The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.
Editor:
Estelle Sandford

Contents

Committee Members

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

Editorial

Hi

Well it looks like I’m stuck with the job for another
year!!  As I said in my report, I am
fully prepared to do this year, but will not be available to continue for a
third year.

We need to be looking for a candidate to take on the
editor’s position from next October, I know it seems like a long way away, but
it’s only six Belfry Bulletins away.  I
feel that it would be of great advantage to the incoming editor to get involved
in this year’s editorial team and get an idea of what is involved.  In case anyone is under any delusions that I
use a fancy desktop publishing program to create the BB, they would be wrong; I
am using Microsoft Word 97.

I am getting a lot of promises for articles for future BBs,
please can you try and get these to me as soon as possible so I can plan ahead
for the contents of the BBs.

The cut of for the next BB is 2nd December.  The February one will be about a month late
as I am in India, so unless anyone fancies doing the BB for me, it will have to
wait until I get back!!

(Note: I have put the cut off and due dates for all next
years BBs in the rolling calendar- hopefully this will help a bit with the
timing of articles).

Estelle

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

Members News

Congratulations to Gwyn and Chris Taylor on the birth of
their son, Samual Joseph on 28th September.

Pete and Anita MacNab’s daughter Sian, was married to Dave
Annakin on the 10th October.  Although
neither are currently members of the club, about half the BEC must have
attended their wedding reception at Priddy Village Hall.  (Wow what a spread, I don’t think I’ve ever
seen as much food!)  Sian’s married name
is now Sian Annakin – make of that what you want!!!

Here is the photo of the typical ‘BEC Bride’!  (photo by Chas Wethered)

Nicknames

It has been noticed that an awful lot of cavers have
nicknames.  Some have taken them on
instead of real names!!  I would like to
create the definitive list of BEC nicknames and how they got them for future
publication.  I want information about
all nicknames in the BEC, so no matter how incriminating the nickname or the
reason behind the nickname may be, I want to know.  Ed.

BEC AGM

This was held on Saturday 3rd October.  The AGM was just about quorate.  The minutes and a copy of the accounts will
be issued to members with the March BB. The new committee is as published in the front of the BB.

BEC Computer

Some of you may be aware that about a year ago, the BEC
acquired enough second hand bits and pieces from donations to make a PC for the
club library.  This PC is unable to do
what the club now requires from a computer – it is too old!  Dave Turner and Wig are working on putting
BEC logbooks and general caving information on CDROM and at the moment we are
unable to use this as a resource.  What I
am looking for is any spare computer bits that anyone has had removed after an
upgrade.  We need a 500MB or larger HDD,
a Pentium motherboard and processor and memory. If anyone does have ANY unwanted computer bits, in any make, size or
form that they would be prepared to donate to the BEC, I will make up the best
PC I can for the library, and use any extras to make up systems and sell on,
with all proceeds from this going back into the library.   Ed.

Accounts

To make it clear to all members of the BEC.

The financial year for the BEC ends on the 31st August each
year.  All receipts and account records
held by any members of the club must be submitted to the treasurer as soon as
possible after this date.  We do not want
a repeat of what happened this year, with no full set of accounts being able to
be submitted to the AGM.  This was
because the hut warden failed to give hut accounts until 2 days before the AGM,
and the treasurer did not have time to complete the accounts.  The committee has now viewed the accounts at
the November meeting and is satisfied with their content.  If any member wishes to view the accounts
before they are sent out in March, please contact the treasurer.

Annual Dinner

The dinner was at Langford Veterinary College again this
year and as far as I am aware was an enjoyable event for all those who
attended.  Tony Jarratt won the Boar of
the Year after spending all of the last year trying to get everybody digging in
Five BuddIes and Pete Glanvill did a ‘guess the cave’ photo competition.  The impromptu, out of tune, singing session
at the Belfry afterwards was enjoyed by all those who came back, as was the
bar.  Many thanks to Nigel Taylor for
organising the dinner.

Reminder

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 V Wessex Cricket Match

The cricket match was declared a draw as rain stopped play
during the BEC’s second innings.  The
teams seemed happy to play on, but the umpire left the field, so there was no
choice but to finish.

The cricket was followed by a very damp barbecue at the
Wessex, with the barbecue outside and everyone huddled inside!!

BEC Website

Is accessible at the following URL http://www.mendipnet.co.uk/BECWEBSITE/BEC.html

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

Other Websites

If you are connected to the Internet, you are probably aware
of some of the many caving related Websites that are available.  Pick of the month must definitely be the new
Descent Website at: http://www.caving.co.uk.com/

It has loads of information on what is going on in the
caving world, information about caving shops, cavers, training, photo and art
galleries, and loads of links.  Another
site worth a look if you are a cave diver or interested in getting involved with
cave diving is the ‘Official Website of the Cave Diving Group of Great Britain’
which is located at: http://www.demon.co.ukIstoneweb/cdg/index.htm/

The Mendip Newspage hosted by Andy Sparrow can be found at:

http://www.ascaveservices.demon.co.uk/newspage.htm

BEC Stomp

On the 12th September the BEC held a stomp to raise money
for replacement of the fire and help with the library. Unfortunately this was
poorly attended and we broke even rather than raising funds!  I guess everyone must have been spent out
after a hard summer’s caving!!!  There
will be another stomp on 30th January 1999.

 

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 the Estelle address in the front
cover – I will return all pictures that are sent to me.   I need these as soon as possible so as to
try and publish in Dec/Jan.

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.  Enquiries to Dave Irwin, Priddy, Wells,
Somerset.

Membership

It’s that time again! Time to pay your annual subscription. For members there should be a loose membership form enclosed and also a
pre-addressed envelope enclosed. Membership rates are £28 for single with a reduction of £4 to £24 if you
pay before the 31st December and £42 for joint membership with a reduction of
£4 to £38 if you pay before 31 st December. Please return the form as this is being used to check your address is
correct.

Please note that if you do not pay your membership fees
before the 31st December, you will receive no further Belfry Bulletins until
you have paid; we cannot guarantee to hold any Belfry Bulletins you may have
missed due to late payment.

Life Members

There is also a form enclosed for life members to fill
in.  We received several Belfry Bulletins
back with ‘not known at this address’ on them last year, so please make sure by
filling in the form that your address is current with the Membership
Secretary.  There is also a short
questionnaire for life members on the back of the forms.

Accident

Dr. Peter Glanvill had a bit of an accident during the
week.  He was in his car and was hit by
an ambulance.  They had to get another
ambulance to take him into hospital, one to take the paramedics to hospital and
one to go to the original incident as the one that hit him was on its way to
another casualty.  Pete escaped with
bruising and whiplash injuries.  Business
must be a bit slack if ambulances are having to create their own casualties!!

Hazelnut Swallet

Hazelnut Swallet diggers had a recent breakthrough of
40ft.  The total surveyed length of the
cave is 76ft.  The current end is a tight
streamway, which needs digging, but is an ongoing situation.  A report and hopefully the survey will appear
in the next BB.  Contact Mike Willett or
Nick Mitchell for more information.

Flooding

The last few weekends have caused some very high water
levels in many of Mendip’s caves. Swildons at one point was flowing over 6ins above the entrance in the
blockhouse.  Priddy Pool in Nine Barrows
Lane was flowing over the road to the Pump house by Swildons where there was a
100yd-diameter lake.  The water was
running overland to Swildons entrance.

Swildons was at this level twice in a week.  If the water is going in the blockhouse, the
two danger areas are ‘The Eyehole’ below the old 40′ and also ‘The Shrine’,
which is just below the 20′.  Photographs
of the midnight white water trip will be on Andy Sparrow’s Mendip News Website
shortly and a selection will appear in the next BB.  Longwood had a large lake that ponded by the
dry stone wall.

Eastwater was flowing 6-8in over the entrance.

In GB you could swim into the ladder dig from the oxbows.

Wheel Pit was flooded to within 10ft of the road level and
at the dig in Five BuddIes it was neck deep, but not backing up.  This means that the difference between Wheel
Pit and the water level at the bottom of Five BuddIes is about 24ft.  It will be interesting to see if there are
any changes in the dig in here when the water levels get back to normal.

In Burrington Combe, East Twin and West Twin streams were
both flowing well onto the road and most of the water coming down the road was
sinking just above Aveline’s in the ground opposite the car park.

New Members

We would like to welcome new members John Williams and Tim
Lamberton into the club.

Diggers Dinner and Disco

This will be held at the Wookey Hole Inn on 21st of November
from 8pm ’til late.  There are a few
tickets left.

Please contact Vince Simmonds on 01749 xxxxxx if you are
interested in coming along.

Belfry Stove

Anyone who has visited the Belfry in the last few weeks
cannot have failed to notice the new stove. Many thanks to Ivan Sandford for building and installing this new
fire.  The Belfry now has it’s own
climate – tropical!!!

Snowboarding

Is anyone interested in snowboarding?  Carol ‘Whitemeg’ White is looking for people
who are interested in snowboarding in the Alps during the first 2 weeks of
February.  Caravan accommodation is £250
divided by the number of people sharing. Carol can be contacted during the day on 01452 x

BEC gets $100 Million!!!

(This appeared in a Newsletter from the Bahamas Tourist
Board and was submitted by Martin Grass)

BEC to Cut Sulphur Emissions

The Bahamas Electricity
Corporation will be decreasing its sulphur emissions at Clifton Pier by almost
50 per cent.  Texaco won the contract to
supply BEC from Esso who has held the contract for more than 10 years.

BEC says its switch to low
sulphur fuel is in compliance with the environmental requirements of the
Inter-American Development Bank who have provided a $100 million loan for the
expansion of BEC.  Sulphur Dioxide is
responsible for creating acid rain.

Otter Hole

Otter Hole is now closed for the remainder of the season due
to pollution and bad air.  Smells of
diesel have been progressively getting worse over the year and what appears to
be an oxygen deficiency has dealt the final blow for this season.

Goughs Cave, Cheddar

On 27th August, Clive Stell supported by Jon Edwards reached
the boulder choke in sump three of Gough’s cave.  Things have changed little since Rob Palmer
made his dives to the “end” on19/20th May 1990 and 8th July 1990.

During the intervening years, various members of the Wessex
have dived the site but this is the first time that the end has been revisited.  It is hoped that progress will be made
through the boulder choke over the next few months.

Bat Grilles

It now looks as though Box Stone Mines may be the next in
line to be fitted with bat grilles. English Nature have confirmed its wishes to install grilles at this site
and is in negotiations with the owners at present.  An enquiry revealed that no decision has been
made, so there is no time scale at present for this, but access would naturally
be affected by such an action.

Bolt Update

Resin anchors have been installed on the Entrance, New Atlas
and High Atlas pitch heads in Thrupe. The climb to Ladder Dig in GB has now been resin anchored and work will
begin on Rhino Rift soon.  There are two
stripped spits in Hunter’s Hole; one over the main pitch and one above Far
Right Pitch. Coral Cave has recently been SRT bolted.

 

 

The Uamh an Claonaite Annual Dinner Rescue

The GSG Annual Dinner was thrown into semi-disarray when a
cave rescue callout was initiated only a couple of hours earlier.  This was the 24th October.  The rains hit Sutherland in the way they had
hit Mendip all day as well.  Water levels
rose dramatically during the day and 4 cavers, including Alan ‘Goon’ Jeffrey’s
were trapped the wrong side of the Sump I bypass.  Fortunately the rains stopped for a while,
allowing the levels to drop enough for the trapped party to be brought out
through the sump using diving gear.

Definitely a case of Uamh an Claonaite – 2, Goon – Nil!!

Below is the Newspaper cutting from the ‘Press and Journal’
of Scotland on the 26/10/98.

A full report from the Mendip GSG members of the week in
Scotland will appear in the next BB.

Downpour leaves potholers trapped in Sutherland cave

by Dawn Thompson

FOUR potholers walked
laugh­ing and joking from a Sutherland cave yesterday after 14 hours trapped
Underground by rising floodwater.

As they tried to make their way out of the Clayonite cave system in
Sutherland, they found their exit blocked.

But help was not far away ­more than 50 members of the Scottish Cave
Rescue Organisation were in Inchnadamph for their annual dinner.

When the potholers – two men, a l5-year-old boy and a woman – from
Edinburgh­based Grampian Spelaeological Group, also in the area for the
dinner, failed to return, mem­bers of the SCRO went out to look for them.

The four escaped when the water level fell and two divers, also
association members, helped them duck underwater and out of the cave.  Assynt Mountain Rescue Team and offi­cers

from Northern
Constabulary were also in attendance.

David Warren, 46, of the SRCO, said the group had gone in at about
noon on Saturday.

“There was basically an extremely large downpour of rain which
blocked the cave, about 300 yards from the entrance.

“At about 5.30pm, we real­ised they were overdue.  We sent up four cavers and four cave
divers, who worked out that the cave was blocked.  The cave divers went through to the party
and spoke to them.”

Mr Warren said two of the cavers were very experienced, the others
less so.

One knew the cave extremely well and the group, all equipped with
wetsuits and lamps, sat tight in a cavern – about the size of “a small
bedroom”, with a dry mud floor – above the water level.

“We had communication with them

with the cave divers
right through.  Hot food was taken
through to them, and warm clothing, and we knew the water level was
dropping,” Mr Warren said.

He added that· the higher chambers
had not had water in for thousands of years they had known they would remain
dry.                    

“Once we knew they were in these caves, we were quite
relaxed.  You can hear the roaring of
the water but you’re not being splashed,” he said.            

“It was a matter of sitting
it out until the water level dropped.  By 2am, it had dropped sufficiently for them to exit the cave.  It was quite uneventful.

“They had to hold their breath and go underwater just for a few
seconds.”

Once out, the four were able to walk, smiling and joking with
rescuers.

They were quite cold, but they
were chatty – pleased to be out. The whole thing went very well,” Mr
Warren said

“The only real
problem was they missed their annual dinner.  People in the rescue party were coming back from the cave, changing,
having dinner and then going back afterwards.  It was all in the best possible them and taste.”

One of the two divers who took part
in the rescue even returned to the Inchnadamph Hotel and – still wearing his
wetsuit – ate his meal.  Hotel owner
Anne Archibald said: “The dinner was planned for 7.30pm and, obviously,
by the time we were ready to serve the dinner, there were only half there.

“We knew there
were quite few missing. We said we’d hang on for another hour to see what
happened.  At 8.30pm, we started
serving the dinner and the majority of them had their food then.

People kept coming in
dribs and drabs.

“We ended up
laughing about it because if we hadn’t we’d have cried.”

 

 

Note from Harry Stanbury

In BB 497, Dave Irwin mentions the missing First Volume of
the BEC Log.  Whilst I can’t solve that
problem, I can clarify details of the original Dural Ladder construction.

I had read Casteret’s “10 years Under the Earth”
and thought that his Electron ladders were incredible – small, light and
strong.  At that time I was one of a team
renewing the electrics in a large factory that had been converted to turn out
‘bits and pieces for aircraft’ – parts of the fuselages for Horsa gliders (to
be used in D-Day) tail planes for Baracudas and lots of other similar
things.  This was 1942.

Incidentally it was there that I first met Dan Hasell and
Roy Wallace and introduced them to caving.

Among the ‘bits and pieces’ that were ‘scrapped’ were
lengths of aircraft control wire and short lengths of Dural tube.  I was able to ‘scrounge’ two lengths of
control wire – about 50ft each and enough Dural tubing to make a 40ft
ladder.  Problem!!  How to fix the wire to the rungs (or the
rungs to the wire) so that we could use the ladder without the rungs (or the
person on them) sliding in a heap to the bottom!!

Answer: NUTS!!  (Plus
bolts)  This is before the days of
ferrules and crimping!  Holes were drilled
at right angles.  Bolts pushed through,
flux, solder and heat applied and Voila! – a permanently attached rung.

 

The ladder was tested and was successful.  Angus told me sometime ago that this original
ladder was still at the Belfry (not in use of course).  Is this still true??

 (Note from Ed. – We
have checked the Belfry we cannot find the ladder!  Does anyone know the whereabouts of this
ladder??)

 

Feedback on Bertie

From Harry Stanbury

I haven’t a clue on how many ‘different’ Berties there have
been, but I can possibly cast a little ray of light on the earliest ones.

Very early in the club’s history it was decided that we
needed an ’emblem’.  A bat was obviously
the beastie, as our parents/friends all thought that we were ‘batty’ to want to
crawl about in the dark, wet and cold. It was also regarded as ideal because of its ability to navigate
underground.

‘Bertie’ first appeared on our ‘Rules and Constitution
leaflet’ in, I believe, 1937, and was used for many years.  I have no idea what happened to the original
block.

The next Bertie appeared when we made a small number of
car/motorbike badges.  These were 3″
diameter metal discs.  Hand painted with
‘BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB’ around the perimeter and ‘Bertie’ in the
centre.  There is a photograph of this
one on the front of my old Ford, taken when the club’s exhibit won the first
prize in the annual Bude Carnival.

The first ‘pin-on’ badge was thought up by Ken Dobbs, who
made a number in ‘Wood’s metal’.  They
were about an inch across.  I still have
mine and I saw Dan Hasell wearing his last time we met.

I’m sure since those days there are others that can continue
the Bertie saga with details of the later Lapel Badge and of course the
‘current’ car badge.

 

BCRA Regional One Day Meeting

All are welcome

SWILDONS HOLE & ST. CUTHBERT’S SWALLET

Programme:

MORNING SESSION

09.30 Coffee
and biscuits

09.45
Photographic portrait of Swildons Hole – Peter Glanvill

10.15 Coffee
break

10.20 Early
ideas on the geomorphology of Swildons Hole – Les Williams

10.45 Diving
the Swildons Sumps in the 1950s – Fred Davies

11.10 Coffee
break

11.15
Exploring Swildons Sumps since 1965 – Mike (Trebor) McDonald

11.35 The
Geomorphology of the Wookey Catchment – Andy Farrant

12.30 – 14.00
Lunch break – food and beer available on the premises plus Videos and computer
slide shows compiled by Maurice Hewins and Dave Irwin

AFTERNOON SESSION

14.00 Early exploration of
Swildon’s Hole – Dave Irwin

14.30 Photographic portrait of
St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Peter Glanvill

15.00 Coffee break

15.15 The Hydrology of the Wookey
Catchment – Roger Stenner

1600 Early attempts at digging in
the St. Cuthbert’s Swallet Catchment – Dave Irwin

16.30 Coffee break

16.45 General discussion

17.15-1730 – clear up!

Bar, refreshments,
displays and club stands

NOVEMBER 21st, 1998

PRIDDY VILLAGE HALL,
9.30AM – 5.30PM

Admission £1.00 at
the door.

Further details from Dave Irwin, Priddy, Somerset.

Clubs wishing to set a sales or display stand should contact
Dave Irwin

 

Climbing? !!!!!

By Kangy King

Stunned by the esteemed Mr. Wilson’s climbing article,
because I’d become accustomed to reading ‘All About Caving’, I hunted out some
old BBs.  Sure enough those edited by
Harry Stanbury in the ’50’s had lots of interesting climbing stuff in them
Dennis Kemp wrote about duff (note for the young, duff means crap) karabiners,
Jack Weadon warned about the lack of belays on ‘Tyro’s Crack’ on the Rock of
Ages in Burrington (there was nothing to hitch a sling around until the top of
the climb was reached at 140ft, climbing ropes were then uniformly 120ft in
length and chocks hadn’t been invented, leaving twenty feet in which to become
creative.  Leaders were considered to be
expendable) and Tom Fletcher wrote a huge article about Spitzburgen for the
l00th BB.

In those days a primary interest of many members was
climbing.  My first climb was ‘Piton
Route’ in the Avon Gorge pioneered by the amazing Balcombe who was also very
active in primitive cave diving.  There
were very few climbers and lots of opportunity to explore.  The very first Guide to our area
“Limestone Climbs in South-West England” by Hugh Banner in 1954,
thanked Pat Ifold and Dave Radmore of the BEC for their “great assistance
in the production of this guidebook”. I still have my copy of this Guide, which listed 98 climbs, from the
Avon Gorge to Ebbor and Cheddar, most of which we’d done anyway before the
Guide was published.  We met two
brothers, Admiral and Commander Lawder, who cheered us on at Cheddar while we
fiddled about trying to find new routes and who later showed us the Dewerstone
near Plymouth.  The Lawders were wildly
enthusiastic and the last time I heard of them they had fallen off ‘Square
Chimney’ – guide book quote – “loose and filthy but provides good
exercise” fortunately only breaking bones.

We went frequently to North Wales at weekends in a variety
of hired bangers, or by motor bike, with enough support to warrant maintaining
a small hut near Llyn Ogwen in the Nant Ffrancon valley.  That collapsed and during the ’60’s we used
the Bunkhouse at Gwern y Gof Isaf.

There are plenty of BEC caving reports but the only BEC
climbing guide that I can remember was a Club Report entitled “Some
Sandstone Climbs in the Upper Frome Valley at Bristol” which has action
photographs of “Eaves” showing heave-ho moves under and over an
overhang.  I went back to the area later
and dug out more.  An article in the 50th
Anniversary Belfry Bulletin described these. The best was called ‘Golden Daffodil’. It is interesting to see our more heroic efforts picked out in chalky
hand marks.  The climbs have been renamed
and described again in the latest South West Guide.  We spent hours ripping ivy and loose rocks
from the steeper bits and picking out lines. The re-discoverer must have been really pleased to have found these nice
bits of bare rock just waiting to be climbed! However I must admit that, now the adrenaline of exploration has
subsided, scrambling up the loose rock, dust and dirt of the final yard or so
of subsoil was fairly unpleasant.  Nice
steep energetic climbs though.

Since those days we haven’t really had an organised climbing
section which is a pity as “We are The Exploration Club”, which
sounds as if it ought to be more than just a caving club.

Despite this, I know that some of us individuals still stick
together and have tried to sail in a small dinghy to Lundy to climb the ‘Devils
Slide’.  And thought better of it in
mountainous seas!  Or more recently on
treacherous terrain, to feel pretty nervous about an unforgiving mountain
called Balaitous.

 

The Priddy Green Song!

Tune: Wandering lrishman
Author: M. Hollan
Source: Alfie

As I was a-walking one summers
day o’er Mendip’s pleasant face,
I came across a village green, a sylvan sort of place,
I met some cavers rough and rude, all singing this strange refrain,
“Oh, you’ll rue the day that you came this way to dig on Priddy
Green”

The Entrance it is narrow, boys, fed into by a drain,
Connected by some sewer pipes to some cows by Farmer Maine
The smell it is fantastical, some say it is unclean,
“Oh, you’ll rue the day that you came this way to dig on Priddy
Green”

The dig was started in ’59 by a fellow called Hanwell, James,
Who had a reputation, boys, for playing peculiar games,
We dug it ten times over, boys, our language was obscene
“Oh, you’ll rue the day that you came this way to dig on Priddy
Green”

The Entrance it is a fearsome thing, ’tis a circular concrete pot,
It’s easy if you’re six feet tall, for the likes of me, it’s not!
There’s a nailhold halfway up, my boys, only it can’t be seen,
“Oh, you’ll rue the day that you came this way to dig on Priddy
Green”

Now someone started a rumour, boys, that you’ve doubtless heard before
They said the dig on Priddy Green would connect with Swildons Four,
There’s only five hundred feet to go, but there’s limestone in between,
“Oh, you’ll rue the day that you came this way to dig on Priddy
Green”

We’ve used ten tons of gelignite, and we’ve lost a man or two,
I expect well lose another, boys, before this dig is through,
But we’ve added a hundred feet or more to the subterranean scene,
“Oh, you’ll rue the day that you came this way to dig on Priddy
Green”

Additional verses compiled by A. Jarratt
after the breakthrough.
Author A. Jarratt

For many years ‘neath bovine waste the cave was then interred,
Until the BEC arrived – another noisome herd.
They banged the upper level to what no-one else had seen.
“Oh, you’ll rue the day that you came this way to dig on Priddy
Green”

After squeezing through the bastard on the virgins they went down.
They’re tight and wet and filthy and a likely place to drown.
Though they weren’t the first to get there where a million worms had been.
“Oh, you’ll rue the day that you came this way to dig on Priddy
Green”

So now there’s a connection from the Green to Swildons four,
Created by a host of blokes O’ er thirty years or more,
Though it’s not an easy option if your neither fit or lean,
At least you’ll never have to come and dig on Priddy Green.

 

A Bit of History

From Harry Stanbury

Harry sent me the following cutting from his local newspaper
regarding one of the BEC’s earlier ‘exploits’. The ‘cave’ mentioned is probably a trial hole for mine workings and very
rare in this part of Cornwall.  A plan
was made by Don Coase and published in an early BB.

50 years ago. Aug 21, 1948

Haunted Cave – A
cave about one mile along the coast to the north of Bude is reputed to be
haunted.  Members of a Bristol
exploration club penetrated to a depth of 70 feet from the entrance which lies
at the bottom of a 200 foot cliff.  It is
said that the cave extends underground to Maer Down, 1½ miles from the
cliff.  A quarter of a mile nearer Bude,
extending in a long slope from hundreds of feet inland is a spot locally known
as ‘Earthquake’ the appearance of which, with its deep chasms and upheavals of
rock, convey that at some previous date there was a terrific fall of cliff or
eruption of earth, and where it is reputed a monastery once stood.  In the village churchyard of Poughill, three
miles inland, a large stone denotes the burial place of a skeleton of a big man
found at ‘Earthquake’ many years ago and reburied in the churchyard.  Finds in the cave, considered to be a genuine
smugglers hide-out, include part of a donkey’s climbing shoe and an iron spike
which had been driven into the wall of the cave.  The exploration team are also diving at Wokey
Hole.

Guess the Cave

Photo by Pete Glanvill

(Answer next BB)

 

 

Sleepless in A Skoda

By Vince Simmonds

A tale of a wet week in Ireland (Northern and Eire).

Saturday 5-9-98.

A bright early start saw Roz Bateman and Vince Simmonds
starting their journey to Ireland via Cairnryan to Lame.

On the way we decided to spend a couple of days in Cumbria
arriving at about 11 0′ clock.  We headed
to Fairy Cave, a site we had visited a couple of years ago and where we had
noticed an interesting hole.  Located on
the road to Witherslack, just below Catcrag.

Decent enough cave, easy going along mainly walking,
horizontal passage.  However, we had
forgotten just how deep some of the mud was. Set to the task of enlarging the hole, turned around to find Roz sinking
into the mud.  As she was struggling to
extricate herself a small hole low at floor level was noticed.  An extremely muddy squeeze, after some
modification, led into a chamber.  Well-decorated
3m wide, 8m long and 2m high to a sump, no open passage led off.  Could not be sure whether or not this chamber
had been entered before.

Sunday 6-9-98

Not such a pleasant start, low cloud and windy.

After a stop in Keswick headed for Helvellyn.  Started walking from Thirlmere water.  Steady ascent to the summit where we
encountered very strong winds and low cloud. Decided against walking Striding Edge and descended via Nethermost Pike
and a stroll through the forest alongside Thirlmere.

After a couple of pints we decided to head on to Cairnryan.

Spent a less than comfortable night sleeping in the van
listening to the wind and rain.

Monday 7-9-98

After a very rapid crossing on the Jetliner (less than an
hour) to Larne we headed for Co. Fermanagh. Still raining.

Stopped in Enniskillen for swim and shower, got some
supplies and the first pint of real Guinness.

On arrival at Belcoo tried to find somewhere to pitch our
tent, no luck, so out to Boho to see Brian MacKenzie at the Linnet.  He was very helpful but said his fields were
too wet to camp and suggested the Quarry in Belmore Forest.

From the Quarry could not resist a walk up to Pollnagollum
Coolarkan (Co. Fermanagh) the area around the entrance had been cleared since
we were last here.  The 12m waterfall was
very impressive swollen by the heavy rain.

Back to the Linnet for refreshment and another night in the
van.

Tuesday 8-9-98

After breakfast in the Quarry we got ready to go to
Coolarkan.

We spent 3 hours on, in and around this enigmatic cave once
cast as “a slur on Irish caving”.

For those people who haven’t seen this cave a brief
description.  As already mentioned a 12m
waterfall enters from one side of the large entrance arch which leads onto
large walking passage.  Easy going leads
to a massive choke; there are no side passages. Beyond the choke there is potential for 1.8kms of cave passage.

After spending some time having a few tentative prods in the
choke we decided to return to the surface and have a look at the shakehole that
forms part of the choke.  It was a bit of
a struggle through thick scrub to reach it and on arrival it was obvious the
only way into the choke from here is with a Hymac.

We then decided to visit Pollnagollum (of the Boats).  Located on the Marlbank scenic loop road this
cave is close to, and part of the Marble Arch Cave system (Co. Fermanagh).

After picking one of several routes through a couple of
chokes the way on opens into large stream passage and a swim across the first
lake.  Water levels were rather high and
so we tried to progress by avoiding the full force of the water as much as
possible.  Good fun trip with some fine
formations and incredibly marbled limestone.

Back to the Linnet, the quarry and the van, it’s still
raining.

Wednesday 9-9-98

Started to head towards Donegal via the scenic route and
locate a cave in Co.  Sligo spotted by
Roz a few years ago when travelling with her brother.

Driving around the Gleniff Horseshoe loop road Roz was
talking about this huge cave entrance. All I could see were a few tiny openings halfway up the hill.  We eventually decided to park the van and
have a brew, then as the clouds lifted slightly we saw the entrance high up at
the top of the hill.

Diarmaid and Grainnes Cave (Co. Sligo) involves 1000ft climb
up a very nearly vertical peat bog to a slippery rock scramble to a big cave
entrance 100ft wide and 30ft high. Climbing over large boulders leads to a side passage and an ongoing rift
at the rear.  Unfortunately we were not
equipped for caving.  A very impressive spot
and well worth a visit if the opportunity should arise.

Following the coast road we stopped for lunch in Donegal
before resuming our journey.  We visited
some caves at Maghera Bay (signposted from the main road) formed in white
quartzite, superb white sandy beach even the sun was shining just for a change.

Eventually stopped for the night at Dungloe where we found a
good campsite with hot showers

Thursday 10-9-98

Miserable day!

Went to a small sea cave at Melmore Point (Co.
Donegal).  The dead porpoise was more
impressive.  We made several attempts to
walk and look at other things but the weather defeated us.  Did find a decent boozer, which was the best
place to be on a day like this.

So fed up with the weather we stayed in a bed and breakfast
on the shore of Lough Swilly, very pleasant spot.

Friday 11-9-98

At last some half-decent weather.  We set off to Doebeg, a bay situated on Fanad
Head, Co. Donegal.  Spent a good while
scrambling around the rocks to reach some interesting sea caves.  The longest was about 30m.  The entrance is next to a very impressive
rock arch.  Most of the caves were 10-15m
long and many contained good formations – mainly flowstones and straws.

Picked a bag of winkles for lunch.  Roz wasn’t so sure so she settled for a
cheese sandwich.  Had a late afternoon,
early evening stroll up to Murren Hill which gave us stunning views of the
Donegal coastline from Bloody Foreland right round to Malin Head, and inland to
the mountains of Muckish and Errigal highlighted by the setting sun.  Marvellous!

Saturday 12-9-98

Maggie’s wedding, lots of Guinness, a flat battery … that’
s another story, a jolly time was had by all.

Sunday 13-9-98

The journey home, bumpy ferry crossing and a long drive back
to Mendip.

There’s plenty for everyone in the northern counties of
Ireland, be it caving, walking or whatever – try it out sometime.

The locals are friendly and we have permission to explore
land where there are rumours of caves.

 

A Brush With Darkness

 

 

The Basang Cave Survey, Aldan Province, Philippines

By James Smart

The 1992 BEC expedition to the Philippines generated a lot
of media coverage and brought us to the attention of the prestigious
Prudentialife Corporation of Makati in Metro Manilla.  They had recently acquired some land in northern
Panay Island, and in return for a survey of a short cave here, we were treated
to a luxury weekend on the nearby paradise island of Boracay, frequently voted
as having one of the world’s top ten beaches.

Unfortunately for international relations, the completed
survey was mislaid during the preparation of the expedition report (Speleo
Philippines 1992).  It is reproduced here
for completeness.

Basang Cave is well known locally and is situated at Basang
about an hour drive from Boracay Island. The Prudentialife Corporation were hoping to tap into Boracay’s tourist
trade by developing the site as an attraction. Wishful thinking.  The cave has long been visited by locals and
where the walls and formations aren’t spoilt by graffiti, they’re soiled by bat
guano.  The grandest formations are found
in Bat Chamber and Scorpion Grotto but they are rapidly disintegrating due to
the resolution and a visit• here is marred by the presence of thousands of bats
and their guano.

Our surveyed length came to 765m. Another mention of the
cave has subsequently come to light (Ferret, 1991) which gives the length as
909m and depth of 10m.

References:

Ferret, Gerard, 1991:

Expedition Philippines 91 –
(preliminary report); unpublished.

Speleo Philippines 1992:

The Journal of the Joint Bristol
Exploration Club (United Kingdom and the National Mountaineering Federation of
the Philippines expedition. Bristol Exploration Club; 46pp maps, photos, and
surveys.

James Smart can be contacted by e-mail

 

 

Cartoon

 

 

Swinsto at Last!

By Rich Long

Things didn’t bode well, Zot WAS READY! AND WAITING!

This is just not the correct beginning for a Zot trip.  Unfortunately, my ex-P.O. van had just conked
out an hour before when I had gone to pick up my brother, Brian.  He is an AA man for his sins.  This put me in the right frame of mind for a
nice drive up the motorway to Yorkshire on a Friday evening!

“Diesels don’t do that!” Brian said, after the van
switched itself off and refused to start, “Perhaps it knows where it’s
going and who’s coming with us.”  I
whispered.  Speaking loudly and
pretending we were going on our own, the gullible little beauty started and
caused no other problem there and back.

Well, as I said Zot and Mark were indeed waiting and without
a fuss we were off.

Of course the usual navigation problems and choice of route
was broached, this time I just went wherever they said.  After a stop at a very welcome hostelry, we
arrived at Horton-in-Ribblesdale at 12.15am, only to be greeted by the very
nice lady who runs the guesthouse opposite the pub and Craven Cottage.

Zot was in the Craven’s cottage; poor innocent Mark was
standing in the road when the ‘Lady’ approached.

“Can I help you, young man?”

“Oooh, no thank you.” said the ever polite Mark.

“What is he doing?” pointing at the growling van
and me.

“Just turning around, Madam” replied Mark.

“No he isn’t!!! He’s parking!!!!”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” said Mark, sadly unaware
of my full intentions.

“HE IS!!!” said the increasingly anxious
proprietor, now thinking she was being overrun by travellers, “Oh my
God!!!  Now he’s blowing his hooter and
he’s switched off his engine!”

“I’m sure it was an accident, I’d be glad to ask him to
move it if you require?” said Mark.

“Oh dear God, No!!!” tears welling up in her eyes
“I have a hotel full of guests, just get him to move it first thing in the
morning, Please!!”

“I surely will, Good Night.”

Well, I did move it first thing; do you think 6.45am was
early enough?

By l0am the sleeping beauties were up and we were on our way
to Swinsto via Ingleton and the excellent Fountain Cafe.  At 2.30 Zot was changed and we were parked
near Valley Entrance almost ready to go.

Zot said “I’ll meet you at the top.”  I must admit I was getting a little
concerned, up to now nothing had really gone wrong and this was a ‘ZOT’ Trip!

With much panting and several stops due to the excessive
heat (nothing to do with the fact that we are big, fat, unfit Herbert’s) we
reached the top, straining at the leash to get underground.

“Hello!” said Zot, sitting by the wrong Pot,
“I’ve just got to find the entrance and we’re off!”

I love the Yorkshire Hills and Dales but not when you’re
walking about, kitted up for caving, in what must have been at least 120
degrees in the shade, well, it might not have been quite that hot, but after 45
minutes and several different promising holes, it felt like it.  Now, this was more like it, the true Zot trip
had arrived.

Suddenly, Swinsto was found, damn me, it was right where
Chris had left it last time, with a fine healthy stream flowing into it, a
reminder of yesterday’s heavy rains.

Well, it was sporting to say the least, the water kept us
nice and cool and the abseils were excellent in that volume of water.  The double pitch with the ledge was a good
place for group hugs as the pictures may show. Mark had a fine time at the bottom of the second pitch swimming around
in the pool trying to continue his abseil, shades of Free Willy.

We continued on to the last small pitch, where Simpson joins
and met two other intrepid cavers.  In
the excellent spirit of the Mendip caver, my little Brother offered them our
rope to descend on, for which they thanked him. The first started to descend using a Petzl Stop descender.  Now, whether he was unsure of his equipment
or he was an excellent gymnast I do not know, as part way down this small
descent, he decided to show us he could abseil completely upside down at high
speed in this very respectable force of water, remarkable!  I would imagine his sinuses will be clear for
several weeks.  The ever-vigilant Mark
whispered to me, which was quite a feat in that chamber, “Perhaps I should
have mentioned that rope doesn’t work too well on Petzl kit for some
reason.”

“I think he may know that now Mark, lets just keep that
information to ourselves, shall we?  Just
to avoid embarrassing the poor fellow.” and on this we agreed.  The two said goodbye and continued on their
way, shortly followed by us.  Excellent
sporting streamway, better than “Bridgwater splash”, back out into
the sunlight and back to Horton.

Whereupon we spent the evening at the “Brass Cat”
with jolly nice people from both the Bradford and the Craven clubs.  We eventually left when the bar staff stole
our drinking vessels and turned out all the lights, which is apparently
Yorkshire for “Bugger off, I want to go to bed!”

Next day Brian, Mark and I popped up to Gaping Gill to watch
the Craven set up the winch.  Well, after
we had left Horton, got to Ingleton, Chris realising he had left his bum bag
containing his worldly possessions at the club house, gone back to Horton and
then come back to Ingleton for the second time, now it was a real Zotty trip.

Chris stayed at Clapham as I think the travelling may have
tired him out and made sure the Pub was still there.  It was, everything in its place as it should
be.

Well, its taken four years for Zot and myself to do Swinsto
together and it was great.  Thanks Chris,
it’s always an experience, we all agree, well the other two will agree when
they are off the medication and are able to communicate again, there is nothing
more interesting and fun than a Zotty Trip.

Of course, now, we’ve got to think of somewhere else to
play.  I haven’t been to Spain caving, so
who knows?

Have we got an extradition treaty with the Spanish?

 

Gough’s Cave Booklets. 1922 – 1934

Published by Arthur George Henry Gough

Compiled by Dave Irwin

For some time the writer has been compiling ephemera
catalogues of the handbills, booklets, posters etc., that are known to have
been published by the three principal Mendip showcaves.

Cox’s Cave was discovered by a workman named Cooper, and
opened to the public in 1838 by George Cox, owner of the gristmill known today
as the Cliff Hotel.  Cox’s Cave was then
known as the Stalactite Cavern until the late 19th Century. Posters of Cox’s
Cave sometimes come on the market but are rare. Luckily there is a fine selection to be seen in local libraries.  Longleat Estate regained control of the cave
in 1939. (note 1)

Gough’s Old Cave or Gough’s Great Stalactite Cavern was
operated by John and Ann Weeks (Jack and Nancy) until their deaths in 1877 and
1876 respectively.  Gough gained control
of the site about May 1877 and by the end of that year the large entrance to
the Concert Chamber was cleared for public viewing.  The lack of formations, except for three very
small grottoes, forced Richard Gough to adopt unconventional methods of
attracting his customers.  The chamber
was decorated with Chinese lanterns and fairy lights, fountains were erected
and popular concerts were often held there including a family of hand-bell
ringers!! Posters are known as are handbills in both private and public
collections.  The cave was closed to the
public sometime during the first decade of the 20th Century. (note 2.3)

Gough’s Cave (Gough’s New Cave) was opened to the public as
soon as the first extension, to the Fonts, was made in November 1893.  Then known as Gough’s Great Rockwork Cavern,
Richard Cox Gough displayed the magnificent gours decorating the entrance
passage with Chinese lanterns and held concerts which entertained up to 900
people!  A year later he had blasted his
way into Heartbreak Hill and the Swiss Village area.  In November 1898 he broke through to the St.
Paul’s and Diamond Chamber with its magnificent Solomon’s Temple and Niagara
Falls. Following Richard’s death in 1902, Arthur Gough, his eldest son, took
over management of the cave with Gough’s widow Frances.  Arthur remained in this post until a court
case in 1933 when he was replaced by Captain Brend of the Air Flying
Corps.  The lease agreed by Richard Gough
in 1877 ended in 1927 when control to Gough’s Cave returned to the Longleat
Estate. (note 4,5)

The earliest booklets published by Arthur Gough were
published between 1910 and 1913.  The
next group was published in 1922, using photographs by J. Harry Savory, (note 6)
and remained in print, in various editions, until 1934.

The recorded booklets are listed below and bear the
reference number allocated them in the full ephemera catalogue prepared by the
writer. The more common pictorial booklets published by William Gough, with the
oval cut-out in the front cover, will be discussed in a future Belfry Bulletin.

 

The Arthur G.H. Gough booklets. Left – GCB020 and GCB030;
centre – GCB040 and GCB050 and right GCB060 and GCB070

Ref. No.: GCB 020

Date: 1922 mss

Title: A
Pictorial Guide Gough’s Caves Cheddar. Sole Publisher AG.H. Gough, Cheddar Somerset.  Author: AG.H. Gough (?)

Illustrations by AG.R. Gough and J.R. Savory; all printed in
sepia Sequence of photographs:

Page     Title

2          The Pre-Historic man & his flint
implements

3          “The Fonts”. A wonderful
series of stalagmite basins.

6          “The Archangel’s Wing”. A
stalactite curtain 15 feet long

7          “The Zambesi Falls.” and
Nature’s work underground: Marvellous colour and form

10         A group of pillars showing wonderful
variety of form and In “Solomon’s Temple”.  A magnificent column 11 feet high.

11         A beautiful reflected group in Gough’s
Caves.

14         In “St. Paul’s” a cascade of
stalagmite 90 feet high and The Frozen “Niagara Falls”

15         In semblance [sic] of a frozen river.
Sparkling like Diamonds and of surpassing beauty.

18         In the “Diamond Chamber”
showing part of the “Niagara Falls.”

19         “Aladdin’s Grotto” reflected.

22         “The Peal of Bells.” and A
forest of fine stalactites.

23         A specimen stalactite and curtain of
purest white and “The Fairy Grotto” unique reflections.

26         A great mound of stalagmite with curious
erratic pillars and A peep in “Aladdin’s Grotto.”

27         A new discovery. The most wonderful
curtain in Gough’s Caves. and Still reflections in a silent pool.

30         A forest of stalactites on the waterwom
limestone roof and Pools and prolific stalactites in the wonderful
“Aladdin’s Grotto.”

31         “The Organ Pipes. ”

Cover: buff card with red and black
text and black sketch of ‘Reflected group’ all inside red, single line frame.
Text printed in black

Printer: E.W.
Savory, Bristol

Binding: saddle
stitched

Size: 12.5 x
15.3cm

NOTES: Earliest possible date for this
booklet is 1922 as a number of Savory photos. Were taken during February
1922.  Copy recorded bearing manuscript
date September 1922

There is no title page

Two versions of this booklet has been recorded

a)      
Inside covers bear advertisement for Gough’s Tea Gardens (inside front) and
Llewellyn Gough’s advertisement for sale of cheese (inside back cover)

b)      
Advertisements for sale of cheese by AG.H. Gough pasted in on inside both front
and back covers Ref.: Men Bib Pt. IT, No.197C similar

Ref. No.: GCB 030

Date: c.1924-1927

Title: A Pictorial Guide Gough’s Caves
Cheddar. Sole Publisher AG.H. Gough, Cheddar Somerset. Author: A.G.H. Gough (?)

Illustrations by AG.H. Gough and J.R. Savory; all printed in
sepia Sequence of photographs: same as GCB020

NOTES: Page 9 differs from GCB 020 by
the addition of a final paragraph relating to Jacob’s Ladder thus: ” Of
the new Cathedral at Westminster.

A few paces beyond there is a cleft … ”

Inside covers bear an advertisement for Gough’s Tea Gardens
(inside front cover) and Llewellyn Gough’s advertisement for sale of cheese
(inside back cover)

All other details as GCB 020

Ref.: Men Bib Pt.
II, No.197C similar

Ref. No.: GCB 040

Date: c.1928

Cover title: Pictorial Guide The Caves
Cheddar Opposite the Lion Rock A.G.H. Gough Manager Cheddar Somerset.

Title page:
Pictorial Guide to The Caves Cheddar Author: A.G.H. Gough (?); see notes

Illustrations by AG.H. Gough and l.R. Savory; all printed in
sepia Sequence of photographs:

Page     Title

2          Skull of the Cheddar Man

3          The Grandeur of Cheddar Gorge

6          “The Fonts”.  A wonderful series of stalagmite basins.

7          “The Organ Pipes”

10         The most wonderful curtain in Gough’s
Caves.

11         “The Peal of Bells”

14         A beautiful reflected group in Gough’s
Caves

15         In semblance of a frozen river

18         Wonderful stalactite drapery

19         Reflections in a silent pool.  The fairy Grotto

22         In “Solomon’s Temple.”  A magnificent column 11 feet high

23         “The Archangel’s Wing.”  A stalactite curtain 15 feet long

26         “The Niagara Falls”

27         A fallen giant in the great Boulder
Chamber

30         A specimen stalactite and curtain of
purest white

31         Aladdin’s Pool

Cover: buff card with red and
brownish-black text inside red, single line, frame all surrounded by background
sketch of Solomon’s Pillar, this too inside a red single lined frame.

Printer: E.W.
Savory, Bristol

Text printed in sepia

Binding: saddle
stitched

Size: 12.5 x
15.3cm

NOTES: It is
possible that the archaeological notes may have been written by R.F. Parry. The
textural style changes markedly in the short archaeological note.

P .16 – caves stated as being discovered in 1877

P.17 – ” n. an interesting excavation was carried out
during the winter of 1927 n. in November last … ” The infers that the
text was written in 1928, probably for publication that year.

Ref.: Men Bib Pt.
II, No. 197D similar

Ref. No.: GCB 050

Date: c.1930

Cover title:
Pictorial Guide The Caves Cheddar Opposite the Lion Rock AG.H. Gough Manager
Cheddar Somerset.

Title page:
Pictorial Guide to The Caves Cheddar Author: AG.H. Gough (?); see notes

Illustrations by AG.H. Gough and l.H. Savory; all printed in
sepia Sequence of photographs:

Page     Title

2          The Lion Rock, Cheddar Gorge

3          The Cheddar Gorge

6          Rising of Cheddar water at foot of
caves

7          Hartstongue fern growing in the caves

10         The Fonts

11         The Niagara Falls

14         Stalactite drapery

15         The Archangel’s Wing.  A stalactite curtain 15 feet long

18         In Solomon’s Temple.  A magnificent column 11 feet long

19         Stalactites & Curtain

22         In Solomon’s Temple

23         Reflected group

26         In the Diamond Chamber

27         View of the boulders

30         Skull of the Cheddar Man

31         Implements of Magdalinean Age found at
the cave entrance

Cover: buff card with red and
brownish-black text inside red, single line, frame all surrounded by background
sketch of Solomon’s Pillar, this too inside a red single lined frame.

Printer: E.W.
Savory, Bristol

Text printed in sepia

Binding: saddle
stitched

Size: 12.5 x
l5.3cm

NOTES: It is possible that the
archaeological notes may have been written by R.F. Parry.  The textural style changes markedly in the
short archaeological note.

P.16 – notes on the cave discovery corrected thus “….Gough’s
Old Cave was discovered in 1877, and those now shown to the public in 1898 ….
‘”

P.17 – “…..an interesting excavation was carried out during
the winter of 1927, and the work has been continued each year since … “

Ref.: Men Bib Pt. II, No. 197D similar

Ref. No.: GCB 060

Date: c.1930

Cover title: A Pictorial Guide Gough’s
Caves Cheddar. Opposite the Lion Rock A.G.H. Gough Manager Cheddar Somerset.

Title page: Pictorial Guide to The
Caves Cheddar Author: A.G.H. Gough (?); see notes

Illustrations by A.G.H. Gough and J.H. Savory; all printed
in sepia Sequence of photographs:

Page     Title

2          The Lion Rock, Cheddar Gorge

3          The Cheddar Gorge

6          Rising of Cheddar water at foot of
caves

7          Hartstongue fern growing in the caves

10         The Fonts

11         The Niagara Falls

14         Stalactite drapery

15         The Archangel’s Wing. A stalactite
curtain 15 feet long

18         In Solomon’s Temple. A magnificent
column 11 feet long

19         Stalactites & Curtain

22         In Solomon’s Temple

23         Reflected group

26         In the Diamond Chamber

27         View of the boulders

30         Skull of the Cheddar Man

31         Implements of Magdalinean Age found at
the cave entrance

Cover: buff card with red and brownish-black
text inside red, single line, frame all surrounded by background sketch of
Solomon’s Pillar, this too inside a red single lined frame.

Printer: E.W.
Savory, Bristol

Text printed in sepia

Binding: saddle
stitched

Size: 12.5 x
15.3cm

NOTES: It is possible that the
archaeological notes may have been written by R.F. Parry.  The textural style changes markedly in the
short archaeological note.

P.16 – notes on the cave discovery corrected thus “….
Gough’s Old Cave was discovered in 1877, and those now shown to the public in
1898 …. “

P.17 – “… an interesting excavation was carried out during
the winter of 1927, and the work has been continued each year since … “

There are no advertisements on the inside covers

Ref. No.: GCB 070

As GCB 060 but for sticker pasted at foot of front cover,
printed in red: Under the direction of Viscount WEYMOUTH, M.P. Manager: Capt.
P. BREND, A.F.C. Phone – Cheddar 74.

Ref.: Men Bib Pt
II, No.197E

Notes

1.                  Irwin, David J., 1987, Cox’s Cave, Cheddar: a
history UBSS Proceedings 18(1) 20-42(Nov), maps, illus., survey.

2.                  Irwin, David J., 1987, A brief history of
Gough’s Caves, Cheddar. BEC Bel Bu141(440) 8-17(Jul), illus.

3.                  Irwin, David J., 1986, Gough’s Old Cave – its
history UBSS Proceedings 17(3)250-266(Nov), map, illus., survey

4.                  Irwin, David J., 1986, The exploration of
Gough’s Cave and its development as a show cave. UBSS Proceedings
17(2)95-101(for 1985), illus., published Jan 1986

5.                   Irwin,
David J., 1987, A brief history of Gough’s Caves, Cheddar. [as above]

6.                  Savory took a number of photographs of the cave
in 1913, which were published as picture postcards by Gough’s Cave in that
year.  A further selection of photographs
were taken by him in February 1922.  It
is the use of the later photographs that help date these booklets.

 

Jokes Page

Food

ON TESCO’S TIRIMISU DESERT – Do not turn upside down.  (Printed on the bottom of the box.)

ON MARKS & SPENCER BREAD PUDDING – Product will be hot
after heating

ON PACKAGING FOR A ROWENTA IRON – Do not Iron clothes on
body

ON BOOTS CHILDREN’S COUGH MEDICINE – Do not drive car or
operate machinery

ON NYTOL (A SLEEP AID) – Warning: may cause drowsiness

ON A KOREAN KITCHEN KNIFE – Warning keep out of children

ON A STRING OF CHINESE MADE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – For indoor or
outdoor use only.

ON A JAPANESE FOOD PROCESSOR – Not to be used for the other
use

ON SAINSBURY’S PEANUTS – Warning: contains nuts

ON AN AMERICAN AIRLINES PACKET OF NUTS – Instructions: open
packet, eat nuts.

ON A SWEDISH CHAINSAW – Do not attempt to stop chain with
your hands

ON A PACKET OF SUNMAID RAISINS – Why not try tossing over
your favourite breakfast cereal?

Ever Wonder Why???

Tell a man that there are 400 billion stars, and he’ll
believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint, and he has to touch it.

How come SUPERMAN could stop bullets with his chest, but
always ducked when someone threw a gun at him?

Whose cruel idea was it for the word “Lisp” to
have an “S” in it?

What’s another word for synonym?

If a man speaks and there is no woman to hear him, is he
still wrong?

If a turtle loses its shell, is it naked or homeless?

Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?

Quotes

Jon Snow: “In a sense, Deng Xiaoping’s death was
inevitable, wasn’t it?” Expert: “Er, yes.” (Channel 4 News)

“As Phil De Glanville said, each game is unique, and
this one is no different to any other.” (John Sleightholme – BBC1)

“If England are going to win this match, they’re going
to have to score a goal.” (Jimmy Hill – BBC)

“Beethoven, Kurtag, Charles Ives, Debussy   –  four very different names.” (Presenter, BBC Proms, Radio 3)

“Cystitis is a living death, it really is.  Nobody ever talks about it, but if I was
faced with a choice between having my arms removed and getting cystitis, I’d
wave goodbye to my arms quite happily.” (Louise Wener (of Sleeper) in Q
Magazine)

“Julian Dicks is everywhere. It’s like they’ve got
eleven Dicks on the field.” (Metro Radio Sports Commentary)

Listener: “My most embarrassing moment was when my
artificial leg fell off at the altar on my wedding day.” Simon Fanshawe:
“How awful!  Do you still have an
artificial leg?” (Talk Radio)

Interviewer: “So did you see which train crashed into
which train first?” 15-year-old: “No, they both ran into each other
at the same time.” (BBC Radio 4)

Presenter (to palaeontologist): “So what would happen
if you mated the woolly mammoth with, say, an elephant?” Expert:
“Well in the same way that a horse and a donkey produce a mule, we’d get a
sort of half-mammoth. Presenter: “So it’d be like some sort of hairy
gorilla?” Expert: “Er, well yes, but elephant shaped, and with
tusks.” (GLR)

Kilroy-Silk: “Did you mean to get pregnant?” Girl:
“No. It was a cock-up.”

Grand National winning jockey Mick Fitzgerald: “Sex is
an anti-climax after that!” Desmond Lynam: “Well, you gave the horse
a wonderful ride, everyone saw that.” (BBC)

Ponder this one!!

If you love something, set it free.  If it comes back, it was, and always will be
yours.  If it never returns, it was never
yours to begin with.  If it just sits in
your living room, messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your telephone,
takes your money, and never behaves as if you actually set it free in the first
place, you either married it or gave birth to it!

 

Carbon Dioxide Concentrations in the Air in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

R.D. Stenner and R.G.
Picknett

When Bob Picknett, his friend and I reached the surface at
the end of the 4½-hour trip on Sunday evening, 30th January 1972, the rim of
the entrance lid was glistening with frost. As we hauled ourselves out into a glorious frosty scene, flood-lit by a
full moon and a sky full of stars, our boiler suits stuck to the lid –
instantly frozen to it.  The trip had
been made to collect a set of air carbon dioxide measurements, using Draeger
gas analysis equipment.

I can’t blame people who knew me when I was so ill in 1987
for doubting my memories of what happened more than twenty years ago.  So I looked up the phases of the moon in an
old diary.  There was a full moon on the
last day of 1971, so the moon was full on the evening of the trip, just as I
remembered.

There was another feature of the trip, which had an
important bearing on the set of results, and which I have not had a chance to
verify.  Brilliant clear skies in January
are linked to an anticyclone, and high atmospheric pressure.  This was noted in my own caving log entry for
the trip.  The consequence of this
weather system was a blast of bitingly cold air into the cave. This is what
took the temperature of the entrance lid down below freezing point, and caused
the current of cold air we commented on as we stood by the stal graveyard in
Pillar Chamber, looking down into Mud Hall on the way out.

The Draeger apparatus was used with tubes for measuring low
levels of carbon dioxide.  A length of
rubber tubing was used to make sure that our breath did not affect the results,
and at Arête Chamber it was used to draw air from the boulder ruckle behind the
North-East Inlet.  We took the Old Route
to Mud Hall, and from Lower Mud Hall we went into the Rocky Boulder Series,
where we sampled the air in a dead-end passage, and at the lowest point of the
passage leading to the Traverse Chamber false bedding plane.  From here we went to Traverse Chamber, where
we took another measurement beside the waterfall from the Maypole Series.  Bypass Passage and Stream Passage to Stal.
Pitch, where the deepest measurement was made, and then we filled in with
measurements in odd chambers on the way out. Curtain Chamber and the Cascade were chosen to see if the presence of
major active stal formations might affect carbon dioxide concentrations (only a
slight possible elevation in Curtain Chamber was found).

Some of the data has been quoted previously (Bridge et al,
1977) but the full set of results has not been published previously.  The sample sites are shown in the Figure
(produced, with his permission, from Irwin’s survey) and the results are in the
Table.  The co-ordinates of the sample
sites were measured from the survey (Irwin 1991) and original survey notes.  The sequence of sample numbers in the Table
reflects the route followed into the cave and out again.  The Imperial units of the survey have been
used in this report to make it easier for readers to locate the survey stations
on the Irwin survey, with its Imperial grid.

The results show that, while the carbon dioxide
concentration below the Entrance Pitch was very close to the normal atmospheric
value of 0.03 %, the value very quickly increased to 0.08 % on progressing to
the Ledge Pitches.  Perhaps the extra gas
was being drawn in from the boulder ruckles around Arête Chamber, seeing that
the highest value obtained in this trip was recorded in the boulder ruckle
behind the North-East Inlet in Arête Chamber.

Between the Ledge Pitches and Quarry Comer the concentration
was unchanged at 0.08%.  In the Wire Rift
the air passed straight over Wet Pitch. From the Wire Rift, the stream of cold air passed over Mud Hall, via
Pillar Chamber to Quarry Comer.  In
Pillar Chamber, the blast of cold air was very plain to us as we stood by the
stal graveyard overlooking Mud Hall.  The
result beside the foot of the ladder in Mud Hall was 0.10%, while cold air from
the Wire Rift with 0.8% carbon dioxide was flowing over-head, with no mixing
with the warmer (and therefore less dense) air underneath.  This result, a temperature inversion, is an
indication of the high speed of the airflow at this point.

Beyond Quarry Comer, the directions taken by the incoming
air could not be felt, and the carbon dioxide values do no more than suggest
that from Boulder Chamber, some of the air flowed into Traverse Chamber.  It is reasonable to assume that, in a single
entrance cave containing many very large chambers, when the surface air
pressure increased, a large volume of air was drawn into the cave to equalise
the pressures.  This air could only be
drawn in via the Entrance, and it is suggested that the results presented here
have mapped this airflow from the Entrance to Quarry Comer. From Quarry Comer
the airflow would have split up as air was pushed into all of the huge voids in
the cave.

Table of
results.  The concentration of carbon
dioxide in the air in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet on 30/01/1972, when surface air
was entering into the cave.

Site

Station

Survey
Co-ord.

CO2

No.


 

E,
N., Ht. (ft)

%
vol.lvol.

1

 Bottom of Entrance Pitch

9586,10644,724

0.04

2

 Arête Chamber, entrance of Pulpit Passage

9613,10646,676

0.12

3

 Pulpit Passage, source of N.W. stream inlet

9592,10665,698

0.12

4

 Arête Chamber, boulders behind N.E. inlet

9623,10649,691

0.15

5

 Below Lower Ledge Pitch

9617,10597,632

0.08

6

 Mud Hall, beside foot of fixed ladder

9598,10476,568

0.10

7

 RB. Series, nr. Traverse Ch. false bed.
plane

9646.10434,497

0.10

8

 RB. Series, dead-end passage

9652,10395,491

0.14

9

 Traverse Chamber, middle of chamber

9732,10394,461

0.09

10

 Main Stream Passage, top of Stal. Pitch

9829,10058,421

0.10

11

 Cerberus Series, lowest point Cerberus Hall

9100,10088,430

0.10

12

 Curtain Chamber, behind large stal. boss

9596,10280,505

0.11

13

 Cascade Vantage Point

9668,10320,530

0.09

14

 Boulder Chamber, Quarry Comer

9642,10388,560

0.08

15

 Pillar Chamber, entrance to RB. Series

9543,10460,617

0.11

 

The overall observation is that the air carbon dioxide
values are much lower than those obtained in other caves (for example, the
value of 4.3 % CO2 reported recently from White Pit; Anon, 1997).  The results of 30th January 1972, however,
are mutually consistent, and are important in that they clearly demonstrate how
air flowed into the cave on this occasion.

THE RESPONSE OF AIR FLOW TO ATMOSPHERIC CHANGE

The authors believe the results show the response of this
cave to rising atmospheric pressure during an anticyclone.  If this conclusion is correct, then in a
cyclonic event, a fall in surface air pressure would result in the reverse
situation.  Air would be blown out of the
Entrance as the air pressure in the great chambers adjusts to the surface
pressure.  The air blowing through the
passages leading to the entrance would be at the normal air temperatures deep
in the cave, and fully saturated with water.

It follows that atmospheric conditions will have an
important effect on studies of small trickles of percolation water near a cave
entrance. In cyclonic weather, drips are likely to be surrounded by a flow of
air, which is saturated in water, with a higher carbon dioxide concentration
than the normal atmosphere, and a constant temperature of about 10oC,
irrespective of the season.  In anticyclonic
conditions, however, the air around the drip will have very different
characteristics. Whatever the season, the air will usually be unsaturated with
water, and with a lower carbon dioxide content than the usual ambient cave
air.  Loss of carbon dioxide from
percolation water to the airflow and evaporation will both increase the
likelihood of the water becoming supersaturated, leading to the possibility of
calcite deposition.  However, in winter
the airflow will usually be colder then the ambient temperature, while in
summer the airflow can be expected to be warmer.

 

CARBON DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS IN THE AIR AND LIMESTONE SOLUTION

Finally, the results showed that the air in the boulder
ruckle between the N.E. Inlet in Arête Chamber and the Soak-away Sink on the
surface contained more carbon dioxide than the open parts of the cave.  In water flowing from this sink to Arête
Chamber, an increase in hardness in the form of calcium hydrogen carbonate has
been measured, this change being accompanied by an increased concentration of
dissolved carbon dioxide (Stenner, 1997). This amplified Ford’s observation that St. Cuthbert’s Stream appeared to
be supersaturated at the surface, yet it emerged in the cave slightly harder,
yet slightly aggressive (Ford, 1966). When it was proved that concentrations of dissolved oxygen could be
shown to change in short distances in streams going underground (Bridge et aI,
1977) this discovery applied equally to the ability of gaseous carbon dioxide
to dissolve quickly in the physical conditions of the caves which had been
studied.

To sum up; measurements of air carbon dioxide concentrations
in the air in the cave have been taken in conditions of rising atmospheric
pressure, and these indicate that the air entering the cave due to the pressure
change rapidly picks up carbon dioxide in its journey through the cave.  Air in the Boulder ruckle, protected from
rapid dilution by the inflow of air, showed the highest carbon dioxide
concentration measured. This suggests that when little air is flowing into the
cave, the carbon dioxide content of the cave air will be somewhat higher than
those reported in this paper.  It is
deduced that calcite deposition from water should be enhanced by the presence
of in-flowing air.

REFERENCES

ANON., 1997 Diggers Comer, Belfry Bulletin No. 493,49(12),
p.4.

BRIDGE, J.L., COOPER, C.M. KELLY, S.D., MARSH S.D. and
STENNER, RD. 1977 Limestone solution and changes of dissolved gas
concentrations at stream sinks of three caves in the Mendip Hills, Somerset.
BCRA Trans 4(3), p.355-359.

FORD, D.C. 1966. Calcium carbonate solution in some Central Mendip caves, Somerset.  UBSS Proc 11(1), p.46-53.

IRWIN, D.J. 1991. St. Cuthbert’s Swallet. Bristol
Exploration Club, pp82.

PICKNEIT, RG. 1973. Saturated calcite solutions from 10 to
40°C: a theoretical study evaluating the solubility product and other
constants. CRG Trans 15(2), p.67-80.

STENNER, RD. 1997 Changes in distribution of water between
surface sinks and stream inlets in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, Priddy, Somerset.
UBSS Proc. 21(1),9-24.

 

Left: Arête Pitch minus the fixed ladder Photo: Pete
Glanvill
Right: Pete Rose on the Lower Ledge Pitch Photo: Pete Glanvill

 

The Digger’s Song

Tune: Original
Author: Kangy King
Source: Belfry Bulletin Vol. 36 No 617 June / July 1982

I wanted to go down a cave
And now my ambitions I’ve got ’em.
In Cuthbert’s I’m all the rave
At the dig in the hole in the bottom.

Chorus:
Digging away, digging away all day,
Dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig.

I only went out on a spree
Thinking to sup and be off, when
I encountered a crowd, BEC
All lewd and licentious and tough men.

They said – “Young man it will go
If you carry these ladders and drop ’em.
Into a hole that we know,
That’s not really too much of a problem. ”

Now the entrance pitch is divine
So long as you’re skinny and narrow.
The walls are all covered in slime
From the drippings of Walt’s old wheelbarrow.

We continued on down the Arête,
The shaky old ladders appalling.
But, as the other blokes said
”It’s a ruddy sight better than falling.”

Two ladders and then the Wire Rift
Were next on the menu they brought me.
To traverse I needed the gift
That my ape-like ancestors had taught me.

Mud Hall and Stal Chamber too
And Boulder with boulders abundant.
My mates disappeared from my view
As they hurried to show me what fun meant.

A hole at the end gave the clue
Leading to Ev’rest and Gravel.
We slid down the scree in a queue
 More or less in the right line of
travel.

I staggered along in a daze
Dimly noting the Sewer in passing
They’d knotted me up in a maze
When I suddenly noticed the splashing.

A wall immense and quite tall
Traversed the passage we trod in.
Blocking the flow in the hall
And changing the level of Oggin

At the side stood a large bucket wheel
Fixed in it’s bearings by packing.
This fiendish device seemed to deal
With the drive of a pump, double-acting.

So sloshing the water about
It pumped from one place to another.
A muddy great hole was washed out
Without any effort or bother.

A spade all corroded and rough
I was given to my consternation.
They invited me kindly enough
To get digging and start exploration.

So now I’m a digger of note,
To be found at my post every Tuesday.
On cave exploration I dote-
I’m sure I’ll be digging till Doomsday.

 

More Adventures of Another Pooh.

By Dave Yeandle

When I was a schoolboy and had just started caving, I took a
book out of the public library called ‘Potholing Beneath the Northern
Pennines’, by David Heap.  One chapter
was devoted to the through trip from Providence Pot to Dow Cave, via Dowber
Gill Passage.  This writing inspired me,
as David Heap managed to not just describe the cave, but to get across the
excitement of the venture, and the beauty of Wharfedale.  He took the reader, along, with the caving group,
as they walked through the picturesque village of Kettlewell, in winter, and
with crisp new snow on the ground.  I
could imagine their anticipation as they trudged up the hillside, leaving
footprints in the snow, to the entrance of Providence Pot, there to disappear
underground.  I wanted very much to
follow in the footsteps of these cavers; and a few years later I did.

Late summer in 1970, I was back in Leeds early from the
University’s long break.  Predictably I
had failed some of my first year’s exams and in order to continue as a student
at Leeds I had to pass these exams as “re-sits”.  I had nowhere to live and was dossing at Tony
White’s place.  (Tony had failed some of
his second year exams and he too was back in Leeds early).  He was annoyed at me because I wasn’t helping
with the rent.  I had spent all my money
caving in France over the summer and was trying to live on porridge, potatoes
and some sort of powdered gunge that was supposed to provide all of the bodies’
nutritional requirements when mixed with water. It tasted dreadful and Tony was wisely guarding his food, should I be
tempted to “borrow some”.

I was concerned that I would be chucked out of my course and
have to leave the exciting world of Leeds Caving.  This motivated me to actually do quite a lot
of swotting.  One evening though, I got
overloaded with some particularly hard calculations to do with Quantum
Mechanics, and I started to read a mountaineering book by Walter Bonatti
instead.  I was very inspired with this
hair-raising account of his solo assent of The Dru.  A total epic and it made me want to have an
exciting solo adventure.  I had wanted to
do a long solo trip since reading in some caving text book that one should
under no circumstances go caving alone. Besides, my friends had recently been doing it and had been having some
pretty mad times.  Both Dave Brook and
Tony White had gone a few miles into Mossdale, on different days, and
alone.  Dave had not even bothered to
take a spare light, or even any carbide to refill his one lamp.  Ian Gasson had gone to the end of Langcliffe
on his own and actually pushed a tight passage. As for Alf Latham, he had gone down Swarthgill Hole alone and had ended
up feeling his way out when his one light, an unreliable Nife Cell had cratered
on him.

I had still not done Dowbergill Passage, and it was high on
my tick list.  I knew that this was
considered a fairly hard but not extreme trip and requiring no ladders or
ropes.  So this would be a nice solo
challenge.  Quantum Mechanics abandoned,
I started to pack my rucksack in readiness for an early departure the following
morning.  I mentioned to Tony that I was
planning to ‘solo’ Dowbergill.  He
grinned a bit and said something about me not expecting him to come on the
rescue.

It rained a lot in the night but I set off anyway, having
convinced myself that the trip would be more sporting if wet, and that anyway
people didn’t seem to drown in Dowbergill, only become trapped for a
while.  I was a bit hungry but I had the
good fortune to find four bananas lying in the road.  It was not long after sticking out my thumb
that I got a really good lift all the way to Skipton.  The trip was going well and Walter Bonatti
would no doubt have been most impressed so far!

I arrived in Kettlewell early in the afternoon and started
up the hillside for Providence.  It was
raining very heavily by now, but I tried not to worry too much about this minor
detail.  Anyway I was busy conceiving a
very cunning plan!  ULSA were having
difficulty getting permission to go down Langcliffe Pot.  We had always walked up to Langcliffe from
Scargill.  Now if we continued to do this
we would very likely be seen and told to leave the area.  But what if we were to start the walk in to
Langcliffe from Kettlewell and pretend we were doing Dowbergill?  Once up on to the Limestone Benches, and out
of view, we could traverse along the Dale to Langcliffe, undetected.  In fact we did later implement this plan with
great success until we were daft enough to get trapped by floods in Langcliffe.

I was soaking wet by the time I found Providence
Entrance.  I hurriedly found a place to
hide my rucksack and changed into my wetsuit. I had collected together an assortment of dubious torches and other
spare lighting including candles and packed these items in a small ex army
haversack, along with the obligatory Mars Bar and one or two tasty tit-bits I
was sure Tony would not miss.  Also, I
carried plenty of spare carbide and some carbide light spares.  Was I well equipped or what!  With a last look around at the rain swept
fell, I set off into the cave.

Once my eyes had adjusted to the gloom of the poorly lit
cave, I started to make good speed. I found Providence a friendly enough
cave.  There was some crawling, one or
two short squeezes and some nice easy passages where I could walk or at least
progress at a stoop.  I frequently
wandered off route, along side passages, but soon realised I was going the
wrong way and retraced my steps.  I knew
for sure I was on course for Dowbergill Passage when I reached The Palace, a
large chamber, described briefly in my battered copy of Pennine Underground or
PU, as we called this inadequate and incomplete volume which passed for a guide
book back in the early seventies. I confidently strode down this chamber, to a small
hole in the floor.   This I entered and
climbed on down into a place called The Dungeon.  With ease I descended further down a calcite
boss into Depot Chamber.  After a short
look around, I exited right under some excellent formations into a crawl.  I could now hear the welcome sound of a large
stream.  I knew I must be close to
Dowbergill Passage now and feeling very pleased with my navigation scampered
along the crawl.  Very soon I popped out
at Stalagmite Comer.  I was in Dowbergill
– I had it in the Bag; or so I thought. I had been mildly worried about finding my way through Providence.  I had seen a survey and it had looked a bit
complicated.  But Dowbergill was shown as
a straight line, going straight to Dow Cave. How could I go wrong now?  My optimism
was confirmed when after setting off down the stream passage and scrambling
easily over some boulders I entered large easy walking passage – a
doddle!!.  I ran along this blissfully
unaware that I was about to become rather confused for quite a few hours.  Here is a quote from Northern Caves published
sometime after my minor epic in Dowbergill.

“The traverse of Dowbergill remains one of the classic
caving expeditions in the district.  It
has also been the scene of many rescues. The survey plan of a simple straight line belies the intricate and at
times exasperating problem of route finding within a twenty metre vertical
range in the high rift passages”.

Well, really the memory of my fraught journey through the
hillside to Dow Cave is somewhat blurred. Here are a few highlights!

This bloody confusing boulder choke with really well worn,
incorrect routes, to nowhere!  And when I
did find the way through it was in the first hole I had investigated and
dismissed as too tight.  Or the really
annoying traverse with no apparent handholds or footholds, which I fell
off.  Then there was a definitely
exasperating climb up over muddy flowstone, which was so slippery I kept
sliding back down it.  Indeed there were
many really “interesting” intricate route-finding problems in the
vertical plane of this perfectly straight rift passage.  These were all solved in the fullness of time
but with only slightly more expertise than the Physics problems I had so
recently been attempting.

My carbide lamp kept playing up but all of my collection of
battery powered lights were even worse. After regaining the stream after another confusing boulder choke I
stripped the carbide lamp down and gave it a good fettling.  It started to behave after this and I
celebrated with a Mars Bar.

Still I was making progress and going fairly well
overall.  I was getting a bit concerned
though.  Once in a while I would find
myself back at stream level and every time I did there was more water than the
time before.  The cave seemed to be
flooding.  I decided to stay as high as
possible in the rift.  As I progressed
forward I gradually gained height until I had climbed right up to the top of
the rift and I could tell from the texture of the passage that few people had
been this way.  I knew I was off the
normal route (again!) but felt I should try to force it through at this level
because of the high water below. Thrashing along on my side with my lower shoulder and arm stretched out
in front and the other arm trailing behind I made slow progress along the
rift.  Unfortunately, instead of the
passage size increasing as I had hoped it would, it gradually got tighter and
tighter until I realised that I would have to reverse back out.  I knew this would be very strenuous indeed
but at this stage I was merely annoyed, not scared.  Then my right foot got jammed in a small
keyhole shaped hole in the floor.  I
could not move forward or backward.  I
thrashed around to try to free myself. This was a serious mistake because my carbide light fell off my helmet and
down into the rift.  I could see it below
me in a slot only a few inches wide; out of reach in my present position.  Then the flame went out.  I told myself not to panic, lie still and
think things through.  A logical analysis
of my plight was required.  I itemised
the good and bad points of my situation and came up with something along these
lines.

Bad Points:

I am badly stuck.
It is totally dark.
I am off route.
I am on my own.
I’m feeling exhausted.
Come to think of it, since stopping moving, I ‘m feeling rather cold.
Six bad points are enough for now lets move on to the good points.

Good Points:

I’ve got spare lights.
Tony White will call out the rescue team if I do not turn up at his place after
another 24 hours or so.
I can move upwards and downwards for as much as three inches.
That seems to be about it for the good points.

More Bad Points:

7a. My spare lights are all crap,
and anyway I can’t reach them as they are in this bag which is jammed between
my chest and solid rock.

Then I had a plan!

I started to move my chest slowly up and down in the tight
rift I was trapped in.  As I moved
upwards I breathed in.  As I moved
downwards I breathed out.  Very slowly
the bag containing my spare lights moved upwards.  After several rests and what seemed like an
hour, the bag had moved sufficiently upwards to enable me to shuffle around in
the passage and to my delight I was able to wrench my right foot free.  I then was able to reverse out of the tight
section, pulling the precious bag along at arms length.  Once back to a place I could sit up in I
carefully opened the bag and found the least crap torch.  I switched it on and it seemed like a
searchlight after the total darkness from which I had thankfully emerged.  I now had a quick rest and the last of my
food.  To make myself as manoeuvrable as
possible I removed my boots and helmet and re-entered the tight rift to rescue
my carbide.  To my utter relief I
retrieved it after many contortions and just as the torch flickered to final
extinction.  I reversed backwards out of
the rift to where I had left my boots and helmet and in a short while had my
carbide light operational.

Well I had wanted an adventure, and here I was having
one.  Not quite so hair raising as some
of Walter Bonatti’s but non-the less a good story for the pub.  I realised with pleasure that it was ULSA
club night in the Swan with two Necks in a little over 24 hours time.  I was going to be there for sure.

I started to climb back down towards the stream and at the
same time take the best route making progress upstream.  I realised that I was probably going to have
to stay at or near stream level, flood or not. Pretty soon I was back in the streamway, but at least it was still
possible to move against the power of the water.

The route finding started to get easier now and I moved
along the rift, mostly at stream level. Rather worryingly I could tell that the water level was still rising and
sometimes I had to traverse above fast moving deep water.  Still this was much more fun than getting
lost and stuck and I felt fairly confident that I was getting close to the link
with Dow Cave.  I started to compose in
my mind the tale of this solo journey I would tell my friends in the pub back
in Leeds.  No need to dwell too much on
the more incompetent incidents.  I was
sure that even Walter Bonatti would have edited the stories of his epics a
little.

All this fantasising came to an abrupt halt when I entered a
sort of a chamber, really just an enlargement of the rift.  Ahead of me was a near vertical wall below
which the inky black water of Dowber Gill emerged from a rather definite, no
nonsense sort of sump!

It was a long way back to Providence Pot and I was
tired.  I simply could not accept the
idea of having to go back.  I had a quick
look around for a bypass of some sort but I was almost sure there would be
none.  This was just procrastination
really, side passages not being much of a feature in Dowber Gill.  I had a look at the rock wall above the
sump.  I felt it could perhaps be climbed,
also the sump pool would make falling off slightly less unacceptable.  So I set off tentatively upwards.  About 3 metres up I found a small slot going
in the direction of the upstream rift. Unfortunately, it was far too tight and a very strong wind was screeching
out of it.  Depressingly this indicated
to me that this was most likely the only above water continuation of the
rift.  I carried on anyway, the climbing
getting harder and harder, until I was in a position, 4.5 meters above the sump
of not being able to go up and not able to reverse my last move.  I lingered for a while getting increasingly
scared.  Just as I felt I could hang on
no longer I plucked up the courage to jump clear of the rock.  To my utter relief I made a great landing in
the sump pool making a most satisfying splash.

Charged with adrenaline, I took several deep breaths and
dived into the sump.  I don’t think it
was very long and I emerged on the upstream side in total darkness (carbide
lamps are crap in sumps) with the sound of a large underground river roaring in
my ears.  Also I could feel spray upon my
face from a very proper draught.  I
staggered along a walking size passage in the dark until I felt I was mostly
out of the water.  With difficulty I
ignited my carbide and set off in the spray and wind towards the roar.

Very soon I connected with Dow Cave.  It was scary to see a fast flowing river;
charging towards me from the right and disappearing to the left into a bedding
cave with only about 30 cm of airspace. It was draughting though so I knew that the airspace should, in theory,
continue to the world outside, that I now so wanted to renter.  Theory and reality are not always the same,
but I liked this theory and jumped into the torrent.  Swept along in the flood all I had to do was
to try to navigate through the best looking route by flapping my limbs.  I was actually out of control, but very soon
I saw daylight.  Just in time I saw I was
about to be washed over a waterfall.  I
grabbed hold of a branch of a tree and my momentum swung me out of the cataract
and neatly onto the path up to the entrance of Dow Cave.  I was out! Just as well too, it was raining torrentially.

When I arrived back in Kettlewell, it was dark and I was too
tired to want to hitch back to Leeds.  I
camped in a field in my very small plastic tent that I had picked up for
£1.50.  It was a very low tent and very
hard for farmers to see.  This was useful
and I used it often when hitch hiking. That summer, in France, I had camped in a field and I had been waken up
by the sound of heavy machinery.  I had
looked out of the “door” and to my horror saw a combine harvester
heading straight towards me.  I leapt out
and waved my arms frantically.  The huge
machine had ground to a halt, and a most irate operator climbed down from his
cab and started shouting at me and waving his arms about.  I tried to explain in broken French that I
was a Speleologist on my way to explore “Grandes Grottes”, no less!  His mood changed and he started to
laugh.  Not quite the reaction I was
after, but a great improvement from ranting. I was only wearing underpants; perhaps this in some small way affected
my credibility.  Any way he let me off
without calling the gendarmes.

This most recent doss ended less embarrassingly, but it was
not a good doss.  At about 5am the field
flooded.  Still this meant I got off to
an early start the next day and ensured my presence at the Swan with Two Necks
that evening.

 

Access to the Open Countryside

If you have e-mail you will no doubt have had messages from
any other caver/climber regarding the Government’s plans to introduce new laws
regarding Access to the Open Countryside. (I received the same e-mail 11 times and at least another 10 with
additional comments!)

The planned changes will obviously affect cavers, so there
have been a lot of moves by cavers, climbers and alike to address the problems
with their local MP.  By the time the BB
goes to print, the Government may well have made decisions on this.

To give you more idea of what all this is about, I am
printing the whole list of proposals and the NCA’s comments regarding these
proposals from the NCA Website.

This may seriously affect the future of caving in England
and Wales, so please read on. (The NCA’s comments are indented and in bold
print)

Access to the Open Countryside – A Consultation Paper Comments of the
National Caving Association

The National Caving Association (NCA) is the national body
representing the interests of caving in England, Scotland and Wales.  Formed in 1969 as a federation of four
existing Regional Councils of Caving Clubs, together with five other
established organisations accepted as being nationally responsible for a
particular aspect of caving, in 1994 it was reconstituted into a federation of
five Regional Caving Councils, three National Bodies with specialist interests,
and over three hundred Caving Clubs, each of which have autonomy in their own
fields.

The Regional and National members of the Association are:

Council of Southern Caving Clubs
Devon and Cornwall Underground Council
Council of Northern Caving Clubs
Cambrian Caving Council
Derbyshire Caving Association
British Cave Research Association
William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust
British Cave Rescue Council

The Association has a National Council which appoints an
Executive Committee to carry out the administrative business of the
Association, and Special Committees to cover Conservation & Access,
Training, Equipment, Insurance and Publications & Information.

INTRODUCTION

The NCA welcomes the opportunity to comment on the
Governments Proposals for access to the open countryside.

In making comments on the consultation paper we wish to
express our concern about the perceived definition of ‘open countryside’. In
itself this would appear to exclude caves and abandoned mines.  This was also the case in the National Parks
and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. Over the years this has resulted in problems with respect to the acceptance
of caves as a recreational resource similar to any other part of the countryside
to which access is required.  There now
exists an opportunity of addressing this injustice, and accepting caves as an
important educational and recreational part of our national heritage.  The same applies to abandoned mines and their
industrial archaeological and recreational value.  It is our hope that both may be recognised in
any new legislation.

Our comments on the document are as follows:

PROPOSAL 1

If legislation is required, it should be introduced to give
the same extended rights of access in both England and Wales.

Agreed.  It would seem illogical not to do so.

PROPOSAL 2

The scope for achieving greater access through voluntary
arrangements should be carefully assessed against the criteria set out in
paragraph 2.6.

The criteria listed in 2.6 are
very comprehensive and give a good basis for assessing the potential of an
agreement on a voluntary basis.

Q.l Can voluntary
arrangements deliver cost-effective access of sufficient quality, extent,
permanency, clarity and certainty?  If
so, how?

Q.l  It has not been our experience that such
arrangements have been very effective or easy to negotiate or implement.  We believe that some sort of statutory
approach at the minimum, to form the basis for an agreement would be better and
more financially viable.

PROPOSAL 3

A new right of access should apply to mountain, moor, heath,
down and registered common land.

Agreed.

Q.2 Are the terms
“mountain, moor, heath and down” used in the 1949 Act still
appropriate?  How may these types of open
countryside best be described and defined in legislation?

Q.2 We would fully agree with
this proposal but do believe that the existing definitions as used in the 1949
Act are no longer appropriate and need redefining and extending to cover all
state owned and public land.

PROPOSAL 4

The Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for
Wales should report in the year 2000 on the extent to which there is access to
other types of open country.  The
Forestry Commission will report before this on access to forest and
woodland.  The Government will consider
extending access to other types of land after these bodies have reported.  Any primary legislation should be drafted to
permit extension to these areas of a right of access by secondary legislation
if necessary.

No comment.

Q.3 What types of
open country should be included in the proposal to extend a right of access by
secondary legislation if necessary?  How
should they be defined?

Q.3 Natural cave entrances, and
approaches to abandoned mine workings used for study or recreational purposes
would benefit by inclusion in the extension of these rights.  The acceptance of the principal that natural
underground passages be treated in the same manner as mountain, moor and heath
needs consideration.

PROPOSAL 5

A right of access should not extend to developed land.

It should be made clear that
caves, including those entered through active and abandoned quarries, and
abandoned mine workings should not be excluded.

Q.4 Is the list
of exclusions satisfactory?  If not, how
should it be varied?

Q.4 Accepting the above it is
considered that the list is satisfactory, except where mineral surface workings
provide the access to abandoned underground workings or natural caves.

PROPOSAL 6

A right of access should not extend to agricultural land
other than that used for extensive grazing.

We do not agree with this
proposal since it is often the case that it is necessary to cross such land to
gain access to a cave entrance.  The
suggestion is that in such cases access might be negotiated with the landowner
by agreement, in much the same way as access agreements have been made to open
moorland in the past. Equally there may be a case for similar compensation
arrangements.

Q.5 How may the
agricultural land which needs to be excluded best be described?

Q.5 The description of
agricultural land to be excluded, should itself specifically exclude natural
cave entrances.

PROPOSAL 7

The Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for
Wales would have a statutory duty to issue guidance to enable walkers and the
owners and occupiers of land to identify open countryside to which there was a
right of access.  Such guidance would be
taken into account by the courts when considering any disputes involving the
status of land.

The proposal uses the term
“walkers”, whereas a term such as “recreational user
groups” would perhaps be more appropriate. The emphasis should be on recreational enjoyment of our heritage, rather
than narrowing it down to a specific user group.

PROPOSAL 8

The Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for
Wales should make recommendations to Government on the identification of access
land, together with any appropriate advice on its definition, by July 1998.
This will be useful whether a statutory or a voluntary approach is adopted.

Agreed.

Q.6 What would be
the most helpful ways of describing the types of land?

Q.6 Only simple definitions would
be needed, along with the sites being shown on a statutory map such as the
‘public rights of way’ maps maintained by the County Councils.

Q.7 What
practical examples of good guidance are there?

Q.7 No comment.

Q.8 How important
are maps, and on what scale?

Q.8 Maps are extremely important
and should be of a reasonable scale large enough to show clearly the smallest
site.  It is likely that 1:2500 scale
will be necessary.  Consideration needs
to be given to including the information on a GIS (Geographical Information
System) accessible at, for instance, public libraries.

PROPOSAL 9

There should be provision for suspending a new right of
access for short periods if the owners or occupiers of land so wish.

This provision would seem
reasonable, on the proviso that there be some accountability to both user
groups, and to the statutory bodies, in order to justify such actions.
“Short periods” would need some definition (See below).

PROPOSAL 10

The Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for
Wales should issue codes of practice for owners and occupiers on the use of
closure powers.

It is important that the previous
proposal is not used as a means of obtaining subsidy or compensation, and then
legally withdrawing the access on which the agreement is based.

Q.9 Should there
be a maximum number of days and/or a maximum area of open countryside over
which the owners and occupiers of land could seek closure?

Q.9 Yes

Q.I0 Should local
authorities be required to determine whether closures should continue when a
limit on the number of days has been reached? How far should the public be
involved?  Should owners and occupiers
have a right of appeal?

Q.I0 Yes

Q.11 Should the
Secretary of State have reserve powers to deal with unreasonable restriction of
access to open countryside by occupiers generally?

Q.11 Yes

Q.12 Are there
existing freedoms of access which need to be safeguarded under any new
arrangements?

Q.12 The danger is always that
often it is the case that freedom of access where currently enjoyed is not
necessarily with the permission or knowledge of the landowner per se (often
they simply ignore the situation), and that if it is brought to their attention
access may be denied.  Some provision
should be made to maintain the status quo.

Q.13 How should
members of the public fmd out about closures and thus avoid inadvertent
trespass?

Q.13 Relevant bodies and
organisations should maintain lists of contacts who can circulate the
information widely.  Information Centres,
user-group journals and publications, and the media should be used.

Q.14 Should the
codes of practice issued by the Countryside Commission and Countryside Council
for Wales have some statutory force?

Q.14 This could be useful if they
were suitably revised not as to maintain some individual freedom; after all we
do not want to have a ‘police state’.

PROPOSAL 11

Statutory authorities should be able to close land when
necessary for health or safety reasons.

This would only be acceptable
providing a suitable system of consultation and notification is devised.  The circumstances and powers to be used need
to be identified.

Q.15 Are existing
powers adequate?  Does there need to be a
special power to exclude, if necessary permanently, land where there is a
danger to the public?

Q.15 Existing powers may be
adequate for existing situations, but the unique circumstances underground
necessitate looking at the situation from an entirely different point of
view.  The two issues of “powers of
exclusion” and “danger to the public” are of great concern to
cavers.  In pursuing caving as a
recreation, there is an acceptance of the inherent and associated risks.  Any dangers, if properly expressed, ought to
be acknowledged as their own responsibility. In practice, occasions arise where members of the public wish to have
the benefits of such access, but not to shoulder the accompanying
responsibilities.  In the case of caving
a primary responsibility is acquiring of the skills and knowledge necessary to
undertake such a venture in a safe and responsible manner.  In the case of caves and abandoned mines, the
only “powers of exclusion” necessary might well be inclusive in the
conditions relating to the access rights or agreements.  The National Caving Association has produced
guidelines that cover both safety and conservation issues.  The use of the term “permanently”
is inappropriate where caves and mine workings are concerned.  Natural caves are constantly evolving, as are
some abandoned mine workings and the degree of danger changes.  Permanency is an anachronism.  It would be preferable to have a system of
regular review.

PROPOSAL 12

The Ministry of Defence should be able to close land when
necessary for military purposes.

This can only be considered
acceptable when absolutely necessary. Who would make the decisions and be consulted user groups, central or
local government, conservation bodies etc? This needs clarification.

PROPOSAL 13

The nature conservation and heritage agencies (English
Nature, the Countryside Council for Wales, English Heritage and Cadw) should
have powers to limit access to particularly sensitive sites either permanently
or temporarily.

The National Caving Association
tries to maintain a positive working relationship with the statutory
conservation agencies.  In all cases it
is a conservation interest that we hold in common.  Limitation of access to particularly
sensitive sites on a temporary basis is supported in both principal and in
practice.  However, our basic premise is
that progress should always be made toward developing access that is of minimal
impact and a sustainable nature.  Again,
the term permanent is totally inappropriate in the case of caves and caving. A
system of regular review is essential.

Q.16 If there is
legislation, should it specify limits in terms of the number of days and/or the
amount of open countryside, which may be covered by closures?

Q.16 Every case is different and
no limits should be specified.  Each case
should be regularly reviewed and decisions made only with the full support of
all interested parties.

Q.17 Should such
legislation provide for individual occupiers to seek access limitations to
protect the wildlife and archaeological interest of their land?  Should this depend on the type of occupiers,
for example whether they are wildlife organisations?

Q.17 Yes, providing everything is
agreed with the statutory conservation bodies and other interested parties.

Q.18 Should there
be a right of appeal against restrictions?

Q.18 Certainly.

PROPOSAL 14

Where parts of open country cannot be reached by any legal
means, local authorities should consider whether to provide a means of access.

This proposal is fully supported.

Q.19 Are local
authorities’ powers sufficiently flexible to provide means of access to
inaccessible islands where needed?

Q.19 Existing provisions need to
be strengthened and simplified. The unique problem of caves and mine workings
needs to be acknowledged and identified in order that caves and mines receive
due consideration under these proposals.

PROPOSAL 15

Freedom should be granted only for access on foot for the
purpose of open-air recreation.

This is the most appropriate
category that cavers would fall into, in that they ‘walk’ to a cave or
mine.  These walks are often quite long
and sometimes involve crossing extensive areas of land.  The problem lies with the expression
“open-air recreation”.  Taking
part in caving activities must be included within the definition of this. It is
not relevant that the activity takes place below the surface and hidden from
sight.

Q.20 Does the
list of restrictions in the 1949 Act need up dating?  If so, how?

Q.20 If the list of restrictions
is updated care must be taken to ensure that caving and directly associated
activities are excluded.

Q.21 Should local
authorities/owners/occupiers be able to limit the number of people allowed
access to certain places in order to protect their tranquillity?  How else might tranquil areas be protected?

Q.21 There is a danger in this,
particularly in respect of caves and abandoned mines.  In these cases local authorities/owners/
occupiers are not qualified to make this sort of decision and advice from the
NCA should be sought.

PROPOSAL 16

A member of the public who took part in any of the
activities specifically proscribed in legislation should be treated as a
trespasser while undertaking the activity and for the rest of the day in
respect of the land on which the activity took place.

Agreed.

PROPOSAL 17

The Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for
Wales should produce a code of practice for walkers.

The term “walker” is
not considered sufficient or appropriate. The NCA has a ‘Minimal Impact Caving Code’ and a ‘Code of Ethics’.  These are comprehensive and have been agreed
with English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales.  The Countryside Commission were invited to
have an input when they were under discussion but declined.

PROPOSAL 18

Local authorities and the statutory agencies may need to use
bylaw-making powers to prohibit inappropriate activities, especially where
guidance produced by the countryside agencies has not been followed.

This proposal is of great
concern.  If implemented it would have to
be only under very strict control and within agreed guidelines.

PROPOSAL 19

The Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for
Wales should draw up model bylaws for local authorities.

Only if essential.

Q.22 Are further
by-law powers needed?

Q.22 This needs very careful
consideration in respect of caves and abandoned mines.

PROPOSAL 20

In undertaking work to seek and improve access
opportunities, local authorities and others should consider the needs of
disabled people so that they do not put unnecessary obstacles in their
way.  They should make themselves aware
of their duties under the Disability Discrimination Act and take account of the
advice in the BT Countryside for All Good Practice Guide.

Agreed.

PROPOSAL 21

Greater access to open countryside is for people: it should
not automatically mean greater access for their dogs.

Agreed.

PROPOSAL 22

The codes of practice for owners and occupiers on closure
(proposal 10) and for walkers (proposal 17) should include guidance on the need
to control dogs.

No comment.

PROPOSAL 23

The owners and occupiers of land should, in general, remain
free to develop and use it, subject to the constraints of planning and other
legislation.

Agreed in principal however there
is a need to be aware of the situation where a landowner may do something
specifically to avoid having to allow access.

PROPOSAL 24

If a statutory approach is adopted, it would be an offence
for the owners or occupiers of land to prevent or obstruct access to open
country, including putting up signs to prohibit access, except where covered by
authorised closure arrangements.

Agreed.

Q.30 Do any
particular means of obstruction or threats need to be specified?

Q.30 Blocking or obliterating
cave and mine entrances, and the tilling of open surface depressions needs to
be specified.

Q.31 Do any
threats or any legitimate management activities require particular controls,
for example, occupiers’ dogs, bulls, geese, operations such as heatherbuming,
pest control?

Q.31 The use of pesticides,
dumping of animal carcasses, and any pollutants likely to affect cave or mine
systems may well need special controls.

PROPOSAL 25

Occupiers of land would continue to be liable to those exercising
a right of access to their land as if they were trespassers.

This requirement has been the
cause of many failed access agreements in the case of caves and of abandoned
mines.  This is particularly the case
when the owner is “in the business of providing access”.  The Occupiers Liability Act 1984 went some
way towards alleviating this situation, but we tend it difficult to fully
support such a proposal unless amended.

PROPOSAL 26

Local authorities will have an important part to play in
managing increased access in their areas and any legislation should provide new
powers for them to do so if necessary.

Agreed.

Q.32 Should local
authorities have wider powers to provide means of access such as stiles and
gates?

Q.32 Yes. Mineshaft capping for access
is another example.

Q.33 Should there
be a specific power to appoint wardens/rangers in relation to access land?  If so, should the wardens/rangers be given
any specific powers, for example, to impose fixed penalties for litter, noise
or dog offences? Should such powers be restricted to local authority staff?

Q.33 Agreed.

PROPOSAL 27

Any legislation would place clear statutory responsibilities
on the countryside, wildlife and heritage agencies in accordance with the
outcome of consultation.

Agreed.

Q.34 Do the
agencies need any fresh powers, for example, to make bylaws?

Q.34 The agencies probably have
sufficient powers at present however in our experience they are often not
inclined to exercise them.  The problem
is likely to be exacerbated due to the significant increase in workload which
will inevitably result.

PROPOSAL 28

Owners and occupiers should not be eligible for general
compensation for access to their land.

Agreed.

PROPOSAL 29

The owners and occupiers of land may be eligible for grants
or for payments under access agreements to cover certain costs incurred to
enable, improve or limit access to open country.  Payments will continue to be made under
existing agreements under other legislation to provide access to open country
but new agreements will need to take any legislative proposals into
account.  They should not provide for
incentive payments for access in the event of it becoming compulsory but they
may provide for payments which will enable legislation to bring maximum
benefits.  MAFF will take account of the
impact of any new legislation in their review of access arrangements in schemes
covered by the Agri-Environment Regulation. Welsh Office Agriculture Department will take account of any legislation
in the implementation of the new all Wales Agri-Environment Scheme announced
last year.

The availability of grants to
enable or improve access is reasonable, however to make funds available to
limit access could be contradictory and would require very strict control and
needs some clarification.  Once again
reference to “open country” would appear to exclude caves and
abandoned mines and the definition of the expression requires amending to
include them.

Q.35 Are there
particular costs which should be eligible for grant aid?

Q.35 Capital costs only unless
there are special circumstances.

Q.36 What changes
might be needed to existing schemes to ensure that they complement a new right
of access to best effect?

Q.36 Farming subsidy schemes
might be linked to access, particularly in the case of hill farming.

PROPOSAL 30

The costs to local authorities will be taken into account in
drawing up proposals.  Only those
proposals which ensure that the best value is achieved for public money will be
taken forward.

Who is to say what is ‘best value
for money’.  A preferable system would be
to operate a criteria based assessment where all schemes meeting the criteria
would be eligible for prioritised consideration.  This assessment would look at both
qualitative and quantitative factors, and all schemes meeting the criteria
would be considered “good value” for public money.

PROPOSAL 31

The costs to the statutory countryside, wildlife and
heritage agencies will be taken into account in drawing up proposals, to ensure
that the best value is achieved for public money.

Same comments as for Proposal 30.

PROPOSAL 32

The costs of court action will be taken into account when
drawing up proposals to ensure that they represent the best value for money.

Same comments as for Proposal
30.  There is the added danger that value
is associated with cheapness, and that the qualitative value may be overlooked
in considering any such actions.  It may
be possible for the wealthy to buy their way out of the legislation by knowing
that any legal costs may not be regarded as justifiable.  Safeguards are necessary to prevent this?

PROPOSAL 33

Walkers should not normally be required to pay to enter the
land over which access is granted.

As stated before, the term
‘walkers’ is inappropriate.  This needs
to be expanded to include other users including cavers.

PROPOSAL 34

Local authorities, other public bodies and the owners and
occupiers of land should be able to make reasonable charges for the use of
facilities as a contribution towards the cost of those facilities.

This would appear inconsistent
with the spirit of the proposed legislation. The facilities given as examples, if imposed on the user groups, would
appear to be being charged for twice.  If
public funding, and grant aid (as mentioned in earlier proposals) is made
available, then it appears that the same public are then being asked to make a
second payment for facilities that they may not have required or
requested.  The principal of grant aid
being available for necessary facilities is not in question.  The matter that needs resolving is the
divisive issue of whether only the wealthy should have access to a national
heritage which has already had an indirect contribution from the not so wealthy
via public funding and involuntary contribution.

Free car parks assist in
containing parking and reducing obstructive roadside parking.  From a traffic pollution point of view, it is
the traffic jam that is often the problem, rather than the traffic volume.  To charge for such a facility merely results
in the traffic parking back on the roadside. Examples of this are abundant in the Peak District since the
introduction of paid parking schemes.

The local authorities referred to
would probably benefit more from the local spending of the increased and repeat
visitor volumes generated by adopting a “no pay” policy.

Q.37 Should
legislation specify the types of facility for which charges may be made?

Q.37 Yes, if it is essential to
charge

Q.38 Should
legislation limit the level of charges in any way?

Q.38 Yes, see comments above

Q.39 Do local
authorities and other public bodies have adequate powers to levy such charges
to help meet their costs in providing such facilities by agreement with the
landowner?

Q.39 Yes

Q.40 Are there
any other circumstances in which it should be possible to charge for entry?

Q.40 If, in order to gain access
to a cave or mine, it is essential to cross land that does not fall into the
categories under discussion; then it may be acceptable for a landowner to
charge a small fee.  There are current
examples of this.

PROPOSAL 35

Together with their statutory advisors (the countryside,
wildlife and heritage agencies) the Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions and the Welsh Office should make an environmental assessment of
the proposals.

Agreed.

Q.41 Are there
any other environmental costs and benefits which should be taken into account?

Q.42 Is there any
evidence of the values which should be assigned to environmental costs and benefits?

Q.41 & Q.42.  One benefit that inclusion of caves and
abandoned mines would have is to ensure that Cave Conservation Plans (a current
NCAIEN/CCW initiative) are developed for sensitive sites, and that the plans involve
the sustainable development of the sites. Fewer caves would be polluted, or
have entrances obliterated.  Unsightly
gates on caves would be less prolific. Mine-shaft capping would be undertaken with far more regard for the full
environmental impact, particularly on bat populations.

Greater access to caves would
encourage discovery and development.  It
would make visits less exclusive, but more manageable.  It would make monitoring and impact
assessment far easier when assessing or implementing Cave Conservation Plans.

The added values listed relating
to health and understanding between town and country are relevant.  The educational value of caves, at present,
is only minimally exploited Improved access would allow for educational
development in geology, industrial archaeology, biology, hydrology,
geomorphology, palaeontology, geography, to name but a few.

The above comments were submitted by the NCA to DETR on 3
June 1998

 

Words of Little Wisdom

•           A closed
mouth gathers no feet.

•           A journey
of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.

•           A penny
saved is ridiculous.

•           All that
glitters has a high refractive index.

•           Ambition is
a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

•           Anarchy is
better than no government at all.

•           Any small
object when dropped will hide under a larger object.

•           Be moderate
where pleasure is concerned, avoid fatigue.

•           Death is
life’s way of telling you you’ve been fired.

•           Death is
Nature’s way of saying ‘slow down’.

•           Don’t force
it, get a larger hammer.

•           Earn cash
in your spare time … blackmail friends.

•           Entropy
isn’t what it used to be.

•           Fairy
tales: horror stories for children to get them used to reality.

•           Going the
speed of light is bad for your age.

•           Health is
merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

•           Herblock’s
Law:  If it’s good, they will stop making
it.

•           History
does not repeat itself, historians merely repeat each other.

•           It is a
miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

•           It works
better if you plug it in.

•           It’s not
hard to meet expenses, they’re everywhere.

•           Jury:  Twelve people who determine which client has
the better lawyer.

•           Let not the
sands of time get in your lunch.

•           Mediocrity
thrives on standardisation.

•           Reality is
the only obstacle to happiness.

•           The only
difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

•           The 2 most
common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

•           Everyone
has a photographic memory.  Some don’t
have film.

•           When the
chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

•           Those who
live by the sword get shot by those who don’t.

•           He’s not
dead, he’s electroencephalographic ally challenged.

•           You have
the right to remain silent…. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used
against you.

•           I wonder
how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.

•           Nothing is
fool-proof to a sufficiently talented fool.

•           A day
without sunshine is like, you know, night.

 

Rolling Calendar

Date                          Details
–  Contact

21/11/98                     BCRA
Regional One-Day Meeting Priddy Village Hall. 9.30am Lectures on Swildons and Cuthbert’s -BCRA

21/11/98                     Diggers
Dinner, Wookey Hole – Vince Simmonds

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

20/11/98                     MRO
lecture – Orthopaedic Trauma Part 1 Hunters Lodge 7:30pm.  All cavers welcome – MRO

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

2/12/98                      Xmas
Bulletin Cut off – Editor

4/12/98                      BEC
Committee Meeting

5/12/98                      CSCC
Meeting, Hunters Lodge 10.30am –   CSCC

11/12/98                     MRO
lecture – Orthopaedic Trauma Part 2 Hunters Lodge 7:30pm.  All cavers welcome –  MRO

12/12/98                     Xmas
Bulletin Out – Editor

18/12/98                     Axbridge
Stomp, Village Hall – ACG

8/1/99                        BEC
Committee Meeting

30/1/99                      BEC
Stomp, Live band – Buick 6 Priddy Village Hall 8pm -Roz Bateman

5/2/99                        BEC
Committee Meeting

6/2/99                        CSCC
Meeting, Hunters Lodge 10.30am – CSCC

5/3/99                        BEC
Committee Meeting

6/3/99 (provisional)      Cave
Science Symposium -BCRA

10/3/99                      NCA
AGM 10.30am – NCA

10/3/99                      March
Bulletin Cut off – Editor

19/3/99                      MRO
Annual meeting, Hunters Lodge 8pm – MRO

20/3/99                      March
Bulletin Out – Editor

4/4/99                        OFD
Open Columns day

7/4/99                        April
Bulletin Cut off – Editor

9/499                         BEC
Committee Meeting

10/4/99                      CCC Ltd.
AGM, Hunters Lodge 10.30am – CCC

14/4/99                      April
Bulletin Out – Editor

2/5/99                        OFD
Open Columns day

7/5/99                        BEC
Committee Meeting

15/599                       CSCC
Meeting, Hunters Lodge 10.30am – CSCC

30/5/99                      OFD
Open Columns day

2/6/99                        June
Bulletin Cut off – Editor

4/6/99                        BEC
Committee Meeting

12/6/99                      June
Bulletin Out – Editor

12-13/99 (provisional)   BCRA
Regional Meeting, Swaledake, Yorkshire – BCRA

2/7/99                        BEC
Committee Meeting

28/7/99                      August
Bulletin Cut off – Editor

6/8/99                        BEC
Committee Meeting

9/8/99                        August
Bulletin Out – Editor

31/8/99                      Committee
reports to editor – Editor

31/8/99                      BEC
End of Financial year – all accounts and receipts to treasurer ASAP – Treasurer

3/9/99                        BEC
Committee Meeting

3/9/99                        Nominations
for Committee Close – Secretary

24-26/9/99                  NAMHO
99 Conference, Parkend, Nr. Lydney, Glos – John Hine

2/10/99                      BEC
AGM and Dinner

 

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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.