pocket handkerchief sized piece of karrirnat in the back of the
rucksacks was too cold, and none of the party succeeded in getting entirely
into their rucksacks despite trying hard. 

White Spider in Pir Ghaib Ghara No 1

The additional benefit was an early start surveying the cave
and most leads were fully pushed and Friendship Passage and Golden Jubilee
Chamber discovered and surveyed.  The
number of bats (small horseshoes, species not identified) in the cave was so
great that they interrupted the surveying by hanging on the tape, T-shirts,
lips, noses, eyelids etc.  Surprisingly
no-one became ill (yet!) from such close contact.  The cave was also inhabited by large white
hairy spiders, one of which was observed eating a large centipede, and many
cockroaches, three of which were seen dragging away a dead bat.  Meanwhile PD endured the hell of swimming at
the pool, enlivened during the previous evening by a snake swimming past him
(he was assured that they cannot swim and bite at the same time), and some
walking.  The rest of the party returned
at about 3.00pm, smelling heavily of bat guano, to much applause, and after a
swim and some food we departed for Sibi. Being much lower than Quetta, Pir Ghaib (985m a.s.l.) was hot and Sibi
(220m a.s.l.) even hotter.  Sibi enjoys
the reputation of being the hottest place in Asia with the summer temperature
rising to the mid-fifties Centigrade.  We
arrived in the evening to a bustling street market and spent around an hour
there sampling the local fast food – jelabi, pakora, samosas, roasted peanuts
in their shells – whilst Malik Abdul Rahim Baabai, the Chiltan’s chairman and
owner of our newer vehicle, a Toyota Hilux, made some phone calls.  We then continued to the Nari river, about l0
km beyond Sibi, camping and eating (after the usual slaughter of our live meat)
well after midnight.  We also made a
quick recce to the caves as a local hunting party were able to show us their
location.  Half the party then decided to
return to Quetta as Malik had some pressing business to attend to.

After an early rise we explored, surveyed and photographed
the local caves before breakfast.  They
lie close to the Nari River near the head works for a large irrigation scheme
and a few yards from the main railway line to Harnai.  Formed in bands of soft mudstone between the
limestone, they are relatively unstable and full of soft breakdown and some odd
mudstone formations, altogether quite interesting and in a beautiful
location.  The Nari, apart from providing
good fishing is also home to small crocodiles. We then headed back for Quetta, stopping for an hour or two in the Bolan
Pass to explore four caves there.  A
pleasant time was has by all apart from Simon who had a close encounter of the
serpentine kind in Snake Cave (Darah-e- Bolan Ghara no 1).  Having forded the river, barefoot apart from
sandals, whilst surveying a snake fell out of the roof, disturbed by some cave
swiftlets, bounced off Simon’s helmet and landed on his feet.  Daniel was somewhat bemused by this incident
as Simon swiftly exited the passage declaring loudly “fucking
spiders” (his normal expletive). Two of the other caves, Armoury Cave and Chimney Cave both had extremely
large bat roosts and the associated aroma.  Further stops at Bibi Nani for water (the land
rover was overheating), Mach for chai, to watch the Bolan Mail train go past
and to return our levymen, and the Bolan Pass to collect fresh spring water
marked a pleasnt journey back to Quetta.

Entrance to Ghosalabch Ghara, Lak Pass

Saturday 8th November we spent the day at Marri Farsch, an
impressive 200m wall at the side of a gorge about two hours drive from Quetta,
with Simon and Nigel, a local ex-pat, attempting to provide tuition on safe
climbing techniques, in between climbing competitions.  Peter and I wandered around the gorge
collecting some plants and looking at a large boulder cave beneath the
road.  The Chiltans are excellent natural
climbers who seem to prefer free climbing. Wallo played along with Nigel and allowed himself to be life lined up to
about 80m.  The effect was rather
spoiled, however, when John Mohammed (Johno) free climbed up the wall past them
stopping briefly to say hello.  Nigel
suggested that he and Wallo should proceed back to the bottom as he could no
longer lifeline him, whereupon Wallo offered to climb up the next pitch and
lifeline Nigel.  Nigel declined and
returned to the bottom whilst Wallo duly climbed to the top in the gathering twilight.  All of which reminded us somewhat of Obelix
the Gaul.  A chicken and bhindi picnic
lunch was consumed in the dark lit by burning bushes, before returning to

The following day we headed east in the land rover for
Ziarat and Pui.  A late start (usual dick
about) meant that we did not reach our first objective, Kan Tangi, an
impressive deep, narrow, steep sided canyon until mid afternoon.  An hour’s walk brought us to the entrance,
about 10m up the smooth vertical side of the canyon and it proved impossible to
reach without pegs or scaling poles. Somewhat pissed off, we returned to the land rover in the twilight for
chai and to continue our journey.  Next
stop was Ziarat, a beautiful little village high in the mountains (altitude
2600m) surrounded by juniper forest, a favourite summer retreat of Mohammed Ali
Jinnah, the Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader) the founder of Pakistan, and in the
time of the British, their summer headquarters in Baluchistan.  It is somewhat reminiscent of Switzerland in
an odd sort of way, and we had a welcome coffee at the Shalimar hotel before
continuing on to Wani, where we stayed the night in the house of a friend of

Another beautiful dawn and early start, looking at Spedar
China spring before heading over the mountain to Shirin and Pui.  The spring itself was quite interesting,
coming from an attractive looking rift. Disappointingly it yielded only about 10m before ending in a sump pool
with the water issuing from a too tight bedding.  Also noted were small fish and a freshwater
crab, presumably remnants from earlier times as the spring water runs on the
surface for less than half a mile.  The
pass over the hill was yet another woolly track up the side of the mountain,
although the scenery was impressive as usual. At Shirin there was a slight delay whilst the caves were not found which
enabled us to sample the local apples from the adjacent orchards.  Apples from the Pui Valley are renowned for
their quality, a claim well justified. On to Pui and with a little local assistance the caves were found, to
the south of the village up a small side valley.  Ograha Ghat Ghara 1 & 2, as usual old
remnants, yielded about 160m between them and were quite interesting, Ghara 1
having a pleasant domed chamber with a window to the outside.  After a meal we then started back for Quetta
at about 4 in the afternoon, and after a three-quarter hour stop to look at
another entrance reached a different pass back to the Ziarat valley – a
short-cut to Chauter.  Half way up we had
the recurrent land rover problem of choked fuel line and rigged the alternative
fuel tank – a plastic canister of diesel in the front passenger well with a
tube feeding directly to the fuel pump. Stopping on an incline was always interesting as the vehicle did not
have a functional handbrake – the foot brakes being only slightly better.  Power restored we continued to the top and
started our descent – a series of tight hairpins with a semi vertical drop of
about 1000 feet.  This proved quite
interesting on a crumbly uneven track as the hairpins were too tight for the
long wheelbase land rover to get round, necessitating taking it to the edge and
then reversing back.  The added safety
feature was Johno at the rear door ready to jump out and put some chock stones
in if things got out of control.  Another
interesting feature was that when the land rover leaned over too much the
Chiltans in the back would all sit on the opposite side as a
counterbalance.  Chauter was duly reached
and we continued to Ziarat for puncture repair, diesel and more coffee and apples.  A further land rover refinement was no
heating in the back.  Being at high
altitude it was rather cold – not a problem for the Chiltans who fired up the
gas stoves in the back – slightly negated by us opening windows.  At about 10.30pm as we were coming into
Kuchlagh, about 20 minutes short of Quetta, it was decided that we hadn’t had
enough to eat and would drop in on some Afghani relatives for a meal.  After some excellent food we eventually
reached Quetta about 1.00am – altogether a most interesting day.

Tuesday 11th, Simon set off with 3 Chiltan members to have a
look at some caves on the ridge of Takatu Mountain.  A successful day surveying 3 new caves,
Khazana Takki Ghara nos. 1 – 3, total length 57.5m, as usual descending the
mountain in the twilight. Daniel, Pete and myself had meanwhile gone shopping
for stuff to take home, to visit some of Quetta’s many bookshops and to get
tickets for Daniel to proceed to Bangkok and for us to fly to Karachi, and
failed to get into the archaeological museum.    

Entrance, Pir Ghaib Ghara No 1

Wednesday proved to be another marathon.  In the morning we all went to the Chief
Minister’s (of Baluchistan Provincial Assembly) residence for a flag
presentation ceremony. After the usual photo calls, TV and chai we eventually
set off to climb Zarghoon Mountain, Baluchistan’s highest at about 11,700 feet
to wave the flag in celebration of the Golden Jubilee and the success of the
expedition.  Another long drive round the
flanks of the mountain on a dirt road eventually led us, amidst magnificent
ancient juniper forest, to the starting point at about 8500 feet, at around
4.00pm.  The approach was somewhat
fragmented with several groups setting off up the steep boulder strewn slope at
different rates and in different directions. The parties more or less reconvened at the gully marking the obvious
route up the last 1000 feet of the more vertical part of the mountain.  With only about 45 minutes of daylight left
myself and Daniel decided to return to the camp whilst Simon and five Chiltans
pushed on to the verglas coated top, eventually reached in darkness.  Whilst we sat round the camp fire burning
juniper wood and, in the absence of suitable provisions, experimenting with
ginger tea and juniper berry tea (not a life enriching experience) they made
their way back in darkness reaching camp at about 8.30.  Food and then back to Quetta about 00.30.

Our last full day in Quetta was prize giving day, with the
ceremony to take place at the Serena Hotel at around 6.00pm.  Most of the day was taken up with the
arrangements for this and of course making ourselves look a bit more
presentable, but did allow for a visit to the archaeological museum.  Although not particularly extensive and
lacking the sophisticated display facilities of a modern museum, it was quite
interesting, containing exhibits from Mehrgarh, the earliest known site in the
subcontinent (7000 BC – 2000 BC) Moenjodaro, the great Indus civilisation, a
display of very old and beautiful Korans and a large weaponry section.  Pride of place was given to the blood
encrusted scimitar used to assassinate the British garrison commander in 1919.

The prize giving and exhibition of caving and climbing gear
was an impressive affair, the Serena being a particularly fine venue.  Verses from the Koran were sung beautifully
by Malik’s son, many fine speeches were made (recorded for TV of course),
extolling the virtues of international co-operation and recounting our
achievements, and medals, trophies and certificates were awarded by the speaker
of the Baluchistan Assembly to much applause. Tea and savouries followed and we then spent the rest of the evening at
the local Chinese restaurant, the Cafe China. Chinese food – quality and style seems to be something of a global
constant and a fine time was had by all.

In true Chiltan style we managed to delay going to the
airport for as long as possible and were the last people to board the
plane.  We had not been looking forward
to our overnight stay in Karachi due to the recent troubles.

View from entrance of Kaddi Coochar Ghara

A couple of senior mullahs had been assassinated the
previous week and four Americans slaughtered a couple of days ago in
retaliation for the trial of the World Trade Centre bombers.  We therefore spent the day at the airport
hotel sitting by the pool before our 4.00am bus to the airport (accompanied by
armed guard) and the long journey home.

All in all the expedition should be considered a success,
with over thirty new caves surveyed totalling nearly two kilometres.  It would have been nice to find more, and
with the amount of limestone present there is still good potential for a lot
more.  The large distances to be covered
take up a lot of time, however, and can be frustrating at times.  The country itself is ruggedly beautiful and
the people extremely friendly.  I have no
doubt that further work will eventually reveal some larger systems.


Turner, J (1977) First Field Report from the 1976
Speleological Expedition to the Himalayas. Descent 35, p 42-3.

Orpheus Caving Club (1990) Pakistan 1990.  DCA Newsletter 74 p 2-4

Antonini, G (1991) I “Mulinelli” del Biafo.  Speleologia 12 (24) p 28 – 32

Antonini, G (1991) Speleologia glaciale in Karakorum La
Rivista del Club Alpino Italiano 2 p 56 – 63.

Bannert, D (1992) The Structural Development of the Western
Fold belt, Pakistan King, J & D. St. Vincent (1993) Pakistan.  Lonely Planet Guide, 4th edition

Badino, G & G. Carrieri (1993) Hunza 93 Prima spedizione
italiana nel Karakorum Grotte Torino 111 p 6-8.

Brooks, S. (1994) Observations on the karst & caves of
the Karakorum International Caver 11 p 11 – 16.

Ducluzaux, B (1994) Karakorum 1993.  Expedition de reconnaissance au Pakistan.
Grottes et Gouffres 132 p 24 – 29.

Vacchiano, F (1996) Pakistan. Grotte (Torino) Year 39 no 121
p 56 – 62.


The Undergrounders – Well Almost! CAVING – What’s it all about?

By Rich Long

Over the last couple of months my good friend Chris
“Zot” Harvey has been back caving with us, no really, he has been
going underground, honest, ask Mr Wilson.

Which prompts me to ask, “What is it all about
then?”  Is it the deepest the
tightest the longest it’s still caves I’m talking about by the way, or is it
all that and something else, like a ZOT TRIP. When you cave with Chris it’s always an experience, I remember the first
time he took me down St Cuthbert’s, head first down the rift, what a sight to
instil into the virgin caver.  OK, so,
sometimes he doesn’t have all of his kit maybe he’s minus a light, oversuit,
belt, krab, descender, rope, sling, key to the cave, but he’s always got the
essentials a big heart, enthusiasm, a love of caving and that bloody helmet
with no chinstrap.

For about three years we have been planning to go to
Yorkshire and do Swinsto together.  At
last we got it arranged, picked Chris up Friday afternoon, me, absolutely hyper
with excitement I like going out to play, Zot totally laid back.

“Hello Chris, everything

“Well, no, can’t find me
sleeping bag, but I’ve got me wellies and wetsuit!”

After a short search, organised by Zot’s Dad, a wet sleeping
bag which had hidden itself at the back of the garage was produced.  I’m not convinced it hadn’t done it on
purpose as it had been away with Chris previously.

On we go after we pick up Vicky who had also decided to try
the trip.  Well after a Thrupe Lane tip
with Mike Wilson, me and Chris she had been lulled into a false sense of
security.  After a FIVE HOUR PLUS drive,
God damn it, and hundreds of, “Don’t let the B******’s back in!”  I am a Saint behind the wheel, we arrive in
Clapham, at Big Roy’s place.  “That was a
long time wasn’t it,” I said we should have come the other way and not the
motorway.   Chris.

After mugs of tea and then liberal doses of beer and
medicinal whiskey at the pub, Chris trying to equal Pam and dismally
failing.  Bed time.

Next day, it had rained so hard no one in their right mind
would go underground, fortunately Roy was in his right mind and it was decided
to go hill walking.  Well everyone except
Zot, who thought he would be better off guarding the car at Malham.  Fortunately on returning to the car Zot
wasn’t dead, although I wasn’t convinced, he was just asleep.  Well at least I didn’t have to give him the
kiss of life.  Thank You God.

We dropped in to Horton, but everyone else had gone hill
walking.  But we did see a nice
locomotive steaming up the valley and across the viaduct, pleasant sight, but I
must admit I didn’t get quite as aroused as the hundreds of train enthusiasts
who could have done with” … a long cold shower, Boy!” as my old
Reform School teacher Herr Hitler would say.

OK as we were so near it had to be the Hill Inn, where upon
much coaxing, I attempted the wheel.  Do
you find it amazing how quickly a “Go on, you can do it!” turns into
a “Too Bloody fast!” the worst thing was some ‘Stick Boy’ hill walker
climbed through with his coat on, “The ******* ******!”

However I accepted defeat gracefully, well, I considered it
graceful even if the others didn’t.  Next
day more of the same.  More hill walking,
this time in snow, followed by gales on Ingleborough then beautiful sunshine
below Black Shiver, excellent contrast.

Anyway the trip to Swinsto had fizzled out caving wise, but
for us it was still a great trip. Wherever we went we met Chris’s friends who hopefully became our friends.  So what’s it all about?  Not always being underground but being with
like minded folk, like Zot who shares everything, who has shown me time and
time again “Hey Rich, No Problem, take it easy.”   Thanks Zotty, perhaps next time we can go

P.S. The return journey was just as bad going Zot’s
way.  Haaa!







QuaecumQue Faciendum: Nimis Faciemus

Having noted the above Latin motto on some old Belfry
Bulletins I asked for information in the last BB and I was pleased to receive a
letter from Alfie Collins explaining the history and derivation of the
motto.  He told me that the motto was his
idea and dated from the first BEC Song competition.  (Now there is the next question – when was
that?)  He said that he was the first
person to see George Weston’s contribution and thought that the last lines of
the song summed up the club’s attitude to life very well.

Alfie explained that the word “Quaecumque” means
‘whatsoever’ and should be in the feminine as the Latin for thing (res) is
oddly enough feminine in gender.  The
word “Faciendum” is the gerundive of the verb ‘facio’ which means ‘I
do’ or ‘I make’ and its gerundive means ‘fit to be done’.  The word “Nimis” means to excess
and Alfie said that the ‘Red Lion’ at Green Ore (now re-named ‘The Ploughboy’)
used to have a motto on its pub sign which read “Ne Nimium” which
meant ‘Nothing to excess’ and was a good reason for the BEC not to drink
there!  The final word
“Faciemus” means ‘we will do’ and consequently the motto in total

“Whatever is worth doing we will do it to excess.”

Alfie thinks that the motto was dropped when he ceased to be
editor after the 1977 AGM and that the modern variant, “Everything to
excess” is not what George Weston meant. i.e. some things are not worth

Chris Smart (with very grateful thanks to Alfie Collins)


This particular Bertie was drawn for the current set of
Belfry Bulletins, by Chas Wethered.  See
the Caving News Page for Blitz’s next history question


Meghalaya ’98 – A Survivor’s View

By Tony Jarratt 1/4/98

This year’s expedition to NE India consisted of Tony Boycott
(BEC/GSG), Tony Jarratt (BEC/GSG), Brian Johnson (BEC), Anette Becher
(BEC/GSG), Simon Brooks (OCC/GSG), Jenni Brooks (OCC), Ian Chandler (WCC/CCC)
and Andy Tyler (CSS) from Britain. Daniel Gebauer, Uwe Kruger, Ritschie Frank,
Thilo Muller and Georg Baumler (Hohlen und Heimatverein Laichingen) from
Schwabischeralb, Germany. Yvo Weidmann (Switzerland). Corporals Sher and
Gurjinder Singh (probably the world’s only Sikh cavers!) and the Khasi
stalwarts from the Meghalaya Adventurers Association – Brian Kharpran Daly,
Raphael Warjri, Donbok Syiemlieh, Colonel Fairweather Mylliemngap, Lindsay
Diengdoh, Kyrshan Myrthong, Valerie Lalvula and others.  Our cooks, drivers, dhobi ladies and local
guides kept the whole show on the road and enabled the cavers to concentrate on
the job in hand.  So much so that after
twenty days in the field, the total amount of surveyed passage (some two thirds
of which was original exploration) amounted to over 26.4 km (15.3 miles),
almost identical with last year’s figure.

Our first discoveries were in the Cherrapunjee area where
Krem Rong Umsoh (Ochre River Cave) was surveyed for 370m – leaving an
extensive, bat infested upper level unmapped due to lack of time.  Krem Phyllut II (434m) and Krem Soh Pang
Bniat (Thorn Apple Cave) where the writer was forced to adopt Mendip tactics to
reach a large and as yet unsurveyed river passage heading both up and
downstream for several hundred, bat filled metres!  The latter will doubtless provide an
important piece of the extensive, segmented system known to exist in this
fascinating area near the famous Raj hill station – only recently relegated
from its title of “wettest place on Earth” by another Meghalayan town
nearby.  While several of the team were
busy here, a larger contingent had left by Wankhar Roadlines coach (honest) for
the Nongjri area where over 5 km was surveyed in the 6.5km Krem Lymput system
and associated caves.  A 24 hour
“lurgi” began decimating the Cherra team who were now en route for
our main area at Lumshnong in the Jaintia Hills.  Here we took up residence in the Soil
Conservation Bungalow (C.B) just north of the village during a torrential
downpour not good news when one of our projects was to be further exploration
of the 19.2 km long, flood-prone Krem Kotsati / Krem Urn Lawan System running
practically underneath the main road!

The following day the weather improved but fearing flooding
underground we went surface prospecting beyond the known end of the
system.  Here the tight and unpleasant
Krem Sohmynken Khnai (Rat Shit Chilli Cave) was pushed by Tony Boycott for 30m
becoming too small.  An extra treat here
were the black and orange striped Tiger Leeches, one of which made a fatal
error by biting the scrawny neck of a cigarette addict.  Smoking became a popular pastime over the
next few weeks.

The nearby Krem Umkhang / Kharasniang was again visited in
the hope of finding a connection to the main system.  This was not to be but as a consolation prize
we didn’t get wiped out as we squeezed through a dodgy boulder choke during an

During the next few days work was concentrated in and around
the Urn Lawan System where several km of fine passages were discovered and
mapped.  The terminal choke was passed by
the “old English gits” to reach two 10m and one 30m pitches with the
sound of a roaring stream echoing up from the depths.  This turned out to be a possible inlet stream
becoming too low downstream but providing India’s first free diveable sump
upstream, passed after some 3m Brian “Nobrot” Johnson.  Emboldened by this success he decided to
repeat the performance in a downstream sump back in the main streamway
above.  After several tries he spotted
the tell-tale silver sheen of airspace some 4m into the sump and “went for
it”.  As he thrust his head into a
2″ high, 3″ wide airbell he realised his error, lost his mask,
blackened his eye, gashed his face and shit his pants – all at once!  Desperately sucking small amounts of air and
large amounts of water (most of which had already been through several hundred
villagers) he successfully groped for the mask and reached a slightly bigger
airspace.  Bigger maybe, nicer –
definitely not.  He was only able to get
the mask to his face by continued ducking down and wriggling, all of which
activity served to use up the oxygen content of the airbell.  Suffice it to say that he eventually escaped
– a bloodier and a wiser man!  His Swiss
companion, Yvo, was suitably impressed and the reputation of the “old
English gits” improved yet again.

On 24th February we fancied a change of scenery so were
driven several km up the road to the village of Thangskai and the 50m deep
pothole of Krem Malo.  This is the last
resting place of a Tata lorry which descended the pot with seven people on board
some years ago.  It was left last year at
467m long with lots of ongoing passages including a fine streamway where the
way on led off from “Estelle’s Dumping Pond”.  This interestingly named feature will crop up
again later in this tale.


The entrance of Krem Malo

After being filmed abseiling in by Uwe we mapped 230m of big
inlet to a sandstone boulder choke guarded by an enormous spider and named it
Mega Heteropoda Passage.  Next, the very
attractive streamway was surveyed downstream for several hundred metres until
Brian heard an odd droning noise.  Not
relishing the 50m prusik out we were delighted to turn a corner and find a low
entrance (exit?) in the jungle with the sound of lorries passing on the road
above.  On hacking our way up to it a
passing local indicated that it was
downhill to Lumshnong.

Unbelievably, just round the next road bend was the C.B. –
our accommodation – where an astonished Uwe found us partaking of tea and
biscuits a few minutes later.  Our high
spirits were suddenly dampened when we realised the probable source of the tea
water – the village of Thangskai – and via “Estelle’s Dumping Pond”
to two small springs supplying our kettle and the whole of Lumshnong
village!  Oh, the Perils of Expedition

Uwe filmed us re-enacting our exit before we went back in to
continue with the survey so as to have plenty to impress the Nongjri team who
were arriving that evening.  This cave
was later the scene of India’s first proper cave rescue when, on a major
mapping/filming trip, Jenni got lost while soloing out and peeled off a climb,
injuring her legs and back.  Several
hours were spent searching the cave, jungle and roadside ditches before she was
located by Brian and Simon at the end of Mega Heteropoda Passage and assisted
to the surface to fully recover after a few days rest.  At least we found several hundred metres of
new stuff while looking for her and had the novel experience of being driven
the 200m to the rescue by coach!  This
incident concentrated a few minds on the possibilities of expedition accidents
– but maybe not enough.

A day off was had by Brian J. and I who accompanied Brian
K.D. and Bok on a recce to a different limestone area, Ladmyrsiang, which shows
promise for a future visit.  A large
tract of jungle covered karst rises from the edge of an open, grassy plain with
a pleasant lack of the ubiquitous Tata and Shaktiman coal lorries and their
continuous horn blowing.  A few small
caves were noted here and there are rumoured to be many more nearby.

Back in Lumshnong we tidied up a few leads left over from
last year.  The 15m pot entered from the
mediaeval style coal mine, Krem Mawiong, was re-laddered and a further 8m pitch
descended to reach a too narrow rift. Near the village our drivers spotted a python and later that day a bear
was seen – it had apparently been doing something in the woods.

In Krem Urn Lawan Brian J. and Yvo had traversed above the
30m Old Men’s Pot to find an inlet beyond and not the hoped for extension to
the main system. Raphael, the team cameraman and talented artist, was being
instructed by them in cave survey drawing whilst I did my bit by teaching
Gurjinder the subtle arts of digging and pushing ridiculously tight squeezes.

The former was in vain but the latter yielded over 100m of
superbly decorated inlet passages heading towards the elusive link with Krem
Umkhang/ Kharasniang.

The tata truck at the bottom of the entrance of Krem Malo

 In return Gurjinder
taught me how to find our way out of the bloody place after we got thoroughly
lost. Later, joined by Ian, we surveyed about 220m in the “Anglo-Sikh
Series” but again failed to make the connection.

On 2nd March Annette joined the rapidly swelling ranks of
the disabled when she fell off a climb in one of the Chiehruphi caves and
severed two tendons in her left hand. Daniel had succumbed to Housemaid’s Knee and the lurgi had worked its
way through most of the European team members.

Surveying continued in Krem Malo and some spectacular high
level fossil galleries and soaring avens were found.  One of the many impressive stalagmites here
was shaped like a Saguaro cactus from the classic cowboy films.  In Krem Umkhang/Kharasniang a final
connection attempt was made by digging a strongly draughting hole in the floor
but this failed due to the size of the wedged boulders.  With several small quarries nearby it may be
possible to borrow a “bang wallah” next year to sort these out!  Our attempts were filmed by an incredulous
Kyrshan who had never before seen such stupidity.

Meanwhile, a few km up the road at Musianglamare, Andy,
Ritschie and anyone else they could pressgang had been doing sterling work in
Krem Umsynrang (pushed from 1.67kms to 4.85kms) and Synrang Pamiang (from
1.66kms to 6.21kms by the end of the trip – see below). 

Corporal Gurjinder Singh in the Anglo-Sikh series of Krem Um

Lots of other caves and coal workings in this area were
visited and mapped.  The final 2kms of
Synrang Pamiang were clocked up on a 15 hour + overnight trip by Ritschie,
Andy, Brian K.D, Tony and I on our last night – well fortified by beer, rum and
whisky to deaden the effects of the first 500m of awkward caving.  In my case it also deadened the awareness of
a deep, open road drain into which I leapt from the coach to gain a few cuts
and bruises.

This magnificently decorated system is very much like a
major Welsh cave and the lack of multiple entrances makes for a fairly
strenuous trip to the end and back.

Some of the cripples at the CB

A second entrance was found on this trip but being a trial
coal shaft entering the ceiling of the huge main passage some 30m. above the
floor it was not considered an easy way out. One has a certain sympathy for the innocent miner on the last
shift.  The 20m high by 2-3m wide
meandering river passage, Collaboration Canyon, which was where we ran out of
time showed every sign of continuing in this style forever.  This is a tremendously impressive system
which may well challenge Krem Kotsati/Um Lawan as India’s longest cave if only
the predicted high level passages some 20m up in the roof can be entered.  It even has underground leeches!  On the way out Tony severely bruised his leg
and jarred his back after stepping into a concealed hole.  His temper was not improved when he later
dropped a large boulder on the same leg. It was a slow trip out for us all and a miserable walk back to the road
in a downpour but at least we had got our 2kms in the bag.

Another huge river cave, Piel Theng Puok, was left ongoing
after 2.5kms in the Lukha Valley area below and to the south of Lumshnong.  This major resurgence system was explored by
swimming in long canals formed behind huge gour dams and has great
potential.  Other caves in this area are
also ongoing and it will be a major target for next year.

India is now well and truly on the world caving map thanks
to the dedicated work of these international expeditions and there is plenty
more to be found throughout the state and probably in neighbouring states such
as Nagaland.  Despite the proximity to
Burma these areas are slowly being opened up to adventurous foreign tourists.

Needless to say we enjoyed the usual excess of superb food
and passable booze provided by the Adventurers and despite all the injuries and
occasional frustrations with the computers, due to a lack of electricity, a
good time was had by all.  Our thanks go
to all concerned who made it such a success.

This article has been published in both the Belfry Bulletin
and Grampian S.G. Bulletin.

Refs. a selection:

International Caver n.22 (1998) pp.3-15

G.S.G. Bull. 3rd series vol.4 n.4 (March 1998) pp.11-18

B.B vo1.50 n. l (Dec 1997)

B.B vol. 50 n.3 (Apr 1998)

Caving in the Abode of the Clouds, the Caves and Karst of
Meghalaya, North East India.  Report of
the 1992 and 1994 Cave Exploration/Cave Tourism visits.

Compiled by the B.E.C and O.C.C. (March 1995)


Meghalaya 1998 – Synopsis  Updated

29.05.1998, 13:35 Uhr

16 February – 08
: Georg BAUMLER, S. Annette BECHER. Eleazar BLAH, Antony BOYCOTT,
Jennn, A. BROOKS, Simon J. BROOKS, Ian CHANDLER, Sijon DKHAR, Gregory DlENGODH,
Jonas DlENGDOH, Lindsay DIENGlJOH, Clive W. DUNNAI, Richard FRANK, H.O.
Brian D. KHARPRAN DALY, Uwe KROGER, Babha Kupar MAWLONG, Kyrshan MITHUN, Thilo
Muller, Fairwaether W. MYLLIEMNGAP, Gurjinder SINGH, Sher SINGH, Donbok

Guides &
: Kham (Chiehruphi), Nigel (Chiehruphi), Miniren BAMON
(Tongseng), Bhalang DKHAR (Thangskai), Lucky DKHAR (Chiehruphi), Sijon Dkhmr
{Nongjri}, Kynsai JONES (Cherra Pdengshakap), Agnes LAKHIANG (Sutnga), Robert
LAI (Chiehruphi), Milan LAMARE (Sutnga), Wikyn LYNGDOH (Thangskai), Monris
NONGTDU (Sutnga), Zuala RALSEM. (Khaddurn). Langspah RYNKHUN (Nongjin),
Stingson SH1ANGSHAi (Chiehruphi).


date from

date to










East Khasi Hills District












































Sohra (Cherrapunjee)



















Lubon – Lum Bnai


























Sohra (Cherrapunjee)

Phyllud – Dam Um








Sohra (Cherrapunjee)

Phyllud no 2

















Sohra (Cherrapunjee)

Rong Umsoh








Sohra (Cherrapunjee)

Soh Pang Bnait








Pynursia: Rana

Wah Sir








Pynursia: Rana

Wah Synrem









Wah Thylong








Hills District


























Lumshnong: Chiehruphi

Mahabon 1








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi

Mahabon 2a








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi

Mahabon 2b








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi

Mahabon 3








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi

Mahabon 4








Lumshnong: Thangskai


















Lumshnong: Mynkre









Lumshnong: Mynkre

Moolich No. 2








Lumshnong: Musianglamare









Lumshnong: Musianglamare










Paltan Puok


















Pdieng Salah









Pile Theng Puok








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi

Pyrda 1








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi

Pyrda 2








Lumshnong: Thangskai

Romai Synhin








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi









Lumshnong: Mynkre










Sielkan Puok









Skei (









Lumshnong: Village

Soh Mynken Khnai








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi









Lumshnong: Village

Umkhan – Kharasniang








Lumshnong: Chiehruphi









Lumshnong: Village









Lumshnong: Village

Umlawan No.3








Lumshnong: Village

Umlawan No.4








Lumshnong: Village

Umlawan No.5








Lumshnong: Village

Umlawan No.6 a-b








Lumshnong: Musianglamare










Urhulu Puok








Accumulated length of the spring surveys:






Cavers Fair 1998

3/4/5th July at
venues in and around Priddy.

Organised Jointly by:
The National Caving Association and
The Council of Southern Caving Clubs

Programme of Events

The Cavers Fair is a national event allowing cavers to meet,
socialise, improve their technical skills, and tryout specialist interests

Friday 3rd July:


Registration from 7.30pm – midnight

Social evening with slides and cavers


Saturday 4th July:


Registration from 8am

served from 8am with refreshments available all day *

Times for the following to be confirmed:

art exhibition

on rescue equipment workshop

first aid


Pre-booking is strongly advised – get the
sessions you want and save money by booking in advance!

All Sessions Depart From Priddy Village Hall

Transport may be required! Please check
in advance. Short caving trips 9.30am

Upper Swildons, Upper Eastwater,

and other venues according to

caving trips

Swildons Sump 1, Priddy Green Sink –
Swildons through-trip, Eastwater and other venues according to demand.

Cuthbert’s Swallet
9.30am – 3pm approx. A choice of trips into this classic cave.


with artists Robin Gray and Mark Lumley –
choice of venues

Photography Workshop

(provisionally Swildons Hole) session
leader to be confirmed


with naturalist Martin Torbett(1.30pm)
Cave video

with Pete Isaacs – shoot 9.30am in Goatchurch,
edit 1.30pm using digital technology.


Surface training Split Rock Quarry – 2
sessions (9.30am & 1.30pm)


Underground in
– knots, belays, Hand-lines, lifelines – 2 sessions
(9.30am & 1.3Opm) Ladder and line

Swildons Old 40 foot Pot – advanced pitch
rigging lifeline systems – 2 sessions (9.30am & 1.30pm)


Venue to be confirmed – for experienced
SRT users ­2 sessions (9.30am & 1.30pm)


Venue to be confirmed – for experienced
SRT users ­2 sessions (9.30am & 1.3Opm)

and youngsters caving trip

Saturday 4th July – afternoon Goatchurch
Cavern Compton Martin Ochre Mine

9.30am – short easy trip for mine


1.30pm Longer trip in a complex and fun
system (10 metre entrance pitch)


Treasure Hunt for competing teams around
Priddy area

Prize £50.00 token from Quipu for Leisure*


with local band TUFF E NUFF

UNTIL 1l.30PM*

Sunday 5th July – morning:

Registration from 8.30am

Refreshments and breakfast

digging extravaganza, guided walk and caving trips


Underground in
– knots, belays, Hand-lines, lifelines – 2 sessions
(9.30am & 1.30pm) Ladder and line

Swildons Old 40 foot Pot – advanced pitch
rigging lifeline systems – 2 sessions (9.30am & 1.30pm)


Venue to be confirmed – for experienced
SRT users­2 sessions (9.30am & 1.30pm)


Venue to be confirmed – for experienced
SRT users­2 sessions (9.30am & 1.30pm)


of SRT routes to try with advice on hand
. time 9.30am – 4pm

Sunday 5th July – afternoon


afternoon trips to visit 40′ pot washed
away 10th July 1968




Pitches for tents in field
adjoining Priddy Village Hall available Friday and Saturday night only


Camping is also available locally
at Upper Pitts (Wessex), The Belfry (BEC), The Mineries (Shepton).

Book and pay Clubs direct.

Family camping and caravan
pitches are also available at Mendip Heights Campsite, Townsend, Priddy
although pre booking is advised.


The WCC (Upper Pitts), The BEC
(The Belfry), The Shepton (The Mineries), The MCG (Nordach) and the MNRC all
have local huts for which pre booking is advised.




Social evening – FREE!!


morning and afternoon session or

£5 per person if pre registered

£6 per person on the day


Mendip Team Challenge

small charge for entry payable on
the day


Barbecue and Stomp

£5 per person on the door


morning session or activity Split
Rock SRT

£2.50 per person if pre-registered

£3 per person on the day


£14 per person













all cheques payable to NCA Training Account


If you are staying on
until Monday 6th July contact Tony Jarratt for local digging trips

 Working Weekend

Cleaning, repairs, General

Plenty of work for

BBQ free for all

Sat/Sun 21st/22nd

Meet at Belfry at

Contact: – Nick

Hut Engineer For
Further Details

Rolling Calendar

Date                          Details
–  Contact

13/6/98                      Rescue
Practiceat Tyning Barrow Cave. Meet at Belfry – 10.00am Andy Sparrow

16/6/98                      Caving
Trip – Longwood/August Evening trip – Andy Thomas Caving Sec.

20/6/98                      The
49ers Birthday Party Priddy Village Hall – Tickets £6 – Quackers, J’Rat Via
Hunters Lodge or Bat Products

20/6/98                      GB
Conservation Day 11 :00am at GB car park – Andy Thomas Caving Sec.

21/6/98                      Caving
Trip – OFD Sunday – Andy Thomas Caving Sec.

3/7/98                        BEC
Committee Meeting

3-5/7/98                     Cavers
Fair, Priddy Village Hall, Mendip – Alan Butcher

7/7/98                        Caving
Trip – Hunters Hole – SRT Evening trip – Andy Thomas Caving Sec.

15/7/98                      Caving
Trip – Charterhouse Evening trip – numbers limited –

19/7/98                      Burrington
Day Work on Burrington Cave Atlas –
Estelle Sandford

21/7/98                      Caving
Trip – GB Evening trip -Andy Thomas Caving Sec.

28/7/98                      Caving
Trip – Eastwater/Dolphin Pot Evening trip -Andy Thomas Caving Sec.

7/8/98                        BEC
Committee Meeting

July/August 98            Fishing/Diving
Weekend at Prawle Point, South Devon Date to be arranged – Contact if
interested – Robin Gray

??/8/98                      Austria
Expedition Date to be arranged – Contact if interested -Alex Gee Librarian

21-22/8/98                  BEC
Working Weekend – Nick Mitchell

4/9/98                        BEC
Committee Meeting

18-20/9/98                  BCRA
Conference, Floral Hall, Southport – BCRA

30/9/98 – 14/11/98       ISSA
Exhibition, St David’s Hall, Cardiff – ISSA

3/10/98                      BEC
AGM and Dinner

2/11/98                      BCRA
Regional One-Day Meeting, Priddy Village Hall. 9.30am Lectures on Swildons and Cuthbert’s – BCRA

18/11/98 – 28/11/98     A Brush
with Darkness – Paintings of Mendip’s caves – Wells Museum -ISSA

26/11/98                     Underground
painting techniques /demonstration. Wells Museum 7.30pm      Robin Gray


© 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.