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


Masters Of Membership

From time to time, matters affecting the qualifications required for membership of the club get discussed at meetings of the committee.  A point which recently arose on this subject was that a few small groups of individuals fail to make effective contact with the remaining membership of the club.  The B.E.C. has, for most of its life, been happily free from any forms of clique or faction and this is a characteristic which has been, and should be, carefully preserved by committee action if need be.  Applicants for membership are traditionally expected to make themselves known to a reasonable cross section of the club before applying, and this is a point which may well be regarded more carefully by the committee in future. Existing members who make little or no attempt to integrate could, in theory at any rate, fail to get their membership ratified on the grounds that they are insufficiently known – a matter which new members may well like to consider.


November is the month when traditionally the B.B. prints a list of member’s names and addresses.  If yours is incorrect in any way, please get in touch with Alan and let us know where you really lived!

Christmas B.B.

The usual attempt will be made to have a bigger that usual B.B. for Christmas.  How big it is depends on what gets sent in for publication. In addition to the more normal articles etc., humorous article are welcomed at Christmas.  Any Offers?



Some people don’t know the Hon. Secs. new address yet.  The full address plus postcode and telephone number is: -

Alan Thomas,
Allen’s House,
Ninebarrows Lane,

And the telephone number is PRIDDY 269


Tinkering Around in Perthshire

by Steve Grimes

Editor’s Note:

When he sent this in, Steve wrote ‘I know this is not the usual sort of thing for the B.B. to print, but it does show how you can get away to the hills with a young family and no car.  We wonder just how many formerly keen cavers of climbers have quietly faded away after marriage and the arrival of a family because of the handicaps of a baby and the resulting tight financial situation.  This article shows what can be done, and we look forward to hearing from anyone else who can give similar encouragement to those who are feeling that their active outdoor lives must stop when they became parents.         The summer holiday period was looming large on the horizon.  The baby was flat on its back showing no inclination to move, or even attempt to move under its own steam and the car was secreted away on a patch of waste ground sans road tax.  What to do and where to go under these circumstances had become an evening talking point for weeks.  We didn’t want to spend the time with parents and we couldn’t even afford a special discount Billy Butlin’s holiday sickness session.

The germ of going camping gradually buzzed its way round my head.  No car would mean travelling light.  That would be a joke in itself, considering the mountain of gear needed to keep a seven month old squalling brat on the hill.  It had filled the car on our Whit. weekend in Glen Coe!

Then there was the fact that we didn’t want to have the bother of changing trains, so that point should be limited us to the east side of Scotland.  Out came the maps, and we at last decided to use Pitlochry as the jumping off point, and then walk around lochs Tummelo and Rannoch.  We eventually sorted out the logistics by various subtle mods to the high pram.  I built a small rack to fit on the chassis ands on this rack to fit the crockery, tea towels etc.  This was all covered by a polythene sheet.  Aft of this was strapped a gallon petrol container and the petrol stove, the whole lot being lashed down with big bungies.  On the port side, lashings were attached to take the tent (Blacks, mountain) and the starboard side was similarly equipped to take the sleeping bags and the dog’s blanket.  Over this last were strapped the cooking gear.  More, however, is to come!  In these large prams, there is a very cunningly concealed double bottom.  I have the impression that before the advent of plastic pants, this was designed as a soak away for babies’ effluent.  On this occasion, we used it to stow away the tins of Heinz baby foods required to keep the thing stoked up to ten days. Our particular pram had a sort of folding mattress which could be locked in position to keep the occupant in a sitting posture.  This we locked in place and used the cavity thus exposed to stow the other tinned food required, dog meat, beans, fruit and the rest.

Dorothy had my Whillans Alpinistic sac packed with disposable nappies and hers and the baby’s spare clothes and I had a Yukon pack stuffed with my gear and the rest of the food.  Our evening meals were invariable Vesta food packs preceded by packet soup and followed by tinned fruit.  The luxuries consisted of a transistor radio strapped to the pram handle and three books packed around the baby.

Come the Saturday morning and we caught the first train to Pitlochry.  We arrived there about noon and, after two attempts, finally found the correct way to cross the railway line.  We then had our lunch down by the river just below the hydro dam.  Lunch over; we set off down the road in the direction of Tummel Bridge.  We used the road on the south side of the loch, as the motorised tourist tend to use the double track road on the north side and they can then stop and visit Queen’s View, which looks straight down both lochs.

On that first day, we walked about seven miles, passing a very fine monument erected to the memory of the men who died while digging the Tummel hydro tunnel.  We found a very pleasant little place just off the road and went into what was soon to become a familiar routine.  I erected the tent, while Dorothy had the sleeping bags out and sorted the evening’s nosh; I leapt into the countryside and collected wood. One cupful of petrol on the woodpile, followed swiftly by a match and bang!  Instant fire or deluge of wood depending on the amount of petrol used. The baby was fed first and then bedded down, after which I cooked the evening meal and then we had time for a wee read before retiring.

The next day, we strolled down the loch side to Trummel Bridge where there is a caravan site.  It had rained during the walk and our spirits were rather low as we went into the campsite. Humour soon brightened things up, though.  I went to the reception desk to book in and pay our dues and the wee manny behind the desk got his ledger out and took my name, rank and number and then got around to transport.

“Car?” he said. 

“Alwin, Mark I!”, I said. 

“Registration letters and numbers?” 


Quizzical look, followed by the dawning of comprehension as he saw the travelling circus, as by this time we had begun to call it, parked outside.

The night was ruddy awful to say the least.  The petrol stove refused to run on stale petrol, and the filling station down the road was closed.  The bairn refused to take cold food and eventually grizzled herself to sleep. The ground was rock hard, as this was essentially as caravan site, so that sleep did not come easily.

As we were leaving next morning en route for Kinloch Rannoch, my dog savaged and put to flight a big, soft and poncy Alsatian.  The petrol pump attendant thought this was fantastic and asked what breed my beast was and quite gullibly took down ‘Hebridean Fighting Dog’ while we went on our way chuckling to ourselves.

That evening, we found a really idyllic camp site on the shores of Loch Rannoch.  There was plenty of dead timber around for a campfire and a luxuriant covering of grass on the ground.  The stayed there for two days lounging in the sun, drinking tea and beer and swimming in the loch.

After a rather nerve-racking walk along the main road from Trummel Bridge to Kinlock Rannoch (there was no footpath beside the road) we decided to take the road which goes up the initial slopes of Schiehallion (3,547’) as it would be quieter.  We didn’t walk very far, as the sun was really scorching down and the road was very steep.  At about 2 pm, we found a beautiful little place about two hundred yards from the road by the side of a wee burn.  It was a fine turfy patch which nestled inside a meander with a few trees sheltering it from the worst of the wind.  We took the opportunity to do our washing here and soon the place looked like a real tinker’s hideout with washing swinging from lines stretched between the trees and naked baby gurgling around.

That evening, while we were sitting out looking up at the hills, we decided to climb them on the following day.  I had made a wee seat for my pack frame on which to sit the bairn, so all we had to hope for was good weather.  The day dawned clear and at about eleven am, we shambled off to climb Schiehallion and headed for the east ridge. This ridge was a lot further away than it looked.  During our ascent, the clag built up and dropped down over the hilltop. Eventually we reached the summit – a huge boulder field which the dog did not like very much.  After the usual orgy of photography, we departed and landed back at the tent at about half past five in the afternoon.  While we were at the summit, we were surrounded by a horde of boy scouts who thought that they had done very well until they saw Julia.

The next day saw our longest march – seventeen miles back to the camp site of the first day.  We didn’t really notice the distance until we stopped – then it hurt.  We made our way back to Pitlichry and waited for the train by the riverside again – in glorious sunshine, getting home to Inverkeithing at about nine in the evening. It was a fantastic holiday which cost us £5 each for the rail fare and 13/6 for a lovely coffee jug which Dorothy just couldn’t resist.


Just a Sec

Tim Large, of 16 Meade House, Wedgwood Road, Twerton, Bath has taken over as caving Sec., and in future he will be the man responsible for the issue of Charterhouse permits.  Fairy Cave Quarry permits and the G.B. and August/Longwood keys.

The Annual Dinner again was a great success and, as usual, there was the same battery of minor complaints. It just seems that you can’t please everybody on that scale.  The proprietors of the restaurant endeavoured to remedy for this year, the complaints that we received last year.  Now is the time to hear of any shortcomings which can be remedied while they are still in our minds.

Bob tells me that there are one or two people who still have not paid for the dinner.  If we are compelled to issue tickets next year, it may mean some extra delay in getting your ticket sent to you on time and will almost certainly add to the cost of the dinner.  Perhaps those who have not paid will get in touch with Bob as soon as possible.


Members Addresses


Miss J.A. Abell

Cleveland Hotel, Pultney Street, Bath


T. Andrews

186 Courtland Avenue, Lodon SE12


P. Allen

7 Westbourne Place, Clifton, Bristol 8


J. Bacon

School Farm House, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol


Bob Bagshaw

699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon


Mike Baker

22 Riverside Gardens, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon


Miss J. Barke

10 Queens Parade, Bristol


Kevin Barnes

Officer’s mess, 17 T.R.C. Regt. R.A. Woolwich. London


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

14 Monkseaton drive, Whitley Bay, Northumberland


B. Britton

180 Cheltenham Road, Bristol 6


R. Brown

24 Cranleigh Gardens, Luton, Bedfordshire


Viv Brown

3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol


D.M. Bryant

The Shakespeare, Lower Redland Road, Bristol 8


J. Bugler

Dudley College of Education, Castle View, Dudley, Worcs.


Geoff Bull

2 Maple Close, EastcotePinner, Middlesex


G. Butler

37 Tweedy Road, Bromley, Kent


R. Bidmead

4 Dine Grove, Bristol


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



The College of education, Bognor Regis, Sussex


J. Churchward

15 Jamaica street, Bristol 1


Colin Clark

18 Church Lane, Bedminster, Bristol


Alan Coase

4 Sutton Close, Oadby, Leicester


Clare Coase

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



2 Westbourne Villas, Westbourne Place, Clifton, Bristol 8


Phil Coles

Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset


Alfie Collins

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


D. Cooke-Yarborough

36 Russell Road, Bristol 5


John Cornwall

259 Wick Road, Bristol


W. Cooper

Ordnance Survey Office, Elmgrove, Halfpenny Lane, Pontefract,


Bob Cross

Handsworth, Pilgrims Way, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent


I.M. Daniels

2106 14th Street, PO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada


Frank Darbon

Camp V, Neighbourne, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset


Mrs Davies



Len Dawes

223 Southwark Park, Bermondsey, London SE10


Garth Dell

5 Millground Road, Witheywood, Bristol 3


Colin Dooley

497A City Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham 17


Ken Dobbs

85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon


N. Downes

18 Combe Street Lane, Yeovil, Somerset


John Eatough

116 Nwbridge Road, Brislington, Bristol 4


Bryan Ellis

7 School Lane, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


C. Falshaw

23 Hallen 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

16 Kings Street, Avonmouth, Bristol


Pete Franklin

16 Kings Street, Avonmouth, Bristol


Keith Franklin

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


M. Fricker

26 Summerhill, St. George, Bristol 5


R.C. Gander

2 Rock Street, Croscombe, Wells, Somerset


P. Giles

1 Springfield Way, Hythe. Kent


Keith Gladman

29 Shenfield Road, Brentwood, Essex


Dave Glover

Longwood, Forest Lane, Tadley, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants.


Jane Glover

Longwood, Forest Lane, Tadley, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants


P. Godley

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


D.A. Greenwood

42 St. David’s drive, South Anston, Sheffield


Steve Grime

West highland School of Adventure, Applecross, Nr, Kyle of Lochalsh, Ross-shire, Scotland



12 Chertsey road, Redland, Bristol


Chris Hall



Nigel Hallet

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


P. Hamm

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


Mrs Hamm

Lowlands, Orchard Close, East Hendred, Berks.


Mervyn Hannam

The Diocesan Registry, Wells, Somerset


C.W. Harris

Byways, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


Chris Harvey

Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset


Dan Hassell

24 Elberton Road, Westbuty-on-Trym, Bristol


M. Hauan

23 Maynard Road, Hartcliffe, Bristol 6


Anne Henley

33 triangle East, Oldfield Park, Bath, somerset


D. Herbert

14c The orchard, High Street, Lower Cam, Nr. Dursley, Glos.


J. Hill

Hokerstone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Sid Hobbs

26 Dorset Road, Henleaze, Bristol


T. Hodgson



George Honey

Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden


B. Howe

48 Martins Road, Hanham, Bristol


P. Hudson

15 Glentawe Park Estate, Wind Road, Ystradgynlais, Wales


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



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


D. Jones

Shortwood View, Kingswood, 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



R. Kitchen

Flat 1B, Mill close, Trimley, St. Martin, Felixstowe, Suffolk


J. Lamb

Broadmeadows, Padstow Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall


Tim Large

16 Mendip House, Wedgewood Road, Twerton, Bath, Somerset


J. Laycock

41 Woodlands Park, Quedgeley, Glos.


Miss M. Linnell

47 Berkeley Road, Westbury Park, Bristol


P. Littlewood

257 Chichester Road, Bognor Regis, Sussex.


Mrs Littlewood

257 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


John Major

10 Blenheim Road, Redland, Bristol 6


Mrs Major

16 Kings Street, Avonmouth, Bristol


J. Manchip

90 Grove Street, Edinburgh, Scotland


C.A. Marriott

Bruhlbergstrasse 15. apt 21. 8400 Winterhur, Switzerland


R. Marshall

23 Highbury Villas, Bristol 2


T. Marston

50 The Deans, Downlands, Portishead, Bristol


E.J. Mason

11 Kendon Drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Tony Meaden

127 Mulford Road, Yeovil Somerset


D. Metcalf

R.A.F. Wittering, Hants.


S. Miller

27 Walnut Way, South Ruislip, Middlesex


N. Monk

7 Little Stoke Road, Bristol 9


K. Murray

17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7


S. McManus

10 Embleton Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


A. Nash

22 Stuart Street, Bristol


Henry Oakley

45 Greenway, Stockwell, London SW9


J. Orr

c/o The Belfry


D. Palmer

29 John Wesley Road, St. George, Bristol 3


Mike Palmer

27 Roman Way, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


R. Price

Heath End Road, Alsager, Stoke-on-Trent


Sheila Paul

6 Cricketer’s close, Chessington, surrey


J. Pearce

22 Tiverton Drive, New Eltham London, SE9


R. Perrin

30 Cotham Grove, Cotham, Bristol 6


Les Peters

21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon


Norman Petty

Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol


Tony Philpott

3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon


Brenda Plummer

2 Hogarth Walk, Lockleaze, Bristol


T.S. Pardoe

36 Alexandra Park, Redland, Bristol 6


A.E. Pearce

5 Clomer Road, Yeovil, Somerset


Brian Prewer

East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset


Colin Priddle

19 Stottbury, Horfield, Bristol 7


G.V. Phippen

Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol


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

30 Ramsey Road, Horfield, Bristol 7


A Rich

Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada


N. Rich

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


R. Richards

704 Heldeberg, Goel road, Berea, Johannesburg, South Africa


J. Riley



G. Rowles

27 Wedmore Vale, Bristol


G.G. Robinson

49 Elton Road, Bishopston, Bristol 6



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


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

Fairthorne Rise, Basingstoke, 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. Sell

51 Swiss Road, Ashton Vale, Bristol 3


R.A. Setterington

4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset


R. Setterington

4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4


William Smart

P.O. Box 121, Muscat, Muscat and Oman, Arabia


Dave Smith

Flat 15, 193 Wensley Road, Coley Park, Reading, Berks.


J.M. Stafford

Bryher, 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


D. Stuckey

34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3


P. Sutton

56 Arley Hill, Redland, Bristol 6


Derek Targett

16 Phillis Hill, Midsomer Norton


A.R. Thomas

83 coronation Road, Southville, Bristol 3


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


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

154 Sylvia Avenue, Bedminster, Bristol 3.


A. Tringham

Longwood, Beggar Bush Lane, Redland, Bristol


Jill Tuck

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


Steve Tuck

27 Woodbury Avenue, Wells, Somerset


Dave Turner

31 Nightingale Gardens, Nailsea, Bristol


P. Turner

1 Rolleston Road, 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


P. Waterfall

7 Summer hill Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset


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

St. Cuthbert’s Villas, Haybridge, Wells, Somerset


J. White

St. Mary’s Cottage, strawberry Hill, Tickenham, Middlesex


R. Wickens

12 Keble Court, Craig-y-Rhacca, Machen, Monmouthshire


P. Wilkins

51 Constable Road, Lockleaze, Bristol


Barry Wilton

22 Wedmore vale, Knowle, Bristol 4


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


Dave Yeandle

59 Egerton Road, Bristol 7

PLEASE NOTE:  If you know of any mistakes in any of the B.E.C. members addresses in this list, PLEASE get in touch with the correct address and let Alan Thomas, or John Ransom have it.


Book Review

The Great Storm and Floods of July 1968 on Mendip.  J.D. Hanwell & M.D. Newson.  Wessex Cave Club.

One cannot be failed to be impressed by the professionalism of the Wessex Series of Occasional Publications.  This one, number 2 in the series, has the same glossy cover – but this time with colour added, and the same high standard of litho text and illustrations.  It is, perhaps, a pity that in format and binding it differs so much from No.1, and one wonders whether some greater concession to uniformity of the series could not have been achieved.    This criticism apart, the subject matter has been treated with the high standard we are coming to expect from this series.  Although the authors have collected a truly impressive amount of relevant data they have been careful to point out those areas in which firm data is lacking and have refrained from conclusions or predictions based upon extrapolation of their data.  The result is a booklet which should prove a useful work or reference to specialists on the effects of heavy storms on a Karst area, and on the dangers of flooding in caves is of particular relevance.  At 12/-. a good buy – even if it is not read in its entirety.

The Complete Caves of Mendip.  Nicholas Barrington & W. Stanton.  Barton Productions.

It seems unlikely that any Mendip caver would quarrel with the inclusion of the word ‘complete’ in the title.  Within its 131 pages will be found useful references to ALL Mendip caves known to the authors at the time of printing ranging from well known caves and caves and which have since been abandoned.  Even lost caves of Cheddar and Burrington get a mention!  In spite of this great mass of cave information, reference is very rapid and simple and the authors have obviously taken much trouble over this aspect of the work.  With its greatly improved layout, important in heavy type, easily found references both to the O.S. maps and to its own sketch maps of the main cave bearing areas and a wealth of other information; it is surely a must for every caver.  It is strongly bound and fist the pocket easily and at 12/-; 75p or 6.5 pints of cooking bitter; it must be regarded as a part of any Mendip cavers equipment.  The authors are to be congratulated on a thoroughly useful book which treats Mendip caves in a more comprehensive fashion than the equivalent books do for other British caving areas.


If YOU come across an interesting book on caving, climbing or other allied subject, the B.B. would appreciate a review.  In addition to the books in the club library, many cavers form libraries of their own, and might appreciate YOUR thoughts on any new book.


Monthly Crossword – Number 6.          



















































































1. Regularly mixed in G.B. (7)
5. 5 found in Sago’s Pot (3)
6. Found in many compasses (5)
8. Herbal mixing of  1 down (4)
11. Swallet in Horseshoes bat hanging (4)
12. Satanic joint (5)
14. This, though shortened will ignite with a bang (3)
15. Bass lie – (goes downstream at any rate) (7)


1. Underground route starts with mountain route (7)
2. Egg or feature of G.B. (5)
3. ‘A man may have lust for the….of the mine’ (4)
4. Initially chairman of our A.G.M. (1,1,1)
7. Dull ham in Cuthbert’s (3,4)
9. 14 across does (5)
10. A Banwell cave (4)
13. Scientific workplace in the Slabhouse Inn (3)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

Stencils completed 3.12.70

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


Staying Power

The annual preparation of the list of member’s names and addresses which is part of the November B.B. is a task which generates a certain amount of regret for the absence of more and more well-known names with each succeeding year.

Since the B.E.C. has been in existence for a large number of years now, and well over seven hundred people have, at one time or another, been club members, to do a bit of analysis on the figures and to see what came out.

In fact, over the last thirty years, the figures show a very good degree of consistency.  Thus, it can be stated with reasonably accuracy that, at any period of time, about 16% of the total membership will have joined the club within the last two years.  About 40% will have been members for less than four years – and the club’s “half life” or the period of time where half the members will be of less and half of more membership length – is five and a half years.  40% of those present will have been members for more than 7½ years while just over a quarter will have been in the club for over 12½ years.

Those are some of the figures for the total membership at any one time, but what are your chances: If you have just joined, there is less than an even chance that you will still be with us in three years time – only 47% of those joining today will reach this stage.  After this, if you survive the first three years with us, the picture begins to brighten.  A quarter of those joining today should be able to put on a barrel in 1980 to celebrate their ten years of caving – or decadence as it is known in the club. One in every eight should be able to celebrate their double decadence and over half of those will one day, in the year 2010, be able to claim that they have been associated with the B.E.C. for no less than forty years!

It was mentioned earlier that the figures for the B.E.C. show a very good degree of consistency, but obviously, there must be odd ‘bumps’ in the curves.  These ‘bumps’ are not sufficient to make general conclusions invalid, but they do exist.  If for example, your membership lies between 50 and 100 or between 300 and 400, you belong to groups which have better than average records for length of club membership. On the other hand, if your number lies between 100 and 200, you may congratulate yourself as not being typical of your contemporaries, who mainly left the club before their ‘natural’ lifeline was up.

If anyone is interested in the actual figures, these can be made available on application to the editor.

Next Year’s B.B.

Although the editorial matter for the Christmas B.B. has to be written before it is known how large the B.B. will be, it looks very doubtful that it will be a particularly large one by Christmas standards, and will be certainly a long way behind Dave Irwin’s record breaker of last year.

This time next year will see the end of volume 25 of the B.B. and it is hoped that the start of the B.B.’s second quarter of a century might be the occasion to bring it out in better form.  To this end, a scheme has just been put into operation to make sure that the regular features are produced regularly, so that the 1971 B.B. can come out more on time than did this year’s.  Whether it will be possible to make further improvements must, as always, depend on YOU. Some people have responded very well to the appeal for articles BUT NOT ENOUGH.  A few more people contributing perhaps three or four times during 1971 will make all the difference.  How about it?




Monthly Notes Number 37

By “Ben.”

Away Trips.  Although more ambitious things had been planned, the recent B.E.C. and S.M.C.C. trip to Yorkshire ended up as an amble down Bar Pot to the more accessible parts of Gaping Gill, where some photographs were taken.  The next trips should prove more interesting and are:- JAN 9TH – BIRKS FELL CAVE and JAN 3RD – MARBLE SINK POT.

St. Cuthbert’s News.  The weekend diggers (C. Priddle, G. Phippen and T. Large) have dug through the original end of the unusually dry stream passage below Cone Chamber and reached a constricted flooded rift which is thought to be fairly close to Continuation Chamber.  Sump I is still fighting back.  Martin Webster had had to dive it with air for the for the second time so that it could be bailed and the pipes refurbished.  A week later, the sump was again flooded, and the Tuesday night diggers are considering leaving it that way until the drier summer weather arrives. As a diversion, the choke downstream from Traverse Chamber has been dug through by the Tuesday team.  This now offers a quick, wet and thixatropic alternative to Bypass Passage.  It is hoped to enlarge it to make a feasible rescue route from the bottom of the cave. As such, it will probably always be rather wet but could save a considerable amount of time.

Stoke Lane Practice Rescue.  The recent C.D.G. practice rescue through Sump I was quite successful and three people found it quite easy to guide the victim through the relative spacious underwater extensions of the sump, avoiding the awkward upstream exit used by cavers.

St. Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue.  As there were only sufficient people for two teams, it was decided to test the advantages that would be gained by using a rescue route via the Main Steam choke.  The first party carried from below Stalagmite Pitch to the Choke where the victim disembarked from the carrying sheet and went round Bypass Passage.  Both the haul up the pitch, via the outside route, and the subsequent carry were found to be quite easy and the whole section took about an hour.  The victim was then taken from Traverse Chamber to the top of Pulpit Pitch by the second party.  This also ran well at about an hour and a half.  Pulpit Pitch was rigged for hauling from the bottom.  There was a little difficulty at the top because of insufficient numbers, as at least three people are required to take the victim up the last few feet which are above the effective height of the pulley.  The cast was as follows: - Victim: Tom Gage. First Party; Colin Clark, Dick Wickens, Martin Huaun, Pete Stobart, Colin Dooley, Roy Bennett (Leader). Second Party; Tim Large, Gerald Phippen, Bob Gander, Dave Turner, Steve Summerhayes, Martin Mills, Bob Craig (Leader). It was confirmed that it was a good route provided that the problems of the choke itself can be sorted out.

St. Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting.  The most important decisions to emerge from this meeting were to re-open Maypole Series and to remove five chains and the four rung ladder from the sixteen items of fixed tackle in the cave.  The B.E.C. committee accepted the Maypole decision but deferred the tackle because of the limited attendance of leaders at the leaders meeting. The question will be discussed again at the next leaders meeting on May 23rd.  A full report of the recent leaders meeting will follow.


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

Introduction to the Report:

Once a year, readers of the B.B. are only too well aware, it is the custom of the Belfry Bulletin Literary; Historical and Scientific Research Group to present its latest findings to an astonished world.

It is therefore not without pride that we are able this year to announce a happy blend of scientific and historical research.  (It’s a pity we couldn’t somehow drag literature in but, as our research leader says in his highly erudite fashion ‘you can’t not expect a ruddy miracle, cock!).

During the last year, an astounding scientific discovery by the B.B.L.B. & S.R.G. has revealed that certain rock crystals posses the property of being able to store sound – not unlike a magnetic tape recorder.  These crystals, however, soon become saturated and a result, only those sounds which were first heard on Mendip have been thus preserved as a unique record of prehistoric times.  It took many hours or patient work to sort out human speech from the roaring of lions and the howling of hyenas. – there not being a great deal of difference between them in those days – but the job was finally done, and it is with pride that we present this reconstruction of life at the time will require drastic revision in the light of what follows……

The Report

Lit by the smoky fire, the small band of cave dwellers sat around their evening meal in the Witches’ Kitchen of Wookey.  Only their leader, Oll, was not squatting with them and enjoying a meal of roast bos. Oll was standing (a trick first demonstrated by his great-great-grandfather to an admiring audience and since copied by one and all) band gazing at the water.  He was thinking.  (A trick his great-great-grandfather had never got around to).  He chewed absentmindedly on an old lion bone.

“Come and eat with us!” growled one of the young men.  “This roast is good!”

“I’m thinking., “Oll replied. “Where does all this water come from?  It must run right through the hill before it comes out here.”

“So what?  The water’s drinkable and it never dries up.  What more do we want to know about it?”

Oll turned on the young man. “Where’s your spirit of adventure, boy? Where’s your insatiably curiosity that will one day enable our descendants to do things like flying to the moon and inventing the cave surveying head?  If you spent more time thinking about things like cave exploration and invention and less time leering at those young cave girls up in Ebbor, we should make some worthwhile progress!”

“If you want us to invent things, you should encourage us more.  You wouldn’t listen to our latest invention!  We stamp about on a whole lot of apples and let the juices run into a lion skin that we cleaned and sewn up.  Then we hang it up for a long time before we drink it.”

“Pah!  Anyone can drink fruit juice!”

“Yes, but we give it to the girls in Ebbor and it makes them less fierce.  It’s much less tiring than chasing them; hitting them over the head with a club and dragging them all the way back here.  After they’ve finished being sick, they get quite docile.”

“H’mm.  It sounds and interesting invention, but our main job is to get down exploring this cave, and that means being able to breathe underwater. Now, if we take a hyena’s windpipe and sew it up to a lion’s stomach….”


Meanwhile, another small group of cave men were huddled round a fire in the dark at the top of No Barrows Hill art Priddy.  They had finished their meal and were talking.

“Why is it called No Barrows Hill anyway?” asked one of the men.  “Because there aren’t any barrows on it, fool!” replied their leader, Wig. “The barrows will come much later on and you won’t live to see them.  In fact, you won’t live much longer of you don’t run away from lions faster than you did today.”

“Why don’t we find a cave to live in, Wig?”  If we had a cave, we would have a place to stamp about on apples and leave the juice to stand for a few months.  Then we could feed it to those girl’s down in Wookey.”

“There’s a hole in the ground quite near here,” said another.  “If we climb down it, we could live in the cave below.”

“Who ever heard of cave men living in a swallet cave,” said a third.  “It just isn’t done.”

An argument broke out, in which fists, lion bones and clubs figured prominently.  Wig ignored this and thought.  At last he spoke.

“It’s not a bad idea at that!  Nor! You’re an ingenious sort of bloke!  Try to think of some sort of portable fire so that we can see what we’re doing when we get underground!  If we can do that, we shan’t have to spend all day running away from lions.  Maybe we’ll have enough time to start some kind of civilisation around these parts.  We could certainly do with some…”


“It’ll never work!” said one cave man to another, as the odd contraption of animal’s entrails which were tied by means of various parts of Oll, disappeared below the still waters of Wookey.  His companion continued to sit on the tree branch he had brought with him without speaking – watching the water where Oll had disappeared.

“What’s the matter?” asked the first man.  “And why are you sitting on that branch?”

“Oll said that I must keep a log all the time he is underwater.  He said it would be part of the procedure.”

Faced with this sort of bad joke, the first man went off in search of some apple juice.  His companion watched him go.  ‘No sense of humour!’ he muttered to himself.


“Well, Nor?” said Wig, as they once more met on the top of No Barrows Hill, “What’s that thing you’ve got there?”

“I call it a ladder. Its made of two long vines.”

“I can see that!  What are all those sticks doing in between them? I suppose you’re going to tell me that you call them rungs?”

“Actually, I do. They’ve got holes bored across each end, and the vines go through the holes.”

“Yes, I can see – but what stops these rungs of yours from slipping when you put all your weight on them?”

“Ah!  I’ve bored a hole I from one end of each rung to meet the hole where the vine goes through.  I’ve wedged a hyena tooth into each hole an that stops the rung from slipping.”


“Then I’ve taken some blueberries and made a dye and soaked the vines in it.”

“What for?”

“To show the ladder is ours, of course!  We don’t want other people borrowing our tackle and claiming it’s theirs, do we?”

“No I suppose not. It’s not all that bad Nor!  Given steel wire and dural, the same principle would make a damn strong ladder, but I suppose that’ll have to wait.  You had better make a few more and keep some sort of record.  Bash some marks on a rock, or something.  You could give us a report once a year on how much of this tackle we had.”

Wig turned to the next man of the tribe.  “What have you come up with, Ben?”

“It’s a thing I’ve called a candle.  You take apiece of bamboo and put a bit of dry vine down the middle.  Then you stuff up the bottom with clay and pour lion fat in. When it’s set, you split the bamboo away and light the top of the vine.  Look!  I’ll demonstrate!”

“Not bad at all! It cast no treacherous shadows!”

“Can we start to explore the cave now, Wig?”

“Well, we’ve got all the stuff we need, so we must wait and hour then we can go in.”

“Why can’t we go in right away?”

“Because we’ve got to start off all the traditions properly.  Whoever heard of a Mendip caving trip starting on time?”

Two hours later, the small band made its way to the depression and Nor slung his ladder down the hole.  Swallet caving had begun.


Of course we believe you, Oll!” said one of the young Wookey men who had clustered around him as he emerged, wet but triumphant from the water.  “But how are we to explore these new parts of the cave you have discovered without some sort of fire that we can take through with us?”

“We’ll find some way! Perhaps we can wrap up a flint and some tinder in a hyena’s stomach and light a fire.”

“But the smoke will fill the cave!”

“Well then, somebody will have to up go to Priddy.  I hear that some cave men there have got things that they call candles.  I read about them in one of those stone tablets that Old keeps bringing round – the Mendip Caveman I think it’s called.  See what the Priddy lot want in exchange for some candles.”

A runner was sent off, while Oll divested himself of his gear and the whole tribe went off to celebrate his feat by drinking a large quantity of apple juice.  It was very late that night when the runner returned.

“They say they want two lions’ skin of apple juice!”

“Two lion’s skins! But there aren’t very many of them, are there?”

“No.  But they keep saying that they never have enough drink laid on at their dinners.”


Up at Priddy, Nor and two helpers were carting the day’s rubbish out of the cave.  They had got as far as the Vine Rift – where a vine had been strung to help get tackle along it.  Nor was grumbling.

“I wish Wig wouldn’t insist that we take all the rubbish out every day.  Why can’t we dump it all down the Rocky Boulder Series?”

“Wig says that we must practise conservation.  He says that all this rubbish could play merry hell with the ecological balance if we left it here.”

“I wish he wouldn’t keep on inventing all these new words!”

“He says it’s all part of our becoming civilised.  Anyway, he says that if we left remains in the cave, it would baffle future archaeologists – whatever they are!”

“I suppose he’s right. Give me a hand with this detailer bucket.”


Down in the Dining Room, Wig was examining a device which Bry had made.  “It’s downright ingenious!  Just the kind of thing we need to help get a civilization going! What does it do, Bry?”

“It’s for surveying. You look down this bamboo tube and swivel…” Wig shook his head.

“No, Bry.  Let’s forget it for now.  Once we start this surveying stunt, we’ll spend all our time arguing about traverse closures and never get anything done.  It’s best left for the future.”


Meanwhile in Wookey, Oll was laying down the law to a somewhat rebellious lot of cave dwellers.

“I say that we shall get in a hopeless muddle with all the sumps we have discovered unless we learn to count.  Now let’s try it once again – and I’ll mind you that nobody gets any of that sirloin of lion until we all got it right!  Now say again – after me…

Wookey 3, Wookey 4, Wookey 5, Wookey 6….”


“Wig!” said Ben, “We’ve discovered a sump!”

“Well kill it and give it to the girls to cook!”

“It’s not alive.”

“Then take it out of the cave!  How many times do I have to remind you lot about the importance of cave preservation?”

“It’s part of the cave. It’s where the water goes through a passage and fills it completely with no airspace.”

“Ah!” said Wig, thoughtfully.  “They have places like that in Wookey so I’ve heard (from the Mendip Caveman – Ed.)  We must be getting close.  See if you can get Nor to come up with some method of digging it out.”


“All right!” said Oll peevishly.  “So it’s enormous and it goes on and on and on and on!  Just because you youngsters have invented this new lightweight breathing gear, you think you’ve opened up the whole cave!  You may think us older cavers were pretty slow lot, but let me remind you that we pioneered this sport!  We never had all the advantages that you lot have got.  All these fancy sphincter valves and that!  I hope you can clean them out properly first!”

“Yes we do, Oll.  We have to.  Hyenas have a pretty potent digestive system.  But the passage does really go on and on. We call it a master cave.”

“Master cave?  Why?”

“Well, why not? Someone has to invent new words. Anyway, that’s not the point.  We went right to the end of this passage, and it finishes in a sump.”

“Of course it finishes in a sump!  All passages in Wookey finish in sumps.  Everybody knows that!”

“Yes, but this sump is being dug from the other side.  While we watched, an artefact kept appearing and disappearing, and it was moving mud out of the way.”

“An artefact?”

“Sorry.  It’s another of those new words.  I should have said a tool.”

“Now I know what you mean. Everybody knows what a tool is!  I do wish that you youngsters would I learn to call a spade a spade?”

Oll thought.

“It could be that lot from Priddy, I suppose.  We must have a grand expedition to this spot.  We’ll take the whole tribe and three lion skins of apple juice.  It’ll take a lot of organising so we’d better all get cracking…”


“I think,” said Ben to Wig, “that this new sump will soon go.  These spade things of Nor’s are shifting it pretty well.”

Wig nodded.  A lot had happened since the day when, as a young man, he had first led the tribe into this cave.  Besides the new spades, there was the permanent tackle on the arête and ledge pitches which made journeys to the surface easier for the older folk. Rumour had it that Nor was working on a thing called a Maypole.

“I suggest,” said Wig, “that when we’ve passed this sump, we have a grand celebration on the other side. We can drink up all the apple juice we got from the Wookey lot in exchange for candles.  Let’s see if we can get through as soon as possible!”


Even Oll had to admit that the new passage was impressive.  The whole tribe were dwarfed by the vast halls through which they travelled. Even the lion skins of apple juice carried on the men’s backs looked small.  Every so often, Oll called a halt – and it was during one of these rests that they noticed the lights in the distance.  Soon, the lights got nearer, and the men put down their loads and clutched their clubs menacingly.  They could see the strangers now – cave dwellers like themselves and a rough looking lot into the bargain.  The men growled.  Oll appealed to them.

“Relax, men!”  It’s only another lot of cavers!  Put down your clubs at once!  If cavers fight whenever they meet, it’ll be a poor example to set for future generations.  These people are probably as human as we are.  Let me go and speak to them.”


As Oll approached, Wig picked up a large stone but realised that they were fellow cavers and put is down again.  The two men faced each other and shook hands.  “This,” said Oll, “is a historic moment.”

“An historic moment, “corrected Wig.

“Ah!” said Oll, “I see you’ve discovered grammar!  Between us, we have just made the first through connection on Mendip.”

“Yes,” said Wig, “and it’ll be a long time before they manage to do it again.”

“We planned a celebration,” said Oll, “and we’ve brought three skins of apple juice along.”

“So did we.”

“Then let us,” said Oll, “celebrate!”

Wig nodded his agreement.

“Let us make a joint announcement,” he said.


On the floor of the immense hall, a scene of utter debauchery existed.  Cave dwellers lay in heaps beside empty lion skins.  Apple juice ran everywhere.  It was not unlike the Shepton Dinner after a boat race.  On a stal bank slightly above the mass of revelry, as befitted their station, sat Oll and Wig.

“We’d better combine,” said Oll.  “After this lot, it’s going to be damn nigh impossible to sort our tribes out again.”

“Yes, I agree.  Our young men seem to have got hold of all your young girls.”

“And vice versa.  I didn’t see you down there amongst them?!

“Well no.  Actually, as leader, I found it necessary to drink more of that apple juice than any of my men.  Matter of prestige, you understand.”

I felt that I had to do as well.  Did it have any effect on you?”

“Yes, it did as a matter of fact.  Most odd!”

“I was the same.  What do you plan to do now that we are about to merge, Wig?”

“I think I’ll retire from leadership.  I’m planning to bring out a series of definitive reports on this cave system. It’s going to take and awful lot of blocks of stone!  What will you do, Oll?”

“I’m planning to retire too. I’ve got a scheme for taking a hollow log and putting a sot of handle on one end.  Then I’m going to get six strings made out of wildcat gut and stretch them along the log.  I think I might be able to get some sort of tune out of it with any luck.”

They smiled happily at each other as they slowly collapsed to the floor.



P.S.  Anyone who finds that they like this type of humour might try reading a book called ‘The Evolution of Man’ (Penguins) where they will find it done a damn sight better.


Climbing Meet

By Roy Marshall

The Climbing Section had a meet in North Wales on the weekend 16th – 18th October and the following spiel is roughly what happened.

The party – consisting of Derek Targett, Sandie and baby, Nigel Jago, Nigel Rich, Pete and Maggie Sutton, Abb-Sell, Ina, Penny, Gerry (official photographer) Fred Atwell and myself – to name but a few; left Bristol separately and converged, as is our habit, on the HOP POLE at LEOMINSTER where we are almost regulars.  After resting and suitable refreshment, we carried on to the campsite in “the pass.”  We moved from our normal site beneath the Grochan to a more even site on the opposite side of the road beneath the Wasted.

Fortunately, there was a bright moon on Friday night, otherwise I don’t think many would have made the campsite.  To reach it, one has to cross a very dubious bridge across the stream and then launch one’s car on to a track-cum-scree slope leading to flat ground.  Anyway, after risking our suspensions, we all arrived finally at about midnight.

Saturday morning was very sunny but cold, and the married couples were left huddling over the camping gaz, while the rest made for Pen-y-Pass.  The Pen-y-pass is a new Youth Hostel being built at the head of the Snowdon Horseshoe and makes a welcome change from the squalor and overcrowding of Wendy’s  The meals are subsidised by the Y.H.A., so you get a really good breakfast – cheep.  At present you do not have to belong to the Y.H.A. to use the café.

After breakfast, Brant direct repulsed a number of intrepid B.E.C. climbers, who convinced themselves that they didn’t want to do it anyway.  They moved into Craig Dhu where Nigel Jago, Derek and Fred did Petit Fleur and Yellow Groove (VS).  Ian and Pete practiced abseiling from the second pitch of Anthropology (VS).  The baby, with the rest of the ladies, attempted the Pyg Track.  Nigel, Rich and myself also went on the Pyg Track, Nigel going to Snowdon and back.  I made it to the lake, but I was breaking in new boots.

It is always difficult gathering information about Saturday evenings from any B.E.C. member.  It will have to suffice that everyone had a happy time, thanks to a benevolent landlord in the Vaynel Arms in Nant Peris.  Fred, Dick and Gerry had some amusing stories about Saturday night, but they are too funny to be true.  After breakfast on Sunday, the group again split.  Derek, Nigel Jago and Gerry going to the Garreg Wasted to climb Trilon (VS).  Pete and myself hauled our gear up to the Cromlech.  As if this wasn’t enough, Pete, after a half hearted attempt by me, led Cobweb Crack (VS).  While this climbing was going on, the ladies were left to amuse themselves in the pass. Graham and Fred had driven on to Pembrokeshire and Nigel had decided to walk home.  Pete and myself were the last to arrive back from our climb.  Meeting the others in the pass, we all made for home, picking up Nigel rich on the way.  All arrived safely except Graham and Fred who had a seized wheel bearing on the way back from Pembrokeshire.

Editor’s Note:    It never rains but it pours!  We asked for articles and indeed, the only reason for the lateness of this Christmas B.B. is due to the fact that we did not have enough to print until yesterday. We also asked for humorous articles – although we did ask for more serious stuff as well.  On our doorstep yesterday, in answer to all this, arrived a massive document.  It turned out to be another of ‘Jok’ Orr’s masterpieces.  He says that he enjoyed writing it, and we think you will enjoy reading it over Christmas, so settle down – sorry, doon – with a wee dram or three and get on with…….


On Seutra Hill

On the last bleak day of a particular miserable Scottish November, the North Wind came snarling out of the high wilderness of snow and ice and pounced on the frozen slopes of Seutra hill.  It drove its sharp sleety teeth through the lashings branches of a straggling plantation of gnarled spruce and cypresses upon the solid wall of Seutra Monastery. Fretting and whirring over the rough stone surface, it probed for cracks and gnawed at the moss-covered roof slabs, seeking a way in through the impregnable masonry for its rheumatic draughts.

Ensconced within a sheltering niche overlooking the monastery entrance, the effigy of Saint MacSoolis gazed blandly out upon this view of streaming wet desolation with benevolent visage, his right arm extended and two fingers pointing derisively upward in perpetual benediction.  A discrete plaque attached to the plinth whereon the statue stood, bore the inscription ‘BLACK MacSOOLIS.  REFORMED CATTLE RUSTLER: VILLAGE PLUNDERER AND OUTLAW.  CHIEF OF THE CHEVIOTLAND REIVERS, LATTERLY BARON OF HERMITAGE CASTLE.  REPENTING OF THIS LIFE OF SIN AND LECHERY, HE DID FOUND THIS MONASTERY AND DECLARED HIMSELF OUR PATRON SAINT.’

Further up the frost-blasted hill, at some distance removed, the tumbled remains of a crumbling, roofless byre housed the monastery’s collection of neglected farm animals.  At the back of this byre, where it had been tacked onto the hillside, the wild mountain goats had annexed the cave entrance from whence the stone to build the byre had been excavated, for their winter quarters. The ram, made angry by the damp and cold in his matted coat – a wicked beast of uncommonly large stature – butted and bullied the other goats out of his way and slouched into the dark interior of the shelter in search of his favourite dry spot which lay situated some way down a narrow passage he had discovered last winter.  The rest of the goats followed him with some hesitation, uncertain of their footing and wary of the darkness.  The solitary, disgruntled sow who existed in a state of permanent dispute with the goats concerning their proprietorial attitude over the matter of the rock shelter, stared balefully a their departing rumps; and the cows shifted their hooves in the mire, for t’was near twilight and long past milking time and there was still no sign of Brother Walt.

Far out on the right flank of the hill, overlooking the monastery and its surroundings, a picket of recoats crouched in a sodden bothy swearing at each other; the weather; the Scottish heathens; the smoking fire; the sleet; the wind; the wet; the maggot-ridden rations and the English governor basking like a well-fed warm shark in the comfort of Edinburgh Castle.  The sergeant of redcoats in charge of the picket stood outside the bothy, a cape slung round his shoulders.  There was an implacable patience in his stance as if had stood there for many months and would continue to stand there for as long as it need be.  He was the army.  And the army could afford to wait.  And wait he would until the renegade MacPhail thought it safe to emerge from the sanctuary of the monastery.  Then, back to Edinburgh with his prisoner, and no doubt a reward of a few golden guineas from the governor and a spell of well-earned rest for himself and his lads.

Close within the monastery dining hall, the jovial smoke of Seutra didn’t give a jot for the north wind or anything else in the outside world.  They sat before the huge open fireplace, enjoying the warmth from its blazing logs, exchanging banter, quip and jest and making merry din.  For this day, and indeed the last day of every month, the Fraternal Communion Day when all penances were suspended, scourges put away, and hair shirts hung up to air.  Most welcome privilege of all was permission to break silence from rising time in the morning until midnight.  Indeed, the atmosphere was more than usually relaxed because of the absence of the Abbot and his prior who had departed on horseback three days ago on an ecclesiastical visit to Jedburg convent.

However, Fraternal Communion Day was no excuse for the general hilarity and excess of cordiality that was evinced in the monks’ behaviour.  The good Abbot and his observant priors would have viewed the proceedings with scandalised astonishment and called for immediate retribution.  The order was based on strict compliance to chastity; serous decorum, discipline and frugality in all things.  Conversation and discussion on this day of the month was supposed to provide an opportunity for an uplifting of the spirit, not a garrulous uproar of humour and ribaldry.

Perhaps it was just as well that the Abbot and his priors had no inkling of what was going on behind their backs.  Half of the monks were secretly drunk and the other half were near to it as makes no difference.  Not only were they breaking on of their strictest vows, insomuch as it was a mortal sin to even think about the word ‘drink’, but they were doing it with such deceit and cunning that it amounted to nothing less than a mutiny against the order of MacSoolis.  It was well known that more than one unhappy wretch had undergone severe penance for daring to venture a nostalgic word or two about his past fondness for some essential brew of malt and barley, and it was whispered that one of the brothers who had smuggled a flagon of mead into the monastery was still paying the penalty to this day, walled up in the vaults and fed twice a week by the cruel hand of a grim-jawed prior.  How else to explain the muffled thuds and faint cries of lamentation from under the flagstones?

Back to get back to the secretly drunken monks.  What was even worse than the deceit and cunning of it all was the way went on at it. They had developed tippling to a fine art.  Not a glimpse was to be seen of the crafty dram tucked away inside the folds of the draped sleeve.  The casual lift of the arm and the furtive twist of the wrist and the surreptitious sip behind the droop of the cowl might easily be mistaken for as a simple gesture of wiping the dripping nose with the forefinger.

The audacious perpetrator of this subterfuge was no less person than the renegade, Brother Hamish MacPhail – a wolf in sheep’s clothing if there ever was one.  It was entirely the fault of his natural talent for creating trouble, and the weakness for the drink that had cost him his last job as a torturer in the grim dungeons of Edinburgh castle and had brought the redcoats to wait for him like vultures on the hillside.

To his credit, he was thorough in whatever he set his mind to, and had been acknowledged in the castle as an expert with the ironmongery and a skilled craftsman at the intricacy of the rack; knowing just how far to stretch a joint in order to entertain the governor’s mistress who was usually hanging about watching his performance. The lady was so intrigued with some of his subtle variations that one day she entreated him to give her a personal demonstration on the rack with herself as the willing victim.  Being drunk at the time, he was in no condition to resist her suggestion and soon had her strapped down on proceeded to stretch her to the accompaniment of her delighted squeals.  The governor completely misunderstood the version reported to him by a spy and went ranting and storming through the castle, livid with rage, to give MacPhail a taste of lingering death in his own torture chamber.

Receiving warnings of the governor’s intentions, Hamish MacPhail had fled the castle and had made his escape to the sanctuary of the Seutra Monastery.  Incarcerated within its walls and denied access to liquor, MacPhail realised that the necessity of quenching his alcoholic thirst would result in certain capture by the redcoats if he so much as attempted to sneak out in search of a drink.  Somehow, he managed to drag himself through the unendurable anguish of the long days and nights of total abstinence, but his protesting nerves began twitching and quivering like fine hairs growing under his skin and his expression became drawn and haggard with worry.  He went about his monastic duties with trembling lips and darting eyes – his hands shaking and his body twitching in uncontrollable spasms.  An outsider would have been shocked at his appearance, but it aroused little comment within the monastic community except for nods of approval and acceptance from the dour and uncommunicative monks who thought that he was surely adjusting himself to the austerity and hardship of their existence.

MacPhail decided in the middle of a particularly bad night of restless tossing and turning on his hard bed that he would manufacture his own brew.  He got up and ripped the pitch pine planks out of his bed and, scraped off the beads of resin, hurried to the scullery and boiled them up into a bitter but satisfying brew.  Once started, there was no halting the ingenious flow of ideas.  Recruiting the aid of certain other blackguards sheltering at Seutra, he dug out a chamber beneath the floor of his cell and installed a small but highly efficient still.

When the first potent brew trickled through this contraption, MacPhail and his cronies excused themselves to solitary meditation and went on a three day bender underneath the flagstones.  In another week or so, they were wandering about the precincts of the monastery carrying bottles of the stuff hanging from belts around their waists, and distributing the supplies under cover of their voluminous habits.  One had only to mention the password, ‘WHIT THE PRIORS ’EEN DINNA SEEN; THE ABBOT’S LUGHOLE WILLNA KEEN’

And on the occasion the Abbot rebuked the assembled monks for overindulging their appetite for garlic, and complained about the odour of onions hanging about the monastery, he had to threaten to cut the bread ration if the sniggering did not cease immediately. The sniggering ceased all right, but the demand for MacPhail’s brew doubled within the next couple of days.

Leaving Hamish MacPhail to carry on towards his inescapable reckoning with destiny, and returning to the dining hall, we find that it is now supper time.  The merry brotherhood move unsteadily away from the warmth of the fire and sit themselves down at the long table in anticipation of their meal. One or two of them beat out a tattoo on their food bowls causing Brother Jamie McLean of Perth to lift his habit round hits knees and rotate his portly figure in a travesty of a highland fling.  Out in the chilly scullery where he was preparing supper, Brother Ignatius de Quincey, a Sassenach from over the border, adamant teetotaller and probably the only monk in the entire monastery remaining true to his vocation, frowned disapprovingly at the howls of tipsy merriment issuing from the dinning hall.  Deservedly unpopular for the reasons already stated, it was his unhappy lot to be at the beck and call of whosoever required his services.  He heaved the huge cauldron of steaming porridge from the kitchen range and staggered into the dinning hall where he dished it up for the rumbustuous monks.

There was a brief recession of noise for a few perfunctory words of grace to be gabbled, then they continued the uproar again and went at the porridge with lusty appetites. Exclamations of horror and disgust broke out among the eaters.  Expectorated porridge flew in all directions.  Several monks fell over backwards from the table, recoiling from the vile and terrible taste in their mouths.

 “Ye bliddy Sassenach!” roared Hamish MacPhail. “Whit ur ye trying tae do?  Pizen us all?”  De Quincey gaped at the writhing monks in consternation, too taken aback by the reception his porridge had received to think of escaping  from the terrible MacPhail.  “Whit,” roared MacPhail again, “did ye mak this mizzerable skilly oot o’? Soor mulk and tatty peelins? Taste it!  Taste it, ye mizzerable wee wretch!”

At this juncture, one of the monks who had rushed off to the scullery to swill his mouth out with water entered the dining hall with a pitcher in his arms.  “Nivver mind the parritch noo!” he yelled.  “The wee Sassenach has used yesterdays bath water tae mak it wuth!”  He proffered the pitcher to MacPhail who sipped from it fastidiously.  “By Saint MacSoolis!” he roared.  “Yur right!”  He grabbed hold of the unhappy de Quincey.  “What d’ye mean by makin the parritch oot o’ oor auld bath watter?  Eh O.”  De Quincey wriggled in his grasp.  “It’s not true! He protested.  “I drew the water from the well only half an hour ago.  It must be fresh!  It must be!”

Brother Eustace Smith, a lowlander of mild disposition, spoke up on behalf of de Quincey. “Gintlemum!  Gintlemum!  We must obsairve the proprieties, ye ken, just because he doesny jine in the festiveeties!  Chuck the bliddy wee teetotaller doon the bliddy well and let’s get on with the bliddy drinkin!”

The rest of the monks roar a unanimous chorus of approval; laid hold of the struggling de Quincey and frog-marched him back to the scullery.  But another voice of authority blared above the clamour.  “Wait!”  It was Brother Inglis of Hawick – noted for his piety until the whiskey got at him. “Wait the noo!  Accordin to the taste o’ the watter, yon Sassenach has been tipping the rubbish doon the well instead of o’ carrying it outside.  I think we should lower him doon and mak him clean it oot.  Otherwise hoo ur we goin tae get fresh watter?”  “Aye!” yelled the monks.  “Lower him doon the well and mak him clean iy oot!”

Forthwith, they sat de Quincey in the well bucket, gave him a burning pitch pine form the fire for a light, and lowered him down with admonishments to send up the ‘rubbitch’ or else he would stay down there for the rest of the night.

At the bottom of the well, de Quincey stepped out of the bucket and considered his situation.  The well, he recognised by the light of his torch, was not a well at all.  It was, in fact, a deep pool of water fed by a stream which flowed along the bed of a fair sized natural passage similar to many such underground places he had explored in his native Somerset. A voice bellowed from above, “Whur’s the rubbitch, then?”  De Quincey did some rapid thinking.  If he said there was no rubbish to send up, they would pull up the bucket and leave him down the well all night.  On the other hand, there could be another way out since there must be and entrance to the cave upstream.  Light, however, was the problem.  “I’m looking for the rubbish” he shouted back, “But its all dark down here and I can’t see very well.”  There was some muttering from above and then another bellow.  “Mind yer heid!” and a bundle of faggots thumped on to the rock on which he was standing.

Tearing strips from his habit, de Quincey tied the precious sticks together, the more conveniently to carry them through the cave, he shouted up the well shaft, “Hang on a minute! I’ve got the lights going now I’m going up a passageway that I have found to look for the rubbish.”  With this reassurance to the impatient monks, he set of in search of a way out.

The echoes of this last exchange of shouting preceded his progress by some minutes, since sound travels faster than a caving monk, and awoke the irate ram from his sleep on the soft but uncomfortable cold patch of sand further up the cave.  The ram got to his feet and kicked the nearest recumbent ewe goat to get rid of the cramp in his haunches.  He listened intently.  Yes, there was definitely something moving down there.  Probably that wall-eyed sow.  The thought infuriated him.  That pig had no right to be in his shelter.  No common pig had any right to a dry place to lie in.  Especially that pig.  A pig’s place was out in the wind and cold.  He would go down there and butt that damned impudent pig back to where it belonged.

It was thus that Brother Ignacious de Quincey, on rounding a corner, was surprised to finds a fair sized ram barring his advance.  The ram, equally surprised at seeing the steadily brightening gleam of light followed by the sudden appearance of the monk instead of the expected pig, jumped backwards in a reflex leap coincident with de Quincey’s own backward somersault and, turning in mid air, galloped a short distance up the cave where he halted on the shadows, and looked back.

Now that ram, once it had got an idea into its head, was not lightly to be deflected from its purpose. Nothing could shift it.  It had come down here to get a pig, and a pig it was going to have.  Anything that even looked like a pig was in trouble, and there was definitely something silhouetted in the feeble light of the monk’s torch that looked like a pig. The ram put his head down, presented his horns, and charged.

De Quincey listened to the approaching clatter of hooves in profound consternation. The ram was coming to get him.  Forsooth, he hadn’t a chance.  The fall had winded him, but he struggled to his feet.  The ram, at full tilt now, saw his mistake when he was about a yard away from what he had taken to be a pig.  De Quincey watched, horrified, as the ram, veering at the last moment, smashed into an inoffensive boulder perched on four stumpy stalagmites and sent the lot scattering.

The ram, still conscious albeit slightly concussed, regarded the monk with some confusion.  A moment ago, he had been asleep with the rest of the goats.  So why was he standing here looking at a monk?  It must be some nightmare.  Slowly, as if indeed in a dream, the ram turned his back on the monk and plodded back up the cave.  De Quincey heaved a sigh of relief and muttered a fervent prayer of thanks.  He picked up the torch and looked around, wondering what to do next.  He couldn’t go on.  That was for sure.  He’d come across many unusual things in caves back home, but a ram!  A crazy ram roaming about under the ground and smashing up boulders!  That was something that was just typical of Scotland.  And the size of the beast!  Those horns! Massive!  Like great curved battering rams.  De Quincey shuddered.  Battering Rams!  He started shaking all over.  The brute must have mistaken the boulder in the dim light for himself.  It was an act of providence that had saved him from a severe mauling.  Better to return to the monastery and risk the wrath of the monks who were probably so drunk by now that they would have forgotten all about the porridge. Anyway, at least he now had the answer to the foul taste of the water.  The ram would account for that.  No wonder that the porridge was polluted.  He laughed hysterically as an idea occurred to him, and imagined the ram let loose amongst the drunken monks.  That would teach them a thing or two – the Scotch bullies!

“And why not?” he asked aloud in sudden inspiration.  “By Saint MacSoolis, why not?”  He hastened back to the well, igniting his supply of faggots on the way and leaving them at intervals to illuminate the cave.  “Are you still there?” he shouted up the well shaft.  There was no reply.  Anxiously, he gave the bucket rope a hefty shake which rattled the windlass. There was a commotion of shuffling feet from above.  “Whut d’ye want doon ther? Somebody bellowed, “makin that confounded racket on oor machinery! Have ye foond the rubbitch then?”

De Quincey felt a surge of hope at the sound of the voice.  “Send me down – I mean doon – a bottle of whiskey!”  He shouted, and listened to the mutterings from above, wondering if his scheme would work.

“What fur?” came he surprised reply.  He answered with another shout, spacing his words to make then distinct.  “Because I’ve found a passage down here, and a good way along there are some rotting chests full of metal stuff and shining stones and I want a drink to keep warm while I go and have another look.”  A babble of exited argument rose from above his head, then abruptly ceased at the crafty solicitous voice of MacPhail came wheedling down to him.  “Git yerself intae the bucket mun, and we’ll gie ye a wee dram up heer and a warm in front o’ the fire afore ye go doon again.  Ye must be nigh on perished with the cauls!”

At the top of the well, MacPhail pulled him bodily out of the bucket and dumped him gently on his feet, surrounded by a ring of attentive faces.  “Noo then, ma wee many, whit’s this aboot chests filled wi’ stuff, eh? It widna be Saint MacSoolis’s treasure noo that ye’ve foond, wid it?”  Ye widna be tryin tae cheat yer brother monks oot o’ theer share wi’ ye?” De Quincy quailed before them in mock fright.  “It’s treasure all right, Brother MacPhail.  I just wanted to make quite sure before I came up to tell you.  That’s all.”  MacPhail leered at him.  “Aye! O’course ye did ma wee many.  Noo awa and warm yeresel in front o’ the fire.  Here’s your whiskey.  We’ll gang doon the well and bring the stuff oot for ye! Awa wi ye noo!”

The monks on the outer fringe of the listening circle were already edging over to the well.  “Me first!” bellowed MacPhail.  “I’ll hae nane o’ that!  Git oot o’ ma way ye scurvy bunch o’ hypocrites!”  he shouldered through the jostling throng who were by now so drunk that they has to support one another to avoid falling flat on their faces.

No sooner than MacPhail had disappeared overt the edge of the well than there was a concerted rush for the rope.  Body crashed into body.  Skin ripped off against stone.  Hands burned on the rope.  Fist and sandal flailed into rib and groin.  Some jumped in feet first to get the press of bodies on the move, sure of a soft landing.  Others dived in head first, too drunk to know or care which way up they were.  The din of thuds yells and curses and the stench of honked up whiskey was appalling.  De Quincey waited for the sounds of departure to fade into the distance and then calmly cut the rope.

The ram woke from his already disturbed slumber in a worse temper than he could ever remember.  This row was just too intolerable.  What the hell was going on?  It was that damned pig again.  Memory of the incidents leading up to the stunning impact with the boulder returned with it, the realisation that the pig had tricked him into charging into a trap.  That monk! What was he doing down there?  He was surely in league with that pig.  That was it!  The pair of them were probably laughing their heads off now, but what kind of fool did they take him for?  He’d show them this time!

The ram’s rage was so vicious that for a moment or two all he could do was to totter around gasping for breath, stepping indiscriminately on the other goats and scattering them with savage butts as they started to their feet.  That pig!  He would deal with that pig once and for all!  Judging from the bellowing and stampeding about coming from below him, that damned pig must have taken all those mud-wallowing cows with her just to wake up decent goats and to annoy them.  Well, the whole damned lot were going to get it.  Right where it hurts most.  Hard.

Such was the ram’s fury that it communicated itself to the younger rams in the herd, who began to leap about in the dark butting and kicking each other and anything else within range including the solid walls of the cave.  Then, as if prompted by some instinctively sensed signal, the whole lot herd of goats gathered itself together and raced after the ram who had gone running off down the cave with such speed and purpose that his steel hard hooves struck sparks off the rocks.

Brother Hamish MacPhail, lured on by the flickering light for de Quincey’s carefully placed torches, was still in the lead, but only just.  He plunged ahead of the stumbling monks. Tripping over his own lacerated feet and the tangled remnants of his tattered habit which hung in strips from his battered body.  Five monks had fallen on top of him in the well shaft, pounding him into the pool where he had nearly drowned.  His right arm hung useless – dislocated at the shoulder – and his eyes peered from slitted lids that were just about the only recognisable feature left on his trampled face.  He was still to drunk to appreciate his pitiful condition, but not yet beyond feeling bewilderment at the way the walls of the cave kept crashing into him when there was really ample room and width of passage to run through ahead of the others and get to the treasure first.

The howling mob behind him were in no better shape.  Some had thrown aside the heavy cloth garments on the way and were shambling through the cave completely naked and unprotected from the sharp rock.  Three others had climbed up into the narrow roof to traverse along overhead and now fell in a heap, frantically clutching each other as they fell.  Another beat his fists against the wall, screaming to be let out and a maudlin bunch of slack-mouthed inebriates, so drunk that they has forgotten what they were supposed to be there for, stood lurching and swaying before a large slab of stone intoning the beatitudes in solemn incoherence.

MacPhail didn’t even have time to stop his staggering run when Auld Nick appeared before him.  But he did pray, if only for a flash of frightened thought, for the first time in his life, when he saw what was coming at him – tearing straight for him out of the dark, with his horns and his beard and his cloven hooves and hairy body and terrible glaring yellow eyes.  His last thought was when the crash came and the wind whooshed out of his gaping mouth, was that he had been taken and was on his way to hell.

There was no merciful oblivion for the rest of the monks.  Those in the rear were trampled underfoot in the backwash from the shambles up in front.  Some had a chance to run, and run they did – for the sake of their very souls, never mind their lives.  The goats threw themselves upon their fleeing victims with ferocious accuracy.  If there wasn’t room on the floor of the cave to get a clear run at the waddling posteriors, they then took to the walls and their flailing hooves knocked down the flaming torches in showers of sparks to fall on the heads and shoulders of the monks, where they were promptly followed by butts and kicks.

The Abbot and his priors returned late on the night of that last day in November in the middle of a violent thunderstorm to learn that the monastery had a new tenant.  The Devil had moved in and the monks were moving out and they’d set light to the place to make their guest feel more at home. Saint MacSoolis lay in fragments on the ground, struck by a thunderbolt.  Most of the monks had already departed into the night in search of a bed to sleep in.  The few that remained were limping around in the driving rain, attending those who could not walk and getting them into improvised litters ready to face the six mile journey to the nearest cottage.  “It was the Sassenach de Quincey” explained one of the bloodstained monks to the Abbot, “in league with them doon below.  He tricked us intae the jaws o’ Hades.  All flames and fire and demented things rushing aboot an underground passage leadin doon tae hell.  We wur lucky tae get oot alive!”

The phlegmatic sergeant of redcoats sat astride his horse and watched the exodus from then blazing monastery with a sardonic smirk on his face; the nearest he had come to smiling for years.  He sniffed appreciatively at the fine smell of wood smoke, stale drink singed flesh and scorched cloth which hung in the dam air.  The prisoner MacPhail looked as if an avalanche had hit him the way he was wrapped up in bandages and splints.  Yes, he had been through the mill all right, yelling and swearing one minute and gabbling prayers the next.  Still, with luck he would recover on his way to Edinburgh and be fit enough for the tortures that awaited him there.  Meanwhile, there was nothing to hang about here for in the driving rain.  Best to be moving.  He jerked MacPhail’s chain, pulling him forward in a shuffling, slithering run across the churned-up ground, and addressed his picket of soldiers. “On your way, you scum!  On your way!  Back to Edinburgh my lucky lads, and keep your eyes on that rascal of a monk and see he doesn’t escape.”

All this happened many years ago, and there is such a place as Seutra Hill, where you can still see the ruins of the monastery.  To this day, the locals say the place is curst, and they steer away from its loneliness. In fact, the only living thing you’ll find up there are a few wild mountain goats, munching contentedly at the withered brown bracken.

‘Jok’ Orr


Climbing Notes

by the Climbing Sec.

Climbing Meet to the Gower Peninsular, 21st to23 rd November, 1970

Those present were N. Jago, P. Sutton, D. Targett, G. Atwell and G. Oaten.

After pitching the tents at Rhossili Bay car park in pouring rain and Gale Force winds, we all agreed that the weekend had not got off to a good start.

On Saturday, the weather still wasn’t all that good, and so we headed for the cliffs in big boots and cagoules, hoping to be able to climb some of the easier routes.  Our plans worked very well until we were hit by a hailstorm halfway up a route.  We quickly abseiled off and the rest of the day was spent on boulder problems.

Sunday brought better weather, so we headed for the cliffs of Pennard East.  Much of the day was spent trying to find the cliffs, for the guidebook wasn’t very good in describing the way.  We reached them eventually, and climbed a few short routes.

To sum up.  We were not very impressed by the cliffs, because the rock was frequently poor, but I can recommend the cliff top walks around the Gower Coast.

Christmas Puzzle

(B O)W = W I N S


(N W )O = W A G E S

You might find this interesting enough to while away the time when the pubs are shut over the Christmas holiday…

Where the letters stand for numbers.

For example,

             (B O)W  might be 372

From the two equations above, who is 545 5076802 ?

(He is a well known member of the club, not unconnected with the two words of the equations.  A prize of two pints of beer for the correct solution. In case of more than one solution being received, then the solution which solves the problem in the neatest and most elegant manner.)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

Monthly Crossword – Number 7.



















































































1. Dependable to the last? (7)
4. Mendip Association has an extremely mixed title. (1,1,1,1,1)
5. Aural connections. (5)
7. ‘Ave poles for climbing these. (5)
8. O, let’s mine it on Mendip. (4)


1. Priceless formation? (4,5)
2. Lights mixed financial penalties. (5)
3. A dipper in Goatchurch. (9)
4. Northern hills minus Mendip hill leaves these numbers on Mendip hill. (5)
6. Found in O.C.L. in Old Grotto vertically measuring. (3,4)

Stencils completed 30.12.70

Happy New Year!


A Season of Good Will

Or: ‘What happened to C.W. Smith-Brown?.....

After all the accounts of great things underground Jock Orr offers some ‘light’ relief.

Some holiday!  The boy looked at the bitter white wilderness and felt hate in his heart for every square inch of it.  The acrid stench of sulphur springs made his nostrils twitch with disgust.  The combination of drifting steam, hoar frost, snow and mud had saturated his woollen clothing so that he felt cold and damp to the very marrow of his bones.

He shrugged his collar round his freezing ears.  Some holiday! To be dragged away from the tele an’ pictures an ’hotels an’ the warm seaside to this so-called Icelandic Paradise and just go round trampling in a quagmire looking for holes in the ground and hangin’ for about waitin’ for them to blow steam and hot water into the air. It was enough to make anybody spit!  And as for that lot up front all half drunk and stinkin’ of beer, and especially that screechin’ fat woman everlasting yattering and chattering about geology and geysers and bunk and guff and all dressed up in her fancy polo-necked multi-coloured pullover forever yelling and naggin’ at him, well they just got on his flaming nerves.  And not another kid in sight!  Some holiday!  The boy trudged along, kicking his already soaking wet feet into the brown sludge and splattering it out in front of him; deliberately hanging back to the rear of the conducted tour.

His father halted and waited for the boy to catch up.  “Get a move on, you silly little sod.”  He snapped impatiently.  “I’ve just about had enough of your sulking face for one day.  Any more of it and you’ll spend the rest of the holiday with a thick ear!”  The boy stood with is legs apart defiantly and looked up to his father.  “It ain’t my idea of a holiday!  Stuck in this stinking place with no chums!  It’s all right for you!  You like messing around in mud and rocks, digging and scraping and looking for fossils and junk and stuff.”  His father looked at him coldly.  “I’ve warned you already, any more lip and you’re in for it.  Now get moving.  We’ve only got two more days left and there’s still a lot to see. It’s not every boy who gets a chance like this and if you don’t appreciate it now then maybe you will when you’re a bit older, stuck in the office ten months of the year, wishing you could getaway from at all like me.  Now come on!”

The boy trudged after his father and they caught up with the rest of the sightseers who were grouped around at a safe distance from the brink of a geyser listening attentively to the Guide’s description of the eruption they were about to witness. “What – “ the  woman’s voice shrilled above the words of the Guide’s speech, “ – the name of God does that man over there think he’s doing?  For heavens sake!”  Everybody looked in the direction of the geyser gazing, thunderstruck, at the apparition looming out of the warm steam mist wreathing over the geyser vent.  The figure clumped ponderously forward and halted on the lip of the hole, looking intently down into the depths.  Then, producing a clipboard from the voluminous folds of asbestos draped around his person, he proceeded to scribble on the pad, muttering into his black beard as he did so, with an intense concentration of a physics professor observing an important experiment.

The Guide, aghast the man’s folly, hastily moved the sightseers back to safety.  The boy, immediately alert to the possibility of an impeding disaster, seized the opportunity while everybody’s attention was diverted to sneak off to one side and concealed himself behind a sheltering rock to await developments.  He goggled expectantly, mouth hanging open, over the top of the rock as the apparition leaned forward and lowered a string of thermometers into the geyser; completely oblivious to the shaking ground under his feet and the pulsing groans issuing out of the hole.

A perceptible aura of violent outrage, awesome and terrible in its invisible presence of vast power, charged the air with quivering tension for a few seconds of ominous silence, and then, as if reacting to the intrusion of the thermometers, the geyser seemed to draw a huge breath, like a giant vacuum cleaner, and wafted the mist down into its gaping throat.  Then, before the horrified gaze of the onlookers, it proceeded to blow up in a sullen roar of unleashed fury and push a shrieking column of steam and water and boulders up into the sky and supported it aloft until it wavered pouring in itself, and then dropped like a cataract and obliterated the asbestos clad figure standing below in a flood of boiling water, bouncing boulders and spouting steam clouds that sprayed outwards from the centre of the devastation towards the onlookers.

The boy sped out from the cover of the rock like a scalded cat and sprinted for his life in pursuit of the running Guide and the terrified tourists who fled before him yelling and cursing and leaping like mountain goats across the bubbling mud springs and squirting hot fountains of mineral water in blind panic to escape the onrushing deluge.  The mud-bespattered group staggered to a confused halt and looked back anxiously at the shut-down geyser, searching for the mutilated body they expected to see lying there.  “My God!” the fat woman shrilled her voice angry with disappointment, “– look at him! He’s still standing there!  He’s moving about!  He’s throwing a rope down it now!” her voice rose to a frustrated scream as if she couldn’t believe hat she was seeing, “– the fool!  He’s gone over the edge!  He’s deliberately gone over the edge!”  She buried her face in her hands and began to sob hysterically. Some of her companions gathered round to comfort her and helped her a way still sobbing and protesting towards the log cabin holiday chalet, while the rest of them limped along muttering concernedly and looking back over their shoulders with anxious glances.

The boy raced around like a terrier in and out of the straggling excursion.  He hadn’t seen such a wonderful state of confusion since the day the Headmaster had fallen out of the pulpit one morning at school assembly prayers, drunk as a lord after a late-night bout of revelry and had indiscriminately leathered everyone in range with his lashing leather tawse, including the snivelling maths teacher and that sneaking toad Williams.  A pity all the excitement has started so late in the holiday! If it had been like this from the first day it would have been just fine.

Next morning the boy left the chalet early before breakfast and headed for the geyser where he hung about gloating over the previous day’s events; hoping to catch a glimpse of the weird inhabitant of the hot springs; as he had already christened the apparition in his own mind.  And there! Emerging out of the swirling mist, the boy saw him moving about, solid and bulky as a bear in his asbestos outfit, and evidently making serious preparations to get himself boiled alive again the way he was messing about on the edge of another gaping hole with his rope.

The hulking figure gave a last savage tug at the knots and threw the loose end of the rope below. The boy rushed forward yelling at the top of his voice “No Mister!  Don’t do it! You’ll kill yourself.”  He stopped, aghast at his own recklessness in running up face to face with the dangerous looking character who was now glaring back at him out of a pair of squinting eyes buried deep within a tangle of black beard.  The beard opened to reveal a ferocious mouthful of broken teeth and roared at him “Clear off you little weegie!”

The boy staggered back a step from the blast of foul tobacco laden breath and the stench of animal odour and earth that swept out of the layers of asbestos cloth, raising his arms to ward off the rank smell.  “Pffeugh!” he gasped, “You don’t half stink!”  He looked the man over carefully, “You look like and old elephant hide all ripped and patched and hanging in tatters.”  The man looked down at himself and flapped his arms, sniffing at himself vigorously.  “I can’t smell anything” he snarled suspiciously.  “That’s because it is so long you had a bath that you’ve got used to it” the boy stated confidently and added, “My dad told me.”  As if that clinched the matter.  “Oh!” the man exclaimed, taking another uncertain sniff, “Well, yes, I suppose you could be right!  It must be at least six month ago.”

The boy pressed his advantage, “Anyway mister, what are you supposed to be doing?”  The eyes peered at him, craft and cautious.  “Eh?  What’s that you’re saying?” and a horny hand shot out of the asbestos and gripped him like a steel trap.  “Spying on me are you?  Eh?  A spy!  Out to steal my secrets are you Eh?”  The boy realised his danger instantly and had more sense than to struggle. Instead he grinned engagingly and looking at the man calmly in the eyes said calmly, “Mister, I’m not after your secrets.  I just thought you’d like a hand to help you with the work; all alone out here in this perishing place by yourself with no friends.”

The hand relaxed, and then released him.  The piggy eyes opened wide in pleased astonishment.  “Eh? Oh, well that’s different I suppose” he said with slow consideration, and then let out a croaking asthmatic bellow of laughter. “Interested in what I’m doing are you?” and smote the boy on the shoulder.  “Well done lad!  What is you name?”  The boy told him.  “Aye! I know it!  A good Sussex name is that!  Mine is C.W. Smith-Brown, Clarence Walter, but my friends call me C.W. for short. Alright then, you can give us some help. When I get down inside you can lower my camera bag down to me.  Understand?” The boy nodded in agreement. “Sure mister, I’ve to lower the camera bag.  But what’s the use of a camera in all that steam and stuff?”  The eyes glared at him – “What’s that?” roared the man, taking immediate offence.  “Steam and Stuff?  You think I’m going down there looking for steam and stuff!  There’s caves down there!  Pretty as a pixie’s palace!”  The boy looked at him, head on one side, eyes screwed up, and examined the implications of what he’d just heard; while the man glared round looking for eavesdroppers lurking I the mist and lowered his voice to a confidential growl.  “Special caves that nobody knows about.  Carved out of solid rock by the action of the boiling water and steam, ye know, all heated up by the volcanic hot-spots, like a giant kettle on a gas ring, and eroding the rock away as if it was a block of salt, all soft, ye know!”  “And that’s what you’re looking for, mister?” the boy asked breathlessly.  “No, no, no, boy!”  Smith-Brown exclaimed irritably, “You haven’t been listening have you?”  Gathering his asbestos rags together like a cloak he too a stance as if he were some ancient tribal chief addressing his warriors, pointing his finger at the boy he started roaring again  “Imagine yourself down there boy!  The only one in the whole world to see it while it’s all happening!”  His eyes glowed luminously at the vision in his mind and he waved his arms over his head in a descriptive arc and stamped around in a circle with the asbestos rags flapping at his shoulders like wings.  “You could wonder to your heart’s content down miles of corridors with fifty foot long stalagmites dripping water everywhere.  Can you taste the tangy flavour?  Like sampling more wine!  The tonic of solutionised minerals hanging around in the vapour and condensing out and depositing themselves back again all over the place!”  he picked up the rope and snapped the Karabiner onto it and bellowed, “Or you could gaze at the incredible translucent curtains hanging from the roof!”  He strode over to the edge of the geyser and thundered into it so that his voice echoed back from the depths, “And puzzle over the mystery of the weird helectites sprouting like octopuses in all directions!  And walk across floors a s big as a ballroom and smooth and clear as coloured ice!”  He gripped the rope with one hand and leaned over the hole pointing downwards with the other and bawled “Dazzle your eyes with the clusters of glittering crystals flashing like diamonds in your light beam!  No boy!” he bellowed, “I’m not looking for it – I’ve already found it!”

He leapt outwards simultaneously with his last words, shrieking them out at the top of his voice “And it’s mine!  Mine! All mine!”  The boy rushed forward to the edge just in time to see him hurtling downwards still ranting and raving in a series of swooping abseils until he disappeared into the black depths below.  The boy gripped the rope and lying on his stomach hung precariously over the edge of the hole and breathed out in a slow whistle of awe.  “Bloody hell!”  he muttered incredulously, staring disbelievingly downwards, until the rope sneaked upward to signal for the camera bag to be lowered down.

He lingered for a while after lowering the bag, and then, since there was no point in hanging around in the damp steam-mist and becoming more chilled than he already was, he wandered back to the chalet for breakfast, enacting the scenes he imagined to be taking place down in the geyser and imitating C.W. Smith-Brown’s mannerism all the way back to the log cabin.  “Some holiday!” he yelled gleefully as he tobogganed down a snow slope on his backside. “Yippee!  Some holiday!”

…   …  …   …   …  …   …

Inevitably the boy started his own caving career, poking into small holes in the chalk district near his home, and since he was good at it and as his stature never increased as he grew older he became known as Fox the Ferret, a nickname that was to stay with him for the rest of his life, but not necessarily for his caving abilities.

He was soon tackling the more difficult limestone caves in the county of Karstingtonshire at a place called Pidnem at some distance from his home, and eventually joined a club calling itself ‘The Shed’.  His devotion to the sport progressed rapidly from then on. He bought himself a tankard and let it be known in all modesty that he had become somewhat of an expert, well-informed and not inexperienced in all matters appertaining to the subterranean. At the particular moment in time when the first instalment of the Great Trebor Gulch Panic was about to be enacted, Fox the Ferret was tapping his empty tankard with his fingernail and looking at it pensively as if lost in thought and reluctant to continue his fascinating account of how he has forced his way through Fox’s Squeeze and discover Fox’s Extension in Sheep Lair Pit.  The gullible lad who had been listening to the story stared uncomprehendingly and at a loss to understand why the tale had been discontinued, and then gathered up his scattered wits together.  “Oh! Right! I’ll fill them up again!”  Quite a promising youngster Fox thought to himself.  He should do well.  I might even condescend to take him caving one day when I feel up to it. He took a long cool swallow of Tartan to refresh his vocal chords and continued with his reminiscences.

Meanwhile below ground, a party of sherpas portering bottles for a diving team at work in the bottom of Trebor Gulch, were resting up waiting for the divers to return, yarning and smoking in the dark.  And when the divers lights suddenly appeared unexpectedly, suffused and glowing under the water, long before they were due back, the sherpas knew that something had gone wrong.  Before they had a chance to switch on their lights the divers emerged one after the other from under the rock face like surfacing torpedoes and leapt out of the water as if pursued by man-eating sharks.   The sherpas, startled and alert, got to their feet and backed away to make more room for the divers who didn’t seem to know where they were by the way they kept rushing about and milling amongst them selves and knocking each other over.

“What’s up?” yelled one of the porters.  The divers ceased all movement and stared as him through their face masks.  Then they began tearing off their mouth pieces and gesticulating at each other with clenched fists in wordless anger. “What’s up with you for Christ’s sake?” screamed the same porter as he jumped forward and shook one of the divers. The diver heaved for air, “What’s up! He gasped, “There’s a bloody maniac grovelling about down there in the sump wanting to know where’s the rest of the cave then?  Eh? – Why fiddle about in the Upper Series then? Eh? Eh!  With a ton of bang stuck on the rock face and an instant fuse draped about all over the place who told us ‘amateurs’ to ‘bugger’ off out of it or he would blow us all to blazes!  That’s what’s up!”  The sherpa party huddle together for mutual protection and stared at him in utter consternation.  Cavers just simply didn’t carry on in this way; they were all dealing with the unknown. The rest of the divers, all glittering black in their water-streaming wetsuits; started moving about again and began to repeat some their comrade’s remarks until they were shouting and cursing one at the other about the maniac and his bang and how long was it he said before he was going to light the fuses?

Bedlam!  “Be quiet!” screamed the leader, leaping around like a black dervish.  “Everyone out!  You never know what might happen!  Everybody back to the surface!  Evacuate the entire cave!  Alert the M.R.O. to get him out of here and lock him up!  Move!  Do you hear me?  Move! Move!

Pandemonium!  They fled towards the surface, strewing bottles and gear in their frantic haste to get out of the way of the blast and bellowing a warning to other cavers as they rushed past.  The cry went up, echoing from one passage to the next until every caver in the place was bellowing and hollering and screaming at every other caver and running and swarming and climbing like packs of crazed wolves up the Twenty and the Forty.  The whole cave boomed and thundered with the commotion when the concussion of the blast thudded up along the passages from below somebody lost his head completely and howled at the top of his voice “Earthquake!  Earthquake!

Desperate now, and disregarding all obstacles, a heaving mass of flailing bodies scramble and writhed through the dry ways and up the wet way until they all gathered and met in a swelling congregated mass of struggling limbs and jammed within the confines of the entrance chamber with the stream pouring in on top of them. The first few out quickly organised a rescue team on the spot, pulling and carrying the other exhausted cavers out and clear of the entrance until a hundred and fifty bruised and groaning bodies lay scattered across the ground.

The after effects lingered on for weeks.  People stood around like lost sheep, not drinking their beer, staring into the distance and swearing never to go caving again.  They listened with glazed eyes to the reports of others who still dared to venture below, of teams of surveyors wandering through the vast ramifications of the new cave mapping and measuring; unable to believe what they saw and enthusing widely over the years of work ahead of them before they ever got anywhere near completing their task.  But the ordinary cavers, still pushing and probing in the far reaches arrived back in the pub after gruelling trips and stood muttering together in corners about catching fleeting glimpses of eyes glaring at them from inaccessible recesses deep within the formations and the mysterious rappings and tappings to be in out of the way grottoes.  Of course the divers created a fuss about the maniac and his bang but the identity of the lone-caver remained a mystery.  That was, at any rate until the McDuffbert’s Swallet uproar, when the Sheldon Manor Moron Caving Club were falsely accused of violating the sump.

Whilst attempting to be first through the sump to administer a hearty application of well-deserved retribution upon the unsuspecting interlopers, Fox the Ferret was buried alive when a pile of gravel was washed in on top of him by the dammed up water. Fortunately his boots were still exposed and the rest of the team dragged him clear, dislocating his right knee in the process. The punitive expedition then retired, defeated, and reported this latest development to the Committee.  The Chairman declared that the best way to deal with the matter would be to dismiss the affair as an outbreak of mass hallucination and advised those involved to put in more time caving and drinking less.

Nevertheless, in spite of the Chairman’s recommendations, next morning it was discovered that the McDuffbert’s entrance lid had been broken open during the night.  When it was pointed out  that it may have been forced from inside by the returning sump vandals; and what did all the footprints leading off to the Sheldon Manor Moron’s Caving Club indicate if not that they were involved in some way?  A deputation set off for the S.M.M.C.C. hut to demand an explanation.  They were received with acrimonious counter accusations that the S.M.M.C.C. bog had disappeared down half an hour ago and that The Shed must admit responsibility for reckless underground tunnelling; not for the first time; which the S.M.M.C.C. wasn’t prepared to tolerate for much longer if this sort of things was going to continue, and right now they were more interested in getting the bog back to the surface complete with the bloke who had been sitting on it, than all the Shed nonsense.  The bickering disintegrated into an unfortunate argument and the ensuing pitch battle much damage was done to property and persons alike before the combatants were separated.

That wasn’t the end of the trouble.  Only the beginning.  Towards Christmas reports started coming in from all quarters; of cavers stranded underground with their tackle gone missing; burgled club huts; disappearing explosive stores; farmers complaining about vanishing cattle and stolen chicken and blaming the cavers; until the whole district of Pidnem was rife with suspicion and dispute and snarling and general inter-club warfare.  The public never got to hear of it, it was too serious.  There was a sort of self imposed universally unanimous blanket on what was happening on Pidnem.  The ground was covered in snow by this time and cavers armed with clubs and rubber truncheons were out hunting their fellows, scouring the woods and fields and following footprints and tracks searching for their missing gear.

The tension had to be eased before something serious happened.  So, a mass meeting of all club committees convened in secret behind locked doors to thrash out a plan.  During the tight lipped discussions that followed after the presentation of an overall analysis of all the incidents it gradually dawned on everybody present that there were Other People under Pidnem.  A unanimous resolution was passed declaring a Total Amalgamation to get below and track down the Other People and put a stop to their nefarious activities once and for all.

At zero hour all the Combined Club Forces disappeared below ground with loads of material and equipment. Whilst groups of men maintained watch and prowled and patrolled day and night, stealing silently through the caves; engineers and electricians installed traps and alarm systems and laid metal grills connected to high voltage cables.

A sole diver, sent down to reconnoitre Blookey Hole for sign of intruders, heard the same ghastly singing that was reported in McDuffbert’s.  Searching around he discovered the newly dug-out entrance to a natural passage that extended into the far distance.  Realising that he had found the marauding devils responsible for all the trouble, he courageously decided to track them to their lair and confront them, rather than return to the surface and waste time rounding up re-enforcements.  He crept along the passage, the carousing getting louder as he progresses, and entered a huge chamber.  Across on the far side, the whole scene was illuminated in the glare of a blazing log fire, lighting up about 30 tents pitched on the sandy floor, and the gang of ruffians, sprawled about drinking and bellowing crude songs and chewing on hunks of freshly roasted meat.

Before the diver could retreat from this hellish scene he was seized upon by one of the gang who had been lurking behind him and dragged over to the firelight, where a deadly hush was spreading like an invisible pall through the singing and bellowing which gradually petered out and came to a stop, while everybody looked at the diver from under their eyebrows, glaring at him and gnashing their teeth.  But the diver wasn’t the type of bloke to be intimidated and he started in on the motley crew as to who the hell were they and what was their game?  One of the ruffians got up off his hunkers and strode over to the diver, standing in front of him with his hands on his hips and glaring at him out of un-squinting eyes buried deep in his tangled black beard.

He stood there, swaddled in asbestos rags, all strapped up and buckled together and hung about with some sort of baked and blackened  leather-plated suit of armour, reeking of sweat and charcoal, and then, throwing out a pointed arm at the diver and blaring at him as if he was at least half-a-mile away, the ruffian roared, “I’ll tell you who we are!  The C.W. Smith-Brown Consortium of Specialist Cave researchers!  That’s who! And our ‘game’ as you call it, started under the Appian Mountains whilst you were sucking milk out of a bottle! Not in some piddling grott-hole like this!  Destiny, aye, destiny! – guided us to discover a series of unique chambers”. He pointed directly upward, “When we were sweating out our guts driving railroad tunnels beneath the mountains. Unique because they were completely sealed within the geo-historic rock structure’!”

He stabbed his finger at the diver’s chest.  “How do you account for that, Eh!  I’ll tell you!  Because cave evolution starts at the bottom of the system and not at the top like everybody thinks!  Your so-called entrance is merely the route taken by comparatively recent streams and rivers percolating through earthquake cracked strata, widening out and disintegrating the loose rock in the falling waters and washing all the rubbish below into the original and ancient cavity, blocking it and chocking it!  That’s how!”  He smashed his fist into the palm of his hand to drive the point home.  “My own scientific analysis of the original chambers proved that they were natural reservoirs, isolated from the surface, and at one time had continued ‘yer actual primeval high pressure superheated steam which had cooled and condensed over the years to leave the cavities as I discovered them!  Proliferously decorated with calciferous formations encrusted with mineral deposits and containing residual lakes of crystal clear pure water.”

He glared savagely at the diver, and ranted on, “But your so-called ‘experts’ wouldn’t believe my theory! Even with the proof.  So I had to go out, alone, to find an active steam reservoir into which I could descend. However, this task was too difficult even for me and I had to abandon my expedition and leave my men, stout fellows all of them.  God rest their souls, down there.”  He wiped a tear from his eye, “But I found the next best thing!” he roared in triumph, “I found what I was looking for in the geysers!  Identical in every way to the steam reservoirs, but with vents leading out to the surface!  And I found something else” he nodded his shaggy head.  “Fantastic flutings and scallopings, all sculptured out and eroded by the pressurised movement of thousands of tons of cataracting boiling water being forced though the pipes and passages leading up from the present day superheated reservoir!”

He looked at the diver. “What do you think of that then? Eh!”  The diver knew what he thought about it alright but it would have been more than his life was worth to say so and he knew that too.  So he nodded his head as if vastly impressed and asked timidly, “What’s that all got to do with you being here then?”  “Everything!” roared the ruffian.  “I am now concentrating the final phase of my research into the exploration and cataloguing of examples of geologically ancient systems broken into and enlarged by surface erosion such as your rivers and streams where deep down passages reveal the original flutings and scallopings and remnants of the condensation-deposited formations polluted and overlaid with your modern calciferous drip and trickle such as you would find in this rat trap of a place we are standing in now!”

He gestured imperiously and one of his henchmen scuttled up to his elbow with a foaming tankard of ale. The ruffian threw back his head and tipped the contents of the tankard down his gullet in one convulsive swallow and then hurtled the empty pewter at the rocks with a resounding clang of ruptured metal.  The diver blanched in recognising the tankard as his own, which had disappeared from the pub one night along with all the liquor and beer in the place.  The black bearded ruffian continued “And I shall complete my thesis and put it before your so called ‘experts’” he practically spat the word. “When I finish my investigations of one or two rather fine examples of extinct geyser systems we have discovered down here.  In fact, they may be merely dormant.  In which case I shall reactivate them to prove my point!”

The diver began to feel real fear then and looked around at the silent stares of the listening ruffians, wondering whether he would ever see daylight again.  The leader of the gang stared at him menacingly, as if he was looking at some species of vermin fit only to be extinguished under his heel, and hissed, “Listen carefully, my friend, I don’t know who you are, because I’ve never seen you before.  But just in case you intend to come here very often, then there is something I should tell you, and that it, that if I were you, I would regard this precarious state of your personal welfare with some concern,” and adding in his normal conspirational growl, “That is, unless you are prepared to deliver my message to the Total Amalgamation Committee!”

“M – message?” stammered the diver, surprised at the ruffian’s knowledge.  “Oh yes, my friend” the ruffian nodded, “We know everything that goes on, and where our enemies are, make no mistake about that!  But we require the – er, assistance” he put a delicate emphasis on the word, “of additional surveyors and explosives experts to replace the heavy casualties we have sustained so far.  The entrance to our working in Grunters Hole, and has been well signposted.  The –er, volunteers,” again the delicate emphasis, “Will have little difficulty if finding their way down to us” His voice rose to a shout again.  “We are offering a truce, a message of peace and seasonal goodwill amongst all speleologists and an invitation to join us in our glorious quest!”  He threw his arms wide.  “Recognition in return for all the years of toil!  That is all we demand!”

At an abrupt sign of dismissal from their ferocious leader six of the ruffians hustled the diver away without another word down a passage and then along the warm banks of a broad river with coils of steam curling from its surface, sliding past, black and sift and hissing gently in its channelled bed of hot rock.  They led him on into a small chamber and motioned him upwards, still silently in reply to all his questions.  “Merry Christmas!”, he shouted at them as a parting shot.  “Is it?” snarled on of them, “That’s what you think!”  The leader of the escort smashed the snarling one across the face with is clenched fist and shouted, “Shut your mouth and get below, you scum!  That goes for the lot of you!  On the double!”

The listening post down in Grunter’s Hole heard the diver ascending and since nobody was supposed to be down there, they carried out their orders and released an avalanche of boulders upon him.  Fortunately he was under a ledge when it happened and so escaped serious injury by the skin of his teeth.  Recognising his voice bellowing a stream of obscene protest, they switched off the electrocution grills and allowed him to proceed towards the surface after listening to an account of his ordeal, and then settled down again with redoubled vigilance in case any of the villainous crew below should attempt an exit.

The Total Amalgamation Committee, in session at Lower Mines, thanks to the hospitality of the Wessex Catering Society Caving Club, heard the message in silence and sent out immediate instructions ordering the entrance shaft in Grunter’s Hole to be blown up, sentries posted with walkie-talkie R.T. sets at the entrance to Trebor Gulch, McDuffbert’s Swallet, Blookey Hole resurgence, and all the other caves on Pidnem offerin’ an escape route for the gangsters below.  They then prepared an official communiqué containing the diver’s information and had the contents relayed by the Hut Warden through the communications board to the leaders of all underground patrols and listening posts instructing them to converge on Blookey Hole through the gangster’s own connecting tunnel which they had driven from the end of Trebor Gulch Extension; and which had only been discovered by prowling patrol a matter of hours before.

Fox the Ferret – leader of one of the patrols – earphones clasped to his head heard of the news in stunned silence.  “What did you say?” he spluttered, “Take the gang into custody!  Use force if it is required!  Re---quired?  You must be joking!  C.W. Smith- Brown  God help us! I tell you, you’d better call out the Army!  We’re all doomed down here!  I know the fellow, he’s a homicidal maniac!”  But the Hut Warden had more to occupy himself with, than listening to Fox’s blathering and plugged into the next line.

Meanwhile, back on the deserted surface, holes started to appear all over the place as one depression after another subsided in clouds of dust.  The Pidnem Preservation Society went berserk when farmers demolished dry stone walls and old buildings and anything else they could lay their hands on to stuff down the holes.  Whatever it was, he – C.W. Smith-Brown – was into something big, the way it kept falling down on him.  Nobody felt safe; it was like having a giant mole burrowing away under your feet.

Sheep Lair Pit blew up in a plume of smoke and steam and trippers came from all over the country to see the new attraction.  England’s one and only geyser.  Hotwells Springs stopped flowing and the Roman Baths dried up.  The cavers at Pidnem scoured the depths in a state of raging fury, determined to trap the Anti-Caver and his; by now somewhat depleted; pack of ruffians in their underground fortress.  And they were right of his heels when he played his last trump card and destroyed the caver’s lines of communication.

Up at Lower Mines the Hut Warden was on duty, co-ordinating the chase and zeroing in the pursuit, alone; for even the Total Amalgamation Committee had joined in the hunt now that the kill was about to be made.  Outside, a patch of snow, adjacent to the wet wall of Lower Mines, was melting away and evaporating into the frosty air.  Intuitive cattle, sending danger, stampeded away from the zone of impeding danger. The Hut Warden, squatting at the communication switch board, passing instructions to the leader of one of the underground pursuit teams, looked up, puzzled, and listened carefully to the grunting, muffledly-thunderous vibrations emanating from under his chair.

Outside, where the snow had melted, the exposed ground lifted off like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube, and in one almighty violent concussive crack, exploded into fragments and spewed upwards in a cloud of dust.  The Hut Warden, hurtled out of his chair by the impact of the tremor, which hade made the whole building lurch and had brought the tiles careering down off the roof, rushed out through the three foot wide crack in the west wall, and in a state of pure terror made an impossible leap of twenty feet straight across the mouth of a gaping shaft out of which a column of steam rolled and towered upwards in to the grey sky.  Dormant geyser number two had been reactivated!

The Total Amalgamation Committee, exhausted and at it’s wits end, sat in session.  “Get Fox in here!” snapped the grim-faced Chairman. “Fox!  We have read your letter describing your experience with this man Smith-Brown, with great interest.  It’s a great pity you didn’t cut his rope when you had the chance.  It would have saved everybody a lot of inconvenience. Still, I suppose you’re no more of a clairvoyant than the rest of us.  I can’t understand why you didn’t come forward before, but now that you are here perhaps you can be of some use.  You say you have some influence with the man, or rather, I should say, had. Can you tell us more?”  “Only this,” replied Fix, “You’ll never get him! The only way that you’ll get rid of him is to seal up the whole of Pidnem and grab him when he digs his way out!” “Obviously impossible!” snapped the Chairman, “He could come up anywhere as we well know!”  “There is another way, now I come to think of it” said Fox slowly, “And that would be to offer him a bigger challenge”

The Chairman stared at him, waiting for further enlightenment.  “Perhaps we could get him interested in an expedition to the Andes or the Himalayas” said Fox consideringly.  “He’s probably been there already” said the Chairman resignedly.  “Is that the best you can do?”  One of the Committee interrupted.  “We’re getting nowhere!  Something’s got to be one!  We’ve got of get rid of him, It’s like sitting on top of a volcano, wondering when it’s going to blow up next!”  Fox jumped to his feet excitedly, “That’s it!” he yelled.  Everybody looked at him.  “Volcano! Send him down a volcano!” Everybody kept looking at him.

“Tell us more said the Chairman softly, comprehension and hope gleaming in his narrow eyes. “Vesuvius?  StromboliPopocatepetl Fuji Yama?  Where do you suggest?  We’ll pay all expenses….!”


News in brief: -

High level holes in Cuthbert’s 2 maypoled with no success.  High point in rift yet to be climbed.


Part 1 of Spelaeodes selling out fast – send your orders to Bryan Ellis or Dave Irwin as soon as possible to avoid disappointment – remember profits are for the B.E.C.  Hut Fund.


Latest issue of ‘Descent’ contains interesting articles including details of the possible link-up of all the systems on Casterton Leck, Ireby, Gragareth and Kingsdale in Yorkshire and Jim Eyre’s articled entitled ‘In the Hole of the Woman’


Two cavers rescued from Rod’s Pot, Burrington – lost their way through ruckle from Main Chamber!


East Twin, Burrington and Rumbling Hole, Leckfell ( Yorkshire) surveys available at 1/- each from Dave Irwin.  Both printed by off-set litho.


A Novel Quiz

– Literary Profile of the Committee!!!!!!!!

We all feel that we know our Committee, and as they are all (we think) literate, perhaps it is in literature that we can find the most apt descriptions of them.

Of the Committee as a whole it may be said: -  “Where village statesmen talk(ed) with looks profound and news much older than their ale went round!



Whilst taking them individually in order: -

1.                  The manners of mountaineers are commonly savage, but they are rather produced by their situation than by their ancestors. – Dr. Johnson

2.                  Pass the hat for your credits sake, and pay – pay – pay. - Kipling

3.                  The mighty answer of unmeaning rhyme. - Lord Byron

4.                  Hail fellow well met! - Swift

5.                  Then he will talk – Great Gods, how he will talk. - Lee

6.                  You shall see them on a beautiful quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall meander though a meadow of margin. - Sheridan

7.                  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire. – Revelations 1:14

8.                  I am a courtier, grave and serious – W.S. Gilbert

9.                  Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious by this sun of York – Shakespeare

10.              L’Etat – c’est moi – Louis XIV

Perhaps you can decide the order?

 by the most famous author of them all – A NON.


The Ladies Trip to Cuthbert’s 2

Sun 9th Nov. ‘69

By Joan Bennett

Typical domestic scene in one B.E.C. household – enter husband in business suit, quick change into jeans and sweater – enter bachelor friend.  Men quickly eat meal prepared by wife – exit men folk in direction of Mendip, leaving wife with the dirty dishes.  Thinks wife over washing up – “It’s a long time since my last trip to Cuthbert’s, and I would like to see Gour Rift with the dams and lots of water, and the progress being made on the dig.

After sounding out wives/girl friends of other members of the team, the time and date for a Ladies Trip to Cuthbert’s was agreed.  Before this was actually accomplished, Cuthbert’s 2 was discovered, which added considerable interest to the trip.  When the time came, however, only two wives went down the cave, accompanied by two other Lady Cavers.

The trip was completed without much difficulty (I have known much slower tourist trips) and much interest was shown in the new section of the cave.  However, our leader, and at least one member of the party was glad when the now sometimes dry Sump 1 was re-negotiated, as the dams were only taking 20 minutes to fill at this particular time.

One gentleman (of course) from the B.E.C. remarked that the “Ladies Party” conjured up a vision of crinolines and fluttering ribbons, whist a rude and crude (of course) member of the Shepton was heard to ask after “The Old Wives Party”.  I am not sure which was nearest the mark!

 (Party: Janet Woodwood, Rosemary ? (S.M.C.C.), Sally Merrett (W.C.C.) and Joan Bennett (B.E.C.).  Leader Roy Bennett.


Christmas Greetings by various members have cost them 25/- each for the Hut Find!


Bob Bagshaw has things to sell!


Car badges are available to order – contact Bob for details.


‘Bertie’ ties are available from Bob at 17/6 each or £1 If you wish to donate 2/6 to the Hut Fund.


Subscriptions are due at the end of January – remember 25/-!


Alfie’s Spelaeodes are selling out fast – no reprint – price 4/- for Part 2 – order your copy now – at the time of writing the Editor has only 90 copies left of the original 500 – Part 1 has only been on sale for three weeks!  You have been warned.


Letter To The Editor

Dear Dave,

My nife cell has for many months leaked badly.  I checked to see if it was excess electrolyte gassing over the vents during charging and seeping down inside the case.  It was not. The unit was then stripped down – no easy job – as two of the cells were badly swollen ( as shown below) and jammed solid in the outer case.

To trace the leak each cell was filled with electrolyte and upended for 24 hours.  One cell was found to leak around the top seam weld: although strangely enough it was not one of the swollen cells.

I have been given two apparently sound cells without sealing vents and am wondering which 3 cells to use. The original three are old but last five hours on main beam.


1.                  Are the swollen cells serviceable?

2.                  Can the leaking cells be satisfactorily repaired?

3.                  The replacement cells have been without seals for a year.  Has contact with air damaged the cells?

Swollen 1/8” each side

Yours sincerely

            Alan Kennet

                        November 1969


Library List No.2

List No. 1 in April 1969 issue of B.B., page 45

Caving Books cont.

A38      Caves of North West Clare          Edited E.K. Tratman

A39      History of Mendip Caving            P. Johnson

Climbing Books

b1         High Heaven (Fr. Dauphone)        Jaques Boell

b2         South Col (Everest 1953)           Wilfred Noyce

b3         First Over Everest          Houston Mount Everest. Expedition 1953

b4         Nadi Devi, The Ascent of H.W. Tilman

b5         Nanga Parbat, The Siege of        Paul Bauer

b6         Sandstone Climbs in S.E. England          E.C. Pyatt

b7         Romance of the Rocks   C.A. Hall

b8         Climbs in Canadian Rockies       F.S. Smythe

b9         Mount Everest – The Reconnaissance, 1921        C.K. Howard- Bury

b10       Kamat Conquered          F.S. Smythe

b11       Annapurna         M. Herzog

b12       Mount Everest, Epic of   P. Younghead

b13       Rakaposhi         M. Banks

b14       Conquering the Celestial Mountains         Y. Simonov

b15       Kanchenjunga – The Untrodden Peak      F.S. Smythe

b16       Mountains of the Moon   P.M. Synge

b17       Climbing, Where to Climb in the British Isles        E.C. Pyatt

b18       Mountains of Memory     Lunn

b19       Mountain Prospect         Scott-Randall

b20       Montains of Snowdonia, The       Carr & Lister

b21       Of Men and Mountains   W.C. Douglas

b22       Everest, The Ascent of   J. Hunt

b23       Rock Climbing and Mountaineering          C. Brunning

b24       Mountaineering, Readers Guide to           Library Association

b25       Britain, Climbing in         J. Barford

b26       Mountaineering, A Short manual of          Burns, Shuttleworth And Wright

b27       Mid Moor and Mountain  Balsille & Westwood

b28       Mountaineering, the Technique of            J.E.B. Wright


c1         South West England      Ward, Lock and Bowdens

c2         Fall & Caves of Ingleton, The       J. Homer

c3         Outdoor Guide, The        R. McCarthy

c4         Unbeaten Tracks            P.E. Barnes

c5         Wye Valley       Ward Lock & Co.

c6         Derbyshire         L.R. Muirhead

to be continued


Palaeolithic Sites in the Suabian Alb.

By John Ifold

The Suabiam Alb forms a section of the calcareous limestone Jura Mountains which stretch from western Switzerland to southern Poland.  Their cave deposits are seldom of any great depth, in them however are remains of abundant Upper Pleistocene fauna together with those of early human culture.

Sparse traces of a Micoquian – Mousterain industry at Kogelstein, near Schmiechen.   In the Tone Valley is the Vogelherd near Stetten where G. Rick

Excavated what is, up to the present, stratigraphically the most important Pleistocene deposit in southern Germany (a lower most flaking industry) a Micoquian – Mousterian industry, a simple Mousterian industry; a typical Aurignacian industry with figurines; a developed Aurigniacian industry; a Lower Magdalanian industry and an Upper Magalenian industry.

There are nine Aurignacian figurines which can be seen in the museum at Heidenheim.

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

The new rift passage discovered in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (Cuthbert’s 2) brings to light a new area of the development of the cave in more ways than one.  As is well known the entrance to the cave is developed in Lower Limestone Shales, from whence the major part of the system traverses the Black Rock Limestone.  It now appears that the Black Rock Limestone has been completely traversed and the cave has entered the Vallis Limestone.

The junction of these two rock-types is known as the  horizon, and is marked by the entrance of the fossil Caninia (a coral).  It is also the location of a highly fossiliferous chert bed.  I believe that the junction is located in the new rift at the side of the 10ft. pothole. Near the base odd the pothole several large fossils in a chert bed are well exposed and thus add to the many other fossils locations in St. Cuthbert’s.  If this turns out to be the  horizon, then the existence of the pothole may be explained by differential erosion of the Vallis Limestone with respect to the Black Rock Limestone.

Another property of the Vallis Limestone is that it might be dolomitised; this could affect the structure of the cave.  The thickness of the Vallis Limestone at this point is probably about 100ft. and so the rift may have already entered the Burrington Oolite or at least be on the point of entering it.

                        Yours faithfully

                                    Mike Luckwill.



Expedition Ariege 1970

By ‘Kangy’

In the foothills of the Pyrenees, in what is said to be one of the most beautiful regions of France, lies a vast unexplored area of limestone.  This area, the Ariege, is south-west of Toulouse and is forested with deciduous trees carpeting shapely peaks, giving a travel bureau gloss to a hollow interior.

Goerges Jauzion knows all and he and the Societe Meridional de Speleologie et de Prehistoire know of a large number of holes which require looking at.  One of their problems is in the fact the embarrassing number of unexplored holes and the manpower required to sort them out.

At the beginning of November I went with Georges to a small mountain near St. Giron which is a small town not far from Toulouse. We left Toulouse at 5.00 in the morning, met the representatives of 6 or 7 local clubs and then went together with a load of ladders and rope. The drive finished at the end of a steep stony track just as dawn was breaking.  The cars were left on a col to contemplate superb views while the gear was shared amongst us.  We then shouldered our way up into the Beech Forest for an hour or so until a hole was reached. Not immediately obvious through the trees and half hidden in dead leaves, was a small depression in a half-cup of limestone.

This was Q.M. 1 which is shorthand for the first possibility at Quero Maldido.  It was quickly prepared by setting up a winch bolted to adjacent rocks while about 450 feet of ladder was lowered into the hole.  The lifeline was positioned around the winch and then arranged to hang unobstructed into the shaft through a pulley lashed to some trees.  The first man down returned and reported a sloping ledge at 50 metres (155ft.) and that the shaft, which was 15 metres in diameter, continued.  We all ate lunch with great contentment.

The assault began seriously after lunch and three men went down to the 50 metre ledge to continue the descent.  The hours passed slowly for those waiting on the surface and even more slowly for the back-up team.  Then, inevitably, came the first news; progress stopped at 130 metres (430ft.). The full story, gleaned later, was that the shaft finished at about 80 metres below the ledge in a rocky floor with no immediate prospect of pushing further.

Well that was that for the day. The point of the story is that this was the first descent of a shaft, deeper than Gaping Gill, and there are more where this one came from! Georges has suggested that we send a team next year to jointly explore the region.  The end of July or early August would be the best time.  To give some idea of what could be involved the sketches show a few shafts already entered.  The Coume Ferrat, in particular needs another descent in order to do a colouration test.  The time for the trip is estimated to be 3 – 4 days.  Also shown are the Quero Maladido 1, Chaou Marti with a free pitch of 120m and Pique Grane with a free pitch of 140m (400ft.)  Rather more horizontal caves were described in an earlier article of mine this year.

If you are interested in good food, wine, company, and rewarding original exploration in a region full of caves sporting and prehistoric then get in touch with Dave Irwin or me – quick!

Ed. Note:          Recently Georges was in Bristol recently and he spent a day on Mendip humping pipes down to the Cuthbert’s Sump.  He was most impressed with the system. He will be in England for about two years starting next March. I’ve no doubt that we haven’t seen the last of him yet.  He is quite keen to have a B.E.C. party visit the area described by Kangy. There are over 1,000 holes recorded in the Arige area and only some 200 surveyed.




Report of the Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting will appear in January B.B.


The first accurate survey of Sidcot Swallet will appear in the B.B. soon – another B.B. first!


Cavers Bookshelf

By Daphne Stenner

‘ABOUT CAVES’ by Terry Shannon; illustrated by Charles Payzant; Muller’ Junior Look, Read and Learn Series 8.  Price 9/6d.

This is an ideal book for the child who asks ‘Why does Daddy go caving’. And then wants to know about cave formations, prehistoric animals, cave paintings etc.  It covers, in language suitable for youngsters,  the different ways caves are formed, from the vadose and phreatic limestone caves, to ice caves, sea caverns and lava caves. A few of the terms are typically American, Spelunker for example, and all the references are to American caves but the simple drawings are clear enough for children to understand.  After touching on the uses of caves by pre-historic animals, primitive man and Indian flat-builders, the book ends with a few typical legends of caves and how they got their names.  I thought the Floyd Collins example rather gruesome for my 5 year old but it didn’t seem to worry him.  The size of the print is good for the child just staring to read for himself and this book was voted as one we would like to have on the bookshelf at home instead of just borrowed from the library.  At 9/6 it would make a good Christmas present for the 5 to 11 age groups.


Stoke lane:  Three brothers (surname Clodsworthy) were overdue on a trip to Sump 1 in Stoke. MRO were called out.  They were found just beyond the Muddy Oxbow and were lost.  They apparently made little or no attempt to find their way out as they could not decide which was the correct way on – through the duck or the Muddy Oxbow.  If they had remembered the old maxim – if lost follow the stream – then they would have got out without any trouble.

Swildon’s Hole:  A party of four were overdue from a round trip through the Troubles.  MRO were called out.  At about midnight they were contacted by a search party at the bottom of Vicarage Pot.  They had missed the connection with the Two streamway and had abseiled down into the pot, pulling the rope after them, before they realised that they had gone wrong. As they were students at Bristol University perhaps they ought to be taken in hand!

Letter to the Editor

Dear Dave

Following the ‘breakthrough’ at the sump in St. Cuthbert’s a certain amount of controversy seems to have arisen which I feel is due to the very unreasonable attitude taken by people who had not been involved in the work leading to the discovery of St. Cuthbert’s 2.

Criticism has been aimed chiefly at those who withheld the news until Saturday evening (less than 24 hours).  It is thought that they should have been told on Friday evening only one hour after the discovery before even these people who had actually been involved in the work had been informed.

Surely it is the prerogative of those concerned to hold back the information until they have had the chance to explore the cave fully and surely it is the right of those persons who had worked so hard on the project and did not happen to be at the sump on the Friday evening to be the first to know and have the option of being on the first exploratory trip and to ‘push’ various parts of the new cave.  If you take away this right then surely you have removed completely the motive for digging.

The chief argument put forward is that no one who had not actually been involved in the discovery would have dreamt of entering St. Cuthbert’s 2.  This argument is completely invalid since know of five people who put absolutely no effort into the operations in the last two years (and some people have recorded as many as one hundred trips) who have been involved in ‘pushing’ parts of the new cave within the first week of discovery.

If this is acknowledged to be the correct code of conduct then I think that the enthusiasm for digging in the future will be somewhat dampened.

                        Yours sincerely

                                    John Riley.        School House Farm,
                                                            Chew Stoke,
                                                            10 November 1969

Ed. Note:          It was three weeks before the discovery of Contour (or Sludge Pit) cave was common knowledge; about 1 month for Little Neath Cave; 1 month for O.F.D. II and considerably longer for several other discoveries.  24 hours is being absolutely fair with the caving world. (See Editorial page 142).


Notts Pot

By Tony Waltham
(Happy Wanderers C.C.) & L.U.C.C.

Situated high on the flank of Gragareth near the western end of the Yorkshire caving area (and therefore requiring booking through the C.N.C.C.) Notts is a classic pothole which well deserves its popularity.  Though the trip from the entrance to the sump covers only a horizontal distance of less than 400 feet, the pothole contains a wealth of passages well worth visiting for they range to a depth of 455ft. and include four different interconnecting routes down.

When first discovered the main routes down were completely dry but now the pot is invariable wet on the last two pitches, and in flood these may be impassable.  The rest of the system however, above a depth of 370 feet, is a good bad weather trip.

A few years ago some major collapses at the entrance significantly changed the shape and hydrology of the pothole, and today by far the most comfortable way down is the Centre Series, described here and shown on the survey, in section.  The entrance is a large hole in the foot of the largest of a number of shakeholes whose location is roughly marked on O.S. maps and in Pennine Underground.

Usually the entrance pitch is descended with 40 feet of ladder belayed to a stake, but it can be very easily free-climbed.  A slot in the floor then leads to a canyon passage with the stream flowing under boulders which soon come to an end.  The way on is then down the stream to a short pitch which may be very wet.  However a number of easy climbs up into the roof lead to a large dry passage and an oxbow to an alternative short pitch (20ft.) which is always dry.  At the foot of these pitches the caver is in Four-Ways Chamber (previously called Two – and Three-Ways Chamber).  The Left Hand Series leaves with the stream down a fine rift canyon passage to two very wet pitches of 60ft. and 90ft., which by contortions may be laddered fairly dry.  Opposite and up a slight bank the long and tight Right Hand Series leaves by a low bedding plane passage.  In the far corner a hole in the floor leads to the Centre Series, while above it a high passage leads via a few climbs to the Birthday Pot Route and the associated rather grotty high level passages discovered in 1967 by U.L.S.A.

To follow the Centre Series, the hole in the floor is descended by way of 70ft. of ladder down a fine free pitch, belayed to a good solid bridge.  The entire Centre Series is a succession of pitches down a single rift forms along a fault and there is little passage between the drops.  The next pitch of 25ft. down two clean steps are belayed to a chock stone immediately above it, and not to some rather dangerous flakes on the right.  Immediately after this another 25ft. pitch leads down to a small ledge (with a hole in the floor).  Avoiding the hole (which connects with the Right Hand Series) the next pitch of about 50ft. involves a descent of 20ft. and then a fine swinging traverse over another hole and down an easy slope beyond a big rock flake (see survey). This leads into a comfortable chamber at the far side which is the stream again.  Most of the water emerges from a very low duck along with the Right Hand Series, while down from the far wall another stream falls about 30ft. This is the route down followed by the Left Hand Series and the Birthday Pot Route which join at the top of the Waterfall.


Downstream is a narrow high rift passage, best followed by traversing above the stream to the head of the 30ft. waterfall.  This is easily laddered in the dry by using 45ft. of ladder belayed to a large stalagmite on the far wall at the traverse level.  The top of the pitch is then a little narrow but soon bells out into a fine circular chamber.  From here another clean canyon passage leads down a few cascades to the top of the noisy 70ft. waterfall dropping into a large chamber.  If not in full flood, the descent of this pitch is very sporting and conveniently broken by a ledge 20ft. down.

Into the chamber a large inlet stream flows down a steep rift passage. This is very short and may easily be followed up to a clear sump pool, from which flows the waters of Ireby Cavern. The sump has not yet been dived right through, though it is about 500ft. long.  Following the combined stream out of the chamber and obvious phreatic passage very soon leads to a wet 15ft. pitch, best descended by chipping another ladder to the end of the 70ft. ladder.  At the foot of this the caver lands directly in a deep large sump pool which is the bottom of the system.  The black water surface disappears into the gloom but this is the end as the sump has been dived to a hopelessly light bedding plane.  In the left hand wall a small tube passage leads in a loop back under the main chamber to a static sump which also has been dived, to a deep rift.

Altogether, Notts is well worth a visit as it is not too difficult and yet contains a fine variety of interesting pitches and a selection of routes. A party of six can reasonably expect to visit the sump and return by any route (except the slightly large Right Hand Series) in about 4 – 5 hours.

Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston s Mare, Somerset.
Hon Treas: - R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
EDITOR:  D.J. Irwin. 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.


…and for your Christmas reading we offer the largest Belfry bulletin ever published – some 40 pages containing material from all quarters.

Accounts of this years visits to foreign parts including Austria, Ireland and France.  ‘Alfie’ concludes his series on the Route Severity Diagram and adds his usual Christmas contribution which is in competition with ‘Jok’ Orr’s piece of fiction ‘A Season of Goodwill’.  Jok tells me in passing that he had to do ‘one ‘ell of a lot of swotting for this piece of work – the auld cool!’  And for Mendip readers an account of the discoveries of Cuthbert’s 2 fills the exploration and new work – also an article by ‘Prew’ on the exploration of Shatter Hole – the latest of the big finds in Fairy Cave Quarry.



A letter from John Riley (page 183) raises an important point for discussion.  If a group of cavers are working a site of caving interest and are rewarded with a discovery small or large, do they have sole right of exploration?  This problem has not been with the Mendip community since the discovery of Nine Barrow Swallet.  In that particular instance cavers other than the digging teams explored the cave before the others had a chance to get to the cave.  Arguments put forward by some of the ‘trespassing’ explorers were ‘Well, I dug here in 1962’ (six years previously) and ‘Oh, well no-one seemed interested in pushing the place’.  Now with the discovery of St. Cuthbert’s 2 all and sundry are prepared to invade the place and push like ‘hell’ under the guise of ‘just having a look round at what you have found’.

Ever since I have been caving on Mendip, the B.E.C. above all has always attempted to keep to a high standard set of caving rules including the one that goes like this, ‘If you have found a new cave or extension then it’s your good luck – let me know when I can go and have a look’.  Unfortunately, even members of the B.E.C. are appearing to be above the law and pushing passages in the new section of St. Cuthbert’s 2.  I can only add – give the team a chance to ensure that the passing of the sump (Sump 1) is safe for tourist parties and push their discovery to its limit.  This will take most of the winter but please be patient; and above all it is hoped that the rest of the Cuthbert’s leaders will show the high standard of caving ethics that is expected of them.

It’s on the way up!

November 12th 1969 proved to be another landmark on the History of the B.E.C. for on that day the much talked about, much planned and much sweated for NEW BELFRY foundation trenches were dug. Members will no doubt be regularly visiting Mendip to inspect the building during its various stages of erection and to see just what they are getting for their money.  By close inspection of the plans and seeing the size of the ground plan it appears that we shall have nothing less than a very fine club ‘hut’.  A ‘hut’, although costing over £3,200, that will be both comfortable and functional. A ‘hut’ where there will be plenty of room for everyone to carry out his own personal requirements without falling over everyone’s feet.  As with all improvements they cost more to keep up.  The running costs of the new Belfry is likely to double those of the wooden building and so it is essential that the fullest possible use is made of the place in the future.  All one can add to this is ‘As a member of the B.E.C., why not spend an occasional weekend at the Belfry and meet the current crowd on Mendip – it hasn’t changed much and is just as friendly!  (For further details see ‘Just-a-Sec below.)

Finally Christmas is near and members will be whooping it up but the B.B. doesn’t close shop for any holiday but this is where I pack up and Mike Luckwill takes over – the best of luck Mike – and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers.



Just – a – Sec.

With Alan Thomas.

At last we have the news we have been waiting for.  The erection of the new Belfry has begun.  The builder was given the go ahead on Tuesday 11th November and work begun on the 12th.  The reason for the delay was because we could not go ahead until we had a definite answer from the Pearl Insurance regarding the claim on the old Belfry.

The fact that work has begun does not mean that we have raised all the money needed but the difference has been guaranteed in the form of loans from certain members.  If we need to take up these loans they will have to be repaid and this could keep the Club short of money for a few years.  I expect most of the promises made at the dinner have now been paid but if there are any outstanding Bob will be pleased to receive them.

Pete Franklin is in charge of fund raising.  One of his schemes is a ‘Stop the clock’ competition which will require all of us to sell tickets to our friends.  We must all have a go ourselves – we might win a wrist watch – if we don’t we’ll get a new Belfry.  Anyone else with money making schemes should contact Pete.

- - - - -

Despite one or two shortcomings this year it has been decided to book next year’s Dinner at the Wookey Hole Caves Restaurant and try to iron out problems with the management. If you have any complaints about this year’s Dinner let’s hear them.

- - - - -

We now have copies in the Library of the Cambrian Caving Council Handbook.  Members who may wish to purchase their own copy may do so from N.S.J. Christopher, Crial Lodge, Gentle Street, Frome, Somerset at 2/6.

- - - - -

Similarly the Southern Council’s Handbook is available from Dr. O.C. Lloyd, Withey House, Withy Close West, Wetbury-on-Trym, Bristol at 2/6.

- - - - -

The B.E.C. has recently been elected as a Club representative on the Committee of the Cave Research Group.

- - - - -

When the erection of the New Belfry commences there will be weekly committee meetings at 8.00pm on Thursday evenings at Wig’s flat.

- - - - -

Bob Bagshaw has a number of Club ties for sale at 17/6 ea.  And at £1 if you wish to donate a further 2/6 to the Hut Fund.  Unlike the other Club’s ties that lose their emblems after washing the B.E.C. ‘Bertie’ is guaranteed to stick like other good commodities.

- - - - -

The next part of the report on St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – the complex Rabbit Warren will be published during December 1969.


November Committee Meeting

Somewhat naturally, the business of replacing the Belfry continued to dominate the business of the Committee.  Unfortunately, no reply in writing has yet been received, and thus the building was not able to start on the 20th October, as originally hoped.  However, a modest start has been made in having the cattle grid installed and the remains of the Belfry demolished.

In spite of continually rising costs, the Committee have still authorised the start of building during the month if the insurance offer comes through.  If there is no reply before the next meting, then the position will have to be reviewed.

The Hut fund continues to rise, although rather slowly.  The Committee are considering every possible way of making money, and ALL SUGGESTIONS FROM MEMBERS WIIL BE GRATEFULLY RECEIVED.  One scheme will be announced shortly.  On the brighter side, it appears that the Committee will be about able to fit out the new building at considerably less cost than it had been feared.

It has been agreed that, while the actual building is going on, the Committee will meet EVERY WEEK so that decisions can be rapidly taken as required.

Alan Tringham, Geoffrey Moore and Martin Bishop were elected to membership of the Club.

S.J. Collins,
Minutes Secretary.

Address Changes and Additions

Alan Bonner, 14 Monkseaton Drive, Whitley Bay, Northumberland.
718       A. Tringham, North Longwood, Beggar Bush Lane, Failand, Nr. Bristol.
719       M. Hauan, 24 Elberton Road, Sea Mills, Bristol, BS9 2QA.


Sorry to have to remind you all but your subscriptions will be due on the 31st January 1970.  Please make a determined effort to get them sent in on time – every penny counts.  Please enclose your membership card with your subscription and preferably an S.A.E. so that Bob has no excuse for a quick reply!  Subscription 15/- still one of the cheapest on Mendip when one considers that 12/6 is the actual sub and the other 12/6 is for the building fund; a levy that will be removed sometime in the next few years. Come pay and look cheerful!


Odds and end…

Cuthbert’s leaders meeting: Flood drainage to be improved at the entrance.  Maypole Series to remain closed for ‘bug’ collecting – helpers required.



Its out at last!!!

THE LONG AWAITED Part 1 of ‘Alfies’ S)P)E)L)A)E)O)D)E)S) with cartoons by ‘Jok’ Orr.

4/-  + 9d.  p &  p.

includes the tales of: -

Freddy Fry who attempts to dry out Stoke Lane

Kenneth Lyle and his Caving Machine

Sammy Smayle and his cider drinking exploits.

Limited edition so order as soon as possible and make sure of your copy.

PART TWO expected early 1970 and includes tales of Walter Wade; Gilbert Grough; Gordon Gripe and Jimmy Truckles. Place your order now. More details on the January issue of the B.B

Caving Reports

No.13. Part A.  St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (a B.E.C. best seller).

“Discovery Exploration”  photographs and 38 pages of text.  Price 6/-. (only a few left - and that’s a fact!).

No.13. Part F.  St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Gour Hall area.

Complete description and survey.  Photos and survey notes.  PRICE 3/-.

No.13. Part E.  St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Rabbit Warren.

Complete description and survey.  Photos and survey notes.  PRICE 5/-. (Published mid-January 1970).

Further details of new Caving Reports in next issue of B.B.

Caving Reports and Belfry Bulletins available from Bryan Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset OR Dave Irwin, 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.

Cavers Bookshelf

by ‘Kangy’

“From Sea to Ocean”, by J.M. Scott published by Bles at 30/-.

I bought this book, just after publication this year, before my holidays.  It describes walking along the Pyrenees and that was were I went.

I fact it wasn’t much use as a guide and I don’t recommend anyone buying it for that purpose.  It was however of great use as a piece of inspiration and have read and reread it before and after visiting some of the places the author describes.  It is not a profound book, the author’s mountaineering limitations prevent this, but a humorous and sympathetic book.  A book which makes it easy to go and see and appreciate.

“ Palaeolithic Cave Art” by Peter J. Ucks and Andrew Rosenfeld (of University College London and the British Museum). Published by World University Library in paperback for 14/-

My immediate impression, substantiated in practice was a fatiguing layout.  The figures and illustrations are all over the place giving the book an attractive appearance and inviting browsing.  In fact browsing is hindered and understanding limited because the figures are neither in one place for ease of reference nor next to the relevant text.  This is serious because frequent reference is made to the figures.  In addition the book is difficult to use because of the method of binding.  It will not stay open.  Reading is a fight.  The index does not help.  A larger format would help to display the many beautiful illustrations to better effect.  Better binding and a larger format would make a book costing many times more but it would be well worth while for, in spite of my strictures, the book is remarkable value for money.

Previous books I have read on the subject have been full of naïve wonder and far fetched speculation. Ucks and Rosenfeld have read all these and more and after clear analysis makes common sense of the whole thing, presenting what seems to be all the available evidence and pointing to a conclusion in a very reasonable way.

They are constructive in their criticism and indicate many possible lines of research.  For example, they draw attention to the need for exploration of known important sites.  Scarcely any accurate surveys exist!  The necessity for surveys is made obvious in the text.

They are rightly cautious on the use of ethnographic parallels.  After reading “The Naked Ape” I’m influenced enough to be even more cautious about drawing conclusions from ‘primitive’ peoples but their conclusions are fair.

Perseverance with this book is easy in spite of the obstacles caused by the production of this book.  The contents are excellent.


Ahnenschacht 1969

By Alan Thomas

We realised that there was little the advance party, consisting of Colin Priddle (Pope), Ian Daniels and myself, could do as we would have no gear.  In the event, however, the advance party was found to be useful as well as enjoyable.

To begin with we found that our friends, the Koglers, were no longer in charge of the Höchkogelhütte – though we managed to spend an enjoyable evening with them at their flat in Ebensee later.  It was then necessary to make friends with the new management as it seemed in doubt at first whether we would even be allowed to cook.  We soon found however that our new host, Gridi Hörhager was prepared to dispense with hospitality in the manner in which we were accustomed.

On Wednesday (30th July) the weather had changed for the worse and after a morning spent at the Hut we set out to investigate a hole on the path some distance below which I had noticed last year and which might be a lower entrance to the Ahnenschacht.  We soon found that though there were several holes from which powerful cold draughts emerged most of them were too small to get in. It was not long before Pope found a much more promising group of holes a little further down.  We pushed into several of these but were not able to do much at the time through lack of gear.

A large number of holes in the area have been noticed by the Landesverein für Hohlenkunde and their national catalogue number painted by the entrance.  Not all of these numbered caves have been explored and some of them are very small indeed.  It was rather surprising, therefore, that there were no numbers painted on the holes that Pope found as they were very close to the path.  Two possible explanations occur: first that they are not easily seen form the path and that secondly that people coming up the path are on their way to the hut and not really casting about looking for holes.

On Saturday 2nd August, Pope and I walked to the top of Grunberg and in the wood immediately opposite the Hut and before reaching the slope of Grunberg we found another group of holes from which a cold draught could be felt.  Further investigations of these holes on subsequent occasions led to nothing.  We no longer have a great faith in a lower entrance but I think it is more likely that one of these holes would repay a Mendip-type pushing.

On Sunday, when we were walking to Hangercherkogel, we were met by Helmuth Planer and Walter from Linz.  Back at the Hut were Helena, Helmuth’s wife and Judi, his four year old daughter, they will be spending the week with us.

On Monday morning we were joined by the others from England who has some trouble with the ford transit.  Six journeys brought all our gear to the top and the tent which Robin had donated to the club was erected as a store house.

On Tuesday everybody carried gear up to the Ahnenschacht.  A party comprising Helmuth, Robin, Dick, Brain, Dave Yeandle, Colin Dooley and myself spent four hours laddering the Sinterterasse and taking some other gear down in preparation for the next day’s party.  Robin put in 5/16” red heads on the awkward entrance pitch to break it into two and on the pitch below where the belay was unsatisfactory.

Mike calibrated the compass and the rest looked further into the possibilities of a lower entrance but without success so far.

On Wednesday, whilst Derek and I accompanied by Gidi and his two children, went to Grunden with the transit to have it repaired, a party went down the Ahneenschacht with the intention of laddering all the way to Schachtgabel.  The party consisted of Pope, Ian, Martin, Brian and Bob Criag.

They had a seven hour trip but did not quite succeed in their intention.  They managed to get the ladder as far as half-way down the 250ft. pitch from Shuppenstuffe.

On Thursday, a party consisting of Dave Yeandle, Derek Harding. Martin, Dick, Colin and myself went down to complete the laddering.  We put in a ¾” red head in on the ledge of the awkward 170ft. pitch thereby making it into two pitches but both life-lined from Sinterterrasse. Martin wet to the bottom of the pitch to make sure it was free all the way down.  A five hour trip.

We were now ready for the first big push.  A party of twelve (including Helmuth and Walter; excluding myself and Derek who went to fetch the Transit back) left the Hut at 7.30am.  The large party took some time descending the pitches.  Mike was first to reach Schachtgabel and Martin soon joined him.  By now it was mid-day and as Bob Craig was at the bottom, Mike and Martin went into the horizontal to ladder the first new pitch, when they came back, Dave Yeandle had arrived and by 2.30pm the ‘deep’ party was completed by the arrival of Brian. Marin and Bob had already left to descend the ladder, which had been placed in the small tube descending beside the big pitch and entered a horizontal passage.  The rest soon caught up with them in a large muddy chamber about 20ft in diameter.  This was explored, surveyed and an extension followed until it met another pitch.  On returning to the main passage an 8m climb down a mud fill allowed Martin to discover another 80m of descending passage which ended in a shaft and then the party made its way to the Waterfall and taking the right hand fork the Main Shaft was soon in sight.  This shaft is an awesome sight; perhaps 120m deep and 35m in diameter; it is formed in white limestone and surrounded at the top by steep and treacherous mud slopes.  Threading its way through a chaos of collapse chambers to the right of the shaft the descending rift was reached; this is very heavily decorated and contains some excellent cave flowers, following this to the bottom of the large chamber in the mud series was again reached, thus completing the first round circle of the cave. Two thirds of the way down the passage parallel passage was entered which swung round to the left and entered a long rift some 20m deep.

With little time to spare the party then went to the end of the Wind Tunnel.  The 20m pitch into the rift chamber was not descended and the descending passage in the other direction soon became impassable without a hand-line.  On return to Schachtgabel soup was prepared and at about 8.00pm the party ascended and all were out of the cave by 1.00am and soon returned to the Hut for soup and sleep.

A party consisting of Derek, Dave, Martin, Bob and I went into the cave at 10.30am on Sunday.  We went as quickly as possible taking food, photographic gear and extra tackle into the horizontals.  First we followed the Wind tunnel to its conclusion.  A small hole gave access to a large rift chamber via a 3½m ladder.  At the end of the climb was a meandering rift passage whose walls were covered in carbon coated bot. stal.  This was followed for 33m but became impassable.  Derek looked at a side passage just before the chamber.

Returning to the junction we followed the Descending Passage.  At the end of this Martin and I went down a ledge to the bottom of a chamber. The ledge seemed unstable so we suggested the others came on the rope.  Derek did this O.K. but as Bob came down the place where the rope was began to collapse.  Dave stayed above.  The whole of this chamber is very unstable and in places a large pot cane be seen underneath.  Further progress in the direction of the passage was prevented by a pot of some 100ft. A rift on the right hand side of the chamber could be descended for a short distance but it came out into the side of the pot a drop of 80ft. would still have to be negotiated.

After we had been to the end of the Descending Passage we returned to a small sand floored chamber near the entrance of the horizontals where we tried to sleep for two hours with little success as we were extremely cold.  We were, in fact, glad to get up for a rest.  (At about this stage I succeeded in cutting my head open when I banged it on the roof.  I keep telling people to jeep their helmets on – that must be why).  After the abortive attempt at sleeping we explored a small labyrinth on the right hand side, just below our sleeping chamber, which led to the mud series.

Martin took 30 pictures of different parts of the cave.  We felt that we had adequately explored the lateral system but of course we did not give it the full Cuthbert’s treatment (what’s that? – Ed.).

We had been long aware that Ahnenschacht (meaning Ancestors Shaft) was no longer descriptive of the cave as a whole.  Derek came up with the idea that what we had been referring to as the ‘horizontals’ should be named ‘Cave of the Ancestors’.  As well as matching the name Ahnenschacht it is descriptive of the dead world of decaying stal. and churt covered rock to which it leads.  About this time, too, we decided, by mutual agreement, that the ‘Boy’ should hereafter be known as Dave Yeandle.  As you know he was the recipient under the terms of the Ian Dear Bequest and I feel sure that Ian would have considered it money very well spent.

We now began the long journey to the surface.  We had been unable to examine my head properly (?  Ed) and so it was decided that I should go out as soon as possible with the view of going to the doctor.  I set off up the 250ft. pitch gladly thinking of a rest on the ledge half-way up whilst I hauled up the bags of tackle.  Unfortunately I was denied this as my light went out and I was unable to find the ledge and was forced to keep going until I reached the top.  I was very grateful to Pete and Brain, who were life-lining there, for the pull they gave me.

I then went half-way up the 170ft. pitch where I had to wait to clear the life-line for the next person. The others soon climbed the 250ft. pitch and worked like Trojans to get the tackle up.  It was over an hour before Derek joined me on my ledge. Unfortunately I had dozed off not long after getting there and never nearly got warm again.  I went on up the Sinterterasse at the top of the 170ft. pitch where Dick, Colin and Robin had hot soup prepared.

As soon as Derek and Martin were up we proceeded to the surface which we reached late on Monday afternoon very pleased to see daylight after over thirty hours underground.  The support party did more than support – they got all the tackle up as far as Sinterterase.

The next day everyone rested; some went to Offensee swimming and I went to the doctor (he somewhat surprisingly told me not to take my helmet off underground).

On Wednesday, a party went down and finished de-tackling and we carried everything back to the Hut.

A couple of days previously the Seilbahn had broken down, the hauling cable having snapped immediately enmeshing my car and the Transit in cable, but no damage was done.  Faced with the alternative of carrying all our gear down to Mitteroher where the vehicles were, we were rather pleased that it was repaired by Thursday and we were able to bring our expedition to a successful conclusion.

We think we have explored the Cave of the Ancestors part of the system pretty thoroughly and know where all the main passages go.  The shafts remain of course, and they will have to be descended. Time is a great healer and already I am thinking about those shafts.

Bob, Dave and myself remained for another week.  The weather was terrible and we were forced to drink beer instead of going out but this did allow Dave to discover and explore his cave.



-------------------------------------------------MANY THANKS----------------------------------------------------


Pursuit of the Dining Room Stream

By John Riley

As mentioned in previous B.B.’s, Cerberus Rift has been a site of interest for several months and after Dave Irwin, Mike Luckwill, John Riley and Dave Turner had dug out the gravel choke from which the Dinning Room Stream ran, a small chamber was discovered, back in June. The gravel choke has since showed itself to be one of the most ‘orrible’ places in the cave, being slightly reminiscent of the Mud Sump in Swildons! Perhaps it is fortunate that the dig did not go anywhere very much otherwise it may have been necessary to visit it more often!!

In the ‘chamber’ most of the Dining Room Stream enters through gravels by the left hand wall, although some flows down over a stal. flow to the right of this.  The flow was ascended using a maypole and a knobbly dog and was found to lead to a ‘T’ junction.  The left hand passage is blocked while the right hand passage leads over stal. to a very tight squeeze. It was found impossible to penetrate this and since at times a strong draught was emitted it seemed worthwhile ‘pushing’ it. Roy Bennett appeared on the scene complete with bang box but failed to open the squeeze sufficiently to get through.

A second go with bang on 5th December by Dave Serle open a hole sufficiently for John Riley to get through on the 6th only to find after turning left, following the passage for 12ft. over a small pool and a 6” fractured stalagmite, the passage was again blocked with stal.

Further pushing doesn’t really seem worthwhile as the second blockage will require a great deal of effort to remove.


Extensions above Cerberus Rift.


A Spherolithic Saga

Once again it is Christmas time.  (Actually, it is a stinking hot day in the middle of summer, but articles have to be written in advance).

Imagine, if you dare, a meeting of the Belfry Bulletin Literary, Historical and Scientific Research Committee trying to decide what cultural pearl to cast before readers of the Belfry Bulletin 1n 1969.  In years past and at great expense, they have unearthed hitherto missing portions of the Rubaiyat of Omar Obbs; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Beowulf.  They have made collections of valuable scientific laws; they have revealed most of the history of the B.E.C.  What else can there be possibly left to do.


Consider these erudite gentlemen sitting quietly frustrated and surrounded by an aura of learning, old cigar smoke and beer fumes.  At last one old fellow emits a cackle and shakes in nervous excitement and the D.T.’s. “What we want”, he chortles, “Is a ball.”  There is a collective sigh.  “I mean,” he explains, “A crystal ball – for looking into the future” he concludes somewhat unnecessarily.

At once, life comes back to the old gents.  At dead of night, a slow precession creaks its way into Cuthbert’s.  Old wooden ladder is carefully unreeled.  Candles are lit and, deep in the secret recesses of the cave (not shown in B.E.C. Caving Report 13) a giant Sphereolite is carefully crystallised.

The results of this work have been so astonishing that we hesitate to make them generally known. Indeed, like our History of Mendip Caving, it may not be believed at all.  All the same, we feel that this report should be presented to the public at large (whatever that may mean)……

The 1970’s were a frustrating period for Mendip Caving.  The number of cavers continued to rise while the number of caves stubbornly refused to increase.  North Hill Swallet was, of course, continued and even caves like Alfie’s Hole were opened in sheer desperation.  23 new caves, it is true discovered in Fairy Cave Quarry during the 1970’s, but over the same period, 24 were quarried away – a net increase of minus one.  The B.E.C.  Long Term Planning Committee were still confident of obtaining a grant for the New Belfry.  Meanwhile, permission was obtained to erect two temporary huts on the site.  By 1976, there were over 300 caving clubs on Mendip and clubs visiting the area that year were estimated to be over 600.  By 1977 the situation had got so bad – with clubs as far a field as the JOCC’s (John O’Groats Caving Club) visiting every weekend, that the M.R.O. was forced to introduce traffic regulation into all Mendip caves and to organise the C.T.P – or Cave Traffic Police – to enforce them. Very few cavers in those dark days escaped without at least one endorsement on their caving licenses.

Even worse were the queues. On popular weekends, the queues for Swildons and Eastwater would overlap somewhere near Priddy Stores and the suffering of cavers waiting on bitter winter days to go underground were indescribable.  Many cases of exposure and exhaustion were treated every weekend on this most gruelling part of any caving trip.  Cuthbert’s was not much better off.  The introduction of clearways – like the one from the entrance down to Mud Hall – helped a little, but a worn out caver entering Mud Hall on his way out knew that he must go on or face the chance of an endorsement or even have a suspension of his license.  In vain, some pleaded that they were engaged on important work in the cave.  This cut no ice with the dreaded C.T.P. and thus further exploration was discouraged.

All the clubs tried to find ways out of this dilemma, which was threatening to put a stop to caving entirely.  In some caves, even breathing became difficult owing to the vast numbers of cavers in the cave.  Some clubs invested in breathing equipment.  Others installed ventilation in their caves.  Over 500 diggers were recruited to dig North Hill Swallet, and 3 to enlarge Alfie’s Hole.

In 1978, the B.E.C. Committee decided to lend the entire Hut Fund (which had been growing at compound interest) to finance the production of a cave locator designed by Setterington, Prewer and Price.  In return, the club held all patents.  At the 1979 A.G.M., many irate speakers questioned this action by the Committee as being unconstitutional.  In reply, the treasurer blandly pointed out that the 1968 A.G.M. had given him powers to invest the money’ as he thought fit’.

By 1981, this locator had passed its preliminary tests (locating the Belfry sceptic tank) and had found three new caves.  The Committee, being urged by the Bennetts to recover the money spent on it, began to prowl round Mendip with the device, quickly buying or leasing known cave bearing land.  In 1983, a B.E.C. company called Rentacave was floated, and became an immediate success. In 1985, the club began to drive bargains with clubs in other caving areas, taking them over in return for discovering new caves in their areas.  Thus, by 1988, club membership stood at 13,200 and the profits from Rentacave not only paid back all the money to the Hut Fund, but enabled the club to buy more cave bearing land and to put up a further 5 temporary huts on the new expanded Belfry site.  The place for the New Belfry was, of course, left empty as the Long Term Planning Committee now had every confidence that the Government loan would soon be forthcoming.

In 1989, it was proposed at the A.G.M. that the title of Tackle Master be abolished and that Norman Petty should be known as Tackle Lord.

The continued profits from Rentacave, plus the membership fees from its 21,730 members in all parts of the country were wisely invested until the B.E.C. Portfolio became a legend in the City of London. It is an open secret that the knighthood of Sir Robert Bagshaw in 1992 was a consequence of his helping the Government of that time out of a nasty financial hole.

In 1993, the Long Term Planning Committee announced that the chances of obtaining the grant were now greatly increased, particularly as two club members were now standing for Parliament. The Committee approved the erection of 11 more temporary buildings in the meantime.

The passing of the Limitation of Drunken Travelling Act in 1994 made it an offence to consume alcohol at a distance greater than 1 mile form ones residence.   This led to a wholesale closing of pubs – the Hunters being one of those affected.  Brewery shares tottered.  At a general meeting of the Southern Council of Caving Clubs, the Wessex Cave Club agreed to convert the Upper Pitts into a pub in return for free facilities for all Wessex members at the Belfry site – so that they could sleep within one mile of Upper Pitts.  In addition all B.E.C. members were to join the Wessex so that they could drink st Upper Pitts. By 1996, all other Mendip clubs (with the exception of the Shepton) had joined the B.E.C./Wessex.  Membership figures in 1996 were: - B.E.C. 25,292, Wessex 21,187, Shepton 19.

In 1998 Parliament passed the first Hoverway Acxt and (largely through the efforts of the five B.E.C./Wessex members) the chosen route for this 300mph hoverway was South Devon – Mendip – South Wales – Derbyshire – Yorkshire, thus making it easier for all club members to visit their favourite caves.

In the year 2000 the Wessex Catering Club (as it was then known) laid on a Millennium barbeque on the 100 acre field.  This was attended by over 30,000 Cavers.  In preparation for this event, the B.E.C. erected 27 new temporary huts on the Belfry site.   The Long Term Planning Committee assured the club that the grant would soon arrive. Many old club members were present on Mendip now again for this event.  Alfie and Sett, for example arrived from their respective retirement villas in Spain.  The climax of the evening came when a resolution was passed to abolish the title of Tackle Lord and to crown Norma Petty Tackle King.

By 2007, in spite of efforts to repeal the Limitation of Drunken Travelling Act – breweries continued to fail and a series of amalgamations took place.  This only left two combines – Courage and Worthington.  In reply to a question raised in the House, the Home Secretary said that both of these concerns had been bought up by the Wessex, who had changed their name to the Worthington Courage Caterers.

At the A.G.M. of 2009, it was agreed to change the name of the B.E.C. to the British Exploration Club, since it was now the only caving club in the country (with the exception of the Shepton, of course).  At the next year’s A.G.M. the two surviving members of the Long Term Planning Committee said that since the club’s name had been changed, it would have to re-apply for the grant.  This was agreed and the Committee authorised to erect a further 39 temporary buildings.

In January 2011, the last member of the Long Term Planning Committee died.  Two days later, the long awaited Government grant arrived.  This sum, due to inflation, now represented 1% of the sum required for one temporary hut (of which the club now had 137) and by unanimous vote of the Committee, it was agreed that the site for the New Belfry should never be built on and that the grant should be used to erect a single plaque on this ground to mark the work done by the Long Term Planning Committee. A decision to erect a further 130 temporary huts to mark the occasion was carried amid cheers.

In 2014, a question was asked in the House by the member for Shepton Mallet ( ind) on the subject of the one mile residential limit.  He pointed out that the temporary huts at the Belfry site now stretched past the Shepton Hut on all sides and that many were more than a mile from Upper Pitts.  The Home Secretary replied that, although both these sites now occupied several square miles each, they were still listed as one residence each, and their centres were less than one mile apart. The member for Shepton said that it appeared the Government was being run by the caving lobby. 

This produced a spirited reply from the opposition benches.  Clive Price pointed out that the so-called Government had by no means a monopoly of B.E.C./Wessex membership.  He was himself a member and his father had been one of the inventors of the Cave Locator.  As Shadow Foreign secretary he could assure the House that policy in all matters would continue to be in line with that of the B.E.C./W.C.C. Committee whichever Government was in power.  He sat down amid loud cheers from both sides of the House.

In 2016, the U.S. and Russian caving expeditions to the moon set off.  In reply to a written question as to why the British Government had made no move to send a task force, the Minister of Technology, the Rt. Hon. Julian Setterington, said that it have never been the British way to spend vast sums of taxpayers money on what could be accomplished more cheaply by a little careful thought and planning.  He announced to a hushed House that two years previously, his department had sent an instrumental satellite to the moon containing the B.E.C. Cave Locator.  He was now able to state that there were no caves on the moon.  Moreover, during the last five years, when every American and Russian caver had been occupied in preparing for this unnecessary expedition, it was pleased to announce that the B.E.C. has been active in these two countries discovering new caves and forcing amalgamations of local caving clubs. Already, it was rumoured that the entire N.N.S.S. had joined the B.E.C. and that the W.C.C. had taken over Hilton Hotels throughout the world.  He said that it was no secret that both the U.S. and Russian economies had been strained to the limit by the expense of the moon expeditions and by the money poured out of both counties to the B.E.C. and W.C.C.

In 2019, the Congress of the U.S.A. tabled the Declaration of Dependence being “A humble petition to be re-admitted to the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Shepton Mallet.

At this point, one member of the B.B. Literacy, Historical and Scientific research Committee became so excited that he spilt best part of a pint of rough cider over the Sphereolite. As the acid ate into the surface of the crystal, the pictures from the future faded out – as the author of this nonsense has every intention of doing so at this stage.



A copy of B.E.C. Caving Report No.4 – The Shoring of Swallet Cave Entrances was found at the Downs end of Parry’s Lane in Bristol. The copy was returned to Bryan Ellis via his old address at North Petherton and on to Combwich.  No name was given of the sender with the note inside – who ever it may be I offer on behalf of the owner my sincere thanks.  It would appear that relations between caver and general public are not as bad as many would make out.

Should any reader think that this may be his copy of the Caving Report contact Dave Irwin.

Thinking of Christmas Presents?

When you are working out how much you are going to spend on Christmas presents this year why not included on your list a Christmas present for the New Belfry Fund?  Remember the appeal that went out in early October for £700 – well we still need about £400 - £500.  Come on give a few more shillings – they all count towards the final sum.

Remember, when the plan was first passed by the 1967 A.G.M. the idea of a new Belfry was £3,000 away – and never likely to materialise – NOW IT’S ONLY £400 - £500 away - £2 per member instead of about £15 per member.  If you can’t afford money why not contribute something to help furnish the building: - chairs, wardrobes, knives and forks, cup, plates, etc., etc.

‘Tratty and the Twenties’

The U.B.S.S. Presidential address was address of fascination and amazement to many who were present; carrying of half-plate camera, tripods, flashpowder guns, 40ft. ladders weighing 56lb., well dressed in as much woollen clothing as possible, cloth caps and carrying a candle with the free hand!

Professor Tratman gave a superb picture of caving in the ‘20’s’ and accompanied his lecture with slides showing not only rare photographs of Swildon’s Hole but many illustrating the work carried out by the Society at the time; digging at Tynnings Swallet; the first party emerging from Read’s Grotto; archaeological work in Read’s Cavern among others.  Pity Peter Johnson missed these!

At the time of the formation of the U.B.S.S., there were only two other caving organisatrions in the whole of the West of England; The M.N.R.C. and Sidcot School where most of their caving was carried out in the Burrington Coombe area – Goatchurch in particular.  One of the problems at the time was public attitude to cavers – at best they were never considered one of the community – particularly when they were seen dressed in muddy clothing on a Sunday morning.  Transport was another problem; push bikes and train service to Banwell. It appears they cycled to Mendip laden with their gear; and when Swildon’s was open for a trip ladders had to be carried out as well!  The ladders were rope and wooden rungs, the rungs being lashed to the rope sides of the ladder.  Lifelines were always used and the smallest size rope available to them was 1½” hemp (sisal and manila not being available at the time).

Early work carried out by the Society was inevitably based at the nearest point to Bristol, particularly when one was cycling carrying all the gear including digging implements and Tratty described his adventures in the first descent of Read’s Cavern and the difficulties of the tight rifts found in Tynning’s Farm Swallet which he explored with ‘Bertie’ Crook.

The attitude of cavers in those far off days were a revelation.  It was a regular thing to attempt to get out of the cave without a light; with candles as the only form of illuminant they had the annoying tendency to go out fairly often – particularly when climbing the 40’.  As one caved under these conditions so various schemes were put into operation to overcome these problems that might befall you. Candles, for example, were left burning at strategic points in the system.  Listening to Dr. Tratman one would think that caving standards are lower now than they were in those far off days – and I think he’s probably right considering the number of people that need pulling out of the Mendip caves because they feel cold!  What if there were no M.R.O.?


“Who seeks adventure finds blows”  -  Herbert.


Ireland 12th - 19th July 1969

By Roy Bennett

The party consisted of Steve Tuck, Dave Irwin and Roy Bennett, and the main intention was to more thoroughly examine the Fergus River Sink and the surrounding area.

The Saturday was spent in travelling from the ferry to County Clare with various diversions.  To begin with a sink shown near Kilkenny on the ¼in Bartholomew map was visited.  This is west of the town about a mile S.W. of Castle Blunden.  The shale limestone boundary in this area is obscured by drift and most of the drainage stays on the surface.  There was a sink roughly at the point indicated however, but the water disappeared into holes in the gravel and earth, with no solid rock exposed and no possibility of entry.

Feeling like visiting a real cave, the party descended Dunmore Cave which is large and impressive, with formations.  It is arranged in a semi-show cave with concrete steps down the entrance, but no guides or lights.  Some caving clothes are preferable if the inner recesses are to be penetrated.  The general area is one of potential caving interest as it has extensive shale limestone boundaries, but these are so thickly covered in drift that very few sinks occur (Coleman).  Dunmore Cave appears to be something of a freak, and bears little relation to present topography which shows little sign of cave development.

On reaching County Clare the party were again persuaded to investigate things speleological, in this case the hydrology of the Quin area.  This is mentioned by Coleman, where it appears from the map to be a possible subterranean cut-off of the Rine River. None of the sinks and risings mapped appeared to pass much water (? Ed) and this could all be local percolation. The relief is rather low, but there could well be some small caves in the area.

Sunday saw the team established in the Fergus River area.  A repeat inspection of the sink was made and it was concluded that no site looked as promising as the rift which was dug abortively the previous year (B.B. 1968, Vol. 22 No.2, page 96).  The shale limestone boundary to the north produced only small seepages until Lemech Castle is reached.  Here there is a small sink, where cattle are watered, with some holes just to the west of it (6” map ref. Clare sheet 16 N2.8 E8.8 O.D. 180ft.). The site could repay a little digging, but any cave is likely to be low and rather organic.  The water presumably resurges into the Fergus River about 40 – 50ft. lower.

Monday saw the team struggling over the High Burren in (almost) sub-tropical heat.  The interest lay in the area south of the Carran Polje. This closed depression, several miles across is perhaps the most spectacular feature of the bare limestone uplands of the Burren.  It is drained by the Castletown River which sinks at one end, the water having been traced to Ballycasheen Cave resurgence four miles to the south (Caves of Clare p.218). Tratman has pointed out that there is a syncline running from the polje in the right direction to guide the water. The dry valley which follows this was looked at, but yielded only a small cave some 40ft. long near a small spring. (6” ref. Clare 10  S10.3, W10.4).

The Castletown sinks itself was most remarkable with the river meandering across the marshy bottom of the polje to disappear into an ‘island’ of boulders surrounded by low lying ground.  There were thin calcareous deposits to be seen on the rocks and vegetation and little solution of the boulders appeared to be taking place.  This indicated a low capacity to dissolve limestone and form a new cave, so that most of the cave between sink and rising is most likely to be impassable.  It clearly cannot be entered from the sink end.

After this a visit was paid to the Gort area where the vast sinks and risings to the south of the town were looked at.  The limestone here is rather low lying but could be of interest to divers.  It is well worth a visit to look at the supra-terranean speleological scenery, however.

Tuesday was a fateful day on which our leader became ill, recovering only fully by the end of the week (lies! –Ed).

Wednesday saw the depleted party photographing in Pollnagollum and finding that 20ft, of tackle is required to get from Branch Passage Gallery to Branch Passage.  This is not clearly stated in either Caves of Ireland, or Caves of N.W. Clare.  Our leader redeemed himself by his fishing!

Thursday saw the whole party subverted to this sport but this was followed up by a look around the area to the south of the Fergus River Sink.  The area to the S.E. if the sink is low lying and floods when the river is very high.  There is a permanent sink at the lowest point called Poulnargralle (6” map ref. Clare 16 N9.9, E7.4).  Just to the E. of the active sink a small hole walled up with stones gave access to a rift some 20ft. long with at least 6ft. of water and eels at the bottom.  Both ends of the rift were solid and the whole is rather similar to the passages at the rising, Pollaboe, which also does not go (B.B. 1967 Vo. 21 No. 7). The land surface between the main (Fergus River) sink and the rising is low and is likely that all cave development consists of small, mainly flooded, rifts such as theses.  This could quite well be the case if the flow is very near the surface, where there would be a multiplicity of open joints, and no gradient to direct the water into a few favoured channels.  Thus conditions are not the same as those in well drained limestone of the main caving area with cave systems often running close to the present shale limestone boundary where joint opening would be more recent. It was concluded therefore, that chances of finding open cave were not good.  To round off the immediate area two further sinks to the south were looked at.  One by a former Constabulary hut (6” map ref, Clare 16 N11.9, E7.1) yielded nothing, while the other, a vertical sided depression in shale called Poulnaloon (6” map ref. Clare 16  N11.6, E7.5) had a small hole at the bottom.  A little digging in evil smelling mud soon proved that this did not go.

Heavy rain prevented the planned caving trips on the Friday and Saturday saw the team travelling home, stopping only to visit Michelstown show cave and to take a brief look at the nearby Tincurry sink.

We did some drinking as well of course.


Coleman J.C.                             The Caves of Ireland..

Tratman E.K.                             The Caves of North West Clare, Ireland.


Letter to the Editor

27 Roman Way,
BS18 5XB

25th Sept. 1969

Dear Dave,

Members may be interested to know that besides the courses run by the University of Bristol Dept. of Extra Mural Studies, mentioned by Alan Thomas (October B.B.-Ed) there are one or two others run in conjunction with the Central Somerset Evening Institutes as follows: -

Lead Mining on Mendip – P.J. Fowler and J.E. Hancock.  (Kings of Wessex Secondary School)

Introduction to Archaeology – M.G. Habditch, J.H. Drinkwater and J.E. Hancock.  (The Museum, Wells)

The courses mentioned are not the only ones available but are most likely to appeal to members.

I have further details about dates and times and will be only too glad to supply them to the interested.

                        Yours sincerely,
                                    Michael A. Palmer.

Since receiving Mike’s letter I have seen the U.B.S.S. winter evening lecture programme.  These meetings are open to anyone and so members might like to take advantage of the following series of lectures: November 3rd – Caving in Rumania (Gilmore).  Geomorphology of D.Y.O. (Coase), Dec 3rd:  Jan 19. Cave Rescue (Appleing). Held in the Geography Dept. Little Lecture Theatre, University of Bristol. 8.

Bryant’s Winter Lectures 1969/1970

Monday 17th November 1969. CHRIS BONNINGTON – ‘The Blue Nile Expedition’.

Monday 16th February 1970. JOHN CLEARE – photographic ‘Mountaineering Assignments’

Monday 16th March 1970. JOHN EARL and NED KELLY of the B.E.C. present their outstanding mountaineering films.

Lectures start at 7.30pm in the Y.M.C.A. Hall, Trenchard Street, Bristol.

A few details of St. Cuthbert.

St. Cuthbert, the uncorruptible saint, died in Lindisfarne in 687 A.D. after an exhausting illness lasting three weeks.  After his death he was embalmed and laid in a stone sarcophagus. After 11 years the tomb was re-opened and the body found to be ‘incorrupt’ and was revested.  In 875 the tomb was opened yet again and the body transported to Northern England where it was carried round for all to see.  The embalming was so good that it was still intact in the 16th century though by 1827 the remains had reduced to a skeleton.


Route Severity Diagrams

by S. Collins

Part 10 cont. from p. 88.

We can traverse along a rift if it is sufficiently narrow, by striding it, by doing a ‘back and feet’ traverse of it, or if it very narrow, by crawling along it with our body horizontal.  In all these case, we are not on the floor of the rift and so exposure signs are in order. However, the normal exposure sign means that you can’t touch the wall which is dotted, so we denote this form of traverse as under: -


Rift traverse above the floor – straddling or ‘back and feet’


Narrow rift traverse. The danger is not from falling but from slipping down and getting stuck.

PART 11.  Streams, pools, waterfalls and sumps.

By using the ‘black and white’ technique, we can make our basic sign for water indicate all the things in the title of this part.  The thing to remember here is that the WHITE constriction sign shows that the passage may be narrow , but is HIGH.  Thus, the WHITE water sign indicates that water is coming down from a HIGH place on to the caver.

The BLACK constriction sign shows that the passage is CLOSE TO THE FLOOR and thus the BLACK water sign shows that we are dealing with water ON THE FLOOR of a passage.

Again, like constriction, water signs come in two sizes and, again, one is half the passage width (all passages are always shown as being the same width) while the other is the full passage width it is reasonable to expect that the deeper signs for water indicate that there is more water about.  With these remarks in mind, the following should be self-explanatory: -

Heavy drip from above. Enough to endanger carbide lamp or camera.

Falling water.





Stream too deep to wade through.


Pool too deep to wade through.


Sump free-divable under normal conditions.


Sump.  Non free-divable.



PART 12.  Boulders, passage ends and entrances.

A little more on boulders completes our detail.  Boulder strewn floors entailing clambering over the rocks are shown thus: -


                                                …..while unstable boulders on roof or wall are shown hanging in a menacing fashion like this: -


                                    ….and of course, an unstable boulder ruckle becomes: -


It may seem odd to leave entrances until last, but the subject also covers passage termination in general.  We have: -



Pothole open to entrance.


Passage ends in solid rock.


Passage ends in boulder choke.

Passage ends in impassable rift.


Passage ends in impassable rift.


Passage ends in impassable sump.


Passage ends in unclimbed pitch.


Passage ends in unclimbed aven


The Grand RSD Competition

Quite fine detail is possible on an R.S.D. by suitable and intelligent combination of the R.S.D. symbols. In order to popularise this form of describing a cave, the author is prepared to give a prize on ten bob’s worth of beer to the reader who provided the best and most complete description of the imaginary cave illustrated by R.S.D. below.  The 10/- has already been deposited with Ben, and the arrangement is that the Editor will tell Ben who to supply with booze when the time comes. Closing date January 31st 1970.

The R.S.D. is on the following page.  Signs used inside pitches denote type of tackle.  Depths outside.  Some features of the cave may be inferred from the R.S.D.


All entries to be in to the Editor by the end of January 1970.


The new Year issues of the B.B. includes articles of great interest.  Diving in Little Neath River Cave and Care and Maintenance of Nife cells.




Mike Luckwill

Members will be shocked by the tragic loss of Mike Luckwill who was killed 2am Friday 5th December 1969, on the Snowdon Horseshoe.

His work for the Club and for caving and climbing generally are well known to readers of the B.B.

Our deepest sympathy to Val and Sally.

A New Cave in Fairy Cave Quarry

By P.E. Prewer

With at least 14 caves discovered in the piece of Gruyere cheese called Fairy Cave Quarry it could not be long before No.15 appeared and sure enough on April 9th., this year, it was found.  Shatter Cave was discovered by three members of the Cerberus C.C. on the early hours of the morning after 6 hours of digging.  The presence of a cave was suspected after a strong draught was detected emerging from between boulders piled at the floor of the quarry face. The digging party started during the evening of April 8th. and consisted of R. Saxton, P. Conway, K. Crowe and B. Prewer. 

At 9.00 B. Prewer left in disgust with the words, “I don’t give it much hope but if it does go come and get me out of bed.”  At 1.00am three muddy cavers got B. Prewer out of bed!  They had found the first four chambers of Shatter Cave.

The first four chambers gave the cave its name for they lie roughly parallel to the quarry face and extensive damaged has been caused to the chambers and formations, despite this there are still some very pleasing formations including a fine pagoda like formation in the second chamber.

On the second trip into the cave the third chamber emitted a strange colour – it was soon pronounced to be that of diesel fuel.  This was coming from one of the shot holes on the top of the quarry which must have broken through the roof of the chamber.  Diesel Chamber was thus named.

How the way on was missed on this trip is hard to understand but it was; it was not discovered until a few days later when Gerry Lewis noticed it.  The way on, now called Helictite Passage, led past a cluster of superb helictites on a ledge.  This concluded Stage II of the exploration.

Stage III began when ‘Willie’ Stanton spotted a small space beneath a pile of boulders at the end of Helictite Rift. He crawled through and found a large chamber, Tor Chamber.  As the quarry were due to blast the party could go no further.  The following day a large party including the North Hill Consortium descended and found the crawl at the end of Helictite Rift.  The party pushed on through Tor Chamber and found Pisa Chamber.  The area of the cave was well decorated and outside the area of blast damage.  The tail end of the party noticed some small chambers off Tor Chamber.  The front of the exploration party had arrived at ‘Z’ Squeeze and was soon passed even by a well-built bearded gent!  A small, relatively undecorated chamber named Piccadilly Chamber was entered.  The obvious way on was a low arch straight ahead. At this point the floor changed from mud to calcite crystals and for a short way it became impossible not to tread on them.  At this stage enthusiasm could not be controlled for up in front could be seen the dim outline of what appeared to be a huge calcite column.  On entering Pillar Chamber it became difficult to know where to look first, straight ahead was a white pillar some 8 – 9 feet in height and whose base was 5ft. across.  The floor in front of the pillar was covered in rows of semi-transparent calcite crystal flowers.  This must be the finest chamber found on Mendip yet.  It was many minutes before the party decided to move on.  The way forward was not obvious but soon a strong draught was located coming from a small heavily calcited hole behind the pillar. Here progress for the day halted – a bit of mechanical persuasion would be necessary.  On the return journey the bypass to ‘Z’ Squeeze was found leading off Piccadilly Chamber.  It led, after a 20ft. crawl to a chamber some 20ft. across with fine stalagmite bosses covering the floor – Roundabout Chamber. The bypass was completed by following a well formed passage some 5ft. high from Roundabout Chamber and connection, at high level, to the dry stream passage before ‘Z’ Squeeze.  Several other side passages were explored by various groups of people.  It was with considerable annoyance that it was noticed on that first trip, that although nearly everyone kept to one route around the left hand side of the crystal floor in Pillar Chamber someone had left behind four muddy footprints in the middle.

A few days later saw a party armed with hammer and chisel back at the hole in Pillar Chamber.  The hole was enlarged to allow the first and thinnest member of the party though.  The hole was further enlarged as each larger member of the party arrived at the hole to push through.  Beyond a short crawl led to yet another well decorated chamber – Four Ways Chamber. Two side chambers led nowhere but straight ahead a short sandy passage and a climb led to a very fine crystal pool. Onwards the way ended in a large chamber with a large suspended boulder in the roof with a matching one immediately beneath partly filling a large hole – the Plug Hole.  A short passage was found leading off the bottom of the Plug Hole which closed down only after 20ft. or so.


A week later another party (members of the Dining Room Dig Team) found a second passage at the bottom of the Plug Hole which yielded a further 200ft. or so of passage – the first section being very well decorated with fine pink gours.  At the end of this passage a strong draught may still be felt at times but so far no way on through the boulders at the end has yet been found.

The most recent progress in Shatter Cave (August) was the discovery of the notorious streamway.  It has been locate at the end of Helictite Passage down a rather unpleasant muddy tube. At the moment it can only be heard and a little clearing is needed.  This streamway is thought to be the upstream part of the old Balch Cave streamway.

On October 12th two intrepid explorers decided that Conning Tower Cave, capped over a year because of dangerous boulders, ought to be revisited.  They found themselves in the Balch stream and duly arrived at the duck.

Shatter Hole Survey

The Survey of Shatter Hole has been adapted by Dave Irwin to suit the B.B. page format and is based on the new survey to C.R.G. Grade 6 currently being produced by C.S.S. & S.M.C.C. and has been published with kind permission of the C.S.S.


Monthly Notes No.30

by ‘Wig’

Herbert Balch Centenary is being celebrated is being celebrated by the Wxssxx C.C. by publishing and occasional paper on the life and work of the great man of Mendip.  The publication is being published sometime during November; originally planned to be published at their Annual Dinner but postponed due to late delivery from the printers.  The publication is edited by

Dr. William Stanton and many of the well known caving names of Mendip have contributed to it.  It also includes several important photographs previously unpublished together with a full bibliography of his written works complied by Ray Mansfield.  Price about 10/- & 12/6.  Whilst on the subject of the Balch Centenary – the B.E.C. contribution is the publishing of John Etough’s book of photographs of Balch Cave in Fairy Cave Quarry (now largely destroyed).  This publication is due sometime during mid-1970.

GARGILL POT (!)  formerly Twin Titty.

As was mentioned in my last set of notes the Thompson organisation commonly known on Mendip as N.A.A.S. (for the uninitiated – North Hill Association for Spelaeological Advancement) drove a 25ft. deep shaft near the site of their original dig during the Autumn Bank Holiday.  Within a few weeks they met as certain amount of success.  A small hole at the bottom of the shaft was forced and they entered some 150ft. of sizeable passage.  The game of draught chasing began again but apparently the choking is substantial and too many points that can be dug.  The site of the dig is particularly interesting (for the benefit of older members – it is situated very near the Don Coase dig at Cross Swallet).  The present trend of the passage is northerly and may well be following the large Cheddar River Valley towards Cheddar Gorge.  A sketch survey by A.D.O. is reprinted from Mendip Caver with thanks.


CUTHBERT’S TWO – important notice.

Because of the unsettled state of the first sump we cannot guarantee any trips into the new series for the immediate future.  The sump soak away is at the moment far from stable and only after a considerable amount of work will it be safe for tourist parties.  It would be appreciated if intending parties would refrain from asking to visit the new area for at least three months.

At the time of writing the water flowing into the sump has been piped through and allowed to continue down the Cuthbert’s Two passage.  Various moves are being made to clear the constriction in Sump 1.  When this is complete and the sump is been passed as being safe work will commence on Sump 2.  In the meanwhile the many high level passages will be ‘pushed’ and an interesting site, just downstream from Sump 1 is being dug.

In the case of an emergency, The Gour Rift Dam together with three other dams (Mineries Pool Outlet on the surface; Traverse Chamber and Main Stream Dams) can be used to reduce the water level in the sump should the pipe burst whilst cavers are on the downstream side.  The 1st Sump is far too constricted to allow free diving.  Even if the sump were to be cleared deep enough for possible free diving there are two dangers that rear their heads.  The first is that the approach to the sump and the floor in the sump is of gravel and choking will inevitably occur and secondly the dive will involve a fairly sharp bend along the caver’s path.

The continuation of the new St. Cuthbert’s Survey is being started almost immediately.  So far, the surveyed length (from very rough and ready survey carried out on November 1st with a calibrated compass and tape) is 850ft. along the main passage and another 100ft. along a steeply ascending rift just inside the first sump.  The depth has been estimated at about 30ft. but may be considerable more bringing the total depth of St. Cuthbert’s to about -435ft. from the entrance.

From time to time sketch surveys will appear in the B.B. of any new finds in the area based on the accurate outline now being produced for the St. Cuthbert’s report.

Now that Cuthbert’s 2 has been discovered the Index of the report of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet will be increased and, provisionally, Part P will include full details of Cuthbert’s 2 and its side passages – if any!  Part ‘O’ will be revised in the very near future and will include details of the whole cave known at the time of publication.

For the benefit of St. Cuthbert’s leaders not involved in the new discovery several tourist trips will be arranged so that they can see the area for themselves and any snags that may arise and the precautions that should be taken.

In the event of a party being trapped in ‘2’ an emergency box including food and first aid equipment is being installed – details later.


The Discovery of St. Cuthbert’s 2

Roy Bennett

The passing of the original sump and its conversion into ‘The Duck’ by Don Coase and John Buxton in 1957 lead, not to the large extension hoped for, but to a much more formidable problem.  This second barrier, soon called just ‘The Sump’, appeared heavily silted up and no further progress was made until 1963 when Mike Thompson, Steve Wyn-Roberts, Fred Davies and John Attwood, diving and digging under very difficult conditions penetrated about 14ft. straight in.

Interest waned after this, and various alternatives were conjectured and worked on.  Further inspection of the roof of Gour Hall and Gour Rift revealed no possibilities except for a small hole which could not be reached.  Digging at the lower end of the Gour Rift appeared a logical alternative, and much work was done by John Cornwell.  This was finally defeated by water penetration, leaving as a useful memento a bypass to the Duck.

The challenge of the sump was taken up again in 1967 when Phil Kingston, Barry Lane ands Colin Priddle penetrated some 12ft. inwards by some 8ft. to the right.  This started with the ‘Great Sump Digging Weekend’, which though defeated by flood waters, was followed by a steady progress.  The divers had reached a point at which the sump appeared to be opening up, when possible success was dashed away by the ‘Great Mendip Flood’ in 1968 and the sump reverted to its primitive choked condition.

Meanwhile, buck up-cave, the Dining Room Dig, started years previously, was being dug regularly and intensively by a combined B.E.C. and S.M.C.C. team.  The ultimate objective was to bypass the Sump and much work was done by Dave Irwin, Bob Craig, Martin Webster, Brian Woodword, John Riley, Dave Turner, Derek Harding and many others revealed a completely choked passage along a fault going in the right direction.  Ultimately work on this slowed when a distance of some 150ft. had been (mainly) excavated and problems of spoil disposal were becoming acute. It was time for a reappraisal. Sufficient of the fault had been uncovered to enable an accurate projection down cave to be made, and this showed that it should intersect the know Sump passage at a point where a choked side passage pointed in the right direction.  It was decided therefore to leave the dig pro-tem and, the now rather depleted team augmented itself and transferred its attention to the Sump itself.

The plan was to implement a scheme mooted by various people and pushed by Dave Irwin to dam the stream and pump out and excavate the Sump.  Dams had already been built at the Mineries and by Bob Craig, Martin Mills, Alan Butcher, Jok Orr and others, and in the Main Stream Passage, but the crucial one in Gour rift was only just above stream level.  Work was started to make this into a strong, reliable structure as a failure would be very dangerous to any one working in the sump. The foundations were dug down to the stalagmite gours over the complete width and thickness and the dam built up using concrete throughout. This was made up using grave, sand and stones available on site.  Even though the stream levels at the bottom of the cave was very low, it was thought that the opportunities afforded by the dry summer had been missed, and the dam system would only be operated the following year.  This situation was completely altered when there occurred a stroke of luck of the kind that comes rarely.  After a dam building session, two of the team had a look at the sump, and found to their great surprise that the sump pool had disappeared, leaving the stream to flow down a gravel slope to vanish where this met the roof.  This was a most remarkable and sudden change in a sump that previously had been quite stable, even when the stream had been dammed up completely.

Two great uncertainties accompanied the opportunity.  Firstly the unusually dry weather could not be expected to continue for long (it was already the 30th of September) and secondly the change in the sump could not perhaps be permanent.  The first was countered both by continuing work on Gour Rift dam at the same time as digging the Sump, and increasing the number of trips.  Nothing could be done about the second.

The dam finally rose to some 5ft. high, tapering from 5ft. thick at the base, and to some 2ft. at the top. It was furnished with an 8in. diameter pipe in the base with a removable plug that could be used as a butterfly valve to let the water out gently.

Initial progress at the Sump dig was very rapid with the water providing no hindrance.  Late on stream flow had to be cut off to enable work to continue, firstly using a temporary dam in the Sump Passage, and later using the concrete dam as well.  The water level varied erratically, hampering work at times. The Sump refused to empty on one occasion, causing great despondency, but the soak-away gradually re-opened over the following week.  The dry weather miraculously held, however, and the team (Roy Bennett, Bob Craig, Tim Large, John Riley, Martin Mills, Martin Webster and others) pressed ahead with trips of increasing frequency and duration.  The roof of the sump sloped downwards to an arch with a slight rise beyond, and then levelled off with the stream going to the left.  All traces of the previous excavations appeared to have vanished in the 1968 Flood and nowhere was there more than a few inches of space between the gravel and roof.  The rift encountered by the second diving team was not found and it appears they went further left again, probably following the pre-flood stream course.

The diggers eventually reach a point where the roof started to lower again, and the stream disappeared in a choked-up hole in solid rock.  At this point a draught could be felt, and when the stream was cut off the water in this hole disappeared with sounds of violent bubbling and rushings or air. This was the situation on Friday evening 31st. October, when the dam building party had gone out, leaving only Martin Mills, Martin Huaun, John Riley and Roy Bennett at the dig.  To obtain more working a gravel bank on the right of the dig was cut out back to where the roof appeared to rise a little.  To the surprise of the diggers, the roof continued to slope upwards in its direction and soon Milch could say “I can see 10ft. along a bedding plane, about 30ft, into a chamber.”  Cuthbert’s 2 was open, and after a quick look at the dams the party set off moving quite rapidly.


The ‘chamber’ turned out to be the beginning of a high rift passage with a slippery floor obviously occupied by the stream.  Near the Sump the passage was quite wide with a ‘tide mark’ of red mud about 5ft. high. Everywhere the wall were coated with thick deposits of soft brown mud which could only have been left by standing water,  The dullness was lighted by various stalagmite deposits.  A decorated hole in the roof attracted attention because of the odd watery noises emitted, while further down the passage a stal. Barrier allowed just enough room to crawl under.  The rift was narrower further down, but remained high most of the way. A 10ft. pot was reached and climbed down, and the passage continued narrower again until a mud coated stalagmite barrier was reached.  The passage clearly continued further, but it was decided to turn back at this first check to easy progress because of the lateness of the hour and the risk of being cut off.

A much larger party entered the following day when Bob Craig, Martin Webster, Martin Mills, Brian Woodward ands others found Sump 2 a little way beyond the stal. barrier. They were joined by the rest of the Friday Team, and various things we looked at.  A very tight rift going back up cave from near Sump 1 was pushed to about 100ft. by Martin Webster.  A dig was started in a hole near this point on the left hand side of the main passage.  This was of great interest as it may well connect with the steam leaving Sump1via the soak away.  A little way downstream from the 10ft. pot, a climb was made up the right hand (W) wall to a point at which a scoop in the wall containing mud formations could be overlooked.  Nothing leading off was found, but the climb could easily be continued with some protection, and there is a good air circulation at this point.  The second sump was found to be constricted, but the level could be reduced by a little bailing.  Dave Irwin and Mike Luckwill joined the party and did a quick Grade 4 survey, which showed the passage to be heading south.  This was unexpected and suggests that the water has now left the Gour Hall fault line and is on its way to Wookey.

One further exploration trip has been done to date (15-11-69) when Brian Woodward used diving kit in Sump 2, finding it heavily mud chocked.  More progress could be made without kit by digging and bailing and the sump does not appear to be very deep.

Further exploration work was inhibited by the risk of being cut off.  Initially it was hoped to clear the sump out and lower the level sufficiently to make it a free dive, and much work was done to cut out a trench and remove the bank on the downstream side.

The inevitable end of the dry weather meant less and less time being available before the dams overflowed.  A rope had been fixed through the sump but it was still too constricted to be free dived. Trips were done by leaving one person on the near side to release the dammed water, and seal it off again to let the party out.  This procedure relied entirely on the continued functioning of the soak away, and there were some alarming underwater incidents as the stream level kept on rising.

Eventually the sump could not be drained at all and Cuthbert’s 2 was closed for a time.  This problem has been temporarily solved by conducting the stream through the sump in a pipe.  This was made possible by joining 5ft. sections of 8in. diameter fibre glass pipe with polythene sheet secured by aluminium strips.  The pipe was only got into position when the stream levels in the bottom of the cave were reduced by means of the surface dams at the Mineries Pool.  The increased water flows through the sump have caused rapid silting, and it appears unlikely that it can be kept open as a free dive.  Other alternatives are being worked on and it is hoped it will soon be possible to continue exploration, free from fear of being cut off.

The chances of further progress are fairly good with more than 100ft height difference to Wookey Hole.




‘As Her Majesty is not doing her Annual Christmas broadcast this year I thought I would wish you a Merry Christmas and a drunken New Year’

Alan Thomas

Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston s Mare, Somerset.
Hut Warden: P.Townsend, 154 Syvlia Avenue, Bristol 3.
EDITOR:  D.J. Irwin. 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.

Tacklemaster Finds Tacklemistress


We understand that out Tacklemaster has at long last found his little Tacklemistress – Pretty Poly-propylene.  Congratulations Norman.

The Hut Warden Speaks

I must point out that credit facilities are not, not ever have been, available at the Belfry. Members using the Belfry are expected to pay their dues during the course of their stay at the Belfry.  If you are short of money why not pay your fees to the Hut Warden, or acting Hut Warden, before paying visit to the Hunters?

Caving and Climbing Meets

July 13th. Stoke Lane.  11am at the Belfry.

July 26/27.  Climbing in NORTH WALES.  If accommodation required contact Malcolm Holt, 5 Orchard Walk, Churchill, Somerset.

Autumn Holiday

Caving:  SOUTH WALES.  Camping at the Gwyn Arms.

Climbing:  NORTH WALES – details as July Meet.

SOUTH WALES C.C. – new Hon. Secretary:

Mrs Mary Galpin, 6 Trinity Rise, STAFFORD, Staffs.

Members wishing to organise trips to caves under the control of the S.W.C.C. should contact Mrs. Galpin giving as much notice as possible.-----------The B.E.C. Committee would like to offer the Club’s thanks to Ralph Lewis for his gift of neoprene off cuts.  These pieces (nylon lined) are suitable for running repairs and is free to members.


Cavers Bookshelf

By Roy Bennett

The Caves of N.W. Clare, edited by E.K. Tratman. Price 105/- (120/- from 1970)

This excellently produced book represents, according to the sleeve not, the results of some 17 years exploration and scientific work carried mainly by the U.B.S.S. in this area. It brings together and augments information previously only available in various back numbers of the U.B.S.S. Proceedings, covering most aspects of speleological interest in a readily comprehensible form, and successfully avoids becoming either a dull scientific treatise or merely a compilation of cave descriptions.


The ‘Mainly Historical’ introductory chapter gives an intentionally discursive but none the less interesting account of the exploration of the area, spiced with amusing anecdotes and others emphasising the liability of severe flooding in many of the caves.

The main scientific part of the book follows.  First the geology of the area is outlined with a commendable minimum of technicalities and with special emphasis on features of speleological interest.  The next chapter on the geomorphology of the area covers more complex maters and need more knowledge of the area for full appreciation.  It gives the setting for the account of geomorphology of the caves which follow. The close correlation of these unusually youthful caves with the present topography, and their formation in an un-faulted limestone area of gentle dip make this a classical area for the study of cave development under mainly vadose conditions.  Full advantage has been taken of this opportunity and a full exposition of vadose cave features is given and certain more general conclusions made.  The picture which emerges is one in which often long stream passages develops at relatively shallow depths below the immediate surface in a manner strikingly similar to parts of Yorkshire.  The rather out of fashion concept of water table control is used to explain these levels, and seems top work for these very useful caves which appear to be mainly developed at the lower limit of joint enlargement by percolation water.

The next chapter, on limestone solution, is also more general significance.  The results of calcium carbonate analysis of water samples from various caves is given with general discussion of the pitfalls awaiting the would be interpreter of such figures.  The latter are illustrated by a preliminary calculation of the age of a section of Pollnagolum stream passage.

The scientific section of the book closes with a chapter on cave sediments which illustrates the value of such studies in unravelling cave histories.

The second half of the book will be of more interest to the general caver as it is largely taken up by descriptions of all known caves and important sinks.  This section makes the book a must, partly for cavers attempting any original exploration in the area, and for the sporting caver who intend to do some serious caving.  The caves are described area by area so that all of the shale/limestone boundaries are covered.  Each cave is systematically dealt with and the descriptions are commensurate in length with importance of the cave.  The descriptions include notes on the original exploration where this is important, together with discussions of the formation of the cave etc.  There are excellent small scale surveys for most of the significant caves on ‘fold-out’ sheets so that altogether there is much more here than a mere guide book.  Many of the 50 or so photographs in the book effectively belong in this section. These are all black and white, and quite good on the whole.  They give a very good idea of the sort of caving that the area has to offer.  Some of the caves outside the N.W. Clare area are all described.  This including the misnamed Fergus River Cave.

There is a final chapter on Irish place names and appendices on surveying, water tracing etc.  There is a useful bibliography and a useful index.

To sum up this book at 5gns. (£6 from Jan. 1970) is a good buy for an individual who is particularly interested  in the N.W. Clare caves or in the geomorphology of caves in general. Apart from this it is a book for caving club libraries.

Ed. note:           This book is available from all booksellers and is published by David and Charles of Newton Abbot Devon.  256 pages.

W.C.C. Journals Nos. 115 – 117 reviewed by Alan Thomas.

The bi-monthly Journal of the Wessex Cave Club is excellently printed by off-set litho, has very clear line drawings and occasional photos – yer pays yer money and takes yer choice.  It has regular features such as Carl Pickstone’s ‘Northern Notes’ and good book reviews.  I am concerned here to mention the more significant articles.  All issues of the W.C.C. Journal cost 2/6 ea. and are available from Bryan Ellis.

No.115 – Feb. 1968.  The theme of this issue is Read’s Cavern; the new survey by W.I. Stanton is followed by two accounts of different aspects of the cave’s history, one by E.K. Tratman and the other by C.H. Kenny.  The other article concerns a “Caving Holiday in Rumania” by Tony Oldham and is an account of a holiday in 1967 which included a visit to the Speleological Institute of Bucharest and several of the caves.

No.116 – April 1968.  There is a useful discussion by P. Cousins of the most suitable lengths of rope for caving and their marking.  D.G. Everett and J.D. Hanwell give an interesting account of Dracott Cave Dig. Most of the Journal is taken up by the sad story of Mossdale told by Alan Fincham and the full report of the M.R.O. It concludes with the re-opening of Cuckoo Cleeves and the new survey by D. Warburton and P. Davies.

No.117 – June 1968.  The Cuckoo Cleeves survey is repeated together with the article by the surveyors, D. Warburton and P. Davies and an article arising from the Boxing Day (1967) incident when the M.R.O. was called out because two Wessex members were believed (erroneously) to be entombed in Cuckoo Cleeves; it is a description of the present state of the shaft and suggestions for its improvement.  There are accounts of little known caving areas viz: Merthymawr (Glam.) and Laubenstein in Germany.  Carl Pickstone writes of the drainage of the Yorkshire Moors by ‘gripping’.  This is a very important thing for the potholer to take note of as it results in the holes in the moor flooding far more rapidly than years ago.  

Caving Logs – Where Are They?

The B.B. Editor is attempting to gather all the BEC Caving Logs together so that they can be transferred to the Club archives at the bank.  Up to now the following have been collected: -

Volume 2  July 1946 – January 1949

Volume ? August 1964 – December 1966

Don Coase – Private log book No.3 c.1946 – 1947

Caving Log sheets August 1951 – 1952

Does any member know the whereabouts of the remainder of the logs?  Don’t forget the rumpus years ago when the 1954 log book was lost – IF YOU ARE SITTING ON THEM PLEASE RETURN them as soon as possible.  THIS IS THE ONLY RECORD OF CLUB ACTIVITIES THAT WE HAVE – have a quiet look in your cupboards and bookshelves.


On Describing the Accuracy of a Cave Survey

By Mike Luckwill

At the present time there is no generally adopted, satisfactory method of describing the accuracy of a cave survey.  What is required is a single expression to describe the degree of accuracy of a whole survey, assuming that surveying standards have been kept throughout the survey. We must first consider the reasons for wanting this statement of accuracy and the uses to which it will be put.

Every survey consists basically of a number of points whose positions (relative to some datum point – usually the entrance) have been determined.  Each position will be in doubt to a certain extent, i.e. each co-ordinate will have associated with it a possible error: the further the point is from the datum the larger the error will be.  It is the size of the probable error at any point in the cave which the description of accuracy must convey: the surveyor/user must be able to ascertain the reliability of the position at any point on the survey from the expression of accuracy given by the surveyor.

Unfortunately, a common expression of accuracy in use at the present time is the percentage misclosure: this has the unfortunate habit of varying with the length of the survey. Every point therefore has a different percentage misclosure, which, if the surveyor wishes to be thorough he must state on the survey; not a very practicable procedure.  Also the percentage error does not enable the accuracy of one cave survey to be compared with that of another cave, or for that matter, the accuracy obtained by one cave surveyor to be compared with that obtained by another.  Now it is quite clear that during the surveying of a cave the standards of accuracy is maintained throughout the length of the cave and should be expressed by a single quantity.

Let us suppose that a survey consists of N legs, each of length s and that each leg has an associated error, or misclosure m.  Then the error associated with the farthest point will be m/.  So the percentage error of each leg will be 100m//Ns%, i.e. 100m/s  /%, i.e. 1/ times the percentage error of one leg.  In this position the surveyor will have to give the percentage error associated with each leg, or each station.

A much better expression of accuracy is given by the factor  Q = m/  /, where m is the misclosue, and L is the length of a traverse.  In case considered above for one leg  Q = m/ / and for the whole traverse….

Q = m/  / / / =  m/ /, i.e. the same for each leg. If Q is known for the whole cave, (and it will be the same throughout the cave provided the accuracy of surveying has been maintained constant) then the error associated with any point, or distance, in the cave can easily be found

(m = Q/ ).

Let us now work an example. Table 1 has been reproduced from the St. Cuthbert’s Report (Page F.10, Table 4) by kind permission of the authors. Since we are aware of the way in which misclosures are distributed between the co-ordinates depending on the elevations and bearings of the legs in the traverse,, we shall begin by computing the true misclosures:





True misclosure



Since each traverse closes onto itself we shall divided each into two equal traverses giving:




Total length






% Error






Notice that the percentage errors are considerably different whereas the Q factors are very similar; the latter thus give a much better impression as the surveys are of similar parts of the cave and likely to both be if the same accuracy.  As the data has been given in feet, the Q-factor has units ft½It is important to remember that Q has units.

In connection with the worked example, one other point should be mentioned.  The Q obtained is related to the measured accuracy: the Q which would be quoted in the survey would in fact be higher than this as it would be based on theoretical considerations.  (Note that a higher Q value indicates a lower accuracy).


Metric and S.I. conversions.

1 ft½  =  0.552 m½        1 m½  = 1.8912 ft½    

1 m½  =  0.03162 k m½       1 k m½   = 31.62 m½          


Route Severity Diagram

By S.J. Collins

Ed. Note –         The figure shown immediately below was accidentally omitted from the last part of this series on page 44.

Two routes passing through the same cave space.

PART 8    Recap On Basic Signs

We now have all the basic signs we need.  Later, we shall see how we can make theses signs tell a lot more about the cave but it must be emphasised once more that we can ‘read’ an R.S.D. with only an elementary knowledge of the ‘language’ if we want to.  Here is a part of an R.S.D. using the basic signs we have already dealt with.  Underneath is the amount we can ‘read’ from it if we have only understood or read some of the parts which have already come out in the B.B.

Going from ‘A’ in every case

If we only know the signs for Passage and Pitch

‘The passage from ‘A’ divides and one branch goes on while the other goes down pitch, along a passage and down a second pitch’.

If we also know the sign for constriction

‘The passage from ‘A’ becomes tight and divides.  One passage goes along and possibly reaches another tight place? The other passage goes down a pitch, along another passage and down a second pitch’.

If we also know the signs for wetness and exposure.

‘The passage from ‘A’ reaches a tight, wet ledge which may be either traversed of climbed down.  The climb leads to a lower passage which is also wet and down a wet pitch’.

If we know all the basic 8 signs

‘The passage from ‘A’ reaches a tight, wet ledge which may be either traversed of climbed down.  Both upper and lower passages continue in the same chamber or rift and finally separate. The lower, wet passage leads to a wet pitch while the upper ledge traverse leads to a passage which in turn leads to a boulder ruckle’.

You will see how we can read more detail as we know more of the ‘language’ of the R.S.D. but you will also see that we can read quite a bit without knowing very much.

This ends the basic part of this course on the R.S.D.  Later parts will show how these eight basic signs can be made to show the cave in much greater details.


Editorial Setup

Since last year both the B.B. and Caving Reports have been merged together.  Members will remember that this is how it used to be in ‘the good old days’.  Then later Bryan Ellis took over the Caving Reports and ‘Alfie’ continued with the B.B. When Bryan resigned as Editor of the Caving reports at the last A.G.M. the Caving Reports have returned under the wing of the Editor of the B.B. and the whole venture re-organised into what may be called the Publications Department.  This whole affair is an enormous undertaking and obviously could not be carried out by one person, so several people were asked to help in various ways.  Several of the jobs are boring and others can give a great deal of satisfaction even though many hours at the typewriter or drawing board may be involved.

The general set-up then is an unofficial sub-committee, who have yet to meet!  Comprising of Dave Irwin (Editor B.B. and Caving Reports); Gord. Tilly (production and preparation of the final artwork for the Caving Reports); Dave Smith and Andy MacGregor (postal department, B.B.); Bryan Ellis (postal department, Caving Reports); John Riley (Printing, B.B. from May issue). In addition to these members like Roy and Joan Bennett are offering help in the form of typing and revising parts of the Cuthbert’s Report and lastly, but not least Barry Wilton has been of extreme value for his advice and help where off-set litho printing has been concerned.

The sale of caving Reports remains steady with one exception.  The Cuthbert’s Report has beaten all previous records and it looks as if the Caving Report No.5, Headgear and Lighting will not be far behind! B.B.’s are selling well and we are now having to print some 50 per issue for sale!  

Black Shivers Attempt

By Martin Webster

The Spring Bank Holiday saw the dawning of the proposed Dining Room Team trip down the newly discovered Black Shivers Pot on Black Shivers Moss.  On the Saturday morning, after a great deal of indecision, we eventually assembled a team of eight cavers (it was also the B.E.C. Yorkshire meet from which most of the team was made up of – Ed.) and made our way to the Hill Inn to begin carrying the vast amount of tackle up onto the fell.  Unfortunately, we were rather unsure about the exact whereabouts of the cave entrance and so spent the rest of the day scouring the moor looking down the thousands of shakeholes and getting extremely hot and annoyed when the entrance failed to materialise.   Finally it started to rain and we decided to do a quick trip down Sunset hole.

To make it more interesting on the way out we tried traversing along the passage, however, even this ended in failure.  After all it does become a little tedious trying to traverse along a crawl with one’s posterior dangling in an ice-cold stream!

The following day, a team of four set off to make a desperate attempt top locate the ‘offending’ hole; this time armed only with personal gear, maps and a compass. On the way up the fell, we stopped at Meregill just long enough to annoy the ‘Bennett Team’ who was just about to descend this fearsome gulf, and then started taking bearings and distances to the position of the Grid Reference.  Four hours, and a lot of swearing, later we were still no nearer to finding the cave, so feeling rather disillusioned, we wandered across to one of the more interesting of the holes that we had glanced at about four hours earlier.  When we checked its position on the map we found, much to our embarrassment, that the bearing coincided exactly with that of Black Shiver.

Feeling rather silly after our exhibition of how not to use a compass, we rapidly got changed and went to see how far into the cave we could get.  The entrance was enough to put anyone off, being only one foot high with 5” – 6” of water in it.  This however soon opened up until the passage was about two foot high but it soon dwindles again, this time into an extremely tight 7” – 8” high, ten foot long squeeze – only one of our team could get through.  After the squeeze, the tight passage continues over sand and gravel until after two hundred feet the, now 1½ feet high crawl enters a passage which has a stream in nit and he walked on for about 100ft. to the head of the first pitch, which is 40ft. deep and very wet.  This was the end of our progress for the day.  On returning to the entrance one lucky fellow was found desperately trying to wriggle backwards out of the squeeze, after just failing to pass an extremely light bit at the far end of it.  At one stage we thought he was going to become a permanent feature.

The weekend was not exactly a ‘howling’ success for us, although now that we have found the entrance we are already planning another attempt.  This time however we will have a suitable team of ‘mini-men’!


Caving and the Unconcious

By Henry Oakley

Being a short article having nothing to do with caving and the subconscious…..

If you find yourself unconscious, you may regard yourself as being at the start of a one way trip to St. Peter unless your associates know the steps to be taken to prevent this. If, in addition to being unconscious you are not breathing, this does not necessarily mean that you have reached him but you may regard yourself as being as half way through the Pearly Gates. If your heart has stopped beating then the gates are closing in on you, but St. peter has been known to let people back even at this late stage.  So, be prepared and read on concerning how you may equip yourself with the knowledge of how to bring your friends back to life, snatch them from the jaws of death etc.

The commonest causes of unconsciousness in people down caves are: -

1.                  Drowning.

2.                  Hypothermia (cold exposure).

3.                  Head injury.


This occurs when water is inhaled.  The lungs may either fill with water so air can not get in, or the shock of the water going past the vocal chords (which lie in the upper part of the air passage into the lungs) causes the chords to close off the airway completely, so preventing either air or water entering the lings.  The shock of either of these two happenings may stop the heart instantly, but the first aid treatment is the same in either case.

1.                  Take the victim from the water, lie him on his side and quickly empty his mouth of water, seaweed, false teethe etc. with your finger.

2.                  Turn him onto his back, pull his chin up (away from the chest) as far a possible, with the head pushed back.  Never put the head on a pillow.  This prevents the tongue from falling to the back of the mouth so obstructing the air passage.

3.                  If he is not breathing, start MOUTH - TO – MOUTH artificial respiration.

(This is certainly both the easiest and most effective method of artificial respiration.  It is mentioned probably in II Kings, Chapter 4, verse 34, when it was done by Elisha, there is mention of it in the Philosophical Transactions No.475, p.275 Edinburgh 1744, and the Humane Society (now the Royal Humane Society) which was founded in 1744 to “promote the recovery of perfons apparently dead, efpecially from drowning” recommended, at the time for the purpose of “blowing with force into the lungs by applying the mouth to that of the patient, clofing at the fame time the noftrils.”

The methods of Sylvester (British Medical Journal 1858, p.576) of Holger Nielsen (Ugeskr Laeg. 1932, vol.94, pl.201) or Schafer Med.-chir. Trans. 1904 vol.87, p609) band of Marshall – Hall (Lancet 1856, vol.1, p.229) are difficult, need skill, experience, plenty of space, and suffer from the grave disadvantage that they are less efficient and are more tiring.

In mouthy-to-mouth artificial respiration, you take a deep breath, put you mouth over the victims mouth, pinch his nose shut, and blow air into his lungs.  If the chest expands you have done it properly.  When you take your mouth away to take another breath the air will escape form the lungs by the natural elastic recoil of the chest wall. The process of blowing air into the lungs should be repeated ten to fifteen times per minute until the victim begins to breathe on his own, until two hours have elapsed without sign of recovery, or until you are told to stop by a doctor.  Usually mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is sufficient to restart the heart.  If however, after one minute of effective mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration, no pulse can be felt either at the wrist or the neck (practise feeling your own – or your friends – now) external cardiac massage may be attempted (do not practice on your friends).  If the patient is breathing on his own, is moving, or appears to be waking up he DOES NOT NEED cardiac massage.  If you are in doubt as to whether you should cardiac massage or not – don’t.

If you have to, the way to do it is to lie the victim on his back, kneel beside him, and with both hands (one over the other) keeping the arms straight, smartly depress the lower end of the breast bone.  This should be done 30 – 40 times per minute and to be effective the breast bone should be depressed by 1½ inches.  After every 3 presses there should a short pause to allow the person who is doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to inflate the lungs.  Ideally you will need three persons, one to do the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, one to do external cardiac massage, one to observe the movement of the chest and to check for the return of the pulse.  Frequent change-over of the personnel involved should be made as it can become very tiring after a few minutes.

Usually all that is required in a case of drowning is that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation be employed until breathing restarts.  In an emergency where it is not possible to get the victim to a flat piece of ground it can be done effectively on a half floating subject in a confined space such as the upstream side of sump 1 in Stoke Lane Slocker (try it on your girl friend next time you are there).

When the drowned person starts to breathe he should be laid on his side, almost on his stomach, with his head pulled back as before.  If, in this position, he vomits up the large quantities of water that he may well have swallowed, it will spurt out onto the floor instead of choking him as would occur if he continued lying on his back.

As drowning in caves is such a serious matter, anyone who swims or dives in caves should know how to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  Because of the coldness of the water even experienced and strong swimmers are at risk of drowning if they attempt swims of even moderate distances if inadequately clothed.  In a recent experiment (British Medical Bulletin, Feb. 1969, p.480-3) one out of four good swimmers was only able to swim for 1½ minutes in water of 40oF before he sank suddenly and had to be rescued.  Even if a person has been successfully resuscitated from drowning, the coldness of the water and the exhaustion of the victim renders him particularly prone to ‘hypothermia’ (cold exposure) and this may cause his death. The way to recognise this and deal with it is discussed in the next section.

Hypothermia  (Cold Exposure)

The normal body temperature is 98.4oF approximately, and in normal conditions the body manages to keep its temperature constant, by producing energy from food, despite the external temperature.  If you got very cold (it may happen) because of insufficient insulation against it (as by thin clothing or body fat) or the body can’t produce enough heat to counter it, your temperature will fall.  As this happened your body becomes unable to function properly, and at a body temperature of 90 oF you will become comatose and at 80 oF you will die.  This may be sad for someone and also wasteful as the army, or your country may need you.


The causes of cold exposure and its treatment are well known but it won’t hurt to list them again.

You are more likely to become victim of cold exposure if you are young, thin, unfit, or lost. Obviously the lower the temperature the more likely you will be affected.  The cold can only affect you if you are inadequately clad, and water by markedly reducing the insulating property of clothing can make clothing, which is perfectly adequate when dry, totally useless for keeping you warm.  If you are tired and hungry the body is less able to manufacture heat from food, and it appears that if your morale falls you become tireder and hungrier quicker.  In this manner the cold gets you.

The early symptoms of cold exposure are feelings of excessive fatigue and excessive shivering then as the body temperature falls the victim starts to behave in an odd manner perhaps by being excessively morose, or frivolous, or starts to play the fool, becoming aggressive or irrational.  As the degree of hypothermia increases he becomes drowsy, starts to fall over until he can no longer continue ands then lapses into a coma and within the space of perhaps half an hour he dies.  Often he is unaware of becoming a victim of exposure and may resent the suggestion that he is behaving oddly so it should be the leaders responsibility to watch out for the early symptoms of it among the members of his party and take the appropriate measures if it occurs.

The treatment of cold exposure in the early stages of treatment is to try to correct the factors that have brought it about.  If the victim’s clothes are wet the water should be wrung out of them, he should be made to rest and to eat something sweet as chocolate or sugar.  He should then be got out of the cave as quickly as possible, and if he’d able to, and if the way is not too arduous, then it is reasonable for it to be attempted without calling the rescue organisation. If the victim is judged unable to get out of the cave on his own then the cave rescue organisation should be notified and all efforts should be made while waiting to keep him warm.  To this end he should rest in a dry place, out of draughts if possible, he should be lent clothes from other stronger members of the party, and those members who stay with the victim should huddle round him to keep him warm.  (On mountainsides where the equipment may be available it is recommended that a tent should be pitched, the victim then being put in a sleeping bag with another member of the party – of either sex – for the warmth.  This is to be recommended for reviving even the most frigid!) When the rescue organisation arrives it may be found that dry clothes, food and hot drinks, may often be enough to sufficiently recover early cases of exposure so that the victim will be able to go out on his own feet.  Where there is any doubt then a full rescue procedure (with the subject in a neoprene exposure bag and a stretcher) should be initiated for him to have the best chance of survival.

On no account should drugs such as Benzedrine (amphetamine, dexamphetamine) morphine or alcohol be given to someone suffering from exposure.  When the affected person has been got out of the cave and is in a dry place, then alcohol, by increasing the flow of blood to the skin, may be of use in that it increases the rate at which a body picks up heat from the surroundings, but in a cave where the temperature of the air is cold then the giving of alcohol will increase the rate at which heat is lost by the body with disastrous results (e.g. death).

Head Injury

If you wear a recommended type of helmet (see B.E.C. CAVING REPORT No.5 – Headwear and Lighting) with a chin strap so that the helmet will stay on your head when you fall are likely to avoid the majority of head injuries.  If you fall down Gaping Gill onto your head you will not need to bother with the ensuing remarks and it will be immaterial to you whether you were wearing your helmet or not.

As an absolute rule, if you have a fall or a blow to the head that results in loss of consciousness, however briefly, while caving then the trip should be cancelled at once and you should get out and get to hospital as quickly as possible. Even where there is no bleeding from the scalp and here there is no skull fracture, a blow to the head may tear a small blood vessel under the skull and bleeding from this over the next few hours may cause headache, vomiting and drowsiness and progressively more serious effects.  Occasionally a blow to the head which doesn’t cause loss of consciousness may cause headache and vomiting and if this occurs you should again get out of the cave as soon as possible and see a doctor.

If you are knocked unconscious and stay unconscious you should be placed lying on your side, almost on you stomach, with your head turned to the side with your chin held up as was described in the section of drowning.  In this position, if vomiting occurs you will not run the risk of inhaling the vomit.  Many people die after head injuries from inhaling their vomit who would otherwise have made a rapid and eventful recovery.  Your friends should make sure that you are breathing quietly; if you are not they should clear your mouth out and pull your head back with your chin up and forward, until a position is found in which you are breathing easily. One of them should make sure that for the whole time that you are unconscious you are able to breathe easily. At no time should be left, and you should be secured so that there is no danger of you falling further of having further rocks fall on you.  If you are unconscious for more than a few minutes and/or on recovering you are unable to get out of the cave on your own then, the cave rescue organisation should be called.  The important thing is that you should get to hospital with as little delay as possible and without incurring any further injuries.

Bleeding from the scalp, or from elsewhere, is easily controlled by pressing on the edges of the skin (around the place where the bleeding is coming from) with ones finger tips, or by pressing a firm pad of cloth or bandage against it.  Remove any obvious and loose pieces of bone, rock or karabiner that you see on the wound before applying pressure to it.  Pressure for ten minutes will stop most bleeding (on no account should a tourniquet be applied around the neck to stop bleeding from the head).

If a very severe head injury occurs and death is immediate, or within 10 minutes or so, there is nothing that you can do.  Unless you think that he has stopped breathing because he has inhaled vomit, it is a waste of time to attempt mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or cardiac massage on victim of a severe head injury in a cave.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING that you can do for a person who is unconscious as a result of a head injury, or when breathing again following drowning, is to like him on his side almost on his stomach, with his head turned to the side and with his chin pulled up SO THAT HE CAN BREATHE without the danger of obstructing his air passage or inhaling vomit.

If the rescue organisation were to find that your friend has put a beautiful length splint onto your fractured leg while you have suffered at the other end because you were left lying on your back while unconscious, they may well feel aggrieved at the waste of plaster of Paris.  As for you, you won’t be in a position to mind anything evermore.

There is only one other form of loss of consciousness that you are likely to have to deal with in a cave and that is a person who has epileptic convulsion.  This is a sudden loss of consciousness, often with no warning, which may or may not be associated with powerful repetitive movements of the limbs for a few minutes.  The affected person may then have to sleep it off for about half an hour, and during this time may well be irritable if roused.  He should be got to a safe place, put on his side and watched until he recovers.  If in doubt as to what to do someone should seek help, but usually if watched, and if he has not hurt himself as a consequence of his fall, he will be able to get out of the cave on his own without feeling any ill effects.

In the three main conditions discussed above, the first aid management by members of the victim’s party may save his life, however it is imperative that a doctor should see the victim as soon as possible, even if he has apparently completely recovered.  Luckily such catastrophes are not everyday occurrences in caves, but as they can occur anywhere from the Lake District to the M4, the basic principles of first aid treatment are worth learning and remembering.


BELFRY BULLETINS are available to non-members (Annual Sub 18/6).  Back numbers of B.B.’s are available for most 1968 issues.  Also a number of members have made their copies of the early B.B.’s available.  These are on sale for 9d. each and the proceeds will be given to the Hut Fund.


On Climbing


Having just finished reading David Robertson’s biography of Mallory +, I am more than ever attracted to this unique man.  Possibly a man such as he, with a heart and lungs twice the size of an average man, could not fail to become one of the world’s greatest mountaineers when he came under the tutorship of R.L.G. Irving in 1904. Throughout his education, Mallory developed a great fondness for, and skill at, essay writing and surely few can hope to approach the standard of his writings where mountains and mountaineering are concerned.  So well does he capture the spirit of climbing during the first thirty tears of this century that it is difficult not to wish that it could be recaptured today. What one tends to forget, in this age of leisure, that few people had the money, or more important the time available, to partake in excursion such as his.  Now that we can all spend a fortnight each year in the mountains of Britain and Europe and most weekends in North Wales, we cannot complain of lack of opportunity. Even if first ascents on the Lliwedd slabs are no longer available to us, we can still enjoy the moonlit walks over snow-covered Crib Goch.  The danger lies, in this day and age, when what is readily accessible is also readily neglected.

+ “George Mallory” by David Robertson, Faber and Faber, 1969.  55/-.

Letter To The Editor

In a recent letter (Bel. Bul. No, 253, Mar. ’69) I suggested that the uncertainty of the position of St. Cuthbert’s sump was of the order of 40ft.  I regret to say that this was an error and what I should have said was 20ft. However, having carried out further calculations on the data published in the Gour Hall report, I now find that even this may be too large.  I humbly apologise therefore to the surveyors for aspersions cast, although I wondered why they did not protest – modesty perhaps?  (No, just snowed under with the basic work on the survey – but wait until Part ‘B’ of the Cuthbert’s Report is issued! Ed).

May I quickly summarise my latest calculations?  Since the lengths were measured to a greater accuracy than the angles, error form this source can be neglected in a rough calculation.  Assuming a traverse of n legs, each of length s and a standard error e in the angles (elevation and bearing) the misclosures of traverses are expected to have a standard error of

M = se /.  This gives us a limit of 3se/  for the misclosure over a total lengthy of sn. 

Thus Q = 3e/.

From the data on the traverses in Gour Hall, s = 18’ and e = o.5o = 0.0087 rads. Appear to be suitable values to take and so Q = 0.16.

We first note that measured Q is 0.1 and is thus within the allowable limits (only to be expected of course).  Secondly we see that a surveyed length from entrance to sump (very apprx) = 250ft. gives a misclosure of 8ft.  That is the calculated position of the sump has a probability of only 1 in 1000 of being more than n ft. away from the true position of the sump.

                        Yours faithfully,
                                    Mike Luckwill
                                    (June 1969)

Ed. Note:          I do not intend to apologise for the apparent bias of articles towards the specialised subject of Cave Surveying as several articles are in the pipeline in addition to those that have appeared by the Mike Luckwill, our Mendip exile living in the smokey Midlands.  Several fundamental principles of the C.R.G. Survey Report have come under heavy fire – particularly taken from Members of the B.E.C.  So much have these comments been taken to heart by the C.R.G. that it appears that they are planning another series of discussions, with surveyors from throughout the country, to give the subject yet another overhaul!


The Quarries and the Cavers

By Alan Thomas
Originally published in the Mendip Preservation Society Newsletter.

A meeting was held on 17th. May, in the University of Bristol between representatives of the Council of Southern Caving Clubs, the Somerset County Council Planning Department, the Bristol Avon River Authority and Bristol Waterworks Company; representatives of the quarry owners were also present.  The purpose of the meeting was to ascertain which areas of Mendip had the greatest amenity value from the caver’s viewpoint as the County Council is carrying out a survey to allocate land for future working of minerals (limestone) inn the Mendip Hills.  Many of the facts that emerged are of general interest.

The rise in the demand for Mendip limestone as roadstone increase by between 5% and 7% each year. The availability of sand and gravel sources for the purpose will begin to be run down from 1975 and will be completely exhausted by 1980 unless the Ministry of Agriculture will release more land for this industry, which it is not expected to be willing to do.  This will presumably put an even greater pressure on the Mendips to provide stone.

The market for Mendip stone is very wide.  The quarries of East Mendip send stone south to Southampton and east to Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Essex, Sussex and even Kent.  Those of Central Mendip (around Gurney Slade) have a marketing area mainly to the south.  The Cheddar group send stone to the south and west as far as North Devon and the quarries on the fringes of Bristol have a limited but important market in Bristol and on into Gloucestershire.  It can be seen, therefore, that the County Council policy on quarries will be influenced by national, rather than local considerations.

Some interesting figures about cavers, themselves, were given.  In 1950 there were five main caving clubs in the area, whose membership totalled some 350 cavers; at the present time there are 60 clubs with a total membership of some 2,000 cavers.  It is estimated that by 1980 there will be at least 5,000 cavers belonging to clubs in the Mendip region (heaven forbid – Ed.) as well as many visitors from clubs in other parts of Britain.

At present there are about 14 miles of cave passage in the area and the work of exploration continues. Since 1950 about 1.5 miles of cave have been destroyed at Fairy Cave Quarry and other quarries.  Thus it can be seen that there is a very real conflict of interest and some compromise will have to be found.  A ray of hope for the cavers emerged that the quarrying is unlikely to take place in the vicinity of Burrington, Compton Martin, Priddy or Wookey Hole.

A solution to the problem of balancing the need for stone against the need for the continuing amenity of the Mendip Hills was put forward by Dr. William Stanton, a geologist with an extensive knowledge of the area.  He proposed that quarrying should be restricted to certain areas viz. around Gurney Slade and the area east of a line from Cranmore to Coleford.  Within these two areas there are reserves of 400 million tons of stone in the existing concessions available to conventional quarrying methods.  If we take into consideration the rate of increase in production we may reasonably expect these reserves to be completely exhausted by 1990.  If, however, instead of stopping at flood level the quarry companies installed machinery which would enable them to work at a depth of 350ft.below the water table, this would make an additional 7,000 million tons of stone available.

This would mean the existing concessions would last beyond the foreseeable future. Without further loss of amenity and that water could be made available to the river and water authorities.  Of course the production of stone would cost more but this might well be offset in part at any rate by the fact that the quarries would last very much longer and it would be worthwhile to put in bigger and more expensive plant.


HELP THE HUT FUND.  If you have any caving publications that are no longer required (Belfry Bulletins & Caving Reports) there is a good market for this material – in fact Dave Irwin has a waiting list for this material – particularly the early issues of the B.B.


Monthly Notes  No.24

by ‘Wig’

SWILDONS HOLE comes back into the news again with another rescue, though the first for many months. In fact, as far as the writer is aware the first since the July 1968 floods.  In fact it seems that it is another of those rescues that need not have occurred.    Linda Teer, a 17 year old student, and her two companions descended the cave and it was on the return to the surface that she found that she could not climb the 20ft. Members of her party attempted to haul her up the 20 but did not succeed in doing so.  One of the party went out of the cave and on to the Hunters go gather up a rescue party.  Members of the Cerberus, S.M.C.C., Severn Valley formed a team under the direction of Paul Allen and soon got her to the surface.  It is reported , from a reliable source, that she had not eaten since breakfast and the rescue took place early in the evening.

Black Shivers – Martin Webster has sent in this specification of a member of a team that will descend this S.S.P.  If you fulfil at least 60% of the requirement you’ll do!  Must be mini-thin and have the urge to do hundreds of feet of wet, flat out crawling at the same time carrying 400’ of ladder, 350’ of rope, belays etc. Must be capable of climbing 400’ of wet pitches and still be fit enough to haul the rest of the party out of the cave and then remove all the tackle from the cave!  Must always be ready to buy the first few rounds at the pub afterwards.  Must be of the female variety; must be willing to endure the elements; must be willing!

…………All applications will be disregarded.

Spring Holiday in Yorkshire

About a dozen members set up camp at Skirwith Farm for the meet.  Alan Thomas, Keith Franklin, Norman Petty and others made their annual visit to Alum Pot and the ‘big’ pitch laddered.  Other caves visited in the Alum included Upper and Lower Long Churn, Borrins Moor Cave and Birthday Hole.  Roy Bennett, ‘Bucket’ Tilbury, the Boy, ‘Bert’ and others bottomed Meregill. Martin Webster attempted Black Shiver (account of the attempt to be found elsewhere in this issue of the B.B.). Sunset Hole, Hardrawkin Pot and Tatham Wife Hole were also visited.

One recent sunny Saturday saw the visitation of Swildons by several members of the S.M.C.C. and 1½ members of the B.E.C. (one gave up) dressed in traditional shorts, sports shirts, folded copies of the Daily Telegraph, candles etc.  The trip was abandoned at the Double Pots through the shortage of ropes and pulleys (see S.M.C.C. log).

Best wishes to Keith Franklin who recently departed for Australia after providing suitable refreshment one memorable Friday night at the Hunters.


ANNUAL DINNER & A.G.M. – Saturday 4th. October 1969.  Make a note in your diaries NOW……..!


Just a Sec

With Alan Thomas

A reception is to be held in honour of Brig. E.A. Glennie, C.I.E., D.S.O. on the occasion of his 80th birthday.  It will be held at the Staff House, The University, Birmingham at 12.30pm Saturday 2nd. August 1969.  It would be nice if somebody went from the B.E.C.; I shall be going myself.  It costs £1. I can give anyone who wants to go an application form.

We have been asked indirectly by Mr. Maine to construct and fix in position the gate on the blockhouse over Swildon’s entrance and we have agreed to do this.  Offers of help would be appreciated.

Flood Changes in G.B.Cave

The following details of the changes in G.B. Cavern have been received from the U.B.S.S.:

The Dry Way is now open, but the passage between the First Grotto and Mud Passage is now a squeeze, at the end of which is a 3m drop for which a ladder is advisable.

There is now a permanent ladder from the First Grotto into the Wet Way, courtesy of some other club.  The drop at the bottom of the chain in the Wet Way is now longer and a ladder is useful.

The Ooze is still blocked.

At the head of the Gorge is a large quantity of mud washed down from another swallet.  This is being removed slowly by the stream, which has scoured a way through it.  However, it is possible that more mud will be washed down.  Several boulders have been removed from the bottom of the Pitch, making the scramble down 15m instead of 12m.  Above the Pitch the bypass route for the water is blocked, so that in wet conditions it goes down the pitch.

Debris has been deposited in the Gorge below the Pitch, making the climb into the Oxbow 3.5m instead of 6m, and the bottom 2 m of the fixed ladder is covered.  The Bottom Dig is only passable for about 10m.

In the New Series there is a sand floor in the crawl to Helictite Chamber and many of the boulders in Boulder Chamber have moved.

There is a fuller account by Dave Savage in the Jubilee issue of the UBSS Proceedings.

Marianne Last.


The  C.C.C. has been asked to inform the Bristol waterworks Company of any sites in which they are likely to be interested in the Company’s area.

Description, name and map reference of any sites in which we as a Club might be interested should be sent to me as soon as possible.


B.E.C. Publications Currently Available

Caving Reports


Headgear and Lighting – completely revised by G. Bull.



Smaller Caves of Mendip, Vol.1.



Smaller Caves of Mendip, Vol.2.



B.E.C. Method of Ladder Construction (available August)



Long Chamber/Coral area of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, only a few copies left – no reprint.



St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Discovery and Exploration.  B.E.C. BEST SELLER



St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Rabbit Warren – at printers.



St. Cuthbert’s Swallet –Gour Hall Area



St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Maypole and Cerberus Series


In addition to the above various parts of the report on St. Cuthbert’s Swallet is in hand – Rabbit Warren Extension, Main Chambers and September Series will be available later this year.  Also in the pipeline are four important publications No.14 – Roman Mine, Monmouthshire; No.15 John Etough’s book of cave photographs; No.16 Ahnenschacht, Austria (possibility of a German Edition, No.16A); No.17 Flora and Fauna of Goughs Caves, Cheddar.  Details of these and other publications in future B.B.’s.

Several other out of print reports are in the process of revision (e.g. Shoring (no.4); Ladder Construction and Presentation of Cave Survey Data (Nos. 3A and & 10; 12).

The MENDIP SPELEODES are on their way – details in the July or August B.B.