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Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas. Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Hon. Editor: - S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol



Once more, the Annual General Meeting has come round and gone by.  This year produced no real surprises or fireworks, but it was nevertheless most encouraging to see the number of club members who took and active part in the proceedings.

As usual, prospective innovators had a hard time of it.  Pete Franklin’s resolution to separate the dates of the A.G.M. and dinner was defeated by the narrowest possible margin of one vote, but we are reminded that the late Don Coase took two years before he got his proposal to change the date of the A.G.M from the last Saturday in January to the first Saturday in October accepted – so Pete may well win out next year.

Plans for the B.B. to run quarterly were also voted against.  Although the Chairman pointed out that this was not a resolution and thus did not bind the Editor to comply with it, we feel that it would be wrong to introduce a change which runs contrary to club feeling, and thus the B.B. will continue next year and in the future to come out once a month on the same lines as it does now.

Bearing this in mind, it is still proposed to celebrate the quarter century of the B.B. by improving it in a number of directions.  More detailed plans for this will be announced later.


It was carried at vthe A.G.M. that the minutes published in the B.B. should be amended, and the words ‘Phil Coles voting against’ be deleted.  Will all members please note.

Is your address known buy the club?  Address lists will soon be published.  If in any doubt LET ALAN HAVE YOUR CORRECT ADDRESS NOW.

Club Officers

Chairman of the Committee

Ho.n Secretary

Hon. Treasurer

Caving Secretary

Climbing Secretary

Alfie Collins

Alan Thomas

Bob Bagshaw

Tim Large

Nigel Jago

Hut Warden


Minutes Secretary

Belfry Engineer

Dave Irwin

Bill Cooper

Dave Turner

Pete Stobart

Other posts are at present as follows: -

Librarian - Dave Searle; Caving Publications Editor – Dave Irwin; B.B. Editor – Alfie Collins; B.B. Printer – Barry Wilton; Postal Dept. – Kay Mansfield.

From the Caving Log

….an occasional digest of the club’s caving activities

by ‘Wig’

The last three months have been typical for the club’s activities for some time except perhaps for the starting of an outside dig.

On the 10th July, Martin Webster visited North Hill and on the next day went diving in Swildons to have a look at the Sump VI bypass.  Martin says “A little bit of work done in Sump VI bypass, but in needs to be dug out a lot deeper.”  Bill Cooper, our Tacklemaster, has been photographing and Jok has been taking novices down Swildons. On 16th of July, reported that someone unknown was blocking the hole at the lower end of the Water Rift.  On the following day the blockage was completed and on the Sunday (18th July) Tim Large, armed with sledges demolished it completely and, with a small party, removed all the debris left by the builders.

Cwm Dwr in South Wales and Shatter Hole on Mendip were visited by members. Plantation Swallet was attacked by Bill Cooper and Jok.  During the course of the next three months the entrance was excavated and an interesting side rift was discovered.  Swildons still holds the position of being the most visited system on Mendip, except perhaps Cuthbert’s.  Trips to North West Stream Passage; Black Hole; Shatter Series and free diving Sump IX were all undertaken.  Of the lesser caves, Reservoir Hole; Cuckoo Cleeves and the Burrington Area were all noted in then log.  On the 24th August, Swildons III was visited by Martin Webster who, with members of the C.D.G. dug out the Sump VI bypass on the return trip.  Martin states that it’s easier to go through the sump!

A reconnaissance trip to the Merthyr area was undertaken by D. Sanderson on the 20th to 23rd of August and several sites of interest were noted.  On the 22nd of August, a group of members bottomed Rhino Rift, while other caves visited during this time included Nine Barrows; Rod’s; Stole Lane; Eastwater and of course, Swildons.  Dry conditions were encountered when messrs Bogeat and Abbott went to the Black Hole Series in Swildons and on the 11th September and Bill Cooper and Co. who visited Longwood/August on the 11th September.

During September, Pete Stobart, Jok and Co. erected a gigantic structure to ease working in Plantation, while at the same time Martin Huaun was in Spain and was a member of the W.C.C/S.M.C.C./B.E.C. party to bottom their discovery which is some 800ft deep.  Meanwhile, Martin Webster was in Crete and visited Omalos Cave, Governator Caves with Ray Mansfield and Steve Wynn-Roberts.  Work continues at the bottom of Hunters Hole by Pete Stobart, and on the 24th September, Plantation Dig became known as Plantation Chasm Dig!!

On the 29th, Graham Phippen free dived his way to Swildons IX and returned via the notorious Shatter Link. Dan yr Ogof was visited on the 5th September for photographing, as was Pant Mawr pothole.

St. Cuthbert’s has been plodding along quite well, and on the 5th July, Roy Bennett, Bill Cooper, Wig, Peter Rose and Bob Craig commenced work on the Sump II dam.  During the course of the next four weeks, Roy continued to build the dam, helped by Colin Clarke, Wig, Phil Kingston, Pete Eckford, Dave Yeandle, Tim Large and in the last stages Bob Craig came back to finish the dam with usual expertise.  (Replies to this are not printable).

Surveying dominated the scene as well, the Cuthbert’s Survey reaching its final stages – although it took its toll when a boulder fell on Martin Mills in the far reaches of Disappointment Passage.  On the 27th August, Wig, Dave Turner and Grham Phippen visited September Series and noted several unentered passages there.

A large B.E.C. team went to Sump II to drain and bang the blockage on several occasions helped by S.M.C.C. while arrangements were being made to commence digging at the end of Gour Rift. Whether the attempts being made at these sites will prove successful or not remains to be seen.  More next time.

Climbing Sec’s Report

….by the present Climbing Secretary
Nigel Jago

This year has seen much change in the Climbing Section as a whole – with more meets and a general trend towards better attendance at them.

At the start of winter, and throughout the year, Avon Gorge received its fair share of visits with individual members coming back to their old climbing grades thereby performing very well on some of the high grade routes (H.V.S. and X.S.)  Cheddar, on the other hand received few visits, with normal ‘trade routes’ being done.

As the year wore on, North Wales accounted for several weekends when the snow was there.  These did not go without incident as members from our own club were spent on mountain rescues after coming down from gullies.

The highlight of the winter without doubt was the ten day meet at Glen Coe in Scotland, which was very well attended both on snow and rock.  It yielded two fine routes at Glen Etive (Hammer and Spartan Slab – both Scottish V.S.’s.)  Some gullies ‘grade II’ were ascended as the weather poured down sun for eight days. In this bright spell, Aonach Eagach fell to the onslaught of the group which included office staff who, before that day, were believed to have lost the use of their legs!

As in the case of a party large in number, the needs of the tourist element was well catered for by Gerry Otan and Bob White, who did all the chauffeuring.  Evenings were spent traditionally in some bar or other that sold beer – none were giving it away, of if they were, nobody told us about it!

At Whitsun, we travelled to Land’s End.  The first day saw one of our members take to the air and fly with considerable aid from the navy helicopter and a member of the coastguards.  Garry was then rendered armless for the rest of the weekend, after visiting a few old friends in Penzance Casualty Unit.  Sunday was spent at Bosigran.  Derek and I did Little Brown Jug (H.V.S.).  On the easy way down, we heard Fred ‘I-traversed-to-the-right’ Attwell shouting for a top rope which was given to him a after great debate. After reaching the toip, Fred and Pete gave help on yet another rescue – this time not involving a member of the B.E.C.

By reading this far, it is quite easy to understand why we are at times referred to affectionately as ‘part of the Avon Gorge Circus’.

The main event of the year was the Alps.  Without doubt or hesitation.  A rather beery fortnight starting and ending on the ferry boat.  One mountain was topped – the Eiger by its west flank route in the second week by Bob Sell and partner.  Our first camp site was reached at Chamonix after a total of eighteen hours in a not so fast Bedford twelve seater which was some twenty five hundredweight overloaded.  The same day that we arrived, Fred and myself started for the Mulets Hut.  After a gruelling afternoon, a superb bivvi was constructed in the best room of the old Telepherique Hotel at Pierre Pointue on the edge of the Bosson Glacier. After a cold bivvi, we started across the Bosson at eight o’clock, climbing in and out of crevasses when we could not jump them, reaching the Mulets Hut in five hours.  We returned the following morning after rotten guts and lack of sleep and Fred being very disappointed that we did not reach the top.  During our day at the hut, Derek Barrie and Rory tried to reach us by was of the other side of the glacier but failed because of a very deep and wide crevassed area.  The party reluctantly packed themselves into the van the next day for Switzerland which again turned into an irritating drive into Interlaken. Apart from Bob’s ascent nothing was climbed, but most of the sites were toured by the party breaking into smaller groups.

Other members staying in Britain had good summer vacations doing plenty of routes in the main coastal climbing areas.  August Bank Holiday was spent at Land’s End doing classic routes.  Also, club members were responsible for climbing anew route at Chair Ladder area.

We hope to have as good if not better year this year, with all our meets having better attendances even on those cold wet weekends in North Wales!

The club has – amongst hoarded relics of some person or persons unknown – ice axes and guide books, which are getting increasingly hard to trace.  Would these people return the club’s property, so that an accurate record can be made of what we possess?

Caving on Gower

By Graham – Wilton-Jones

On the Friday evening preceding the Spring Bank Holiday, Buckett Tilbury and Graham Wilton-Jones set off up the A40 from High Wycombe for South Wales.  Having avoided some of the holiday traffic jams, we arrived on the Gower just in time to collect the keys for Tooth and Llethrid Caves, and were thus set up for an early start on the Saturday.  Kipping in the van just beside Llethrid Bridge made this situation very convenient.

Above Llethrid Bridge is a wide though shallow catchment for a reasonable sized stream.  Recently, the Gower had been dry and there were several stagnant pools lying on the pebble bed.  Only a small stream flowed, very slowly.  Some two hundred yards below the bridge, the stream sinks into Llethrid Swallet.  The main valley continues down to Parkmill, where the river resurges, over a mile from  the sink.

From the gated entrance, a few yards above the swallet, a steep drop down through boulders gives access to the stream.  The water was so low that we found it difficult to follow as it trickled its way under the jumbled mass of boulders.  Some of these were supposed to be dangerously unstable, but we found none that were loose.  There must be several routes through these boulders – we came through by two separate routes.  Soon the stream was lost altogether and we had to follow our noses.  On two occasions we climbed up into the roof only to find ourselves in a large inlet passage with leaves and wet mud everywhere. Finally we came to a dead end and had to backtrack.  The way on into the big chambers proved to be where I had climbed earlier.  I had only checked one of three possible ways on. Bucket found that a second route that led directly to the Annexe.

The Annexe, and the adjoining Great Hall together form one enormous chamber which must be almost four hundred feet long and well over a hundred feet wide in places.  It is generally not over fifty feet high. Theses chambers are reputedly among the best decorated in Wales, but there is little comparison between the formations here and those in O.F.D. or D.Y.O.  All the formations in the lower part of both chambers are covered with a thin layer of wet blackish mud.  Only the stal in the upper part of Great Hall is free from this mud.  The end of Great Hall is reached by climbing a long boulder slope, and is some hundred and fifty feet above the floor.  Here there are some good pale yellow and white stal and also some good helictites.  The black mud, which covers all formations less that about fifty feet from the floor, indicates that the chambers become submerged to this depth.  Since the streamway continues some hundred feet below the floor of the Great Hall, the water must rise some hundred and fifty feet in extreme flood and this does not seem to be a rare occurrence.

Much of the stal – even columns ten feet long and a foot in diameter – have been broken near the floor and show a shift of between ten and fifteen inches between floor and roof.  A likely cause is that the floor of boulders rests on thick mud, which gradually shifts and steles in a downward direction, thus fracturing any roof to floor stal.  This is perhaps the most spectacular feature of the formations.

After a good look around these chambers, we climbed down a steep hundred foot mud slope and thence into a small chamber.  The floor of this is a very thick spongy mass of wet leaves, no doubt deposited when the system sumps.  A hole in the end drops through the leaves and into a continuation of the streamway. There was no stream – only static pools – and very few of these.  Like others through the cave, they were full of fresh water creatures including the usual shrimps and a white planarian.

In some places, banks of up to two feet thick of twigs had been deposited and subsequently cut through by the stream showing twig stratification.  How much matter reached this spot; over a thousand feet from the entrance and through or over many obstructions, we cannot guess.

After several hundred feet of low or narrow stream passage, we reached the sump pool.  There was a duck in a deep pool, beyond which we could see a larger airspace, but we didn’t bother to go through.  This is being banged in the hope of gaining further passage beyond.

Returning to the big chamber, we spent about an hour taking photographs and then set off out, which only took about fifteen minutes, after a little route finding.  The whole trip lasted just over five hours.

Tooth Cave is a further two hundred yards down the valley.  The entrance has clearly been open for a long time, and the sides have been walled in and a gate put in the middle.  The more narrow passage inside is full of large flies, large spiders and a couple of bats.  A short squeeze brought us to the top of a small (twenty feet in diameter) chamber, whose walls were pure white with dead stal, rather reminiscent of Browne’s Hole.  We descended a fixed ladder and climbed into a rift at the side.  A short way along, we dropped into a mass of boulders and thence to a crawl.  From the guidebook description we had expected an obvious thousand foot crawl to a streamway.  Instead we discovered a complete labyrinth of crawls, with one ‘stand-upable’ passage – all gravel floored; low; thrutchy and horrible.  After about three quarters of an hours and two and a thousand feet of getting nowhere, we called it a day after a one and a quarter hour trip and vowed never to go there again.

Caving Sec’s Report

by Tim Large
Hon. Caving Sec.

The last year has seen quite a few changes in the club and in caving generally.  This has been the first full year of the new Belfry, which has had some bearing on the caving activity.  Our fine new building provides us with all the amenities we need and I am sure that the Belfry showers encourage everyone somewhat, as everyone knows that they can clean up afterwards.

Caving activity has been fairly constant with approximately a hundred trips into Cuthbert’s – the majority of these being working trips ranging through digging, surveying and water tracing.  The remainder were general interest trips and included about twenty five tourist trips by visiting clubs.  On looking through the caving log, I see that there were about two hundred trips during the year October 1970 to September

1971.  Nearly every popular cave on Mendip was visited by members, with Swildons being the most popular as usual.  All the other major caving areas in Britain were visited, all by members arranging their own trips.  During the summer, some members enjoyed the water washed atmosphere of the Irish caves, and from all accounts, it was a great holiday.

Exploration has taken up a good slice of the activity, with members digging at Hunters Hole; Cuthbert’s; Masebury; Second Tier; Emborough and various other sites that might yield results in the future.  Our C.D.G. members have also been involved in exploration work in Wookey Hole and various Welsh caves.

With everyone being mechanised these days, there seems to be a lack of interest in club trips to other caving districts, although club trips on Mendip have been well attended.  One major topic has been the removal; of some unnecessary items of fixed tackle from Cuthbert’s, and the consequent literary onslaught.

A rescue practice was held in Cuthbert’s during November 1070.  The route used was Stal Pitch up the streamway to the top of Pulpit.  All went very well and gave several newer members a chance to take part in rescue procedures for the first time.

All in all, the club has had a year of reasonable activity, and I am sure that once we settle down in the new Belfry and the atmosphere develops into one suitable for a caving hut and not a country cottage, we shall see more caving activity in future years.

Caving Meets

OCTOBER 17TH.           LAMB LEER.  2 pm at the belfry


NOVEMBER 21ST.        CUTHBERT’S LEADERS MEETING.  2 pm at the Belfry

DECEMBER 4TH           RESCUE PRACTICE.  11 am at the Belfry.

For all details of caving meets etc., contact TIM LARGE at 39 Seymour Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol 7.

Lacave and Padirac


Doing show caves while abroad is perhaps the easy way of combining a little caving activity within a normal holiday.  It has the great advantage of getting you underground without having to lug great quantities of gear all over the place.  Even with a car, this can be a problem, particularly when you also want to lug things like collapsible dinghies and outboard motors all over the place as well.

The plan was top spend a couple of days on the way back from Spain in the Dordogne area of France, and we decided to make our base at Souillac. The original idea was to combine visits to showcaves with getting there by by boat on the Dordogne, but after reading the fearsome warnings about what was likely to happen to small boats on the river when the dams higher up were allowed to release water, we decided it might be rather embarrassing to be swept halfway across France on what was supposed to be a two mile journey!

As an aside to the subject of showcaves, it might be worth while for the B.E.C. to start compiling its own list of recommended hotels abroad.  If anybody wants a start, I have stayed in three hotels in Soillac at various times, and they go like this.  Ambassador (on the main road in middle of the town) medium price, friendly service, fantastically good food, thoroughly recommended.  Auberge de Puitys In a small square on the south side of the main road) cheap, rooms reasonable, food reasonable. Good for a cheap single night stop. La Truffiere (on the left side of the main road about six miles before getting to Soillac itself) very expensive, not worth it, not recommended.

Setting off from the Ambassador, we made our way towards the Grotte de Lacave, a few miles from Soillac. The roadside soon becomes plastered with signs saying what a splendid cave this is, and you finish up in the village of Lacave, go into the entrance building, buy your tickets and make your way to the cave mouth where a train awaits.  This thing sets off along an artificial passage which goes fairly steeply upwards into the hillside.  Someone has obviously calculated just how many people the little engine will pull, because it gets slower and slower as it goes upwards, until it almost stops, but eventually arrives at the station.  From there, short passages and flights of steps lead upwards into the cave itself.

The showcave consists of a fairly long upper dry series, long ago abandoned by the stream. Formations are plentiful, but not individually spectacular, and nearly all of dead stal.  Every trick of lighting has been used to wring the utmost effect out of the formations, including the use of ultra-violet lighting (which the French call lumiere noir) and which does not work very well on dead stal. In places, the series has been extensively filled with mud, and they have evolved a very clever type of cement which looks exactly like the mud fill..  This is used to make artificial pools on the floor, in which most of the better formations are reflected.  One is not allowed to take photographs, but these can be bought commercially on leaving the cave.  They are surprisingly good.  There is a pre-recorded commentary which gets switched on at various points in the cave, but my French was not good enough to follow it all, although I managed to get the gist of most of it.  It is just about worth a visit if you happen to be in the area and have time to spare.

The Gouffre de Padirac is a little further from Souillac, and much more interesting than Lacave. You down from the entrance building in a lift which takes you about fifty feet below the surface, then you break into the side of the Gouffre and go down the rest of the way in a lift which runs through open steel, girder work to the bottom.  Comparisons are not easy to make, but the Gouffre from the bottom seems not quite as deep as G.G. but about the same general proportions. From there, you go down to the cave proper.  It is an active cave with a decent stream.  The long horizontal passage from the bottom of the Gouffre has been artificially flooded to a higher level than nature intended, so you can be punted along by typical French punt-drivers, who seem quite unruffled as they void obstructions with other punts going in the opposite way, or steer you straight into an overhanging stal, with a cry of “Gardez la tete!”  Once at the other end of this passage, the trip consists mainly of a tour round the Salle de Dome – a chamber of impressive dimensions.  The formations are live and good.  It seems a pity that the trip has to end with you looking down a streamway of vast proportions along which you may not go.  On the way back, your photograph will be taken, and you may have a print for a large fee.  A wastepaper basket is thoughtfully provided for you to chuck the card entitling you to this service.  One thing which is impresses us was that visitors are expected to get quite wet from some of the places where heavy drip occurs.  The French don’t seem to mind at all!  Again, no photographs are allowed, and the official set is rather disappointing. Even so, it is an interesting place to see.

We meant to do Les Eyzies, and a few others while we were there, but somehow we never got around to it, perhaps the next time.


A reminder.  Annual subscriptions are due on the 31st of January each year.  Any member who has not paid by the 30th of April following can find himself no longer a member of the club.  The committee arte inclined to be much stricter about these rules than they have been in the past.  Constant reminders like this one will appear on odd corners of the B.B.  Start thinking about your 1972 subscriptions NOW.


Members are requested not to drive at speed along the track or into the car park.  Excessive speed churns up the surface and gives the Belfry Engineer a lot of work in putting it back again.

The ash tree by the pool beside the car park was planted there to take some of the bareness away from the site – not as a clothes prop.  Please do not use it to hang old clothes on.

Has anyone a WHEELBARROW they don’t want?  The Belfry Engineer has had his swiped and wants another one.  Can Anyone help?

Monthly Crossword – Number 15.




















































































1. Oriental Mendip Lake? (9)
4. Artificial Aid. (5)
6. Well Mendip underground place to old trog. (3,6)
7. Realistic term for line-shooters. (5)
8. Useful in Yorkshire with or without first letter. (9)


1. Should describe club members. (9)
2. Cuthbert’s pitch. (9)
3. Place with more pitches (5,4)
4. Quiet confused deal for footwork? (5)
5. Musical survey data. (5)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword




















































































Where you satisfied with the A.G.M. and dinner?  What did you think of the food?  Did you miss not having any entertainment?  Have you got any comments? Suggestions?  Grouses?  WHY NOT WRITE TO THE B.B.?

Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas. Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Hon. Editor: - S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol


Club Membership

In this issue you will find the list of member’s names and addresses.  There are a few more to come, as some people on the list have now paid their subscription for 1971.

For the others, the committee have decided to send them a last appeal in writing instead of this B.B., and we hope that by this means, the absence of some well known names from the address list will prove only temporary.

This same trick will be played again next May, on those who have not paid for 1972 by then.  We sincerely hope that none of our 178 paid up members will be receiving one of these letters instead of their May B.B.

Lastly, on the subject of addresses – if you have moved during the club year FOR PETE’S SAKE let Alan Thomas know – otherwise you and the club will slowly drift apart.  We don’t want that to happen, and we hope you don’t either.

Article Avalanche

“The Editor is always moaning that he hasn’t got enough to put in the B.B.  Why doesn’t he print MY article then?”  Yes, we have a surplus of material at present and we are hoping to get a lot of it out by Christmas.  The onrush of stuff took us by surprise.  Don’t worry, YOUR article will be out soon – and please KEEP WRITING so that we can have a bigger B.B. next year!


The committee would like to place on record their thanks to ‘Jok’ for the fixing up of the book cupboards in the library.

Cuthbert’s Leaders List

The following are the present Cuthbert’s Leaders: -

Roy Bennett; Alan Coase; John Cornwell; Bob Craig (S.M.C.C. guest leader) 31 Cranbrook Road, Bristol 6; Pete Franklin; Tim Hodgson; Dave Irwin; Tim Large; Oliver Lloyd; Phil Kingston; Andy MacGregor; Tony Meadon; Martin Mills (S.M.C.C. guest leader – address not known) Norman Petty; Colin Priddle; Brian Prewer; Mile Palmer; Alan Sandall; Roger Stenner;  Dave Turner; Steve Tuck and Dick Wickens.  Addresses of B.E.C. members will be found in the current address list in this B.B.


We understand that the name chosen by the Shepton Mallet Caving Club for their new headquarters is a closely guarded secret, which will not be revealed until the topping-out ceremony on December 4th.  There would appear to be no truth in the rumour that they are going to call it


Just a Sec

by Alan Thomas

A Conscience Box has been introduced to the Belfry, and is situated by the water heater.  Its purpose is twofold.  It happens sometimes that people stay at the Belfry and use the facilities, or use them by day only and there is nobody to collect their dues – it should now be simple to put then in an appropriately labelled envelope in the box.  The other reason is that the club doesn’t expect to provide hot water for washing after caving.  Therefore if you don’t want to use the showers, and use water from the sink heater instead, you should make a donation toward the electricity.

We have worked very hard over the last few weeks trying to get the list of addresses up to date.  We still have no address for Bill Smart or Colin Dooley.  Please, I repeat, PLEASE, if you change you address, let me know in WRITING.  If you tell someone to pass it on, it all too often gets lost.

The committee’s decision to tighten up on membership has, I believe, been outlined elsewhere. Remember, in addition to you not getting a May B.B., you may well not be able to get it later as a back number, and you MAY have to apply to re-join the club at the committee’s discretion if you pay later.  You will also not be covered by the club’s insurance and cannot remain a Cuthbert’s Leader or obtain C.C.C. permits.

Yet again, we have a new Belfry telephone number.  It is now WELLS 72126.

After the Annual Dinner, when Tom Gage returned to the Belfry site, he found that his tent, groundsheet and water bottle has been stolen.  As his property has not been found since, it was obviously not a good old B.E.C. joke, but just further proof of the need for care around the Belfry, as there still seems to be thieves about.

There is a general invitation to all members of the B.E.C. to a grand Topping-out Ceremony by the Shepton Mallet caving club on December 4th at 3.00 pm.  Their annual club buffet will be on the same day at 8 pm.  Tickets for the buffet price 75p (15/-) in advance from Bob Craig at 31 Cranbrook Road, Bristol BS6 7EL.  STAMPED ADDRESSED ENVELOPES ARE REQUIRED.  Otherwise see him at the Hunters.

On the 20th November, Alan Coase is giving a talk on the Geomorphology of Dan yr Ogof in the Belfry at 7.30 pm.  It will finish in plenty of time for the Hunters later.

The next day (21st November) is the Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting at the Belfry.  This is at 2.30 pm.

It’s all go.

Caving Report No. 14 will be out in December price 15p (3/-).  It is concerned with last years French Expedition.

The new M.R.O. phone number is now WELLS 73481.  All the Wells numbers have been changed.

Now that we have a set of library bookcases in the library, it is VERY IMPORTANT that anyone who has any library books out return them to the library.  Please give them to the Hon. Librarian, Dave Searle, at Dolphin Cottage, just up the road towards the Hunters from the Belfry, or to the Hut Warden or to me.


Tim Large, our Caving Secretary, has sent in the following which he extracted from the October issue of ‘Climber and Rambler’…

Mountain and pothole rescuers are to get free insurance cover up to £10,000.  In a letter to all Chief Constables, all police authorities have been recommended by the Home office to provide cover from police grants which will give £10,000 for death or permanent disablement and £20 per week for partial disablement for periods up to 2 years.

Climbing from our French Section - 1971

by ‘Kangy’

Too much snow resulted in greatly reduced mountain activity of the South of France section.  Skiing was also badly hit by storms and avalanches, so that only four trips were made.

The first climbing was attempted in June, but avalanche blocked roads restricted the choice of mountain.  Peak Reouvielle was climbed in a total time of twelve hours instead of the usual five, soft snow causing most of the difficulty.  The reward came with a rare ascent of a couloir not normally used in summer.

Later in the year, a party traversed the gorge of Verdon (next best thing to the Grand Canyon!).  Mount Perdu was also climbed by an interesting route called the Canyon of Ordesa which was traversed to the Gortig Hut.  Perdu was climbed from there in two and a quarter hours (par is three).

Perhaps the most rewarding ascent was of the Monbernie, which was made on an absolutely clear day, showing the Pyrenees from end to end.

Easter 1971 Scotland

A list of routes; walks and climbs, with those participating.

Sunday:  An ascent of Stob Coire Nam Lochan was made, crossing the river Coe by a foot bridge between the noses of Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh.  A two and a half hour grind brought us to the Coire.  We had lunch and selected Forked Gully.  Right hand, grade two, five hundred feet.  Time taken, one and three quarter hours up to the summit.  We descended by way of Broad Gully – grade one, six hundred feet at speed. G. (Fred) Atwell, R. (Ab) Sell and N. Jago.

The three peaks of Bidean Nam Bian (3,766ft) was traversed by D. Targett, J. Sandcott, G. Oaten, N. Rich and G. Rowles and to midway on the final ridge, R. White and I. Rees.

Monday:  Opposite the campsite, a path leads to Bidean Nam Bian, where we followed the Sunday party as far as the corrie between An-t-Sron and Aonach Dubh, where we made our way to Diamond Buttress on Bidean.  The summit was reached by Central buttress (grade two) seven hundred feet.  By traversing over the summit, a long lazy glissade was made from Stob Coire-nam-Beith to the corrie floor.  D. Targett, G. (Fred) Atwell, R. (Ab) Sell and N. Jago.

Tuesday and Wednesday:  Loch Tieve (Trilleachan Slabs).  These slabs should be visited by all climbing parties for its atmosphere and good quality routes.  Two of the lower grade Scottish V.S.’s were done.  The Hammer (500ft) and Spartan Slab (575ft).  The amazing part about these slabs is that they are only 35 min walk. D. Targett and N.Jago.

Thursday:  Saw a mass assault on Aonach Eagach Ridge.  It gave five hours of good walking and scrambling, with even the most desk-tied airing their lungs.  Note: the weather was so good that shirts were off!  J. Sidcott, N. Rich, G. Rowle, G. Oaten, G. Atwell, D, Targett, R. White, N. Jago.

Friday:  Avon Gorge Circus was in its stride yet again on Buachaillle Etive Mor after what was an easy walk and scramble.  True to form, events did not run in our favour.  From a borrowed guide book we found ourselves on the wrong part of the cliff that was wanted on a route (Shackle route – V. Diff. 165 ft) that must have been 200 feet to the second pitch.  Time look a leading hand.

The retreat was by abseil, which I volunteered for by a two to one majority off a flake.  As I tested for the retrieval of the rope, it was apparent that the two companions would have to climb down.  Spending the next hour and a quartet amused at the somewhat gripped antics of my companions, I stuffed raisings and glucose tablets, waiting for a box of matches.  D. Targett, G. Oaten, N. Jago.

Ogof Cynnes

by Graham Wilton-Jones

Near the highest point of the Heads of the Valley road, it is possible to turn on to a minor road which marks the boundary between Mynydd Lllangattock (under which lies Agen Allwedd) and Mynydd Llangynidr.  One cold blustery, showery Sunday, we drove up this road to its highest point and prepared for a walk to Ogof Cynnes.  Fortunately the moor was clear of mist and low cloud, but a compass was essential. Our first task was to make for a trig point, which was fairly straightforward since the concrete pillar shone brilliant white in the sun and clearly visible for several hundred yards around.  We then had a choice of two courses; we had been given direction of the cave from the trig point and could follow those or we had a map reference for the cave and could aim for this point.  We chose the latter course as the position of certain landmarks revealed that the former course was inaccurate both in distance and direction.  We eventually reached a steep sided, straight Llasifer Valley. We cast around for Ogof Cynnes, and soon found it, exactly according to description, ‘in the east side at the southern end of a narrow, trench like collapsed depression.’

Much of the surface of this moor is millstone grit, and all the collapsed rock in the trench is grit. The cave entrance is through grit, the large quartz lumps of which are clearly visible on water worn surfaces. A narrow vertical shaft leads quickly into an almost square section horizontal passage.  The roof and top of the walls are millstone grit, while the lower half of the passage is in limestone.  Further down the cave, the grit is lost – the passage descends while the surface rises – as the passage becomes a low, narrow, winding rift. There is a large open pot on the right with bats flying about it when we passed, but the large passage at the bottom become impassable.  We had to descend a second narrow, twisting pot further on.  A knotted rope down this only got in the way.  Suddenly, the pot opens out for a further fifteen feet drop. This just free-climbable but we laddered it.  The ladder proved useful for returning the tackle up the pot.

At the bottom of the pot, we came across the first thick mud.  The whole floor of the pot is a deep layer of mud.  There are five passages leading away from the pot.  One is the impassable one from the first pot. A second is water washed clean, but the water sinks in mud and grit.  Two circular section, obviously phreatic, passages on the either side of the pot are entirely filled with mud.  We took the fifth passage, over a steep mud bank in a high rift.  Over the bank, the way on is underneath the left hand wall into a chamber.  The rift does continue, but it narrows down.  One passage from the chamber joins the rift beyond the constriction, in a mass of fallen slabs.  From the chamber, there are other passages, but we did not investigate these, as they tended back to the entrance or the surface.  We continued down the main passage and into the main chamber, via a fixed chain ladder which is not essential.  From the entrance to the main chamber, the passage follows a single set of joints, almost at right angles, which dominate the whole cave.

We turned right out of the main chamber, and after much crawling, walking and climbing we reached a series of boulder chambers.  These must be fairly deep in the cave, although the collapse is from above and there is evidence of bats in here.  There were two inviting black holes between some of the boulders and we set with a couple of crowbars to enlarge one of these.  It took half an hour to remove one boulder.  There was a sizeable cavity below, with solid walls and a roof of loose boulders.  There were two ways on, but both were far too narrow.  The other hole looked more promising.  Having removed a couple of boulders, we were able to squeeze into a narrow rift, which passed the head of a pot.  Fortunately, before descending this, it was discovered that the right hand wall was shattered into an enormous boulder, precariously balanced over the pot in a pile of shattered debris – it even rocked when we brushed against it. The boulder was easily moved, with the anticipated result.  It broke into three smaller boulders, each one blocking the pot.  However, to our surprise; it only took a few blows to force these to the bottom of the pot.

The result of this effort was disappointing.  The large passage merely divided into a smaller, impenetrable passage.  It was interesting to note that the floor here was dry and sandy unlike the rest of the cave.  Clearly, any water that reaches this section disappears very rapidly. There were bat droppings on the floor, considering the difficulties we had in reaching this point, bats do very well.

We returned to the surface cold, weary and rather disappointed.  We had covered about twelve hundred feet in seven hours which shows, perhaps, the severity of the system.  We emerged covered in thick mud from head to foot, feeling twice as heavy s when we had entered the cave.  The tackle was literally twice as heavy.

Ogof Cynnes is not an easy cave to reach, and difficult to find in poor weather.  Nor is it a pleasant cave to be in, and any exploration requires a lot of hard work.  We have covered about a fifth of the total known cave length, and the new passages were only found after much effort.  Furthermore, we had hardly fifty feet of new but rather unimportant extension to show for our effort.

In spite of this, we intend to return in December, to probe some of the less accessible extremities of this system.

Membership List 1971

Editors Note:     To the best of everybody’s knowledge, this list represents the current membership of the B.E.C. (i.e. members whose 1971 subscription has been paid).  It also represents the latest address known to the secretary.  If ANY member knows of any mistake in this list, they are asked to get in touch with Alan Thomas and give him the up to date information.


J.H.S. Abbott

23 Green lane, Hinton Charterhouse, Bath


Miss J.A. Abell

Cleveland Hotel, Pultney Street, Bath


H. Ackroyd

3 Jeffery Close, Bedworth, Warwickshire


P. Allen

7 Westbourne Place, Clifton, Bristol 8


Bob Bagshaw

699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon


Mike Baker

22 Riverside Gardens, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon


R. Bater

4 Butterfield Close, westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Mrs Bater

4 Butterfield Close, westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Joan Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Roy Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


P. Bird

City Museum, Queen Road, Bristol


Martin Bishop

17 Russell Road, Bath, Somerset


Sybil Bowden-Lyle

PO Box 15, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda


P. Blogg

Hunters Field, Chaldon Common, Chaldon, Surrey


Alan Bonner

Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland


A.P. Bozeat

14 Oldfield Road, Bath, Somerset


T.A. Brookes

87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2


Viv Brown

3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol


D.M. Bryant

The Shakespeare, Lower Redland Road, Bristol 8


Tessa Burt

66 Roundwood Lane, Harpendon, Herts.


D.A. Byers

301 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


J.L. Carter

149 Finch Road, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol


R. Chandler

83 Spring Plate, Pound Hill, Crawley, West Sussex


Colin Clark

18 Church lane, Bedminster, Bristol


Alan Coase

6 Meadow Mead, Rectory Road, Frampton Cotterell, Bristol


Clare Coase

5 Mandalay Flats, 10 Elsiemer Street, Long Jetty, N.S.W. 2262, Australia


Alfie Collins

Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset


D. Cooke-Yarborough

Lot 11 McKay Crescent, Orange, New South Wales, Australia


W. Cooper

259 Wick Road, Bristol


Tony Corrigan

48a Talbot Road, Knowle, Bristol 4


Bob Cross

Ordnance Survey office, Elmgrove, Halfpenny Lane, Pontefract, Yorks.


I.M. Daniels

Handsworth, Pilgrims Way, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent


Frank Darbon

2106 14th StreetPO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada


Mrs Davies

Camp V, Neighbourne, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset


Len Dawes

223 Southwark Park, Bermondsey, London SE10


Colin Dooley

497A City Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham 17


Ken Dobbs

85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon


Bryan Ellis

7 School Lane, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


C. Falshaw

23 Hallam Grange Crescent, Sheffield


P.G. Faulkner

65 Broomfield Crescent, Middleton, Manchester


Tom Fletcher

The Old Mill House, Barnack, Nr. Stamford, Lincs.


Albert Francis

22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset


Joyce Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Pete Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Keith Franklin

c/o Mount Buller, P.O. Victoria, 3723, Australia


M. Fricker

26 Summerhill, St. George, Bristol 5


R.T. Gage

15 Chandag Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


R.C. Gander

2 Rock Street, Croscombe, Wells, Somerset


P. Giles

1 Springfield Way, Hythe. Kent


Keith Gladman

29 Shenfield Road, Brentwood, Essex


S.J. Gazzard

8 Woodbridge Road, Knowle, Bristol


E.M. Glanville

Jocelyn House Mews, Chard, Somerset


K.R. Glossop

37 Caernarvon Road, Keynsham, Bristol


Dave Glover

24 Burnham Road, Tadley, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants.


Jane Glover

24 Burnham Road, Tadley, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants


Steve Grime

Letterewe, Wester Ross, Scotland


Chris Hall

65 Valley View Road, Paulton, Bristol


Nigel Hallet

26 Cotham Vale, Bristol 6


P. Hamm

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


Mrs Hamm

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


Mervyn Hannam

Lowlands, Orchard Close, East Hendred, Berks.


C.W. Harris

The Diocesan Registry, Wells, Somerset


Chris Harvey

Byways, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


Dan Hassell

Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset


M. Havan

24 Elberton Road, Westbuty-on-Trym, Bristol


Sid Hobbs

Hokerstone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Sylvia Hobbs

Hokerstone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


J.G. Hodgson

72 Chesterfield Road, Bristol 6


Mrs Hodgson

72 Chesterfield Road, Bristol 6


T. Hodgson

26 Dorset Road, Henleaze, Bristol


George Honey

Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden


B. Howe

48 Martins Road, Hanham, Bristol


C. Howell

128 Lays Drive, Charlton Road, Keynsham, Somerset


P. Hudson

15 Glentawe Park Estate, Wind Road, Ystradgynlais, Wales


M. Hutchinson

32 Woodland Road, Coombe Dingle, Bristol


J. Ifold

5 Rushgrove Gardens, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol


P. Ifold

The Cedars, Blackford, Nr. Wedmore, Cheddar


Maurise Iles

Waterworks Cottage, Gurmney Slade, Bath


Dave Irwin

c/o Bennett, 8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


N. Jago

2 Broughton House, Somerset Street, Redcliffe, Bristol


D.R. Jenkins

26 Whitcombe Close, Kingswood, Bristol


G. Jewell

140 Beaufort Road, St. George, Bristol 5


A Johnson

Warren Cottage, Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol


Frank Jones

8 York Gardens, Clifton, Bristol 8


Mrs. P. Jones

50 Louisville Avenue, Aberdeen


U. Jones

Marsh Farm, Askem in Furness, Lancs.


Alan Kennett

92 West Broadway, Henleaze, Bristol


Kangy King

21 Rue Lionel Terray, 31 Blangnas, France


Phil Kingston

21 Longfield Road, Bishopston, Bristol


R. Kitchen

Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon


J.M. Knops

5 Kingsfield, Kingsway, Bath


J. Lamb

Broadmeadows, Padstow Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall


Tim Large

39 Seymour Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol


P. Littlewood

27 Chichester Road, Bognor Regis, Sussex.


Mrs Littlewood

27 Chichester Road, Bognor Regis, Sussex.


Oliver Lloyd

Withey House, Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


George Lucy

Pike Croft, Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks


Val Luckwill

8 Greenslade Road, Sedgeley hill, Dudley, Worcs.


R A MacGregor

12 Meadow Way, Theale, Reading, Berks


J. Manchip

90 Grove Street, Edinburgh, Scotland


Mrs K. Mansfield

Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath


C.A. Marriott

Auernrainstrasse 40, 8406 Winterhur, Switzerland


R. Marshall

Garden Flat 47, Cromwell Road, Bristol 6


T. Marston

50 The Deans, Downlands, Portishead, Bristol


E.J. Mason

11 Kendon Drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Tony Meaden

Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset


D. Metcalf

14 Rock Road, Peterborough. Northants.


G. Moore

17 Elsmgrove, Redland, Bristol


K. Murray

17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7


G.E. Oaten

32 St. Marks Road, Bristol 5


J. Orr

c/o The Belfry


D. Palmer

29 John Wesley Road, St. George, Bristol 3


Mike Palmer

27 Roman Way, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


A. Pardoe

Church Cottage, Church Road, North, Portishead, Nr. Bristol, Somerset


D. Parfitt

11 Johnson Close, Wells, Somerset


A.E. Pearce

5 Colmer Road, Yeovil, Somerset


J. Pearce

22 Tiverton Drive, New Eltham London, SE9


Les Peters

21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon


Norman Petty

Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol


Tony Philpott

3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon


Graham Phippen

Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol


Brian Prewer

East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset


Colin Priddle

19 Stottbury, Horfield, Bristol 7


Miss D. Ranford

40 oldfield Circus, Northall, Misddlesex


John Ransom

21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon


Pam Rees

7 Coberley, Footshill, Hanham, Bristol


I. Rees

20 Broad Street, Presteigne, Radnorshire


A Rich

Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada


N. Rich

19 Bishops Manor Road, Manor Farm, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


J. Riley

16 Magyar Street, Hughes, Canberra, Australia


Mrs Riley

16 Magyar Street, Hughes, Canberra, Australia


G.G. Robinson

49 Elton Road, Bishopston, Bristol 6



Rectification Flight, R.A.F. Conningby. Lincoln


Miss C. Salisbury

48 Oldfield Park Road, Bristol 8


Alan Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon


Carol Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon


D.R. Sanderson

23 Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex


B. Scott

Merrymead, Havestock Road, Winchester Hants


Dave Searle

Dolphin Cottage, The Beeches, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Kathy Searle

Dolphin Cottage, The Beeches, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Gordon Selby

2 Dodd Avenue, Wells, Somerset


R.A. Setterington

4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset


R. Setterington

4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4


M.B. Slade

31 Hilburn Road, Bristol 5


William Smart

No known address


Dave Smith

14 Severn Way, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks.


J.M. Stafford

Bryger, Bagworth, Somerset.


Harry Stanbury

31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol


Mrs I Stanbury

74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol


D. Statham

Dunsmuir, Wimborne Road, Lytchett Maltravers, Poole, Dorset


Roger Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


Daphne Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


P.A.E. Stewart

11 Fairhaven Road ,Redland, Bristol 6


P. Stobart

Eriksay, The Avenue, Combe Down, Bath, Somerset


D. Stuckey

34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3


P. Sutton

56 Arley Hill, Redland, Bristol 6


Derek Targett

16 Phillis Hill, Midsomer Norton


Allan Thomas

Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset


D Thomas

Mantons, 2 St. Pauls Road, Tupsley, Hereford


N Thomas

Holly Lodge, Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.


M. Thomas

5 Woolcot St. Redland, Bristol 6


Miss M.G. Thompson

No Known Address


S. Thompson

51 Howard Road, Redfield, Bristol


M. Tilbury

9 Easton Terrace, High Wycombe, Bucks.


Buckett Tilbury

256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


Anne Tilbury

256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


M. Tilbury

9 Easton terrace, High Wycombe, Bucks.


Gordon Tilly

Jable, Digby Road, Sherborne, Dorset


J.M. Postle Tompsett

11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex


M.J. Dizzie Tompsett

11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex


E. Towler

5 Boxbrove Gardens, Alwick, Bognor Regis, West Sussex


Phil Townsend

Beech Cottage, Harphill. Cheltenham, Glos.


A. Tringham

Longwood, Beggar Bush Lane, Redland, Bristol


Jill Tuck

48 Wiston Path, Fairwater Way, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales


Steve Tuck

3 Colles Close, Wells, Somerset


Tony Tucker

64 Balcott Road, Knowle, Bristol


Dave Turner

Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath


P. Turner

11 Harper Court, Honnington, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire


S. Tuttlebury

24 Victoria street, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants.


R. Voke

8 Pavey Road, Hartcliffe, Brsitol 3


Mrs D. Waddon

32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset


R. Wallin

164 Bryant’s Hill, Bristol


M.R. Wardlow

31 Anchor road, Kingswood, Bristol


Miss C. Warren

2 The Dingle, Coombe Dingle, Bristol 9


G. Watts

100 Chesterfield Road, St. Andrews, Bristol 6


M. Webster

43 Stroud Road, Patchway, Bristol


Eddie Welch

18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol


Bob White

Chapel House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


P. Wilkins

51 constable Road, Lockleaze, Bristol


Barry Wilton

Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Brenda Wilton

Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Graham Wilton-Jones

17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford


Alan Williams

Hendrew Farm, Llanderaied, Newport, Mon.


Miss E. Wilkinson

7 Bloomfield Avenue, Bath


R.F. Wing

15 Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex


Addendum To List Of Names And Addresses


J.M. Bacon

40 Montreal Avenue, Horfield, Bristol 5.


R.C. Gander

2 Rock street, Croscombe, Wells, Somerset, BA5 3QT


G. Bull

2 Maple Close, Eastcote, Pinner. Middlesex.


Mrs A. Davies

Camp V, Neighbourne, Bath, Somerset.


R. Toms

22 Lancing gardens, Edmonton, London N2.


P. Luckford

80 Wilton Gardens, Shirley, Southampton, Hants.


N. Taylor

Whidden Farm, Chilcote, Wells, Somerset.


Change of address

   R. Chandler                     Flat 3, Crabbat Park, Worth, Sussex.

Monthly Crossword – Number 16.



















































































2. Inside of this inside Cuthbert’s. (3)
5. Cave formation found in damming our stream. (4)
6. Anagram of 5 down. (4)
7. Found yearly in a quagmire. (1,1,1)
8. Associated with climbing more than caving. (4)
10. Lights useless without these underground. (4)
13. Are these holes hot in Lancs? (4)
14. Some low dive? (4)
18. Essential part of 13 across? (3)
19. Notion in Dear’s Ideal? (4)
20. A ‘Yes’ for this sort of cave
21. Fits on 18 across of Cuthbert’s. (3)


1. Wet, backward, alternate passage? (4)
2. Snap-link slang. (4)
3. Anagram of 6 across. (4)
4. Describes dry ways, perhaps. (4)
8. Northern drink. (3)
9. Fitting. (3)
11. Not I! (3)
12. Small 8 down perhaps. (3)
14. Complimentary to ends? (4)
15. Could be found in pedestal form. (4)
16. Caved rapidly? (4)
17. Typical of Mendip. (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword



















































































Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston s Mare, Somerset.
Temporary Hon. Editor: - S. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol

During the Temporary Editorship.

Articles may be submitted to the temporary Hon. Ed., or, as previously to D. Irwin, 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3 or give to any committee member for onward delivery


Mike Luckwill

Readers will find in this B.B., a tribute to Mike Luckwill, whose tragic accident in North Wales has robbed us of our new editor for the B.B. Mike had great plans for our club magazine, and the fact that he will never now carry them out is our loss.

Situations Vacant!

As you have probably guessed, I have agreed to go back to my old job of B.B. editor for a short period, while we find a new permanent Editor.  Dave Irwin, after two years of showing us just how good a magazine the club can produce, now finds that the volume of work on our other series of publications – the Caving Reports is taking up all of his time.  You don’t want me for another spell of eleven years, and so I am appealing to members to think seriously about becoming new permanent editor of the B.B.

You don’t have to be able to type, although learning is not as bad as you might think.  What you DO have to do is to produce a regular monthly B.B. by getting the material in from club members and others.  You have a reasonably free hand with layout, contents, etc., but you must be prepared to do the job for a few years.  How about it blokes?  Somewhere in the club, a budding editor lurks – come out into the open – fame awaits you!

Caving Ethics

After the letter from John Riley, and the Editorial in the Christmas B.B. on this subject, the Committee have decided to express their official views on the allied subject of access to caves. The Committee feel that a policy of gating, provided that this is coupled with a system of providing ready access to all accredited cavers, is the only policy which makes sense these days of mass caving.  The need to reduce accidents due to sheer inexperience; to preserve underground scenery and, in some cases, to allow scientific work to be carried out, all require some form of controlled access.  This is the policy which the BEC have adopted in Cuthbert’s attempting to throw the cave wide open to all interested cavers is consistent with the above aims.  We seem, whether we like it or not, to be entering a decade in which ‘cave politics’ will play an increasing role in the affairs of cavers.  We hope that men of common sense will draw a reasonable dividing line between complete anarchy and over rigid control.




Annual Subscriptions.

PLEASE let the Hon. Treasurer, R.J. Bagsahw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4, have YOUR subscriptions as soon as possible. It has been a tradition in the BEC to delay payment of subs, but, in building the new Belfry, WE ARE DESPERATELY SHORT OF MONEY and every sub received makes a difference!

Gift of Rope.

The Committee would like to acknowledge the gift of rope from Garth Dell.

New Belfry.

Our fine new hut is almost complete.  Have YOU made any special contribution towards it?  Every type of contribution is welcome;  Money;  Furniture (see Alan Thomas);  offers of help (see Jok or John Riley) or ideas for raising money (see any committee member)

January Committee Meeting

The meeting, which was attended by Bob White, discussed club insurance at some length.  Progress on the New Belfry, and on the financial state of the club was also discussed.  Arrangements were made for continuing the B.B. in the absence of Mike Luckwill.

Alteration of Survey Price.

The survey of O.F.D. mentioned in Monthly Notes No.30 is now 30/-

Wookey Hole.

As most members will know, on Jan 3rd 1970, during a C.D.G. meet, John Parker and Brian Woodward entered 2,000 feet of very large new passage rising some 2  – 300 feet and ending in a boulder choke.  This passage is well above the two main systems feeding Wookey – Swildons and St. Cuthbert’s.  Further developments are awaited with extreme interest.


Little Neath River Cave

by Colin Priddle

Friday night after diving practice.

Pete: “Do you want to come down to Little Neath on Sunday to do some surveying and exploring afterwards?”

Colin: “Yes, I’d love to. Where shall I meet you?”

“Outside the Spelaeo Rooms. 8 o’clock.”

“8 o’clock! Well…..er…..oh…..O.K. then, 8 o’clock.”

Saturday night at the Hunters.  Thinks. ‘8 o’clock!  That means getting up at 7 if I’m to have some breakfast before I go.  That means sleeping in Bristol.  It’ll be quite impossible to get up before 6 on Mendip.  Suppose I drive back tonight.  That means I can’t get drunk now.  Daft of me to say that I’d go.’

The Spalaeo Rooms. Ten past eight Colin turns up.  By twelve minutes past, we were loaded up. By ten past nine we had collected John in Pontypool and by ten o’clock we were at the cave.

The river was ‘a little high but O.K. for divers as long as it does not rain, should be O.K. for sherpas.’ After putting a block of fluorescence in a stream about a mile from the cave entrance, we went back to wait for the sherpas.  They came. Nine of them.  Three sherpas per diver!

With Pete hurrying everyone up, we were all in the cave by 11.30am with each of us carrying a bag and hurrying towards sump II.  The Canal Bypass was used although it was much longer than the duck (1500ft instead of 300).  The Canal had only three inches of airspace – good enough reason for going the long way.

Soon, Pete, John, and Colin were crawling into Sump II, each still carrying a pack.  One of the packs was huge; it contained six caving boots and a large line reel containing about 900 feet of line.  After a hundred and thirty feet of large sump, we appeared in a sizeable passage which however disappeared after a few yards into another sump very similar to the first but two hundred and thirty feet long. Emerging from Sump III we made our way (weighted down, wearing fins and walking over boulders in a passage with a fast flowing river is not easy) to sump IV which is similar to the others and a hundred and seventy feet long.  Then we were in Little Neath River Cave V.

John took his diving kit with a spare bottle through Sump V and left it at Sump VI for a dive there later in the day.  Returning from Sump VI, he joined Pete and Colin who had made their way into the high level passages (it should be pointed out that the high level passages bypass Sump V so that John did not have to dive Sump V again).

We then started surveying a small dry passage which led to a stream passage.  We were apparently the second party into this particular passage and only the tenth party beyond the sumps.  After we surveyed the stream passage downstream to a sump and upstream to a boulder choke, we looked at a couple of side passages for easy ways to find new cave.  These side passages all had one pair of boot prints (Dave Savage’s) in their sandy floor. The passages were about two feet wide and six feet or more in height and were very twisty.  At one point we saw a large black space at the end of a small passage, and, after moving a couple of small rocks, we were able to squeeze into a huge passage only to find that we were about sixty feet from where we started surveying.  Somewhat disappointed by our ‘huge discovery’, we went off to look at another passage off recently surveyed stream passage.  This virgin passage split into two (no comment – Ed!).  We went left for sixty feet to a large aven which Pete climbed for sixty feet.  He did not, however, get into a passage.  Pete then decided it was time for him to get into another inlet passage where he expected to see the fluorescence that was going to be put into the stream at 3pm. We arranged that John and Colin would look at the left hand path of the passage and then try diving Sump VI.  After this, they would go back to meet Pete who wanted to look at some passages above Sump IV.

Leaving Pete, Colin and John went along this passage to a chamber.  One way on led to a stream passage about fifteen feet long, ending in a sump both ways.  It was thought that the upstream sump was the sump to which we had surveyed earlier.  A couple of short passages led off from the chamber but all closed down.  One passage, going up at about eighty degrees led into a small horizontal passage and, after about forty feet, to a rift fifteen feet deep.  It looked easy to slide down but going up would be a different matter.  It was proved to be possible, however, for one to get back up after going down.  The passage left went for fifty feet or so to a difficult looking muddy tube going upwards, so we went back to the right. We went along a winding passage about two feet high and fifteen feet wide.  A fork to the right led into a chamber about thirty foot square with no easy way on.  To the left, the passage got bigger and bigger until when it came into a chamber it was ten feet wide.  Up over a few boulders and another chamber was found after a short passage.  From this chamber, fifty feet by twenty feet by ten feet high, one small passage though boulders was found which led to another two large chambers.  We must have been fairly near the surface as we were going upwards quite rapidly.  All the chambers and passages we had been in were quite dry with fine sandy floors.  We reckoned we had explored nearly a thousand feet of cave, but as the time was now short we returned to where we had started the original survey and where we has left some of the gear.  Pete had left a message saying that it was after five o’clock when he left (he was now two hours late) so we decided to miss diving Sump VI and hurried off down a passage to collect the diving gear at the terminal sump.  Near the sump, John realised that as there was only on set of diving gear, it would be easier for one to dive back through sump V to Sump IV instead of going over the high level route with diving gear. The plan that was that Colin should go back to the gear left in the high levels and I meet John at Sump IV.  Colin got lost!  After an hour or so, John, who had been in the cave several times before, got a bit worried while waiting at Sump IV.  Pete dived through the sump to the sherpas and told them to wait.  It so happened that the sherpas were an hour and a half late and so didn’t mind waiting.  John easily found Colin who had failed to find what John called the obvious way on, and eventually we all met the sherpas.  Colin and John were only two hours late.

The sherpas who had stayed in the cave had surveyed their time away, 3 of them waiting for John and Colin to arrive whilst earlier sherpas had taken Pete’s diving gear out, so we were able to make good time to the entrance.  After the really gruelling entrance passages, everyone was out of the cave by 10.30pm.  An excellent day’s caving.

The excellent sherpas were all U.B.S.S. members.  Many thanks. The divers were Pete Standing (C.D.G. and U.B.S.S.), John Parker (C.D.G. and Cwmbran) and Colin Priddle (C.D.G. and B.E.C.)

Some data on the cave follows: -

Found originally by diving (U.B.S.S.) January 1967.

Dry Way in found.

Sumps II, II and IV passed March 1967.

Estimated passage before sumps 15,000 feet.

Estimated passage after sumps 9,000 feet.

Number of trips through sumps. 10.

Total length of cave.  Over 4 miles.

A sketch survey of the portion of the cave described in the article is below.  This has been reproduced from the survey and is published by kind permission of the C.D.G.


Monthly Notes Number 30

by ‘Wig’

The 1970 C.R.G. symposium is on the important subject of cave surveying, and is being held at Vaughan College, University of Leicester on March 7th.  The programme is as follows: ‘History and Practice of Surveying in Northern England’ (D. Brook); ‘Speed Surveying in O.F.D. II’ (P.O’Rielly); ‘The Surveying Unit – equipment in use on Mendip’ (B. Ellis); ‘Presentation of Surveys of Complex Systems’ (D. Irwin); ‘Maps to assist the Caver’ (S. Collins); ‘Radio Location as an aid to Surveying’ (B. Smith); ‘Underwater Surveying’ (Dr. O.C. Lloyd); ‘Computer use in Surveying’ (J. Wilcock and K. Hanna); ‘ Survey interpretat on and uses’ (A. Waltham).  More details later.

Ogof Ffynon Ddu Survey

The survey, accompanied by a 66 page booklet, has been published by the South Wales Caving Club. The survey is on two sheets each measuring 48” x 24” and drawn at a scale of 1:1250.  The survey is available coloured or uncoloured.  The booklet contains 18 photographs; numerous diagrams, and a pullout diagram of the area.  The vertical depth of O.F.D. is 870 feet and it is over 20 miles in length. Cost: uncoloured £1 post free; coloured £2 post free and the publication may be obtained from P.M. O’Riley, 1 Le Mayals, Owl Lodge Lane, Mayals, Swansea, South Wales.

Latest From Cuthbert’s

Since the end of November, Cuthbert’s II has been sealed off to cavers and little further exploration has been possible other than two very short trips made late in November to maypole the high level holes above the streamway.  Although they had looked extremely promising, the vast majority were simple phreatic pocketing, and only went for a few feet before sealing off completely.  The temporary dam and pipes that that were laid through the sump in an attempt to keep the system open worked in principle, but unfortunately the dam leaked so badly that the amount of water flowing through it swamped the soakaway. However, a permanent dam is being constructed and should be finished early in the new year, so it is hoped that time will be on the side of the explorers.  An early attempt is to be made on sump II and two digs started again. One is just inside the new passage on the left and the other to the left of Sump I itself.


In an attempt to ‘fault find’ the M.R.O. exposure bag made by Paul Allen, a practice rescue was held in Swidlons II on November 8th 1969.  Various people were wrapped in the bag and taken through Duck II and Sump I both as practice for the divers and also too observe the condition of the ‘victims’.  A full discussion of the rescue is to be found in the December issue of the S.V.C.C. newsletter (copy in the B.E.C. Library).  Surprisingly good material for such a juvenile publication.

Amendments to the Club List of Member’s Addresses

(See October 1969 B.B.)


Kevin Barnes

24 Missile Regiment, R.A. Paderborn, B.F.P.O.16


A. Bonner

14 Monkseaton Drive, Whiteley Bay, Northumberland


D.M. Bryant

The Shakespeare, Lower Redland Road, Bristol 6


D. Byers

301 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks.


J. Carter

149 Finch Road, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol


P. Coles

2 Eastfield Road, Cotham, Bristol


A. Cullen

68 Stoke Lane, Patchway, Bristol


I. Daniels

Hansworth, Pilgrims Way, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent


Frank Darbon

Apt. 4, 4706, St. Vernon, British Columbia, Canada


C. Falshaw

23 Hallen Grange Crescent, Lodgemoor, Sheffield


K. Franklin

Flat 5, 234, Kent Street, New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


P. Godley

AOTS, R.A.F., Church Fenton, Nr Tadcaster, Yorkshire


S. Hobbs

Hokertsone Cottage, Townsend, Priiddy, wells, Somerset


P. Ifold

The Cedars, Blackford, Wedmore, Somerset


U. Jones

Marsh Farm, Askam-in-Furness, Lancs.


On Climbing


One piece of information, shared by climbers and cavers alike, is the whereabouts and name of the local ale house.  Frequently the name of an inn will  give one a good indication of the type of district one is in, even if it does not tell one exactly where one is.  One thinks of “The Hunters” and “The Miners Arms”.  Obviously their proximity indicates a country mining area.  Using this sort of deduction, the reader should have no difficulty in placing the two signs on this page, and he should be able to place them within a few square miles. A black mark if you can’t even guess the guess the country correctly.  Many readers will, in fact, have frequented both these pubs, as they are situated in an area which,  a few years ago,  used to be a regular rendezvous at Easter and Whitsun.  Whilst the Belfry was temporary inhabited by “foreigners” from Yorkshire, South Wales and the like, the “regulars” set up headquarters in the upper storey of a large barn.  The pride and joy of this barn were a large mattress and a double bed spring: usually these were ‘bagged’ by “someone on the committee”, but occasionally an early arrival established ownership to someone else.  I have no doubt that several readers are not likely to forget those sleeping arrangements.

“The Tinners Arms”


More Amendments to the Club List of Member’s Addresses

(See October 1969 B.B.)


J. Lamb

Broadmeadows, Padstow Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall


J. Laycock

41 Woodlands Park. Quedgley, Glos.


G. Moore

17 Elmsgrove, Redland, Bristol


K. Murray

17 Barrington Gardens. Kensington, London SW7


H. Oakley

45 Groveway, Stockwell, London SW7


R. Orr

School Farm House, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol


A.E. McR Pearce

5 Colmer Road, Yeovil, Somerset


J. Pearce

6 Lyvenden Road, Blackheath, London, SE3


Miss D. Ranford

c/o Homewood, Plantanenstrasse 8600, Dubandorf, Zurich, Switzerland.


R. Richards

704 Helderberg, Joel Road, Berea, Johannesburg, South Africa


G. Rowles

27 Wedmore Vale, Bristol BS3 5HQ


A. Sandall

43 Meadway Avenue, Nailsea, Somerset


Stream Passage Pot

by Martin Webster

The main entrance is situated some three hundred yards south west of the gaping Ghyll main shaft in a small depression with a stream sinking in one corner.  It was Saturday the 29th of November when a party consisting of Martin Mills, Bob Mayhew, Tim Large, Dick Tye, Brian Woodward and myself descended this pot hole, which is one of the entrances to the Gaping Ghyll System.

A Sheet of snow lay in a thin layer over the wind swept moor as we struggled over the fells with our heavy loads.  The entrance was eventually found and, after a quick look at the G.G. main shaft, we started off down the tight entrance and were very soon in a small chamber with a tiny stream flowing through it.

The first pitch is found a short way down a tight rift and is only twenty feet deep although it has an awkward take off.  The drop is part of a small chamber which has two waterfalls entering it – one from the entrance rift and another larger one from the far wall of the chamber.  Both waterfalls had diminished somewhat since our last attempt on this pot hole in April 1969, when the first pitch was almost impassable and the second pitch of eighty five feet has so much water going down it that the trip was abandoned.

From the twenty foot pot, a meandering stream passage was followed for some way until the eighty foot pitch was reached.  The best way of tackling this by traversing up into the rift passage which overlooks the pitch.  This means however, as someone found out, a rather strenuous climb on the return trip.

The bottom of the climb is a large water worn chamber.  A quick climb across boulders brought us to the head of the next hundred and ten foot pitch.  As there was a small ledge some twelve feet down, the laddering was done from there rather than direct from the top.  The climb turned out to be quite easy and it was possible to climb most of the way without the ladder.  The bottom was a vast spray-swept rift with a passage leading over loose boulders.

The final pitch is seventy five feet deep and can be done in a number of places.  Finally, a drop which seemed a little direr than the rest was selected.  The pitch turned out to be quite different from expectation, as the ladder tended to be caught behind large flakes of rock.  The team were soon down, and we set off along the stream passage and suddenly emerged into a large tunnel-like passage.  The main Gaping Ghyll System had been reached.

Of out travels in G.G., little need to be said except that  a lot of passage was visited in a comparatively short time, and the huge main chamber with its waterfall cascading down from the moor is still as awe inspiring as ever!

The return trip was carried out without too much difficulty except for some tiredness towards the end. It was dark and very cold when we eventually staggered out of the cave, so little time was lost in starting back to the van.  Unfortunately, we got lost!  Just as we found the track again, one of the tackle bags was dropped and of course, rolled down a slope, so more time was wasted while the offending article was recovered.  The final problem came when we were getting changed.  We found that our caving gear had frozen solid so, after a lot of tearing of wet suits and cutting of bootlaces, we all piled into the van, heading in the general direction of the pub, drove off into the night.


Fatal Accident

A brief account of the trip which resulted in the death of Mike Luckwill follows, written by his companion on the trip – Tony – with additional detail kindly supplied by his wife Val…

We arrived at Bettws-y-Coed at 7.45pm where we had coffee in the local coffee bar.  We got to Pen-y-Pass at 8.30 and erected the tent and sorted out our gear.  When we set off at 9pm, the weather was clear and fine, with a little wind.  We set a course at 260 degrees along the pyg.  At first we tried to adjust our course without using our lamps, but we found it impossible to do this as we were well down in the valley.

It also proved inadequate when walking with just one of our lamps going and our concern was that our batteries would not last the trip.  However, Mike had a spare set of batteries and we agreed to use the batteries in rotation.  This proved highly satisfactory, and it was only when judging depth over long distances that our power of sight was impaired.

We arrived at the junction of the pyg and horseshoe routes (M.R. 633553) at 10.45 approximately. The going had not proved too difficult, but care had to be exercised in following the track, which had become a little vague in places.

Compared with the pyg, the way over Crib Gochb was abundantly clear, and at no time between M.R. 633553 and Snowdon summit was any difficulty in route finding encountered.  Indeed, Crib Goch and Crib Yddysgl ridges were accomplished without any delays. Snow and ice lay on the flanks of the ridge, but the ridge itself was ice free.  The night was cold and still clear and the wind blew hard in occasional gusts.  There was no moon.  A few black clouds which presented themselves on the horizon made us fear that snow was coming, but we were well prepared and, indeed, expected snow.  No snow fell that night, however.  Excepting for the lack of moonlight, conditions were perfect, and by the time we reached Snowdon at 2am, we were feeling very pleased.  The seed of overconfidence were beginning to germinate which were in my opinion, to lead to tragedy.

At the summit, we stayed for fifteen to twenty minutes, and Mike recorded the temperature as being -8 degrees C.  We sheltered by the hotel and enjoyed a chicken leg each, with chocolates and biscuits with coffee brewed on my primus.  We left the hotel at 2.10.  We were in fine, confident mood and felt that the hardest part was behind us.  We were slightly chilled and anxious to get moving again.  We were both quite familiar with the Watkin Path from previous summer experience and so we elected to leave the summit and to cut across diagonally to join the Watkin. The initial downward slope did not give the impression of steepness, there was considerably hard packed snow and we took our axes out for the first time.  The slope began to increase in steepness, but there was not thought of crampons or roping up.

About two hundred feet down from the summit, we were travelling side by side, about ten feet apart. I turned round to adjust my mittens, I think, when I heard a slight scuffle but no cry.  I turned back towards Mike but there was no sign of him. I stood and shouted out but heard nothing.  It was then that I assumed that Mike had fallen.  I advanced a few paces with the intention of going down to him.  In front of me, the slope became even more steep, so I crossed the snowfield for some distance horizontally and then started descending.  In my attempt to descend as quickly as was possible, I slipped and fell something like two hundred feet.  I came to rest on broken scree, cut and very bruised, and almost immediately began to stiffen up.  I called again for Mike but heard nothing.  As a result of the fall, I had lost my axe, map, com pass and torch batteries. I realised that my only course now would be to climb back up to the summit which I managed to do with great difficulty and then followed the railway track down to Llanberis and alerted the police at 5.30am.


The Mountain Rescue went out in a helicopter, and the body was found and taken to the Caernarvon and Anglesey Accident hospital.  Tony later identified the body and, after being X-rayed and treated for cuts and bruises, was discharged.  No treatment for shock was given and, in fact, Tony then returned to get the tent and drive Mike’s car back to his own home.  After coping with all this, delayed shock took over and he was a few days recovering.  Tony missed the inquest as a result, which may account for some of the coroner’s remarks. It is thought that Mike’s fall was about 300 feet.


Mike Luckwill commenced caving in the mid-fifties in South Wales until introduced to Mendip, where the caves appeared small.  He joined the B.E.C., became a Cuthbert’s Leader and regular contributor to the B.B. on many varied subjects.  He discovered Canyon Series and was a member of the Anneschacht expeditions 1967 – 69.  He caved in Morocco with Alan Thomas, and climbed in the Alps, Snowdonia, Skye, Ben Nevis and many other places. He was interested in cave photography and surveying; particularly in the subject of survey accuracy, where his interest and skill in mathematics led him to work on the establishment of the survey accuracy of the St. Cuthbert’s survey.  He was a member of the Ian Dear Memorial Committee 1966-1969; elected to the B.E.C. committee 1969, took over the editorship of the B.B. in 1970, which he planned to improve in many ways.  His interest in so many aspects of caving – geomorphology; geology; surveying; photography and exploration made him an all round caver.


Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting

Roy Bennett; Bob Craig; Bryan Ellis; Jim Hill; Tim Hodgson; Dave Irwin; Tony Meadon; Brian Prewer; John Riley; Steve Tuck and Dave Turner were present.  Dave Irwin was elected a chairman.  John Riley and Dave Turner were elected as leaders.  It was agreed that the Mud Hall Pitch ladder should be removed, repaired and replaced by John Riley before the end of the year, as had been done for the Arête ladder.  The stal pitch hand line was to be replaced in its original position by Tony Meadon before March 1970.

Steve Tuck and Brian Prewer agreed to replaced missing drainpipe in the run to the bottom of the concrete entrance pipe before the end of the year.  The pipes at the start of the run are to be raised three inches to minimise the ingress of silt.  Steve Tuck and Brian Prewer agreed to make contact with Mike Calvert and arrange dates for bug hunting trips in the Maypole Series.  These dates will be published, and anyone wishing to see the series can join in.  If nothing is arranged and takes place within  a reasonable time, the matter will be dealt with by the club committee.

Dave Turner agreed that, before the end of the year, he would provide protection to the stal flow at the top of Chain Pitch, and for the flow above Continuation Chamber and would place a wire across the passage at the start of the Snowflake Pool to ‘prevent’ access.  He also agreed to try to clean the flow above Chain Pitch.  It was agreed that leaders should remove all pieces of telephone wire found lying in the cave.  The desirability for a permanent telephone installation was again agreed.  Bryan Ellis agreed to supervise the installation. Details to be agreed by Bryan Ellis, Brian Prewer and Steve Tuck.  Jim Hill, Dave Turner and Tim Hodgson agreed to assist.

It was reported that further work was required to make the sump safe.  For at least three months tourist parties should not be taken into II. Leaders visiting II should do so in company with those conversant with the dam system.

It was agreed that legal difficulties regarding insurance had been raised.  When this has been sorted out, there would be no difficulty in opening the leader system to all clubs.

More Amendments to the Club List of Member’s Addresses

(See October 1969 B.B.)


Mrs Sandall

43 Meadway Avenue, Nailsea, Somerset


R. Sell

51 Swiss Road, Ashton Vale, Bristol 3


P.A.E. Stewart

11 Fairhaven Road, Redland, Bristol 6


M. Thomas

5 Woolcat Street, Redland, Bristol 6


A.P. Tringham

North Longwood, Beggar Bush lane, Failand, Bristol


S. Tuck

27 Woodbury Avenue, Wells, Somerset


S. Tuttlebury

24 Victoria Road, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants


R. Wallin

174 Bryants Hill, Bristol 5


E. Welch

18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol


A. Williams

34 Crossways, Roggiett, Newport, Mon.


G. Wilton-Jones

17 Monkhams drive, Walton, Thetford, Norfolk


R. White

9 St. Cuthbert’s Villas, Haybridge, wells, Somerset


P. Allen

7 Westbourne Place, Clifton, Bristol 8


Miss S. Bowden-Lyle

P.O. Box 15, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda

Just another reminder about paying your subs.


Book Review

by Tim Hodgson

‘Pioneer Under the Mendips’ – Herbert Ernest Balch.  A short biography by W.I. Stanton.  Published by Wessex Cave Club Occasional Publications Series 1 number 1.

Without doubt this biography deserves a place on the bookshelf of caving on Mendip.  No doubt it will also appeal to many others who are interested in B.E. Balch the archaeologist and man.  It is outstandingly well produced, containing many very good photographs and drawing which have hitherto not been published.

The author of this short – and one must emphasise short – biography, quite rightly devotes much more space to B.E.B.’s work as an archaeologist than to his caving activities. He also provides us with much fascinating information about his early and private life.  Most people know that B.E.B. was a man of many interests, but perhaps it is not generally realised that his interest were quite so diverse, what with the church, gardening and his other more publicised pursuits.  It would seem that B.E.B. never had a dull moment.

As I said in the previous paragraph, most of this biography is devoted to Balch’s work as an archaeologist, and constantly criticises it.  This is one of the points about which I take issue with the author. Generally, the criticism is valid in the light of present day knowledge, but we must remember, as the author himself points out, that B.E.B. was an amateur archaeologist.  Even so, his methods were similar to those of the professional archaeologists of his time and indeed, he worked very closely with Prof. Boyd Dawkins, who must have exerted a tremendous influence on him.  Because of this, I think it is unfair to labour on criticism of his methods which were only common practice at that time.  No doubt, future archaeologists will criticise present day methods, but I hope they will not be quite so hard on our generation of archaeologists.

The author is also critical of B.E.B.’s caving methods.  Again, this is justifiable but, in my opinion, carried too far.  To be fair to the author, he does point out that B.E.B. was a most cautious man, who insisted upon taking vast amounts of unnecessary equipment with him on his caving expeditions and that if present day caving parties were similarly equipped, they would quite possible achieve no more that B.E.B.

More than half the book is devoted to five appendices, and an index which was compiled by Howard Kenny. I was slightly disappointed by this arrangement as I would have preferred more space to have been devoted to the biography.  However, these appendices are all interesting and worthwhile, particularly the fifth, which is a facsimile of a previously unpublished (in this country) by B.E.B. entitled ‘The Caverns and Subterranean Waterway of Mendip’.  I can understand the excitement of the opportunity to publish an almost unknown work by B.E.B. written in 1904, but in my opinion, it would have been better to have printed the manuscript.  An example of B.E.B.’s very good handwriting is no doubt interesting, but 47 pages of it is hard graft.  The manuscript has also had corrections and footnotes added to it by Dr. B.A. Baker.  Unfortunately, his handwriting is not as clear as B.E.B.’s and for this reason, and also because the reproduction is not as good, the footnotes are almost impossible to read.

Despite these few failings, I am sure that most people will agree that this publication is well worth the 12/- asked for it.

Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas. Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Hon. Editor: - S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol

Opinions expressed in all articles except those coming from the committee as a whole do not necessarily reflect club policy.


Festive Season

As usual, we try to produce a bigger version of the B.B. for Christmas.  This year has not been a vintage year for the B.B., but we hope that it may not fizzle out too badly with this issue.

Again, as usual, we concentrated more on the lighter side for the Christmas issue.  The B.B. Literary Historic and Scientific Report – thinly disguised a Alfie- is with us again – this year with a romance,  ‘Jok’ is also with us again, his venue has moved from Scotland to North Wales.  We are also publishing a story by John Letheren, of the M.N.R.C., in the style of a well known caving writer.  Plus, of course, articles on the more usual forms of caving, climbing, etc.

Next year, the B.B. changes its shape, cover, layout and (dare we predict) amount of reading matter per month.  See you in a new guise next month, and meanwhile, a very Merry Christmas.

M.C.R. – R.I.P.?

A rumour recently reached us to the effect that the Mendip Cave Registry has ‘just about packed up’. If true, this seems a great pity. Hywel Murrell had the original idea of collecting every known reference to Mendip caves and arranging for these to be kept up to date and systematically filed.  Copies of the Registry are lodged in Bristol and Wells Public Libraries, where it was hoped that they would form a useful source of information for research purposes.  We believe, for example, that the registry contains over six feet of typewritten references to Swildons Hole alone – an invaluable starting point for any future historian who might wish to record the story of its exploration and, more to the point, get it right!

The work of the Registry is, by its nature, unspectacular and also unrewarding, except perhaps for the satisfaction of knowing that the record is being preserved for the future. If the rumour of its impending death is true, it would be nice to think that some young caver might fill the gap and taken it on – even nicer if he was a member of the B.E.C.!


The up to date list of members addresses published in the November B.B. will be kept up to date during the coming year by publishing new member’s addresses and old member’s corrections in each B.B.  Thus, every member will have access to the latest available information.  A complete list will still be printed in November next. By this method, it is hoped that addresses will not go astray and that the postal department will be kept informed of all changes of address.


Elsewhere in this issue, some of the changes scheduled for next year are mentioned.  A further useful change will be the publications of all events in the form of a monthly diary.  This will be taken from the ‘What’s On?’ notice which Belfry regulars will by now be familiar with.  If YOU get to hear of anything in the future which you think will interest club members see Dave Irwin and put it in the ‘What’s On?’ notice in the Belfry.  It will then automatically get printed in the B.B.


It is rumoured that some members express, from time to time, a degree of dissatisfaction with the way in which club officers and the club committee run the affairs of the club. We say rightly that it is rumoured, since there have been no complaints.  If there is any basis in this tale, then it must be pointed out that constructive comment is always welcome.  Our committee meetings are – in general – open to all members.  Why not come along and put your problem to the committee or give your advice?  After all, we do pride ourselves on being a democratic body.  You might even found yourself running something!




Caving Publications

All the following items are available from Dave Irwin at the Belfry or at 8 Radnor Road, Westbury-on-Trim, Bristol.

Caving Reports



No. 13






No. 15

Headwear and Lighting, 70pp, P.G.  Available late Jan 72.

Smaller Caves of Mendip Vol. 1.  (Includes Hunters)  G.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet: -

Part A.  Discovery and Exploration.  38pp. O.P.

Part E.  Rabbit Warren.  20pp, O.P.S.

Part F.  Gour Hall Area.  14pp.  O.P.S.

Part H.  Rabbit Warren Extension.  12pp.  O.P.S.

Part I.  September series.  12pp.  O.P.S.  (Jan 1972)

Roman Mine.  50pp.  O.P.S. and many line illustrations.










                     Copies of ‘Reflections’ (Alfie’s Spaeleodes) still around at 50p.






Ubley Warren Pot (dyeline) 30” x 15”

East Twin (O)

Avelines (O)

Marble Steps (O)

Rumbling (O)

Leck Fell (inc. Lost Johns) 48” x 24” (O)

Notts Pot (inc. recent discoveries) 36” x 24” (O)








Other surveys including Swildons, Longwood, Stoke Lane, Eastwater, available during January 1972.

Abbreviations used above S=Survey.  O=Offset. G=Gestetner.  P=Photos.

STOP PRESS:  Two new reports are in the pipeline and will be available shortly.  No. 14 – Roy Bennett’s account of the 1970 club visit to the Pyrenees. (15p) and No. 16 – John Eatough’s Balch Cave collection of photographs with some of Roy Pearce’s Shatter Cave. (30p).



Annual Report of the B.B. L.H. & S.R.G.

Introductory Note:  Inn the dim recesses of a Mendip pub, a group of old men were desperately trying to flog what was left of their brains.  Cooking bitter was flowing like water.  The Belfry Bulletin Literary, Historic and Scientific Research Group were having an emergency meeting.  They had agreed, in view of their recent research programmes that the subject for this year should be a literary one.  Pilot research scheme had failed to find any undiscovered bits of Shakespeare mentioning the B.E.C.  They sat there, crying tears of bafflement into their beer which threatened to reduce its gravity below that required by law to be sold in a public house.  At last, a young caver who happened to be listening made a suggestion.  “Why not, “he said,” write a romance.

The old men looked at each other, trying hard to remember what a romance was.  In the end, they said that they doubted if there was any caving romance which they could unearth with their researches.  “To hell with research!” the young caver said.  “Why don’t you just WRITE one?”  The old men pondered.  They agreed that it should be possible in theory at any rate.  It was, at least, and idea which was more than they had had to date.  At length they said that they would have a go, and it is with considerable trepidation that they present the following story for your Christmas entertainment.

The Last Tour de Mendip


At three minutes past seven on a lovely summer morning, Cora Cavepearl – the toast of cavers from Banwell to Bottlehead – opened her beautiful eyes and gazed through her bedroom window at the general scenery beyond.

Finding this to her satisfaction, she moved her shapely limbs into a more comfortable position and fell to musing.  Today was, of course, the great day in the Mendip calendar – the start of the fearsome Tour de Mendip – and she wondered if she had been a silly girl in promising to marry the winner.  On the whole, she was inclined to think not.  Harold Hardman would almost certainly win, and she found this chunk of manhood suitable attractive.  True, he had remarkably little brain, but that need be no disadvantage.   One brain in the family, Cora felt, was quite enough providing that the brain was hers.

It was, or course, just possible that Hardman might be beaten by the Yorkshire contender, Arthur Appentwill.  Arthur had, after all, won the Five Pots Race twice in succession. Although not so handsome as Hardman, he was a great rugged creature and the fact that he possessed even less brain than Hardman, she dismissed with a toss of her lovely head.

At seven minutes passed seven, Hardman woke up; leaped out of bed flexing his magnificent muscles; did a dozen press ups; took a cold shower and went off in search of breakfast (having, you will note, not dressed – it’s dead easy for us authors to slip up on little details like this!).  There is little point in attempting to describe Hardman’s thought except to say that he had a vague idea that he would win both the race and Cora.

Some two minutes later, another drip of water wore another bit away from a certain boulder in a cave, which was now approaching a condition of instability.

At half past seven, Percy Potterer woke up and realised that this was the day of the start of the Tour de Mendip.  Although a young man, Percy was a caver of the old type.  He had read about the days when cavers just messed about in caves – before the hard sporting types, tiring of normal trips, has introduced cave racing. This year, the Southern Council had finally banned all types of caving other than racing, which was why Percy had reluctantly entered for the Tour de Mendip.

There was another reason, as Percy admitted to himself with a grin.  He had been in love with Cora Cavepearl ever since she had first come to Mendip, but she had eyes only for the glamorous racing men.  Still, she said that she would marry the winner of the Tour de Mendip this year and Percy had a simple faith in the old way of doing things.


By ten o’clock that morning, a great crowd had gathered outside Stoke Lane Slocker, which was the first cave in the race.  Bookmaker’s stands were doing brisk business, and Cora herself had bets on Hardman and Appentwill at the stand of Honest Bob Bagshaw.  A hush fell on the great crowd and the contestants arrived.  One by one they came up to the staring line.  Their rock suits – those incredibly tough plastic suits which enabled them to absorbed blows against sharp rock as they caved at high speed – were covered with proficiency badges and medals of past races won; their sleek speed hats had lamps a gleam in the sunlight and their tacky boots, which could maintain an incredible grip on any surface, were adorned with the foot jets which they could use to leap up small pitches or do a forty foot chimney in two moves.  There was a particularly loud cheer as Hardman took his stand on the line, and an almost equal one for Appentwill from hundreds of visiting Yorkshire throats.

Cora looked at her two heroes, who stood out even amongst that galaxy of caving talent, and felt a thrill of pride.  Suddenly she heard scornful laughter and saw the last contender, Potterer, arrive at the start.  He wore an old fashioned caving hat, of the sort you could see only in museums. Ancient cast-off clothes enveloped his body and in his hand, incredibly, was a candle.  A single badge had been apologetically sewn to his outer sweater – that of the Basic Caving Proficiency Certificate, giving him the minimum qualification for this open race.

The starter’s pistol rang out and they were off!  There was a gasp from the crowd as the tattered figure of Potterer – not encumbered with heavy gear for this cave – took the lead and reached the entrance first. Once in the crawls, however, Potterer took his time as the thought of being underground again gave him that familiar relaxed feeling.  In vain the hard speedsters tried to overtake him in those narrow tubes, but were forced to cave at his strange, leisurely pace.  It was  a favourite trick of cave racing on the odd occasion when one got close enough to the man in front, to attempt to melt his tacky boot soles, thus making them completely slippery.  The chance to do this occurred but rarely except on this particular trip, when every body had all the time in the world to make good use of it.  The only bloke impervious to this treatment was Potterer himself, whose ancient ammunition boots with their well worn hobnails stubbornly refused to melt – not being made of plastic.

At Cairn Chamber, Potterer was finally overtaken by a frustrated mob who nerves were worn to shreds and whose judgment had gone for a complete chop.  Bods, using their foot jets, hurl themselves through the duck – where many collided with each other and the rock face – to be washed unconscious through the sump.  Potterer took a careful sight on the sump, extinguished his candle, dived it and re-lit his candle.  A scene of utter chaos greeted him as he watched those who survived the crush at the duck and sump.  Their footwear was now so slippery that they could hardly stand up and everywhere, bods were trying to get some kind of grip, and were at last forced to crawl down the stream route while Potterer wandered happily round the Throne Room, taking a few photographs of such formations as had survived.

The crowd who had gathered around the exit from Stoke – the one that had been dug into Bone Chamber as part of the abortive attempt to make it into a show cave – was in a restless mood. The usual time for this first leg of the Tour de Mendip was just under 30 minutes, and over an hour had gone by without anyone appearing.  Judges muttered to each other; bookmakers wore their most guileless expressions and timekeepers nervously fiddled with their stop watches.  At 11.40, Hardman emerged hardly able to stand up.  At 11.42, Appentwill crawled out of the exit. At various intervals, six more men, the pride of their various clubs, staggered out, clutching each other for support.  At exactly twelve noon Potterer came out; took a good breath of fresh air and ran smartly to the finishing line to finish 9th in a field of over fifty. No more men came out after him. The Judges let a little more time go by and then signalled to the grim faced Rescue Marshals who went in to fetch out the injured – and possible dead.

In silence the nine suvivors were taken by special transport to the next leg of the Tour de Mendip – St. Cuthbert’s, for a leg to Sump I and back by any route.  This time the position was reversed.  All the other eight carried lightweight ropes; descendeurs; prussikers and grappling hooks for whatever pitches they planned to do. Potterer, on the other hand, had a huge bundle of wood and rope ladder for the entrance and Arête Pitches.  As they stood at the staring line, waiting for the pistol, Hardman sneered at Potterer, “I fancy you won’t be able to muck us all about this time!”

The crowd had, to some extent, recovered its spirits, and honest Bob Bagshaw was again doing brisk trade on the reduced field.  At the ‘off’, Hardman and Appentwill leapt into the lead.  Potterer was last into the hole.

Meanwhile, in far away G.B., another drip of water dissolved another small piece of rock, making a certain boulder that much less stable.

Once again, as soon as he found himself underground, Potterer let the peace of the place permeate his spirit and leisurely slung his first ladder down the Entrance Pitch.  By the time he had got down; sorted out his second ladder and re-lit his candle, the leaders had reached Sump I and were on their way back.  As Potterer prepared to lower his second ladder down Arête Pitch, he was greeted by the whistling sound of a well aimed grappling hook thrown from below by Appentwill, who had reached this spot on his way back.  The hook lodged securely amongst boulders beside Potterer, who was intrigued by the thinness of the line up which Appentwill was about to prussik. He leaned forward to examine it, bringing his candle nearer in order to see it properly.  To be fair, Potterer was not to know that the plastic which made such thin ropes possible was inflammable.  Appentwill was halfway up when the rope parted.  Luckily, his fall was broken by two other cavers who had just reached the spot.  Potterer tried to revive the three of them on his way down, but without success.

When Potterer finally emerged, with an aggregate time of 7 hours 3 minutes, it was to find himself placed fifth.  Hardman’s aggregate was 2 hours 12 minutes with the other three close behind.  Owing to the unprecedented long times taken so far, the judges announced that the day’s caving had now ended and that the next two legs – of Eastwater and Swildons – would have to be cancelled. The Tour de Mendip would be completed on the Sunday with the Rhino-August-Longwood through trip and finish with the traditional G.B.

The news of Appentwill’s accident was taken badly by the strong Yorkshire contingent, and in nearly all the Mendip pubs and huts that night vicious fights broke out as Mendip and Yorkshire cavers – inflamed with cooking bitter – beat each other senseless.

Cora Cavepearl was beside herself with worry.  She now felt that anything could happen.  If Hardman lost, the next most fancied contender – according to Honest Bob Bagsahw – was one Rodney Ratrun – a mean looking ferrety faced man with a horrible squint.  She shuddered and tried to get to sleep, hardly daring to think of the morrow.


The morrow of that momentous weekend dawned even finer than had the Saturday.  At ten o’clock, the five cavers – only survivors of that vast band of twenty four hours ago – assembled at the starting line outside Rhino. Hardman, Ratrun and the other two each carried a few hundred feet of line and descendeurs.  Beside Potterer stood a gigantic pile of four hundred feet of heavy and thick hemp rope.  The crowd sighed with relief and amusement.  Potterer would never be able to carry that pile to the entrance!

Once again the starter’s pistol rent the air.  The four dashed off, and so, to everyone’s surprise, did Potterer; carrying one end of the rope which uncoiled behind him.  While the others made fast to the prepared belays at the head of the drop, Potterer stood at the top, pulling in all of the rest of his rope until he had it all beside him, by which time the others were well down the hundred foot shaft.

Hardman and Ratrun had finished their descent, and had left their ropes behind while they race on down the connecting passage to August, bottoming Rhino at 10.12 and 10.14 respectively.  At 10.16, the other two, starting down the last pitch, were horrified to see the remainder of Potterer’s four hundred feet of hemp rope coming whistling down the pitch towards them.  It was the last thing that either of them saw for some time.  The next thing they saw was the interior of a hospital ward.

The crowd which had assembled at the entrance to Longwood – prepared for anything this time – were waiting quietly, mostly covered in bandages from the vicious fighting of the night before.  They were pleasantly surprised to see Hardman emerge in good time and good order.  A tremendous cheer – somewhat forced in the case of those who were suffering form cracked ribs – greeted the announcement that Hardman ahd completed this lap in 58 minutes – the first time that this lap had been covered in less than one hour.  Hardman’s aggregate time was now 3 hours 10 minutes with Ratrun a close second at 3 hours 29 minutes.

But the crowd grew restive again, as they were forced to wait for more than three hours before Potterer appeared.  It was rumoured that Potterer had been bribed by the Wessex to enter so as muck up the B.E.C. Another section of the crowd understood that he had been bribed by the Axbridge to muck up the Shepton.  Yet another faction believed that he had been hired by the M.C.G. to muck up everybody.  Murmurs grew to growls and growls to shouts and shouts to blows as fights btoke out everywhere.  Soon, people were hitting each other with reckless abandon.  B.E.C. clobbered B.E.C.  Wessex clobbered Wessex.  Everyone else clobbered each other.  When Potterer finally emerged, with an aggregate of 11 hours 18 minutes, only the judges and recorders noticed him do so.

Actually, there was one other person who noticed him.  Cora Cavepearl had felt, for some strange reason she could not explain, an urge to see Potterer come out of Longwood.  He smiled at her, unaccountably, she found herself smiling back.

At 2.13 pm, marshals had managed to clear a way through the prostrate forms of those fallen in the fighting to enable the transport to proceed to the last lap – G.B. to the bottom of the old cave and back.  This final lap was by way of being and easy last minute sprint and normally took less than half an hour, allowing for the normal exhaustion of the competitors at this stage.  Even though the organisers waited for some time for those who could still drive to get over to Gruffy Field to watch the start, it was a pitiable little cluster of people who watched the final line up.

At 4 o’clock, the three survivors lined up.  At 4.02, Ratrun burst into hysterical sobs and said he could not go on with this devilish race, and he was led away by two blokes in white coats.  At 4.06, Hardman and Potterer lined up once again.

At 4.07, the last drop of water dissolved the last bit of limestone off a certain rock in the cave, making it finally unstable.

At 4.08, the starter’s pistol jammed.

At 4.11, the two men finally ran for the entrance.

It was a close thing, but Hardman got there first.  Summoning all his cave technique, he rushed ahead of Potterer who, although he had entered the cave full of resolve to beat Hardman, once again felt that strange peace settle over him as he caved gently down to the Gorge.

Once at the head of the Gorge, just by the Bridge, Potterer was struck by the beauty of the scene, illuminated as it was by the light of the returning Hardman.  He set his old plate camera and, after a quick calculation, fired off a large charge of flash powder.

The rock which had been moving slowly towards instability happened to be the one in the roof that supported the well known sixteen foot stalactite, and the shock wave from the detonating flash powder provided the last impulse necessary to free it from the ceiling.  Nearly a quarter of a ton of stal – freed at last from the roof – hurtled straight downwards.  Some sixth sense warned Hardman of his plight and he tried to brake – too late.  The end of the stal missed his body, but ripped through his rock suit, pinning him to the floor.  If Hardman had been wearing old clothes like Potterer was, it would have been possible Potterer to free him.  As it was, their combined efforts were in vain.  Potterer promised to get help and began to make his way back to the surface – stopping only to look as some helictites which had somehow escaped the general racing damage of the last frantic years.


Apart from one judge and one timekeeper, there was nobody to greet Potterer as he finally stepped out of the entrance.  After an hours had gone by, the crowd had drifted away – fed up to the teeth of cave racing and everything connected with it.  The judge and timekeeper coldly pronounced Potterer to be the winner and then turned away, talking to each other about dinghy sailing; a sport which they seemed to think had some future to it.  A lone Rescue Warden went in to get Hardman out.

When he reached level ground, he saw that she had not gone.  She was sitting demurely of a gruff.  A girl of her word, she had begun to think that Potterer might conceivably have a point.  It was true that he had a better brain then she had, but on second thoughts, even this might have its advantages.  Potterer approached the gruff.  He sat down beside her.  He smiled. “If you would like to carry these spare candles and the tripod back to our motorbike” he said, “while I carry the plate camera and the flash powder tray, we will be able to talk better about starting caving again on more sensible lines after we come back from our honeymoon.”

Meekly, the beautiful Cora followed her man towards a less hectic future.


Caving in Switzerland

by ‘Mo’ Marriott.

Another year has sped by, and the long promised article for the B.B. has not materialised.  So on this particular evening, I have decided to make amends and finish the job in one long session.

Since the winter of 1968-1969, the accent on caving in our group in Winterhur has shifted somewhat. After several years of work on a number of shaft systems, our attention changed to more horizontal caves.  The reason for this could be the relatively slight rewards obtained from a great deal of effort on the deep caves.

The Ratikon area in the North east of Switzerland has been our main target for the past two years. This area borders on Austria and consists of a long ridge of massive limestones of cretaceous age.  The ridge is interesting because of the high altitude of the limestones, which have been thrust boldly over a great mass of younger shales, the contact line lying at about 1,900 metres (6,200 bft).  Much of the ridge stood above the glaciers and ice sheets during the last generation, and it is in this upper region that most of the caves occur.

A number of smaller caves have been known in the area since the eighteenth century.  The oldest references that we have found is a man by the name of Weber who apparently entered a particular cave only to be accused of being in league with the devil by the local clergy!  He suffered a rather warm death!  The cave still bears his name today.  However, apart from this, and the sparse visits paid by the various ‘classical’ explorers in the last century, very little has been done in this region.

The most interesting find was made during Whitsun 1969.  We had spent much of the day struggling through very soft and wet snow to get a closer look at some of the ‘obvious’ cave entrances on the steep upper slopes of the mountain (on the Swiss side of the ridge, these slopes merge into vertical walls).  Enthusiasm was ebbing fast when we decided to look at ‘Just one more’ promising looking rift. At first sight, it seemed as if this rift petered out into piles of frost shattered rock just like all the others, but at the back of the rift, a low crawl over shattered rock was found with a powerful draft blowing out.  We pushed ourselves into this passage as far as we could, but only after a few yards the by now tunnel like passage became almost filled to the roof by gravel.

A return was made some weeks later, and digging commenced.  The temperature of the air rushing out of the small passage was only just above freezing (we measured 0.60C) and we had to return to the hot sunshine at the entrance every hour or so to thaw out.  After several hours, a break through was made and the crawl continued, but about a hundred and fifty feet in, another digging session was required. This was rapidly accomplished, and the cave was open.  In contrast to the entrance passage, with its frost shattered walls and low crawls, the following passages were roomy with fine sculptured walls and very little rock waste on the floor.  Some of the wall scallops are the biggest I have ever seen, up to three feet across. The passages are almost entirely phreatic and are in places very big (about twenty feet in diameter) which, in view of the altitude of the cave (nearly 8,000 ft at the entrance) suggests a pre-glacial origin.  Up till now, some 5,000 ft of cave have been surveyed with a total depth of 825 ft. This cave almost certainly connects with a number of smaller caves in the area, the whole appearing to be an old system which has been truncated by erosion.  The cave contains the remains of a large number of cave bears.  Up till now we haven’t been able to determine where the bears entered the cave.  Another interesting fact is that bats still enter the cave to over winter, despite the altitude and low temperature.  For quite a long time we were stuck on what to call the cave, until someone discovered that we had opened it on the same day that the first man had set foot on the moon.  So it was christened Appolohohle!

During the last summer’s trip to the area, we had the stout assistance of Colin Priddle for two weeks who, on the caving trips, wore the most motley assortment of tattered garments, which became more and more tattered after each trip!  This year, we will again spend one or two weeks in the area to finish the exploration of the Appolohohle and to continue the search for other caves.  If anyone, like Colin did last year, happens to be in the area in the summer, they are very welcome to join us.

Apart from the Ratikon, we have spent quite a lot of time trying to force our way into various risings which occur in the north of Switzerland.  Many of these are for divers only (one has been penetrated by divers to about a quarter of a mile in length and a hundred and thirty feet in depth) but some have seasonal streams so that they almost dry up during the coldest weather.  By a combination of chemical persuasion and good old fashioned elbow grease we have made progress in two risings, but with modest results so far.  One of the problems in these caves is that of temperature difference between inside and outside in the winter.  Having spent an hour or so with a hammer and chisel in very damp surroundings, the effect of coming out into about 36 degrees of frost can be disturbing!  For one thing, one’s clothes freeze solid in next to no time, and it doesn’t pay to hang around to long.  Maybe by next year, we will have a second Holloch on our hands, and if so I will probably have to write another article.

Editor’s Note:    We hope that our old friend “Mo” will write another article in any case.  He certainly is keeping the B.E.C. flag flying in Switzerland by the sound of things.


Book Review

Walks In Limestone Country by A. Wainwright.

Published by Westmorland Gazette.  Price £1.05. (One Guinea)

This book covers thirty four walks in the Yorkshire Dales and, although it is basically intended for walkers, it could almost be mistaken for a cave guide.  It is printed from the original notes.  It includes maps, relief maps and drawings osites of interest (which included cave entrances).  The major caving districts of the Dales are included in the walks (e.g. Ingleborough; Penyghent; Whernside; Easegill; Kingsdale; Leck Fell etc.)  It could be very useful to newcomers to Yorkshire who may have difficulty in finding some of the caves.

There are many useful pieces of information for the walkers, such as where cafes are situated and whether hill tops shelters are still serviceable or not – for those who might be caught out in a storm.  The book is soft bound and about the same size of ‘Caves of Mendip’.  It is well worth the money – even for retired walkers for whom I am sure it will bring back memories.


Christmas comes but once a year
So why not bring BOB BAGSHAW cheer?
He’d doubtless like a card from you
Enclosing subs for ’72.
To pay subs in advance, you can
Although they are not due till Jan.

Boys Find New Arctic Cave

(Submitted by Tim Large).

A new cave in Arctic Norway’s Svartisen Glacier area was found by a party of two teachers and nine boys during a 3,000 mile overland expedition from Manchester.  The cave – believed to be the third largest in Europe – was about a mile in length and 750 feet in depth with huge chambers and ice formations.


If YOU know of any club member who has not been getting his or her B.B. lately, ask them to give you their address and check it with the list of members addresses.  If the address they have given you is different form that which the club has, then obviously, this is why they have had no B.B. Please, in that case, let Alan Thomas have the new address so that we can send B.B.’s to ALL members who ought to get them.  Make this your good turn for Christmas.


Free Diving to Swildons IX

(Time: Six Hours)

by Graham Phippen

On the twenty ninth of September 1971, five cavers: Dick Pike; Tony Jarrett (J.Rat); Peter Moody; Roger Libido and myself effectively free dived as far as Sump IX in Swildons. I am told that this was once achieved by two people once before, but it remains, I think, quite a fresh trip.

Dick Pike and J. Rat reached Sump IX using cylinders, and went further to inspect the recently opened Sump XIIa.  Pete Moody arrived at Sump IV by free diving Sumps I, II and III, accompanying Dick and Tony.  Roger and myself, lacking his confidence, skipped those sumps in favour of Blue Pencil, thus letting us down into the streamway before Sump IV.  There the other three, well rested, eagerly awaited our laboured breathing and hurled invectives at us as we rounded that famous bend.

At Sump IV, Roger and myself assumed some M.R.O. weights and donned hood and face mask.  All kitted up, Dick went first with his cylinder, and the rest of the party followed with Tony and his cylinder as ‘Tail end Charlie’.

Sump V is at present a series of short ducks, and presents no problem.  Swildons between Sumps V and VI smells vile and so we travelled hot-foot to Sump VI.  Most people would agree that this sump is an improbable free dive, being in the nature of a corkscrew and quite long.  I am willing for the present to take people’s word for this and to use the by-pass.

This bypass is easily located to the left of the sump and about fifteen feet up.  A fixed rope is conveniently placed to assist (Wot! Artificial aids? – Ed.)  A few dozen feet into the bypass, there is a rift that opens up on the right.  This is not the way on.  Continue to the left and the way on is pretty straight forward.  A mud sump will be encountered with fluid the consistency of cold porridge.  This did not need bailing, but apparently it often does.  Roger was at considerable disadvantage here.  After passing this mud sump, all our lamps were covered with a thick coating of mud, thus making it difficult to see, but Roger wore glasses and couldn’t see for mud anyway.

After the bypass, the cave opens up into a high rift chamber.  The stream is lost in boulder piles on the floor.  Sump VII was dived by Tony and Dick, while the rest of us spent some time locating the bypass for it.  Sump VIII.  Everyone seems to climb over the top of this one and leads very quickly to Sump IX. While Roger, Pete and myself were negotiating the bypass to VII, Dick and Tony has proceeded on their way to Sumps XII and XIIa, so we did not see them again until they surfaced from Sump IX. In Swildons XII, they went to have a look at Sump XIIa, at the end of a recently opened passage in XII.  This sump has been since explored to twenty five feet and is reported to be going on.  But where to?  Many think back to Sump XII.

Having all assembled again at Sump IX, there was no inclination to do anything else but make it hot foot out of the cave, as there was some doubt as to whether we should get in the requisite ‘sinks’ at the Hunters.  Roger and myself decided to go by sumps, instead of using Blue Pencil as we had on our way in.  Tony left his cylinder upstream of IV leaving only Dick with an air supply for going back through Sumps III, II and I.

I have been persuaded to write this article not to glorify my own exploits (it was a Wessex trip anyway) but because I foresee, when word gets around, a spate of people wanting to attempt the trip.  If people wish to, then it is at their own discretion, but it would be as well if they were informed as to the difficulties they will encounter.  I have described the trip more or less as it happened.  Now I shall take each sump in turn, neglecting Sump I, as most people will be familiar with it.


This sump is at a guess, thirty five feet long, and is wide, open and level.  This sump is large enough to get lost in, if you should be unfortunate enough to let go of the hand line – so hang on to it!  Allow about fifteen seconds to get through. Relax and take it easy and there is no reason why you should be fighting for air when you surface.  The distance between Sumps II and II is short and has no dry land between.  A duck splits the passage into two chambers.  As you come through the duck, look back and memorise it, as it can be difficult to find on returning.


This is about the same length and size as Sump II but it goes deeper.  I estimate that you have to go down about seven feet at the end before you come up for air.  Again, about fifteen seconds to pass through and don’t be silly as to let go of the line. For these two sumps, lead weights are an advantage to counter the buoyancy of the body and wet suit.  There is an M.R.O. weight dump upstream of II and another upstream of IV.  If you borrow these weights, they must be put back whence they came.  In Sump III, because you have to go down deeper, I found it a useful technique to turn a little on my side and push downwards with my legs thus keeping my body and head from dragging against the roof.


This can, of course, be arrived at via Blue Pencil which is considerably safer but more strenuous. Sump IV is about fifteen feet long, but tighter than two and three.  Nowhere is there at present any severe constriction, though this seems subject of the amount of silting.  The limits of the passage can be felt by arms and legs all the ways through but it is certainly not a squeeze.


Owing to the prevailing dry conditions when we undertook the trip, Sump V was a series of short ducks. The handline does not necessarily follow the line of these ducks, as we did not use it.  When this sump actually sumps it is reported to be sixty feet long.


This is not a free dive, although I have met a diver who claims that he used no air in passing through it with a cylinder.  It is thirty feet long, but with an awkward constriction.  The bypass is to the left of the sump, marked with a fixed rope.


A bypass has been recently opened to Sump VII, which, again, is not a free dive.  The bypass is in the form of a duck into a short sandy passage as originally found.  However, a little chemical persuasion brought the roof down and closed it.  On our trip, we ferreted around and eventually found our way into this bypass by rolling back a heavy boulder revealing and easy squeeze over a pool water.  This boulder is to be found to the left of the sump at about the position of the start of the handline going through the sump.  The boulder rocks, and this acts rather like a trapdoor.  It is half underwater.  Good hunting!


There is a short and easily found bypass over the top.


Over a hundred feet long and marks the present limit of free diving.

The trip was very much enjoyed by all present.  The question that people will ask of course is, ‘Was it too much of a risk?’  You must judge for yourself.  The trip was undertaken at the end of a long dry spell, which made Sump V a series of ducks.  Two of the party were cave divers with cylinders and had all recent knowledge of the character of the sumps, which in the case of Sumps IV and V does not change.  Pete had free dived two and three before, perhaps further, I’m not sure, and I had previously dived two.  With the exception of Roger, who is quite recent to caving, we all had experience of long standing.  We wore hoods, which add considerably to comfort and face masks which, although not essential, added confidence.  It’s nice to be able to see where you are going!  One tip I learned on this trip was to wear the cable flex of your lighting cell under the armpit and across the body to the helmet rather than over the back.  If, as happened, your helmet is knocked off, it will not trail the full length of the cable behind you on passing through the sumps.  If your helmet comes adrift when the cable flex is across your body, then it cannot easily float out of reach.  Also, it is easier to free your cable if it snags on a projection when in front of your body than if it should do so when it is laid across your back. When free diving sumps, this is surely a piece of advice that could avoid a fatality.

Finally, all the sumps attempted with air can be done quite easily with either one or two breaths.


The Great Cave of Chévre-Eglise

by N. Castanet

Our next article gives a new slant on a certain well known Mendip cave. The author also sent a copy to the Wessex Journal, who printed it recently.  We think that it is appropriate to the time of the year with apologies to you-know-who.

I recall, as a young schoolboy, hearing of tales of the great cave at Chévre-Eglise in the County of Somerset.  How I longed to explore its secret mysteries and penetrate deep into the cavern which for so long had been constantly in my imagination.

At last, in 1959 with some young friends, we mounted our bicycles and headed out to the wild gorge wherein lies the yawning entrance to the great cave.  After many hours of riding up long arduous hills, we arrived, tired but still cheerful at the entrance.  We staggered up the winding slope weighed down with our load of boiler suits, acetylene lamps, ropes and other paraphernalia which speleologists habitually carry on these on these daring adventures.

After changing, we picked up our heavy equipment and entered the cave. What a sight met our eyes in the dim light, hardly aided by the flickering flames of our carbide lamps! It was necessary to make a short descent into a vast chamber which stretched away into the distance.  This must indeed be the great cave of Chévre-Eglise we had heard of much about.  We began the difficult and treacherous descent into this vast yawning cavity.  I quickly tied a rope around me and picked my way carefully down the slippery steps, eventually arrived safely on the floor of the great chamber.  By now we were running out of carbide and very exhausted, so new were forced to return to the open air; remount our faithful bicycles and pedal wearily back to Bristol.

My thoughts returned to the great cave, but it was two years later before in managed to organise another assault on this cave which for so long had remained an unattainable goal. Once more we found ourselves at the entrance to the cave, and made our way down to the great chamber, which had been the furthest point reached by our party on the previous venture.  This time, we had brought extra supplies of carbide and water, so necessary to sustain our lights on an expedition such as this.  We advanced into the great chamber and wondered ceaselessly when it would end. All the way down, we were puzzled by thin stalagmites of a deep red or black colour.  This have since been examined by experts and shown to be iron handrails, no doubt of Iron Age origin when the cave was inhabited by our distant ancestors.  The chamber gradually narrowed and finally came to a dead end.  My colleagues were convinced that this was the end of the cave, and were inscribing their initials on the walls by means of their lamps, a characteristic of many cave explorers, when I noticed a small passage on our left just before the final choke.  I squeezed into it and found myself in a steep rift.  Pressing my back against one wall and my feet against the other, I gradually let myself down this great gulf, as one slip would have almost certainly proved fatal and in any case, it would have been impossible to get an injured man out of such a dangerous situation.  After descending three or four metres, I decided that extra equipment would be needed, and began to climb back up the rift.  The walls of the rift were of smooth flowstone and gave no hold. Eventually, after many hours, I rejoined my companions at the top of the rift and we slowly made our way out of the cave.

Once more, in 1965, I again descended this fearsome chasm, this time bringing more ropes.  I once again descended the rift, this time with the aid of a rope, and my companions joined me at the bottom.  We found ourselves in a dry narrow passage, our progress being impeded considerably by the fact that the passage, instead of being upright, was inclined at an angle, forcing us to lean against one wall nearly all the way.  After a while, the passage began to rise.  We noticed a tight passage going down to the right in the floor, but it proved much too tight to enter, so we pushed on up the slope.  At this point, the passage veered to the left (I believe it was left but below ground one so quickly loses all sense of direction that it may well have been right) and a shaft opened up on the right.  I fastened a rope around me and went to the edge. What I saw filled me with horror. It was a shaft so steep and slippery that it would need another expedition to descend it.  We decided to continue up the sloping passage, and soon we were surprised to see the light of day from above.  This must be the other side of the mountains!  We climbed out, and after spending some hours looking for our bicycles, we set off once more for Bristol, happy in the knowledge that we had conquered at last the great cave of Chévre-Eglise


The B.B. in 1972

It has been felt for some time (ever since the editor realised it, to be accurate!) that the start of the second quarter century of the existence of the B.B. should be marked in some way or other.  At the A.G.M., a couple of trial balloons were flown, to see how the club would react. This has enables us to forget about changing the B.B. to a quarterly, and to concentrate on the job of improving it as it stands.

Since this will be the last of the present style B.B.’s, it seems a good idea time to discuss the new one, to minimise any surprise which mat result in January.

Firstly, we are going metric.  We should have to do this in any case.  Other caving journals are also going metric – the Wessex Journal at the same time as the B.B. The only question is one of which of the metric sizes to adopt.  To explain what we are up against here, it might be as well to run through the metric range – its good for a laugh if nothing else!

Why it is not something sensible like 20cm by 30cm is due to the morons who decide these things.  It is traditional to start with a large sheet of paper (in our case, Large Post – 20” x 16”) and cut it in half if you want something smaller.  Cutting it in half again give you quarto or 10” x 8”.  Half again gives Octavo and so on.  There is another large size of paper which, on being cut progressively in half, produces foolscap (13” x 8”) and at one time we used this for the B.B. and later used it folded to produce a page 8” x 6½”.  This is roughly the size you would get by cutting Large Post in six, so it is called 6mo.

Now, the metric paper wallahs decided to base their standard on a piece of paper 1 metre square in area. You couldn’t very well make this square, because if you did, the next size down would be long and thin, so you have to make it so that any halving produces paper of a reasonable rectangular shape.  Systems based on ten do not lend themselves readily to successive division by two, and so the size of the basic A0 paper is 119.047cm by 84cm.  Half this size is called A1 and is 84 x 59.523cm.  Half this again is A2 and so on.  This system gives A4 as already quoted about the same width as our present quarto and about halfway between the length of quarto and that of foolscap.

Now the B.B. started life as a number of foolscap sheets, but it was soon found that this size of paper was too unwieldy, and it was changed to quarto (as it is now).  Later again, it was changed to half foolscap (or 6mo) but was changed back again for technical reasons not connected with the size, but with the fact that it was folded.

So it is necessary to choose between A4 and A5 – the first rather bigger than our present B.B., and the second smaller than the B.B. has ever been.  After giving the matter much thought, and discussing the pros and cons of both sizes we have plumped for the smaller size.  It makes a thicker looking magazine (the average issue should be at least 20 pages and we hope will be considerably more).  It fits the pocket without bending or folding.  It stands upright on a bookshelf and, last but not least, it saves paper and stencils by requiring smaller margins.  The only real disadvantages would appear that the pages must be turned more often, thus straining the drinking arm, and that surveys etc. will tend to be rather small.  This latter objection can be overcome partly by the better methods or reproduction afforded by the offset litho process, and occasionally by using the centre pages, which form a continuous sheet of A4 size.

Having dealt with the size, and mentioned the use of offset litho – which should give us a better looking printed page, you will no doubt be wondering if you are going to get your fair share in the way of amount of printed matter per anum.  To this end, an analysis has been done of all B.B.’s during the 25 years just past.  Making allowances for changes in page size and type size used, and reducing all B.B.’s to a common factor (pages of quarto typed with this typeface or – in other words, what you are getting NOW) we find that the average number of pages per month has gradually risen from 2.7 in 1947 to a record of 14.1 in 1969.  This year it runs at 12.3.  Pages of the new size will come in multiples of 4, and we can compare as follows: -

pages of new size per month









pages of this size per month








…so you will be able to keep note of what you are getting next year, and moan if it’s not equal to your fair share!

Thus, at 12 new pages per month, you will be entitled to grumble – although we must point out that you would be getting as much as you got throughout the early 1960’s and more than you got in the 1950’s.  At 16 pages per month you can still grumble – although it has only been in the last 4 years that you have had more. At 20 pages per month, you have no real moan, although you might be disappointed – a s I shall be.  At 24 pages per month, you will be getting more than you have ever had, and if you get an average of 28 pages per month – both you and I will be pleasantly surprised.

It remains now only to discuss the CONTENT of the B.B.  Again, a complete analysis has been carried out, and we find that the content fluctuates very considerably.  For this purpose, the content of the B.B. was divided into 8 categories.  Club Business (including notices, reports of A.G.M.’s and club officers, Belfry matters, etc.). Caving, Climbing (including hill walking and foreign travel not connected with caving).  Informative (which includes all scientific articles, archaeology, technical matters like surveying practice, photography, care and construction of tackle etc.).  Entertainment (including humour, puzzles, etc.).  News of other organisations.  Letters to the editor and finally Book reviews.  It may be of great interest that the 1970 B.B. came closest to the general average, with about 35% club business, 24% caving, 16% entertainment, 15% climbing, 9% informative, and 1% odds and ends.  The content of next year’s B.B. will be carefully watched and, if necessary, people will be specially asked to write on subjects that will keep the balance on a healthy side.  In particular, the average of news of other organisations – at 1% - and letters to the editor – at 4% - are felt to be on the low side – as are book reviews at less than 1%.  We shall try to keep these a bit higher.

So watch out for the new style in January.  Let us know if there is anything you don’t lie (apart form the size – to which we are now committed) and it would be very nice if you even let us know about things you DO like.  Editor’s, like other people, need encouragement from time to time!



Club Caving Trips in 1972

We have received a letter from our caving Sec. – Tim Large which, unfortunately, arrived just too late to be printed in this B.B. in its entirety.  Tim suggests that during the coming year, club trips should be run by club members rather than by the Caving Sec.   If you have a favourite caving trip – or a trip you have been wanting to do for ages, let Tim know about it.    You fix the date, and Tim will arrange to give the trip publicity and do the organising of keys, permits etc.  Tim’s slogan for next year is ‘MAKE YOUR TRIP A CLUB TRIP’.  Tim also says that he now has the club’s key to RHINO RIFT and is waiting for the hard men to come forward to explore its depths (and write it up for the B.B. – Ed).  He wishes all cavers a merry Christmas and good caving in the New Year.

New Addresses and Alterations to Members Addresses














R. Bidmead

M. Bishop

E. Bishop

T.A. Brooks

R. Cross

P. Eckford

C. Harvey

R. Hobbs

D. Jones

R. Sell

A. Stone

R. Voke


4 Dine Grove, Bristol 7

‘Islay’, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Nr. Bath, Somerset.

Was Miss E. Williamson

37 Wyatt Park Road, London SW2

12 Clifton Terrace, Falmouth, Cornwall

80 Wilton Gardens, Shirley, Southampton

‘Byways’, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Somerset

Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Nr. Bristol

11 Queensford, Calne, Wilts

51 Swiss Road, Ashton Vale, Bristol 3

76 Rancliffe Gardens, Eltham, London SE9

8 Pavey Road, Hartcliffe, Bristol 3

Was Miss M. Thompson and is now at T. Large’s address


Make a note of JANUARY 31st. It is the day your 1972 subs are due. Why not give Bob a surprise.


A Day in Letterewe Foreszt

by Steve Grime

One of my climbing friends from Edinburgh had helped with my removal problem to this area, and decided to stay on for the weekend, so on the Sunday we decided to go climbing with Stewart – one of the original gillies.  The original plan had been to climb Bat’s Gash, a nine hundred foot V. Diff. on Ben Lair crags (this is equal to a Welsh severe).  We left the house at 8 am and trekked off up to the bealach.  By 9 we were at the bealach (col) and saw that the crags were really clag-bound and the first drops of rain were coming on.

We decided to do a walk down Fiann Loch to the base of Ben Airegh and then do a nice eleven hundred foot difficult.    After four of the longest miles I know in Scotland, we arrived at the foot of the crag.  By this time, bellies were beginning to rumble but as we had no food with us, we could only tighten our belts.

Five hundred feet of grass and rock led to the start of the climb and from there it began in earnest – or as earnest as a diff. can get.  The rock dipped away from us and the holds were fine and positive.  Cracks were few, and three runners were used over the full length of the climb.  M.O.A.C.S. are the best bet in these hills but Clog Hex 4 or 5 do come in useful occasionally.

At halfway, the wind was strong and cold and at the end, the effect of six hours hard work on a plate of cornflakes was beginning to show as progress slowed.  The situations were really fine and the views up the glen out of this world.

Finally, we debouched upon the summit and lay there in the sun watching alternately an eagle soaring on the thermals and turbulence coming off the ridge, and a herd of a score of deer slowly picking their way down the glen an thousand feet or more below us. Rock pipits pipped and a stone chat chatted while we dreamed of food.

Coiling the ropes, we started our downward journey over a carpet of moss covered with little saxifrage and mauve and white orchids.  At about a thousand feet above sea level we put up a herd of feral goat with black shaggy coats and huge horns.  Bob’s feet blistered and our progress slowed.  We meandered down to the farm buildings where the Head Keeper was doing the milking, and treated ourselves to a pint of milk each straight from the cow. The sun was hot as Bob and I said cheerio to Stewart and set out on the last half mile to my house.  We dawdled by the loch side as the bees hummed about the rhododendrons and the water lapped the shore.  A bird warbled in the thicket, and we finally reached the house four hours behind schedule, as we were supposed to be taking the girls climbing in the afternoon.  Fortunately, they were understanding, and the day ended peacefully.




Has any club member got ‘CAVES OF NORTH WEST CLARE’ from the club library?  If so, could you return it as soon as possible.  Any other outstanding books should also be returned so that we can do stocktaking on the library.

Help Wanted

Although we have made quite a few arrangements to ensure that we stand a better chance of keeping a bigger B.B. going next year, we could do with some help in writing the odd snippets on various subjects.  Three of which come to mind are; 1. Book Reviews; 2. Items from the Journals of the other clubs; and 3.  Brief write-ups of social and other events.  If any members have any ambitions to become a journalist for the B.B., please contact Alfie, who would also be pleased to hear about any other suggestions from members designed to make the B.B. bigger, better, more interesting etc. next year.


The Weegee goes West

I parked the car at the end of the track and got out.  Some track. It was, more like a ploughed up field. Still, I thought, all the better. Nobody else would drive over that lot for fear of wrecking their suspension.  Mine – well, I was worried.  It was a wreck anyway.  Five quid to get it through its last M.O.T.  Great.  I had the whole place to myself.  Stuff Snowdonia.  Too many day trippers this was it.  Solitude.

I scanned this valley. Some place.  Inspiring. The sides of it swept up to the blue sky with rock jutting out in all directions and slopes of scree where it was all directions and slopes of scree where it was all coming apart and falling back down.  The floor of the valley was wide and green, different from the brown grass higher up, with a stream, and walls built of slate slabs standing on end.  There were some sheep, little white dots, high up and far away.  They must be lost.  The place was so quiet that you could hear them baaing.  And it was hot.  Man, it was the height of summer.

I hefted my rucksack onto my back.  One of these foamed jobs from Millets.  Genuine mountaineering gear.  Checked my wallet in the old hip pocket; locked up the banger, and set off.  Two hundred quid I had in that wallet and I’d grafted every penny of it on overtime so I wasn’t about to leave it in the glove compartment where some thief could get at it.

Half a mile with that pack on my back and I was soaked with sweat and gasping.  So O.K., it was good for me.  That sun.  That heat. That clean, fresh air.  It was what I was here for.  You’ve got to have contrast.  Be able to get away from it all.  Like last night it was sitting stuck in a London traffic jam with stinking engines belching into the lit-up rain lashing at thousands of milling wet people all rushing around without the time of day to exchange a how’s your old man – never mind to take the trouble to wipe sour looks off their miserable faces.

Man.  This place was really living.  Invigorating.  That was the word.  Rejuvenating. A week of relaxing in this valley, and I’d be fit and sunburned, ready to book into Butlin’s for the second part of the holiday.  A seven day session.  The birds! I had it all planned.  I drained a can of beer and chucked the tin over my shoulder.  The place could do with a hint of civilisation.  It was too barren.

I put my foot down and got going.  I reckon two miles into that valley and I was just about knackered.  The end of it started sloping up to meet the sides, and it was all climbing and clambering over rock and sliding stones mixed up with fine gravel.  Here and there, a different kind of rock lat scattered about.  Quartz, by the look of it.  Reflecting the sunlight so that it was dazzling white and hard of the eyes. Yes, I would say quartz. Definitely.

About halfway up, just as my appreciation was beginning to crack, I came to a natural platform.  A kind of heaven amongst the litter of boulders. It was flat as a board and turfed over with short green grass, with half buried squared stones sticking out of it like the remains of a wall.  The sheep had been at the grass and had cropped it close to the earth so that it was dry and warm to the touch.

I pitched the tent and got the grub cooked.  It was like manna from heaven out there in the open.  Real tasty.  This was what I called really getting away from the rat race.  That canteen cooking back there in the smoke could get you nothing but ulcers.  Imagine it!” Eighth hours a day in a stinking workshop and the only break you get is a load of mashed up junk they lash up and chuck at you on a dirty plate.  I put the water on the primus for the coffee and lay back, contented, to wait for it to boil.

You ever had a fright? I men a real fright.  One moment, it’s all on your side and you can’t go wrong, and the next your nerves are leaping around you inside you screaming to get out and run.  That kind of fright.  Well, there I was with a whole valley laid out to view like an aerial painting below me, up here on my own, perched on my ledge – and I look up and in the next second see this weirdo squatting in a niche above the platform staring at me and I knew he’d been there all the time watching me.

That kind of thing is enough to paralyse anybody no matter how hard they want to scarper out of it. The only think you can think about at the time like that is to wish you weren’t there.

“Enjoy the gifts of nature is it that you are?”  This weirdo shouts at me, and jumps out of his niche.  A real apparition he was, hanging in ragged cast-offs with a grey beard tangled around his face and the hair on his head hanging out like an old brush from under the remains of a hat with the brim all sagging round his eyes and ears.  Fierce too. Fill of strut and bounce.  I’ve seen some weirdoes draped around Hyde Park, but this one was different – a right Welsh mountain nutter, and no mistake.

A staggered to my feet and backed away from him to put a bit of distance between us.  “Alone is what you are, then?” he said, peering about as if he didn’t know damn well I was.  “I like the tent, boyo” says he, fingering the material.  “Made of fine silk there is could it be man?  Very pretty to be sure in all its beautiful red colour and white strings.  And light and airy enough to fly away like a kite on a puff of breeze.  I should think so, wouldn’t you agree?”

“No!” I croaked. “It’s made of nylon.  It’s a mountain tent.  Got an ‘A’ frame and a flysheet and a sewn-in ground sheet. It’ll stand up to any storm short of a hurricane.”  He sniffed suspiciously around the tent as he had never heard of nylon.  “Strange it is then, and here you are in your flimsy tent on the very spot where the house once stood that is gone now that sheltered me when I was a young bach, and living in my old age out on the bare mountain!” He squatted down on the turf like a run down gramophone and squinted at me out of the corner of his eye.  “Is it not?”

“You lived her as a boy?” He nodded his hairy face.  “And I’ll die here too, when my time comes. The last of the family, with nobody to inherit.”  He pointed across the left side of the valley.  “Buried over there we are, in the chapel besides the farm.”

I noticed that the water was boiling, so I got busy and made the coffee.  I couldn’t see any farm and now that I got a closer look at him I reckoned the poor old sod was already half dead.  He’d probably been stuck up on the mountain all summer living on bracken roots.  “Here!” I said, offering him some coffee. “It’ll warm you up a bit.”

“Coffee then, is it now?” said he, impressed. “And in a splendid china mug too, as well.  Let’s spark it up a bit and put a drop of life into it!” and he produced a bottle of whiskey out of his coat lining.  Not content with this, he fumbles around and finds a couple of cigars – one each – still in their containers, brand new and lights up with a snazzy gas powered lighter.

“Of course you know, boyo,” says he, breathing out the scented smoke and waxing eloquent on the life giving whiskey, “the valley will still be there when I’m gone, and you too, for that matter.”  I suppose it will, thinks I, you crafty old git, and so will the village store where you nicked your loot.  Whiskey and cigars, indeed!  And I couldn’t help smirking at him.

“Ah yes boyo,” he declaims in his Welsh singsong, evidently taking my smirk for an understanding smile. “Look you now, I own this place.  Been in the family for centuries, as far as you can see.”  He waved his arm around, the tattered sleeve slapping around the skinny wrist, and pointed at the surrounding rubble.  “Look you now, there is good firm stone provided by nature for the taking to build houses to live in, and coal from the seam over yonder to warm us with fire.”

I interrupted hum. “Here, have some more coffee!” Trust me to get lumbered with some raving and drunk hermit in the middle of nowhere.  It was about time to pack up the tent and clear off before the old fool decided to stay the night.  He pulled the whiskey bottle out again.  Something else came out of the lining with it and dropped on the grass.  A battered old wedding ring.  One of those old fashioned thick ones bent and flattened into a practically unrecognisable lump of metal.  I picked it up and handed it to him.  “Your ring.  You dropped it!”  He clutched it with his bony fingers and looked at me real suspicious like. “Where did you find that, boyo?” “Off the deck.  You dropped it out of your pocket.  It’s your wedding ring.”

That got through to him all right.  He cackled like a turkey with hysterics.  If he’d had any blood inside him he’d have blown an artery.  “Me wedding ring!” he spluttered, “Look!” and he pulled another handful of lumpy stuff out of his coat.  “I could make a hundred wedding rings if you could show me a hundred wenches willing to wear them for me.”  And goes off into hysterics again as if he’d made some kind of joke.

Suddenly I got very interested.  Either the stuff was for real, or it was the rubbish – pyrites.  That was it!  The crazy old fool was roaming around up here, grubbing it out of the ground not knowing what it was.  He could be a millionaire for all he knew.  “You mean nobody would want the rings because it is fool’s gold?”  I asked him, when he’d finally quietened down. He jiggled the lumps around like dice in his fist and then dropped them on the turf in a little heap, and gave me a real sharp look that I didn’t like much.  His eyes were a bit too deep.  Sort of piercing.

“It could well be so,” he said in a low mutter.  “Fool’s gold. Very clever is the gentleman. Gold for the fools who come up here into the valley to make trouble for us.”  I let him ramble on.  I was too busy thinking to listen.  How what was it?  There was a test for gold.  I’d read about it somewhere.  I racked my brains.  A quick test. That was it!  Rub the gold on a piece of glazed china and it will leave a trace.  China!  My mud was china!  I picked up a lump like a battered wedding rind and rubbed it on the china mug.  It left a mark.  A streak of gold across the white surface,.  Christ!  It was real gold!  What had the old idiot been yapping about?  Trouble, or something.  I had to keep him talking.

“Trouble dad?” I said gently, “Who’s been giving you trouble?”  he looked at me carefully.  “Can I trust you, boyo?”  “Of course you can trust me dad.  Who was it?”

“Oh well now, we’ve had our troubles over the years what with one thing and another.  There was my father, God rest him, who broke his neck up there on the scree when he was rounding up his sheep.  The there was…”  “Yes, old man.  But who did you give this gold to?”  He looked at me again.   Sharpish. “Who were the fools?”  I said.

He spat contemptuously. “The dam builder!  He was the last one that I saw up here.  Sent buy the government to build a dam and flood the valley!  He gave me four hundred pounds and I gave him some gold.  That was our bargain.  That was the last I saw of him, and nobody’s been near the place since.  Except you.  But you’re not a fool, are you?  Not from the government, are you?”

“Listen dad.  How much gold did you give him?  For four hundred pounds, I mean?”  It was incredible.  I just sat there and couldn’t believe it.  And I was so scared it made my teeth chatter.  “Wait now and I’ll show you!”  He went off, and came back with a ragged bundle and it must have weighed a ton by the way he was carrying it.  He dumped it at my feet.  “That much!” he panted.

I couldn’t even look at the stuff.  I felt like I’d come upon Littlewoods and I was just waiting for the cheque to arrive. Christ!  No wonder the dam builder never came back.  He’d probably sent in a negative report and then quietly faded to the Bahamas!  “Listen carefully, old man.  I will give you two hundred pounds.”  I took out my wallet and waved a bunch of notes at him, “for half that gold and I will come back and buy some more from you with more money until we both have enough to build you a new farm fit for a king, and stock this valley with prime beef and best quality merino sheep.  Is it a deal?”

He looked at me with tears in his eyes.  “Boyo, bach, I liked the look of you when I saw you climbing up the valley.  And when you pitched your find tent on this ground where the old house stood, it made my hearts sing a welcome.  Go get the money.  Build us a farm.  I want to finish my days on this earth in comfort.  Go and get the money, boyo!”  He took the two hundred quid, and I let him have it.  What had I to lose?  Two hundred, chicken feed!

But he must have been a wiry old bird.  Half that gold was about all I could lift when I got my rucksack on my back.  I left the tent where it was, and all the rest of the gear.  What did I want with a tent?  I was on my way to join the dam builder!  It nearly killed me, but I practically ran all the way back to the car.  The old fool!  Why, I’d buy a four wheel drive land rover and ship the stuff out of the valley by the ton!

Down at the Llandrindidnod assay office, where they check the gold from the small mines, the chemist or clerk, or whatever he was, wouldn’t commit himself until he’d assayed the lot. Then he handed me a sheet of paper with his report written on it.  “What’s this lot mean then?”  I snapped, irritated to hell with his civil service and all the delay.

“It means,” he said, “that you’re the fifth gentleman to come up he in the past two years with a story about digging up gold.  You are wealthy to the tune of five pounds, which will just about cover my fee.  The assay reveals ninety nine percent of iron pyrites and one nugget of eight carat gold.  What’s that you say?  Had you fooled, did it?  Paid a lot of money for it, did you now?  Better go and see the police, boyo, although, mind you, they won’t like you for digging without a prospector’s licence.”

 “Who owns the valley, can you tell me?” I croaked.  “What valley, boyo?  Here show me on the map.”  I pointed to it.  “Why, nobody owns it,” he said.  “It’s National Trust, you can see that on the map, look you!”

I’d torn the big ends out of the car getting that junk out of the valley, so I had to hitch back to the smoke.  I went back to work, which was O.K. because the firm was on staggered holidays. Well, what else could I do?  But next summer, I’ll track that old devil to his lair up in the hills and knock his block off.

“Jok Orr”


Pant Mawr Pothole

by Graham Wilton-Jones

We arrived at Penwyllt prepared for a photographic trip into O.F.D.  However, the day was warm and the sky cloudless.  These conditions prevailed for weeks, and the moor top peat was dusty dry.  We decided to take the opportunity for visit Pant Mawr Poy, which is about three miles from Penwyllt and tow miles from Cwm Pwll-y-Rhydd.  Since the latter route starts with a steep climb from the Nedd Fechan, we took the easier, though longer route.

It is easy for follow the old quarry railway track up a gentle slope past O.F.D. Column Hall area, past several limestone quarries and up the Byfre valley to the sandstone quarries around Pwll Byrfre.  The sink here is not spectacular, the water from this stream sinking at several points in mud and boulders.  Undoubtedly this section of O.F.D. is solidly blocked with washed out moraine.

By following the east-west wall above Pwll Byfre we eventually arrived, hot and thirsty, at a particular high point on Pant Pawr from which the view was magnificent.  The whole of the lower, northern side of the moor is covered in holes, many of them quite large, and some in very obvious rows.  Clearly, there is much to be found here for someone who doesn’t mind plenty of walking and, perhaps, plenty of digging.  None of the hollows are obviously stream sinks.

To the north of the wall, there is one large and obvious sink.  Pant Mawr Pothole is less than a hundred yards south of this, but was easy to find in the clear weather as the fence posts around the pot appear white against the heather.

We left the path, and headed straight for the pothole through the thick heather, which was buzzing with bees and small insects and alive with little spiders.  Ravens were roving the skies above while grouse lurked around the damp peaty hollows.  However, the sound of cool fresh water at the bottom of the pothole lured us below.

The top half of the pot is roughly conical with a very steep southern side and a slightly less steep northern side, dropping down thirty feet or forty feet to a ledge.  From this ledge, there is a sheer drop of fifty five feet.

Using handline and lifeline, we dropped down to the ledge and inserted two rawlbolts.  On unrolling the ladder, we realised that we had only forty five feet.  However, we set up tackle and I descended first, being very dehydrated by now.  The ladder was ten feet short – I wondered what cavers do when they use the recommended fifty foot ladder? Fortunately, at thirty five feet there is a wide ledge.  By swinging on the ladder I got a foot on the ledge and a hand into a vertical crack. Once on the ledge, I found an easy climb down to the floor of the pot.  A thirty fife foot ladder would be sufficient, with a ten foot length of cord at the bottom to tie the ladder to the ledge.  Ever tried jumping onto a ladder which is hanging five feet away in space?

We took a look at the upstream series first.  The water comes through a narrow rift which has some superb shelving – unusual in Wales.  Beyond this is a waterfall in a side aven but the passage goes on a little way as a rift. This can be climbed to a bedding plane. In turn, this leads to the top of the waterfall in one direction and away below the moor, close to the surface in the other.

Downstream, the passage is large and is possible to walk for most of the way.  There are roof falls and consequent boulder chokes in a few places. One fall is a direct result of limestone breaking off the overlying shale bed.  Here, the roof is visibly bowed towards the centre and further falls are imminent!  Another fall has been caused by phreatic tubes spreading into a bedding plane development a feet or so above the existing roof.  Again, there is a danger of further collapse, although this is not so acute here.

Climbing over one of these boulder chokes, we passed through a long but low chamber, well decorated with straws and small stalactites.  From this point onwards, the stream passage, which forms most of the cave, is well decorated with stal, though much of this is rather muddy.  This is not the fault of cavers but is due to frequent and extensive sumping.

From the boulder choke downwards, the cave is liable to severe flooding and though it appeared to be safe in certain places, it would not be wise to rely on these.  A soft, black, organic mud clings to the roof and walls in many places as a warning.

There are some large chambers off to the west of the main stream passage, but we did not visit these. Although they constitute an important section of the cave geomorphologically – considering the past connection with O.F.D., they are not a large percentage of the total passage length. Instead, we continued down to the fire hydrant where a torrent of water, as much as the main stream, issues from an impenetrable fissure in the low roof at the west side of the main passage. From about thirty feet back up the passage, from a hole up in the west wall, a stream could be heard.  We persuaded Bert to enter the hole and have a look, and forced him literally upwards and inwards.  After a quarter of an hour, there was still no sign of him, so Buckett climbed up and disappeared after him.  For three quarters of an hour I pottered about while Bert and Bucket followed a narrow stream passage trending northwards.  They did not reach the end, as time, energy and enthusiasm wore out.  There were a number of cross rifts, some un-entered.  Surprisingly, there is no surface stream of catchment area that could give rise to such a large stream, so its source remains a mystery.  The extraction of the pair of explorers back into the main passage was most amusing as they both returned head first.  It should be mentioned that the hole through which they had to emerge was squeeze size and almost eight feet pup a sheer wall. The rest can be imagined!

From here, we continued downstream.  The passage rapidly became narrower and lower with a gravel floor.  Eventually it degenerates into a crawl and, with the sump not far off, we decided to return.  The journey back to the surface took less that half an hour.  The total time underground was three and a half hours. If anyone wishes to visit Pant Mawr Pot, you need a letter of permission to walk over the moor, so it is wise to write in advance.


The Five Caves Show

Ann and Kangy King – August 1970.

In southern France is the Auvergne, a region of outstanding natural beauty. It divides naturally into the gorges of the Tarn, the Cevennes and the Bas Languedoc.  It is three hours journey north east of Toulouse.

This vast limestone area or causse is cut out by rivers into long deep gorges.  It is a region of caves, large well decorated grottoes, appreciated and commercialised by natives.  They have energetically tunnelled into them most spectacularly to make them show caves which are, in some cases, even provided with railways. Martel, the great name in the region, opened up the causses to tourists by his explorations and writings.  His achievements, even by today’s standards are impressive and at the time (1880’s) were incredible.

Signs on all the roads show the way to the five listed caves.  This and the Green Michelin Guide, makes finding them easy.  The guide has also contributed substantially to this article!

DARGILAN has a spectacular situation high on the side of the Joute Gorge.  It was found in the eighteenth century but such is the wild and remote nature of the country that it was forgotten and not rediscovered until 1880 by a shepherd.  He spoke about it to someone and eventually Martel explored it (the known cave) in 1888, taking four days to do it and nearly losing one of the team in a twenty foot fall.  Soon after, ladders were put in and the cave opened to visitors.  Electric light was laid on in 1910.

The decorated part starts directly at the entrance, and is a big hall with plenty of columns.  The hall is 460 feet long by 130 feet wide and over a hundred feet high.  From here there is a natural shaft, now equipped with concrete stairs, which leads to the lower passages and chambers.  These contain notably, a wall of red, brown, yellow and white drapery 330 feet long by 130 feet high; a lake, and finally one crowning glory of “Le Clocher” – a really superb formation over sixty feet high.  This terminates the cave and the passages are retraced to the entrance.  A cavey sort of trip.

AVEN ARMAND is billed as the start of the region, and may be imagined in form as a monster Pen Park Hole or Lamb Leer, with a hundred foot sloping tunnel equipped with an electric funicular railway and a loud speaker urgently crackling that the next tour start in two minutes each fifteen minutes.  Martel had been poking into holes with the assistance of Louis Armand, the blacksmith of Rozier.  On the 18th September, 1887, Armand came back from the causse very excited and told Martel that he had come across an enormous hole with great possibilities. The next day, Martel, Armand and Vire took their ladders to the hole with the aid of local men.

Armand went down and at the bottom of a 250 foot pitch found incredible formations.  Martel and Vire went down the day after.  The cave was opened after some difficulty in 1927.

Concrete staircases everywhere in conjunction with the railway make the visit very easy.  The first view of the vast chamber is from the balcony, where the three hundred by two hundred by a hundred and fifteen foot high hall makes a great impression.  Conducted by uniformed guides, the tour continues down the steps and through great plantations of amazingly shaped stalagmites, the whole dwarfed by the great high roof.

After the organised order of the Aven Armand tour, the less glittering BRAMABIAU is presented like a very poor relation.  No big car park, no loudspeaker announcements.  Just a good looking girl in a wooden shed to give you tickets, and her small brother to tear them in half and take you round.  Relatively speaking, it is hard trip with half an hour walk on a steep muddy path before reaching the resurgence.  This is an underground ‘river’ type of show cave, with no formations but beautifully situated in a deeply cut gorge with the river emerging as a waterfall.  An evocative print in the Michelin Guide shows Martel and his mates tugging a wooden boat up a waterfall.  He made the first traverse from resurgence to sink on the 27th and 28th June 1888. This was a distance of 2,200 feet. Later explorations revealed about six miles of passages.  Regrettably, the tourist trip hardly leaves the daylight.  However, it is still worthwhile to visit if only to enjoy the effect of contre-jour on the way back, and exploring the gorge, both top and bottom.

Martel is also associated with the GROTTE DES DEMOISELLES, discovered in 1770 and explored by him in 1884. It is of a similar type to Aven Armand, except that the entrance tunnel that was blasted for the railway slopes upwards.

The Grotte des Demoiselles is remarkable for its lack of visible rock – all is absolutely covered in stal flow.  The trip is presented nicely too.  There is a preliminary tour of interesting and well decorated passages and chambers, and then suddenly the huge central chamber is seen at the head of a zig-zagging stair which leads into the beautiful detail of the main hall. Sentimentally, its name comes from a particularly large virgin and child shaped stalagmite which holds pride of place. Everywhere glitters with particularly well lighted formations and the final passages are no exception.

CLAMOUSE completes the five. As Martel died in 1938 at the age of 79, he missed this one which was entered during an exceptional drought by its sump in 1945. Tunnelling to avoid this sump was completed and the cave opened to visitors in 1964.

The route through the cave and the lighting has been very well done.  The whole cave is beautifully coloured and glistens with life.  Time after time, corners are turned to reveal magnificent views of cave scenery, well decorated in general and intricate detail. The ceilings are particularly fine with long straws and erratics in great profusions.

Of all the five caves, this was the most intelligently treated.  Commercialisation, with its ability to provided powerful lighting has brought out the beauties which are normally hidden from the cavers lamp.  No rather vulgar coloured lights, as are used in Aven Armand, are to be found here- simply plenty of white lighting well placed.  This may be one of the most satisfying show caves for the caver that there is.


Monthly Crossword – Number 17.



















































































5. Bit eel cut in Cuthbert’s. (9)
6. How’s that for a commercial cave. (4)
7. Found in crystalline deposit. (4)
8. Direction in which we stagger after Hunters?. (4)
10. Passage wall. (4)
11. Rustled G.G.?  Caved hard in any case. (9)


1. Local parish is without it but we have it. (9)
2. Loud and deep indication of stream. (4)
3. What goes on these sounds plain to us. (4)
4. Keeps feet dry in wet rift passage? (9)
9. Nonmagnetic bearing? (4)
10. Keeps his pot on the Hunter’s? (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword



















































































Belfry Bulletin numbers 263 to 269 were skipped when the editor found he couldn’t count, so they do not exist.