The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.
Editor: Adrian Hole

Contents

Committee Members

Secretary: Vince Simmonds
Joint Treasurers: Mike and Hilary Wilson
Membership Secretary: Roz Bateman
Editor: Adrian Hole
Caving Secretary: Greg Brock
Tackle Master: Mike Alderton
Hut Engineer: Neil Usher
Hut Warden: Roger Haskett
BEC Web Page Editor: Greg Brock
Librarian: Graham Johnson
Hut Bookings: Fiona Sandford

Letters and articles published in the club magazine do not
necessarily represent the views of the Editor the Committee or the club in
general

Editorial

Welcome to the Summer Issue. It is firstly my sad duty to report (for those who have not yet heard)
the untimely loss of Dave “Pooh” Yeandle who was killed in April in a
flying accident in

Spain
.  His death deprives the BEC and the British
caving community of one of its finest cave divers and another of its
characters.

On a much happier note, the main caving news on Mendip is
that the dig in Hunters Lodge Inn Sink has finally gone to reveal a large, well
decorated passage (much to the surprise of Tony Jarratt and all those
involved).  As a result this BB is
largely centred on this area of Mendip. Unfortunately, one of the keenest of the digging team, Tyrone Bevan, has
not yet seen the extensions following several weeks spent in hospital with
heart problems.  Now back at home we wish
him a speedy recovery.  Another of the
team John Walsh has also been ill with what at first seemed to be a case of Weil’
s Disease.  Although luckily the virus
proved to be something else and John has recovered, care must be taken in the
Sink as the illness followed a very wet digging trip – best to avoid drinking
the stream in the entrance.

Other caving news includes the reopening of the Mud Sump in
Swildon’s.  After many years of misguided
and half-hearted attempts by others, Phil Rowsell has designed a fairly fool
proof system and he, Alison Moody (WCC) and others have both drained it and are
now working to modify the bailing dams to enable it to be kept open.  Further afield news is coming back from

Austria
of a
very successful expedition with new leads and over a kilometre of new passage
found (see the Autumn Issue for a full report).

NB The autumn issue will be going to press in early October
– send your articles now.  This issue is
late, a fact I will not apologise for as I can only publish when I have enough
articles.  You write, you get BB’s on
time.  Thanks to those who can be
bothered.

 

Digging and Diving News.

Eastwater Cavern.

Phil Rowsell and Alison Moody (WCC) have been working on enlarging
the promising rift passage at the end of Phil’s
Soho
extensions (see last BB).  Their plan is
to push along for a few more metres in order to be able to see to assess just
how much further enlargement the passage will require – and thus how feasible
pushing this draughting and extremely promising passage is.  Worryingly, Phil also reports that the main
stream is now flowing down through Boulder Chamber and thus further undermining
the entrance.  It could well be time to
open one of the known alternative entrances to provide a safer route into the
cave.  No work has taken place in
Morton’s Pot so far this summer due to the wet weather and more crucially the
lack of manpower.  However, with less
people needed now to dig Hunters Lodge Inn Sink, the Wednesday Night Diggers
plan to tidy up the dig and attempt to avoid any great infilling of the shaft –
some two metres have already been lost.

Hunter’s Lodge Inn Sink.

At the end of June Tony Jarratt and his cast of thousands
finally broke out of the small blasted crawl and down into open passage.  Although there is clearly large passage
beneath the loose boulders of this small chamber attempts to dig a safe route
down have so far failed.  However, the
initially unpromising mud-filled passage at the far end then went in mid-July
to reveal the Happy Hour Highway – a much older well decorated passage more
reminiscent of Llangattock than Mendip. Digging continues at the end of this in a choke of boulders and
well-compacted sand infill and in the boulders at the breakthrough (See Tony’s
article for a full account).

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.

During the June working weekend Greg Brock, Bea Goford and
others had a clean up trip.  Given its
success in removing a large amount of detritus it is now planned to make this a
part of future Hut clean up sessions.

Swildon’s Hole.

Phil Rowsell, Alison Moody and helpers have been attacking
the Mud Sump with two new methods – expanding foam and a little bit of
thought.  Rather than build endless
holding dams, they have constructed a single (surprisingly low) dam from foam
and clay that holds back the inlet trickling in from South East Inlets and
drains all the water pumped from the Mud Sump back down the low crawl toward
the First Mud Sump.  After a number of
bailing and pumping sessions and a new system of pipes the Mud Sump was finally
bailed dry in early July.  Work now
continues to maintain access to the passages beyond.  So no longer any excuses to avoid the through
trip from Priddy Green Sink (see the full story in the Autumn BB).

At the far end of the cave Greg Brock and Andy Stewart have
teamed up with Phil Short (WCC) in Phil’s attempt to finally pass Sump
Twelve.  Good luck to all those involved
– the Sump has been banged and despite a postponement due to heavy rain they
are now busy clearing infill in what sound horrible conditions.

Wigmore Swallet.

Tim Chapman and Andy Stewart have been diving in the
Downstream Sumps and have so far reached Sump Seven.  Tim reports good diving conditions and
following his return from France the pair plan to push on to check out the end.

 

The Last Laugh – A Major Discovery at Hunters’ Lodge Inn Sink!

by Tony Jarratt
with photographs by Carmen Haskell (WCC)

” … the Rock had been blown 45 feet further in than where I was
last year … ” & what is further, Gunpowder, Sledges, hard Labour
& Time must discover. ”

R. Oliver “Journal of a voyage to

England
” 1776-77
.
(Cave digging with bang in Peak Cavern, Derbyshire – 225 years ago!)

Part One – Update to 25th June

Since the last report in BB 513 work has continued
regularly, and almost exclusively, at this site, the Wednesday Night Team
having now expanded its title to the Wednesday Night, Sunday Lunchtime, and
Monday Morning Team.

During the first two weeks of April three more bangs saw us at
the bottom of the “10ft rift”, giving a 7ft fixed steel ladder climb
down to another downdip bedding plane. The 1st birthday of the dig passed quietly and uncelebrated on the 9th
of April.

By the 24th of June another 24 bangs had been detonated here
to gain some 30ft of descending passage following the route of the stream.  A nice touch was added to the history of this
amusing dig by the sale of much of the spoil heap to passers-by for use as
rockery stone or hardcore!  This has
helped offset the increasing cost of the explosives.  Possible future changes in storage and
transport regulations may preclude the use of bang altogether and so we are
making the most of it while the going is good. The skip hauling system has been improved and a strong, enthusiastic,
and reasonably regular team has ensured good progress – resolutely putting up
with the often soul-destroying job of spoil removal.

The superb ceramic “Bertie” plaque sculpted by Ben
Holden has unfortunately fallen foul of the winter frosts so Ben has “done
it to excess” and moulded a new one from solid lead – apparently his
diving weights!  This has been painted in
the Club colours and Araldited in position in the entrance shaft.  Ceramic copies of this circular plaque can be
obtained from Ben via the writer.

Roger Dors has provided a large expanse of hard standing in
the field above the dig, cleared and graded to perfection by Mr. Nigel and Jake
of Mendip Demrock (free advert Nigel). This should provide ample parking space for the tourist hordes when the
dig breaks through (see Part Two).  All
our smaller spoil is now used as infill in the tractor ruts leading to the
Hunters’ Hole field, while the saleable stone is stored behind the car park
wall.  This hard standing was recently
put to use when a wedding party marquee was erected on it resulting in the face
worker at the time being entertained underground by live music filtering down
from above.  This, and Snab’s 60th
birthday party in the adjacent back room were two missed opportunities to fire
off large charges!

To go along with the theme of this particularly well sited
dig it should be recorded that Trevor uses beer barrel spiles for plugging
shotholes to be used at a later date and that John Walsh has gone out of his
way to drink vast quantities of wine purely in order to provide corks for
wedging the bang wire into cracks in the passage sides – a truly dedicated
digger.

The occasion of “Mendip Caving 2002,” 16th June,
provided the opportunity for more BEC excess as an underground explosion was
actually filmed live from about 10 feet away and broadcast to an audience
supping their ale in the Pub Function Room! This was made possible by Bob Smith who constructed a video camera
inside an
Oldham headset (see separate
article) and Prew, who provided a l2v lamp. For a millisecond the assembled were presented with far better viewing
than the World Cup as Roger Dors connected up the bang wire.  After the initial flash of the detonation a
blank screen was expected as the camera and lamp were disintegrated by flying
rock, but applause rent the air as the sight of swirling bang fumes appeared on
the computer screen.  The undamaged
camera was still in position but the lamp, also intact, had been blown over by
the blast.  This may be a Mendip first
and was much appreciated by the gathering of armchair diggers who donated 15
pounds to the bang fund.

Before this climax the camera had been worn on a helmet by
Bev who filmed Trevor clearing spoil and drilling shotholes, and Alex hammering
boulders and stacking full bags.  Bob
then took over to film the writer charging the holes with detonating cord.  It was probably just as well that sound was
unavailable judging by Trev’s expression on returning from the constricted end
of the dig.

 

Looking up dip in the largest Dart of the blasted out Pub
Crawl.

Earlier that day BCRA Secretary, John Wilcock, had once
again spent some time dowsing in the area as part of his ongoing project on his
occasional visits to Mendip.  His results
indicate an underground drainage coming from the southern Stockhill area, under
H.L.I.Sink, Hunters’ Hole and Eighteen Acre Swallet to join the St. Cuthbert’s
Swallet streamway somewhere below the SE comer of 100 Acres field.  After picking up an inlet from Tusker’s dig
at Templeton Pot, this passage itself joins the combined Swildon’s/Eastwater
drainage just before Wookey Hole.  Only
time will tell if his predictions are correct (but Mad Phil’s latest surveys
seem to disprove this).  Hopefully Phil
Short’s timely discovery of the way on in Swildon’s 12 may soon shed some light
on this (as, indeed, may our own future explorations!).  John’s dowsing map and summary are appended
to this article and any queries should be addressed to him.

On the 22nd of June a large horse leech was found in a
puddle halfway down the cave.  It was
later liberated and after an evening of being admired in the bar was released
at Waldegrave Pond.  Its seemingly
shrunken size on capture was explained when its fatter companion was fished out
a few days later!  Yet another of these
beasties was later rescued by John and we are perplexed as to their source of
origin, but convinced that they are washed in after heavy rain.  Lots of work was put in this week to push
along the low bedding plane and narrow rift at the end in the hope of entering
a possible enlargement which could be seen ahead.

Part Two – The First Breakthrough

On the 24th of June the writer was clearing bang debris from
the RH side of the bedding plane when it was realised that just beyond there
was an open rift passage full of loose boulders with a c.5ft drop to the floor
and boulder filled void above.  This rift
apparently continued upstream and may be the prophesised parallel
waterway.  Attempts to gain access were
thwarted by movement of the boulders so this passage was used as a convenient
spoil dump and attention was transferred to the continuation of the more solid
bedding plane in the hope of reaching a seemingly boulder free extension which
could be glimpsed ahead.  Having reached
real, open cave only 14½ months after the start of the dig it was with a sense
of both satisfaction and relief that the writer headed out for a celebratory
pint and to inform Roger and Jacquie that they now owned twice as many caves as
Robin Main!  A return was made in the
evening to fire the final charge to enlarge the bedding plane.  As much use was made of a crowbar to enter
the passage, and to keep the dig theme, the extension was provisionally named
The Bar Room – but this was later changed to Bar Steward Passage for reasons
which will become obvious!

The following evening saw the writer, Trev, Alex and Mad
Phil clearing the spoil from this bang so that a recce. of the find could be
made in preparation for the Wednesday night push.  Where previously was an impassable bedding
slot there was now a wide and roomy opening into the side of a roughly 5ft
square passage heading down dip for some 20ft and boulder choked upstream after
about 10ft.  Directly below the entry
point an open rift at least 15 ft deep issued a strong draught and seemed to be
the way on – possibly cutting under the boulder choked down dip passage.  Unfortunately, the far wall and ceiling of
the extension were composed of “hanging deaths” and it could not be
entered safely (so Mad Phil went in for a look!).  Luckily the LH wall of the breakthrough point
is solid and the open rift in the floor of the bedding plane, which is directly
above the hole in the floor of Bar Steward Passage, was banged on the 28th of
June.  Next day the writer and Adrian
Hole were able to squeeze down into the large, boulder filled passage below to
find it to be a veritable death trap! The way on seems to be under the loose boulder floor in which several
holes reveal voids below at least 15ft deep. By somehow engineering a route downwards this will eventually give us a
sporting and occasionally very wet climb of at least 20ft.  Bar Steward Passage itself will come in handy
as a spoil dump so hauling to the surface may eventually be a thing of the
past.  In the meantime a lot of loose
rock, purposely brought down from the ceiling of Bar Steward Passage will be
dragged out to the rockery rock pile.  A
mud choked phreatic tube leading straight ahead above the holes in the floor
was tentatively examined and seemed to be the safest option.  The whole passage appears to have developed
along a fault which explains its instability.

The depth of the cave must now be around 75ft and looks to
be on course for going under the rubbish and stone filled dewpond situated in a
depression adjacent to the roadside wall. It is assumed that Bar Steward Passage brings in the rest of the stream
which sinks in the rift below the entrance shaft but it must be deep under the
boulder floor and cannot yet be reached.



The now scaffolded route through the boulders heading into
the mud choked tube

A few days earlier, on the 26th of June, what we thought to
be the last 60 bags of spoil had been hauled out to the surface where a bottle
of pretend Champagne, courtesy of Jim Smart, was rapidly diminishing in volume,
and the following day Mad Phil, assisted by Dominic and Michelle, re-surveyed
the cave.  Martin Mills’s original survey
notes for Hunters Hole were generously loaned to us by their creator (who,
coincidentally is currently resident in the Pub) and on the 27th June these were
tied in to the H.L.I. Sink with a surface survey by Phil and the writer.  These notes have been computerised by Phil so
that the relationship between the two caves can be studied.  The surprisingly eastern position of Phil’s
last survey point was confirmed on the 1st of July by Brian and Brenda Prewer
using radio location to fix the writer’s transmitter position at the
breakthrough point despite much interference from the adjacent electricity pole
and transformer.

To date some 1400 loads of spoil have been removed from this
dig and we are into large, open, draughting and extremely promising passage –
albeit after a lot of hard work.  From
now on we have the added stress of working our way down through the loose boulder
ruckle so progress will inevitably be slow. Some work has been done at the mud choke at mid height in Bar Steward
Passage and on the 15th of July a view of open, draughting passage was
obtained.  Nearby an old peanut bag and
piece of crisp packet were found – 2d and 6d respectively.  These probably date from the early 60s and
indicate an open, though doubtless tiny, route to the surface at this
time.  This may have been via Pub Crawl
or the open rift below the entrance shaft. A good supply of scaffold poles and clips is being built up underground
and we will soon be on the scrounge for more cement.  Vintage BEC members will be amused to know
that Alfie’s Hole may be above the assumed route of this cave!

Part Three – The Second Breakthrough

Four digging sessions from the 13th to the 16th of July
gained some ten feet of progress in the muddy tube and in the process turned
HLIS from Mendip’s cleanest dig into one of its filthiest.  It also verified the BEC curse of the
“Reverse Midas Touch” – everything we dig turns to shit!  At the end a view could be gained into open,
draughting passage with a thick calcite floor preventing easy access from
below.  A couple of sticks of gelignite
were employed to solve this problem and on Wednesday the 17th, after a bit of
squalid clearing, the way on was open.  A
squeeze over a gonadcrunching rock led to some 20ft of dipping, hands and knees
passage with a solid wall on the left and a calcited boulder choke on the
right.  Ahead lay bigger blackness.  The committing route into the extension was
passed by the writer and Gwilym but proved to be too tight for Trev, too
difficult for uni-limbed Alex and too dark for Geoff, whose lamp had failed.

The Happy Hour Highway Extensions


 

The lithe and lucky duo found themselves entering a large,
square passage with a massive boulder slope soaring up above Bar Steward
Passage.  This was climbed for about
60ft, through horrendously poised, tottering monoliths to a point some 25ft
from the surface and under Roger’s new car park!  There is a lot of empty space just below the field
here, the passage being 20ft wide by 6ft high with some fine yellow banded
curtains on the ceiling.  It has been
radio-located by Prew, assisted by Phil Hendy who was distinctly heard bashing
a rock on the surface!  There were plans
to drill a borehole into this area to aid the airflow and provide video camera
access, but depth maybe a problem.

Downdip this amazing and totally unexpected bore passage was
followed for about 120ft to a choke of clay and rock completely blocking the
way on.  The draught, though, gives hope
for a bypass to this.  The dimensions of
“Happy Hour Highway” are on average 12-18ft wide by 6ft high.  There are hundreds of pure white straws and pale
yellow “carrots” and large areas of ca1cited floor, drip pockets,
crystals and flowstone walls.  A marked
route has been laid using 9mm static cord donated by Andy Elson and photographs
have been taken – a particularly fine set being captured by Carmen Haskell
using a digital camera.  Large, broken
stalagmites on the floor, big phreatic ceiling pockets and roof tubes, together
with the size and general nature of the place testify to its extreme age –
contemporary with Talus Four in White Pit? On first impressions it would seem to be far older than St. Cuthbert’s
Swallet and Hunters’ Hole is probably a mere inlet.  The current end is well over 80ft below the
bottom of the infilled Alfie’s Hole and lies directly below the road (see
map).  Its continuation may be under
Southfield Farm. Watch this space!!!



Looking left at the end – briefly dug but abandoned due
to size of the collapsed roof slabs blocking the dig.

The site of current efforts along the right hand wall of
the collapse.  A tunnel has been dug
through sand and gravels passing beneath the formations.  Some 8ft along the dig has turned left and
downwards beneath the roof and into well compacted sand. gravel and boulders

Extreme care should
be taken throughout this passage.  Some
unique formations have already been destroyed by the inattention of the
diggers, including the writer.  Unobvious
floor deposits are particularly vulnerable and the tapes should not be crossed
for any reason – photographers take note. If damage continues this extension could easily be resealed!

There is great scope for scientific work in this cave,
particularly regarding its age and geological formation.  UBSS geologist Andy Farrant has visited and
is currently giving this some thought. Surveying and photography is continuing and the terminal choke is being
dug, as is the choke below Bar Steward Passage.

 

WARNING. Following a very wet trip on the 10th of July
(shades of 1968!) John Walsh contracted an unpleasant virus initially diagnosed
as Weil’s Disease.  Luckily it wasn’t and
he is back on the wine but there is every chance of its presence here and
should visitors get flu-like symptoms between 3 and 19 days after a wet trip
here they should immediately see their doctor and advise him of this.  All cavers should carry an NCA Weil’ s
Disease information card – available from the writer – as any wet Mendip cave
is likely to be infected with the leptospirosis bacterium.  In addition, with the current prevailing
weather conditions the levels of carbon dioxide in the extension are
uncomfortably high and hence any physical exertion is rapidly exhausting.  The party size should thus be kept small.
 

A happy man and some of his archaeological discoveries


 
 

More views of the extensions





Additions to the Team and Acknowledgements

Matt Davey, Richard Dolby, Danny Burnett, Julie Hesketh
(MCG,GSG), John Wilcock (BCRA – dowsing), Brian and Brenda Prewer (lighting and
radio-location), Michelle Lloyd-Hopkins, Dominic Gane, Martin
“Milche” Mills (SMCC – Hunters’ Hole Survey), Sean Morgan (ropes and
boulder nets), Nick Mitchell, Alison Moody (WCC), Jonathon Davies (GSG), Guy Morgan,
Tony Boycott, Geoff Wild, Thomas Arbenz (SNT and Bat Products, Switzerland),
Andy Elson (cord donation), Jayne Stead (GSG), Richard Carey (MCG), Carmen
Haskell (WCC), Phil Hendy (WCC radio-location), Sean Howe, Martin Grass (CSCC –
conservation tape), Mike Wilson, Jim Smart, and Andy Farrant (UBSS).

Selected References

Hunters Lodge Inn Sink

Belfry Bulletins Nos. 448 (Feb 1989); 511 (July 2001); 513
(Sprin 2002)  (A.R. Jarratt. )

MSS Logbooks, Survey Notes. (A.R. Jarratt, T. Hughes, A.
Livingstone, P. Rowsell).

Hunters Hole

BEC Caving Report No.6 – Some smaller

Mendip
Caves
,
(B.M. Ellis), Oct. 1961.

SMCC Jnl. Series 5. No.10 – A Survey of Hunters’ Hole,
Central Mendip, (M.T. Mills), Aug. 1975.

The Story of Priddy, (Alan Thomas), 1989, pp 59-60.

Limestones and Caves of the Mendip Hills (D.1. Smith &
D.P. Drew), 1975, pp 122, 124, 128, 307.

Mendip. The

Complete
Caves
(N. Barrington
& W. Stanton), 3rd edn. 1977. Mendip Underground (D.J. Irwin & A.R.
Jarratt), 1999, pp 97-98.

Alfie’s Hole

BEC Caving Report No.6 – Some smaller

Mendip
Caves
,
(S.J. Collins), Oct. 1961.

Mendip. The

Complete
Caves
(N. Barrington
& W. Stanton), 3rd edn. 1977.

 

John Wilcock’s Dowsing Results.

STAFFORD
17 June 2002

Mr A.R. JARRATT,
PRIDDY,
WELLS,

Somerset

The weekend’s results

Dear Tony,

It was pleasant meeting you again at the weekend.  Thanks for showing me your new hole at the
Hunters.  I found the video link to the
dig, and the explosion, most diverting!

I had a profitable day’s work on Sunday.  I enclose a further copy (Sunday’s results in
red) since I did more work than was on the copy I gave you.

As you can see, for Tusker’s holes, Sandpit Hole and Beetle
Drop trend NW to join Swildons before White Pit, while Templeton’s goes SE to
join St Cuthbert’s.  Your new hole at the
Hunters enters a NE-SW system.  To the
west there are two depressions in the next field, and then it joins St
Cuthbert’s.  In late Sunday afternoon I
went in the forest to see where it was coming from, and proved that it comes
from the Stock Hill Fault.  So there is
the potential of flow from Thrupe via Slab House, Hillgrove and Cuckoo Cleeves,
and then via Hunters to St Cuthbert’s and Wookey – maybe that’s why your new
system developed.

Thanks again, and do involve me in any further holes you are
investigating – 1 can be in Mendip within two and a half hours from Stafford at
the drop of a hat (mid-week included, since I am retired)!

Yours sincerely,

Dr John D. Wilcock

 

 

Dig
Cam, An Armchair Caver’s Dream.

by Bob Smith

Several months ago, I overheard Les Williams (WCC)
discussing events to be organised for the Mendip 2002 gathering, with him
saying something like: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could watch Tony
digging in the car park from the safety of the bar!”  There was much laughter until I mentioned
that it could be quite easily done, since I had a camera that was small enough
to be put into an
Oldham headpiece, and viewed
on any suitable TV.  His eyes lit up and
he asked me if I really meant it.  After
a few beers, we decided it was a ‘goer’ and so Dig Cam was born.

My next few days were occupied with finding suitable cables,
connectors and a power supply for my miniature CCTV camera.  Eventually, I had all the parts gathered, and
started the task of assembly.  With all
the innards of the lamp removed, and the hole for the switch filled with hot
melt glue, I coaxed the cable in and soldered it to the camera.  The comers of the circuit board had to be
filed slightly to get it into the headpiece, and this too was held in with hot
melt glue.  The whole unit was then
sealed with more hot melt, and due to the length of the lens the toughened
glass had to be glued to the outside of the bezel.

I had built a power supply and video feed box, and added
around 50m of cable, and having no suitable caves in

Portsmouth
, tested the unit in the ideal
conditions of my loft, the images being displayed on my PC through a television
receiver card.  The effect was promising,
so the whole lot was brought to Mendip, causing much ridicule and piss-taking:
“So you need a TV and a mains supply, what f”**ing use is that in a
cave!?”  Since it had been built for
the specific use of viewing Hunters Lodge Inn Sink, where both these were
available, I wasn’t too bothered, but it did make me think about how I could
remedy this.

Mendip 2002, Sunday 16th, 09.59 hrs.

Having arranged with Les to set up Dig Cam at 10 o’clock on
Sunday morning, I was woken rudely by Bev telling me to get my hungover arse
out of bed.  Bleary eyed, I dragged
myself out of bed, and grabbed a lift to meet Les at the Hunters’, or so I
thought.  When I arrived, Les was nowhere
to be seen, there was no TV and a small group waiting to see this
“underground web cam thingy”. Dig
Cam was rapidly becoming a
farce.  Luckily, Trevor turned up in time
and returned to the shed to get the Belfry computer, which was quickly
installed in the Function Room.  The
camera, now placed on Bev’s helmet, we were treated to images of Trevor
stripping off in the car park.  A Petzl
Duo provided light and so into the depths went the pair, with Alex following
shortly.

For the next hour or so, various small groups paused on
their way to the bar to watch Alex bashing rocks, and Trevor removing
spoil.  There really is a limited amount
of time that this can captivate even the hardiest of armchair enthusiasts, and
again Dig Cam was becoming the proverbial damp squib.  Thank God Tony arrived when he did.  The ailing interest was noted, and Tony asked
me if I thought that the camera would survive filming a bang.  I thought it probably would and then
everyone’s interest perked up.  Trevor
had finished drilling shotholes and the other two were returning to the
surface.

Tony and I got kitted up and returned below to lay the
charge.  The limitations of having a 70m
umbilical cord became apparent as I struggled with a snotty mess of cables,
with no idea whether I had damaged the fragile connections I had hastily made
the day before to extend the cable to the dig face.  Eventually, I got to where Tony was laying
the charge, and sat whilst Tony gave a televised broadcast of the use of
explosives.  When everything was finished
Tony returned to the surface, whilst I wedged the camera in place and secured
the lamp provided by Brian Prewer.  A
shout from Tony confirmed a good shot, so I exited, and was surprised by the
number of people assembled to watch it all happen.  Roger Dors was given the pleasure of setting
it all off, with a countdown, then a flash, a reassuring ‘whump” from
below, and then spontaneous applause and congratulations.  The camera had survived, clearly showing bang
fumes drifting in the still intact lamp’s light.  As the crowd left, the cables were cut and
Dig Cam remained underground until the spoil could be cleared.

The advantage of using the computer for this event was the
ability to capture the pictures and save them for later use.  Since the outing, interest was expressed
about possible uses for a small remote camera. I have since purchased a small portable TV that can be connected, and
the camera can also be run from a battery. The addition of sound is not too far
off, but any more suggestions for improvements will be appreciated.



Dig
Cam in action in
Hunters’ Lodge Inn Sink.

 

18 Months Hard Labour –

Gas St
.”
Sanctimonious Passage.  Hunters’ Hole.

by Tony Jarratt

(This article was written in 1989, but was never
published.  It relates the history of a
desperate dig in this cave between March 1987 and September 1988 and is
relevant to the current exploration in this area – particularly Tony Blick’s
dowsing results!)

Sanctimonious Passage, discovered by the BEC on the 13th of
July 1958, is situated 2.5m up the south west wall of the Railway Tunnel some
5.2m from the bottom of Main Pitch.  38m
of sporting downdip passage leads via the once 5.5m deep Rover Pot to what was
a choked rift.  The Pot is now 0.6m less
deep due to digging spoil and the rift is no longer choked.  Previous digging at the rift was mainly by
Alan Thomas and friends in Feb/March 1968. They banged the small hole at the then end of the passage to uncover a
10cm wide by c.6m long rift after which their dig was abandoned.

Being the deepest point in the cave at 52.4m, it was
examined in October 1985 by Tim Large and the writer who were looking for a new
project.  Nothing further was done until
March 7th 1987 when Martin Bishop, who also had an interest in the site, joined
the writer, Steve Milner and Richard Stevenson on the first digging and
blasting trip of the project.  Some 6m of
narrow, outward draughting rift led off from the bottom of Rover Pot.  This was banged by Rich and cleared the
following day by a large team, resulting in 2m of progress.  The following weekend Nigel Taylor banged the
dig (see, I told you it was an old write up!) followed by Tony Boycott on the
12th of April.  Further banging trips by
the writer, Brian Prewer and Fred Davies – with clearing sessions by most of
the active Belfryites – resulted in some 10m of passable cave by the 5th of
July when an open hole could be seen in the ceiling of the rift some 2m ahead.  On this trip it was noticed that the draught
was now inwards.  One more bang enabled
the team to reach this hole, but it could not be pushed due to awkward wedged
boulders.  The first signs of lack of oxygen
made themselves felt as all on this trip suffered from “bang heads”.

Fred laid a further charge midweek and Snablet passed the
remains of the boulders to enter 5m of decorated crawl ending in a further
blockage. 1.5m of open stuff could be seen ahead and there was an encouraging
echo.   After further clearing, on the
18th of July the visible end was reached and two small holes noted, through a
false floor above the passage, which revealed a view into a clean washed
bedding passage above.  The false floor
was banged.

The following day the writer squeezed up through the
resulting “Manhole” to gain a view along c.8m of open bedding
passage, well decorated with small straws and helictites (now destroyed).  This could not be entered due to the writer’s
leg length but Steve got in by removing his wellies.  He pushed a further 3m until stopped by a low
squeeze but could see a further 6-7m. The air conditions were by now particularly bad with the carbon dioxide
content being very high.  Another bang by
Nigel (of reduced scale in 1987!) enabled Snablet to reach the same squeeze but
not pass it.  All again retreated
suffering from exhaustion and headaches.

Pete Eckford banged next and after leaving the fumes to
clear for a week the writer removed enough debris to pass the squeeze and crawl
downdip, through another very tight section for some 6m to be confronted by
what appeared to be a sump.  With
breathing rate and panic both rapidly rising he retreated backwards and uphill
as quickly as possible, hoping desperately not to pass out before passing the
squeeze! Both he and Pete were very badly affected by the bad air and it took
some time (and beer) to recover.

In an attempt to pass the supposed sump, Steve and Pat
Cronin entered the CO2 filled section using diving gear and mini bottles on the
8th August 1987 but were defeated by the final squeeze and could do little but
empty the contents of their three bottles to try and improve the atmosphere.

On the 14th of August yet another banging trip was made to
widen the passage immediately beyond the Manhole.  The results were checked on the 12th of
September by the writer and Tom Chapman who found a vast pile of gravel
awaiting them.  This was cleared aside
and the final squeeze passed to find that the supposed sump was actually a 3m
long duck with about 15cm of airspace. With some trepidation this was pushed to emerge in 12m of small but well
decorated phreatic tube ending in a flowstone blocked comer with the tell-tale
echo of more passage beyond.  Sadly, the
crystal pools and straws in the new section did not survive this
exploration.  On this trip the air was
relatively fresh so a planned bang was cancelled in the hope that all the
rubble in the dig could be cleared while conditions were good.

This was carried out during two trips on the 10th of October
and the 21st of November with the assistance of
Cardiff
University and

Worcester
cavers, some 20 sledge loads of
spoil being dragged out and dumped at Rover Pot.  On the 19th of December the flowstone blocked
comer was banged.  This was cleared and
another charge fired on the 5th of January and it was now realised that the bad
air problem seemed to have been resolved – probably due to passage dimensions
being greater following the clearing sessions. A further charge was fired on the 23rd of January and the unpleasant 3m
duck converted into a muddy grovel by Rich Payne.  The water from the duck could be heard
flowing away into the distance along the 1.5m by 13cm wide rift at the end of
the dig.

Next day 2m of progress was made after a clearing session
and another kilo of bang fired at the end. This was found to have had very little result on the next visit on
February 6th 1988, so another kilo was set off. Appropriately, on February 13th it was found that the last charge had
misfired so a new detonator was attached and duly fired.  A week later half of the original bang was
still in existence!  Another half kilo
was added in the hope that the “Curse of Sanctimonious” had worn off.

No such luck.  On the
27th February two fresh detonators and yet another kilo were laid among the
stubborn and growing pile of bang lurking at the face and the lot was fired
with a very satisfying thump.  On the
16th of March the writer found to his relief that at last the place was safe
but with poor results and so another kilo was evaporated.

This was checked out four days later when a visiting

Wessex

team came down on a “works outing”. Due to foul air this was a quick trip with another kilo being fired at
the end and yet another, on a separate wire, being laid on the squeeze just
before the duck to make life easier on future trips.

Four more banging and clearing trips were made up to the
11th of June during which 2m of passage was gained at the end and the offending
squeeze removed by Martin after chiselling away the shattered rock.  On the last of these visits Steve and Snablet
surveyed the extension using a Fibron tape and Suunto compass for a length of
37m but unfortunately found the air conditions to have once more deteriorated.

Meanwhile, on the 14th of May the diggers were treated to a
display of dowsing by Tony Blick of the Craven Pothole Club.  Not knowing anything about the cave he
successfully traced the known passages and then followed Sanctimonious to a
junction with a supposedly 5m wide passage at well over 35m depth which would
appear to be the continuation of the Railway Tunnel.  He suggested that this passage descends
steeply and there is water present in the form of pools or a small stream.  (Although this surmised passage was presumably
not far from the current end of Hunters’ Hole – time having erased the memory
of its position – it fits perfectly with the Happy Hour Highway extensions in
Hunters’ Lodge Inn Sink.  At  this time of year the stream may well have
been flowing).

The writer checked out the bang results on June 17th and
found them wanting so returned the following week with
Mark
“Gonzo” Lumley
to clear and fire 1½ kilos.  On the 1st July they returned to lay another
kilo – the bad air making it a quick trip. Another charge was fired two weeks later and on the 22nd of July open
passage was entered up to waist level! On the 13th of August this squeeze was banged and left for two weeks
when the breakthrough came at last on the 27th and a 2.45m deep pot was
descended into 10m of well decorated and relatively large passage ending in a
low, mud choked crawl.  This was opened
up to Snablet size and 6m of muddy rift entered ending in another miserable
looking mud and rock choke.  The bad air
here encouraged a swift exit.

The writer returned to this unpleasant spot on the 5th of
September and, after stabilising the spoil heap before the last crawl using mud
filled sandbags, went to the bitter end. The crawl was now half full of water and the air conditions at the end
were atrocious.  A view through the fist
sized hole at the end revealed either a small pool or sump a metre ahead.

In view of the extreme danger inherent in working here in
the present conditions (1988) it has been decided to suspend digging over the
winter months in the hope that the air improves.   There is really no hope of using bang at the
end as it would prove fatal to the next party down.

So ends – hopefully temporarily – the painful saga of almost
exactly eighteen months of digging and blasting.  Though all part of Sanctimonious Passage the
squeeze down into the 61 metres or so of the extension now bears a metal road
sign (pinched from Newtown, Mid-Wales) which is both nickname and warning to
the unaware: Gas St.

(As far as I know the place hasn’t been visited since –
hardly surprising!  It sounds just like
Mad Phil’s cup of tea).

The Diggers

1968 – Alan Thomas, Colin Priddle, Keith Franklin and Phil
Coles.

1985-1988 – Rich Stevenson, Steve Milner, Tony Jarratt,
Martin Bishop (Pegasus CC), Mark Lumley, Pete “Snablet” Mcnab, John
Chew, Happy and Viv (Royal Marines), Nigel Taylor, Tom Chapman, Robin Brown,
Mike Wilson (Keynsham EG), Tony Boycott, Andy Middleton, Phil Provis, Richard
Neville-Dove, Pete Hopkins, Gary Jago, Tony?, Brian Prewer, Fred Davies (WCC),
Keith Bentham (Eldon PC), Steve? (EPC), Phil Romford, Alan Jeffreys (GSG), Kevin
Gurner, Nick Gymer, Pat Cronin, Pete Eckford, Lisa Taylor, Andy Sparrow, Rich
Stevens, Brian van Luipen, Hugh Penny, Jane and Phil (Cardiff UCC), Rich Payne,
Graham Wilton-Jones, Duncan Price, Brian Gilbert, Chris Proctor (Devon SS),
Graham “Jake” Johnson (WCC), Nick Pollard (WCC), Geoff Newton (WCC),
Steve ?, Jon Shaw (OS) and Stuart Laing.

Acknowledgements

Shepton Mallet Caving Club for permission to reproduce the
Hunters Hole survey.  (This included Stem
Passage, discovered by Jim Rands and Pete Hann of the

Wessex
and the

Sanctimonious Passage/Gas St.
extension
which should be taken as BCRA Grade 2 and will hopefully be resurveyed one
day).

 

Meghalava 2002 – 200+ Kilometres and Ongoing!

by Tony Jarratt and
Annie Audsley



India

… it seems that there will be no caves on a world scale nor any karst
features of outstanding significance. ”

The Underground Atlas
– Middleton &

Waltham
,
1986

This year’s annual expedition to NE India was once again
efficiently organized in the

UK

by Simon Brooks – even though he was unable to join the team, being demoted to
the China Caves Project.  Our man on the
spot, Brian Kharpran Daly, did his usual splendid job of sorting out the
Meghalayan side of the trip.  The BEC was
represented by Annie Audsley (on a break from a year’s festering in

New Zealand
)
Dr. Tony Boycott and your scribe.  Cavers
from seven different countries, or ten if you count
Wales,

Scotland

and Schwabia, converged on the hill state of Meghalaya at the beginning of
February for several weeks of exploration, surveying and beer consumption.  It was unfortunate this year that we hadn’t
all bought shares in the Indian bog roll industry as great fortunes would have
been made!

The first week saw two teams at work in the Garo Hills of
western Meghalaya and the Cherrapunjee/Laitkynsew area of the East Khasi Hills
– two hour’s drive SSW of the capital, Shillong.  The Garo team had well over a day’s rough
drive to reach their patch, to find that food and accommodation were basic to
say the least.  Over to Annie …

It was a select team
of Mark, Daniel, Peter, Lindsay, Jorg, Annie, the driver, Bud and his assistant
who found ourselves in the tiny village of Asakgre following two days of
rattling jeep ride, sharing a late night feast of boiled potatoes and eggs
around the campfire.  We had come to
recce a new area in the West Garo Hills and were now wondering what this place,
hidden deep in the jungle at the very end of an old Shaktiman track, would
reveal.  The next day the crowd of
curious villagers who gathered around the dilapidated government Inspection
Bungalow (IB) where we were staying, told us that there were indeed many caves
within walking distance of the village (good start!).  The local people proved to be incredibly
helpful and generous; the headman, BIen Marak, and his two brothers, Erok and
Hellindro, offered to act as guides and we recruited two others to cook for
us.  Throughout our stay there were
always people around, bringing cooking pots, or offering such things as bananas
or a remedy for a sick stomach (honey and rum – yum), or just sitting around
the fire while we overcame the language barrier with bottles of beer and
port.  For all of this they refused any
payment; they were fantastic people.

The area around the
village was one of low-lying, thickly jungled limestone hills with stream caves
developing horizontally, and frequently with a maze-like confusion of
criss-crossing side pasages.  Blen and
his brothers showed us several small caves which they had themselves
exploredfully with the aid of smoking torches. They were intrigued to come back in with us to see the passages more
clearly with electric light.  These caves
were surveyed quickly by us splitting into two teams and things got
particularly exciting when we had to drag Mark away from surveying the lower
reaches of Mendi, whish were lacking
in oxygen, and when Daniel found some mermaids (?) in the streamway of Kimrang.

More extensive than
these was Kholjong Cave, with a
stream the size of which led Mark and Daniel to conjecture about the
“longest cave in

India

… and a mass of small, dry side passages. We had fun ”finishing off’ upstream; the passage which must soon close
down, opening and branching into a series of deep canals and big, dry side
passages.  Kholjong didn’t prove to be

India
‘s longest cave however and
was finished off by the time we left at 2.108 km.

Danged was the largest
cave which our guides knew of and had an impressive entrance at the base of a
cliff which led into a large streamway. Mark, Jorg and I set off down a canyon which branched off the main
stream and soon emerged into a vast, square passage, dominated by the ”fallen
megafreighter” boulder, and increasingly thick with bats.  Thousands of them flitted out past us like
big furry fairies (or something).  We
drew and photographed them for the record and continued onward over slimy,
smelly boulders and a trickle of stream. Daniel’s disembodied voice ahead led us to think that we were coming
back round to the main stream but we never met up with the other team who had
been stopped in their tracks at the head of two waterfalls which fell into the
bat passage.  The stream disappeared into
what may be ongoing (grovelly) passage and so we climbed up instead into a series
of large, round and sparkly chambers but had to turn round before reaching a
conclusion.  We emerged from the cave to
find the guides very nervous and keen to get away, having heard wild elephants
nearby.  We heard them again on the walk
back but were disappointed (and Blen was relieved) not to see any.

After each day’s
caving we returned along jungle tracks and through the village.  My mind was considerably more blown on the
first day by the sight of this settlement than it had been by running along
through virgin passage underground.  Bamboo
huts stood in the red earth with the occasional palm tree and dogs, pigs, goats
and children ran loose among them.  On
the edge of the village was a wooden festival house, carved and painted with
human figures, snakes and tigers and which everyone but me (being a girl) was
allowed to enter and have a look around. This was a place almost entirely untouched by the West and it was not
really surprising that the children stared curiously at the aliens who had
arrived in their midst with strange clothes and lights on their heads!

After four days in the
Garo Hills half the team left for Shillong. Mark (to organize the new arrivals from
Europe)
Jorg (for rest, recuperation and a comfortable toilet) and Peter (who wanted a
helicopter ride) headed for Tura and a much shorter journey to Shillong in the
chopper.  Lindsay also went to Tura to
get vital supplies of more port leaving Daniel and I to a much needed washing
day.  The next couple of days were spent
tying up loose ends and on our last day in the area Blen and his brothers took
us on a long walking trip to look at various new cave entrances, a lake, some
trout (“Walk quietly – there are big fish.”), but sadly still no
elephants.  We headed back to the IB early
for our last meal of potatoes, rice and dhal and then said goodbye, leaving
gifts of rum and Leathermans for the guides and promising to return next
year.  We climbed back into the jeep,
which by now had no shock absorbers and a failing clutch, and set off on the
long, and even bumpier than before, journey to Shillong.  This was partly compensated for by the fact
that I did finally see an elephant on the way back.

Your scribe, being on the “Cherra Team” was forced
to stay at our friend Denis Rayen’s Cherra Tourist Resort – base for last
year’s BEC team and overall superb spot overlooking the jungle covered
escarpments of southern Meghalaya and the vast flood plains of

Bangladesh

below.  Our first evening was spent
watching a very poor bootleg CD of “Pearl Harbor” and getting about
one hour’s sleep due to atrocious high volume pop music and singing emanating
from the adjacent Laitkynsew village annual all night party.

Feb. 6th and 7th saw a ten person team surveying, exploring,
photographing and bat studying in the Krem
Soh Shympi/Rumdan
system – partly explored but not mapped by last year’s
BEC team.  This impressive horizontal
cave eventually yielded 1.428km of generally large and bat infested fossil
passages but a nasty, low active streamway below was only partially surveyed
and showed little promise of improving. It was while lying flat out in this particularly flood prone spot that
we decided a whip round was needed to purchase new spectacles for Rob Harper
and to ignore all future “It’s a real goer” tips from this man.  The writer, Denis and Thomas had the job of
surveying behind the advance party but due to a fortunate communications
failure ended up leaving the main route and providentially climbing into 203m
of superbly decorated fossil gallery ending at the lip of a 14m deep pot
(Sunflower Pot – named after a matchbox thrown down to later prove a connection
with the lower levels).  We had first
assumed that this pot would enter the mythical enormous passage beyond Rob’s
streamway and had hurled huge boulders down it, not realising that it was actually
an aven on the main “trade route” through the cave along which the
others had recently passed!

On the 8th we had planned to visit the unique living rubber
tree bridges located in the jungle below Laitkynsew and then check out a
supposed resurgence at the nearby

village of
Mustoh
.  “Nearby” is a relative term in a
place where everyone lives essentially partway up a gigantic, jungle covered
cliff.   Although only a few hundred
metres from the Resort, Mustoh is reached either by a 40 minute jeep ride down
a hairpin track or a direct walk down about 1500 sandstone steps for a vertical
distance of 370 metres which takes about the same time.  As it happened we never got to see the
bridges as, following a natter with the village headman, we were shown a sink
cave – Krem Umjasew – about ten
minutes walk from Mustoh in an adjacent dry valley.  The unprepossessing entrance was located in a
heap of boulders at the side of this valley where a short climb down dropped
into the head of a stunning, steeply descending bore passage which obviously
takes a vast amount of water during the monsoon.  Three of us, dressed in T-shirts and light
trousers, were soon knocking up the metreage while the others continued with
reconnaissance of some nearby rock shelters known to be the home of a nest of
King Cobras!



Prospecting in the hills of Meghalava.

After a straight line distance of some 250 metres, from
where we could still see daylight from the entrance, we reached the head of a
10 metre pitch caused by a choke in the floor of the main drag where it briefly
narrowed down.  This was descended on the
following day and the main passage followed on down dip to a deep lake where a
traverse and short ladder climb gained the far shore without too much of a
wetting.  Huge wedged logs proved the
power of the stream in flood conditions and prompted the appropriate name of
“The Log Flume” for the main passage. Beyond the lake the cave continued in fine style with a 45 metre free
climb down a sculpted rock wall – The North Face – providing great sport.  Here we temporarily lost the stream and
reached another pitch – about 20 metres deep but passable with a 10 metre
ladder.  Both pitches are actually more
easily passed by free climbing with a traverse line, the cave being
particularly well endowed with jug holds and ledges.  Beyond, the bore passage entered the ceiling
of a huge, gloomy and mist filled chamber some 25 metres deep.  Bats circled in the Dantesque regions below
and with hopes of returning to follow gigantic river galleries all the way to

Bangladesh

we headed back to the Resort to overdo it on celebrating with beer and Captain
Morgan rum.  In the meantime Lump and
Shelley had pushed an adjacent cave – Krem
Umjasew 2
– down a series of pitches and some superbly decorated passage to
emerge in the main cave at the 250 metre point.

On the 10th, feeling decidedly fragile, three of us laddered
the pitch to the floor of the immense chamber where a huge sand dune and an
area of massive collapse marked the apparent end of the accessible system.
Martin named this The Desert of Despond. Another look around here next year, without the burden of a rum
hangover, may yield a way on.  At 1.077
km long and just under 200 metres deep this system is now one of

India
‘s deepest
and most sporting caves which hones one’s climbing and traversing skills to
perfection!  On staggering back to Mustoh
village that evening we were met by Denis and Thomas bearing good and bad
news.  The good news was that the chai
shop was open late and a roaring bonfire had been lit but the bad news was that
the jeep, parked nearby, was buggered and we had to climb up the 370m stone
staircase back to the Resort!  Never
again will I make a pig of myself on rum … Meanwhile Dr. B. and Jayne had
almost gotten arrested by the Border Security Force for wandering around the
town of
Shella, on the

Bangladesh

border, without passports but were let off with slapped wrists when the police
realised that they were British cavers. They had been looking for possible resurgences but found nothing obvious
in the difficult and jungle covered terrain around the town.

Lots of other small caves were looked at around Mustoh
village and there is plenty more to do in this very pleasant area.  The locals are very friendly and helpful,
especially the village youths, two of whom, Alban and Shampoo (honest!) were
taken on a photography/derigging trip in Krem Umjasew and bottomed their first
cave with extreme ease, being natural born cavers.  They were so good that Lump sneaked a large
rock into their tackle bag to slow the buggers down a bit!

Our surveyed total in this area was 2.3 km and on the 13th
we regretfully left the Resort to join up with the main team at Sutnga in the
Jaintia Hills.  A stomach bug had now
made it’s unpleasant presence felt on both us and the Garo team and persisted
throughout the expedition, getting almost everyone – including at least one of
the Meghalayan lads.  A flock of hopeful
looking vultures gathered daily by the roadside to check on it’s progress!

At Sutnga we established ourselves in the LB (inspection
bungalow) where most of the recently arrived team had already spent a couple of
days, investigating leads in the Krem
Umthloo
system but finding little of interest.  On the 15th “Peter the Pirate”, our
one eyed Austrian bolting expert and I decided to attempt the climb up Shrimp
Pool Aven located at the end of the main upstream passage in Umthloo.  We abseiled in via the already rigged 40m
deep Krem Myrliat and soon reached
our objective where, after various entertaining but futile attempts at lassoing
and sky hooking ledges 5 metres up, we gave up and Peter used our Makita
battery drill to put in three bolts. Technology hits Meghalayan caving! From the top, 6 metres above, a superb potholed streamway – Captain
Hook’s Canyon – was followed until lack of time and another 5 metre climb
caused a halt. We returned next day intent on mapping a kilometre or so of
horizontal stuff but were soon brought back to reality at the base of a c.l 0
metre high aven located just around the comer from our last survey point.  I partly free climbed this before handing it
over to Peter and the Makita for a more professional job.  After an hour’s hard work he gained the top
and Fiona and I joined him at the base of yet another soaring shaft – Black
Spot Aven.  A narrow chimney at one end
was again bolted up by Peter to gain an airy ledge with a rift/aven at one end
which our knackered bolter suggested I have a look at before we headed out for
our jeep rendezvous as time was now pressing.

I managed to free climb up another 10 metres or so to reach
a huge, double level chamber with routes up between massive boulders where it
was easy to lose the way.  Leaves and
other debris indicated a nearby entrance and, on looking up, I saw daylight at
the top of an inaccessible, c.15 metre high aven.  Another daylight aven nearby seemed climbable
so I summoned the others to join me for the escape attempt – later proved to
have been a bad move!  A bolting/free
climbing ascent of this aven was attempted but it was now dark on the surface
and this, plus a large overhang put paid to the writer’s efforts some 8 metres
up.  We were now well overdue and decided
to retreat via Krem Myrliat from
whence we emerged two hours late at 9 p.m. to later meet a prospective rescue
team who had just arrived at Tongseng village. After apologising all round we gratefully drank the emergency beer
supplies thoughtfully provided and were driven back to the LB. for a very late
meal.  Despite all this it had been a
classic and enjoyable trip and we had virtually connected the main streamway
entrance to this 12 km system – to provide one of the world’s finest through
trips – but where was this entrance?  A
note typed in German and stuck on the LB. wall gave the answer.  Last year Thomas Matthalm and team had
investigated two interconnected surface shafts situated near the V-shaped
ancient monoliths on the footpath to Krem
Myrliat
but had not descended them due to lack of equipment.  This was Krem
Ryman
and was visited next day by Peter, me and the expedition stomach
bug.  While the bug and I sought out a
cosy patch of jungle Peter abseiled down one of the open pots to pass the
terminal bolt of the previous day a mere 6 metres from the surface! Bugger,
bugger, bugger.  Another couple of bolts
and a bit of climbing would have seen us out in plenty of time – or even
better; if my German had been up to scratch or I had studied Daniel’s
magnificent cave data book more closely, I would have realised this was the
main sink and we could have explored it from the top down! Such is life.  The connecting passages and chamber, aptly
named “Life is a Drama” from a slogan seen painted on a Shaktiman
truck, were later surveyed and yet another entrance pot 40 metres deep found.

The v-shaped monoliths and the dolmen at Tongseng.

On the 20th
Yorkshire Dave
and I investigated the strongly draughting “Hairdryer Hole” situated above a different part of the Umthloo system.  Two other adjacent holes were pointed out by
local woodcutter Barlis Tongseng.  They were
collectively known as Krem Umtyngier
and included a fourth, huge shaft which had previously been descended into Umthloo and incorrectly named Krem Moolale.  Two of the three, including the very
promising Hairdryer Hole, were dug
open to reveal short vertical systems becoming too tight or boulder choked and
the third also became choked.  Despite
this they may well be visited again in the future as they lie in a particularly
interesting zone where a connection between the underlying Umthloo system and the nearby 1.820 km Krem Muid may be on the cards. Krem Muid itself may connect
up with the 3.339 km long, and truly stunning, Krem Mawshun, located near the

village of
Leilad
.  Bang will be needed in Hairdryer Hole but this has been easily obtained in the past from
local quarrymen – at an inflated price but still dirt cheap compared with
European prices.  It was while digging
out the entrance of one of these caves that your scribe got jumped on by a 5 cm
long Tiger Leech which was fortunately spotted in time (before it died of
alcohol poisoning) and was pulled off by Barlis.

Meanwhile other team members had been shown and had partly
surveyed the huge stream

cave of
Krem Liat
Prah
, slightly to the north east of the Umthloo area.  Fiona persuaded the writer that a low and wet
inlet, mapped for some distance by her and Christophe, needed finishing off and
could lead to great things.  Having
ranted on about the necessity of pushing all small side passages I could hardly
refuse and so found myself lying flat out in a stream after having crawled in
water for 70 metres and now breathing in vast clouds of acetylene gas from
Fiona’s dropped spare carbide drum. Luckily the passage closed down here and we could return to the 15 metre
diameter “aircraft hangar” main drag of this lengthy system – later
surveyed and meticulously drawn up by Michael, whose “baby” it was,
to a length of 5.954 km.  A connection
with the ”

Shaktiman Highway

in the adjacent 1.046 km long Krem Um Im
was missed by only a few metres when the explorers failed to swim a short lake,
not realising that it was the same lake seen to one side of the streamway in Liat Prah!  This combined system may, in turn, connect
with the previously explored Krem Labbit
(0.457+ km) – itself almost joined to Krem
Shynrong Labbit
(5.7 km).  This
theoretical system of over 13 km is itself not far from the extensive major
upstream inlet passages of the 12.65 km long Umthloo system and a promising pot found by Dan and Fiona is
situated directly over the missing section where Robin, Ruben and Ronnie also
did extensive surface investigations.  A
possible mega (or Megha) system of over 40 km is prophesied if the missing
links actually exist and can be discovered.



As more caves are discovered and surveyed along the limestone
ridge the picture becomes clearer and the connections more likely.  With vast, low lying areas on both sides of
this ridge the extreme age of these caves becomes obvious and the writer has a
pet theory that they were formed by a mighty river originating in the Himalaya
to the north – possibly the proto Brahmaputra before it eroded it’s way around
the north west side of Meghalaya and then south to the Bay of Bengal.  The original catchment area for the ridge is
now the country of

Bangladesh

some 1,500 metres below!  Another likely
connecting cave to Umthloo was
pointed out to us by a small boy and lay only 160 metres from Krem Ryman. Krem Korlooheng started with a scramble down for 15 metres to a 12
metre pitch, awkward sloping rift, 90 metres of
Yorkshire
style scalloped streamway and then a bloody great black hole.

Cherrypicker Pot proved to be a 42.7 metre free hang to a
ledge and further 8 metre pitch – over 50 metres in all and awesomely
photogenic.  Walkie-talkies were used for
communication on this pitch as the echo chamber effect made ordinary speech
unintelligible.  Mark used another of our
toys, a petrol powered rock drill, halfway down the pot to put in a rebelay and
the noise was incredible – like someone ascending the rope on a Harley-Davidson!  At the bottom a pleasant stream passage was
surveyed by Lindsay and the writer for 230 metres to end at a low and squalid
section which soon sumped.  Here Mark
swore he saw a fish which he recognised from the previous year in Umthloo!  Our hopes for an easy way out via Krem Ryman were now dashed and once
again we were late back for supper. Another “rescue party” swung into action that evening, not for
us but for Yorkshire Dave, Annie and Nicola who had cocked up their jeep
rendezvous point and were later found having walked several kms back towards
Sutnga.  Communications are a big problem
in this fairly remote area with poor roads and teams exploring different areas
at the same time.  Next year we plan to
take more walkie-talkies and hired satellite ‘phones.  One possible problem with walkie-talkies is
their use near the
Bangladesh
(and even the sister state of

Assam
)
borders.

Thomas, Brian K.D. and team had meanwhile been pushing a
1.323 km long resurgence cave reported to have a resident ghost – Krem Wah Shikar.  A beautifully decorated and very roomy river
passage had a variety of inlets – one of which Thomas and I explored to reach a
second entrance. A picturesque grotto halfway along was named Suppliers’
Chamber as both discoverers happened to coincidentally own caving shops called
Bat Products!  Funny old world … The
resident ghost was obviously a bit miffed and pinched one of my socks in
revenge.  Thomas placated it with the
offering of a Coconut Crunchee biscuit (pronounced bisquit by Peter) and the
sock later mysteriously reappeared at the LB.

This was obviously a playful and friendly wraith. In the
remote and somewhat spooky Lakadong area which some of us had briefly visited
last year Martin, Mark, Shelley and Dan were confronted by something else
altogether.  They had set a precedent
during their first week in Shillong by finding the body of a recently murdered
teenager floating in a river.  In
Lakadong their main aim was to descend two c.50 metre potholes located near the
village and neighbouring immigrant coal miners’ encampment.  Surrounded by the usual horde of curious
villagers they rigged the first pot and were not unduly surprised to hear the
sounds of people apparently working in the depths below.  These were obviously colliers who had entered
from another, unknown entrance.  After
shouting down a warning Dan abseiled into the depths to stop short of a group
of at least six people at the shaft bottom. The shouted warning had been unnecessary as his new acquaintances had
very obviously been dead for some time, and probably not by accident.  There was no other access to the pot.  Without getting off the rope our now
thoroughly discomfited hero rapidly changed over and headed for the sweeter
smelling surface to report to the locals that this reputedly 700 metre deep
hole could not be bottomed due to lack of tackle!

They quickly thanked the crowd for their assistance and
escaped to the tranquillity of the local LB. Two days later a second shaft which lay in the edge of the jungle some
distance away was visited.  Once again
this was rigged and descended and though an awesome place seemed to be ghost
free.  On reaching the bottom though it
was apparent that the spirits were only taking the day off as another rotting
corpse met the startled explorer’s eyes. Yet again a rapid retreat was made. Apparently the deceased was a local woman thief who raided nearby
villages but then made the fatal error of stealing from her own people.  Justice can be simple and swift in these
remote areas and a 50 metre pothole is as sure as a gun or rope to ensure that
the sentence is satisfactorily carried out, with the added benefit of no body
disposal problems.

Apart from these gruesome discoveries the team were
surprised not to find large, horizontal galleries at the base of these
pots.  More reconnaissance work needs to
be done in this theoretically important area hence the authorities were not
informed of the quantity of dead people found. It is most unlikely that they would be interested anyway, especially if
these were the bodies of immigrant miners who seem to be regarded as a sub
species of the human race.

During the expedition many more smaller caves were explored,
surveyed and occasionally dug into by sad people with no mental control.  Dan and Fiona undertook more
biospelaeological research in the Krem
Kotsati/Umlawan
system at Lumshnong and in Krem Liat Prah.  Paul
continued with the ongoing video project and he, Lump and others took many
still photographs, particularly of cave life and entrances for record
purposes.  Daniel, Thomas, Mark and Dave
wore their fingers to the bone typing data and diary notes into the
indispensable computers. Ruben and Ronnie reminded us all what it was like to
be young and several times almost became candidates for a Lakadong ropeless
abseil trip.  Dorien mutinied after a few
days and returned to

Belgium

to look after her sick father.  Dr. B,
suffering from the after effects of a bout of pneumonia, went back to

Calcutta
with Jayne for a
rest and did sterling work in tracking down J .K. Dey and Sons, carbide and
safety lamp manufacturers.  Your scribe
later met Mr. Sandip Kumar Dey and arranged for the future manufacture of brass
carbide generators for the Indian and British caving markets.

With less than eleven months to go plans are already in hand
for next year’s trip. Brian K.D. and Gareth William were introduced to the very
influential high priest of the pagan, animist “Old Religion” which is
apparently still practised in the Tongseng – Shnongrim area alongside
Presbyterianism.  This very knowledgeable
and friendly English speaker showed us several caves, pointed out sacred caves
which it was suggested we keep out of and offered to find us a camp site in the
middle of the area for next year.  Most
of those present will return on the slim hope of finding some ” … karst
features of outstanding significance.”

Seventy sites were recorded this year giving a surveyed
length of 22.598 kms and putting the total Meghalayan cave length at 204.598
kms.  This article is written from the
viewpoints of two BEC members and fuller accounts of other peoples’ experiences
will appear in Descent, the Grampian S.G. Bulletin, etc.

Participants:


Austria
:
Peter “the Pirate” Ludwig (LVHOO)


Belgium
:
Christophe Deblaere, Dorien Verboven (SPEKUL)


Germany
:
Jorg Dreybrodt (HADES), Michael Laumanns (SCB), Daniel Gebauer (HAG)

India: Organizer
– Brian Kharpran Daly (GSG/MA), Shelley & Lindsay Diengdoh, Dale, Teddy
& Ronnie Mawlong, Gareth William Lyngwa (all MA), Denis Rayen, Adora
ThabaiTyler, Larsing Sukhlain, Phiban Kharumlong, Brian Khyriem, Batkupar
Lyngdoh, Abraham Sangma, Alban Bakash (Mustoh village), Shampoo Rapmai
(Mustoh), Sunny Lyngdoh, Baba Mawlong, Darimika Bariat, Lija and Eleanor
Lyngdoh.


Ireland
:
Robin & Ruben Sheen (BCCC)


Switzerland
:
Thomas Arbenz (SNT)

Gt. Britain:
(absent organizer – Simon Brooks (OCC/GSG), Leader – Mark Brown (SUSS), Annie
Audsley (BEC/SUSS), Nicola Bayley (RFODCC), Tony Boycott (BEC/UBSS/GSG), Paul
Edmunds, Dan Harries (GSO), Andy Harp (RFODCC), Tony Jarratt (BEC/GSG), Jayne
Stead (GSG), Fiona Ware (GSG), “Yorkshire” Dave Hodgson (GSG), Martin
“Lump” Groves (SCC), Andy Tyler

With the assistance, hospitality and support of a host of
cooks, drivers, village headmen, guides, dhobi ladies, small boys, partygoers
and members of the Meghalayan Adventurers’ Association – especially Donboc
Syiemlieh and Bung Diengdoh.  Not
forgetting (an impossibility!) Maureen Diengdoh and the ever cheerful Ladies of
Shillong.  Thanks also to Wells St.
John’s Ambulance for the donation of a Neil Robertson stretcher, now resident
in Shillong and hopefully never to be used in anger.

References:

Caving in the Abode of the Clouds – Report of the 1992 &
1994 Expedition

Caving in the Abode of the Clouds – Part II – Report of the
1995, 1996 & 1997 Expeditions (both available from BAT Products)

Various articles in the BB, Descent, GSG Bulletin,
International Caver, Caves & Caving, etc.

 

Club News

The Club Dinner and AGM (5th October) are rapidly
approaching.  You should have received
your Booking Form for the meal through the post and further AGM details are
below.

During the June Working Weekend the ground was cleared for
the new extension (thanks to Nigel for bringing along his mini-digger) and as
mentioned in the Digging and Diving News section it is planned to extend future
clean up sessions to St. Cuthbert’s so bring along your caving kit for the next
one.

The Ashes were retained in the annual cricket match on a hot
and drunken afternoon when two innings were possible (after last year’s
monsoon-like conditions).  Despite the
usual deterioration in the BEC’s game in the second innings (surely completely
unconnected with the heavy drinking indulged in by most of the team) the BEC
scraped home to win.

The Peru Expedition is off in early September and hopefully
will have news to report in time for the next BB. Also off on his travels once
more is Phil Rowsell who has returned to

Tasmania

to drive the Australians up the wall for six months.  Note for your diary, he is due to return in
February 2003 – best hide, book a holiday, break a limb or die around that
time.

Finally, news has also been reported that a certain Jake
Baynes has been hobbling around with a stick after having been run over by his
girlfriend – fill in your own punchlines about her having a crush etc …..

Hon. Sec. Report for the Club Year Oct’ 2001 Sept’ 2002

Well a year has passed and it is that time again when all
interested parties should let it be known that they wish to help the club and
serve on the committee or alternatively do you have any nominations for others
that may wish to do their bit?  Any
takers should let me or any other member of the committee know in good time for
the AGM on October 5th 2002.  The old
adage rings true “it’s your club and this is your chance to have a say in
its running”.

There are still some tickets left for the dinner on the
evening of October 5th at the Bath Arms, Cheddar where there is limited accommodation
available, tickets are very reasonably priced at £ 16.50.

It was good to get back to normal after the Foot & Mouth
outbreak and we have started to get things going with fulfilling our planning
permission requirements regarding the extension.  My thanks to all the people who assisted on
the several working weekends during the years. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of
the present committee for their help during the year.  An especially big vote of thanks should go to
Ros Bateman who is standing down as membership secretary, over the past few
years she has put in a tremendous amount of effort into the job.  It is Ros we should also thank for organising
this year’s dinner and thanks also to Nigel Taylor for pre-booking the venue.

On the caving front the club has seen members travelling to
such places as Northern Spain,
Megahalaya,
Austria,

Peru
and the Hunters Lodge car park
(congratulations to J’rat on his latest discovery).

On the whole the club is in a healthy position and I would
be only too pleased, if it is the wish of the AGM, to stand again as Hon. Sec.

Vince Simmonds.

 

Treasurer’s Report 2001 /2002

This year has proven to be another quiet time financially
for the club.  I am happy with the way
our finances have moved this year, one huge benefit (thanks to Blitz) has been
our continued rates exemption.  This has
allowed us to move forward financially, and has put the club on a sound footing
for the future.

At the time of writing I am trying to set up our books so
that we can have this year’s figures audited before the AGM. This is very
dependent on the goodwill of the accountant who will have only 3 weeks from the
cut off date at the end of August. I will be entirely in his hands time-wise.  Hopefully if all goes well we will always
have a set of books that are up to date (give or take a month).

On a different note, from the club’s financial point of view
there is absolutely no need to raise the membership fees this year.  I feel that the current charges are more than
sufficient, and feel that we should consider lower fees for new young members
under the age of 20.  These could be
staged up to adult levels on a 2-year basis.

At the time of writing there is no reason to expect the
rates exemption to change.  I would
recommend that the club votes a modest payment into the IDMF fund as this would
bolster my claim for exemption this year on the basis that we are encouraging,
and financing young local people to join us and take part in our activities!

We look forward to a continued strong financial base for
this club.

Mike Wilson.

 

Extracts From The Logbook.

23/3/02: Sima Tonio-Canuella (

Spain
): Vince,
Pete Bolt, Mike Alderton, Greg Brock, Bea Goford,
Tim Lamberton, Snablet and Annette. 

500m pull through, very good cave and spectacular abseil
into main passage.

2/4/02: Hazlenut Swallet: Mike (Willett) and Graham (Jake).

Repaired dams again, cleared out passage and duck of 3 years
inwash, and down to the sump.  Quite wet
down the 10ft pot but sump not silted, maybe diveable feet first, hand-held
etc, by skinny dwarf – if none of the above found then blasting the roof off is
the only option.  The sump feels deep but
short and well worth a dive.

13/4/02: OFD II (Northern Lights): Neil Usher, Rob Harper, Ben Barnett and
Kris Conners (Fatboys’ Outing)

In via Edward’s Shortcut, Shatter Pillar.  Uneventful trip – apart from Ben actually
keeping up. Spent an hour or so looking for

Lavender Way
, reckon some bastard stole
it.  Don’t know where Northern Lights is,
but was a nice trip anyway. 4½ hours.

25/5/02: Midcot Fissure (Tisbury, Wilts.): Vince and Roz

A trip to Wiltshire to investigate (and survey) a fissure
opened up under someone’s house (found while digging an extension).  Probably not looking for a new basement.

1/6/02: Ogof Draenen: Vince and
Pete Bolt

Down into the Underworld (off Megadrive North) rather
disappointing – narrow rift series with small stream, degenerates, too tight.  Laddered the big pitch off

Indiana Highway
(25m), very impressive
free hang (20m).  Followed rift series
down another 6m ladder (Wigmore style, tight head first take off) to the

Temple of
Doom
. Dug choke at the end to reach stream unfortunately “we needed a
mouse in scuba gear” (Pete quote) to follow it.  Upstream looked likely spot for digging but
need to dye trace water to see if it re-emerges in White Arch Passage.  Another potential dig was probed at the
bottom of the ladder before we made our way out. 6½ hours.

27/6/02: Eastwater (
Soho Dig): MadPhil and
Alison Moody

Trip to drill more holes and bang.  Slow going. Good draught along rift!  Bang
fumes caught us up in Boulder Chamber! Stream changed, goes down through Boulder Chamber, then into Ifold’s and
down Soho Dig!  Tired!!!

5/8/02: Hunters’ Lodge Inn Sink: Adrian Hole (Tony Jarratt already there)

Trip to new extensions – found Tony watering hole in
boulders with Roger’s hose pipe (takes all sorts I suppose).  Went to choke and dug right-hand side.  Kept turning round to look over shoulder at
large passage and thinking I had gone to Llangattock not Mendip.  Shame it lacks enough air.

 

VALE: Dave ‘Pooh’ Yeandle.

1951 – 2002.

by Stuart (Mac) McManus
with photographs by Martin Grass

Dave was born on the 13th June 1951 and died in a
paragliding accident in

Alicante,
Spain
on Friday
5th April 2002.  He was 50 years old.

We had known each other since we were schoolboys over 35
years ago, the things I shall always remember about Dave was his enthusiasm and
commitment in all that he wanted to do. He always made you smile, as he talked about all those madcap ideas and
things he got up to or things that always seemed to happen to him throughout
his life.  He was always good
company.  Though our lives took different
paths over the years, when ever we met up we would chat about old times and
also what each had been doing since we had last met and I think it was a sign
of how good a friend he was as we would just continue from where we had left off.



Dave in GB, one of
his last caving trips.

Dave would always recount tales of expeditions or trips he
had been on with his normal matter of fact tone describing why he was at the
bottom of a 50 metre pitch with water cascading on him only wearing his SRT
gear and a pair of underpants whilst we would roll about laughing.

I know many people told him he should write a book about his
exploits, and encouraged by us all he did complete a manuscript for a book
before his untimely death.  The book has
been published by the Internet book publishers – Diadem Books.  He certainly packed a lot into his 50 years.

Dave started caving in June 1967 with the Axbridge Caving
Group, which like most of us in the sixties involved going down Goatchurch and
Sidcot as his first taste of caving.  He
was hooked, and quickly advanced onto the major caves on Mendip knocking off
work from his Saturday job at Jones C a department store in Bristol) to do sump
I in Swildon’s.  His log book reads as a
foot note to this, his best trip to date, P.S.
“nearly got sacked from Jones’s!”

His caving continued on both Mendip and
South
Wales
doing all of the classics with the Axbridge C.G., though
with the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 1967/68 putting a temporary stop to caving
on Mendip, Dave started climbing in the Avon Gorge.  He took to climbing like all things he wanted
to do, with total commitment, even his small legs did not stop him from jumping
for a tree branch when he couldn’t get to a hand hold, which he missed, leaving
him dangling some 100 foot above the Avon Gorge!  To Dave, climbing was nearly as good as
caving.  He continued to climb throughout
his life returning to it seriously in the early 1990’s achieving a good E2
standard, surprising quite a lot of his mates with his new found climbing
skills.

His first recorded trip with the BEC was in May 1968 with a
trip down to Swildon’s II which followed with his first visit to Yorkshire with
Alan Thomas in June, where typical of Dave he wanted to do everything, his
first trip included an Alum/Long Churn exchange and Long Kin West, with Dave
stating in his log that he must improve his ladder technique as the 280 foot
pitch took him nearly 30 minutes to climb against Alan Thomas’s 6 minutes.  It was on these first trips that his love for
Yorkshire caving was formed.

Having joined the BEC in 1968 he was to acquire one of his
two legendary nicknames that of the “Belfry Boy”.  Dave was constantly running the gauntlet,
fetching tea for the older BEC members, he didn’t mind the constant shouts of
“Boy more tea, Boy fetch my caving boots” his objective was to be in
the BEC and progress his caving, and I think he was proud of the title
“Belfry Boy”.

Dave was much involved with the digging and exploration of
Cuthbert’s in the late 60’s and early seventies he was also part of the BEC’s
Ahnenschacht expedition in August 1969 and the French Ariege trip in 1970.

On hearing about the caving successes of the University of
Leeds Speleological Society (ULSA) Dave decided to go to
Leeds
to study physics.  I remember Dave coming
back to Bristol after his interview at Leeds saying he thought he might have
blown it, as the department head kept asking him why he had selected Leeds, and
Dave said “oh its because I have heard so much about the good results
obtained by the physics department” but the head kept asking about his
hobbies, suspecting some ulterior motive, Dave eventually had to come clean and
mentioned the dreaded C word Caving!!

They let him in and Dave went up to
Leeds
in 1969 and set about gaining very quickly a reputation as one of the hard men
of the ULSA, he did do some physics as well. While at
Leeds he was given his second
and perhaps most enduring name of “Pooh” after the AA Milne
character.

It was when Dave went to Leeds University in 1969 that his
caving career really went in to top gear, as Geoff Yeadon put it in his tribute
to Dave in Descent, “Dave’s rise to the
forefront of British caving in the 1970’s was mercurial, one minute he suffered
the indignities of being Mendip’s Belfry Boy, and the next he had become one of
the hard men of Leeds University (ULSA)”

Dave was involved in the new discoveries in Pippikin Pot,
and at the sharp end of the notorious Langcliffe Pot.  In 1970 he was involved in the breakthrough
into Gasson’s series which was at the time considered one of the most serious
undertakings in

Britain

with trips lasting over 18 hours.  His
log book (July 1970) records one of these epic trips emerging from the cave at
8.00 am “off to Bernie’s for some
food and then the start of a long hitch back to Bristol (42 hours with 2 hours
sleep followed by work on Monday proved interesting).”

In 1972 after he dived Dementor sump at the end of
Langcliffe he and his carrying team were flooded in. They all came out under
their own steam after 44 hours in the cave. Another Yeandle epic.

There are two permanent reminders of Dave’s past caving
exploits, with places named after him. One is in the Pierre St Martin in France where in 1972, Dave with such
names as Wooding, Mike Boon, the Brook brother to name but a few explored an
area in the cave called the Maria Dolores, to which they hoped to claim the
world depth record.  Dave found what he
hoped to be the pitch to take them all to great depths beneath the
Pyrenees, the expected breakthrough so eagerly wanted was
not to be, though his efforts were recorded on film by Sid Perou.  They named the pitch “Puits Pooh”
and as Dave put it “a little bit of

France
will always be Puits
Pooh.”

The other passage named after him is in Pippikin named by Geoff
Yeadon after Geoff pushed the downstream sump and broke through to a dry
passage and named it “Pooh’s Revenge” in recognition of Dave’s
efforts to make the connection between Link and Pipikin by diving some years
earlier.

GB Cave. March
2002.

Dave went off to
Australia
several times, once overland in 1973 returning in 1975 to join a caving
expedition to
New Guinea,
returning to the

UK

again in 1978 for what was to be a brief period but staying for nearly three
years.  It was during this period as Dave
put it, he did his best caving and diving, with trips such as upstream King Pot
main drain sump, Alum pot, and the helping with the Keld Head film to name but
a few.

Dave returned to

Australia
as a mud logger in
1980/81, where he took up his other hobbies of windsurfing, gliding as well as
Himalayan trekking, which included Everest base camp.  He even apparently managed a 6000 metre peak
in

Wellingtons
!  It was during one of Dave’s slide shows that
I noticed that some of the slides showed him wearing what I thought was a new
design of black anorak, some of these slides had him wearing this new type of
anorak high in the mountains in deep snow but the black anorak turned out to be
a black plastic bin liner.  Dave as usual
stating that that was all he could find after his gear had been stolen earlier
in the trekking trip.  Nothing seemed to
phase him at all, whatever disaster would be fall him he would just get on with
it.

Dave finally returned to the
UK
from
Australia in 1991 and
settled down initially in

Bristol

before buying a house in Wells.  He
trained as a mud engineer and travelled around all the oil fields of the Middle
East, as well as the
North Sea.  The 4 weeks on 4 weeks off enabling him to
have money and time off to do the things that he wanted to do.  His interests though having diversified still
maintained his interest in caving, as well as skiing and climbing.  The sport that was to take his full attention
was paragliding.

Dave took up Paragliding with his usual enthusiasm for
anything he wanted to do.  He became a
very accomplished pilot obtaining his club pilot rating very early on and was a
very popular member of the Avon Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club.  Dave spent quite a lot of time out in
Spain, the Alps and even went to
South Africa to paraglide where the weather and
conditions allowed more frequent flying opportunities than here in the

UK
.  I know he so much enjoyed the pleasures of
flying.  I had only been talking to him
several days before he went out to

Spain
, and Dave as ever, was
excited to be getting out there to do some decent flying.  The rest as they say is history.

I know that I can speak for everyone who knew him that his
sudden death was a great shock to us all and his passing has left a rather
large hole in all of our lives.

I would like to pass on all of our condolences to his
sisters Joan, and Alison and his brother Mike, but in particularly to his
mother Dorothy who I know feels the loss deeply.

 

© 2024 Bristol Exploration Club Ltd

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