The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Estelle Sandford

Committee Members

Secretary: Nigel Taylor
Treasurer: Chris Smart
Membership Secretary: Roz Bateman
Editor: 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



This is my last BB before the AGM.  There will be a short appendix at the beginning of September for members, which will contain committee member’s reports and AGM stuff and voting forms, if required.

I am getting a lot of promises for articles for future BB’s, please can you try and get these together for next years editor.  (I have a list of about 20 promised articles, and the names of the people who promised them – most of them know who they are those drunken promises in the pub are not forgotten!!!)

Sorry to those of you who were expecting a Five BuddIes article, but due to circumstances beyond my control, the Five Bubbles article and survey will now appear in the next BB.

The next BB will be shortly after the AGM, so make life easy for next years editor and send the articles through now!!


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


Caving and BEC News

Nominations for the 1998/9 Committee – Nigel Taylor

As Secretary I now formally call for nominations in writing for candidates for election for the 1998/9 BEC Committee for the AGM on Saturday 3rd October.  Nominations must be in writing, and be seconded by another BEC member.  Only paid up members are eligible, and to make it clear as I have often been asked, probationary members are eligible to stand.

Nominations must be received by the Secretary by Friday 4th September :

(also this is the date of the September committee meeting) – to both comply with the constitution and enable me to organise and circulate any ballot papers if an election is required. (Constitution 5b-l)  All the present members automatically are re-nominated to stand again unless they express otherwise.

Note from the Editor: –

Reports from Committee members need to be with the Editor by the 29th August.  A short AGM BB Appendix with voting forms and these reports will be posted to all BEC members shortly after the weekend of the 5th September.

Members News

Members should be advised that the committee has given an indefinite ban to a former member John Williams, A.K.A. “Jingles”, as a result of his steadfast refusal to either furnish receipts or repay clubs monies advanced to him

New Members

We would like to welcome new members Kevin Jones and Toby Limmer to the BEC.  We also wish to welcome Vince Simmonds back to the club.


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  The links from some of the main caving web-sites are now pointing to the correct site.

Committee Members on the move:

Nigel Taylor has moved to Cheddar, Somerset.  The telephone number is 01934 xxxxxxx.

Nigel’s Housewarming

On 18th July, a large group of people descended on Nigel Taylor’s new house in Cheddar for an entertaining evening.  Several Barrels and a large quantity of bottles were emptied, and a pig was devoured. Nigel’s ‘car-park/hillside’ became interesting sport later on when people tried to leave.  Andy Sparrow was the first to need towing out, shortly followed by a Series 2 Landrover with no four-wheel drive; the night was finalised by a vomiting policeman!

BEC AGM and Annual Dinner

This will be held on Saturday 3rd October.  The AGM, as always, starts at 10:30am at the Belfry.  Please try to attend this year.  The dinner will be at Langford Veterinary College again this year.

The Dinner Form will be available in the AGM appendix and will also be available from the Secretary, The Hunters and Bat Product in about 3 weeks time.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE send the form to Nigel early this year. I gather he doesn’t really want to phone most of the club’s membership to remind them this year!!

BEC v Wessex Cricket Match

Don’t forget the annual cricket match for the ‘Sofa Ashes’ will be taking place on 1st August after the lunchtime session (33:30pm!)  Let’s see if we can win them back this year!

BEC Stomp

On the 12th September at the Village Hall the BEC are holding a stomp to raise money for replacement of the fire and help with the library.  There will be live music and lots of alcohol.  Contact Roz Bateman for more information.  Tickets will be on sale from Committee Members nearer the time.

Sea Diving

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

Burrington Cave Atlas – Photo Picture Competition

I am running a competition for the front cover photograph or picture for the new updated Burrington Cave Atlas, which is due for release towards the end of this year.

I am looking for something that will give the feel of Burrington Combe.

The prize for the winner will be a copy of the Atlas and also a copy of the new Mendip Underground when it is released, so come on all you photographers, get snapping or delve into those archives for that picture.

(I am also looking for suitable photos for inside the Atlas, so if you don’t win, you photo could still be in the Atlas, fully credited of course!)

Please send any pictures to Estelle at the editor’s address in the front cover – I will endeavour to return all pictures that are sent to me with an SAE or whose owners are regulars in the Hunters.

Burrington Working Day

As per most BEC working events, there were a lot of promises, but very little support!  Many thanks to Roz Bateman, Bob Smith, Mike and Hilary Wilson and Mike’s Mum for their help with this.

We had an interesting day, fighting our way through the undergrowth to check that the caves were still there!  There is still quite a bit of work to do, but if anyone fancies doing a bit of surveying let me know – Ed.

Question from Blitz: –

We have had no response to the question regarding ‘how many Bertie Bats we have had over the years?’ – it would be nice to get a bit of feedback on this.

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 S1. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Details to be arranged.

Burrington Conservation Day

A message from Linda Wilson, Conservation Officer, Charterhouse CC Ltd.

Stuart Sale from the BEC turned up and spent 4 hours down Charterhouse with me and some others stal cleaning.  His help, along with everyone else’s, was much appreciated.  For general info we had 13 people in total from the following clubs: – MCG, MNRC, BEC, UBSS and WCC.  One team were in Charterhouse and the rest were in GB.  Helectite Grotto in GB was cleaned and work has started in the White Passage area. Most of the cleaning needed in Charterhouse has now been done.

I’ll be arranging another date hopefully sometime over summer so we can start on Bat Passage and will pass the date on to you.

Floods Anniversary

As most of you are probably aware, on 10th July 1968, there were major floods, which caused many changes on Mendip, the most significant being the loss of the 40′ in Swildons.

For the 30th Anniversary on Friday 10th July this year a group of people piped some of the water back over the 40′ and had a party down there, with strawberries and champagne. Several people had great fun climbing a ladder on the 40′ in rather wet conditions!


A Note from your Caving Secretary

As Caving Secretary I have been most disappointed in the membership of this club’s response to trips and requests for booking trips in Yorkshire and other areas.  I have had no response to the multiple requests in previous Belfry Bulletins for members to contact me if they wanted trips anywhere.

After a complaint from a member stating that new members were complaining about not being able to get trips, I listed some Mendip and also an OFD trip in the last BB and trips have also been listed on the board in the Belfry.  I have had no response to any of these trips.  I am loathed to get permits for Yorkshire and Derbyshire caves as with the general lack of interest by the club, I am sure that these permits would not be used and we could potentially be preventing other clubs from going into the cave.

Another passing comment is with the Cuthbert’s leaders.  I changed the lock on 1st May and despite a letter going to all leaders advising them of the change, and requesting the old key to be returned for replacement, there are still a lot of BEC leaders who do not have the new key.

It is a shame that apart from a small few who are digging and caving, and a few who still go away on expeditions, the club appears to be virtually inactive.  Of those who are caving, very few are putting their trips in the caving log book at the Belfry; this is the club’s history, you only have to look at the old logs in the library from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to realise that.

The Hut Engineer, Nick, with the help of a few friends, has done a sterling job on renovations on the hut over the last few months, as anyone who has visited the Belfry recently will have seen.  It’s a shame that invariably very few members and guests inhabit the hut on a regular basis and use these new facilities; you only have to look at the hut log to see that.

I am not going to list further trips in the calendar as per the last BB, but only advise you here, that if you are looking for company to cave with, a few friends and I cave most Tuesdays and Sundays, give me a call on 01458 446574.  If you want ‘off Mendip’ trips, let me know and I will try to book them for you.

Andy Thomas


A Unique Glaze

By Chas Wethered

Having been a studio potter for a few years prior to my moving to Mendip I had formulated the idea of using digging spoil to make a ceramic glaze.  I had read of potters using found raw materials in the blending of glazes.  A potter of my acquaintance had used alluvial mud from the River Darent in Kent to make a rather good stoneware glaze.

A first and major setback to my plan was that it took nearly two years to get my workshop built and up and running, it also took a lot of hard to find beer tokens, but once work was completed and the power connected I was ready to experiment.  I had been working with the regulars at Five BuddIes Sink on as many Wednesday evenings as I could manage from almost the onset of digging, so like the rest, knew the dig spoil intimately.  Even surface work dramatically increases the thickness and weight of an oversuit!  It also colours any clothing and skin to a rich red that resembles the Masai warriors of East Africa!  This boded well, there had to be a high iron oxide content and of course due to the site a reasonable amount of lead too.  There were other trace metals mentioned in post digging sessions in The Hunters.

One Wednesday about a year into work on the dig I took a 19 litre bucket and emptied a good bag-full of mud and chunks of rock into it, this was then wrapped in a clean bin liner as Robin was being “overly precious” about the interior of his car. The sample was taken from about 25 to 30 feet down from the second shaft on the Stockhill Wood side of the road. My first task was to top up the spoil with tap water, adding therefore chlorine and fluoride but this happens when all glazes are made up.  I let the mixture settle for a few days and then sieved some of the mud through an 80-mesh lawn (not grass, a sieve) adding more water to thin down; the sediment allowing the maximum amount of slurry through the sieve.  Having discarded rocks and other detritus I now had a second bucket with about 12 litres of red liquid.  I let this settle for a few days then took off 3 to 4 litres of the clear water from the settled slurry.  Then the brew was stirred to the consistency single cream (a finger dipped into the slurry given an even coating).

Two previously made test tiles, Biscuit fired to 1015°C in my electric kiln, were coated in Five Buddies slurry, one thickly the other thinly.  When dry these were placed in the kiln with other ware glazed with several colours then fired to 1285°C.  A day to fire, a day to cool down makes for a somewhat agitated potter.

Opening a Glost fired kiln is a mixture of extreme emotions; anticipation both optimistic and pessimistic, excitement and disappointment are simultaneous.  The order for a special occasion has either cracked, bloated, crawled; pinholed or turned out really well, paranoia?  Maybe.  What about the Five Buddies Sink Glaze?  For once doubts were cast aside; the tiles were now a rich slightly metallic deep plum red, shiny, textured and very opaque.  Thickness of the coating made very little difference.  Test successful so now on to dipping some pots.  I chose to use mugs, as these were likely to sell (more optimism).  So my next Glost firing included four mugs coated like sieving our oversuits in dig spoil refined by sieving but needing no additions of fritting agents.  The only extra was a lip dip in a shiny white glaze due to the rather course texture of the main glaze, unpleasant when drinking. Once again it was with trepidation I opened the kiln to find my fears were unfounded, the mugs were all I had hoped for.  The lip dip made an interesting colour and took away any sharp texture making use comfortable.  I gave one to J’Rat so that others may see it in use at Bat Products and express interest in owning one or more.  Martin Torbett on seeing the prototypes ordered six, I offered mugs for sale at the Caver’s Fair in July, single handled and two handled cider mugs with some success.  If you haven’t got one yet don’t despair.  I have some left and can take orders for customised pots at popular prices (popular to me that is!).


Glaze: An impervious surface on a pot, not necessarily shiny.

Glost Firing: Firing the glaze onto the pot.

Biscuit Firing: A low temperature firing which turns clay to pottery/non impervious such as flowerpots etc.

Fritting Agents: Materials such as sand, which adds silica to clays and glazes to give glass content.


The ’68 Floods – Saving Goodbye to the Old ’40’

Peter Glanvill, July 7th 1998.

It was the 10th July 1968 – I had done about 50 caving trips by then and 5 trips below the 40 foot in Swildons including my first trip beyond sump 1 the previous summer down to Sump 2.  It was therefore with some trepidation the seventeen year old Glanvill accompanied those 2 ‘highly experienced’ cavers Rose and Chipchase on a planned trip the North West Stream Passage which would be by far the hardest trip I had done to that date.  The weather was thundery and we arrived at Priddy during a particularly torrential storm to sup our pints in the Vic while gazing out over the temporary duck pond, which was the Green.  Still, it cannot rain like that all day the other two reasoned and off we went to pay our shillings to Farmer Main.*  There was a certain tension in the party as we squelched across the fields to the entrance but it hadn’t been raining for an hour and nobody was going to chicken out at this point.

Pete and Nick who knew the cave better than I did felt water levels were normal although they were higher than I had ever seen before.  We soon reached the Forty and stood gazing over the edge thinking about floods.  My log notes ‘Oliver Lloyd’s natural pipe seemed to be doing it’s job quite efficiently’ – a reference to the then current controversy regarding stream diversion tactics at the top of the pitch. At this point we started to examine the stream and decided it was looking rather turbid.  Suddenly the team unanimously threw a wobbler and we left the cave sharpish our imaginations going into overdrive at every constriction. As old Mr. Main said, steady rain isn’t the problem but thunderstorms were dangerous.  Several hours later there was another storm, the cave flooded and the Forty was flushed away leaving us as the last three people to ever watch a stream cascading down it.

(* Albert Main spelt his name without an e; it’s now spelt Maine.)

My next Swildons trip was on the 16 August in a much-altered cave. Hay could be seen hanging from the stalactite above and opposite the top of the Twenty!


The photograph of the entrance was taken three days after the flood. I can be certain of that because that was the next time I was on Mendip when we did Sludge Pit Hole – which had also flooded.

The ’68 velvet Bottom Washout – Photo – Peter Glanvill

Michael Glanvill and the manor Farm Collapse – Photo – Peter Glanvill


Note on the ’68 Floods

By Brian Prewer

Yes indeed I did go down Swildons the day after the great flood of ’68.  I believe Willie Stanton was the first down on the morning after but I joined a party of local cavers the following evening.

We had already heard that the 40′ had gone and finding it somewhat hard to visualise that a pitch could disappear, we set off.  The stream was almost back to normal by the evening but we were amazed by the amount of recently cut hay that had been blown everywhere by the storm.  At one stage, it must have clogged the entrance and caused the whole depression to fill to overflowing!  The bursting of this hay dam and the resulting flood pulse may have been the reason the Water Rift was scoured out.  Arriving at Water Chamber, we soon realised that the Water Rift had been deepened by about 30′ with the water pressure finally bursting through the stal blockage about 8′ up from the bottom of the pitch.  We then visited the remaining passages in the Upper Series.  It became apparent that with one exception, the whole of the Upper Series had flooded to the roof.  The one exception was the Boulder Chamber in the Long Dry way – how did we know it had all been flooded – there was hay hanging from the roofs of all the passageways including the Old Grotto and the roof above the 20′ Foot Pot.  I’m glad I wasn’t down that day!


BEC vs Wessex Cricket Match


Saturday 1st August 3pm Eastwater Farm




“How much longer are you going to be in that bathroom?!”


St Cuthbert’s Swallet Maintenance

By Becky Campbell

25 April 1998

Present: Graham (Jake) Johnson, Roger (Slim) Haskett, & Rebecca Campbell (token female observer). Graham and Roger fixed a sturdy fixed ladder within the concrete entrance pipes of the cave.  The ladder is fixed to the pipe with several bolts to prevent movement.  It is of solid rigid build, in line with other fixed ladders found further into the system.

Belfry Maintenance


The Belfry has seen much work during the last few months; in fact it is becoming the smartest caving residence in Priddy.  This is totally due to the vision of club members combined with the capabilities and commitment of the Hut Engineer and a small band of regular Belfry residents, supported during the working weekend by still more willing helpers.

The kitchen has been improved beyond recognition, although work is still ongoing.  During April several wall units were acquired at minimal cost to the club.  These supply much needed storage space for members and guests alike.

Estelle Sandford organised the improvement of the gas pipe work. This means that all the original pipe work has been replaced and the second cooker (donated by Walt next door) is now installed. The Belfry’s cooking facilities have grown to 12 gas rings, 2 ovens, two grills, toaster and a microwave.

The Hut Engineer (Nick Mitchell) ably assisted by the Deputy Hut Warden (Bob Smith), have also erected a solid ‘breakfast bar’, which replaces the old table that used to serve as a low work surface next to the cooker.  This smart addition is built from a skeleton of concrete blocks, faced with wood and surfaced with a grey kitchen worktop (all donated by Nick). It is built to a standard work surface level and will provide tidy storage for guest food boxes.

At the same time as the breakfast bar was constructed, the boys installed the Belfry bar.  This matches the breakfast bar and has been furnished with wooden pelmet (also donated by Nick), spirit optics (all kindly donated) and shelves for the glasses (donated by Martin Grass).  It has been built to the highest standards, being exactly the same height as the Hunters bar.  It grows smarter by the week, as work continues by our resident chippy and Hut Engineer, the one and only Nick Mitchell.  There have been only two complaints about the bar, not surprising in a club of ‘bar-room mountaineers’.


Working Weekend

16/17 May 1998

By Becky Campbell

A vote of thanks goes out to all present during the working weekend: Nick Mitchell, Graham Johnson, Bob Smith, Nigel Taylor, Mike Wilson, Hilary Wilson, Martin Selfe, Henry Bennett, Antoinette (Henry’s companion) Alex Gee, Pete Bolt, Mike Willet, Guy Munnings Roz Batemen, Vince Simmonds, Estelle Sandford and Rebecca Campbell.

Nick’s working weekend, saw the much-needed replacement of the bunkroom fire escape door and frame. This was painted during the following week.  Other work undertaken included: painting the front door; fixing the door mechanism on the front door; completion of the main room notice board which is now surfaced with insulation board (no more broken pins) maintenance work and repainting of the Belfry skeleton; installation of an additional electric socket spur in the kitchen to increase the quota of fixed sockets by six; much gardening work and an unsavoury poke at the blocked Belfry drain.

Graham Johnson continued this drain work the following week, only to find that the culprit was a disgusting mesh of female sanitary devices.  Please try to ensure that all such items are put in the bin, not the toilet, in future.  We also have a slight problem with some well-meaning member who is intent on destroying the Belfry cesspit by helpfully (!!!) pouring bleach down the toilet.

For the unenlightened, I feel the need to explain that the cesspit works by the presence of natural bacteria which breakdown the solid matter into a substance capable of soaking away into the surrounding ground.  By adding bleach, the bacteria are destroyed, the solid matter does not decompose and the cesspit fills up rather than retaining a relatively constant level.  Please do not use bleach in the Belfry.

Work on the Belfry has never been isolated to working weekends and with the support of the club’s active members; work is scheduled to continue throughout the summer. Amongst the Hut Engineer’s many plans, the kitchen still requires tiling and tiling is also to be expanded in the showers.  There are also plans to replace the inefficient water heater in the kitchen with the instant hot water of an ex-shower unit.  Should any members wish to help out please do not hesitate to contact the hut engineer.  He knows more than I do.

There has been an improvement in non-member nights in this financial period and it may be as a result, at least in part, of the improvements to the bunkroom and Belfry floor that were undertaken last year.  With this current zeal by the young membership to invest their own time and efforts in improving the club’s most tangible asset, I believe that this trend will improve.  It also gives all those involved something to be very proud of, a pride which others may seek to attain by joining our bar-room mountaineers.


The Amalgamation Song

Tune: Original
Author: S.J. Collins
Source: Alfie

We used to have varieties of clubs and of societies,
We often wonder why it is we kept ’em,
Like the Axbridge and the BEC, the Wessex and the MCG,
The Speleos, MNRC and Shepton.
When we amalgamated on one thing we all insisted,
To see perpetuated names of clubs that once existed.

Chorus:     We’re the Axbridge, Bristol, Mendip, Shepton,
                Wessex Exploration Club.
                We go caving, climbing, digging, diving, roaming,
                Round from pub to pub.
                we don’t care if our thirst we can’t alleviate,
                as long as nobody tries to abbreviate,
                The Axbridge, Bristol, Mendip, Shepton,
                Wessex Exploration Club.

In order alphabetical our names look quite poetical, 
It seemed a good theoretical solution.
One that we could all agree upon and get committees working on,
When drawing up our present constitution.
We were the Wessex Cave Club now we’re members of the shower,
But we can hold our cider now for damn nigh half an hour.

Chorus:     We’re the Axbridge, Bristol, Mendip, Shepton,
                Wessex Exploration Club.
                Each year although we grumble we keep forking
                Out our annual sub.
                With fright, above the Forty we’ll no longer trouble you,
                As long as nobody leaves out the “W”
                Of the Axbridge, Bristol, Mendip, Shepton,
                Wessex Exploration Club.

Although we sometimes disagree on points of speleology,
We speak with great authority on boozing.
And after all the pubs shut we, in buildings of antiquity,
Will supervise the art of tea infusing,
And if we’re vague on what’s defined by vadose and phreatic,
About our title, you will find our views are quite emphatic.

Chorus:     We’re the Axbridge, Bristol, Mendip, Shepton,
                Wessex Exploration Club.
                We’ve got six huts on Mendip, where we
                Eat and sleep and cook our grub.
                Whichever one you go to there’ll be tea when you enter it,
                As long as nobody leaves out the centre bit,
                Of the Axbridge, Bristol, Mendip, Shepton,
                Wessex Exploration Club.

Now we’re amalgamated and completely integrated,
We’ve become co-ordinated as expected.
But with other clubs from near and far we’re bound to be particular,
And ensure their applications are rejected.
For even at this moment all our names get people squinting,
When they see our club notepaper with that solid mass of printing.

Chorus:     Of the Axbridge, Bristol, Mendip, Shepton,
                Wessex Exploration Club.
                It’s not that we’re standoffish or enjoy delivering a snub,
                But although a few more clubs amongst our number would be pleasant,
                It would make our title longer,
                Than the darned thing is at present.
                The Axbridge, Bristol, Mendip, Shepton,
                Wessex Exploration Club.



Mendip Cavers Fair Circa 1998

By Mike Wilson

Organisers A. Sparrow, A. Butcher plus a cast of willing unpaid extras!  As is the case with these events on Mendip, very little interest was shown in the Fair right up to the last minute (in spite of the advertising and pre-listing of events well in advance).  On the day registration pottered along steadily with all events being well attended. In the marquee Quipu displayed their wares, whilst outside the Dragon products van provided friendly competition! The campsite (next to the graveyard) was quite full and looked quite homely with all the varied tents in residence. Trebor provided an artistic trip down Cuthbert’s, Estelle and myself provided two tourist trips down the same, both well attended!

The highlight of the day was the Das Boot competition organised by the Mendip Mafia, Jake and Vince, assisted by Bob and Nick, etc., the prize being a 50-pound voucher from Quipu thanks to Paul and his wife!  Incidental prizes were gold wellies or tags worth a pint at the Stomp.  The teams set off merrily at 5:30pm i.e. 6:00pm Mendip time, not knowing that a clue was placed in a wet spot in Swildons hopefully they all got wet!  Axbridge C.G. were the winners!

On to the highlight of the weekend – The Stomp.  The band proved to be excellent and provided good quality music all night long.  Andy Sparrow managed to dance with himself (a good sign Andy) and Paul of Quipu watched his wife, ditto ‘come on Paul’. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, met a lot of old friends and finished up at the new Belfry Bar, being ably served by Bob (John Boy) and ‘gappy’ Nick.  We sang along well with Rogers able lead, could have done with some more old ‘uns’ who knew ‘They Words’.  Having gone native for the weekend I had to test the bunkhouse and found it to be quite comfy and fairly quiet!  (On this weekend at least)

I am sure the Fair was a success and many thanks to all the people who put in a lot of free time to assist and organise the event.


The Caver’s Fair

By Andy Sparrow

The Cavers Fair has had a chequered history since the first event in the Forest of Dean a few years ago. It was intended to be a more informal and practical event than the BCRA Conference with the chance to do some caving rather than just talking about it.  The second Cavers Fair in Derbyshire was a riotous affair very well supported by local and visiting cavers with all sorts of revelry, fun and games to complement the caving trips, training sessions and special interest workshops.

The next year the event moved to Yorkshire where it proved to be a dismal flop with a very poor attendance.  Then it was off to Wales and Penwyllt for a successful event, but at a smaller scale and without some of the fun.

And so this year it was our turn, with Alan Butcher and myself organising on behalf of the NCA and CSCC.  The problem with arranging a program for this event is the impossibility of predicting what the attendance will be.  Anything from 50-250 seemed possible and cavers being cavers the fact that only 16 advanced bookings were returned was not likely to prove any indication of what to expect.  Sure enough come Friday night the cavers rolled in and the organised sessions rapidly filled up.  Time to employ plan B – recruit local cavers to run assorted caving trips.

Thanks are due to all the good people who volunteered to lead sessions throughout the weekend.

The event ran from the village hall and the marquee outside (which we borrowed from the Folk Festival). Aileen and Butch did a fine job of providing sausage butties and drinks while I attempted to shepherd people off with various instructors and trip leaders.  No real problems but I did have to explain to one lady that sadly she could not take her dog down Swildons for a ropework session.  A few people remarked that the site seemed very quiet during the day naturally, since everybody was off underground!  We had training sessions in Gough’s Cave (thanks to manager Mr Hugh Cornwell) covering SRT rescue and ladder techniques, sessions in Swildons on basic ropework, SRT rigging, and cave photography.  Meanwhile caving trips were busy in several systems including Cuthbert’s (thank you BEC leaders!).

Everyone was back in time for the Boot Race – well organised by Vince, Jake and Alex.  The race was all about roaming over North Hill picking up the heaviest possible weight of concrete filled wellies from various spots – including a short way down Swildons.  I didn’t see the course but those returning looked wet and knackered – I assume by the lack of black eyes that Trevor must have been absent.  The Axbridge came first and picked up the £50.00 token donated by Quip-u (who had a trade stand in the marquee and even managed to sell a few things).  A barbecue organised by the MRO followed and then a truly fine stomp with an excellent band. About 120 cavers from around the country had a really wild time – a great night.

Come Sunday and things eventually began to happen around the site – so I am told.  It was an early start for me down to Split Rock for the great SRT event.  Steve Tomalin (GSS) and myself spent about 4 hours preparing the site with truly devious SRT routes including ‘The Big V’ and a Tyrolean across the quarry.  About 30 people came down during the afternoon to have a go – or simply watch in horror.  Take a look at the top and see what you missed – you can always go and rig it yourself!

All in all a great weekend and, as Butch put it – ‘A triumph of under organisation’.  Thanks again to everybody who did his or her bit.



The Lads Prayer


Our farther,
Which art in barrels,
Ale by thy name,
Thy fill my pot,
Thy will be drunk,
In pub as you are in Belfry,
Give us this day,
Our daily sup,
And forgive us our spillage,
As we forgive those who pass out before us,
Lead us into temptation,
And deliver us from Lager,
For thine in the Butcombe,
The Toby and the Exmoor,
Forever and ever,


Eastwater Cavern – Digging Burnished Passage

Vince Simmonds


Burnished Passage is the most north-easterly inlet in Beechen Series.  This is a continuation of a dig started by Geoff Newton (WCC) et al.

During the period of digging a line survey into West End series was already underway.

These are extracts from my personal log book:

A bang had already been placed.


A trip to Beechen Cliff series to finish the job we were going to do Wednesday. A good trip down to the classic “13 pots” and then up the “Mud Escalator”.  A rock, blocking progress, had been banged and was soon cleared and the spoil stacked precariously on one side of a steeply sloping passage.  Cleared some calcited rocks and mud, to turn a previously clean dig somewhat muddy, to reveal a draughting way on, however, not quite passable.  A bang was placed and fired, rocks self-clearing and a quick retreat to the pub because time was getting on.

5-7 -97

Cleared the previous bang at the top of Burnished Passage.  The way on was pretty hopeless.  So banged a constriction in an adjacent small “stal” blocked aven where a gap was visible about 6ft long.  Will have to wait and see what happens here.  Bang sounded virtually self clearing.


Back to Burnished Passage.  Cleared last bang (pretty effective) and had a good nose at what lay ahead. Good echo and draught and looks very good, maybe 2 more bangs to get there.  Even Jake is enthusiastic.  Might leave the survey Friday to come back for another go.

18-7 -97

Another clear and bang job.


After last weeks holiday (walking in Wales) back to Burnished Passage. Still awkward drilling, managed one shot hole before drill stopped working so did the best we could.


Another drill and bang in Burnished Passage.  Still a few more bangs, still looks good.


More drilling and banging.  A previous was not successful so drilled some more holes and tried again.  We were going to go back but were chased out by fumes. An early night in the boozer.


My birthday trip (put it in your diaries) Jake was too hung-over to bother.

Managed to squeeze through and push up tight solution tube about 25ft. Tony Jarratt went into a side passage and squeeze through into an old dig (from the wrong side) and a connection to another aven.

Not the discovery we had hoped for but never mind back to the survey.

The small round trip, to my knowledge, has not yet been completed.

Main Diggers

Vince Simmonds, Graham Johnson, Rob Taviner, Rich Blake, Tony Jarratt, Mike Willett

A brief summary of the line survey so far

A line survey into Eastwater was started on the 2-7-97 by Vince Simmonds, Graham Johnson and Rob Taviner. The main aim was to ascertain the true depth of the cave.  The survey at present (13-6-97) is at the top of” Gladmans Shaft.”

However there are some oddities.  Warburton’s survey is accurate, although the “Canyon” has some slight differences presumably due to the floods in 1968 washing infill from along the sides. Dolphin Pitch was obviously different because of the collapse of the original route down and subsequently the new route to “13 Pots” area.  The real surprise came when the “Ifold’s” area was drawn up; there is a very significant error, which throws the whole of the survey beyond out by some degrees.  It was later discovered that this area has not, to our knowledge, ever been properly surveyed.  Our line survey will be continued into the start of “Southbank” where the aim will be to do a Grade 5 survey (weather permitting).  We then plan to go back and start re-surveying “Ifold’ s”.  There is a big task ahead so if people wish to assist they can contact Jake, Tav or myself. We are aiming to do the whole survey using the same set of instruments.  Tav has all the drawn up data so far, if anyone wishes to see it they should get in touch with him


North Hill Swallet

Vince Simmonds

NGR. ST55/5359.5084.  Altitude 832ft.

Originally dug by NHASA. Starting in 1965 earning the alternative title of Polar Ammon Pot due to the use of quantities of “Dr. Nobel’s chemical hammer”.  The breakthrough came in 1971 when “Master’s Cave” was finally entered.

Due to its reputation for bad air this cave seems to have been largely avoided for the last 27 years. Since the farm no longer has a dairy herd the probable source of the air problem appears to have gone.

At the beginning of June ’98 Graham Johnson and Vince Simmonds decided to venture into the cave with a notion of re-starting the dig.  A few trips followed to carry in bags and tools, during this time there was a period of heavy rain and no sign of any water backing up in the cave added to the enthusiasm

The digging is relatively easy (silt/gravel & some rocks) if not exactly comfortable, there’s quite a puddle of water to lie in.

We have located the last survey station and it would appear there has been very little wash-in during the last three decades.

There has also been a tentative prod at an Inlet off “The Master’s Cave” that may have some possibilities.

It’s early days yet but it looks promising, so watch this space        .


Vince Simmonds, Graham Johnson, Roz Bateman, Paul Brock, Keith Savory, Carol Tapley, Mike Willett.


Wigmore Swallet – Upstream Sump 3 Extension

Vince Simmonds

A climb 10 metres above U/S sump 3 leads to a constricted opening.

November/December ’95

Alex Gee and Vince Simmonds went to Sump 3 (Upstream) to put a bang at the top of the aven above the sump pool.

Rich Blake and Vince Simmonds returned a few days later to check the results.  After a bit of hammering Rich managed to squeeze through into a low mud filled passage.  We dug our way to the left to enter larger walking/stooping passage with a small stream. Downstream the passage closed down after a few metres, the stream later re-appears in the main streamway. Upstream the passage continued to an aven, which was left unclimbed due to loose boulders and mud coated walls, and a lack of climbing gear.  After the aven the passage closes down to a sand and gravel choke where the stream enters.

To the right of the breakthrough a low, narrow rift leads for about 15metres to a boulder choke. Although not a big discovery it does open up some possibility that there may be a chance of finding a bypass to the sump, if someone wants to go back and dig it.



Song: Boulder Have a Crunch on Me

Tune: Cocaine Bill
Author: R. Lawder with many other additions
Source: Alfie /GSG

Of all the caves on Mendip’s face,
Our Tankard’s takes pride of place.

Chorus: Singing, Boulder have a crunch, have a crunch on me
Boulder have a crunch on me.

Two boulders piled up in the air,
Many’s the caver who’s ventured there.

The leader said, with a puzzled frown,
“Those weren’t there on the last trip down”.

They came to a boulder painted red,
The sign on it said “Mind your head”.

They came to a boulder painted pink,
The sign on it said “Safe, I think!”

They came to a boulder painted blue,
The sign on it said “Lawder’s through”

They came to a boulder painted black,
The sign on it said “Blast you, Jack”

They came to a boulder painted green,
The sign on it was most obscene.

I came to a boulder looking lost,
The sign on it said “Sod Frank Frost”

I came to a boulder painted brown,
The sign on it was upside down.

I came to a boulder painted blue,
The sign on it said “Up your flue”

I came to a boulder looking queer,
The sign on it said “Dave was here”

I came to a boulder painted yellow,
The sign on it said “Frost fine fellow”

There’s boulders in the roof, there’s boulders on the floor,
There’s boulders in the stream in Swildon’s Four.

See Mike Holland, how absurd,
Pissing along like a clockwork turd.

I came to a boulder covered in shit,
I looked at the roof and added my bit.

I came to the boulder painted white,
The sign on it said ”Frost’s alright”.




A selection of pictures from the 1998 expedition by Simon brooks, OCC.

A selection of pictures from the 1998 expedition by Simon brooks, OCC.

A selection of pictures from the 1998 expedition by Simon brooks, OCC.



Balch Lecture Poster

Recently picked up at a Wells auction, the above poster has the additional penned information that the lecture was given by Balch’s sister Grace.


At the same auction the writer also acquired a watercolour of the Beehive formation in Lamb Leer painted by the late Ruth Murrell and presented to H. E. Balch (WCC president) by the Wessex Cave Club on the occasion of his 80th birthday, 4th Nov 1949.            

Tony Jarratt





A message of thanks to the Mendip cavers whose annual visit to Assynt is keenly awaited by us and all our friends as we acknowledge the contribution you make to the cultural atmosphere of the pub.  Your latest visit in May was like all the others, a riot of fun, good humour and a prolific consumption of our delightful fruit juices and teas (did you do any caving at all?).

I’m sure that Tav, Tony, Richard (gob-shite, rubber man etc etc) Jake, Simon and others too numerous to mention recall the excellent slide show of caving in India, Pakistan and the more remote Assynt and of the hilarious and witty comments banded about between your lot and the fishermen from Falkirk.

A special thanks for the kind gift of your excellent home grown, mature and potent Scrumpy which Raymond found to be an excellent floor cleaner; he’s also curious to know how you got the cat to squat over the container!

I’m sure that Richard would wish us to pass on his thanks to the Sutherland constabulary for the Blue Light taxi service which has recently been introduced for those who think that they can find their way home in the dark, a service that I know will be appreciated on subsequent visits.  Advance bookings can be made by calling PHART 999.

We hope that you enjoyed the curry dinner which was remarkable, not only for the quality of our food, but by the uncharacteristic silence that descended the conservatory as you devoured the food, dishes, napkins, table mats and anything that remotely smelled of curry.  That evening in the pub, the usual aroma of roll-ups and cigars was frequently augmented by an additional eye watering fog which some unkind punter attributed to the curry.  Jake however assured me that it did not smell like that when it went in!

I must confess my concern at the time for the obvious fire hazard during the night at the bunkhouse in Elphin and of my horror in the morning when the local radio station reported that the largest and most catastrophic fart ever heard in Northern Scotland was one dropped by a caver (Bristol variety) in the car park of the above bunkhouse on the morning of the 3rd of May 1998.

Suffering from a mixture of spicy food and gallons of ale, the caver gingerly attempted to squeeze one out while bending to pick up his car keys, the resultant flatulent explosion blew his entire digestive tract out of his arse.  Attending firemen hosed down his smoking guts for two hours before paramedics with breathing apparatus could begin the process of pushing them back up.

Incidentally, the wee dog that you tried to rescue returned home a few days later, I suspect that being averse to the aftermath of hot curries it waited until you had gone and the coast was clear.

On a more serious note, we thank you for your continued support and friendship and look forward as always to your future visits.

21 June 1998


The Robert E. Davies Collection

– A note by Dave Irwin

This collection of over 500 photographs housed in a large photographic album was given to J. D. Hanwell in 1986 with the intention of it being donated to Wells Museum. It is an important testament to the work of the pioneer cave divers during the years 1945 – 1955 where their activities found them pushing the frontiers of British cave exploration including such cave systems as OFD, DYO, Swildon’s Hole and Peak Cavern.

Though there is a good source of written material available through club publications, and also that of the Cave Diving Group, photographic images display an extra dimension that adds considerably to our knowledge of the work of the cave divers in the early years. It was a time when home-made equipment produced in the garage was the norm using modified ex-naval equipment available in the ex-WD surplus stores.  It worked to a degree and considerable progress in cave exploration was made using this equipment compared with that made to enable Sump I in Swildons Hole to be passed.  During the late 1940s and 1950s, diving equipment was crude by modern standards based upon re-breathing apparatus.  This was very distinct from the aqualung now in common usage – the pressure balanced regulator – equipment whose fundamental design features were developed from military fighter aircraft oxygen/air mix breathing sets in use from the late 1950s and the miniaturised breathing sets developed between 1958 and 1962.  The author himself was involved with the design of the Normalair tilt valve device marketed for aqua-lung divers in the early 1960s which was quickly superseded by the pressure balanced piston regulator designed by various American companies.

The photographic collection amassed by Bob Davies included work by Luke Devenish and Lewis Railton, no mean photographers, which collectively gives a unique record of these pioneering attempts to explore the limits of submerged cave passages known at that time.

The writer has selected a number of photographs from the collection hopefully to illustrate the equipment, individuals who were pushing the limits and general scenes of activity at the surface before, during and after the dives.  It is also to be hoped that the selection will ensure that cavers are aware of this collection to ensure its survival when placed in the museum. Space is the limiting factor and so those photographs illustrated here are only a superficial coverage of the whole.

In the event that this magnificent collection is lost, destroyed or otherwise damaged the writer has scanned each photograph and transferred it to an electronic storage medium – the CD-ROM – in fact two CD-ROMs having a total of 850Mb.  This has the advantage in that it can be copied and made widely available to speleo-researchers and historians.  It is hoped that the CDG can come to some arrangement with Jim Hanwell, or, when the collection is lodged in the museum, the Trustees of Wells Museum, to be able to make copies of the CD-ROMs available to all who are interested in the subject.

The photographs are scanned TIFF files at 300dpi and on some machines retrieval of the images may take some time.  Consequently most of the image files are between 1 and 5Mb.  All the associated pencilled annotations added by R. E. Davies have been included in the scans.

Any 486 computer will handle the files whether using Windows 3.1x or Windows 95 but the RAM needs to be fairly large for rapid downloading of the images.


Above left: Grandfather of all Aflos. Mk.1
Above right: OFD. Easter 1946, Jack Sheppard, Graham Balcombe, TW (?). Cyril Powell.

Below left: DYO, 3rd diving operation: Bob Davies, Ken Hurst, Les Hawes, Phil Price, Lewis Railton.  Photo: Les Hawes.
Below Right: DYO, 3rd diving operation: PHP, Ken Hurst, Bob Davies,


Above:  Wookey Hole, February 1948 – Graham Balcombe in kit.  Photo – Luke Devenish.


Above:  Wookey Hole, February 1948 – ½ Pint (John Dwyer) George Lucy and ‘Sett’

Above:  Bob Davies’ Aflo, 1949  



Above:  Wookey hole, April 1948 – Don Coase, John Ifold and G.W. Mack.  Photo: Luke Devenish

Above:  Wookey Hole, April 1949 – John Dwyer, ‘Digger’ Harris, Don Coase, Pat Ifold, Sybil Bowden-Lyle and ‘Sett’



Funny Expressions!

A French radio station closed its programming day with this note:  “We hope you have enjoyed our nocturnal emissions and will be with us tomorrow for more.”

When a French Canadian politician was applauded by an American audience, he beamed, “I thank you for giving my wife and me the clap!  I thank you from the heart of my bottom!”

A notice in a Madras, India, newspaper proclaimed:  “Our editors are colleged and write like the Kipling and the Dickens.”

In The Moscow Times an ad under the heading “interpreting” advised, “bet us your letter of business translation do.  Every people in our staffing know English like the hand of their back.  Up to the minuet wise-street phrases, don’t you know, old boy.”

In a Sarajevo hotel:  Guests should announce abandonment of their rooms before 12 o’clock, emptying the room at the latest until 14 o’clock for the use of the room before 5 at the arrival after the 16 o’clock at the departure will be billed as one more night.

In a hotel in Weifang, China:  Invisible service is available for your rest not being disturbed.

From a hotel brochure in Qingdao:  Hua Tian Hotel is among the few best foreign affairs hotels.

In the brochure of an Italian hotel in the Dolomites area: Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations.  There is a French widow in every room.  We can offer you a commodious chamber, with balcony imminent to a romantic gorge.  We hope you want to drop in. In the close village you can buy jolly memorials for when you pass away.

In a brochure promoting a Sorrento hotel:  Syrene Bellevue Hotel joins a modem functional equipment with a distinguished and smart style of the 18th century.  It is located on the seas, far off the centre a few minutes afoot and owing to a number of gardens and sunny terraces, guarantee is given for an ideal stay in stillness and absolute rest.  The restaurant salon with a large view of the Gulf of Naples, a restaurant service with a big choice, the private beach to be reached by a lift from inside directly, complete the undiscussable peculiarities of this unit.

From a Venezuelan travel brochure:  In this Expedition you will know the highets waterfall in the world.  From Canaima, through the Sabana, the Jungles and the rivers Carrao and Churun, you’ll enjoy one of the biggets emotions of this life.  And the facilities Camp.  Guides as natives, all experts, will bring you trough troubles waters, just where a few have made it.  Be you one of them.  Meals in open fire never taste so goo.

On a “family style” restaurant in Hong Kong: Come Broil Yourself at Your own Table.

On a Chinese menu: Mr.  Zheng and his fellow workers like to meet you and entertain you with their hostility and unique cooking techniques.

On another Chinese menu:  Special cocktails for women with nuts

On a Greek menu:  Spleen omelet, fisherman’s crap soup, calf pluck, bowels.

Outside a Mexico City disco:  Members and Non-Members Only

Sign on a ferry in San Juan harbour:  In case of emergency, the lifeguard are under the seat in the center of the vessel.

In a jeweller’s window in India:  We shoot earholes.

On a long-established New Mexico dry cleaners:  38 years on the same spot.

In a Los Angeles dance hall:  Good clean dancing every night but Sunday.

On a New York convalescent home:  For the sick and tired of the Episcopal Church.

Outside a country shop:  We buy junk and sell antiques.

In the vestry of a New England church:  Will the last person to leave please see that the perpetual light is extinguished.

Somewhere in England in an open field untouched by human presence: Do not throw stones at this sign.

In a Bangkok dry cleaner’s: Drop your trousers here for best results.

Outside a Paris dress shop: Dresses for street walking.

In a Czechoslovakian tourist agency:  Take one of our horse-driven city tours – we guarantee no miscarriages.

In a Tokyo bar:  Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.

Italian Hotel Brochure:  This hotel is renowned for its piece and solitude.  In fact, crowds from all over the world flock here to enjoy its solitude.

Rome hotel:  Fire! It is what can doing, we hope.  No fear. Not ourselves.  Say quickly to all people coming up down everywhere a prayer. Always is a clerk.  He is assured of safety by expert men who are in the bar for telephone for the fighters of the fire to come out.

Polish Tourist Brochure:  As for the tripes serves you at the Hotel Monopol, you will be singing its praise to your children as you lie on your deathbed.

French Hotel:  A sports jacket may be worn to dinner, but no trouser.

French Restaurant Menu:  Extract of fowl, peached or sunnyside up.

French Swimming Pool:  Swimming is forbidden in absence of the Savior.

Spanish Hotel Ad:  The provision of a large French widow in every room adds to the visitors comfort.

Madrid Restaurant Menu:  Tarts of the house.

Madrid Hotel:  Peoples will left the room at midday of tomorrow in place of not which will be more money for hole day.

Athens Restaurant Menu:  Chopped cow with a wire through it. *Bowels in sauce** *shishkebab **tripe


Vietnam 97

The Fourth Joint British/Vietnamese Caving Expedition (Phase One).

By Snablet


The expedition was split into two phases.  Phase 1 would take place over 5 weeks, with aims of continuing the work carried out by the 1990, ’92 and ’94 expeditions within the Troung Soan Massif of Quang Binh province.  The plan was to continue exploration of the Hang Vom cave systems and to locate and explore the top sinks to the Phong Nha cave systems.  Phase 2 would take place over 2 weeks and continue the work carried out by the 1995 reconnaissance trip Cao Bang province.  We were joined in our expedition by cavers from the Geological Department of Hanoi University and local villagers.  This write-up covers the first phase of the expedition, as it was the phase I took part in.

Banged up in Ban Ban

Hieu (Hanoi University) stunned the snake with his Vietnamese – English dictionary – giving proof to the saying “the word is mightier than the sword”.  Dr Phai (Hanoi University) grabbed the dazed snake and flung it overboard.  The six wheel drive Russian truck had just driven through another overhanging tree, causing the contents of the tree to shower down on us.  Normally this causes us Western cavers to nearly jump out of the truck in fright of the slithering, crawling and wriggling creatures which fall from above; this in turn, causes great hilarity amongst our local guides and porters.  This time however, it was the locals who were on the verge of jumping out of the truck ahead of us, “it must be dangerous this time”.  The journey up the Ho Chi Minh Trail was incredibly rough; the high clearance Russian trucks (used for the haulage of rattan) would regularly ground out along the deep ruts.  The journey is also cramped, half the truck is full of rice, diesel, rice wine and cabbages the other half is filled with 16 people and caving kit. The drive along the trail is broken up by regular stops, mainly due to breakdowns of other rattan trucks as well as ours, but also for lighting joss sticks at every shrine and sale of rice wine to all the other HCM trail users.

We dropped off the Hang Vom team at Kilometre 24, a mere 4 hours from our base camp in Son Trach (Kilometre 0).  The team consisted of Howard Limbert (N.C.C.), Martin Holroyd (N.C.C.), Paul Callister (N.P.C.), Andy Mackie (N.P.C.), Dr. Vu Van Phai, local porters and guides.  We would try to arrange a truck back to meet them in 5 days.  The rest of us, Deb Limbert (N.C.C,), Simon Davis (Croydon Caving Club), Trevor Wailes (Tasmanian Cave Club), Nguyen Hieu and I, travelled on a further 4 hours to the village of Ban Ban at kilometre 48 where we encountered a sign reading (in English)  “Frontier post, restricted area”. We were promptly placed under arrest by members of the local garrison.

We were accommodated in the local hospital (The Ban Ban Hilton).  It did have bars (on the windows), although the doors were not kept locked.  We were given instruction as to what we could or could not do, whilst we waited for a decision from Hanoi High Command as to whether or not we would be allowed to proceed onto the top sinks or whether we would be allowed to go home, for that matter. Ban Ban is an extremely idyllic village populated by the very friendly minority Ruc Caroong tribe.  During our 5 day enforced visit, apart from playing a lot of cards, we were invited to a festival of tradition: drinking, traditional music and dancing interspersed with music by Boney M.  We also discovered a bar in the village and providing we were granted permission to cave in the area (we were) the hospital would make an excellent base camp.

Reece to the Top sinks

Jungle walking in Vietnam is always entertaining. If a path exists it will always take the steepest, most direct route to the top of every hill, followed by an equally steep route down. Paths never seem to follow the contours or valleys.  The reason behind this is because the extremely valuable perfume tree only grows on the tops of the highest hills, and the majority of paths that lead into the jungle, go in search of this elusive tree.  (We will have to convince the locals that perfume trees grow by cave entrances).  Personally I reckon our route has more to do with our guides wicked sense of humour. Once, we swapped our 70-litre rucksacks with those of our guides.  Miraculously, paths that avoided crawling under branches and tracking up to the hilltops suddenly emerged.


Hospital in Ban Ban – our Prison for a week and base camp for the rest of the expedition. Photo – Snablet

Three and a half hours into our trek from the hamlet of Ban Ban, we arrived at a sizeable river called Khe Rhy (Grass Stream).  Downstream, in the distance, large limestone cliffs loomed several hundred metres out of the forest; this was the southernmost edge of the Truong Soan Massif. A brief break was taken to enable the extraction of a dozen or so leeches from our boots (leeches don’t seem to like water, the deeper the water gets the higher up the body the leeches go). After consultation of our map, we presumed Khe Rhy to be the second top sink for the Phong Nha and Hang Toi systems. If our theory was right, Khe Rhy stream sank at the ‘limestone/other type of rock boundary’, i.e. the base of the cliffs.

After 1/2 hour of slippery cobbles and falling into the river we arrived at an insignificant sink. A small entrance could be seen, but it didn’t inspire us with confidence.  However, a large dry riverbed continued along the base of the cliff. “Maybe there is a flood entrance” – there was.  The entrance of Hang Khe Rhv was of similar proportions to Peak cavern and led off into the cliff.  Our hopes were high.  The active sink was effectively acting as a sieve for this impressive fossil entrance. We hoped that this would prevent the cave from being blocked with forest debris.  Our previous day’s experience at the first top sink, when all we found was large log chokes was still fresh in our mind.

“Yoh! Exploration time!”  However there was a small drawback.  On our journey along the HCM Trail from Son Trach to Ban Ban, one of our large tackle bags mysteriously vanished (not stolen, of course, because theft doesn’t exist in communist countries).  Unfortunately the bag contained our rope, medical kit and a week’s worth of carbide. The remaining carbide was rationed (two carbide lights today and two the next).  Caving along 40-50m wide passages strewn with slippery cobbles on a Petzl gloom is not the easiest of tasks. Simon, Trevor and I surveyed our way in, whilst Deb checked out all the possible leads and the way on.  The entrance series consisted of a wide, meandering bedding-type passage dotted with deep, static pools and cobbles.  I encountered my first bit of Vietnamese wild life (other than several species of leeches and the snake, that is) whilst walking backwards preparing to read off another 50m tape length: my feet where thrown from beneath me and I nearly shat myself.  After much panicking and cursing, I managed to disentangle myself from a 1½ m long by 200 mm thick eel, which I had just stepped on (later, when I told our local guides about the eel, they instantly organised a hunting party and worried whether their pot would be big enough).  800m into the cave, we encountered a T-junction through which the main stream flowed.  We chose to follow the upstream passage, which led past numerous gours, stal and the occasional column.  We deduced that the water (approx. the same amount as in OFD) must have come from the first top sink (Khe Roung).  Upon reaching a long swim we decided to retire back to the entrance camp with 1.8 km of great passage in the survey book and no ends in sight.

Hieu in Back Passage – Hang Khe Rhy.  Photo Howard Limbert


Jet Highway – Hang Khe Rhy. Photo – Howard Limbert

Later, back in camp, we encountered a slightly bigger version of Vietnamese wildlife.  We were awoken by a commotion of shots being fired into the air, pots and pans being banged, and shouting.  Within seconds, a fire worthy of any Guy Fawkes celebration was built and ablaze.  There was a large Ho (tiger) in the camp, and our Vietnamese friends were rightly worried, for in 1992 a tiger had attacked, maimed or killed seven local villagers. The tactics adopted by the cavers was to pull their bivi bags over their heads and hope it would go away.  We moved camp the next day and went in search of the third sink, leaving the exploration of Khe Rhy for a return visit. The third sink was reached by mid morning. Khe Thi, a similar sized stream to the first and second sink also sank into the base of large cliffs.  Hang Khe Thi consisted of a scramble down some large boulders to a lake. Deb investigated the lake to no avail, it turned out to be a large sump pool.  We spent the rest of the day scouring the valley in the hope of finding another entrance.  We camped the night on a boulder pile within the cave surround by two bonfires to ward off any oversized cats.  The following day consisted of a 7 hour walk back to Ban Ban.  The walk did not do much to inspire us to visit the fourth sink; reputed to be a further ½ days walk from the third sink.

Upstream Hang Vom

At kilometre 24 down the HCM trail we rendezvoused with the other team: Howard, Martin, Cal, Andy, Hieu and guides etc. and listened to their tales of caverns measureless. Their first outing into the jungle under the guide of ‘Jungle Jim’ led them on a wild goose chase in search of Hang Dau Cao.  Eventually, after 2 solid days of trekking through the jungle, their guide admitted that he had never been to the caves before in his life.  Phai saved the day and found the top entrance to Hang Vom. This meant that the rest of the Hang Vom hydrological system had to be traversed (5 caves) to get to the 1994 limit of exploration.  A logistical epic ensued to get 1 guide, 3 porters, and our local committee representative through the cave systems, one of which included a pitch.  Martin became a human cross-channel-ferry, taking non swimming guides, porters and equipment across the many lakes and canals within the cave systems.  The first excursion located and explored Hang Ho (tiger cave) and discovered the entrance to Hang Over. Ironically, the journey from the far caves back to the Ho Chi Minh trail took no more than 2 hours.

Hang Ho: The entrance had been located and the first 200m explored by the 1992 expedition.  The cave was now fully explored and resulted in 1.6 kilometres of superb cave.  Time restraints meant that upstream valley from “Total Internal Refraction” was left unexplored and would lead to more kilometres of passage within the cave, sighted in the distance.  The main route of exploration was along “Monster” passage to exit by “Swift Exit”, 100m up the valley led to the entrance of Hang Over.

Hang Over: was explored on the second excursion into the jungle; it was named after Dr. Phai’s session on the rice wine, to relax from his negotiations with the army.  Another huge cave, 3.25 kilometres long with passages between 30 to 125m wide.  There is still a possibility of further passage at the bottom of “The Chasm” (un-descended pitch, approx. 25m deep).  The exit from Hang Over enters a doline; Hang Pygmy continues on the other side.

Hang Pygmy: The proportions of this cave made the caving team feel like pygmies.  The 90m wide passage leads past an abandoned village used by locals for harvesting nests from the cave’s swiftlet colony. The cave is 845m long and all lit by daylight from its two entrances.  This cave must be close to the village of Ruc Caroon, near where the top sink for the Hang Vom cave systems is located.

The Hang Vom Hydrological system now consists of ten caves interlinked by dolines and limestone gorges. At present, it would be possible to traverse the system from Hang Pygmy to Hang Vom, however, Ruc Caroong is not (yet) connected:




Ruc Caroong (Top sink)

Hang Pygmy

Hang Over

Hang Ho

Hang Watermelon

Hang Dany

Hang Ca (Pitch Cave)

Hang Duat (Maze Cave)

Hang Dai Cao

Hang Vom (Resurgence)





















R & R

For rest and recreation between trips to explore remote caves in the middle of the jungle, we decided to take a couple of days off.  We filled our time by exploring caves at the edge of the jungle.

Vue Tro resurgence valley – a reece. Photo – Snablet

Vue Tro resurgences: Over the course of a couple of days off, 5 entrances were located, all bar one of which either choked or sumped after a short distance.  The cave, which still has some possibility of revealing more passage, was left at the start of a deep and long canal due to lack of swimming equipment.  The locals in the area told us of a large entrance with a beautiful lake within the cave.  Unfortunately, this cave proved elusive despite many hours of searching.

Hang Len Hai Thone Tin (Information Cave): This cave was located within a karst tower at the edge of Son Trach village. The cave was used during the war as a radio relay post and a gun emplacement.

Cha Noi: Motor bikes and taxis were hired to get us as close as possible to the village of Cha Noi (our map showed three sinks at this village).  Unfortunately, we were still left with a 9 kilometre walk to get there.  This resulted in a considerable lack of time to get back to our taxis before nightfall (no lights on the bikes).  We were shown to a fossil cave near the village, which had been used to house an army regiment during the war.  Our time to check out the resurgences ran out. Both Information cave and Hang Cha Noi proved to have very little potential for major cave finds.  However, they do give an insight into the harsh conditions that the Vietnamese people endured during the course of the war.

Motor Cycle recce trip – Ferry across the Son River at Sin Trach. Photo – Snablet

Khe Rhv

Dwindling medical supplies and the extreme remoteness of Hang Pygmy necessitated that the whole team would return to Khe Rhy for a final week-long push on the system and surrounding area.  We hoped that we had not put all our eggs in one basket, only to find ourselves Ghar Paraued around the next corner.

Whilst our local guides, party officials, and army observers entertained themselves making pangolin pie, monitor lizard hot pot, snake casserole and drying 5 kilos of fish a day, we split into 2 teams and systematically explored, surveyed and photographed Hang Khe Rhy.  The cave has everything you want for a tropical expedition.  Its main drain is huge, interspersed with pristine gours, chandeliers, columns and bosses.  It is mostly stomping passage with the occasional long swims, which are interrupted, by cobbles/sand banks, allowing welcome rests.  There is hardly any crawling and only one boulder choke (although it is 300m long).  Hang Khe Rhy so far consists of 10 kilometres of superb river passage called the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which we left wide open at the start of another swim.  Water can be heard flowing over rocks in the distance. We were worried at one point that we had reached a sump (Sump or Glory) after 250m of swimming along a huge passage the roof lowered to only 1.5m.  Luckily it opened up again into a big chamber.  The “Sump or Glory” is the main danger area within the cave. Prior to its discovery, we had encountered a substantial rise in water levels due to rain in Laos.  This made traversing the river passage extremely sporting and hearing survey readings almost impossible.  There are 4 kilometres of well-decorated side passages and inlets, one of which reaches an upstream entrance (Foot and Mouth). There are 3 unexplored side passages in the far reaches of the cave, two of which are so vast they completely dwarf the 40 x 30m river passage, it is like walking out of the cave into the open air on a black night (it was midday, by the way).

Andy in the Pseudo Inlet GOUTS – Hang Khe Rhy. Photo – Howard Limbert

The continuation of the main river passage and the huge side passages is the main objective for the next follow-up expedition.  Khe Rhy’s present length of 13.8 kilometres makes it the second longest cave in Vietnam; it has travelled approximately 3 kilometres out of 16 towards its possible resurgence.  Along its route it has picked up three major sinks and there are still the two biggest sinks to find, our hopes are high.

The Rescue

Just before the end of the expedition, Trevor and Cal decided to undertake a 2-day recce of the fourth sink known as Khe Tien (beautiful stream).  They were accompanied by Hieu, Mr. Cuoi (the most highly acclaimed hunter in the district) and his dog.  Late the next day, whilst we were preparing to move camp from Khe Rhy back to Ban Ban, and just after we had burnt the remaining dried food and carbide, Hieu and Mr. Cuoi arrived back at camp alone!  It turned out that Cal and Trevor had entered the cave the previous afternoon.  Soon afterwards, a flood pulse came down the river, washed away their camp and trapped the two lads inside.  The weather had been great that day, hardly a cloud in the sky.  The river flows from some mountains deep within Laos, it must have been raining there.

We had a horrendous walk for 5 hours most of which was in darkness with no trail, to arrive to see the river still heavily swollen, and the remains of their camp scattered through the cave.  We spent a sleepless night by the entrance being eaten by leeches and mosquitoes. At first light, when the river had dropped sufficiently, we searched the cave with trepidation and found it very aqueous, it ended in a lake in a final chamber with no obvious ways on: “this must be a sump”.

We dammed up and diverted the river down another sink, we dammed the cave and bailed the sump, and Martin attempted to find and free dive the sump – but all to no avail.  Our only option was to wait.  Whilst waiting we constructed more dams (in case of further flooding) and conducted hourly checks on the sump.  A message was sent back to Phai in Son Trach, with our guide informing him of the situation and to prepare for a rescue.  Howard decided that we would wait another day to in the hope that the water would drop, if it didn’t Rupert Skorupka and Tim Allen along with diving kit would be flown out from the UK.

Fifty-seven hours after Trev and Cal became trapped; Simon and I wandered into the cave for the 4am check on the sump level.  We noted that water levels had dropped significantly since we were last in.  As we entered the flooded chamber, we could see a faint glow through the water accompanied by the sound of water gulping, “Yoh! There’s air space!”  We both dived through and met Cal and Trevor, sitting in a dry chamber underneath a daylight shaft on the other side.  It was a great relief to find the two lads alive.

We shared a packet of ‘Super Noodles’ and two Mars Bars between the ten of us, and set off on an 11 hour slog back to Ban Ban.  Along the way we met a detachment of the Vietnamese army, equipped with picks, shovels, medical supplies, food and cigarettes coming to our aid (they were a very welcome sight).  We got back to Ban Ban to an emotional welcome, had a swift half, bid farewell, and hopped on our truck.  This took us back to Son Trach by 4 am the following morning, whereupon we had another swift half, our first food for three days and three hours sleep before catching the 8 am bus to take us to our train back to Hanoi.  We eventually reached Hanoi late the next day, tired and thin.

Synopsis of caves explored by Vietnam 97



Cave Name




Vert. range

Phase One – Quang Binh Province




Hang Ho

Thuong Trach

Bo Trach



Hang Over

Thuong Trach

Bo Trach


103m( +93,-10)

Hang Pygmy

Thuong Trach

Bo Trach



Hang Khe Thi

Thuong Trach

Bo Trach



Hang Khe Rhy

Thuong Trach

Bo Trach


12Om( +58,-62)

Hang Khe Tien

Thuong Trach

Bo Trach



Hang Cha Noi

Cha Noi

Bo Trach



Hang Len Hai

Son Trach

Bo Trach




Phase Two – Cao Bang Province




Nguom Boc Rising

Ban Nua

Nuoc Hai



Nguom Boc Sink

Ban Nua

Nuoc Hai



Nguom Pac Bo

Soc Quan

Ha Lang



Nguom Han

Ban Cong

Ha Lang



Nguom Muong

Ban Thuoc

Ha Lang



Nguom Ram

Ly Quoc

Ha Lang



Nguom Ron

Ban Cong

Ha Lang



Keo Min

Na Dang

Ha Lang



Nguom Khu

Minh Long

Ha Lang



Nguom Khoung

Minh Long

Ha Lang



Nguom Sap

Ban Sa

Ha Lang


31m( +23,-8)

Nguom Ban Khau

Ban Khau

Ha Lang


+ 13m

Nguom Gio

Ha Quang

Ha Quang




The joint British/Vietnamese expeditions have so far explored and surveyed 101.5 km with 35 surveyed caves totalling 72.5 km within the Bo Trach district of Quang Binh province and 72 surveyed caves totalling 29 km in other provinces.


Bradshaw, D.R.1990. Vietnam 90, British Speleological Expedition.

Callister, P. 1997. Fe, Phai, Ho, Hum, A Tale of Vietnam. Descent.. 137 (AuglSept): p28 – 30.

Holroyd, M. 1997. Vietnam 1997. Caves and Caving. 77 (Autumn): p27 – 31.

Limbert, H. 1997. Vietnam 97. International Caver. 20: pll-18.

Limbert, H. et a1. 1994. Vietnam 94, 1992/94 British Vietnamese Caving Expeditions.

Limbert, H.  et a1. 1997. Vietnam 97, Joint British / Vietnamese Caving Expedition.


BCRA Meetings Diary

Compiled by David Gibson, Assistant Secretary (Meetings – version 8/7/98)

Information can be found on the BCRA web pages.  Additional; information about the meeting of the Special Interest Groups can be found on their own web sites.  You can reach all these sites from

Hidden Earth ‘98

18/20 Sept. Southport

The national caving conference organised by BCRA.

This year the caving conference is in Southport in NW England.  Field trips, trade 7 club stands, competitions, talks, discussion groups, entertainment are all on offer.  If you have not yet seen a brochure, contact the booing manager or visit the Hidden earth web site.

Bookings and general enquiries to Peter Cousins

If you want to give a lecture, please contact Paul Mann or Sarah Blundell

Cave Surveying Group field Meeting

17/18 Oct. Derbyshire

A field meeting and training weekend organised by the Cace Surveying group one of the special interest groups of the BCRA

The CSG will be holding this weekend field meeting at the Orpheus Caving club’s cottage in Derbyshire where there will be accommodation for up to 18 people.  Novices and experienced surveyors are welcome.

Enquiries to Andy Atkinson

Cave Radio Group field Meeting

24/25 October Yorkshire Dales

A field meeting and training weekend organised by the Cave Radio & Electronics Group – one of the special interest groups of the BCRA

The CREG will be holding this weekend field meeting in the Yorkshire Dales, where there will be continuing a programme of practical experiments with radio, surveying, photographic and other equipment.

Enquiries to Richard Rushton

Mendip Regional Meeting

21 Nov. Priddy, Somerset

One of a programme of informal meetings around the country.  Talks, trade stands, fieldwork etc.

This will take place at Priddy village hall, where the subject will be a joint study of Swildons Hole and St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  These are the two longest and most important caves in the area.

Enquiries to Dave Irwin

Cave Science Symposium

6 March 1999, Nottingham – Provisional

Presentations of short papers on Cave & Karst Science topics at Trent university, Nottingham

The 1999 BCRA Cave Science Symposium will be hosted by Dr. A.C. Waltham at the Department of Civil engineering, Trent university, Nottingham (provisionally).  Short presentations (20 or 40 minutes) will be given on a range of cave and karst science topics.  Poster papers and displays are also welcomed.

Enquiries to the lecture scertary, Dr John Wilcock

Yorkshire Dales Regional Meeting

12/13/ June 1999, Swaledale – Provisional

One of a programme of informal meetings around the country.  Talks, trade stands, fieldwork etc

Subjects will include caving developments in the Hambledon Hills, local cave and mining developments.  Caving tripos will be on offer throughout the weekend.

The date and location still have to be confirmed.

Enquiries to Ernie Shield

Hidden Earth ‘99

17/19 Sept. 1999 Provisional

The national caving conference organised by BCRA.

The date (17-19th or possibly 10-12th) and location have still to be confirmed.

Enquiries to Peter Cousins


BEC Membership List at 21/7/98

20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw            Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                 Henton, Wells, Somerset
1145 Roz Bateman                 Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset.
1237 (P) Jake Baynes             Priddy, Nr Wells, Somerset
1227 (J) Anette Becher            St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
1079 Henry Bennett                London
390 (L) Joan Bennett               Draycott, Somerset
1122 Clive Betts                     Clapham, Bedfordshire
731 Bob Bidmead                   East Harptree, Nr. Bristol, Avon
1125 Rich Blake                     Priddy, Somerset
364 (L) Pete Blogg                  Chaldon, Caterham, Surrey
1114 Pete Bolt                       Cardiff, S. Gamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle       Calne, Wiltshire
1104 Tony Boycott                  Westbury on Trim, Bristol, Avon
868 Dany Dradshaw                Haybridge, Wells, Somerset
1217 Paul Brock                     Dulcote, Nr wells, Somerset
751 (L) T.A. Brookes               London
201 John Buxton                     Flitwick, Beds.
956 Ian Caldwell                     Redland, Bristol, Avon
1214 Rebecca Campbell          Wells, Somerset
1014 Chris Castle                   Axbridge, Somerset
1197 Tim Chapman                 Fareham, Hampshire
1197 John Christie                  North Allerton, North Yorks
211 (L) Clare Coase                Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins                   Draycott, Somerset
727 Bill Cooper                       Knowle, Bristol
862 Bob Cork                         Penn Hill, Wells, Somerset
1233 (P) Paul Craggs              Cullompton, Devon
870 Gary Cullen                      Southwater, Nr Horsham, West Sussex.
405 (L) Frank Darbon              British Columbia, Canada.
423 (L) Len Dawes                  Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
1229 Jeremy Dixon-Wright       West Pennard, Glastonbury, Somerset
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                  Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon
829 (L) Angie Dooley               Harborne, Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                Harborne, Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                Priddy, Somerset
830 John Dukes                      Street, Somerset
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                  Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
269 (L) Tom Fletcher               Bramcote, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
1218 Stephen Flinders            Burrington, Somerset
404 (L) Albert Francis              Wells, Somerset
569 (J) Joyce Franklin             Staffordshire
469 (J) Peter Franklin              Staffordshire
1159 John Freeman                Paulton, Bristol, Avon
1182 Alex Gee                       Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset
835 Lenard Gee                      St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill             Chard, Somerset
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill             Chard, Somerset
647 Dave Glover                      Basingstoke, Hampshire
1006 Edward Gosden              Twyford, Winchester, Hampshire
790 (J) Martin Grass               Draycott, Somerset
1009 Robin Gray                     Cheddar, Somerset
1155 Rachael Gregory             Pentir, Nr., Bangor, Gwynedd
1089 Kevin Gurner                  Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
1088 Nick Gymer                    Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam           Semington, Trowbrdge, Wiltshire
1186 (J) Helen Harper              Wells, Somerset
999 (J) Rob Harper                  Wells, Somerset
1234(P) Roger Haskett            Bridgwater, Somerset
1235(P) Steve Heape              Bornemouth
1117 Pete Hellier                    Nempnett Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol, Avon
974 Jeremy Henley                 Shepton Mallet
952 Bob Hill                           London
1221 Mark Howden                 Street, Sometset
1219 Sean Howe                    Bradley Stoke, Bristol
923 Trevor Hughes                  Holcombe, Bath, Avon
73 Angus Innes                      Alveston, Bristol, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                   Priddy, Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt                      Priddy, Somerset
668 Mike Jeanmaire                Paek Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
1111 Graham Johnson            Wells, Somerset
560 (L) Frank Jones                Priddy, Somerset
567 (L) Alan Kennett               Charlton Musgrove, Wincanton, Somerset
316 (L) Kangy King                 Pucklechurch, Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston               Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                   Yelverton, Devon
958 Fiona Lambert                  Castel Cary, Somserset
667 (L) Tim Large                    Brislington, Bristol
1199 Alex Livingston               Clevedon, Avon
1180 Rich Long                      Paulton, Bristol, Avon
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (Jnr)     St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
1071 Mike McDonald              Bath
1195 Struan McDonald            Devizes, Wiltshire
550 (L) R A MacGregor           Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus               Priddy, Somerset
558 (L) Tony Meaden              Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
704 Dave Metcalfe                  Whitwick, Leicestershire
1044 Andy Middleton              Hardington-Mandeville, Somerset
1194 Nick Mitchell                  Priddy Somerset
1210 Guy Munnings                Croydon, Surrey
1183 Andy Newton                  Shipham, Nr Cheddar, Somerset
1232 (P) Andy Nunn                Uffculme, Cullomton, Devon
553 Bob O’Malley-White          Wells, Somerset
1228 Ben Ogbourne                Westbury-sub-Mendip, Somerset
1226 (P) Stephen Ostler          Nailsea, North Somerset
396 (L) Mike Palmer                Wells, Somerset
1045 Rich Payne                    Orpington, Kent
1134 Martin Peters                 Wells, Somerset.
499 (L) A. Philpot                    Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
1193 Emma Porter                  Witmore, Wolverhampton
337 Brian Prewer                    Priddy, Wells, Somerset
886 Jeff Price                         Knowle, Bristol, Avon
481 (L) John Ransom              Patchway, Bristol, Avon
985 Phil Romford                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset
921 Pete Rose                       Hookway, nr Crediton, Devon
1208 Stuart Sale                     Romsey, Hampshire
359 (L) Carol Sandall               Nailsea, Avon
1170 Andy Sanders                Gurney Slade, Nr. Bath, Somerset
1173 Estelle Sandford             Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
237 (L) Bryan Scott                 Cote D’Azur, France
1236(P) Martin Selfe               Bosleake, Redruth, Cornwall
78 (L) R Setterington               Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington          Taunton, Somerset
1128 Vince Simmonds            Havant, Hampshire
1036 (J) Nicola Slann              Draycott, Somerset
915 Chris Smart                     Nr. Bradford on Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                        c/o The Belfry
1203 Bob Smith                      Havant, Hampshire
823 Andy Sparrow                  Priddy, Somerset
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                Bude, Cornwall
575 (L) Dermot Statham          Warkworth, Northumberland
1230 (P) Clive Stell                 Bathford, Bath
365 (L) Roger Stenner             Weston super Mare, Avon
1187 Mark Tanner                   Fishponds, Bristol
583 Derek Targett                   East Horrington, Wells Somerset
1110 Gwyn Taylor                   Keighly, West Yorkshire
772 Nigel Taylor                      Langford, Avon
284 (L) Alan Thomas               Priddy, Somerset
1224 (P) Andrew Thomas        Street, Somerset
571 (L) N Thomas                   Oulton Broad, Lowestoft, Suffolk
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark  Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
1216 Martin Torbett                 Cheddar, Somerset
381 (L) Daphne Towler             Bognor Regis, Sussex
1023 Matt Tuck                      Plymouth, Devon.
678 Dave Turner                      Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
635 (L) S. Tuttlebury               Buck Hors Rd., Farnham, Surrey
1096 Brian van Luipen             Wick, Littlehampton, West sussex
887 Greg Villis                        Weston super Mare, North Somerset
175 (L) D. Whaddon
1220 (P) John Walsh               Glastonbury, Somerset
949 (J) John Watson               Wells, Somerset
1185 Chas Wethered              Axbridge, Somerset
1118 Carol White                    Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire
1068 John Whiteley                Clannaborough Bow, Crediton, Devon
1202 Mike Willett                    Wells, somerset
1092 Babs Williams                Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1164 (J) Hilary Wilson             Keynsham, Avon
1130 (J) Mike Wilson (snr)       Keynsham, Avon
559 (J) Barrie Wilton               Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton              Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
877 Steven Woolven                West Chillington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                Catcott, Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                Holycroft, Hinkley, Leics.
683 Dave Yeandle                   South Horrington, Wells, Somerset
1239 (P) Kevin Jones              Eastleigh, Southampton
1238 (P) Toby Limmer             Balsham, Cambridge.


Famous Quotes

“The goal of every engineer is to retire without getting blamed for a single catastrophe.” – Dilbert

 “You don’t know what you cab get away with until you try.” – Colin Powell

 “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” – Andy Dufrane

 “Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.” – Herbert Hoover

 “The meek shall inherit the earth, and the bank shall repossess it.” – ??????

 “Ethical man – a Christian holding four aces.” – Mark Twain

 “Trumans’s Law – If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” – Harry S. Truman.


Rolling Calendar

Date                          Details –  Contact

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

12/9/98                      BEC Stomp – Priddy Village Hall – Roz Bateman

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

Working Weekend

Cleaning, repairs, General maintenance.

Plenty of work for all!!

BBQ free for all workers

Sat/Sun 21st/22nd August

Meet at Belfry at 10.00am

Contact: – Nick Mitchell

Hut Engineer For Further Details


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registered in England and Wales as a co-operative society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered no. 4934.