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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset Telephone: Wells (0149) 72126

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Bassett’s Notes

COUNTY CLARE, EIRE, EASTER 1983.  This very successful meet is only just over.  Many members forsook South Wales to visit the land of Guinness at £l.00 per pint and petrol at £2.79 a gallon.  Even the falling Pund failed to cut the cost much, but a good time was had by all in spite of the cost.  Some stayed at Peg McCarthy's cottage (first used as a cavers' cottage back in 1962 when a mixed party of B.E.C., Wessex and Shepton stayed there) some went for the better endowed quarters at Kilshanny, and yet others braved the rain, hail, wind and snow (yes, SNOW) and camped by Doolin Strand. We were all received by the O'Connors as old friends.

Many pints were consumed (though Colin Dooley failed to beat his 1971 record of 24 pints in one day and 163 pints in a. week) and, believe it or riot, a great deal of caving was done.

Pete Glanvill & Co. discovered a rather fine extension to the little visited 'Cave of the Wild Horses' (no doubt an article will be forthcoming).  While Pollnagollum - Poulelva and St. Catherines - Fisherstreet saw the usual vast numbers of cavers.  Wormhole got lost again - but then so did most other people at one time or another.  Bolt discovered the joys of a peat fire, and Hannah the dog had the time of her life, plus a few of Mrs. McCarthy's chickens.

Gussie O'Connor has told everyone that there a big reunion next Easter - 72 hours of Guinness and plenty of floor space in the intervals – should there be any.

SIDCOT SWALLET. Andy Sparrow and his men are digging at the bottom of the cave, and have excavated into a phreatic tunnel.  Progress is slow but steady.  In usual sparrow-style, Andy says he won't write anything until there is more to write about (by which time it will not be news say I.)   Perhaps I can get someone to extract his notes from the Club log.


The Bec Get Everywhere - Mexico '82 Expedition

Now it can be told - where the Wart money went and why you all got conned into buying expensive car stickers, but first our thanks must go those who did contribute to the trip and our commiserations to those who didn't (the ancient Maya curse we discovered should strike you as these lines are read!).

For those not in the picture the Expedition consisted of cavers from essentially the Leeds/Bradford, Manchester/Stockport and Mendip areas plus a few odds and sods from foreign parts and Syd Perou's film crew of seven.  This made about thirty in all though with members arriving and leaving at different times this was fairly flexible.  The BEC contingent was made up of Dany Bradshaw, Bob Cork and Tony Jarratt, several hundred "Bertie" stickers and the Belfry Battle Flag.

The organisation of the trip had taken some two years with a large amount of fund raising, obtaining sponsorship from firms and writing for permission to work in our chosen area. The bulk of our caving and camping equipment was dispatched by sea in September of 1982.  The freight shipping firm of Schenkers did this (and much more) for us gratis.  Without their extremely generous aid and assistance it is doubtful if the Expedition would have succeeded.

Our chosen caving area was centred on the town of San Cristobal de las Casas in the forested highlands of Chiapas-Mexico's southern border state with Guatemala.  This is an area of hundreds of square miles of limestones and volcanic rocks reaching about 10,000 feet altitude and, in the San Cristobal area, giving a depth potential of some 5,000 feet.  This heavily forested area had been  previously looked at by only a handful of cavers - mainly American and Anglo - Canadian teams, though a couple of expeditions by Italians and Belgians had also taken place.   A half down large and generally very wet systems had been surveyed and the local show cave, Grutas de San Cristobal, was known to be over two miles long and with open passages leading on. Three of our original group had visited the area in 1981 on a reconnaissance trip and had been very impressed.

The main body of the team left England at the end of November planning to meet up with several lads who had left a couple of weeks earlier to bring down two vehicles from California.

A series of teething troubles occurred almost immediately starting with our discovery on arrival at Mexico City airport that one of the Mexican internal airlines had gone on strike (just like home).  The other airlines were unable to land at Tuxtla in Chaipas due to low cloud and British Airways had lost six of our personals rucksacks - not to appear until over three weeks later!  After a narrowly avoided international incident or two at the airport, two vehicles were hired and we set off on the 800 mile drive south. One of these left the airport late at night and after a FIVE hour drive through a surprisingly well populated Mexico its occupants were somewhat dismayed to arrive back at the airport! With a population of 14 million - most of whom seem to be trainee stock car racers - Mexico City is sporting to say the least.

Many tales could be told of the adventures of our two car loads in the next day or so but to save space a mere pint in the Hunter's will ensure that those interested get the full story.  Our arrival at San Cristobal revealed more stragglers lurking in a local bar.  Two Yanks, a Dutchman, a Kiwi and a couple of émigré English cavers had gathered together and taken over a local cheap hotel.  This was necessary as our camping gear was still in the hands of the Mexican customs and would be there for at least another week! We joined them and settled into an acclimatisation programme of drinking, eating and sight-seeing in the town - an incredibly colourful spot and the market place for several local Indian tribes.  It is possible to buy practically anything here (including Armadillo handbags) and much of our British purchased food, clothes and essentials could have been obtained much cheaper locally.  One of the team compared the town with Katmandu for its colourful local folk costumes and general atmosphere - and the inevitable American tourists.

Eventually our gear arrived and camp was established just outside the town in a field full of delightful hairy caterpillars.  They were our first encounter with Mexico's exciting fauna.  The charming little furry bastards gave a nasty acid burn when touched and were fond of down sleeping bags!  At last we could go caving.  This second nasty shock was accepted as inevitable and so off we trooped into the nearby show cave to get some idea of what we were in for.  We were pleasantly surprised.  Essentially a mile and half of huge dry passage and fantastically decorated chambers with a temperature of 20 C. (68 F.) made up for all those Eastwater trips last year.   We soon ditched our furry suits and nylon overalls and took to shirts and shorts for most trips here.  During the next two months many visits to this system were undertaken but only one minor extension was made despite a lot of searching in side passages and in the roof.  The big problem here was that the un-surveyed mile long extension to the cave lay beyond a long static sump that was only passable in drought.  Local weather conditions had changed somewhat since the recent eruption of the El Chicon volcano only thirty miles and the sump obstinately refused to drain.  Our lack of diving gear first made itself painfully obvious in this cave. 

Several of the team turned their attentions to the hills and plateau above the town - between the show cave and its presumed resurgence some 10 miles away and about 5,000 feet lower. About fifty caves and shafts were descended up to depths of 300 feet but rewarded us with nothing but a tarantula called Stanley and a story for John "Lugger" Thorpe to tell in the Craven Heifer.  While checking out a rock-shelter he came face to face with a mountain lion which luckily decided that Lugger would be a particularly small and unpleasant mouthful and ambled on.

Some of the others were not quite so fortunate.  A large cave had been found some miles away in the territory of a local Maya Indian tribe. Permission had been asked of the nearest local who had no objections.  It seems that the rest of the tribe did have and on their second visit the lads were taken prisoner by over fifty Indians armed with machetes and sticks and told that "two lives"and a heavy fine were required. Our brown trousered colleagues rapidly turned out their pockets and were only slightly relieved to realise that "two lives" was bad English for “two hostages".  After a long one-sided argument they were released and, like Lugger, escaped without being eaten.

With little materialising in our chosen area a breakaway team decided to follow up some rumours heard from a Mexican oil rig boss and did some prospecting in the Las Margaritas area some 70 miles south east and closer to the Guatemalan border.  This area was much lower than San Cristobal and gave no hope of a world depth record but had potential for long and interesting systems.

Many superb caves were explored over some four weeks of visits – almost all of these being shown to us by a young Mexican fanner - Oscar Jimenez.  Though not a caver Oscar invariably knew which holes were open, blocked, large or small and accompanied us underground on several surveying trips. With his permanent grin and one word of English -"sweat" - he was a great asset and was paid by us the going rate for a day's work (about 70p and as many fags as he could smoke).  On our first visit he even insisted that ten of us sleep in his house.  This was a wooden building about the same size as the East Somerset hut and also the home of a large turkey which Ian "Watto" Watsom unknowingly used as a pillow.  The local village dogs soon began to appreciate our presence.  Never before had they been stroked or given saucepans full of cremated curried rice.  Equally delighted were several small boys who became plastered in "Bertie" stickers and learnt several useful English phrases.  In return we got invited to the village New Year's piss up and discovered the art of distilling instant brain damage.  After a few glasses of "Traco" their arms curled up and became useless as total body failure set in.  Thank God they wouldn't serve us with it in the bar.

Back to the caves. This beautifully forested locality contained several fragments of an ancient drainage system.  All were large, fairly extensive and packed with superb but generally dead formations.  Broken Indian pottery was found in all of these and it would seem that they were once used as water collecting sites, though they are now very dry.  Vampire bats and hand-sized spiders inhabited these caves and a large wooden cross in a particularly eerie and not easily accessible chamber added to the spice of exploration.

Two completely unvisited swallet caves were pushed here and both were very spectacular.  The wetter of the two was extremely sporting and the other was notable for its steep water sculpted ramp passages and sticky white mud. Despite their initial promise both sumped after a few hundred feet and the huge resurgence 15 miles away was also a disappointment.  An entrance over 100ft wide and 60 ft high dropped instantly to a static sump.  The large river emerging from boulders a hundred yards below this cave must flow through a major system but again diving gear or a bit more luck with the sinks would be needed t o gain access.

Other large caves in the area were surveyed and a couple not visited due problems with permission to work in the area which caused us to reluctantly leave here.

A brief trip to the La Trinitaria area, a couple of hours drive from Las Margaritas provided us with one of the smallest but most novel caves visited.  A thirty foot pitch dropped into a 200 foot long low chamber the floor of which was strewn with over a hundred human skulls and many limb bones. A lack of smaller bones and the presence of many heaps of ashes indicated that before interment these bodies had been cremated.  Little could be found at the time to enlighten us as to the age and archaeological importance of these remains but a piece of skull was retrieved for Carbon 14 analysis.  Many photographs were taken of this strange and rather unnerving underground cemetery - including the inevitable "Alas poor Yorick" snaps!

While exploration in these areas continued to give us fairly moderately sized but worthwhile rewards another team had commenced work in the San Lucas/El Zapotal area at the foot of the massif below San Cristobal.  Resurgences were believed to drain the high plateau and several fine caves were discovered and explored.

The enormous entrance chamber of Borohuiz (Cave of the Jaguar) proved to be a religious site for the area's Indian population and had its own semi-pagan legend.  Anyone entering the right hand passage below the vast entrance would "speak with God".  Those daring to explore the dark left hand passage were therefore going to "speak with the Devil" and he who was rash enough to stand in the beam of sunlight boring into the entrance chamber would undoubtedly be struck down for his effrontery.  We laughed at this as well but anyone who has read the papers recently may have noticed the occasional item concerning Syd Perou and several other members laid up in a Mexican hospital with severe histoplasmosis!!

The cause of this dreaded disease lay, we suspect, in a different, nearby cave which contained vast heaps of dusty guano deposited by its resident vampire bat population. Giving the affected caver a really horrible dose of fever, dehydration, nausea, difficulty in breathing and general debility this occasionally fatal illness is a high risk possibility in caves of the tropical one.

(Doctor's note:  The organism causing the disease is a kind of fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum, which causes its symptoms after inhalation of its spores from infected guano.  Normally the illness presents as a form of chest infection but in a considerable percentage of individuals there may be no symptoms in the affected person.   The only way to diagnose exposure and infection then is to perform a simple skin test.)

Being under the protection of the Bat God the BEC contingent had been kept from visiting this cave and survived to carry on with the exploration of a neighbouring system  and the major find of the Expedition - Veshtucoc".

Following some heroic free-diving by Dave "Grotty" Gill a mega stream passage had been found with a couple of vast chambers comparable to those in the large French systems.  A series of visits had led to the exploration of a mile of passage, including a second free-diveable sump and terminating in a third, deep looking pool.  Our only diving equipment being one mask this was taken down and attached to Bob Cork who, after a very committing free dive of about 15 feet emerged to discover a major extension.  Further trips here gained almost another mile and a half of really impressive cave.  A section of inclined and heavily water sculpted stream passage over a thousand feet long was the highlight.  Time being short this system was surveyed and left with eleven possible ways on. Should those left ill in Mexico recover enough to continue exploration here it is almost certain that major extensions will be found.

Other caves visited included "El Chorricadero" - arguably the world's most sporting through trip.  This high and narrow river cave bores down through a mountain for a mile and a half and to a depth of 1400 feet.  Requiring only a hundred foot rope for half a dozen pitches the majority of the system is traversed right in the river.  Progress is generally made by leaping up to 15 feet into deep flooded potholes and by swimming along canals where a lifejacket is almost a necessity (at least for the non-swimmer).  Just to cap it all on emerging from the resurgence the knackered caver is greeted by a flock of optimistic vultures.

Fringe activities kept us amused when not caving though only a relatively small amount of boozing took place (honest).  Vicente Kramsky, pioneer local caver and professional photographer, gave us much assistance and a superb slide show.  Tourist attractions and shopping trips were enjoyed by all and a trickle of Mexican and foreign visitors added to the cosmopolitan flavour of the camp site. Much more could be written on the trip and everyone has their own favourite tales but no doubt these will be retold in the pub until you are all bored to tears.  An expedition report with surveys, photos etc. is planned and Syd Perou's film of the trip should be on Channel 4 by October.

As a conclusion I must say that everyone who went would return to Mexico.  Once there it is cheap to live and there's enough cave to be found to last for years. In my opinion the '82 Expedition was a great success and has paved the way for future British teams.  Don’t leave it all for the Yanks - start saving now!

Tony Jarratt  March 1983


Up The Wadi

This story begins 12 years ago two weeks after Wookey 22 was discovered.  If you look through the CDG N/L’s for this time you will find that John Parker, Tim Reynolds, and Bryan Woodward explored an Eastwater type ascending rift passage for 200 feet before getting fed up – not that the passage closed down or became too tight.  However, inexplicably, the passage was never re-examined and the rest of the work in 22 was dedicated to finding the way on underwater.  This was eventually achieved after another five years of effort.

When I started diving in Wookey I started to look through old CDC N/L/s and found the reference to this passage.  On my first trip to 22 I failed to spot it, and on subsequent trips I was usually on the way through to 24.  Even a photographic trip to 22 in October last year failed to turn up anything except a minor grotty loop passage.  However on a trip to 24 in December to retrieve gear from the push in 25, I happened to have a few minutes to spare whilst passing through.  I decided to take a look at water level at the far end of the 22 sump pool where this passage was reported to exist.  To my delight there was a passage hidden from casual gaze and from anybody looking across the 22 rift by a rock flake extending to only a few feet from the water.

I wrote to Trevor Hughes in January suggesting we dived to 22 and had a look at the passage. Unfortunately he couldn’t make it and I had to put off the trip.  In the meantime he and Rob Harper, the original acrobatic cave-diving team, were busy on a bolt climb up an aven in 22.  They had high hopes of linking it to Halloween Rift (see last N/L) but on a trip in late January found it closed down.  Feeling a little disappointed they decided to take a look at the 'passage’ on the way out.

The approach is entertaining because the rift slopes at thirty degrees and is covered by contoured mud which looks like rock.  Apart from the pseudo rock there are also some mud stals. which Trev found out about when he tried to pull himself out of the water on one.  After getting out of the sump pool our gallant explorers then scrambled up the slope for a hundred feet or so whilst carefully avoiding the loose boulders liberally scattered about the place.  At the top of the slope they entered an eighteen inch wide strike passage leading off in a northerly direction.  The roof of the passage was limestone and the floor dolomitic conglomerate.  It was muddy and awkward but not difficult sand after a hundred feet of progress they found a diver's knife.  The original explorer' footprints stopped soon after with the strike passage stretching away into the darkness.  However clever Trevor spotted a hole at the top of the passage at this point and disappeared up it like a rat up the proverbial drainpipe probably showering loose pebbles on Rob as he did so.  A short squeeze at the top led to a spot where Trev could stop and admire the view - the view being the limestone roof rearing vertically and butted against the horizontally bedded conglomerate.  Beyond this unconformity a low crawl in the conglomerate led off.  This was dubbed Cam Valley Crawl in deference to Trevor’s Morris Dancing interests.  C.V.C. winds for 100 feet through several low sections and muddy pools before ending abruptly in a cross rift.  The daring duo descended the rift - something of a wetsuit snagger - to reach another flat out crawl about 10 feet long.  This opened into a larger rift which dropped away into the darkness. A fairly easy free climb led to a two foot ledge scattered with more loose boulders which required some gardening before climbing could be continued.  Below the explorers a large passage could be seen and this was quickly reached by an exposed straddle and traverse along to an easy climb down a mud bank.  Rob did it without a light and only discovered the exposure on the way back! A quick examination of the passage at the bottom of the climb (about 60 feet vertically below CVC) and it was realised that CVC had linked 22 to the far end of 23.  Needless there was much jubilation.  In case you are wondering where the strike passage went it closed down after about 100 feet in stal. obstructions.  However its position suggest it may repay more attention.

Currently attention is being directed towards finding a by-pass to the 23-24 sumps because, at present, although CVC bypasses 300 feet of sump it is a preferable alternative to carrying a bottle through to do the short 25-24 sumps.  Incidentally, if you are not a confident climber I recommend you carry a ladder through the sumps to tackle the final 25 foot climb down into Wookey 23.  A rescue from here would be interesting from many points of view!

The extension was almost completely surveyed by Peter Glanvill and Jim Durston in late February and a few photographs have been taken.  The discrepancies thrown up by the survey meant that 22 probably needs to be re-surveyed!

Tips for future dives in the area

There are still two questions to be answered about 22.  The first is “Where does the Axe enter?" and the second is "Does Edmunds' rift exist?".  As regards the Axe, as far as the boulder pile at the bottom of 22 a current is detectable especially in high water conditions.  This is puzzling because Parker is supposed to have ruled out the sump pool as blind.  However he did make a mistake over the other sump pool so perhaps there are ways on. This is suggested by Colin Edmunds find in the early seventies when he dived to the left of the boulder pile and reported emerging in a rift which was not 22.  Like the passage leading to CVC this was never mentioned again in the CDG literature.

If such a rift exists it might provide a route further along the unconformity and might even provide a clue to what happens to the Axe between 24 and 21.


Why “Up the wadi"? Well, at the unconformity it has been suggested one is at the edge of a big fossil wadi (dry stream bed which was out through the limestone and later in filled by scree cemented into a conglomerate.  Geology lesson over.

Peter Glanvill

Donation                      Top Hut Fund from Brian Prewer   £10.00.

Quote Of The Issue

Brenda Wilton on awakening one morning in Ireland:-  "12 years wasted. I'm married to a pillock".


Letters To The Editor

Linton Falls,
N. Yorks.

Dear Ed.,

An insertion in the next B.B. would be appreciated, informing ANY B.E.C. members who are participating in the Yorkshire w/end on the 25.5.83, that we have arranged a party to coincide with this.  All are very welcome.  Please bring sleeping bags - beds are limited but floor space is not.  There is a field for camping, and a leaky caravan, (not to mention a large dog kennel!).  Some indication, from one of our contacts down your way, as to numbers, would help, as this will obviously affect the size of the barrel!!!


John and Sue Riley.

I presume John and Sue mean 21.5.83 - the Birks Fell & Roaring Hole w/end.


Dear Ed,

I enjoyed immensely the humorous recollections of an 'Incident at Lamb Leer' on page 4 of BB No 417. As I recall the incident is basically correct and I am very grateful to Martin for drawing my attention to the error.  At the time I was trying to do about six things at once to organise tackle at the head of the pitch.  So it just shows that however long you may have been using any item of equipment you can never relax your concentration.  What is it they say 'More haste less speed!; familiarity breeds contempt!’.  I am sure I will not be the only one in this situation and hope that this can act as a reminder to all members.

Happy Descending

Tom Big


The Boys Of The Hill

Sung to the tune of "Boys of Fairhill" (Irish Ballad)

Lads and lasses come with me
To the village of Priddy
In the heart of Mendips on top of the hill
Have a drink in the Hunters pub
There you'll meet the caving clubs
They're the ones that get called the Boys of the Hill

Cavers come from miles around
On Saturday nights they'll all be found
Raising their tankards and drinking their fill
The Shepton brood, the RSC
The Wessex and the MCG
They're the ones that get called the Boys of the Hill

Why not stop and have a jar
In that fine old flagstone bar
There's plenty of barrels of Roger's good ale
Why not try the Butcombe brew
That's the stuff for me end you
We'll all have a pint say the Boys of the Hill

In the back room you will find
Music there of every kind
New songs and old songs that they sing there still
Some's all right and some are good
Some are downright rude and crude
Cause we like they words say the Boys of the Hill

Bodhrans rattle singers sing
They fairly make the rafters ring
Squeeze boxes play and a whistle loud and shrill
Simon's on the Melodion
Aren't we all say the Boys of the Hill
Tony Jarratt’s drunk again

Lads and lasses come with me
To the village of Priddy
In the heart of Mendips on top of the hill
Had a drink in the Hunters pub
There they met the caving clubs
See you next week say the Boys of the Hill


Cam Valley Passage

The finding of this particular piece of Wookey Hole's open air-filled passage was really the combination of a couple of factors:-

( a ) Pete Glanvill mentioning an old diving log to Trevor Hughes,

( b ) OCL mentioning the same to me.

Now all should be made slightly less murky.

Trevor Hughes (hereinafter known as Biffo since his Austrian nickname of Der Grosse Dumkof, whilst more apt is a bit clumsy) and I had been prospecting in the Wookey 22 and 24 for high level passages for some time.  On the 18th November 1982 we were forced to halt a 24 trip in 22 for various logistic reasons.  Having time, as well as mud, on our hands we had a look at all the side passages that we could find.  The upshot of this was a couple of hundred feet of oxbow passage that had been found by Pete Glanvill a couple of weeks before and a pair of large avens above the sump at the far end of 22 just disappearing up off into the gloom, one of which was issuing a healthy trickle of water.  Do not rearrange these words, having seen the surface I would not like to hear it misquoted as a trickle of healthy water.

Excitement ran high and plans were hastily laid for a return trip.  I cannot remember which caving book I cribbed that phrase from (a pint for the first correct identification – Ed).  Thus on the 28th we dove back.  Biffo had a bit of a problem on the way in but we managed about 15' of the climb before the imminent arrival of the flickering lights syndrome at the forced a retreat to the Hunters

Sunday 23rd January after an unforgivably late start we trekked in, (actually we dived in but the word dive and its permutations will get a bit overworked in this article if I'm not careful).  The first and easier of the two avens was climbed using 4 or 5 bolts plus some epic free climbing at the top by Biffo and found to close down at about 110' above water level.  Not, in fact, heading straight for Halloween Rift in easy walking, sandy-floored passage as had been hoped.

Having been disappointed by this climb ("Genghis' Revenge") we then looked at the next one ("The Mongol Hordes Information Office") and look was all we did.  It's the sort of climb that keeps you awake at night just thinking about it.

Dry mouthed and suitably chastened we pushed on back from this merciless environment.

To digress slightly, casting back over 10 years to 1971, John Parker, Tim Reynolds and Brian Woodward during their second trip to the newly discovered Wookey 22, climbed out of the Northerly end of the sump pool to enter what they described as an Eastwater type passage which they followed for about 100' before getting "fed up".  It was obviously of no significance as the main way on appeared to be the large static pool at the far end of the enormous phreatic main passage.  Subsequent events are now part of caving history and folklore, the repeated dives by Parker, Farr, Edmunds, Stevenson and others with Colin Edmunds eventually finding a small ascending tube from the bottom of the static pool but running out of line before he could break surface.  Finally in 1976 Geoff Yeadon and Oliver 'Bear' Statham carrying on from the end to surface in 23 whence three short sumps led to the magnificent Wookey 24.

This small 'Eastwater-type' passage had fascinated OCL for a number of years and he had mentioned it to me a few days before this dive.  Also, possibly a case of great minds etc but probably just coincidence, Pete Glanvill had mentioned it to Biffo in one of his many letters.

Back to the 23rd Jan.

Just before we set off for home Biffo suggested that we go and have a look for this passage.  I had spotted what appeared to be the entrance on the 28/11/82 trip.  Accordingly we swam to the end of the pool (why do they always seem colder when you're swimming than when you're diving?) and slipped and slithered our way up about 60' from the water to the start of a passage that did indeed strongly resemble the Traverse in Eastwater.  At first we took different levels but were both soon forced into the bottom.  The total length of this passage was about 300' and it got gradually tighter and tighter, until even the Moodies would have had to turn back.  By the time that I had been as far as I could go and started to put helmet and cell back on (in this passage it's difficult to keep body and cell together) B had long since disappeared up a tightsih, trenchish passage to the roof.  I could hear shouts, screams, bangs etc so I knew that everything was O.K.  Moments later, an excited Biffo invited me to accompany him to the further regions of this particular section of merciless environment.  I have had more gracious invitations, QUOTE:-" For f***’s Rob. Come and have a look at this f****r. It’s still f*****g going!!" Who could resist such a blandishment? Slugging up the passage to the roof I found a low phreatic tube, and no sign of my erstwhile companion.  He had disappeared again; calling me after him (I was really quite lucky, he called his cat after someone called Nellie!).  A short section of easy crawling led to a tight vertical squeeze over and through mud at the bottom of a 6' long section of rift, then more low phreatic passage to the head of a pitch.  This pitch was a tight vertical rift very similar to the Cuthbert’s' Entrance Rift but in very sharp conglomerate.  Then 12' of bedding plane, 15 to 18' of pitch down to a ledge from which the exciting gleam of water could be seen.  A hairy traverse and another 15' free climb took us down into the 23 streamway.  A quick look up and down and then out to find that the Hunters last orders had been missed. However we managed to arrange a 'carry-out' so it was not an entirely wasted day.

Since then the passage has-been surveyed and further trips have been made and more are planned in order to see whether it will be possible to get a dry connection to 24 all the way. Signs are promising.

Further plans include a really thorough search of the known airspaces particularly 12 and 13.  We both feel that in the headlong rush to dive the terminal sumps, much may have been missed en route.  Also there is the tantalising prospect of where, if anywhere does Halloween Rift enter the system, or to be more correct as H.R. is thought to be an old outflow, where does the system enter Halloween Rift. Several possibilities have been tried but the most promising ones so far are:-

(i)                  "The Mongol Hordes Information Office" - Gulp!!!

(ii)                An aven just upstream of the static sump connecting 22 to 23 (there's a contradiction in terms for you) which we climbed to a height of about 70 to 80'.  At this point a tight squeeze gives access to the bottom of a boulder pile which will almost certainly need an application of Nobels Amazing Rock Remover if further progress is to be made.


CAVE DIVING GROUP Newsletter No. 66 - Jan 1983

CAVE DIVING GROUP Newsletter No. 19 - 1971

CAVE DIVING GROUP Newsletter No. 39 - 1976

B. Woodward - Pers. - 1983

R. Palmer - Sunday 10 – 1982


1.         Cave Diving Group for permission to reprint.

2.         All those who have helped either directly or indirectly by loaning their kit i.e.,

Martin Bishop

Bob Cork


3.         Wookey Hole Caves

4.         Chris Batstone for selfless heroism.  Despite never having been to Wookey 22, he stayed in the Hunters long after his-normal going home time on the night that we were late just in case we needed help.


Meets List, May To July

Date     Trip                               Details                                                             Contact


30.4.83             Devon                           Visits to all major caves plus some diving M. Grass



  6.5.83             Friday Niters’                 Mystery Tour (by the sound of it)             B. Prewer

20.5.83             Swildons                       Black Hole Friday Niters’                                    B. Prewer

21.5.83             Birks Fell Cave              Yorkshire w/end, staying at                                 M. Grass

22.5.83             Roaring Hole                  Bradford P.C. Hut

28.5.83             Pant Mawr                     Camping at Crickhowell                          M. Grass

29.5.83             Otter Hole                     Camping at Crickhowell

30.5.83             Agen Allwedd

  3.6.83             North Hill                       Friday Niters’                                                     B. Prewer

17.6.83             Burrington                     (barbeque)                                                         B. Prewer

18.6.83             O.F.D.                          Top Ent. - Smiths Armoury, out I.                        G.Wilton-Jones

25.6.83             Gingling Hole                 Yorkshire w/end, staying at                                 M. Grass

26.6.83 Dry Gill Cave                 Bradford P.C. hut

  1.7.83             Longwood                      Friday Niters’                                                     B. Prewer

15.7.83             G.B.                             Friday Niters’                                                     B. Prewer

16.7.83             O.F.D.                          Top Entrance to I                                               M. Grass

30.7.83             South Wales                 Friday Niters’ B. Prewer

Saturday trip, limited numbers

Martin's number is still Luton 35145 at present, though he and Glen should be moving 'ere long, so look out for the new number.

Brian's number is Wells 73757.

My number is Wedmore 712284.

Don't forget, if you want a trip in a C.N.C.C. controlled cave, you should normally go through Martin

Leaders for D.Y.O., O.F.D.1, Reservoir, Charterhouse, Cuthbert’s, etc. are listed in the B.B. and can be contacted direct.


Subscriptions and Membership

The following have NOT PAID their SUBSCRIPTIONS for 1982/3 if you see them then please give them a reminder!!

 959. Chris Bradshaw
  868. Dany Bradshaw
1004. Brendan Brew
1005. Jane Brew
  756. Tessie Burt
  956. Ian Caldwell
  862. Bob Cork
  890. Jerry Crick
  680. Bob Cross
  830. John Dukes
  937. Sue Dukes
  779. James Durston
  771. Pete Ekford
  997. Sandra Ekford
  769. Sue Tucker
  648. Dave Glover
1009. Robin Gray
1010, Sue Gray
1008. James Hamilton
  893. Dave Hatherley
  917. Robin Hervin
920. Nick Holstead
991. Julie Holstead
770. Chris Howell
969. Duncan Innes
930. Stuart Lindsay
980. Dr John Mathews
979. Richard Mathews
938. Kev O’Neil
964. Lawrie O'Neil
990. Jim Pogue
760. Jeni Sandercott
823. Andy Sparrow
772. Nigel Taylor
699. Buckett Tilbury
700. Ann Tilbury
678. Dave Turner
939. Woly Wilkinson
940. Val Wilkinson
916. Jane Wilson
1002. Alan Sutton

This list was correct at 20th March 1983 if you have paid please ignore this if not please send your subscription to:  Fi Lewis. 63 Portway. Wells, Somerset B85 2BQ.  £10 for Full Membership: £15 for Joint Membership.

New Members

We welcome the following new/re joining Members

 232. Dr Chris Falshaw, Fullwood, Sheffield.
1022. Kev Mackin, Yeovil.
  911. Jim Smart, Clifton, Bristol.
1023, Mathew Tuck, Coxley, Wells, Somerset.
1024. Miles Barrington, Cheddar, Somerset.

Address Changes

Brendan Brew, Hyde Park, Leeds
Keith Franklin, Redcliffe, Queensland 4020, Australia.
Re-joined Chris Falshaw, Fulwood, Shefield

For Sale

Badges Sweat Shirt Stickers

Enamel Pin Badges - Bertie with BEE across - £1.50 each.

BEC Get Everywhere Stickers – Sold in lots of 50 - £1 per lot.

We now have a new stock of Sweatshirts and T-Shirts.  The Sweatshirts are maroon with a yellow Bertie with BEC across in the area of the left nipple!! and the T-Shirts are white with the standard design as on previous sweatshirts in black.

Sizes: Medium, Large & X Large

Sweatshirts - £5.50

T-Shirts - £2.50

All these Sales are handled by Tim Large, Wells, Somerset

Stocks are available at the Belfry at Weekends.


N.C.A. Information Report 83/1

Andy Eavis

Grave Dangers of Rappel Racks

There is no doubt that the rappel rack is one of the best abseiling devices available to the modern caver.  Its principle advantage is on long drops over 75m where other devices require the caver to haul himself down.  Several recent accidents, including two British fatalities, point to potential dangers of this device.

Both fatal accidents appear to have been caused by the comparatively inexperienced users removing to many bars.  A minim of three bars is required to prevent the descent becoming a free fall.

There are several ways of minimising the dangers of misuse.  Racks must not be used underground or on very long pitches by the abseiler who has not extensively used this type of device before. Practice can be done on the surface using a short drop and a weighted rope to familiarise the caver with the descender;  changeovers, etc. can be completed and the variable friction properties of the rack mastered.  Shorter pitches underground, bolt changeovers etc. should be practised before longer drops are attempted.  Once the rack user is well experienced the potential dangers must still be remembered to prevent 'familiarity breeding contempt'.  Even very experienced cavers have threaded these devices the wrong way around or set off without securing the device to their harnesses

One possible solution to these problems is the modifications suggested by Keith Lewis in the November issue of ‘Caves &Caving'.  The second bar does not 'clip' onto the frame which should prevent cavers from inadvertently threading the rack back to front; the third bar has a grub screw through the end permanently holding it onto the frame to prevent its removal during a descent but still allowing the bar to move up and down.  The rack is a good abseiling device for large pitches. Practice, careful use and possibly the Lewis modifications should make its use as safe or safer than any other descending method.

Further reading: Available shortly, a more comprehensive article by Keith Lewis called 'A guide to the safe use of rack descenders'.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126

Editor: G. Wilton-Jonesz`

Bassett's Notes

EASTWATER CAVERN.  In 1951 John Ifold of the B.E.C. pushed through the boulder blocked bedding plane at the top end of Harris's Passage to discover a small network of unstable passages, lying almost below the entrance to the cave.  It is now known as the Ifold Series.  The survey shows two choked passages leading towards each other.  At the end of May, Andy Lolly and Keith Gladman investigated the area and found one the chokes to be draughting strongly.  After six hours of digging in two sessions they broke through into virgin cave, initially of typical Eastwater bedding planes and canyons, with plenty of wet, sandy fill and gravel, loose boulders and unusually sharp and friable rock.  Some of the older stal suggests that the passages are among the oldest in Eastwater, though perhaps I am sticking my neck out here.  An eighty foot high aven near the entrance seems to be under Morton’s Pot, and could well be the key to dig there.  At the end of nearly 300 feet of grovel some parallel pitches have been found.  The head of has been banged to allow normal sized people to reach the narrow 25 foot rift, below which is a further 50 foot pitch into a deep canyon with an, intermittent streamway - probably flood overflow.  A small tube 200 feet along this fault rift needs enlarging.  It blows a constant, cool draught.  After the opening nasty bits of the new series, the passages are unlike the rest of Eastwater, several being horizontal, albeit only occasionally.  There is some good Stal in places, though much of it is very vulnerable.

Several B.E.C. members have already visited the extension and new discoveries come thick and fast. A survey is underway, and it is already clear that West End Series is well to the west of anything else in the cave. Over 1000 feet of new cave has been explored so far, taking the total length of Eastwater to well over a mile. The prospects for further extension look very good.

AUSTRIA 1983. The advance guard is currently up on the Dachstein plateau (mid June), in the form of Rob Harper, Rachel Clarke and Trev 'Biffo' Hughes, together an enormous load of tackle.  They are staying at the Wiesberghaus for two weeks and intend to re-bolt and tackle Bartngassewindschacht for those who come out in July.  Hopefully we shall soon know the exact depth of the huge 'Ben Dors Scacht', thought to be around 200 metres, and learn what happens at the bottom.

Since the Wiesberghaus is now on the 'phone they will be able to let us know almost instantly!

WOOKEY. Rob Harper continues his high level exploration here. Following up where Bob Cork and Dany Bradsaw left off in Wookey 24, he has reached the head of a bell shaped pitch 60' deep, somewhere off Sting Corner.  Dany has threatened to put a ladder down it while Rob is in Austria - just to keep the poor lad biting his fingernails.

OGOF CARREG LEM.  Sam (S.W.C.C. & U.B.S.S.) & Co. have now extended this cave to 1500 feet.

EDITORSHIP.  A new editor will be required for the B.B. as from October, as I shall be resigning from the post at the A.G.M.  Over the three years I have been Editor I have managed to reduce the work-load considerably, so it is no longer such an onerous task as it once was.  If you think you fancy the post, have a word with me sometime and I'll let you know what this entails.

New and Rejoined Members

Ian Jepson, Beechen Cliff, Bath.
Jok Orr, Sturton by Stow, Linceln
Rich Stevenson, Wookey, Wells, Somerset.

Quote Of The Issue 

From a member who has never written a single word for the Bulletin, on receiving his latest copy:

 “This is a bit thin, isn’t it.”


Kangy's Doggerel Irish Easter

Beneath the Belfry table, lying there in state, With thoughts of Irish Guinness and the Doolin Cave in spate,
O'Connor's Bar and Food Store, the day of "The Big Drink",
And hazy days in County Clare, of forging deep the link,
With Mendip men and Guinness, caves measureless to man,
In one pot and another out (according to the plan!)

This Easter we were organised and went in different cars,
And stayed in different places but only used one bar.
O'Connor's was the rendezvous down by the Doolin Strand,
Amongst the pints of Guinness, the cavers fought to stand,
And shout their cries of welcome and stirring stories tell,
Of climbing out of Fisherstreet by way of Catherine’s Well.
How the catchment karst is vast and the water exits few,
And a feature of the landscape is turloughs in a queue.

Down below it's slightly morbid, to think, stuck in a fix,
How they hook the drownded caver out with sharp and pointed sticks
At McCarthy’s country cottage nine of the elite
Suffered suffocation from a fire built of peat.
The only consolation for a caver back from op's
Was that peaty smoke annihilates the stink of vap'rous plops.

We went to Kilfenora and and Bunratty Folk Park too.
We went to Craggaunowen, saw the Crannog there on view.
We saw dolmen, we saw ring forts, we found a souterrain.
We enjoyed the Burren Centre, a good shelter from the rain.
At the Cave of the Wild Horses (look for Kilcorney One)
We nearly found new passages but U.B.S.S. won.

Another nine, a wealthy lot, were bedded down in style.
They lay in utter comfort in a warm and cosy pile.
They caved most every morning, and drank every afternoon.
They queued up for the evening, O'Conrior's shut too soon.
We thought hard how to best them, to beat them in their home.
We gave a glass of fizzy coke a head of Irish foam.
We got a few refusals until someone, in their need,
Gulped at it, then gagged at it, and spat it out at speed.

There were four deep frozen campers and two lodgers in a van
And, like them, all the rest of us developed Irish tan.
We were muddy on the outside with our insides pickled brown,
And hilarious on the last night when free drinks were handed round.

So twenty four in all of us in the land of Guinness
And that's my chance to make a rhyme for Mrs. Grass or Glenys

Kangy April 1983

Illustrations by Philip King


Bath Stone Mines

Brown's Folly Mine/Swan Mine Access

Visitors to brown’s folly Mine should note that the entrances to this mine have been locked with agreement with the landowner and CSCC.  The keys are available from the Belfry or from other CSCC shareholding clubs i.e. Wessex, Shepton MCG etc.  In order to avoid a long disappointing journey don’t forget to pick up a key as these readily available locally.  The new entrance to Brown’s Folly has temporarily been bolted up as some inconsiderate person smashed the lock off in January.  It is hoped a new lock will be fitted soon as possible but, in the meantime, a adjustable wrench will be handy for a through trip.

Box Mines

A climb-proof fence has now been erected around the Kingston Minerals, Hazelbury Opencast Quarry, thus cutting off access to the quarry entrance.  This is probably to avoid the company being clobbered by an insurance claim if some idiot falls over the edge and hurts themselves.

Bear in mind that if you exit via the quarry entrance you may have problems getting off the site. The quarry is intermittently being used to tip waste stone from Kingston’s other workings and consequently the entrance may soon be blocked anyway.

On the subject of blocked entrances, tipping still continues in Box Woods, thus endangering those few remaining entrances.  Perhaps it is drawing near the time to get a few interested parties together to try to protect access to these mines!

The Backdoor Entrance

This is on private land and it is diplomatic to ask permission of the landowner before crashing around in the undergrowth.  The owner is a Mr. Price who lives at the large posh house with the tennis court – “Tanglewood”.  He is usually quite agreeable if approached in the right way.  That is, politely.

A.O. route has suffered a major collapse at its start just inside and to the right as you enter through the Backdoor.  It is advisable to use the “O” route and work your way round via Cathedral and link to A.O.

A word of warning! Fresh roof falls have occurred recently in many parts of Box.  If in doubt, avoid the suspect area.  Large blocks of stone can suddenly and silently fall if disturbed so don't muck around with the supporting walls or timbers, however much they seem to be doing no supporting job, as you might end up under several tons of Bath stone.

Cranes should not be tampered with as the bearing blocks are often rotten.  This could result in the crane falling over and crushing someone. Leave them alone for others to see and please don't write all over the walls.

Chris Batstone


Halloween Rift – Further Work

By   Trev Hughes

After a layoff over Christmas, work in and around Halloween Rift has recommenced with greater enthusiasm than before, with more club members getting involved and seeing the first non-BEC members down the cave.  Here is a summary of events to date (end of February).  It is hoped that more discoveries will be made before this article appears in print.

The surface work has involved erecting a barbed wire fence around the entrance and a compass and inclinometer traverse of the area to establish the exact location and altitude of the entrance.

I started the traverse at the 9:2 top entrance of Wookey Hole Cave.  My closed loop took in the 22 Radio Location Point the Halloween Rift survey datum and so back to the 9:2 entrance via the lower field.  By taking fore and back sights, keeping my leg lengths as long as possible and using the two short ranging rods as survey stations quite good results were achieved, despite the windy conditions.  The traverse length was just over 814m.  My vertical mis-closure was 1.20m and the (magnetic) x and y mis-closures both less than 3m.  If the opportunity arises I will repeat this exercise using a theodolite and ranging staff which will give far better results.  Halloween Rift has a map reference of ST53534809 and given that the ground level at the 9:2 entrance is 108.09m OD the survey datum at the rift top is at 133.81m OD (approx. 439ft).

The work underground has proceeded well.  I reached a particularly solid section of calcite blocking progress in the dig on 28 Nov 82, the trench being about 1.5m long (see BB No. 416 p20).  The offending calcite was broken up by Tim Large on 7 Jan using only 150gm of ‘wonder hammer' and on my next two (solo) trips in mid January about 1.3m of progress was made.  The bang, although not displacing the rock, had set up a large number of readily useable cracks.  A hammer, chisel and crowbar were all that were needed to remove the rock.  On the latter of these trips I installed a 25l drum, cut in half, as a spoil hauling sledge for the entrance crawl.

A large BEC team comprising 'Quiet' John Watson, Blitz, Rachel Clarke, Rob Harper and myself carried out a major spoil removing exercise on 22 Jan.  Rob aid Blitz, despite coming out with some sickeningly weak jokes also enlarged the end of the trench considerably.

The next trip was nearly a month later on Sat 19th February when J-Rat fresh from his Latin American exploits, returned to the fray.  On this trip we were joined by Andy Satfford – the Grampian Wonder Boy and Phil ‘Tour de France’ Romford.  To the Grampian Wonder Boy went the dubious honour of being the first non-BEC member down the cave.  Progress was slow and tiring as a large slab of calcite blocked the way on, but by clearing away the mud cover, the open section of passage, first fleetingly noticed on Nov 7 ‘82, could be clearly seen.

The GWB was despatched to find the Moody Sisters (WCC) and suitable quantities of boulder laxative for the metre square calcite block.  A hearty ‘crump’ ended the day’s events all was set for the morrow and my thanks to Pete and Alison for turning out at such short notice.

J-Rat, Mac, the GWB and myself returned the next day.  Pete's bang had totally demolished the block and the debris was quickly removed from cave. Mac had a look round while Tony and I started chiselling away at the hard strata originally under the calcite slab. This sloped up and away from the trench bottom to leave a 0.2m high slot approximately 0.5m away.  This low section continued for about 0.5m and then opened up slightly.  I worked on after the others had left until my light gave out.  I had opened the squeeze somewhat but it was still too small to pass.  About 4m of low passage could be seen.

Not wishing to leave longer than possible I returned in the week and spent a further 3 hours working away at the squeeze.  Luckily the calcite gave way before my aching arm muscles and I was able to pass the squeeze into the low bedding passage beyond.  By shoving stones, mud and a section of shattered calcite floor aside I was able to progress for 5m in an elliptical passage some 2m wide.  I built a small cairn to mark my progress and returned to the entrance end of the trench to pick up the club’s Sunto compass and a tape.  I surveyed the trench and extension at the end of a tiring afternoon.

I returned the next afternoon with only a limited time to spare and dug my way along an additional 3m of passage visible from the day before in less than 2 hours.  The end is still open and is a low arch floored with jumbled rocks and is draughting healthily out of the dig.  The limited stacking space will mean that spoil will have to be removed back past the squeeze. The dig also has a slight downhill gradient - Blitz to take note!

Although only 8m of new passage has been entered it is of a passage form very similar to the Cam Valley Crawl recently discovered by Rob and myself connecting 22 to 23.  My surface survey work and recently acquired large scale plans of Wookey Hole Cave show that the present end of Halloween Rift is, with a generous error margin of ±2m, only 81m from the nearest point of Wookey 22.  Rob and myself are working on a dry connection between Wookey 23 and 24, we have already bypassed the first of the 23 sumps and are confident of eventual success.  I need say no more.


Since writing the above article Rob and I have spent another couple of hours working at the dig.  We have added another 0.7 metres of passage, dragged back a considerable quantity of spoil, enlarged the entrance squeeze and can now look along 3m more of low passage, the dig is still draughting.  A further solo trip on the 1st March gained another 0.3 m and a clearer view of the continuing passage which widens out after the narrow section marking the dig face at the moment.  The draught on this trip seemed the strongest ever.

Mark – Bristol Poly.


Bat Poo

Jill Tuck recently sent in the following to provoke our imaginations:

Have you ever wondered (well, one does) how bats avoid showering themselves with their own excreta when they spend so much time hanging upside down?

The New Scientist (9.6.85) found the solution when one of their staff, who had never even thought about the subject, had the answer hit him in the eye, or nearly.  In London Zoo he saw a urinating bat clasp a ceiling support with the vestigial claws on its wings and swing down to face him, right side up.  He said that the urination that followed was long and luxurious and he was only saved by a sheet of glass!  The best description of the bat's expression while this was going on was, apparently, enigmatic.

It left the man very impressed, but now his conjecture has moved on to bats' sex life!

Meets List, July & August 1983

July 1st.           - -

July 15th.         - -

July 16th.         - -

July 30th.         - -

Aug. 12th.        - -

Aug. 26th.        - -


Aug 27th-29th

Longwood (Friday Niters)


Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (Top Ent. To I)

South Wales (F.N. – Saturday)

Lamb Leer (Friday Niters)

Charterhouse (Friday Niters 3 only)

                     Alternative – Manor Farm

North Wales.  Caving and Walking

B. Prewer

B. Prewer

M. Grass

B. Prewer

B. Prewer

B. Prewer


M. Grass

Brian's number to telephone re Friday Nit trips is Wells 73757.

Martin's number is currently Luton 33145, but this may change in the very near future.

Contact me (Wedmore 712284) if there's any problem.


Down The Thurlogh

By Peter Glanvill

It's not often one walks into 300m of new passage without some considerable effort - even in County Clare nowadays.  Even less does one expect to do it in a well known and documented cave system as K1 or The Cave of the Wild Horses at Kilcorney.  It becomes even more satisfying when one discovers that Jayrat has looked at the relevant passage five years previously – and left it alone! Now all can be told….

A group of UBSS/CDG/CSS/BEC/SWCC/DSS/BPC cavers were staying at Kilshanny over the Easter period. - I shall henceforth call them the Kilshanny Irregulars (K.I.’s).  Three of us visited the Cave of the Wild Horses on the first day because it was wet, the cave was dry (or supposed to be) Charlie Self hadn’t been there and the Poly C.C. were digging in a depression.

K1 lies at the base of a cliff in a corner of the large closed Kilcorney Depression.  It is unique in being a cave associated with a turlough or vanishing lake and can act as both a sink and very rarely a rising. It has been known for several hundred years and has the legend of the wild horses attached to it - these are supposed to emerge when the cave floods – I didn’t see any (but then the cave didn't flood).  The turlough can flood to a considerable depth and can empty after a minor flood in twenty minutes.  We were reliably informed that drilling in the depression revealed 400 feet of earth – quite a staggering fact and rather puzzling too.

To cut a long story short the three of us descended the cave to the pitch where its awkwardness cut the party down to Charlie and myself.  We wandered through the lower series which seemed gloomy muddy and uninspiring until Gour Passage was found.  This contains some rather nice mini gours and has a false floor of considerable thickness - it may be as much as 8m.  A tiny inlet stream feeds the gours which terminate in a series of deep gour pools in a narrow rift.  The description of the cave stated that these gour pools could be followed for 25m. Being the man with the wet suit and rather liking water I jumped into the first gour which rapidly became 2m deep - a sort of swim cum traverse led to a climb over a gour dam into the next and the next and the next... The displaced water splashed on in front of me in a very tantalising way, and, as the rift became constricted, I became aware of a strong inward draught.  The passage ended soon after I had passed a couple of constrictions.  It ended in a pitch which I was sure shouldn’t have been there.  Charlie took a quick look and we headed out.  The next day two more K.I.’s came with me, Tony Boycott hammered in a bolt and a fine 8m pitch down the side of the final gour was descended.  The subsequent rift passage dropped steeply past some fine fluting on the left wall to what looked at a brief glance like a static gour pool sump.  Two days later all 7 of the K.I.’s returned apart from Angie Glanvill who didn’t start speaking to me until the day after the trip.  While Ted Popham, Charlie Self and myself climbed into another 30m of passage (4m x 10m – 3 leads – strong outward draught) in another part of the lower series, the diving contingent discovered the “sump” was a pool bypassed by a squeeze.  All the K.I.’s battered the squeeze until Tony and the two girls were able to pass it (hence its name – 36B Squeeze).  The rest of us had to bludgeon away for a bit longer to see the Promised Land. Once through they entered a meandering 1.5m diameter tube (very like the canal in Aillwee Cave) which took several dry inlets and one small inlet stream.  The tube continued to a collapsed area with a high cross rift above it.  The stream flowed down a hole in a stal blockage.  A crawl to the right of the stream led to some wallowy ducks in another tube and at last a junction with a much larger (3m x 5m) passage at a boulder pile.

All were sworn to secrecy and it was not for a few days that another trip was made into the cave at the instigation of the original explorer who was getting impatient!  The big passage was entered via a 2m drop (belay point detached itself from the mud on our second visit!)  It was a pretty dismal place.  One end led into the choke mentioned earlier whilst the opposite direction the passage continued as a rift lined with thick sticky mud banks and boulder obstructions until it ended in an evil looking “minimal airspace” duck.  At the duck a large proportion of the party got very frightened for some reason and hurried out surveying as they went and vowing never to return.  They encountered a BEC party at the top of the main pitch and successfully managed to transmit their anxieties to them before making their exit.

A few days later Julian Walford, Ted Popham, Angie Glanvill and myself returned to take photos and chase up loose ends.  None of us got “bad vibes” from the cave and I managed to pass the terminal duck. This led after a miserable 3 metres to a very definite (diveable if you are a masochist or mud freak) sump. There are still point to examine in the whole of K1 and one or two places in the extension.  It’s worth extra effort because there must be something quite big down there to create such a powerful draught.  K1 occupies an interesting position to, on the presumed drainage route between the Western Burren and the Fergus River Cave complex.  By the way the photographs came out – Julian in Sludge Creek in particular, look quite dramatic.

Finally if anybody wants to know what Pollballiny is like – read the Cerberus Journal!


Bassett's Notes Continued

TACKLE MAKING. If you are one of the hundred or so members who did not get round to helping the tackle-master during the last session, why not give John a ring now on Shepton 4815. He has some new work needing doing. Remember, the tackle-master's job is to organise the construction and maintenance of tackle, not to make it and repair it all himself

LIBRARY.  Many thanks to old member P. Wilkins for ten year's worth of back-issues of the B.B.  Any others will be most gratefully received (even new ones!)

J-Rat .

BELFRY IMPROVEMENTS. The E.G.M. was only just quorate, and then after we had waited for half an hour.  A majority of those present voted against continuing with the existing plans, and a sub-committee is investigating a cheaper alternative


These two caves are now most definitely one, a filmed through trip having been made during the Spring Bank Holiday.  While 'Mendip' Jim Abbott (ex B.P.C.) and Julian Griffiths traversed from the lower end, Geoff Yeadon and Geoff Crossley entered G.G. accompanied by Sid Perou et al., including Bassett and Jane.  Carrying movie cameras underground no longer appeals to me.  An historic trip to have been involved in, but I certainly would not do it again.

There cannot be many non-divers who have seen Radagast's Revenge.  The stal is good and the chamber quite impressive, but most of us were too shattered to notice it.

The section is dangerously unstable and will probably need to be dug out every time it is visited.

Thank goodness for the B.P.C. winch.  I think we would still be in G.G. otherwise.

Thank you, Geoff, for the invitation to join you on an epic.

CHARTERHOUSE CENTRE. Tom Elkin is retiring as warden of this Somerset Education Committee Centre.  The new warden is to be one Terry Matthews, an ex-marine who is currently working at Taunton Tech.  It is strongly rumoured that Tom is to be the first Countryside Warden for Mendip, and he will be based at Charterhouse.

BELFRY BUNKS.  Thanks due to Lil Romford and Brenda Prewer for supplying and fitting washable covers for many of the mattresses.  Very professional they all look, too.


Grand Birthday P.U. - Sat. 9th July

Come and celebrate the birthdays of Phil Romford, Brenda Wilton, Mary Gwyther, Jane Thomas and Annie West at 1 Vicarage Close, Coxley.

Everyone welcome............. especially if you bring a bottle.

JULY/AUGUST B.B.  I have one possible article for the next BB. Unless I receive further material very shortly, then the rest if the July/August issue will consists of transcripts of Club Log entries on the recent finds in Eastwater and Wookey.

Thanks to Robin Gray for a piccy of me to head one of my pages.

Perhaps if a You write enough You can have your own caricature to head the page!


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset .Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Once again there are no apologies for this late combined issue. The timing bands (for the non-technical, they're important bits!) on the printing machine snapped in January, and I have been waiting since then for Gestetner to supply new ones.  They arrived yesterday (16.3.82), I rebuilt the machine last night, and Herr Blitz is assisting with printing tonight.

In the last issue I suggested you make a resolution: to write an article, a line, anything.  Somebody took me at my word.  Dear Ed. Rotten idea.  Not well hidden in this paragraph is somebody's version of 'anything'.

Edited, it reads:


Yes, I am prepared to consider ANYTHING for publication.

I did not manage to get the M.R.O. reports in this issue, but I'll make every effort to get them in next time. 

Also in the next issue, another of Kangy’s songs, some useful info on dry nickel cadmium cells; a description of the Geevor tin processing plant, an article about one of the old Belfries plus the usual up-to-the-minute news from around the country and indeed, the world.

From the Daily Telegraph, 11th March, 1982:

"There are also rumours of vast, underground wine-lakes.  Why were a team of potholers, exploring the cave system at Grampus Moor near Nerdley, last week-end, staggering about helplessly drunk when they reached the surface?"


The Grottede lde a Diau survey printed on page 28, kindly reproduced by Jeremy H. and his underlings, belongs with the article in last bi-month’s B.B.  Just in case you wondered.


Club Committee

Hon. Secretary:        Tim Large                                Wells                  (0749) 73860 (work)

Hon. Treasurer:         Sue Dukes                              Shepton Mallet    (0749) 4815

Hut Warden:             “Quackers”                              (Belfry) Wells      (0749) 72126

Hut Engineer:           Ian “Wormhole” Caldwell

Tacklemaster:          John Dukes                             Shepton Mallet    (0749) 4815

Caving Secretary:     Martin Grass                           Luton                  (        ) 35145

B.B. Editor:              Graham Wilton-Jones               Aylesbury           (0296) 28270

                               Nigel Taylor

                               Stu. Lindsey

Non-Committee Posts

Membership secretary & D.D. distribution:           Fi Lewis, Wells

Librarians: Hon.  Chris Batstone, Bath

                        Tony Jarrat, Yatton (rarely!)

Monthly notes.

O.F.D.  Columns week-ends are: June 12th & 13th.  Sept. 4th & 5th.

The South Wales C.C. prefer it if cavers can make the Saturday rather than the Sunday.  Also, if a club plans to turn up with a large number of members, the S.W.C.C. like to know in advance.

Bleadon Cavern: A trip to this cave has been arranged for Saturday 8th May at 1500hrs.  As numbers are limited, names to Martin Grass, please.

Dan Yr Ogof: The Club has been granted permission by the South Wales C.C. and the D.Y.O. cave management to dig and blast in Dali's Delight, an area in which we have been showing a lot of interest during recent months.  All are welcome and anyone interested in giving a hand should see Martin Grass or Graham Wilton-Jones for details.

Northern Caves, Vol. 2 & 3:  At long last new and up-dated editions of the above guide books have become available.  Although of the same format as previous editions these new ones have stitched spines, and hopefully will stand up to the wear and tear cavers put guide books through.  Volume 2 has no new major systems or extensions, but the caves of Ribblehead (previously in Vol.4) have a few extensions, mainly by members of the C.D.G. This volume retails at £2.95 and covers Penyghent and Malham.  Volume 3 (Ingleborough) contains major extensions in Roaring Hole and Marble Pot, as well as many new explorations by the C.D.G., including upstream Ingleborough Cave, although the elusive connection to Gaping Gill is still to be found. Slightly thicker than Vol. 2, this edition costs £3.20.  Volume 4 of Northern Caves is due to be reprinted and available by mid-1982.  This is the volume we are all waiting for as it will contain the classic Three Counties System, with all the new finds, such as Link Pot, the Keld Head connection, King Pot and many more.  Let's hope Dalesman do not take too long in producing this much-sought-after edition.

Speleo Nederland: Ten of the lads from Speleo Nederland (Peter, Frans, et al) coming over from Friday 30th April to Saturday 8th May. They are going to Yorkshire for the week and will be staying at the Bradford P.C. H.Q. at Brackenbottom and would like to see as many of their Mendip drinking partners as possible!  I have arranged various trips for their stay and they would like anyone who knows systems to show them around.  Caves booked/planned are: Magnetometer Pot; Hammer Pot; Swinsto/Simpsons; Birks Fell cave; Outsleets Beck Pot; Lancaster, Easegill system; plus a lot of drinking!!

Anyone who thinks they can help or will be coming up, please let me know.



By Tim Large

The AGM was not very well attended and again finished in record time, but in the evening 140 members and guests attended The Caveman Restaurant in Cheddar to enjoy the dinner. Roger Dors was our guest of honour along with his wife Jackie and was presented with Honorary Membership to mark the occasion of our 1000th member.  An open air cabaret was provided by Cheddar Cliff Rescue as they had a callout to Coronation Street that night.


Many of you will know (or perhaps you don’t) remember it depending on how much beer you drank that an after dinner barrel was to be had at The Belfry - Well at present the contributions for the barrel are £15 short and our Hut Warden Quackers would like to hear from anyone who has not yet paid up.


The dinner will probably be at The Caveman Restaurant, Cheddar again.  There are a few who would like to incorporate a disco with it, probably being held in the Grotto Bar.  I feel his would detract from what the BEC dinner is reputed for, that is a chance for members old and new to meet, reunions, renaissances.  Members opinions are most important on ¬this issue or else some of you may end up with a dinner not to your liking.


Hon. Secretary:     Tim Large

Hon. Treasurer:     Sue Dukes

Hut Warden:          Mike Duck

Hut Engineer:         Nigel Taylor

Tacklemaster:         John Dukes

Caving Secretary:    Martin Grass

B.B. Editor:              Graham Wilton-Jones

                                 Stu. Lindsey


Membership Secretary & BB Postal        Fiona Lewis

Publications Editor         Alan Thomas


995       Brian Johnson

996       Terry Earley Sandra

997       Eckford

771       Pete Eckford (rejoined.)

998       Christine Bissett

999       Rob Harper  .

1000     Roger Dors (HON MEMBERSHIP)

1001     Graeme Johnson

1002     Alan Sutton

1003     Rachel Clarke

459       Keith Gladman (rejoined)


Our congratulations go to the following members who have been married in the last three month:-

DANY BRADSHAW who married HEATHER GIBBONS of EASTWATER FARM at Priddy Church on 20th of November 1981.

JOHN RILEY and SUE who were married on the 5th December 1981.

BRIAN WORKMAN who married LUCY DAVIBS daughter of FRED in late December.


Due to the pressure of work Nigel Taylor has been forced to vacate the position of Hut Engineer, but will stay on as a general committee member.  In his place the committee thought fit to co-op Ian Caldwell and Bob Hill to the position of joint Hut Engineers.  Bob Hill has now been fortunate in gaining a position with Shell working in Holland from mid March leaving Ian as Hut Engineer.  Our congratulations to Bob on gaining his new job.


A final reminder that the subscriptions should now be in.  The fee this year is £10 for single full membership and £15 for joint.  All subscriptions should be given or sent to Fi Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset BA5 2BQ as soon as possible.


Sue Dukes and Fi Lewis are proposing to organise a jumble sale in mid June to raise money for the Hut Improvements Fund.  They are at present collecting jumble.  If you have anything you wish to donate please contact either Sue Dukes on Shepton Mallet 4815 or Fi Lewis 53 Portway, Wells where the jumble is being stored or via the Belfry at weekends.  Your support is needed in this venture.


Christmas at The Belfry was this year enjoyed by 10 members for Christmas Dinner and many others over the following week to New Year.  Mendip had a reasonable covering of snow which lasted over the period and temperatures at the Belfry on Christmas morning were recorded 150C below.  The festivities started on Christmas Eve when Tony Jarratt decided to take his new Suzuki land rover 'skating' on Waldergrave Pond.  All went well, Tony projecting his vehicle around the pond.  But on venturing to the far side of the pool it went straight through the ice into 3' of water.  Attempts to remove it at 1am in the morning, in a very merry condition, proved pointless. Tony was far from happy.  Next morning the whole Belfry contingent complete with MRO rope winch and cameras returned to haul it back to dry land. Tony donning wet suit could be seen wading into the Suzuki and baling it out with a caving helmet.  It was successfully pulled out, baled out, plugs dried and would you believe started first time.  It is apparently non the worse for the experience apart from a few bodywork dents where it argued with a six inch thick piece of ice.  The weekend after new year the snow end sustained low temperatures came in earnest and Saturday 9th January saw only eight people at The Belfry.  On the Sunday a magnificent Belfry Sledge was constructed and great fun was had by all at Rookham.


Members will be saddened to hear of the death of Mark.  He was killed in an unfortunate accident whilst climbing sea cliffs at Babbacombe in Devon.  He was 20 years of age.  Mark joined the club in October 1979.  Many of you will not have known him.  For a short period before joining the Police Force he caved regularly with his step-brother, Mike Barnes.  Together they made an enthusiastic and resourceful caving team.  Not long ago I met Mike in Rocksport and he told me that their caving had taken second place to climbing - having already reached lead standard on VS routes.  Our condolences go to Mark’s family and friends.


Recently Phil Coles turned up at the Hunters having returned from Australia.  He found The Belfry somewhat different from the hut he knew in the 60's.  Phil kindly made a donation £50 to club funds.  Many thanks from us all.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List January 1982

828 Nicolette Abell               Faulkland, Bath

988 Tony Atkinson                Green Ore, Nr Wells, Somerset

987 Dave Aubrey                  Salisbury, Wiltshire

20 L Bobby Bagshaw            Knowle, Bristol, Avon

392 L Mike Baker                 Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon

818 Chris Batsone                Bathford, Bath, Avon

390 L Joan Bennett               Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L Roy Bennett                Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

731 Bob Bidmead                 Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol

998 Crissie Bissett               Exeter, Devon

145 L Sybil Bowden-Lyle       Calne, Wiltshire

959 Chris Bradshaw              Wells, Somerset

868 Dany Bradshaw              Eastwater Lane, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset

967 Michael Brakespeare      Dilton Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire

751 L T.A. Brookes               London, SW2

992 Mark Brown                   Little Stoke, Bristol

981 Terence Buchan             Shepton Mallet, Somerset

756 Tessie Burt                    Harpendon, Herts

956 Ian Caldwell                   Clevedon, Avon.

977 Tony Callard                  Southsea, Hampshire

955 Jack Calvert                   Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.

902 L Martin Cavendar          Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.

785 Paul Christie                  London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

655 Colin Clark                     Redland, Bristol

983 Jane Clarke                   Bath Street, Cheddar, Somerset.

1003 Rachael Clarke             Bath Street, Cheddar, Somerset.

211 L Clare Coase                Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia

89 L Alfie Collins                  Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset

862 Bob Cork                       Stoke St. Michael, Somerset

585 Tony Corrigan                Stockwood, Bristol

827 Mike Cowlishaw             Cleveland Walk Bath, BA2 6JW.

890 Jerry Crick                     Jaggaris, Jaggaris Lane, Nelson, Wiltshire

680 Bob Cross                     Somewhere in Scotland

870 Gary Cullen                   Horsham, Sussex

423 L Len Dawes                  Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire

449 Garth Dell                      Ord Depot, Viersen, BFPO 40

815 Nigel Dibben                  Poynton, Cheshire

164 L Ken Dobbs                  Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon

1000 L Roger Dors                Priddy, Somerset

972 Mike Duck                     Emborough, Nr. Bath, Somerset

830 John Dukes                   Shepton Mallet, Somerset

937 Sue Dukes                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             Bath

779 Jim Durston                   Chard, Somerset

996 Terry Earley                   Wyle, Warmister, Wiltshire

771 Pete Eckford                  Itchen, Suton

997 Sandra Eckford              Itchen, Suton

322 L Bryan Ellis                  Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset

269 L Tom Fletcher               Bramcote, Nottingham.

404 L Albert Francis             Wells, Somerset

468 Keith Franklin                Dandenong, Victoria 3175, Australia

569 Joyce Franklin               Stoke Bishop, Bristol

469 Pete Franklin                 Stoke Bishop, Bristol

978 Sheila Furley                 Glastonbury, Somerset

769 Sue Gazzard                 Tynings, Radstock, Nr Bath, Avon

835 Len Gee                        St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire

993 Andrew George              North Wooton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

459 Keith Gladman               Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

648 Dave Glover                   Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire

1006 Edward Gosden            Brighton Hill, Basingstoke, Hants

860 Glenys Grass                Luton, Beds

790 Martin Grass                  Luton, Beds

432 L Nigel Hallet                 No known Address

104 L Mervyn Hannam          St Annes, Lancashire

999 Rob Harper                    Hanham, Bristol, Avon

4 L Dan Hassell                    Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

893 Dave Hatherley               Cannington, Bridgwater, Somerset

974 Jeremy Henley               Leg Square, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

917 Robin Hervin                  Trowbridge, Wiltshire

952 Robert Hill                     Chippenham, Wiltshire

905 Paul Hodgson                Hoo, Rochester, Kent

898 Liz Hollis                       Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 Tony Hollis                    Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

920 Nick Holstead                Trowbridge, Wiltshire

991 Julie Holstead                Trowbridge, Wiltshire

387 L George Honey             19044, Odensala, Sweden

971 Colin Holden                  Bruton, Somerset

770 Chris Howell                  Edgebaston, Birmingham

923 Trevor Hughes                HMS Bristol, BFPO Ships, London

855 Ted Humphreys              Moorsite, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

73 Angus Innes                    Alveston, Bristol, Aven

969 Duncan Innes                 Traherne Hall, Uywn Grant Road, Penlyn Hill, Cardiff

540 L Dave Irwin                   Townsend, Priddy, Somerset

753 Sue Jago                       Church Lane, Farrington Gurney, Avon

792 Ken James                    Worle, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

922 Tony Jarratt                   Station Road, Congresbury, Bristol

51 L A Johnson                    Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol

995 Brian Johnson                Ottery St. Mary, Devon

1001 Graeme Johnson          East Park Road, Leicester

560 L Frank Jones                Address Unknown

907 Karen Jones                  Kynance East, Royal Cornwall Hospital (Treiske) Truro

285 Jonah                            Oriental Road, Woking, Surry

567 L Alan Kennett               Henleaze, Brsitol

884 John King                      Partridge Green, Horsham, Sussex

316 L Kangy King                 Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L Phil Kingston              St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia

413 L R. Kitchen                  Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon

946 Alex Ragnar Knutson      Southville, Bristol

874 Dave Lampard                11 Springfield Park Road, Horsham, Sussex

667 L Tim Large                   Wells, Somerset

958 Fi Lewis                        Wells, Somerset

930 Stuart Lindsay               Keynsham, Bristil

574 L Oliver Lloyd                 Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

58 George Lucy                    Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks

550 L R A MacGregor           Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants

725 Stuart McManus            Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset

106 L E.J. Mason                 Henleaze, Bristol

980 John Matthews               Clifton, Bristol

979 Richard Matthews          Clifton, Bristol

558 L Tony Meaden              Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset

963 Clare Merritt                   Chippenham, Wiltshire

704 Dave Metcalf                  Long Eaton, Nottingham

957 Dave Morrison                London NW11

308 Keith Murray                  London  SW7

989 Andy Nash                    Downend, Bristol

936 Dave Nichols                  Exeter, Devon

852 John Noble                    Tennis Courts Rod, Paulton, Bath

880 Graham Nye                  Horsham, Surrey

938 Kevin O’Neil                   Melksham, Wiltshire

964 Lawrie O’Neil                 Melksham, Wiltshire

624 Jock Orr                        Winklebury, Basingstoke, Hants

396 L Mike Palmer               YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset

22 L Les Peters                    Knowle Park, Bristol Avon

499 L A. Philpott                  Bishopston, Bristol, Avon

990 Jem Pague                    Frogwell, Chippenham, Wiltshire

337 Brian Prewer                  West Horrington, Wells, Somerset

622 Colin Priddle                  Wadeville 1422, South Africa

481 L John Ransom              Patchway, Bristol, Avon

945 Steve Robins                 Knowle, Bristol

970 Trevor Roberts                Yatton, Avon

986 Lil Romford                    Coxley, Wells, Somerset

985 Phil Romford                  Coxley, Wells, Somerset

921 Pete Rose                     Chandlers Ford, Hants

832 Roger Sabido                 Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

941 John Sampson               Knowle, Bristol

240 L Alan Sandall               Nailsea, Avon

359 L Carol Sandall              Nailsea, Avon

760 Jenny Sandercroft          Victoria Park, Bristol

237 L Bryan Scott                Havestock Road, Winchester Hants

482 Gordon Selby                 Wells, Somerset

78 L R Setterington               Taunton, Somerset

213 L Rod Setterington         Chiswick, London W4

915J Chris Smart                  Woking, Surrey

823 Andrew Sparrow             Weston, Bath

984 Dave Speed                   Dinder, Nr Wells, Somerset

1 L Harry Stanbury               Bude, Cornwall

38L Mrs I Stanbury               Knowle, Bristol

575 L Dermot Statham          Cole Road, Bruton, Somerset

365 L Roger Stenner             Weston super Mare, Avon

865 Paul Stokes                   Bagshot, Surrey

1002 Alan Sutton                  Alveston, Bristol

968 James Tasker                Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

772 Nigel Taylor                   Chilcote, Nr Wells, Somerset

919 Tom Temple                   Address unknown

284 L Alan Thomas               Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                   Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford

571 L N Thomas                   Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.

994 Martin Thompson           Matson. Gloucester

699 Buckett Tilbury               High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  High Wycombe, Bucks

80 Postle Thompsett-Clark    Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L Dizzie Thompsett-Clark  Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L Daphne Towler            Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L Jill Tuck                      Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

678 Dave Turner                   Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon

912 John Turner                    Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.

925 Gill Turner                      Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.

635 L Stuart Tuttlebury          Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

887 Greg Villis                     Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

982 Christine Villis                Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

175 L Mrs. D. Whaddon        Taunton, Somerset

949 John Watson                 Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

973 James Wells                  Yortown, New York 10598

553 Bob White                     Wells, Somerset

878 Marine Ross White         HMS Endurance, BFPO Ships, London

939 Woly Wilkinson              Melksham, Wiltshire

940 Val Wilkinson                Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                St. Austell, Cornwall

885 Claire Williams               St. Austell, Cornwall

916 Jane Wilson                   Portswood, Southampton

568 Brenda Wilton                27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

943 Simon Woodman           Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon

877 Steve Woolven               Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman              South Street, Castle Cary, Somerset


Wareham's Cave, Gurney Slade

by Dave Irwin

On September 1st 1980 the writer visited Wareham's Garage at Gurney Slade for car repairs when he was told by the Wareham Brothers that they had broken into a "bit of a cave".  They were clearing an area of ground to the south of the Garage to build a bungalow.  Part of the excavation was to clear some of the sloping bank on the east side.  A JCB did its job well and eventually a small hole some two feet high and 18" wide appeared at ground level.  The writer immediately took a look and, saw a phreatic tube extending eastwards, sloping downwards at about 150 for a distance of 15 feet.  A slight draught was felt.  It was agreed with the Brothers that digging could take place and the author, suffering from his recurring leg problem, said he would wait until Ray Mansfield had returned from holiday when we would have a look.  It was emphasised by the Brothers that they did not want any publicity and did not want to be plagued by large numbers of cavers.  However, as it transpired, they obviously mentioned it to the landowner of the George Inn opposite the Garage and the connection with the Mendip Exploration Group was complete.  Digging was started by Chris Hannam et al. and the writer paid the site a visit a fortnight later to see what had happened.  An hour's fruitful digging took place under fairly cramped conditions and it became obvious that open cave lay beyond.  He continued to dig down under an arch to the left. Further digging became difficult until the only means to attack the site was by lowering the floor back towards the entrance.  The passage was then surveyed.  A few days later Chris Hannam phoned to say that a breakthrough had been made revealing some 150 feet of passage.  On September 22nd yours truly, together with the help of members of M.C.G., surveyed the cave after a number of photographs had been taken.  The cave will be sealed again when building activity commences in the Spring.


SURVEY NOTES: The survey was made to B.C.R.A. grade 5 requirements except that there was not a suitable area locally to check the magnetic deviation of the compass; therefore the whole has been downgraded to B.C.R.A.4.  The instruments used were an ex-W.D. prismatic compass, an Abney level and Fibron tape.


Book Review.

The Cave Explorers.

Jim Eyre Published by the Stalactite Press 1981, in 264 pp, 13 b & w photos, 5 line drawings,

Should you manage to obtain this superb book at all you may well receive it carefully wrapped in plain, brown paper.  That is, the unexpurgated, uncensored version.  Lewd, pornographic accounts, literary scenes of explicit sex, unadulterated filth, disgusting photographs and depravity - there is nothing of these in this work of Eyre's, and yet it has been banned from sale in Britain.  $16.50 in Canada but you will soon find the price rocketing in G.B. as the book becomes a collector’s gem.

The book is a humorous account of Jim Eyres caving from his birth in the early forties, through numerous expeditions and noteworthy events, largely abroad right up to, the present day. Those of you who have read Jim's accounts of scrapes and disasters in Descent will already be familiar with his style, his ability to see the funny side of every situation, his cunning at extracting the Michael out of the variety of characters he meets all over the world.  For those of you who not yet read any Eyre, there are few of you who can fail to be totally engrossed by this latest offering.

The photographs are a little disappointing, apart from the first, which shows a typical bunch of cavers, and two which show Kelly's winch and Rocket.  The cartoons are a very important part of the book, and there should have been more - dozens  The Provatina fiasco has tremendous scope for the humorous artist, and Jim Eyre must have lots of other cartoons that are suitable.

Perhaps the book banning is all part of a plot hatched up between Eyre and Kelly to boost the sales. More likely, though, it is typical Eyre. His whole life seems to be one long series of scrapes, near misses and disasters, and the recent court case is just one more.

What court case?  Who is this Kelly?  Read the book, and ask Alan "Hoss" Thomas who tells us he has gone legal and burnt his copy…..and there are fairies at the bottom of my garden too:



Early Cave Photographers And Their Work

by D. J. Irwin.

Cavers are generally interested in old caving photographs and illustrations – partly from an historic viewpoint, or quite simply just out of interest.  In general books, pamphlets and periodicals of the Past are eagerly sought after for this type of material.  In addition to books are early prints, usually removed from 18th or 19th Century books, illustrating cave interiors or entrances.  All categories of publication contain historical illustrations and perhaps one of the most important catalogues produced in modern times was the B.S.A. "Cave Illustrations before 1900" by Trevor Shaw, now long out of print and in great demand on the second hand caving books market.

Photographs taken by early cave explorers tell a considerable tale when one views them: what did the various entrances look like when the cave was first open?  what - gear did cavers wear in 1900?  how much damage, regrettably, has been caused since the opening of the cave?  who were these photographers?

When one compares the original bromide print with that published in books or other publications it is easy to see much more detail, which indicates the quality of photograph itself.

Many of the prints which have survived reveal the mind of the early explorer.  The "Savory Collection" at the Wells Museum unveils the recording thoughts of the photographer. Of the known parts of Swildons Hole in 1925, virtually everything of note had been photographed or sketched meticulously by the explorers - a very different attitude to that of the present day, where the sole 'raison d'etre ' is to find 'more cave passage, without first fully investigating and recording what has already been discovered.  The Wookey collection of photographs, a few of which have been published in the books by Balch and others, again recorded all known passages and formations.  Not only is the general view of each chamber recorded but the detailed level of recording is quite outstanding.

By searching through old prints and postcards many new photographs are corning light, all of which are of great importance to the speleohistorian, and it is the aim of the author to introduce some of these early pioneering photographers together with a list of their work known to the author, and its location.  Some of the work produced by these men is nothing short of miraculous when it is remembered that the cumbersome equipment then used must have caused great problems of transport through the smaller cave passages, and when one considers the patience required in waiting for the smoke to clear after using flash-powder lighting techniques.  Though their work is not consistently good, there are many photographs that rival the best that the modern cave photographer produces.

Many will be familiar with the Balch and Baker "Netherworld of Mendip" published in 1907 but it may be that the reader had not fixed in his mind the name of the photographer - H. Bamforth of Holmfirth (the setting for the T. V. series, Last of the Summer Wine").  A caver and mountaineer, Bamforth was also a photographer (professional) and owner of the famous printing works.  This successful business background enabled him to travel and, as a result, a fair number of his cave photographs have come to light in addition to those so well known to Mendip cavers in the Balch books.

A little careful searching will uncover many gems - photographs of such national classics as Juniper Gulf, Swildons Hole, Lamb Leer, Gaping Gill, Peak Cavern, Speedwell Mine, Gough's Cave, Eastwater Cavern, Hunt Pot, Hull Pot, Rift Pot, Sell Gill Holes and many others.  It is then important that the reader is aware that there is much material around, mainly in private hands or in museums; much more than has been commercially published and is readily obtainable on the caving market - if your pocket is deep enough!

Mendip has been particularly fortunate in having had to hand a number of outstanding cave photographers, two of whom must be recorded. I will mention the work of Balch himself but, though there are a few examples of his work still about, the work of Savory and Evens is significant.  Savory will be a name known to all cavers but Evens will probably be new to most, even though some examples of his work appeared in Balch's books.  Unfortunate duplication of photographs with those taken by Savory slightly dimmed Evens standing in the caver's memory.

J. Harry Savory was a professional photographer, having his studios in Park Row, Bristol, and it is believed to be connected with the printing firm of E. Savory that published many postcards and souvenir booklets for Goughs Caves.  Savory is best remembered in the Bristol area for his work on the photography of birds, but Caver are forever in his debt for the, comprehensive studies of Swildons Hole and Wookey Hole.  In his professional capacity as at photographer he was responsible for a series of 27 photographs published as postcards between 1913 and 1923 for Goughs Caves. Many of the original photographs still exist and the fine quality of his work is there for all to see.

The other man, a virtually unknown and forgotten figure, died in1973, at the age of 80, in Bristol.  A Bristolian, Evens was professionally a chemist and for a time, taught chemistry at Finsbury Technical College, London.  Apart from chemistry, his other main interests were microscopy and photography. It was this latter interest that caused him to explore all the byways on Mendip with his bicycle.  His entire Mendip work is now housed in the Bristol Museum, and may be viewed provided that prior arrangements have been made.  I am grateful to Dr. Curtis, Head of the Geological Department, for being allowed to see and record the photographs of caving interest.

Another photographer found in Balch's "Great Cave of Wookey Hole" (1929) is S.W. Chapman. Chapman roamed the west of England photographing all and sundry and included in his work are a number of photographs of Goughs Cave and Wookey Hole – a very mixed bag but a fine record of the major formations, and most were published as postcards during the 1920's sand 1930's.  Most interesting, perhaps are two cards of Gough's Cave showing details of the entrance before the takeover by Longleat Estates in 1933 and of the restaurant just after completion in 1934.  Little is known of the private life of this photographer except that he hailed from Dawlish in Devon.  Does anyone know if Lilian Chapman, whose painting of the 'Great River Chamber' (in Wookey Hole) frontispiece to Balch's "Great Cave of Wookey Hole", is any relation?

Nothing quite so extensive as the Mendip collection exists for the caving areas in Yorkshire or Derbyshire except for two names that occasionally appear - Shaw of Blackburn and Sneath of Sheffield.  Their work is confined to cave entrances and interiors of show caves, but their early postcards are genuine bromide prints; later, reprints of their work printed by lithography lack the immediacy of the earlier specimens.

A number of postcards have been available over the last 50 years or more recording interior scenes of such caves as Juniper Gulf, Gaping, Gill and Alum Pot, plus many entrances such as Rift, Hull, Hunt and Goyden Pots.  Who the photograph were is unknown and the only clue is the printers imprints on the back of the cards.  In many cases it may well be a printing house staff photographer but the early photographs reprinted by Walter Scott in the 1960's are certainly early shots take by the pioneer Dales explorers.

A set of intriguing photographs of White Scar showing Long standing on boulders and surveying gear by Long Stop Lake were published in the early 1930's but no photographer can be associated with them.  The Long photograph has been published many times in the White Scar pamphlets.

That, then, is a brief summary of some early cave photographers but the names of Frith's, Valentines, and many other local photographers play an important part in this story and perhaps later a complete list of their work will be published, so they cannot be ignored.  Frith, for example, famous for their rather 'static' sepia postcards, published over 70 cards of Cox's Cave, Cheddar, alone!  Details of these photographs may be found in "A Catalogue of the Postcards of Gough's Cave, Cox's Cave and Wookey Hole, Somerset, 1900 -1980" written and compiled by the author.

The following list of photographs recorded by the author has been gathered from a number of sources. Their location is abbreviated in the list and full details of each are given below:

Caves of Mendip

H.E.Balch, Folk Press Ltd., London. (1926)


The Great Cave, of Wookey Hole, H.E. Balch, Clare, Son & Co. Ltd., Wells, (1929) (lst. ed.)

The Caves of Mendip

Mendip - The Complete Caves and a View of the Hills, Barrington & Stanton, Barton Publications, Cheddar Val Press, Cheddar, Somerset. (1977)


Moors, Crags and Caves of the High Peak and Neighbourhood, E.A. Baker, John Heywood, Ltd., Deansgate & Ridgefield, Manchester (1903).


The Netherworld of Mendip, E.A. Baker & H.E. Balch, Simpson, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent. & Co., London, (1907)


Les Cavernes et les cours d'eau souterrains des Mendip Hills Somerset, Angleterre (Explorations de 1901 - 1904) H.E. Balch, Spelunca, No. 39, December 1904.

Swallet Caves

Mendip - Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters, H.E. Balch, 1 st.ed. (1937) Clare, Son & Co., Ltd., Wells


Wookey Hole, Its Caves and Cave Dwellers, H.E. Balch, O.U.P. (1914)


Wells Museum.


Where the authors records only show a single copy the initials of the owner are given.  It should be pointed out that the owner may not be prepared to show this material unless a bona-fide reason can be given.

(D.J.I.)               - D.J .Irwin

(R.W.M.)           -R.W. Mansfield

(T.R.S.)             - T.R. Shaw

(M.D.Y.)            - M. Dewdney-York.

Where photographs exist without a title a brief description is given by the author.  Such titles will be shown in (         ).

Those wishing to view the Savory Collection should first write to the Curator of the Wells Museum so that arrangements may be made to get them ready for inspection.


(1)  Savory Photographs

The Archangel's Wing, Gough's Cave   (Postcard & Caves of Mendip p.18/19)
The Peal of Dells, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
The Fonts, Gough's Cave, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
The Fairy Grotto, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
90ft.- Cascade in St. Paul’s, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
The Organ Pipes, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
Pillar of Marble, 15ft. high, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
In Aladdin's Grotto, Gough's Cave  (Caves of Mendip p.16/17 & Postcard W.M.)
Aladdin's Grotto, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.) note C
Pillars of Wonderful Variety and Form, Gough's Cave   (Postcard)
Curious Erratic Pillars, Gough's Cave  (Postcard)
Imperceptibly Growing Closer (Feb. 1922), Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C
A Marble Curtain and Stalactite, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
Magic Traceries, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
A Forest of Stalactites, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
The ' Zambezi Falls (Feb. 1922), Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C
Countless Stalactite Pencils, Gough's Cave  (Postcard)
The Diamond Stream (Feb. 1922) Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.) note C
Niagara Falls, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
A Fallen Giant, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard) note A
A Most Beautiful Curtain in Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
A Group of Pillars of Wonderful Form, Gough's Cave   (Postcard (D.J.I.)) note D
Solomon's Temple, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
Outlet of Underground River after passing through Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
A Beautifully Reflected Group, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
Still Reflections, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
Niagara Falls, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C & B


(A)    This photograph is distinguished by the hideous lamp holder held over the formation.  There are two basic versions: a) horizontal format; b) vertical format.

(B)    This photograph, taken in 1922; is heavily retouched in order to remove the hideous lamp housing.

(C)    These photographs were taken on 9th Feb.1922, whereas the remainder were taken much earlier- c.1912 (earliest postally used postcard seen by author is April 1913).

(D)    May also be found entitled; “Pillars of Wonderful Variety & Form, Solomon's Temple”.

N.B. All of the above photographs are the titles to be found on the 1923 set published by William Gough at the Lion Rock Bazaar.  The set was also published (1913) by another Gough brother, Arthur.  The titles vary slightly and a number of photographs from the earlier set were not re-used by William Gough; these are listed below:

Marvellous Coral Stalactites, Gough's Caves  Postcard   (Postcard)
(the photo. is inverted; formations are "pool type deposits).   ()
Part of Roof with Marvellous Stalactites, Gough's Caves   (Postcard)
Wookey Hole, The Witch of Wookey   (W.H. (frontis),' W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The First Chamber (with Wheeler & Barnes)   (W.H. p 20/21 W.M)
Wookey Hole, The Third Chamber     (W.H. p 20/21 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Conglomerate Roof      (W.H. p 28/29 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, An “Oxbow”     (W.H. p 28/29)
Wookey Hole, The 2nd Chamber (man with left arm outstretched)   (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Looking towards the Unknown (with Balch)   (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Suspended Boulders  (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, "The Spur and Wedge" (with Hassall)     (W.H. p132/133)
Wookey Hole, "The Head of the Ravine and the Source of the Axe".   (W.H. p132/133 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, "The Index Grotto" (The Inner Grotto)   (W.H. p188/189 W.M.)
Group in Water Chamber (1919)     (Mendip p153 W.M.)
The Great Pool      (Cheddar p 72)
The Old Grotto, Swildon's Hole      ( Swallet Caves p 27 W.M.)
The Water Rift, Swildon's Hole   ( Swallet Caves p 29 W.M.)
The Folded Limestone beyond the 40ft. pot, Swildon's Hole   (Swallet Caves p 31 W.M.)
The Shrine, Swildon's Hole   (Caves of Mendip p 50/51)
The White Way, Barne's Loop, Swildon's Hole   ( Swallet Caves p 37 W.M.)
The Tower-Capped Pillar, Swildon's Hole  ( Swallet Caves p 39 W.M.)
Upper Grotto (Tratman's Temple) (1922) Swildon's Hole   ( Swallet Caves p 41 W.M.)
The First Party at the Trap (Sump 1) Swildon's Hole   ( Swallet Caves p 43 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Stalagmite Pillars from Floor to Roof .(1911)   (Caves of Mendip p 42/43)
Swildon's Hole, Streamway in the First Chamber  (Caves of Mendip p 52/53)
Swildon's Hole, Grotto in the Lower Series (Tratman's Grotto)   (Mendip p 189 W.M.)
Eastwater, The Author (Balch) among the Boulders   (Caves of Mendip p 56.57)
Eastwater, At the Bend in the Lower Canyon (Lower Traverse)   (Caves of Mendip p 62/63)
Lamb Lair, The Beehive   (Caves of Mendip p 68/69)
(see note (E) under Bamforth)   ()
Aveline s Hole   (Mendip p 27 W.M.)
Banwell Stalactite Cave (Gen. Whitley) (the General owned the Caves)  (Mendip p 34 W.M.)
Swildon's Hole, Lower Anchorage for the Rope over the 'Double Pots.(1921)   (Mendip p 189 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, (Balch and Allen climbing rift)  (Mendip p 192)
Wookey Hole, Massive Columns of Stalagmite  (W.H. p 196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole,  The Sentinel   (W.H. p 196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, A Typical Group of Stalactites  (W.H. p 204/205 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Massed Pillars   (W.H. p 204/205 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Grill   (W.H. p 204/205 W.M..)
Wookey Hole, A Stalagmite Flow   (W.H. p 213/212196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Terminal Western Chamber  (W.H. p 213/212196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, In Purgatory   (W.H. p 213/212196 W.M.)
Coral Cave (foot of entrance pitch)   (Mendip p 57)
Cross Quarry Cave   (Mendip p 59 W.M.)
Eastwater, Balch further down the boulders  (Mendip p 68 W.M.)
Gough's Cave, Simock, climbing up from the Lower Boulder Chamber    (Mendip p 89 W.M.)
Outlook Cave (entrance)(Ebbor)   (Mendip p 120 W.M.)
Plumley's Den (entrance)(1911)   (Mendip p 123 W.M.)
Rhinoceros Hole (entrance)   (Mendip p 128 W.M)
Rowberrow Cavern (entrance)(1921)  (Mendip p 132 W.M.)
Sandford Levvy (entrance)   (Mendip p 140 W.M.)
Swildon's Hole (Water Chamber)   (Mendip p 162 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Upper Grottoes (1926)  (Mendip p 178 W.M.)
Yew Tree Swallet (Burrington) 1911  (Mendip p 182 W.M.)
Lamb Leer, party at foot of drop into the Great Chamber   (Mendip p 185 W.M.)
Swildon's Hole (Brewing Cocoa in Barnes Loop)   (Mendip p 185 W.M.)
Lamb Leer (top of Main Pitch)   (Mendip p 186 W.M.)
Lamb Leer (bottom of Main Pitch)  (Mendip p 187 W.M.)
Swildon's Hole (40 ft. Pitch, bottom showing "Elephant Trunk").   (Mendip p 188 W.M.)

All the following Wookey photographs are housed at Wells museum and do not appear to have been previously published.

Looking up to the entrance from below (from valley floor to upper entrance);
The cliff face from near the Badger’s Den;
The source of the River Axe (very similar to Chapman photo);
The arch at the water's exit;
A nearer view and another witch found by John Hassall (resurgence); (Stream and resurgence);
Boulders in the streamway (view of stream below weir);
Another point of view (of previous photo);
A good flood coming down (waterfall at resurgence);
Source of the River Axe (title on photo -is this a Savory?);
At the foot of the first cascade (below weir);
Balch at the Upper Rock Entrance;
Hassall and Balch (at entrance);
John Hassall (at entrance);
(original entrance);
Upper Rock Entrance;
Long festoon of ivy above the entrance (resurgence);
Looking back to daylight from top of first rise;
Chalk inscription at top of Hell Ladder (E.H. 1769);
The pathway at top of first rise near branch to "Spur and Wedge".
First Chamber (including Witch and River);
Stalagmite flow behind Witch;
Photographing the Witch in silhouette;
(resurgence) (March 1928);
North side of First Chamber;
Wall and Terraces behind the Witch;
(resurgence and canal)(March 1928);
(First Chamber) (March 1928);
The First Chamber (with boat on river) (March 1928) ;
First Chamber from river (showing steps below Witch);
(Witch and steps);
The large stalagmite in First Chamber, (1911);
The large stalagmite from a more distant shot, (1911);
Large mushroom behind Witch;
Pools in Second Chamber:
Looking back into First chamber (with Island Stalagmite);
Nodular formations below surface;
Second Chamber (looking up stale slope);
Second Chamber Cave pearl cavities (from above);
Second Chamber Cave pearl cavities (from front);
Little pool in corner of. First Chamber;
A white vein (S.E. corner of Second Chamber);
Fallen boulder in Third Chamber;
Third Chamber showing sand ripples;
Third Chamber (with Balch, Sinnock and Troup);
Third Chamber taken with Limelight;
Wheeler, Balch, Sinnock leaving the First Chamber;
The Sentinel;
The Index Grotto; Index Grotto (1928);
Curtains in the Index Grotto;
Stalactites and stalagmites just touching (1911);
Ernest Gardner by Four and a Half Columns;
(Top of Rift at far end of Purgatory);
A fine group of columns, Western Terminal Chamber (a similar shot to that published in W.H.)

As in the case of Wookey Hole, all the following photographs are housed at Wells Museum in the Savory Collection:

Swildon's Hole Swallet (entrance);

The entrance;
* The Upper Waterfall;
(Stream in entrance passages);
Coral-like stalagmite;
Long Dry Way;
The "Imp" group of erratics;
A group of erratics below drop boulder, (1919);
Long Dry Way - In the Chamber below the "Imp”(1919);
Party (18.8.1921) in Old Grotto;
The roof of the large grotto (Old Grotto) (1911);
Lower extremity of grotto (1913);
The wall round the Pagoda Stalagmite (1913);
(Above 20 ft. pot) Aug.1925;
(Double pots) Aug.1925;
Curtains (Old Grotto) 1913;
Curtains (Old Grotto) 1913;
The Alcove (Old Grotto) 1913;
(similar view) 1925;
Shelf of stalagmite just beyond the first turn to right after 40 ft. fall. (1922);
The Stalagmite Bridge Grotto;
Ever wet terraces just below Grotto;
Troup passing round the Giant stoup (1911);
The Giant stoup;
(formation between Old Grotto and Water Chamber);
Curtains in Barne's Loop, (1922);
Nodular lining, Barne's Loop (1922);
Chandler and Blake in Water Chamber;
Stream running in Water Chamber;          .
Curtains on either side of stream below Water Chamber;
Waterfalls in streamway above Water Chamber (1911);
Barne's Loop, top of White Way;
Pure white formation, Barne's Loop (2 diff. photo's.);
Nov 12th Grotto (Tratman's Temple), Columns on far wall;
Creep in Barne's Loop;
Langford prepared to take rope across the Double Pots;
Barne's Loop (detail photo.); .
Entrance to Water Rift;
Giant Boss;
Approach to Barne's Loop (2 diff. photo's.);
Wall above the Great Pool, Darners Loop (1922);
Water passage from Great Pot (40 ft. Pot)(1921);
Pencils (straws), Barne's Loop;
Nov 12th 1921 Grottos;
Exquisite formations in Nov 12th 1921 Grottoes first entered by Tratman and party;
Pencils, pillars and curtains (Tratman's);
Water passage and undermined stalagmite table (just above 20 ft. Pot)(1921);
Gear required for a day in Eastwater or elsewhere!

Eastwater photographs:

Looking up the stream;
Evening shadows across the valley (Eastwater entrance);
General view of valley;
Cleaning out a few dangerous stones from entrance;
A party ready to enter swallet (Balch photo.),
Balch in Boulder Choke at head of 380 ft. Way (1912);
Where one leaves the boulders for bed-rock, (Webb in photo.);
Boulder Chamber (Wheeler, Balch, Holly and Webb) 1912;
Wheeler and Holly with nothing much below them;
Webb and Balch in 2nd Great Rift Chamber (1912);

Gough's photographs:

'The Swiss Village'         1922;
Pencils under shelf in side passage near entrance, 1922;
Water-worn passage - smooth and carved, near entrance, 1922,
Wall and pool opposite Swiss Village, 1922;
Two curtains with fine folds;
Near Swiss Village (published by AGHG);
A fine stalagmite wall;
Columns and Curtains (see postcard section) 1922;
A fine erratic stalactite in Aladdin's Grotto, 1922;
Aladdin's Grotto, reflected (Feb. 1922);
The Swiss Village, (Feb. 1922),
(Aladdin's Grotto);
Niagara Falls;
Looking up into Solomon's Temple, (Feb. 1922);
Solomon's Temple;
(Stalagmite Columns);
Peal of Dells (AGHG); Column in Fairy Grotto;
(Curtains and straws);
Organ Pipes (close up view);
(Pagoda stalagmite);
A broken up stalagmite floor; (A. Gough in photo),
(Suspended limestone floor);
(Climb to Sand Chamber);
In the Boulder Chamber;
A more distant view;
Two views of Niagara Falls;
Two views of Lower Boulder Chamber;
Two detail views of Solomon's Temple,
A side chamber near entrance;
In the Lower Boulder Chamber (incl. Sinnock);
Examples of crystal stalagmites;

White spot Cave (1918?);

Gough’s Old Cave photographs:

A good 'freak' (wall formations);
(Wall formations);
The best of the few pillars;

Cox’s Cavern photographs:

(Speaker's Mace) Feb. 1922;
(Speaker's Mace) Feb. 1922;

Roman Cave (Long Hole)

(Entrance, looking out);
View of entrance.

Outlet of the Upper stream;
Outlet of the Lower stream.


A small cave mouth (east 'side);'
A little Cave shelter in eastern cliff;
Outlook Cave - first small chamber;
Outlook Caves - looking out towards entrance;
Remains of an old cave pot-hole;
A small cave mouth;
A small rock-shelter;
Three views of cave mouth under shoulder of western cliff face.

Coral Cave:

Party at entrance;
The slope of boulders and arch;
(Stalagmite boulders);
Examples of coral-like formations;
A tributary passage;
Looking back to Arch.

Entrance to Sandy Hole, Compton Bishop;


Rough steps from top to bottom of the large chamber;
Fallen flakes with stalagmite bosses, west side of large chambers, Deep Cave
One of the few signs of stalagmite on right hand wall before reaching large chamber
The Bishop's Chair;
Two views of stacked bones in Banwell Bone, Cave.

Lamb Leer:

Party starting down the Entrance Shaft;
The Entrance and the Old Bristol Road;
The Beehive, Largest known English stalagmite boss (with Chandler);
Looking down into Cave of Falling Waters from the top;

Burrington Coombe:

Two views of mouth of Fox's Hole (1911);
Langford Rising (1911);
Rickford Rising (1911);
Whitcombe' sHale
Two views of Plumley's Den (1911);
Looking down into Plumley's Den (1911);
Steeply tilted strata in Aveline's Hole;
In Aveline's Hole;
Entrance to Aveline's Hole (1911);
At foot of first slope - Aveline's Hole;
A stalagmite wall in Aveline's Hole;
Univ. Spelaeo. Soc. at entrance to Goatchurch; .
Entrance to Goatchurch (1911);
The Swallet cliff, Keltic Cavern;
Valley - cliff and swallet, Keltic Cavern;
Keltic Cavern, group of erratic stalactites - Main Chamber;
Main Chamber;
Keltic Cavern - The Boulder Bridge - Main Chamber (with Tratman) 1921;
Keltic Cavern - west end of Grotto 1921;
East end of the Grotto (Keltic Cavern) 192.1;
Keltic Cavern - the Main Chamber looking east, 1921;
Tickenham Rock Shelter (six views).

The Plantation Swallet (looking out);

St. Cuthbert's Mines, Plantation Swallet;

(2)  Bamforth Photographs       (Mendip):

Hyena Den and Badger Hole, Wookey Hole;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 23)
The Great Swallet of Bishop's Lot, Priddy;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 28)
In the First Chamber, Wookey Hole Cavern;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 49)
New Stalactite Grotto, Wookey Hole;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 57)
The Grill, New Chambers, Wookey Hole, (5744);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 58)
The Source of the Axe, Wookey Hole;  (Postcard (D.J.I.)  W.M.)
Entrance to great Cavern of Eastwater, (5760);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 59)
(shows artificial dam built during digging)  (Netherworld of Mendip p 62 W.M.)
Entrance of Stalactite Chamber, Swildon's Hole;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 78)
Stalactite curtains, Swildon's Hole;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 79 W.M.)
Stalactite Chamber, Swildons Hole (5763);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 80 W.M.)
In Cox's Cavern at Cheddar;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 92)
Great Rift Cavern, Cheddar Gorge, ( White Spot Cave);   (Netherworld of Mendip p 93)
Entrance to Lamb's Lair, Harptree, (5746);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 116 W.M.)
(E) The "Beehive" Chamber, Lamb's Lair;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 118)
Stalactite wall, Lamb I s Lair;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 119)
Entrance to Great Chamber, Lamb's Lair;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 120 W.M.)
Stalactites in entrance gallery, Lamb's Lair;  (Spelunca No. 39 p 8)
Eastwater Swallet;   (Spelunca No. 39 p 17)
Swildon's Hole in 1901 (entrance);  (Spelunca No. 39 p 26)
The subterranean river, Wookey Hole;  (Spelunca No. 39 p 28)
Wookey Hole, The Witch;   (Spelunca No. 39 p 29)
Wookey Hole, Stalagmites in the New Grotto;  (Postcard (T.R.S.) W.M.)
Entrance to Goatchurch Cavern (5743)     ( Swallet Caves 1st. ed. p 79)
The Beehive, Lamb Lair;   (Caves of Mendip p 68/69) note E


(E)    There are two quite different photographs of this formation.  The first published (Spelunca and Netherworld) shows a man at the top of the Beehive whilst the second shows two (?) men on the side above a wooden ladder. It is probable that this photograph was taken by Savory as he is Quoted as being the photographer in the earlier publication.

Gough's Cave, Mendip Hills ( Niagara) (5742);                                                        W.M.
Gough's Cave, Mendip Hills ( Boulder Chamber) (5750);                                          W.M.
Wookey Hole, Som., Middle Cave (Second Chamber) (66); Postcard (D.J.I.)           W.M.
Lamb Leer (roof of Great Chamber) (5758); .                                                         W.M.
Beyond the Grottos, Swildon's Hole, Mendip Hills (5762);                          W.M.
Eastwater, Boulder Chamber (5728);                                                                    W.M.
Wookey Hole, looking into the 1st. Chamber (man in white clothes);                      W.M.
Swildon's Hole - The Pagoda Stalagmite (Ap.1912);                                              W.M.
Swildon's Hole - looking towards upper end of Grotto (5766);                                  W.M.
Gough's Cave, Mendip Hills (un-numbered) (view looking up to Solomon's Temple;
The Font, Cox's Cavern, Cheddar (no number);
In Cox's Cave, Cheddar, Mendip Hills (Transformation);
In Cox's Cave, Cheddar, Mendip Hills (Speaker's Mace);
Lamb Lair, Harptree, Mendip Hills (5751);
Above Beehive, Lamb Leer, Mendip Hills (no number);

N.B. A mutilated postcard of Whitespot Cave, Cheddar exists (T.R.S.) but though displays the characteristics of Barnforth it must remain the work of an unknown photographer until another copy comes to light.


Crystal Cavern, Blue John, Castleton;   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Reynard 's Cave, Dovedale (4576);  -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Blue John Cavern, Castleton (5695);  -   Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5697A);   -  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5699);   -  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Variegated cavern, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5700);   -  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Crystal waterfall; Blue John Mine, Castleton (5702);  -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
The Fairy Grotto, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5703);   -  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Canal, Speedwell Mine, Castleton (5705);  -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Halfway, Speedwell Mine Castleton (5706);  -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Speedwell Cavern, Castleton (Bottomless Pit) ( 5707)   -  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Waterfall, Bottomless Pit, Castleton (Speedwell Mine) (5712);   -  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Speedwell cavern, Castleton (above the Bottomless Fit) (5713);   -  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Peak Cavern (entrance) (5714);   -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Arches and River, Peak Cavern, Castleton (5718);   -  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Devil's Cellar, Peak Cavern, Castleton (5720);  -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Peak Cavern,  Castleton (5721);   -  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Arches, Peak, Cavern, Castleton (5722);  -   Postcard (R.M.W.)
Peak Cavern, Castleton, (entrance, looking out) (5723);   -  Postcard (R.M.W.)
Looking down steps to Speedwell Mine, Castleton (5731); (view   looking DOWN steps)   -  Postcard (R.M.W.)
Peak Cavern, Castleton (5747);   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
(N.B: Title of this photograph in Wide World Magazine “'Mr. Puttrell arriving in the Peak Cavern by way of the new opening”)  -  
Unidentified photograph (5749);   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5753);   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5757) (probably Speedwell);   -  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5759);·   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Descent to Speedwell Mine, Castleton; (view looking UP steps)   -  Postcard (M.D.Y.)

(3) Chapman Photographs

(All postcards of Gough’s Cave, Cheddar)

Gough’s cave Cheddar                (7);
Gough’s cave Cheddar                (8);
Niagara Falls                             (4516);
“Solomon’s Temple”                   (4521);
Gough’s Cave, Cheddar (4522);
Cascade of St. Paul’s                 (4524);
Archangel’s Wing                       (4525);
Curtain                                      (4536);
Aladdin’s Grotto                         (10564);
Fairy Reflections                        (10656);
Fairy Reflections                        (10566);
Aladdin’s grotto                          (11034);
Gough’s cave Cheddar                (11035);
The Swiss Village                      (13400);
Prehistoric Man                         (13761)
The Grotto                                 (13764)
Temple Gateway                        (13765)
Organ pipes                               (13766)
Diamond Stream                        (13767)
Niagara                                     (13768)
Pillar of Solomon’s Temple          (13770)
Stalagmites by Pool                   (14123)
Artificially positioned stalactites (14124)
Stalagmite Flowstone                 (14125)
The Fonts                                  (14126)
Entrance to Gough’s Cave          (15721)
Entrance to Gough’s Cave          (160o2)

(All postcards of Wookey Hole)

Resurgence                                                       (16010)
The Witch’s chamber on entering                        (16785)
The entrance to the hall                                      (16786)
Terrace above Witch                                           (16787)
The Sentinel                                                      (16788)
The Witch’s Dog                                                (161789)
Eastern Wall of the Hall                                      (16790)
Great Stalagmite                                                (16791)
Hall of Wookey                                                  (16792)
The Witch’s Chamber looking down the river         (16793)
The Witch                                                         (16794)
The Witch of Wookey                                         (16795)
The Hall of Wookey                                            (16796)
Entrance to the Parlour                                       (16797)
The Grotto and Big Ben                                      (16798)
New Grotto                                                        (16799)
New Grotto                                                        (16800)
On the subterranean River Axe                            (16908)
Parlour                                                              (16909)
The Island Pool                                      (16910)
The Boat on the River                                         (16911)
Inner Grotto                                                       (16912)
Source of the Axe                                              (16193)
River Axe                                                          (18486)

Entrance to Gough’s Cave, Cheddar                    (20006)

The Hyena Den entrance (Wookey) (?)
The head of the of Wookey (?)

(4) E.D. Evens Photographs

(N.B. Nos. quoted are the Bristol Museum reference)

P8016 Devil's Punch Bowl (1919);
P8027 Wookey Hole entrance (1920);
P8052 Wurt Pit, Harptree            (1920);
P8053 Wurt Pit, Harptree            (1920);
P8064 Longwood Valley, (incl. swallet entrance)   (1921);
P8067 Devil's Punch Bowl (1921);
P8144 Burrington, West Twin stream (1921);
P8253 Lamb Leer, Entrance (1923);
P8254 Eastwater Cavern, entrance          (1923);
P8266 Dundry Stone Mines (1923);
P8276 Goatchurch, inside entrance (1923);
P8277 Goatchurch entrance (1923);
P8278 Goatchurch plan (by Mr. G. James) (1923);
P8279 Goatchurch, Waterfall Chamber (1923);
P8280 Goatchurch, Stalactite at Fonts (1923);
P8284 Plantation Swallet, entrance (1924);
P8285 Entrance to Swildon's Hole . (1924);
P8290 Entrance to Bone Hole (1924) (initialled by H.E.D.);
P8291 Entrance to Bone Hole (1924) (initialled by H.E.D.);
P8308 Swildon's, Upper Dry Way (1924);
P8309 Swildon’s, Upper Dry Way (1924)
P8310 Swildon’s, Old Grotto from Dry Way (1924)
P8311 Swildon’s, Column in Upper Dry Way (1924)
P8353 Wookey 1st. Chamber (1925);
P8354 Wookey 3rd. Chamber (1925);
P8355 Wookey New Chambers (1925);
P8439 Swildon's - Wall of Old Grotto (1926);
P8440 Swildon’s (large formation below Old Grotto) (1926);
P8441 Swildon’s Old Grotto (with Mr.& Mrs. James & Capt. Ellison) (1926);
P8445 Goatchurch, Boulder Chamber (1926);
P8449 Swildon's, Stalactite in 1st. large chamber (Boulder Chamber) (1927);
P8450 Swildon’s passage leading from 2nd large chamber in Dry Ways (1927);
P8451 Swildon’s Old Grotto curtains (1927);
P8587 New swallet just formed in St. Cuthbert's Lead Wks, nr Priddy, Mendip, Somerset. 1.5.1937 ;
P8591 Swildon's, Old Grotto (1938);

Notes: A number of these photographs, including scenic pictures of Mendip, were published in a series of postcards entitled 'Antiquities of Mendip'.  These include photograph nos. P8285; P8353; P8354 and “The Source of the Axe” (Wookey resurgence).

No. 8587 was published in D.E.C. Caving Report No. 13A (1968).

(5) Dawkes and Partridge (Wells) Photographers:

Wookey Hole, 2nd. Chamber (man with arm on right hip);
Wookey Hole, 2nd. Chamber (near entrance) (man with arm on left hip);
Ebbor Gorge. - Scree slope.

(6) Sneath Photographs (c.1905  - 1910)

The First Crossing in Peak Cavern, Castleton (352);                                  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Crystallised Waterfall, Blue John Mine, Castleton;                                                Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave's Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (351);                 Postcard (M.D.Y.)
Bridge of the Great Cavern, Blue John Mine, Castleton (361);                     Postcard (M.D.Y.)

(7) Shaw Photographs (c.1910)

Gaping Ghyll (entrance shaft);                                                     Postcard (D.J.I.)
Gaping Ghyll (entrance shaft);                                                     Postcard (D.J.I.)
Hunt Pot (entrance);                                                                   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Ingleborough Cave (entrance);                                                     Postcard (D.J.I.)


The author would like to thank the following cavers who have supplied him with information or have made material available to him for inspection:

Ray Mansfield; Trevor Shaw; Chris Hawkes; Mike Dewdney-York.


From Yellowstone To Florida

by Karen Jones.   (Part 3 of Karen and Gary's U.S.A. trip)

From West Yellowstone we took the bus to Seattle on the west coast where stayed in a Youth Hostel.  It was situated in a rather depressed area and we saw more drunks on the streets those two nights than in the rest of the holiday.  It is quite an interesting place to visit and we spent an enjoyable day around the market and at the aquarium, where there was a tank that you walked through surrounded by the fish - quite an experience.

The following day we 'took a tour' to Mount Ranier, a dormant volcano, in a trio with Mount St. Helens and Mount AdamsMount Rainier is 14,100 feet and it is capped by snow. It has 27 named glaciers.  Our coach took us to Paradise Valley at 7000 feet, where there was a hotel and visitor centre. The valley was very beautiful, being carpeted in wild flowers, especially lupins, and the scent was lovely.

Once away from the inevitable crowds the peace and scenery was overw¬helming.  When we first arrived the summit was shrouded in cloud, but this gradually cleared giving us tantalizing views of the mountain.  The summit looked quite close (don't they always) but in fact was over 7000 feet and eight miles way.  Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours so we did not get a chance to do very much walking, although I hope that someday I'll get the chance to go back.  One interesting sight was the pine-trees, which were smothered in ash from Mount St. Helens when it erupted in May 1980 over 50 miles to the south.

From Seattle we travelled down the west coast, spending a few days in the National Park, walking below 300 foot trees which made me feel like an ant crawling around.  There was surprisingly little animal or bird life, although the racoons were partial to any food they did not have to forage for and were therefore considerable pests, and each site was equipped with a solid wooden food-store to use.   The racoons were very tame and could often be heard very near to the tent at night. They are frequently carriers of rabies, however, and are therefore not very desirable camping companions.

The Redwoods are a gradually declining species and only live in a very narrow belt along the west coast. They require 70 - 100 inches of water per year which is provided by rainfall and a thick fog which rolls in off the Pacific.

We then travelled down the Californian coast calling at Santa Cruz and San Diego from where we travelled across to the Grand Canyon in the Arizona Desert.  There is no Greyhound service to the Grand Canyon and so we had to travel up to there from Flagstaff on a tour bus, which cost us $8.00 return.  The land around the canyon is very flat and forestry is a major industry. There are several state parks to preserve the area.

We managed to get a pitch in the National Park campsite; those travelling by car have to be at the campsite by 10am, but fortunately they reserve an area for people travelling without their own transport.  After getting ourselves organised we went to the shop and visitor centre for information; we were hoping that we would be able to hire a couple of bikes and travel along the South Rim, visiting some Indian remains and the museum; unfortunately they had abandoned that scheme as there were too many accidents and stolen bikes! The only way to travel was on a tour (half day £7.00) or by foot, neither of which really appealed.

We returned to the tent for lunch and to sit in the shade for the hottest part of the day.  The temperature was 970 on the edge of the canyon and 1200 at the bottom.  The walk down is eight miles long and you have to carry a gallon, of water for each day, although there is water at the bottom.  We decided not to bother going as we had nowhere to leave the kit we did not need, and it seemed too much like hard work anyway.

Later on we went and got our first view of the canyon.  It is a mile deep, varying from one to eight miles wide and is 280 miles long!  It was a fantastic sight, almost unbelievable, and the rock formation and strata were fascinating.  As the sun sets the colours and shadows change and move and, the scene changes from one moment to the next.  The rock is red in colour, although at midday in the bright sunlight the colour is duller.

The following day we took the shuttle-bus along the rim of the canyon and got several good views from different angles.  We found it very hot going even though we did little walking.  For our lunch we found a pleasant spot over¬looking the canyon, under some pines.  Unfortunately I did not realise until I got up that I had been sitting on some sap and consequently had a very sticky behind!  Be warned!

We left Grand Canyon the next day and headed for Carslbad Cavern, New Mexico, passing through the Arizona desert and spending four hours in a coach ¬station in Phoenix because we could not stand the heat - 120oF. - and that was cool; a few days before it had been 125oF.  How people live and work in these conditions I'll never know; I suppose they must be used to it.

To get to Carlsbad Cavern, which is situated in the Guadalupe mountains and desert, we took the coach to White City and then had to get another up to the cave. Again this was a private tour operator, but as it would have otherwise been a seven mile walk it was well worth the expense.  There is a private camp-ground in White City, but as we had no transport and wanted to see the bat flight at dusk we decided to camp out.  This was easily arranged by seeing a Park Ranger and getting a backcountry pass, which allowed us to camp out among the cacti!

After warning us about the rattlesnakes, tarantula spiders, scorpions and other various delights, he let us set out to find ourselves a site.  We had to be half a mile away from any track or road, and hidden from view.  We managed to find a flat piece of ground where we could pitch our tent.  There was nothing to put tent pegs into as we were on flat rock, so we carefully collected some rocks, avoiding any ‘nasties’, and secured our tent, tying the guys to an available cactus!

We then headed back to the cave and bought a ticket for the full tour.  This takes you in by the natural entrance, whereas the half-tour takes you to the main chamber by elevator.  It is a self-guided tour using hand-sets and way-side information, which was a good idea as the whole cave is so vast that you need a while to take it in. Most visitors seemed to be intent on covering the course as quickly as possible and we were continually being overtaken.  Several of the Rangers, who were at points all around the cave, gave us odd looks and seemed to think that we were after a souvenir, but when we explained we were cavers from England they were very helpful and informative.

The cave entrance is an incredible sight, dropping 830 feet in half a mile.  There are very few formations until you get into the main chambers, where they were incredible and almost every available surface was covered. The limestone is pale compared with that over here, and a lot of the formations were covered with aragonite, or cave ‘popcorn’, which describes its appearance well.  It is thought to have formed by two methods, both of which were present in the same area, indicating that flooding must have occurred at one time.

The first type of aragonite occurred on only one side of the stal and is thought to be formed by small particles of limestone carried in the air; the second form is all around the stat and is thought to have been formed after flooding as the water level fell and the limestone particles were deposited.

The cave is of almost unbelievable proportions.  The 'Big Chamber' covers an area of over 14 acres and contains some extremely large formations, including one stal over 60 feet tall and ten feet across - the Great Dome - and two smaller ones at 40 feet!  The formations were too numerous to count or describe, and I'm sure you could easily spend days down there just looking around.  The cave was well lit and there were no garish colours to spoil its natural appearance.  It was a really fantastic sight and was well worth going all the way to America to see.

Another fantastic sight was the bat flight at dusk, when the 300,000 Mexican freetail bats leave the cave to go to their feeding grounds.  The bats circle anticlockwise out of the cave and fly around several times to get their bearings before flying off in swarms to feed on insects.  At the height of the flight more than 5000 bats per minute leave the cave; another fantastic sight and well worth camping among the cacti to see.

From Carlsbad we headed to Florida via New Orleans and spent a week lazing in the sun and snorkelling on the coral reef before heading for home.  We had a fright on arriving on the Florida Keys when, at 1am, we were woken from our sleep by an announcement over the tannoy that all campers were advised to leave the Keys, as Hurricane Dennis was thought to be heading that way.  No joke at 1am.  Fortunately we got a lift from some very kind people who took us to their home near Miami and treated us like part of the family until the storm blew over, although it never actually developed into a hurricane.

Our holiday was really worthwhile and something I'll never forget.  I'm now busy saving for my next trip.


Wigmore Revisited (Again!)

by Chris Smart

After a brief (!) interval of 15 months the Wigmore dig was revisited by Tony Jarratt, Ron Bridger (Luton Ron) and Chris Smart on Sat. 30th January.  We were suprised to find almost all the cave open and digging was only required for a total of ten minutes in 'Christmas Crawl' and 'Pinks & Posies'. The dig out of the 'Smoke Room' was attacked and the loose mud and pebble infill was easily removed, along with a few boulders to be stacked back in the 'Smoke Room'.  The dig was draughting well and looked promising, if a little worrying when one pondered on the stabi1ity of the roof.

On returning to the digging face later in the afternoon I noticed a small slot under the wall immediately before the 'Smoke Room' that appeared to have taken the stream at some time in the recent past.  This was enlarged to allow one to get one's head under the lip to see open passage for 3 m (10ft.).

The decision was made to dig this new passage (Blitz Passage) and Sunday morning saw the attack remounted by J-Rat and Trev Hughes.  They managed to excavate sufficient of the passage to be able to see into a l½m. (5ft.) diameter chamber.  The original Smoke Room dig was also revisited and both were reported as draughting strongly.

The following Saturday (6.2.82) saw J-Rat and Chris Smart return to the dig to discover approximately 2 ton of collapsed mud, spoil, boulders and conglomerate in the Smoke Room. This was blocking the old way on and took J-Rat about an hour to clear sufficient of the debris to re-open the entrance to the dig.  During this time I managed to enlarge Blitz Passage and squeeze in to see the way on continuing down dip.  However a point of interest was noted in that the stream water could be heard dropping some distance through the boulders forming the floor of the small chamber. Some more gardening was completed in the ‘Smoke Room’ but further collapses will occur here and it was decided to concentrate solely on the Blitz Passage' dig.  Combined work in the small chamber has now exposed an upstream section running parallel to 'Pinks & Posies' and the partly mud-infilled downstream section that is easily dug.  The way on is open and digging must continue.  Stacking of spoil is probably best in the ‘Smoke Room’ (with care!) or by a determined effort in the chamber at the start of 'Pinks and Posies!.

Some additional, random thoughts:

1)       1)I should like to thank the Club for the purchase of some plasticated cloth bags that have proved excellent for the Wigmore mud - the water oozes out and the bags set like concrete;

2)       The new manager of the farm area (Rob?) is an ex-caver and ex-Axbridge, ex-Wessex and ex-U.B.S.S. member.  He is more than interested in the dig and its results, but is concerned that the entrance grill is not locked;

3)       In Trev's last Wigmore article he states "it is credible to suggest that the conglomerate passage bifurcates at this point (the terminal choke), but this is not my belief."  I think that Blitz Passage shows that bifurcation is present and may be an example of differential solubility of the Triassic conglomerate. Frequent roof falls in the past and a subsequent build up of mud and gravel, etc., would exploit such weaknesses;

4)       A digging team of two is feasible, but with three or even four, well, who knows?  The Cheddar Master Cave can only be a few metres away!

Ref:  Wigmore Swallet + survey, A. Jarratt. B.B. No. 371 (March 1979)

         Wigmore Revisited, T. Hughes D.D. Nos.391/392 (Nov/Dec 1980).


From Vercors Plateau To Ardeche Gorge

by Jane Clarke.

On August 13th, somewhere in southern France, a little rural campsite plus French residents heaved a sigh of relief as the English circus removed their tents, washing lines of muddy caving gear and exploding petrol stoves, to drive south-west to the Ardeche region. After a super week's caving Graham and I were to join the Bradford Pothole Club on the second part of their French holiday ¬canoeing down the Ardeche gorge.

"Snake" (Raymond Lee) owner of the exploding petrol stove, had been taken to catch his train home to Bradford.  Soon afterwards the rest of the B.P.C. left for the Ardeche.  Time-keeping not being one of our strong points, Graham and I set off some hours later and, by way of an indirect route, arrived in the Ardeche a day behind everyone else.

Part of our route took us through the Verors.  After crossing the very smelly Isere River we soon arrived in Font-en-Royans.  I had only seen the Vercors in its February guise; it now looked quite different.  Then the roads had been thick with snow and ice and were overhung with huge, precarious icicles.  Cars carrying skis travelled up the gorge to the busy ski slopes higher up on the plateau. Those of us on that trip (Stu. Lindsey, Brian Workman, Colin Houlden and Dave Turner) even spent a few hilarious days trying X-country skiing.  Returning down the Bourne Gorge to our campsite one evening we were held up for some time by an avalanche that had swept across the road and blocked it.

Towards the end of the February visit the sun had shone just as brightly as in August and had started a tremendous thaw.  On a hot August day, looking over the railings at the Bourne River from the small car park in Pont-en-Royans, it was difficult to imagine the roaring floodwaters that had plummeted down the gorge, fed by tremendous, gushing streams of brown melt water from the caves along its route. Then the Dournillon was not accessible for more than 200m. from the entrance porch and the Choranche show cave was flooded to within 12 inches of the entrance arch.  But now, in August, the hot sun had certainly changed the appearance of the gorge.  The leafy poplar trees and the green plants at the water's edge were quite a contrast to the parched grass and dry soil on the higher slopes beneath the towering cliffs, which looked so glaringly white in the sunlight.  After buying food and wine we left Font-en-Royans and drove up Les Grands Goulets, a gorge equally as impressive as the Bourne, and bivouacked for the night at the top.

Having seen many signs to nearby showcases we decided to visit a few that were on our 'indirect route'. Grotte de la Luire at st. Agnan-en-Vercors is an old resurgence cave, which in times of flood acts as an overflow for the Bourne river which is some way beneath the tourist route.  During the last war the large entrance of the Luire was used by the local Maquis as a field hospital.  A plaque commemorates the three doctors, seven nurses and the wounded members of the Resistance who were killed when the cave was discovered by the Germans.  With our tickets we were given a typed description of the Cave in English. Either some meaning was lost in translation or the French are claiming another speleo record:

"It has been dug gradually between the years 7 million and 10 million B.C. date of the last glaciation during which some caving took place."

Having stuck a B.E.C. sticker on a nearby caving hut we drove to Chapelle-en¬Vercors to see Scialet-Grotte de la Draye Blanche.

We continued our journey to the Ardeche following ‘D’ class roads and lanes as much as possible and seeing some superb limestone, scenery.  The only main town we passed through was Montelimar where every other shop sold the local product, nougat.

We had arranged to meet the B.P.C. at Vallon-Pont d'Arc, a town at the head of the Ardeche dorge where most of the canoe hire companies have their bases.  As we got nearer the number of vineyards increased.  Finally we could resist no longer and pulled up to one of the huge storage sheds which housed the wine¬ storage vats.  The next few minutes saw upheaval in the back of the car as we rummaged through piles of camping stuff and muddy caving gear to find as many receptacles with lids as possible.  I did feel a little silly, standing clutching armfuls of empty tupperwares and lemonade bottles, whilst the French were buying their wine in huge jerry-cans.

After a peaceful and scenic drive from our original campsite at Nantizel, the town of Vallon was a shock for which we were not prepared. It may well possess six 17th century tapestries illustrating the deliverance of Jerusalem but what the guide book does not mention are the six 20th century campsites, all absolutely crammed with tents and caravans and bursting with people.  Having driven around one site looking for familiar Yorkshire faces (and been removed by the camp's security patrol) we finally found the right site and the B.P.C. pitched on a dusty corner near the river. None of us were very impressed by either the town or the campsite, but as canoes had been booked for the next day, everyone decided to stay put.

Although Vallon itself was a disappointment, the surrounding countryside and river scenery were not. The guide book describes the Ardeche River as passing through a very diverse landscape of vertical cliff walls, basalt strata, ravines and spectacular gorges.  It is one of the few rivers in the region which has not been harnessed by man and, as such, its flow varies greatly depending upon the season. At the time of our stay, mid-August, it was obviously at its lowest, but all along its course we were to see flood debris some 100 metres or more away from the river's edge.  The spring flood, caused by melting snows, must be spectacular to see as it is said to advance as a wall of water travelling at between 10 and 15 miles per hour.

The main Ardeche Gorge begins south of Vallan where the river divides a large limestone plateau into two extensive plateaux, the Gras to the north and the Orgnac to the south, both of which have may caves.  It is because of the superb gorge scenery that there are so many boat hire companies at Vallone.

There is no problem in hiring some kind of craft to get you down the gorge (and no-one asks to see your Junior school swimming certificates!).  There is the choice of being ferried down in an inflatable raft or in an ‘unsinkable’ punt or you can paddle your own canoe, with or without an escort.  The unescorted double canoes sounded much more entertaining.  Everything you need for the trip (bar plonk and food) is provided by the hire company - canoe, paddles, life-jackets and water tight barrels for keeping gear dry when/if you capsized (provided that you remembered to screw the lid on.)  We had also been given a profile of the river showing the general features such as cliffs, footpaths, fresh-water sources, caves, beaches, camps de naturistes, and rapids, each of which was graded on a three star system – 1* being easy and 3* being more difficult.

Having been shown by a very patient Frenchman which was the front of our canoe, Graham and I set off in lazy pursuit of the Bradford P.C. flotilla, who were some two hours ahead of us. (Oh, what it is to be organized!). After drifting under the huge natural arch from which Vallon Pont d'Arc takes its name, we soon left the crowds of holidaymakers behind.  The only sounds were the splash of paddles and the plop of fish jumping.  It soon became obvious that nudism was an acceptable part of the scenery so it did not take long for us to become 'naturistes' so. For most of the way the current was slow enough for us to just slide out of the Canoe and have a swim to cool off. Getting back in proved to be a little more difficult, particularly if someone decided he needed paddling practice just as you reached the side of the canoe (no names mentioned).

Despite the tranquillity, in the backs of our minds was the thought of the rapids yet to come. Gliding unsuspectingly around one of the river's many gentle bends we could see ahead a crowd of people perched on some rocks in the river.  A little closer and we could hear their cheers (and also see an ominous looking first-aid box).

Sacre Bleu!  It was the first 3* rapid!  There was no time to paddle or screech instructions at each other. Without really knowing what happened we popped through he rapid unscathed and dry, the water having decided our course for us.  Feeling very brave and intrepid we paddled on to find the B.P.C.

Having caught them up, the rest of the afternoon slipped by as we drifted, paddled and swam, and looked at the beautiful scenery.  It was rather like being in extremely warm river cave with no roof.  The sides of the gorge are canyon-like cliffs, many of which have been given names after their shape such as the Cathedral Rock and Madeleine Ramparts.  That evening we bivouacked on a wide, sandy beach near the river.  Behind us, in the trees, there was more than enough wood to build a lovely fire.  The distance of this wood from the river, debris from the spring floods, showed how much water must flow through the gorge in the spring thaw.

Someone had very thoughtfully brought along enough fresh melon and wine to supply us for the whole trip. So passed a very relaxing evening listening to cicadas (tree crickets) eating melon, drinking wine and yelling drunken oaths at a group of cavers who appeared from one of the many caves in the river cliffs on the opposite bank.  Not a carbide flame flickered as a heathen French accent (with a touch of Aylesbury) yelled, “Je suis le spectre de Marcel Loubens.”  We watched them as they made their way up the steep, winding footpath to the road above.

One of the nicer things about laziness and idleness is that they easily become habits.  After the first day's tranquil drift down the river the second day began with a very uncharacteristically energetic competition: B.P.C. v Ardeche river.  The 'team' began, by filling a two man canoe with five - enough to give Plimsoll heart failure.  Chanting unintelligibly and looking like something from an animated version of Hiawatha they tried to paddle back up one of nearby rapids.  After many attempts they eventually won.  Not to be outdone, Graham, Geoff Crossley and I also had a few goes but, being a rather scrawny threesome by comparison, was defeated. With gear packed and watertight barrels stowed, the flotilla set off, drifting lazily along the canal like straits and paddling furiously through the rapids. We stopped for lunch on a pebbly bank which lay below the ruins of the Templars Leper Hospital.  Finally the smell of rotting flesh fish sent us further downstream to a more pleasant eating place.  After lunch we stuffed our melon skins and empty Camembert boxes into rubbish sacks which were lying on the beach.  Although you are requested to bring your rubbish out of the gorge with you, we saw quite a few of these sacks lying in obvious places.  A day later we saw the gorge Rubbish Collection Service - a large punt piled high with rubbish bags.  It seemed to be a realistic way of keeping the water's edge clean.

We soon discovered that the grade given to each rapid bore no resemblance to what it was actually like.  Apart from running aground, colliding with boulders, sinking the canoes and actually capsizing, the only real casualty was Liz and Brian Sellars' water-tight barrel. Each one thought the other had put the lid on after lunch, until they next capsized.  Hmmm.  Before long the final rapid came into view at the end of a long section of canal.  From the crowd gathered along its edge and the frequent cheers it seemed that Rapide de la Caville justified more that its 1*, rating.  Up to this point the B.E.C. canoe was the only one not to have sunk or capsized, more through good luck than anything else.  Determined to keep our record we lined up our canoe to try to avoid a large boulder which was causing most of the problems.  We ran into the side of it and began to tip, but before the Bradford could let out a cheer the canoe gave a little wiggle and slid through the small gap into the faster water; leaving our record intact.

Rounding the last bend the cliffs melt away and the valley widens out.  The final paddle along the Canal de Situze was not particularly pleasant, being like a glorified swimming pool for the crowds along the bank. After handing over our cane in Sauze, from where they are transported by road back up the gorge, we said good-bye to Sheryl and Jim, Abbott and Brian and Liz Sellars, who were returning to Vallon by bus, provided by the canoe hire firm.  The eight of us that were left, Gep John Green, Claire and Mark Ferry, June and Brian Smith, Graham and I, went off in search of a restaurant. Some hours later we were asleep by the river's edge.

Although it is possible to canoe down the river and walk back up the gorge in two days we were not going to rush things.  The canoeing and return walk, were to take us four days.  Unbeknown to us at the time, Buckett, whom we were supposed to meet in Vallon, canoed down in one day and took the bus back up to the town, and somewhere along the route we must have passed each other.

The gorge footpath follows the river's course to within a few kilometres of Vallon.  Occasionally, where the cliffs came right down to the water's edge, we had to paddle, or wade across to the opposite bank.  In a few places ‘via ferrata’ helped with the steeper sections.  Being so hot it was a great relief to wear only a pack and a pair of training shoes and to be able to jump into the water to cool ¬off, which we did frequently. Unfortunately Graham must have plunged in with his mouth open as later that evening he refused supper and was violently ill.  Away from the water's edge the gorge was absolutely filthy and in some places stank. No doubt, the whole place is scoured clean by the floods each year.  On reflection the best plan is to canoe down and catch the bus back.

Once back in Vallon a shower, clean clothes and a super 'French meal' restored everyone's good humour.



Late News

Underwater Naval Manoeuvres on Mendip

An item of stop press has just arrived at the editorial offices of the BB and would appear to be of interest to some of you.  The Navy, it seems are to indulge in a variety of underwater exercises in the near future on Mendip and have requested that all ¬members of the Bristol Exploration Club pay particular attention.  The operation will involve individual submersible craft and should have commenced on January 1st.  When questioned about the late beginnings of the manoeuvres the Secretary for the Member Ships involved is reputed to have said, "Its always the same with anything to do with the BEC, nobody seems to care that our underwater craft have not arrived."   I think it is probably easier to sum it up in one short phrase….


Mendip Rumour

There have been persistent rumours recently on the Mendip Grapevine; of vast, new cave systems. The BB can now give you the full story, the hole story and nothing but a story.  It would appear that the as yet unnamed cave shows signs of 'T'old Man' having worked it in the not too distant past as a goldmine.  Whether or not it can still be worked for the good of the club remains to be seen.  It seems that some quite minimal investment is required, a figure in the order of £10 per head has been quoted by some learned gentleman and his financial sub-managers.  Perhaps I can add my plea to theirs and urge you all, if by some inexcusable error you have not yet invested, to pay up now and help keep the goldmine going as a viable concern.

Army Cave Rescue

A party of junior officers of the Army was reported as being somewhat late back from a caving trip recently. What makes it all the more serious is that when one considers the amount of time involved… almost three full months. It is virtually unbelievable that anyone could survive that length of time without the required sustenance, but such is the endurance of Army Subalterns.  In fact no one seems at all concerned and I think it will probably happen again and again.  Perhaps we should consider another approach - that of the re-education of people, to show more interest in the future whenever junior Army Officers are overdue….that is to say when the Subs are late.


I make no apologies for the above. It is contrived, yes I know that, but consider for a moment the reasons behind the necessity to write it….and I don't care if I repeat myself……If you have not yet paid, then do so, your subs are so overdue by now, I wouldn't be surprised if you were still using pre-decimal money.



Monthly Notes continued.

THREE COUNTIES SYSTEM: In Gavel there are now two sites off Glasfurd's Chamber.  One is a sump while the other is some kind of choke.  The sump needs bang.  The choked passage could head towards Notts.  In Pippikin the end of Gour Hall has been extended and digging there continues.  Lost Pot was the scene of a rescue recently, only a day after it was connected through to Lost Pot Inlet in Lost Johns.  The boulders of one pitch fell in seriously injuring one caver and trapping three others.

DIDO'S RESCUE: Dido's, in Derbyshire, is 30 yards of dry passage leading to a sump pool in a pit. Some scouts went in and one, without a light, fell into the pool and disappeared. Some time later this lucky lad was discovered, severely suffering in the foul air of a small air bell some sixteen feet into the sump, on a mud-bank.  The divers first tried to empty good air into the bell, and then tried to persuade the scout to dive out.  This failed so, with their own air becoming desperately short, they jumped the lad, tied a rope on him, and dragged him through the sump.

Correspondent - Geoff Crossley, who was very much involved.

Birks Fell Cave: A trip has been booked into this cave for Saturday 26th.  Those interested should contact Martin Grass.


            Dan yr Ogof and Tunnel Cave

                        Martin Grass.                tel. Luton 35145

                        Graham Wilton-Jones     tel. Aylesbury 28270

            O.F.D. 1

                        as above  + Mike Palmer           tel. Wells 74693

            Dave Irwin          tel. Priddy 369

            Reservoir Hole (winter months only or mid-week evenings)

                        Martin Grass, Graham Wilton-Jones, Dave Irwin, Stu Lindsey. Tel. Keynsham 68088.

Members requiring trips into these caves should contact the leaders direct, giving as much notice as possible.  Electric lighting is essential in all the caves.  Trips for members can be arranged into certain other restricted access caves, including Peak/Speedwell Cavern, White Scar Cave, Wookey Hole (dry series), Gough’s Cave and Ogof Craig ar Ffynnon.  Anyone interested in a trip should see me or telephone me on Luton (        ) 35145.     Martin Grass

Swildons.  The Moodys are at it again.  This time it is Pete's turn.  He has found about 400 feet of passage in Swildons 9, heading due east, into the unknown.

B.B. membership: It has come to my ears that certain people who feel that they cannot afford membership of the club, or use no other of the club's facilities, would still like to keep in touch by making a subscription to the B.B. only.  Although this is probably a matter for the A.G.M. to decide, your views would be welcome.

Batmanhole.  In the Tennengebirge of Austria, S.C. Marseille have explored Batmanhole to a depth of 1150 m, according to a report by Ian Thrussel in Caves and Caving No. 15 (p.30).  This makes it the eighth deepest system in the world, and the 15th system over 1000 m deep.     Bassett.


Dates For Your, Diary

Fri. 9th. Apr. -Mon. 12th. Apr.

South Wales. Camping near Crickhowell.  Caving, walking, diving, drinking, hunting (blind white fish!) Agen Allwead, Rock & Fountain, Pant Mawr, Llanelly Quarry Pot Dan yr Ogof (banging and digging), O.F.D. (perhaps), Porth yr Ogof (annual bathing trip), etc., etc.  (see M.G. or G.W.-J).

Thurs. 1st; Apr.

Wig baiting day.  Send Wig a (dirty) postcard.

Fri. 2nd. Apr.

G.B. (Friday Niters)        (7.30 at the cave entrance)

Fri. 16th. Apr.

St. Cuthbert’s (Friday Niters)

Fri. 30th. Apr.

Manor Farm (Friday Niters)

Sat. 1st. May -Mon. 3rd. May

DevonDevon Great Consols Mine.  Diving.  Climbing. (see G.W.-J. or Quackers)

Fri. 30th. Apr. -Sat. 8th. May.

Speleo Nederland in Yorkshire.  See page 2.

Sun. 9th. May.

O.F.D. (Smiths Armoury, in via Top Entrance and out via O.F.D. 1) (see G.W.-J.)

Fri. 14th. May.

Stone Mines (contact B.E. Prewer, Wells 73757 ) or G. Villis, W.S.M.27641 - work)

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset .Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

I offer no apologies for the late issue of this B.B.  I have only just (14.1.82) received a new screen for the Gestetner, go don't complain to me!

It may be a little late now, but may I take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy new year, even if I've already seen you and done it before.  If you want to make it a happy new year for me, why not write an article, or a paragraph, or a line, or anything.  Your new year's resolution must be to write for the B.B.

Next month’s B.B. should contain an article on Wareham's Cave + survey; a resume of thirty years of the M.R.O. up to Jan. 1981 + incidents for the year up to Jan. 1981; the final chapter from Karen on her trip to the States with Gary; maybe a tome from Wig (which I've had for a year now) on Early Cave photographers and their Work; a review of Jim Eyre’s delightful book "The Cave Explorers" + an up to the minute report on the state match between Eyre & Kelly; plus all the latest news we can gather on the Mendip grapevine.


QUOTE OF THE MONTH: Have you read the latest Wessex B.B.  Glenys Grass.


Subscriptions are due (and have been for some time).

They are:                        Ordinary Membership £10.00

                                    Joint Membership           £15.00

Please send yours to:    Fiona Lewis, 53, Partway, Wells, Somerset.


The Alderley Edge Copper Mines

by Nigel Dibben

The Derbyshire Caving Club has, for some twelve years, been involved in re-opening and exploring some of the Alderley Edge mines.  Locally the mines are very well known (or rather, notorious) but nationally they are much less known.  This is partly because mines in Cheshire are usually expected to be salt mines, although Cheshire includes seven copper mining localities, together with coal mines on its eastern borders.


Alderley Edge lies about twenty miles south of Manchester and is a dormitory town of about 5000 inhabitants (mostly quite well off), and is surrounded by level farmland except on the south-east side.  Here there is a raised block of land, the Edge itself, formed by faulting and uplifting giving a scarp of sandstone on the north-east side.  The rock strata dip down to the south-west at about 100 and consist of Keuper and Bunter Triassic sandstones interleaved with marl beds and split by several faults.


There are many small and large faults criss-crossing the edge and most ore is associated with faulting. The principal ore is Malachite (hydrous copper carbonate) with which Azurite is often found.  Galena is frequently found in the faults and was mined from time to time, as was "wad", a general term for manganese compounds, here including manganese/cobalt/arsenic/nickel mixtures.  The minerals are generally found to extend down dip from the faulting. The source of the minerals is a matter of debate, with one party claiming that the mineralisation arose from hot solutions percolating up the faults while the other party argues that the mineral was formed elsewhere and was laid down with the sand.  A third case is now proposed which combines both arguments!


In the course of our research more than eighty sites have been recorded but this is far greater than the number of truly interesting mines. The mines can be grouped by locality (approximately from north to south) as follows:

SADDLEBOLE: There is one very small mine and few 2 - 3 metre long trials on an outlying hill called Saddlebole.  The area is of interest only because it is likely to be a very early mining site and smelting place - hence the name.

STORMY POINT: There are three mines of a reasonable size (Pillar Mine - 75m, Doc Mine - 270m, 'Abbadine' s Level' - 125m) but none take more than a matter of minutes to explore.  Doc Mine is currently, blocked about 100m in.  All the mines are located on a mineralised fault running NW/SE and heading at about 600.  The Hough Level (see below) emerges at the Edgeon the line of this fault although the end is blocked and has disappeared completely.

ENGINE VEIN: Further south the Engine Vein is a large gash in the sandstone, reminiscent of some Derbyshire open cuts.  It is well known by visitors and geologists as it contains a wealth of minerals and is the only mine that is almost entirely developed along one fault.  It contains about 500m of passage including three large chambers and a sloping shaft, encrusted with copper mineralisation, that leads down to the Hough Level.  In 1980 the National Trust and Cheshire County Council managed to get enough money together to put a concrete lid on the vein.  This was superbly designed so that the mine is totally enclosed without any loss of outward appearance, the first case I know of truly sympathetic closing of a mine site.  The D.C.C. have obtained an access agreement and hold the keys to the entrance.

BRYNLOW: Brynlow Dell is a wooded valley in which there are two open mines (63m, 130m) two blocked levels and a blocked shaft.  The open mines are both short and uninteresting, though we believe that one may connect with some old, uncharted workings.  The blocked levels and the shaft connect to the Hough Level.

HOUGH LEVEL: (Pronounced "Huff").  Underlying most of the mines named above is a single tunnel about 2m high and a mile long, running from the surface near West Mine to the Edge.  In 1980 access was obtained to one section of this and shortly afterwards extended past a run-in shaft as far as Engine Vein.  Recent exploration has established two periods of mining and dates of 1764 and 1866 were found in a fine section of coffin levels, about 1.3m high by 40m wide, under Brynlow.  Most of our work is concentrated on this passage at present.

WOOD MINE: Wood mine contains about 1½ miles of passage on several levels.  There are numerous loops and interconnecting passages and it is easy to arrange a long, round trip in the mine.  Since the mine is relatively dry, clean and safe, the D.C.C. have, for the last ten years, taken parties of non-cavers ranging in age from four years to 75 years old around the mine!

WEST MINE: This is the most extensive mine, with more than six miles of passage and chambers 10 - 15m high.  West Mine is not connected to any other mines although there is a legend that one passage extends as far as the cellar of a local pub!


Almost all surface remains have been wiped away since the last war, that including a 30m high conical sand heap.  Nevertheless, it is possible that some careful excavation would reveal interesting features.  There is no proposal for such at the present time.


The mines are thought to have been worked since Bronze Age times and Boyd Dawkins, amongst others, found some stone hammer heads whilst the mines were working.  The documented history starts in 1697 when a dozen men were bound over to keep the peace after a disturbance at the mines (does anything ever change?) and the history since then is known a little better, albeit sketchily.  There was no equivalent to the Derbyshire Barmaster and many records were lost in a fire at the landowner's house in the last century.  Furthermore, the work itself was intermittent and lessees rarely held the mines for more than a few years at a time.

The most extensive period of working was between 1857 and 1877 and this is the only period when output figures were recorded: the mines produced 186,000 tons of ore and about 3,500 tons of copper in the twenty years.  The last recorded working was in the period 1914 - 1919 and none has been carried out since.  Environmental considerations would prohibit any renewal of mining these days.

Visitors started to come to the mines in the 1860's (if not earlier) when the Earl and local and all his family, ladies included, entertained a party of Japanese visitors in the West Mine.  There has hardly been a break in interest since, until after the peak in the 1950's, when the mines were almost all capped and lost.  Since then the D.C.C. has gradually reopened the mines under strict access control for non-cavers.


West Mine is on the land of Mr P.V.R. Sorensen of White Barn Farm, White Barn, Alderley Edge, and access to the mine can only be granted by him.  The other mines are on National Trust property and the Derbyshire Caving Club can either give access (Wood Mine, Engine Vein and Hough Level) or advise visitors with respect to the remainder.  There is usually little interest from bona fide caver's but we generally allow them free access to the mines if they wish.


There is a number of published articles about the mines but the best and most recent summary is in a book:

The Alderley Edge Mines  written by Dr. Chris Carlon.

A copy of this has been placed in the B.E.C. library.


Bel Espoir - Diau Traverse

by Bassett

Reseau Bel Espoir - Diau, Plateau du Parmelan, Haute Savoie

Location: This complete hydro-geological traverse is found in the spectacular lapiaz of the plateau of Parmelan.  The upper entrance is the Tanne du Bel Espoir (pothole of good hope) and the system comes out at the Grotte de la Diau.

One reaches the Tanne du Bel Espoir, situated in the parish of Dingy-St-Clair, by taking the track that goes from Aviernoz to the Chalet de l'Anglette and then following the path towards the Gouffre des Etoiles Filantes (pothole of shooting stars).  The Tanne opens 100m below this pothole.  1.7km to the north east, in the parish of Thorens Glieres, at the bottom of a cirque, at the foot of the plateau in the continuation of the valley of Perthuis, the Grotte de la Diau begins as a spectacular opening.  One reaches there via la Verrerie and a track on the right hand side of the torrent de la Filliere.

History: The entrance of the Grotte de la Diau has always been known and the beginning of the cave had been explored as early as the last century.  In 1932 de Joly and his team, reached a sump a short distance from the entrance.  At the end of 1938 various expeditions explored the cave afresh.  In 1949 the team of Chevalier and the Clan de la Diau reached a sump at a height of 130m and 2650m from the entrance.

The systematic re-exploration of the cave was not taken up again until 1974 (with S.C. Fontaine la Tronche) and in 1975 (by S.C. C.A.F. de Grenoble).  The Chevalier sump was passed by diving but the climbs in the Gronoblois streamway reached a height of + 338m at the base of the Puits des Echos.  In August 1975 B. Talour (S.C. C.A.F.) discovered the Tanne du Bel Espoir, whose exploration, because of a mistake, did, not begin until July 1976.  The junction with the Diau was made at the Puits des Echos on June 6th, resulting in a vertical range of reached of 613m.

In 1978 a junction was made with the Tanne du Tordu, and the vertical range reached 698 m.

Paul Courbon, Atlas des Grandes Gouffres du Monde, 1979. translated by G. W.-J.

While up at the B.P.C. winch meet this year Jane and I were invited to join some of the Bradford on their caving holiday in France during the summer, and do the traverse of the Bel Espoir - Diau system, up in the mountains above the lakeside resort of Annecy. Neither of us had heard anything about the place, although a little research at home would have revealed info in Courbon's "Grandes Gouffres du Monde" and in Caving International. 2. There is also something about the system in Scialet No 4 (1976) and in Spelunca (1976) but we could not get hold of those in a hurry.  So it was all a bit of an unknown – just 500m in 24 pitches (the longest about 50 m) down from the plateau, and into 2½km of  streamway descending a further 100m to emerge at a big cave in the valley.  A fairly straightforward pull-through trip, reckoned Biffo (the other Biffo, i.e. Brian Smith.)

After our Chamonix jaunt we all met up near the little town of Thorens Glieres ands made camp 'a la ferme' at Nantizel, the only camp-site around, so there were no rendezvous problems at all.  Some people were only just at home, tents erected, when we were attacked by the most vicious thunderstorm imaginable.  We cowered in our tent while Geoff Crossley and his little velvet friend 'Mole' cowered in their tent, only a few feet away among the mole hills. The rains whipped down out a dark sky, lit frequently by jagged, purple streaks and bright orange glares. Gradually the sound of accompanying thunder closed the time gap behind the lightning until suddenly light and sound were instantaneous.  The flashes were almost blinding, even through tent and flysheet, and on one occasion we both smelt burning.  Neither of us was prepared to risk going outside to investigate immediately, but as the storm abated we ventured forth to find that all was well - nobody struck and no-one drowned, and all tents still up.  Only the morning light revealed a charred patch of earth, once a proud, up-standing mole-hill, a few feet from our tents.  The lightning need not come any closer than that!

The morning also revealed mist on the plateaux and the chance of yet more storms.  However, we stuck to our plan of going in search of the Diau.  In fact it was not difficult to find as it is a kind of tourist attraction in its own small way.  We only had a black triangle on a Michelin 1 : 200,000 map, but Biffo had slightly more detailed instructions.  Leaving Thorens Glieres on the eastern road, climbing slowly towards a col, we drove along the valley to la Verrerie and then turned right and onto a track beside the stream.  From Thorens Glieres we had gained very little height when the drivable section of track gave way at a decrepitating wooden bridge.  Parking the cars we headed into the soaking wet undergrowth of the wooded slopes.  The B.P.C. stuck to the main path but we followed a narrow, steep, largely overgrown route, and later asked the way of some French tourists, which was helpful. The slopes became steeper as the path zig-zagged its way upwards, leaving the stream tumbling down its own narrow gully far below and to our right.  Past a little cliff face and along a section of path with a near vertical drop below, the trees suddenly thinned out and we emerged into a boulder strewn amphitheatre. Behind and below us a little stream trickled from beneath massive piles of boulders and ran away down a series of waterfalls. In front of us, and to our right and left, the cliffs rose up, overhanging impressively as the cirque reached up to the level of the plateau. Beyond the falling stream came the sound of cowbells.  Far away, across the other side of the valley, the road could be seen, still climbing towards the col, and entrances gaped in the cliffs above it. More immediate to us though, were the gaping holes in the cliffs that surrounded us.  Fortunately we had our climbing headsets with us and were able to do a little exploring straight away.

There are entrances higher up in the cliffs but the four at the base were the ones which interested us. We headed for the nearest first: a good draught came out from it and a little cloud of mist hung in the entrance. A short walk along the single passage brought us to a pitch which was not easily climbable, but the sound of a large stream was enticing.  The second entrance gave us more to explore, and proved to be quite a complex affair, with steep and slippery climbs, rifts, pools, and several interconnecting passages. Following the draught took us along a widening rift over pools until a particularly long and deep looking one turned us back (we were only in walking gear).  En route out a passage on the left dropped to a chamber where a wide, deep-looking pool prevented us from reaching the daylight on the other side, and the third entrance.  The fourth entrance is the biggest one, tens of metres wide and high.  Approaching it, on the left there are large banks of scree and then sand leading up to a choke with the fragile roof, while the way into the main part of the cave is through the lower, wet section on the right.  We clambered across boulders, trying hard to keep our feet dry, until we reached a black space in which our feeble lights picked out nothing.  We left the cave, being careful not to touch the walls, which had that shaly appearance of 'touch me if you dare'.

The B.P.C. had still not arrived so, after a brief search for the resurgence of the water under the boulders below the entrances and in the deep gully with the waterfalls, we headed away from the cirque.  Instead of taking the path back down we followed an upward trending path.  This continued in the same zig-zag fashion and we had soon climbed up above the cliffs that form the cirque.  We began to head away into a more level area - the base of a wide, heavily wooded valley between two plateaux.  The path continued, obviously little used, although sign-posted at one point as going to Dingy, on the far side of the Parmelan Plateau, which now extended to our right.  A few bits lapiaz peeped through the mouldering leaves, and occasional, shallow shafts broke the monotony of the woods.  When it began to rain we rapidly returned, not even stopping for the wild strawberries.

Two of the Bradford - Biffo and Jim Abbott, I think - had gone into the Diau with their one torch and had done a round trip from one entrance to another, just emerging as their light packed up - a token of things to come!  Apparently all four entrances join up inside at a big chamber, the beginning of our black space.

Next day we set off relatively early to "do" the Diau, exploring upstream as far as the Affluent Grenoblois.  Biffo had a good survey with him, and he had also copied out a description written by someone from Sheffield University who had done the trip before.  It seems that it is a classic French through trip and the complete traverse from Bel Espoir is frequently made.

Once inside the big chamber we had to wade/swim around the edge of a lake.  Jane's light had already packed up at the entrance so it was just as well she likes water.  Her light flicked on and off occasionally, usually being off when it was most needed. From the lake we squeezed up into a high chamber whose name, the Ship's Hull, describes it perfectly.  A 5m climb up an ancient electron ladder and through an amazing tangle ropes, belays, bolts and krabs, led to a similar sized and shaped chamber, again with a lake, surrounded this time by vertical walls.  A little climb up the wall led to a shelf. Traversing around this brought us to another fixed ladder and more passage with lakes and deep, blue pools. Soon we could hear the roar of the stream and we suddenly emerged from one passage to find the route blocked by a wide pothole.  Opposite us the stream appeared from the darkness beyond and, roaring and foaming, dropped into the abyss.

We easily found a passage that avoided the pot and came out where we could access the streamway.  The stream flowed down a beautiful phreatic tube, very reminiscent of the Peak streamway, with several fossil or overflow tubes on one side.  After splashing up the stream for some distance, over superb scallops and beside chert nodules and tubes that looked remarkably like fossil arms and legs, the streamway lowered at the approach to a sump.  Into the overflow passages at the side we climbed up one fixed ladder, then another, and into a narrow rift with a howling gale blowing in our faces. At the end of this we climbed down a series of wooden stemples onto a floor of moonmilk, just like the floor used to be in Salubrious in OFD.  A little way down a slippery slope the chamber widened to drop into a large, circular pool.  We had reached the stream beyond the sump, and were about half an hour into the cave.

We had already made use of some Gournier style traverse wires to get along above the stream if we did not want a wetting, and these traverses now began in earnest.  The stream in places was channelled into a relatively narrow passage, less than 2 m wide, and rushed down several cascades and over deep pools.  Above us, but still not near the high roof, was another set of wires, rusty and fragile, indicating the efforts to which previous explorers had gone in order to remain dry.  For hours we seemed to continue, along traverses, through chest deep pools, up waterfalls, under roofs that were almost beyond the beams of nife cells, but always up the stream.  If we had any route finding problems now, it simply meant we had to take to the water and wade or swim.  Eventually we came upon a rope dangling out of a little rift high up on our left. This led to the Maze and avoided some evil, deep ducks in the main streamway.  In fact the Maze was easily negotiated, not being at all complex as supposed.  We just went against the draught.  The Maze was one of the well decorated parts of the system, and deserves some photography, although it is well into the cave and carrying gear would be a bind.  We soon dropped back down to the streamway, onto a floor of boulders underneath a big aven.  The size of the passage was back to normal - big - and we continued quickly up the Salle de Chaos.  A few of us went on as far as the presumed exit of the Grenoblois inlet and a deep pool. Jim and Buzby went on to the Chevalier sump, passing the Affluent Grenoblois proper on the way. Miraculously Jane's light was made to function again (she says it's a real experience doing 2½km of hard streamway in the dark!) and we sped out, reaching the entrance after 5½ hours.

Our third day of activity was spent in finding the top entrance.  We began by driving out to the little village of Aviernoz, on the opposite side of the Parmelan Plateau from the Diau, and then taking the forest road up towards the top of the plateau.  For the first, low section this is a good, tarmac road, but it soon deteriorated into rough track, surfaced with medium to large limestone lumps, and with numerous potholes, steep drops into the nothingness, and huge logs to be avoided.  As we drove gingerly up in the Marina, breaking the steel in two tyres even so, Biffo roared away in his Sid Perou (Subaru) amidst clouds of dust and flying boulders to do the three mile journey up to the plateau in only half an hour!  At the end of the "made up" track someone has very sensibly built the Chalet de l'Anglette, where we all met up and sipped coffee or beer while we perused a huge survey of the system, courtesy of the chalet proprietor.  We already had some instructions for finding the entrance, and he gave us more, so we were clearly going to have very little difficulty.  H-hmm.

We began our walk by circling the head of a long, narrow, upland meadow, following a path that rose quickly into the woods.  The path is well marked with orange and yellow paint as it also led to other, more well known if less deep, caves, and to the summit of the plateau (if plateaux can have such things).  After about a half an hour the conifers thinned out and the paths divided.  Soon the soil itself thinned out leaving nothing but bare limestone - typical lapiaz - with straggling plants and occasional trees growing from cracks in the rocks.  To the east the plateau dropped down in a series of steps and the vegetation increased again.  Suddenly the ground plunges steeply down through a deep, wide, wooded valley, which drops over the Diau cirqu to the north.  This is where Jane and I had walked on that first, damp day.

There is only one sure way to find the Bel Espoir entrance if you have never visited it before.  From the point at which the path breaks out onto the bare lapiaz a line of widely spaced, unintentionally well camouflaged, small cairns leads out just south of east.  The line is fairly straight, passing from the lapiaz into a region of grassy hummocks and dolines, where the trees become more numerous.  The last cairn is perched on a little hill on the very edge of the plateau, and the opening of the Bel Espoir is some 50 m. below it.

We had been told that the entrance was located beside two dead trees, standing uppright in the shape of a "V".  For three hours we searched, always too far to the north.  It seemed that every dead tree, and there must have been hundreds, had another one beside it and all these pairs of trees could be imagined as forming a "V".  We must have found every other site of spelaeological importance on the plateau, and we certainly inspected every pair of dead trees several times.  On occasions we were all spread out so far apart that no-one knew where anyone else was.  Jane got herself utterly lost and only found herself when she had walked in a complete circle and accidentally stumbled upon the marked path that led back to the Chalet de l'Anglette.  Eventually Jim and Biffo found the cairns (and me) and, following the line of these, we found the entrance.  There is a pair of dead trees, not even remotely resembling a "V" shape. They will probably fall down soon - we were almost in the mood to help them on their way.   It was late afternoon by now and the clouds had threatened once or twice to roll in and conceal all, but we delayed long enough for Frank to change into his gear and descend the first pitch for photographs.  We then dumped all the rope and SRT gear we had carried up, re-traced our steps to the cars, and left the plateau.

In the morning, as early as possible, we set out through the mists for the 'big trip'.  Imagine the amazement of a party of Swiss schoolchildren 'en vacances' when an English car hurtles up the track, is rapidly parked, two people jump out and quickly disappear back along the track, then a second car roars up the track, does a quick turn around the first, and also disappears the way it came.  Actually we were dumping my car below the Diau ready for our emergence.  Not much later we had driven up through the dripping pines to the Chalet de l'Anglette once more.  Some of the group were very kindly, if unwillingly, going to return the vehicles to the bottom.  Some had taken much cajoling the day before, and so all shall remain nameless! Nevertheless, many thanks to them. The rest of us - Jim Abbott, Frank Croll, Geoff Crossley, John Green, Raymond "Snake" Lee, Mark Perry, Brian Sellars, Brian "Biffo" Smith and your very own B.E.C. reps speedily crossed the plateau and kitted up at the Bel Espoir entrance.  Some of us had opted for wetsuits while others intended to do the trip in dry gear. Neither proved ideal, although water conditions were now quite low and the 'dry 'people were much warmer during the overlong lays in the vertical section of the cave.  We 'wet' people were at least able to enjoy ourselves much more in the river passage, swimming, wading or even running downstream at times.

We also had differing ideas about lighting - some used mega-carbides, one or two were on stinkies and some used electrics.  Two people even had back up lights (some new fangled device in case your main light failed). The B.E.C. duo each had an ultra reliable nife cell, with super bulb, pilot bulb plus spares, guaranteed eighteen hours brilliant lighting, freshly top-up charged on the Bassett-mobile charging unit.  The first failed on the first pitch, the second failed on the second pitch.  Not to be outdone, the B.P.C. decided to have a little light-pox, but even by the end of the trip they had been unable to match our magnificent 100% failure, only managing a miserable 62½%.

The first, second and fourth pitches are each pendulums.  Belaying to the obvious, rotten tree at the entrance, part-way down the pitch it is necessary to swing or traverse around the wall to reach a little alcove and the narrow drop into the next shaft.  Part way down the second pitch was a much longer swing, in space, to reach a rift in the far wall - quite how Jim and Geoff achieved this initially we are not certain, but everyone else was pulled across by those already there.  By now the entrance pitch rope had been pulled down behind us and our only way on was downwards - no going back!  We began to gather at the base of the short, third shaft, waiting for the rope from above in order to rig the next pitch.  Now our next little difficulty occurred.  The second rope pulled through the belay, as it should, until the end reached the hanger, where it stuck, fast.  Even when all of us hung on the other end of it and jumped up and down it remained stuck.  At least it gave us faith in the strength of both Marlow rope and the Frog belays, however awful the latter may appear to be (see next page for diagram).  The belays are designed for pull through trips and are basically a bar set across a piece of "U" channel alloy. Unfortunately, if, our theory is correct, the space behind the bar is only just sufficient for the rope, and B.P.C. ropes have very stiff marker sleeves on their ends.  The rope ends simply would not bend around the gaps available.  Fortunately we had a knife - what would the B.P.C. do without the B.E.C.? - and were able to cut off the bottom part of the rope.  We then cut off every identification sleeve from the other ropes.  True, we could have managed by removing only one marker sleeve from each rope but we were not taking any chances.  Now we each had to remember the length of the piece of that we each carried.  Needless to say, memories are short and tackle bags were soon mixed up, resulting in several interesting pseudo-mathematical discussions to determine which bag held which rope, but we managed.


frog pull-through hanger plate

After the fourth shaft and an enormous pendulum across a wide void the passage deteriorated into a series of very muddy descents for a while, with a good draught showing that this was, indeed, the way.

Suddenly the route opened out once more and the walls became clean of the sticky clay.  A beautiful shaft hung clear of the wall and dropped into a large, boulder floored chamber, the Salle des Rhomboedres.  Some of us saw only vague shadows and inky blackness, had to be led across the chamber among some rather precarious boulders. Water was available here, dripping heavily down a corner of the wall above another precarious pile of boulders. The opportunity was taken to re-water carbides, although we found that water was plentiful from now on.  We also had a bite to eat while waiting here.

In the Salle des Rhomboedres the cold draught was briefly lost as it circulated around the chamber, but was soon found once more as we traversed steeply down a narrow rift that began between the boulders and one wall.  The rift became steeper and narrower until it went vertical.  Ahead we could hear Jim and Geoff's shouts echoing tremendously.  We had reached the top of the Puits des Echos, where echoes reverberate for several tens of seconds.  The pitch is split into three sections.  Once out onto the second part it is clear that the shaft rises an unbelievable distance above. The landing is on a ledge part way down a wide, beautifully fluted shaft, and the final section of 50m is the longest drop of the system.  At the base of the Puits des Echos writing on the wall records the link up of surveying/exploration parties, and indicates the way on down towards, the Diau.  This point marks a change in the character of the cave.  The route soon develops into a well decorated bedding cave whose mud-slope floors drop into a narrow, vadose trench.  The trench deepens and eventually it is possible to drop down, by rope to its floor and the streamway itself.  The bolt and hanger at this point were among the most lethal in the cave.  We had no spanner (a box spanner is necessary) and several of us decided not to risk the hanger.  We sacrificed some more rope in order to create a belay around a large boulder embedded in the mud slope.

In the refreshing streamway we spread out more - even without lights the B.E.C. managed to move a surprising distance downstream, arguably a dangerous practice but neither of us fell down any of the shafts.  The next shafts had single ropes rigged on them, and these were of Marlow S.R.T. rope, cut to length.  At first, those of us towards the back of the party, i.e. the de-rigging group, wondered why B.P.C. rope was being squandered in this way.  However it turned out that a British group had been through the system only a fortnight previously and it was they who had left ropes in place, for speed.

We all met up again at the 30m shafts.  The first is wet, but part way down it is possible to traverse across to a ledge and drop the second shaft, which is dry.  It was fortunate that the others had waited for us. The rope down the first section of the wet pitch was just long enough and the end was simply a frayed tassel.

It was necessary to abseil down this, lock off, lean out and up, clip into a tyrolean, unlock and abseil off the rope end, and traverse to the ledge.  Actually it was a very easy process, with lots of lights and helpful advice, but in the dark that 4m rope over a 30m drop would have been deadly. If this process was worrying then the next pitch, the dry 30m was mind destroying.  The hanger plate loosely clung to fractured lumps of limestone in a shattered wall, with no possibility of a back up belay.  A steeply sloping ledge stopped short of this almost fictitious belay and we had to lean out to the rope.  Once on the rope the swing out was enough strain to bring down bolt, hanger, wall and all so we did this bit very gingerly and then zipped down the rope almost in free-fall mode to avoid excessive jerking.  With burnt out neurons we all made the bottom otherwise unscathed.  We have all since become somewhat blasé about the solidity of belays.

The final pitch of this Affluent Grenoblois is simply a steep slope, notable mainly for its excess of bits of decaying rope.  We had now reached a more or less level area of muddy climbs and pools, very sumpy looking. The lively little stream had disappeared.  Wading through one pool we suddenly came into larger passage, and we took some moments to recognise it as the Diau, where some of us had been only two days before. From here we were home and, though not dry, we had fewer problems with water than before, for stream levels had reduced considerably.  One group raced off out, finally making exit only one light.  We were more sedate, even though we had two working lights. Nevertheless we made steady progress out.  We thought we were lost near the Diau entrance series - one of the lakes in which we had swum before had now dried up completely.

We had entered the Bel Espoir around midday and we emerged to starlight at the large Diau entrance and amphitheatre about fifteen hours later.  Mark had not come onto the plateau with us the day before, but he had not been lazy.  He had visited the Diau had deposited a bottle of beer among the rocks on the entrance chamber floor.  We now drank our fill and toasted our success.  The cave still tried to beat us, to have the last word.  As we sat supping ale a rock plummeted off the roof, only just missing Jane.  But we had won.

Just give us a light or two, a few metres of rope and a bottle of beer.  We can do anything!


I have a survey and location maps.  If I can get photocopies of them for nix, I'll put them in the next B.B. They may be of interest.


Agen Allwedd

The access regulations have now gone back to the old system, of booking a key and sending a deposit, although clubs who can justify that they are working in the cave, or who visit the cave regularly, can apply for an annual permit and key.  Issue of this will be decided at the Management Committee annual meeting (held every October).  Those requiring to book should write to:

The Honorary Permit Secretary
Alun S. Nutt,
12, The Crescent, Cwmbran,
NP 44 7 JG

Buckets And Pails In The Ardeche

by Buckett Tilbury

While looking at the cold rain through the window I decided that a few lines about caving in the hot sun of the South of France might not come amiss.  (Actually I've been pestering him to write something for the B.B. for over a year now - Bassett.)

This year (depends on when you receive your B.B.) 1981, Ann, Tina, Tina's friend Kirsty and I went to the Ardeche Valley where we supposed to meet Graham, Jane and the Bradford.  We failed to meet up and so proceeded to have a tourist holiday soaking up the sun, visiting show caves and attending to all the local wines.  While doing all this we kept noticing holes in cliffs and people with caving gear coming and going.  This all got too much for me so off we went in search of information.

We found the information at an exhibition of spelaeology in a cave at the head of the gorge.  This was very interesting in its own right but much more information could have been obtained if we had been able to speak good French.  The girl in charge was a caver and, although her English was as limited as our French, she suggested we attempt cave just across the river and 20km long.  She also gave us a description of how to find the entrance, already printed along with information on other sites, on a piece of paper under the heading of 'Sites Naturels Remarquables'.

The next afternoon saw the four of us strolling along the river bank looking for the cave entrance. Well - the others were strolling, I was staggering along with two shopping bags of clothes and gear, shopping bags being the only method we had to carry things.  After half a mile I thought we must be somewhere near the cave and suggested that we look for the entrance.  It was then pointed out that as there was a nice beach here I could go and look while Ann and the girls sunbathed and had a swim in the river - it was rather hot.

I located the entrance after some scrambling in the bushes by doing the obvious thing and following the path!

I dragged the others off the beach and we decided to change in the entrance.  At this point I discovered that I had brought down from the car two left boots.  This did not lead itself to the leader being able to lead as with these boots on I would just go round in a left hand circle.  Back to the car to change the boot.  Half a mile each way in the hot sun.  My resolve was beginning to crack.

When I returned the others were changed so I quickly got ready and we were off to tackle 20km of large, dry, French cave - or so I thought.  As we started down into the large entrance passage, Ann did remark that one caving helmet and one carbide lamp with a spare change of carbide and three small hand torches was not much with which to tackle such a cave.

The passage was approximately 10 - 15m wide and 3m high with a flow of cold air coming out.  We followed the passage, descending slowly over the boulder floor for some distance until Tina, who was in front, reported that there was a large pool of water with a small stream running in from the other side.  The pool was surrounded by thick mud.  We traversed in the mud round the pool and gained the gravel stream bed.  We pressed on for a few metres but were brought to an abrupt halt, as we rounded a bend, a large pool of water and a lowering of the roof to water level.  The passage leading this was still large but with mud banks on either side of the stream bed.  A quick look around confirmed that we had reached a sump.  Tina enquired if she could hold my helmet while I performed a Casteret style feat in the sump!

Feeling a little disappointed we turned and started out.  It was then that Ann observed that we had lost the cold draught, so we had probably missed a passage on the way in.  Sure enough, as we investigated the walls on the way out, a passage opening appeared, about 1m high and 3m wide, with the cold draught.

We progressed up this passage, over boulders, until a section of stal, which we had to creep through, to a chamber where we could stand up again.  On the 10ft side was a large stal boss which appeared to block the way on here.  On the right corner a rift passage left the chamber so we followed this.  The rift was about 1m wide and 15 high with solid floor and walls.  As we followed the rift passage it was suddenly bisected by a much larger rift which left us looking down a 10 - 15 m. pitch with the far wall 5m away.  The pitch looked climbable but, without any ropes, we decided discretion the better part of valour and we made our way back to the chamber with the stal.

While we were admiring the stal I went and -had a closer look at the stal boss and found a hole at the side with a howling gale coming through - the way on.  Off we went again, this time in a rounded passage, 2 to 3m across with a packed mud floor.  We made good progress along this passage and were really getting into our stride when a pool appeared across the passage.  It stretched away into the distance and round a bend in the passage. After much discussion the girls decided that, as they were wearing their going out Jeans, they would not cross the water.  We made our way out and back to the river, were we played 'set the water on fire' with the carbide.

The cave we had tried to tackle is called the Event de Foussoubie.


Monthly Notes

ST. CUTHBERT’S SWALLET: Maypole Alpha (one of the avens above Upper Traverse Chamber) and Hanging Chamber were both revisited after an absence of several years, early in December.  From the base of Maypole Pitch John Dukes, encouraged though hardly assisted by Bassett and Jane, managed to reach high underneath the overhang to Hanging Chamber. Using a tape prusik knot 'a la Bassett' on the old wire for safety, John got in a runner some way up but jacked out on the minute, muddy, sloping, unstable ledges that he had mistaken for holds. Rob Harper completed the climb with some daring, totally unprotected moves, and now a ladder has been hung down the top section of the climb.  They gained further height but the way on appears to be across the Maypole rift, and the passage will require much thought and cunning to reach.

In Maypole Alpha Martin Grass, Tim and Duckett teamed up.  Tim put in a few runners and then Duckett pushed on over the Hairy bit and through a squeeze to find visual connection with Hanging Chamber and about 100 feet of passage with good stal decorations.  There are no ways on from here.

HAYDON DROVE SWALLET: Drew, Quiet John and Alan Thomas have been busy here and they have broken into passage which doubles the length to about 70 feet.

DAN YR OGOF: In the summer of 1980 some of us closely scrutinised the end of Tubeways, beyond Dali' s Delight - here is the obvious place to search for a dry route to the Mazeways complex and the elusive D.Y.O. 4 towards Sink y Geidd.  From one side of the final aven every feasible route was pushed to its extremity, and no obvious digging sites were apparent.  There was no significant draught at the time.  We were informed that the other side of the aven had been looked at.

On a recent visit to Dali's the draught was considerable.  We shall be giving this area further attention soon, probably using smoke to follow the draught.

THE RUMOUR: What rumour?

FONTAINE DE VAUCLUSE: With the F.F.S. financing the supply of bottles of helium mixture, Jochen Hassenmayer has dived the Vaucluse to a depth of 145m.  He was able to see on downwards for a further 30m.

WEST KINGSDALE RESCUE: During a weekend in which the worst flooding in living memory hit parts of the Dales, two parties went .into the West Kingsdale system.  One party three people became trapped on ledges above the rapidly rising main streamway. Members of C.R.O. managed to get near enough to them to throw a line, and it was then a case of jumping into the torrent and hoping.  Soon after their rescue the master cave must have sumped in several places.

Meanwhile the other party had entered Simpson's and had reached the bottom only to find a lake where there should have been a sloping pile of boulders at the base of Swinsto Great Aven.  The flood pulse had already arrived from Swinsto, and the party only just made it back up the Great Aven to safety before the flood pulse came through Simpsons.

C.R.O. callout was at 8 p.m. but at that time Valley Entrance was acting as a resurgence. Entry to Simpson's was equally out of the question.  By 5 a.m. there was less water, so one party entered Simpsons, but the Duck below Storm Pot was sumped.  The other party entered a very aqueous Valley Entrance.  In Roof Tunnel foam was thee feet up the wall at Window Aven and a raging river hurtled into the Downstream Sump, only two feet below the lip of the (normally) 17 foot pitch.  A traverse line was rigged along the ledges of the master cave and eventually the rescuers were able reach the base of Great Aven.  Above the noise of water their shouts were not heard and they saw no sign of the trapped party.  They made their way out, and then went up to Simspon's, as the C.R.O. divers were in the Valley Entrance team.  With mini-bottles, the Duck in Simpson's was passed and lined for free-diving, whereupon the rest the team came through.  The trapped party were found and were brought out via the rigged traverse in the master cave and thence Valley Entrance.

BURNING CHAMPERS ON THE BELFRY STOVE: Any of the less regular visitors to the Belfry recently may have been surprised by the vast stacks of Babycham crates everywhere - something wrong with Butcombe these days? they might well have asked. Actually Showerings wanted this festering pile of woodwork cleared from their site, so Jeremy Heney had it delivered, in four lorry loads, to the Belfry.

A substantial number were used to create an enormous blaze in the depression on Bonfire night – no one dared to try any fire-walking through the immense heat - and an effigy of O.C.L. was burnt after Bob & Dany tunnelled their way into the very centre of the heap to put their Boy Scout knowledge to good use and set it alight. Many thanks to Jeremy, especially from well-toasted Belfry regulars.

LIBRARY: If you have any suggestions of books or other publications the B.E.C. ought to buy for the Club Library, please make these to the librarians, J-Rat and Batswine, at the Belfry.  Furthermore, donations of literature are always welcome, even if we have little room for it at present.

BELFRY: Electricity - The last winter's quarterly bill was around £400.  Would members please try to minimise our electricity bills by turning out unnecessary lights, by not making extravagant use of hot water supplies (showers, wall heater, hot tap in women's room) and by ensuring that electricity supplies are switched off at the mains if you are the last person to leave after a weekend.

Guests - under normal circumstances, non-members are not allowed to stay at the Belfry unless a member, who will be responsible for them, is also present.

Mid-week usage - members are asked to supply their own fuel for the stove if they wish to use it mid-week. Burning lots of fuel to heat the Belfry for one or two people has been too wasteful in the past.  An instant type shower unit has been fitted in the women's shower cubicle, to assess if this kind of unit is suitable for the Belfry. Would mid-week users please use this, or use the slot meter and men's showers, and not switch on the main immersion heater in the hot water tank.  Please remember to pay your 10p for every time you have a shower



Austria, Winter 1981-1982

Blitz and Herr Bobby (Chris Smart and Rob Harper) spent the I.D.M.F. grant on two pairs of snow-shoes and made their way to Austria this winter in a little Renault with 'summer' tyres, to the amazement of the locals.  The weather was atrocious and they could not get above 1400m under their own steam.  The mountain huts closed but they went up the Dachstein-seilbahn to the Mammuthohle and had a trip there.  Mammuthohle is now the 7th deepest cave in the world.  A system has been found further up the mountain which leads into the Wiener Labyrinth and, thence into the Minotaurus Labyrinth, giving a total depth of 1174m.  The cave is now the deepest in Austria and has been explored entirely by Austrians - the Poles have had nothing to do with it!  Blitz and Rob were warned that it was impossible to reach Barengasse under the prevailing conditions (only the most experienced skiers might attempt the traverse) so they spent the time usefully at a P.U. in Koppenbrullerhohle, and then in firmly cementing Anglo-Austrian relations with Alcohol.

Hopeful there will be a full report from them in the near future.

A Tourist Cave: Tito Bustillo, Northern Spain

by Sue Dukes' Mum.

We decided on a holiday abroad this year.  We chose Northern Spain and, pouring over the map in anticipation, months before we were due to go, were delighted to find that our ferry port at Santander was only a few miles away from Altamira, the home of the famous cave paintings; a place we had long wanted to visit.

Imagine our disappointment when, arriving there eagerly the same day as we docked, we were shown into, not the magical caves we, had expected, but a small and rather non-descript system of worn, rather jaded looking stalagmite formation.  Obviously a mistake had been made!

The six or seven in our party - ourselves, some Americans and a couple of Germans were all looking a bit bewildered and feeling increasingly disgruntled as we listened to the torrent of Spanish issuing from our guide.  As it was obvious that not one of understood the language, I cast around for a few words that might help.

"Cuevas de los Toros?" I asked.

It took ten minutes of Spanish backed up by a lot of signs to tell us that the famous cave of prehistoric paintings was closed to the public, had been for four years, and would be for another one.  Something to do with restoring or preserving, we gathered.  The breathing of thousands of tourists over the years was proving to be extremely non-beneficial to the paintings - at least, that was the conclusion we came to after studying the guide's excellent charade.

We accepted the sad fact philosophically, looked at the photographs in a nearby museum, decided that was that and wended our way.  Enjoying our holiday during the       next three weeks made us forget all about the caves.

That is, until the day before we were due to come home.  Crossing the River Sella into a little town called Ribadasella, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a signpost, on which I recognised the one word, "cuevas". We turned back and had another look. It was true; there were caves, open to the public.  The name meant nothing to us - Tito Bustillo it was called.  We decided we might as well have a look because it could not be any worse than what we had seen at Altamira.

The entrance to the cave was obviously man-made, with what was probably the original entrance down below pavement level on our left - a three foot cleft out of which a stream trickled.  While we were waiting for the guide we tried to read the large plaque on the wall, our Spanish having improved considerably during the holiday (I now had twelve words!). As far as we could make out, it said that the cave had been discovered accidentally in 1968 by a party of subterranean explorers who had been searching in the mountains for a colleague who had been lost for eighteen days.  It did not state whether they had found him or whether, if they did, he was alive or dead. My theory is that they were so excited at having found a new system; they decided he was capable of looking after himself anyway!

After awhile, a party of twenty or so having now assembled, our guide unlocked the grille which barred the way into the cave.  We went through another three doors about fifty yards apart, each of which was locked behind us as we went through, and was air-tight against the rock.

The guide had about as much English as we had Spanish.  We got along fine, understanding about one word in twenty.  We got the gist of what he was saying, however, which was to the effect that the doors were there to maintain a constant temperature in the cave. All this time we were still in an artificial tunnel and were beginning wonder when the real cave was going to appear. The marks of the drills were clearly to be seen. in the walls and the roof.

At last we reached the main system.  It was not brilliantly lit but the lighting was well hidden and was used to very good effect.  There were some quite interesting bits of formation, and I was quite impressed - then we went round a corner and it was unbelievable tier on tier of beautiful stalactites, in pristine condition, from a ceiling so far above as to be only just visible; some joined to stalagmites; others huge, pointed; all completely unbroken, in all shades through cream and white to tan and deepest brown.  There were curtains cascading down the walls, and niches in which we could see more, smaller, and equally perfect and unbroken formation.

We walked on and on. I did not need to listen to the guide - in fact, I was glad I could not understand him, if the spiel was anything like the rubbish they dish out in England, with names to the various formation groups like "Fairy Grotto", "Organ Pipes" and "Swiss Village".

In places we saw the finest, thinnest, tallest columns I have ever imagined - perhaps we had them in Mendip caves once, but long and careless usage has ruined them if they ever existed.  One was about three quarters of an inch in diameter and about ten feet, tall.  I can just visualise, if it had been discovered a hundred years ago, like some of our poor Mendip caves, how some idiot would have surely tested it to see if it would break.

The colours in the various chambers were fantastic - even blue-green in places from deposits of copper. I particularly liked a pure white formation issuing from a cavity thirty or more feet up the wall; clean and glistening, crystals glittering as they caught the light from the guide’s torch as we passed.  I suppose it could be likened to a frozen waterfall but to me, whose poetic vision has been stunted through years of cooking meals, it resembled a great vat of icing, sugar that had been tipped up and allowed to drip down the rock face in waves.

I was overwhelmed. The cave more than made up for the disappointment at Altamira.  About one kilometre into the mountain we turned a corner into pitch blackness. The guide waited for us all to assemble, then shone his torch on the walls.  Here was the ‘piece de resistance’!  Cave paintings!  We gazed in wonder on the herds of deer, the horses and the buffalo, put there so many thousands of years ago, and I felt my cup of happiness quite full.  Neither Mike nor I had realized that there were paintings as well!  There was evn a carving on the rock, just discernable as an animal of some probably a deer.

Imagine the feelings of those “subterranean explorers” who had stumbled all unwittingly into this magnificent system, and then, to cap everything, to find cave paintings as well! No wonder they forgot the poor devil who had been lost in the mountains for eighteen days.


The B.E.C. Gets Everywhere, and Gets There First.

To Al

Glancing through the pages of that other journal, from the club across the fields, I came across a reference to our infamous Bertie stickers.  The Editor of the Wessex Journal would have us believe that, although we get everywhere, we are not necessarily the first, and cites Norway as, an example.  As I was there, I can reveal the truth:

Up in the Arctic is a place called Sommarset, as a sign which rightfully surely belongs on Mendip, but was too large for our rucksacks, will testify. I entrusted my minion, Al Keen, now Wessex Hon. Ed., with the enviable: task of placing a B.E.C. sticker upon the said sign.  This he dutifully did, and I have the photograph to prove it.  Now I ask you, can he justifiably claim that the Wessex got there first?

Now read on.

Manchip was lucky enough to be travelling On the Advanced Passenger Train when it made its maiden journey.  When the train reached 120mph, he made his way to that place where all self respecting B.E.C. members (and Elsan C.C. members) would go to celebrate momentous occasions.

There is now a Bertie firmly affixed to the roof of the A.P.T., and we definitely did get there first.


Letters To The Editor

Dear Sir,

As a member of the offending family (letter to the Editor, B.B. V35, 10/11) may I first offer my apologies to Bob Hill and anyone else who was offended by our dealing with our children's nappies in the main room of the Belfry.

As far as I see it, Bob's complaint is that he dislikes children's pots and dirty nappies being in the same room as cooking and eating facilities.  However, I too have a problem, that of wishing to attend the Belfry (on fairly rare occasions) as well as keeping my family together.  As is the case with many other family member, we do not have the freedom to tolerate our children; we have a full time responsibility to look after them and their every needs.

Whilst at the Belfry, we usually camp in the Snake Pit in order to stay together as a unit but, particularly in the middle of Autumn, we find it necessary to use the main building for everything else but sleeping, in order to keep the children warm enough. We therefore find it necessary to let the children use a toilet in the Belfry.

We have four places to choose from:

The toilets themselves are too large for the children to sit on and the rooms are too small and draughty for the children to use a pot;

The shower area is large enough but is far too cold and draughty to leave a child on a pot (for up to half an hour, seriously - children cannot control bodily functions in the same manner as adults);

The sleeping quarters and the main area are left as the only reasonable places.

We nearly always choose the main area because it enables us to supervise the children while we continue to do other jobs round about us for that lengthy period.

I might add that our fairly wide experience of families suggests that whilst some do banish their children (and “minder”) to some far corner of the house most use the kitchen or living room to carry out this task.  We have one friend, a real stickler for cleanliness, who feeds her child whilst the child sits on her pot.

When we deal with our children's nappies we ensure our hands are washed before continuing with other chores - I wonder how many people staying at the Belfry wash their hands after using the toilet and before they use the utensils?

Frankly, I am amazed that Bob should take exception to our child-management when the Belfry is kept in the manner that it is.  I know it is a lot better than it was ten years ago when I first joined the B.E.C. but you could hardly call it hygienic with its usually dirty toilets and sinks, work surfaces and tables and its unaired bedding.  I do not complain about these things, nor do I get upset at the bad language which seems to be a part of Belfry life, even though I attempt to shield children's ears from it.

It also seems a pity that Bob did not mention his feelings to us, and suggest a suitable alternative location at the time, as the general consensus seemed to be that this was an amusing sight, not a distasteful one.

I sincerely believe, Bob, that once you have children of your own, your views will alter considerably unless you wish to become a hermit!


Ian Wilton-Jones.
30th December 1981

Dear Ed

After reading Bob Hill's letter to the Editor, in the October/November B.B., may I also express my ‘surprise and dismay’- though not with the same self-righteous, hypocritical attitude that Bob feels.

I have only been staying at "The Hut" for a mere ten years now; I am a newcomer.  During the many happy hours I have spent at the Belfry, I have seen many incidents take place, most harmless, some dangerous, some requiring action by the Club committee.  And so, personally, the simple, natural act of a young, nursing mother (herself a long-standing and friendly member of the Club) of placing her infant upon its potty, then changing its nappy, is the least of my worries about the Belfry.

Bob goes on piously to say "apart from the hygiene aspect, as the main room is also the cooking area, etc."  Well, I hope that he remembers this the next time he is involved in a "Belfry Operation" on the Belfry dinner table, or joins in a "Honk Competition", such as last month's.

Just spare a thought for the young child listening to your language, or worse, witnessing the "Coital Activities" that some younger Club users feel they cannot go without in the Bunkroom on a weekend.

I must be amongst the last to throw any stones, and perhaps Bob, too, should remember the old maxim about Glass Houses.

Yours defensively,

"Mr" N.,
Nig. Taylor.

*       *      *     *      *

      GU21 5JU

23rd December 1981

Dear Graham,

I am taking the unusual step of writing to you as Chairman and Editor concerning the supply of tackle. I find it incredulous that tackle (lightweight expedition ladder) is not available to members as it is locked away even within the tackle store!  I have attempted to contact John Dukes both at home and at work to no avail.  This has led me to the distressful action of the forcing of the lock.

I feel that if tackle is not available to all members at any hour of the day or night then there is something wrong with the Club.  At the very least, hut warden should have access to all items of club property.

Finally, please find enclosed a cheque to cover the cost of a new hasp.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Smart.


Saint Cuthberts Practice Rescue

by Martin Grass.

A practice rescue was held in St. Cuthbert’s on Saturday 5th. December 1981.  It was decided to see if an injured caver could be carried through the September Boulder Ruckle.  The Victim was Jane Clarke and the team consisted of Graham Wilton-Jones, Kangy and Jonathon King, Graham Price, Chris Smart, Graham Johnson, Rachel Clarke and Martin Grass.

We entered the cave at 1150hrs and made. our way to September Chamber via the Wire Rift and Boulder Chamber.  Once we had arrived in the Chamber Kangy started showing us suitable methods of strapping a victim into a drag sheet.  A Whillans Sit Harness was placed on the victim and this was used to secure her in the drag sheet using one length of rope and making various handles with it at the same time.  While this was going on I suddenly realised we were one rescue member short - we had lost Chris in the Boulder Ruckle!  After a lot of shouting, mainly from him, he finally emerged saying he could hear us very clearly for the past 15 minutes but could not get to us.

It was agreed Jane had concussion and a broken arm, as this meant one arm could be secured inside the drag sheet (a broken leg would have been much better but we had no splints).

The carry started at 1310hrs and went slowly at first but, once we got into a rhythm things moved quickly, our main problem being the confined nature of the ruckle, which sometimes meant all rescuers were behind the victim!   About ¾ of the way through the Ruckle a tight dog-leg squeeze caused about a 10 minute delay but, once extra hauling ropes had been attached, the problem was solved (a patient with a broken leg or back would have a major problem here).  The rest of the carry went very smoothly and we arrived in High Chamber at 1445hrs. With Jane out of the drag sheet we all left the cave and made exit at 1520hrs after a very worthwhile exercise.

Conclusions: The only complaint Jane had was that a Whillans Sit Harness is very painful between the legs for females (hope we didn't ruin a good weekend for you, Bassett).  She suggests that leg loops would be far more comfortable.

Thanks to all those that turned up to help.


University Of Bristol Paul Esser Memorial Lecture, -1982

For our next Paul Esser Memorial Lecture we have been lucky enough to secure the services of Julian Griffiths, who will be talking to us about "Expeditionary Caving". The lecture will be held in the usual place, the Large Physics Theatre in Tyndall Avenue (opposite the Senate House) on Wednesday 17th. February 1982, at 8.15pm, admission free.  The Vice Chancellor will be taking the Chair.

Julian is already well known in caving circles, where he is also a very distinguished cave-diver, and in expeditionary circles for having overturned his car and survived as well as any others and better than most.

He started caving in 1966 whilst still at school ( Clifton College) but has since deserted Mendip for the North, for which reason he settled in the Leeds neighbourhood.  While at Cambridge ( Pembroke College) he led his college Rugby Fifteen into the finals of “Cuppers” more than once, but eventually decided that he preferred caving.

His first expedition was with his University Caving Club in 1972 to the French Pyrenees, where he returned in 1973 and 1974, and since then has visited Italy, Switzerland, France, Austria, Greece and, of course, Ireland, where he materially assisted the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society in their exploration and survey of Hawthorn Cave and Bullock Pot.

If anybody coming from a distance would like to have seats reserved, please write to me.

Oliver Lloyd, Withey House, Withey Close West, Bristol, BS9 3SX


Practice Rescue, St. Cuthberts, 5th. December '81

by Kangy

Our Caving Sec., one Martin Grass,
Communicating with a mass
Of letters sent by H.M. Mail,
Began his letter with a wail:
"Dear Leader," said this dismal screed,
"I implore, indeed I plead,
That you should give a little time
To practice rescue in the grime.
The venue for this practice, grave
Is down inside St. Cuthbert’s Cave.
Please join our dedicated men.
Meet at the Belfry, half past ten."
The lunatic then finished raving,
"See you there, I'm yours in caving."
My conscience pricked, my unease spread,
I slowly climbed out of my bed,
I found my gear, I filled my lamp,
I found my grots all green and damp.
I sighed for signs; no sign was sent,
So to the Belfry, soft, I went.
The day was bright. The sun shone down.
The cheery banter cleared my frown.
The plan of action - B.E.C.
A simple one, "Let's wait and see."
So to the tackle store we went,
For practice rescue equipment,
To nothing find but canvas sheet;
And Martin's nicely written whine
Attracted a huge crowd of nine.

A full scale rescue wasn't on;
Such small resources would be gone.
We then accepted, with a chuckle,
To pull a victim through a ruckle.

Our interest was on the wane,
Then interest rose as in walked Jane,
And Grass announced, with wicked leer,
"Look out, lads, our victim's here."
The team would in September meet
To tie Jane in a carry sheet,
And many hearts concealed a hope
Of getting in a practice grope.
The Entrance Rift was swiftly dammed,
The team descended, just as planned,
And plunged into September's maze,
Where Herr Blitz wandered round for days,
And Graham of the Cerberus
Reassured and humoured us
Emerging high up in the rift
To climb into September's gift.
To those of you who've never been,
This is a jewel which must be seen
To be believed; it is so fine
A silence fell upon the nine.
We tied Jane in her carry bed
And listened carefully while she said
That one arm tied was quite enough -
The one left free could get quite rough.

An injured victim in a cave
Needs a willing, personal slave,
To watch for points like mud in eye
And soothe the victim's every sigh.
Admittedly the case we had
Wasn't really quite as bad,
But Sister Rachel, full of love,
Promised vengeance from above
And, stationed by the bottom rope,
Protected sister from a grope.
Here W-J. announced his part
Emotion would, not rule his heart.

The carry party giving up
Gripped the sheet and picked her up,
Letting her slide down the fault 
That led from that delightful vault.
Our heros with consummate ease,
Dragged poor Jane across their knees,
Avoiding a constricting crack
By sliding her across Bolt’s Back.
At one point, sideways in a slot,
The sages thought, she'd had her lot,
But a bod with cunning brain
Thought of string to take the strain,
And yet another rope, whose ends
Were neatly threaded where she bends,
Was passed amongst the balanced rocks,
Avoiding all the bigger blocks,
And given to our sweaty crew,
Who lifted, and then pulled her through.

And so, by dint of back and rope,
As Jonathan hauled hard in hope,
We brought her, with her groaning muted,
Through that ruckle convoluted.

The moral of this practice drastic
Is “Make your drag sheets out of plastic"
One that slithers round the bends
Makes itself a lot of friends.
In spite of gorgeous covering fat
Jane would've liked a karrimat
To shield her wotsit from the rock
And insulate from thermal shock.
Her Whillans harness gave her hell,
But then it would a bloke as well.
Apart from that she said that she
Was pulled out most considerately.
Another hope, this most sincere,
Apart from one involving beer,
Is, if a caver comes to harm,
We pray they'll have Jane's wit and charm.


Dates For Your Diary

Fri. 22nd Jan.

Sludge Pit & Nine Barrows (Friday Niters);

Sat. 23rd Jan -Sun 24th Jan

North Wales, walking and climbing.  Phone Martin if you want space in the hut booked for you.

Fr. 5th Feb.

Lamb Leer (Friday Niters)

Sat. 6th Feb.

Wookey, dry passages (numbers limited, see Martin)

Wed. 17th Feb.

Paul Esser Memorial Lecture      (see previously in this bulletin)

Fri. 19th Feb

Eastwater (Friday Niters)

Fri.19th Feb. - Sat. 20th Feb.

Lake District.  The cottages are nearly all booked up.  Book now to avoid disappointment.

Sat. 27th Feb.

Penyghent/Long Churn.  Geoff Crossleys birthday party, Queens Arms, Litton.

Sun. 28th Feb.

Something in Littondale or nearby, to be decided.

Fr. 5th Mar.

Longwood (Friday Niters)

Sat. 6th Mar.

Bleadon Cavern (numbers limited, see Martin).

For Sale.

1 pair size 9 Galibier Super Pro's.

Phone Fred Weekes 0282 73 978

£ 50.00

Brand new.  Screw-gate alloy karabiners.  See them at the Belfry. 

Very cheap - very good - get yours now.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Having kipped in the car at Litton after a heavy session at the queens Arms, a female member of the Club got up in the very early hours to relieve herself.  A local resident chose this same early hour to walk his dog. The incident became the talking point for a whole parish council meeting.  Council investigations are under way.  The cartoon on page 6 is the result.  Bolt has many other cartoons in the pipeline.

Explorations and surveying of Hanging Chamber, Jerusalem (the high level to oxbow Maypole) and Maypole Alpha are now complete.  The survey appears on p. 22.

The following is extracted from the Yorkshire Subterranean Society Newsletter:  Would the people who complained about the state of the Belfry remember that we are a caving organisation and that we should not expect the Ritz when we visit other areas.  I for one was glad of the friendly atmosphere we all had with the Mendipians. Garto Barstow.

Just a few short lines to add to Garto's remark about the Ritz.  There are none of us presume we are to be treated with waitress service. I for one complained bitterly about the condition of the Belfry.  Caving organisation we might be; pigs living in hovels we are not!  There was not one working/cooking area clean, let alone to be expected to prepare meals.  God alone knows how we got away without food-poisoning.  To finalise, the bunk-room and the bunks stunk abominably of urine and other unmentionables.  Many of the women complained, and equally as many men.

Many thanks to Buckett for helping enormously with cutting stencils, for a whole weekend, and to Ann for plying us with numerous cups of coffee and delicious food.


St. George's Cave / the Hole in the Road

by Brian Prewer.

Friday 23rd. April - Lunchtime.

"Wells Police here! - We've got a council man down here who says one of his JCB's has nearly fallen through a hole in the Old Bristol Road".  A few words with the council man revealed that indeed a large hole had appeared in the bottom of the trench being dug for British Telecom near Milton Lodge.  An inspection during lunch hour proved that it was not a mineshaft or culvert but, in fact, natural cave with stalagmites and flowstone visible from the surface.  Rather alarmingly it was noted that the highest part of the chamber was only two feet below the road surface!  Without a ladder it was impossible to see the full extant of the chamber.  The Irish lad who drilled into the hole was lowered down on the JCB boom for a quick look!

At 7.00pm, Rich West and I met Ron Higgins, the council man, rigged a ladder from the car bumper and descended.  The chamber had already been visited before us!  On the floor were several footprints.  Ron confirmed that no-one had entered the chamber that day other than us. A closer inspection of the quite distinct heel prints showed splash marks and pita, clearly indicating that the prints were quite old.  (Wig has now found a report suggesting that Balch and his contemporaries entered a chamber in this area many years ago)  (Not confirmed - A.J.)

The chamber, in horizontally bedded 'dolomitic conglomerate', was roughly 40 feet long and 15 feet wide, with a small grotto at the most southerly end.  At the opposite end a small hole could be seen beyond a mud and stal bank.  No other passages of any significance were found.

After thanking Ron for allowing us to have a look at his hole in the road he explained that he would be grateful if the cavers could make appropriate measurements and tell him where the cavern lay in relation to the surface.  This we undertook to do and Ron departed saying that he would leave the cavern to the cavers for the weekend.

Saturday 24th.

A B.E.C. digging team removed the mud and stal bank at the northerly end of the chamber and pushed through it into a second chamber roughly 10' by 8' and 12' high.  Some excellent mud formations were photographed by Phil Romford before they were damaged.  The way on was down a muddy tube to the left.  Feverish digging by Andy Sparrow and 'J-Rat' soon opened the tube to ferret size and allowed them to pass on to chamber 3.  The remainder of the party were either too round shouldered, barrel-chested, too old, too large or too long for this muddy tube and left to get hammers, chisels, drills etc.  Within an hour the ferret hole had become 'Hughes' size.  Andy and J-Rat had, in fact, passed another two muddy squeezes to enter chambers 4 and 5, each one progressively smaller and muddier. Meanwhile 'Wig' had started the survey for our council friends so that they could establish how far up the road the cave went.  The total length was estimated at about 100 feet of passage heading roughly off under the wall into Milton Coombe arboretum.  After boardroom discussions held later that evening it was decided that Alison and Pete Moody (of the other club) should be invited to inspect the last chamber.  Carbon dioxide was thought to be present near the end.

Sunday 25th.

The M.C.G. (the other other club) made an early descent before church and it is even rumoured that Simon was seen below at 9.00 a.m.  (The cider farm opens at 10.00 a.m.)  A Wessex party including Alison and Pete arrived at a more sensible hour and went through to chamber 5, where Alison pushed on into Chamber 6, 30' away. At this point a mud fill from the surface blocked the way.  The survey will probably show that this point is very close to the valley side in Milton Coombe.  The party retreated to make way for other cavers and the survey party in the afternoon. It is interesting to note that the afternoon survey party had to abandon their trip due to bad air - probably because of too many people and the disturbance of much glutinous mud.  Also, during the afternoon, the press and T.V. arrived along with several local councillors and various other important looking gentlemen.  Trips around the first chamber were conducted by various muddy cavers.  A dig beneath the stal bank at the southerly end was commenced by the M.C.G. and continued by the B.E.C.  Progress was rapid in the soft clay but more work needs to be done.

Monday 26th.

The powers that be have decided that the hole 'belongs' to British Telecom and that they must decide how to fill or cap the hole.

During Monday evening Wig completed the survey and it was handed over to British Telecom by Tuesday. Does this qualify for the Guinness Book of Records?

By the end of Monday the JCB' s had moved away - they are going to have a try at the other end of the road!  Better luck there - they might find the Cuthbert’s Master Cave.

Tuesday 27th.

British Telecom hinted that they would rather cap the hole in the road than try to fill it in.  This would allow them to make inspections of the roof, etc.



News And Notes From The Caving Secretary

Martin Grass

South Wales


This is a new find by the South Wales C.C. which has considerable potential.  The cave is situated approximately half a mile south of Sink Y Gaidd, it is phreatic in origin, and has been explored for 1000 feet to a depth of 50 feet.  Work continues with high hopes of 'Caverns measureless to man'.

Also in the same area a shaft 100 feet deep has opened up half a mile up valley from Sink y Giedd. It is choked by boulders at the bottom and takes some of the Sink y 'Giedd water .


On Sunday 11th April someone removed the gate and padlock from this cave to gain access.  The entrance has now been filled in, until a caver proof entrance can be fitted.  The Ogof Craig y Ffynnon C.C. have a good idea who is responsible and are considering taking legal action.


A B.E.C. team consisting of G.Wilton-Jones, Duckett Tilbury, Jane Clarke, Tim Large and Martin Grass have opened up a 40 foot pot in Dali's Delight, leading to a small stream and a static sump pool.  The shaft was reached after two successful bangs, the first using a cone charge which Tim had perfected.  The stream route is narrow and needs blasting.  All members are welcome to help.  Contact any of the above.  Hopes are high of entering the Mazeways series and providing a dry by-pass to the 320 foot sump.  This site has been made an official B.E.C. dig.


The South Wales C.C. have requested that any members (of B.E.C.) requiring permits/leaders to S.W.C.C. controlled caves should go through the Caving Secretary (Martin Grass, tel: 0582 35145).  This will make their job much easier and stop non-club members using our name to gain access. (This has actually happened at Otter Hole).

This also applies to the caves controlled by the Council of Northern Caving Clubs.

Martin Grass

Northern Caving


See above request regarding access.


This resurgence for Goyden and New Goyden Pots: has been dived to a staggering 1300 feet (sump 2) without reaching air-space.  This makes the sump the fourth longest in the country, and the largest known sump that has not been passed to dry passage.  The "big four" are as follows: -

1)       1) West Kingsdale - Master Cave to Keld Head, Yorkshire.            6,000 feet

2)       2) Boreham Cave (sump 9), Yorkshire.                                         1,500 feet

3)       3) Peak Cavern; Far Sump, Derbyshire.                                       1,427feet

4)       4) Nidd Heads (sump 2), Yorkshire.                                             1,300 feet

(this is a 2,600 foot dive as no airspace is reached as in Boreham and Peak).



Diving back into Far Sump to continue exploration Martyn Farr bolted up an aven in the extensions and found a very large chamber (the largest in the system and not much smaller than the entrance chamber).  "T'Owd Man" had been here before but no mining had been carried out, and where he had entered the cavern could not be found, al though the roof is the most probable point.  This was so high that Martyn's, light could not reach it.  The only possible ways on now are by a lengthy bolting operation to a very high level passage or by diving the sumps found on early explorations"

Access to Peak is now closed until the next season, so we will have to wait until then for further news.



On Saturday 7th November 1981 Ian Caldwell (D.E.C.) and Chris Milne and Pete Moody (both Wessex C.C.) placed a "bomb" (a few ounces of explosive on the end of a long stick so it would wedge against the roof) in the 6th sump of Stoke Lane Slacker. A few months later the site was visited again and Pete Eckford (B.E.C.) and Chris Milne were able to pass the tightest part of the sump and enter an air-bell.  The bang had worked!

On 6th March 1982 Ian and Chris returned and passed the sump proper to be the first people to enter Stoke Seven since 1965.  They explored some large side chambers off the streamway and found one or two promising dig sites.  On their next visit they hope to pass sump 7 and continue the unfinished exploration of Stoke Lane Eight.  Ian says that Sump 6 is very tight for about two feet and is only just passable with a caving helmet on.  A full report on the history of diving in Stoke Lane is being prepared by Wormhole (Ian) and should appear in the B.B. soon.

As a sequel to this last trip, Ian returned to Stoke the following day to collect some kit he had left at Sump 2.  On calling at the farm to collect the key he was bitten by the farm dog.  After a visit to the Bristol Royal Infirmary and a few anti-tetanus jabs he was O.K. but they were a bit concerned that he had gone down Stoke with an open cut, plus, he had never had a tetanus jab before.




Slide Show

A slide show by Paul Deakin will be held at the Belfry in the near future.  Details of date and time will be published in the next B.B. and on the Belfry Notice Board.



Ross White has now safely returned from South Georgia after fighting the Argentineans.  In true B.E.C. style he did everything to excess in being part of the group which shot down a helicopter and damaged a corvette.  He also placed “B.E.C. get everywhere” stickers in various huts on the island as well as the ship he was kept on, and in a swimming pool which acted as a prison!  The luxury hotel in Montevideo, Uruguay, to which he was transferred, is also liberally decorated with the famous bat.  We can now truly say that the B.E.C. really do get everywhere!!  Well done, Ross, and welcome home.


I hear from a reliable source that the intelligence services in Argentina fear the Brits are going to use some new, secret weapon using bats code-named" B.E.C."  Will they carry heat seeking missiles or just give rabies to all the dagos in the Falklands.



Some Thoughts On Nickel Cadmium Cells

by Pete Eckford

Most of the Club are aware that some of us use "dry" nickel cadmium cells for caving lights.  Some think we use the Rx -range, as bought in Argos, etc.  To clear up this misapprehension I put pen to paper.  The Rx range are O.K. for the kids toys but both the Rx 14 and the Rx 20 are expensive for what they are, i.e. both 1.2 amp hour, and the construction is such that they both soon become useless for caving.

The type I feel is best suited to caving is the NCC range - NCC 400(U 2 size) 4 amp hour and NCC 200 (HP 11) 2 amp hour.  The NCC 400's fit into PVC waste pipe with a blank at each end.  The NCC 200's fit into standard Radio Spares die-cast boxes. I make clips for mine but there is no need because the cells can be obtained with solder tags.

What sort of light do they give?  Well, that depends on the bulb.  I tend to use three cells with a 0.5 amp bulb.  That gives 1.8 watts, about half a three cell nife, but by improving on the reflector in the headset very little difference is noticed.  How long do they last?  Well, again that depends, but the above with NCC 400's would last eight hours. Now, because of the many combinations I enclose a table to give an idea of the type of cell, expected duration and light output.

How do you charge them? Well, you can charge them with a large resistor but I charge mine through a constant current charger. There are many circuits; all have advantages and disadvantages.  As long as the charger is able to take caver abuse I don 't think it matters.

The advantages of the cells? Well, they don't leak.  They are light and small.  If you treat them right they will last for years.

NCC 400

4 hours

8 hours

12 hours

Approx. cost

NCC 200

2 hours

4 hours

6 hours









2 cells

1 amp

0.5 amp

0.3 amp



2.4v bulb

2.4 watt

1.2 watt

0.8 watt









3 cells

1 amp

0.5 amp

0.3 amp



3.6v bulb

3.6 watt

1.8 watt

1.2 watt









4 cells

1 amp

0.5 amp

0.3 amp



4.8v bulb

4.8 watt

2.4 watt

1.6 watt









5 cells

1 amp

0.5 amp

0.3 amp



6v bulb

6 watt

3 watt

2 watt





Swildons  -  Vicarage Passage

by Phil Romford


I thought that it would be of some interest to publish this article on S.M.C.C. digging in Vicarage Passage.  I wrote this piece in early 1969 to have it published in the S.M.C.C. journal, the S.M.C.C. being my club at the time.  However, due to political upheavals around this time I decided to leave the club. Consequently I was left with my unpublished manuscript.

Looking back on the dig now, it is a shame, I think, that we did not persevere.  The Wessex, however, namely Ian Jepson, Glyn Bolt, et al; are now re-working it.  I wish them luck.

Vicarage Passage Dig, Swildons, up to 1968.

This, one of our nowadays regular club digs, has been one of some dispute for several years now, with Willie Stanton prophesying its eventual passage to the Black Hole Series (1), Derek Ford disagreeing, of course, and everyone saying that it can't possible go. I must confess that the latter is the most probable when one considers how long this particular dig has been going.

The original dig was started in 1962 after a breakthrough was made from the Troubles series to the Swildons 2 streamway.  This was done as an inter-club effort with trips lasting of the order of 14 hours or so, which succeeded in breaking through, in fits and starts to Vicarage Pot. Then on to the "U" tube dig (1) which was worked almost solely by M.N.R.C. members, two of whom soon after joined the S.M.C.C. to carryon with Vicarage digging.

The M.N.R.C. started the present dig about six years ago.  About six months later it became a solely Shepton dig.

I think it is generally considered to be one of the most remote and correspondingly filthy digs. However, a few of us insist on seeing the dig go if at all humanly possible.  On most of the digging trips we have had in Vicarage over the past five years we (that is, your scribe and Bob Craig) have usually managed to cajole some unwitting caver into assisting us.  I must admit that some of our members have been there more than once, though some have vowed, "Never again", (2) as have most outsiders. Nevertheless; it does make a good trip before digging.

The present dig is situated at the farthest extremity of Vicarage Passage beyond, the "U", tube.  The nature of the neighbouring passages is somewhat maze-like, with Hairy Passage being the most tortuous.  After the "U" tube one comes to a ten foot drop which appears to be formed in a joint plane, and this is easily climbable.  From here one proceeds up a 300 slope for about 30 feet which brings one to an inclined bedding passage which is going down at an angle of about 250. This passage leads directly into the dig, where it is still in the form of an inclined bedding passage, but somewhat smaller.  The dig also appears to be taking the form of a "U" tube dig.  All of the passages described have an almost totally phreatic origin with an almost negligible amount of vadose trenching.  This seems to be typical of all the Vicarage Passage series.

At first sight, upon arrival at the dig, the uninitiated would probably think that he had arrived at a sump pool, but this water was easily baled out through the eye-hole (fig. 1). After baling, the next problem comes with the slimy ooze of mud which is usually about a foot deep, and must be removed before one is able to dig solid clay and gravel.

Although the dig had always filled, with water in the past, it used to take a number of days.  By now it will fill almost to overflowing in a matter of a few hours, possibly only two.  This change took place after the July 1968 floods, but it is not known whether the floods had any bearing on the dig, although it is known that the flood water reached at least as far as the "U" tube (2), or whether it is due to further lengthening of the dig, which brings us nearer to a pool on the other side.  This latter seems the more likely.  I think a pool must lie on the other side as the water which flows back always reaches the same level, that is, to within 4-5 inches of overflowing through the eye-hole.

When the dig was first started the mud and gravel was fairly easy to remove, even if it was wet, as at the time the mud stayed fairly firm.  However, recently, with the great amount of water and the greater length of passage, it has become increasingly difficult to use ordinary digging tools, so we decided that we must resort to chemical means.  This took the form of Polar Ammon Gelignite.  This has been no inconsiderable help, as to date it has gained us about nine feet of passage.  So far about 4¼lb of PAG has been used, 4 lb, of this actually detonating, the other ¼lb being found with a foot of Cordtex sticking out of it (3)

This charge was laid as two separate ¼lbs about one foot apart, the Cordtex joining these two being bound in the recommended ICI manner.  Needless to say, I shall not be using this technique again underground as this is not the first time this has happened in a cave (4).  Fortunately the charge was wrapped in a watertight polythene bag, so had fared well as far as sweating was concerned.  It was, therefore, safe to move and place another charge alongside it.  Although the bang was not sweating, I must admit that I was, and quite profusely, at the time of moving it.


This is where my original script finished.  The intention was to continue with a second article to describe our findings, but due to lack of helpers Crange and I decided to give it up.


(1) M.N.R.C.  Jnl., 1, (2), 28 An account of Vicarage digging.

(2) S.M.C.C.  Hut Log Vol. 6   20. Vicarage.

(3) S.M.C.C.  Hut Log Vol. 6   42. Vicarage.

(4) S.M.C.C.  Hut Log Vol. 6   46. Lamb Leer.


Building For The Belfry

by Jill Tuck

(for new members who wonder why we have such a gaunt looking tackle hut)

In 1957 the wooden Belfry was bursting with people caving kit, useful Wellington boots and old socks.  More space was essential.  However, if you are in an area scheduled as one of Unusual Scenic Interest, you have the choice of building on the sly and swearing that it was there before the 1949 Act, or doing it the long, more certain way, via planning committees.  The chances of getting away with anything were fairly small as it was known that planes were carrying out aerial surveys, so the B.E.C. had to decide to sink their principles and do things legally.  Legally, of course, meant lengthily.

Stage 1 was to have preliminary talks with the Council Planners to see what might be permitted. They really wanted to refuse all new buildings except farming, but also wanted to see the end of temporary wooden buildings on Mendip, and a return to traditional style.  Mendip at the time certainly had architectural heritage of functional beauty and uniformity (i.e. corrugated asbestos roofs and materials taken from the nearest semi-derelict site).  A century or two passed and the huge tonnage of stone already on site weathered gently and was almost permanently crowned by Neddy's motor-bike.

Eventually Pat Ifold drew up plans of a practicable and attractive building of Mendip stone which had a ridged roof and a Dutch chimney at the visible end.  Months passed, then the planners refused consent.  Dutch chimneys were not allowed and the building had to have a 'traditional' tiled roof.  A quick count around the locality showed that roofs were about 40% rusty corrugated iron, 40% corrugated asbestos and 20% in a plethora of materials and colours (plethoras were always popular on Mendip).  The Planning Committee would not admit our argument.

Stalemate.  The stone pile developed moss and a pleasant patina from cowsh.  The position was serious, not because of the tiles but because of the cost of the wooden frame to support them.  This roof would have doubled or trebled costs, even if second-hand timber were used. Every week the members drank to the confusion of their enemies, while prayers were said by the club committee as they re-examined their assets and found them too small.

The planning committee relented a little and ruled that the building could have an asbestos roof if nobody could see it.  They themselves sketched out the traditional Mendip dwelling which they would like to see; bearing in mind the visual needs of the area, the impossibility of a tiled roof, and the size required.  Thus was born the Mexican jail, for whose design the B.E.C. had no responsibility whatever.  The Planning Committee also ruled that windows were to be traditionally oblong, but the rounded tops were defiantly put in by Alfie and myself who could not stand the look of the place as now proposed.

After a few more centuries, the official plans were passed.  At the end of 1958 a little gang of members assembled, on site with poles and string to mark out the quoins (corners).  The gang stepped back to admire their work, until it was suggested that they measure the diagonals.  This showed a difference of several feet - red faces all round.  Things were at best on the way and the foundations went in.

With the help of our professional adviser, Albert, stones were put in to get the verticals in at the corners or, as professional parlance had it, "the quoins were set up". We were using a Mendip mix of concrete using limestone dust, so Albert demonstrated the correct amount of water to add to get it 'daunch'.  The stones had to be laid with the strata horizontal, as blocks put in vertically (termed butterflies) would crack off layer by layer in wet or frosty weather.

(If you see a house with a wall looking like crazy paving, you know that the owners are going to need a replacement job in a few years time.)

Having learned the vernacular, we were off.  Eventually it was time to lay the floor, and ready-mix concrete was ordered.  Alan Sandall had volunteered to meet and deal with the load, but there was no sign of the wagon at the expected time.  It turned out that the driver had decided that he knew better than the person who gave him the route plan, and had not only got lost but also sprung a puncture.  When at last it arrived, the delayed mix had outlasted its time and was only just jettisoned before it set.  Alan lost much of the flesh from his hands but managed to get the concrete in place chunk by chunk.

The walls continued to rise but it took three years to get to the parapet.  For one thing, work was limited to guaranteed frost-free week-ends. For another the mix was very liquid and Mendip Stone trapezoid or triangular, so we could never build more than about nine inches high at a session without the new part subsiding under the weight.  The bulk of the building work was done by Alfie Collins who specialised in the block work inside and the technical stuff like the wooden moons for the window arches, and myself, who built most of the stone outer.  The shed was called the Vestry, where members would be vesting themselves caving rig-out, but the name never caught on.  Finally I sculpted the gargoyle of after-gin caver (from life), and the gutter to it and the roof were installed.  Finally, did I say?  It took years to stop water running uphill along the convenient gutter arrangement demanded by the council, and to keep the inside rooms dry.  The building time taken and the limited working time available made it clear that any new Belfry would need to be put up by an outside firm. Still, the tackle shed did get finished and served as H.Q. and sleeping accommodation for a vital time after the wooden Belfry No. 2 made a funeral pyre of itself.

For the record, and for people who would like to date Belfry photographs, the work timetable was as follows:


Tackle shed building progress.

Work started late autumn 1958; Floor laid 3.9.60; Shower and washbasin, Easter 1961; Windows puttied, Easter 1961, internal doors fitted, Painted, May 1961; Walls and parapet finished, October 1962.           


Bi-Monthly Notes

Reads Grotto.  Pete and Alison Moody visited this site, near G.B. Cavern, recently and after a period of digging broke into over 1000 feet of cave reaching a depth of around 300 feet.  There are loose boulders in the entrance passages - these are the reason Willie Stanton did not bang there.  There is a Cuthbert’s type rift near the beginning, there are many good formations (which are unfortunately already being damaged despite the very few visits into the cave, mainly by experienced cavers) and a large chamber towards the end. This final chamber approaches G.B. Main Chamber in size, and the two are only 50 feet apart.  The present end of the cave is a loose run in of boulders forming a choke.  The system is already gated and access is very strictly controlled by Charterhouse Caving Committee.

Charterhouse and Velvet Bottom Caves.  Several of the caves in these two areas have been broken into recently or have had locks and/or gates damaged.  Access restrictions are liable to increase if this vandalism continues.

B. E.C. Caving Meets. Two of the best attended caving trips this year were the Wookey Hole (dry) trip and White Scar Cave.  Perhaps some of the participants would care to write an article.

The usual hordes turned up in South Wales at Easter, but failed to drink Crickhowell dry.  The White Ensign flew patriotically over the site, accompanied a new Bertie flag, courtesy of Trevor.

B.E.C. members joined Speleo Nederland in Yorkshire for trips in Calf Holes - Browgill, Out Sleets Beck and Link - Pippikin.  The social scene was constantly livened by Martin Scatliffe (Bradford F.C.), who does an excellent Rain-dance.


Geevor Mine

by Chris Batstone

During a not so sunny summer day Hike (Quackers) Duck and I paid a visit to Geevor Mine for a look at the tin concentrating plant.

Geevor, since its formation from two small mines in 1911 (Wheal Stennack and North Levant) has become probably the major concern in tin mining in the county.  During the past twenty years the workings have expanded to take in the old submarine workings at Levant Mine while considerable interest is shown at present in working the Crowns section of the old Botallack Mine.

Although the values of tin from the ore are nothing like those that were worked during the heyday of Cornish mining the efficiency of the concentration process can win enough tin to make working payable.

The concentration mill is situated near the shaft head at Victory Shaft.  All the are from the mine reaches the surface via this shaft.

From the shaft the ore is passed, over a Grizzley screen to separate the more manageable rocks from the larger, unmanageable ones.  These large rocks pass through a jaw crusher where the rocks are squeezed and broken between two hard metal plates until they are of a manageable size for washing.

Washing is carried out using water pumped out of the mine itself.  The ultra-fine sand or slimes from this process are settled out to provide low grade tin concentrate, approx. 10% tin, which is generally sold off with no further treatment.

The washed ore is then crushed down to the consistency of fine gravel and put through what is known as heavy media separation.  The less dense waste rock will float to the surface of the heavy media pulp (such as ferrosilicon and water) whereas the more dense are bearing rock will sink and settle out.

The ore is passed over fine vibrating screens to separate the fine slimes from the coarse sands which are passed through a Newell Dunford ball mill to further reduce the ore.  The ball mill consists of a revolving steel cylinder loaded with steel balls, and a mesh screen to control the size of the particles in the discharge for the first concentration.

The pulp is normally classified into size to supply a range of spigot discharges for the shaking tables; the table middlings are further re-ground by a Hardinge ball mill and re-tabled.  The shaking table consists of a slightly inclined rectangular, or similar, surface of wood approx. 15 feet by 5' feet, covered with linoleum and small wood "riffles" and is given a shaking motion along its major axis by an eccentric drive.  The riffles guide the pulp, which is fed onto part of the top edge of the table and tends to flow at right angles to the shaking motion.  Clean water is also added from a perforated pipe, and this flows over the remaining edge at the top of the table.  The jerking movements throw the more dense particles along the length of the table further than the less dense particles and the washing water carries the gangue material further down the table.  The result is that the ore is separated and carried further along the table in the direction of motion, so coming off the discharge end of the table higher up than the waste, or tailings.  Middlings and tailings can be cut out by the placement of takeoff troughs to catch the various products as they come over the edge of the table.

The black tin or cassiterite is passed from the shaking tables through a froth flotation process: this removes impurities such as copper, arsenic, zinc and iron sulphide. The flotation process relies on making the surface of some minerals repel wetting by water, while allowing other minerals to be wetted. The minerals which repel wetting tend to concentrate from the pulp and attach themselves to an air-water interface, usually air bubbles blown in the pulp.  These form as a froth on the surface and this is skimmed off.  The collector chemical is frequently a zanthate (or dithiocarbonate) whilst pine oils or similar additives form the frothing agent. Unfortunately no method has yet been found for the flotation of tin and this process is used only to separate impurities.  When no more material is floated the contents of the flotation cell are run off for final concentration and then passed through a magnetic separator.  This separates the high grade tin concentrate from the medium grade concentrate which is approx. 20% pure and contains oxides of iron and other impurities.  This is sold with no further, treatment.  The high grade concentrate is dried and packed into 50kg bags ready for sale to the smelters.

It is hoped the above article has given the reader some idea of the complexity of tin ore dressing. An average of some 200 tons of tin will be recovered from approx. 20,000 tons of ore.

The Geevor Mine is well worth a visit.  A small but comprehensive museum also been started on the site.  Unfortunately the cost of visiting this is extra.



Of Spirits And Men

by "Honk".

Anybody familiar with the BEC will know that they are famous for two pastimes.  Drinking and caving, the former being the most popular.  It is also wall known that many Mendip cavers like to combine the two, resulting in the occasional Saturday night, drunken caving excursion into Swildons.  It would seem that drunken caving is a fairly modern phenomenon, originally conceived by the BEC, who were the first Mendip "rowdy”cavers.

However I have evidence to suggest that the first Caving piss artist, lived and died in the seventeenth century.

Most, cavers know of Pen Park Hole.  It is a small but interesting cave, located in the heart of a council estate in Southmead Bristol.  This cave has many claims to fame; its strange location; its tidal lake; its rich history. I have, though, left one item from the list.  Pen Park Hole was the birthplace of the whole caving and drinking concept, as I shall explain.

Back in July 1669, a certain adventurer called Captain Sturmey, decided to explore the newly discovered Pen Park Hole.  So on the second of July, with a miner hired for the purpose, Sturmey descended the cave. After three hours of candlelight caving, Sturmey came across a vast cavern, which he explored with great joy until his joy was presently turned to amazement and he was much astonished by the sight of an evil spirit, and for that reason did go thither no more.  (A) This encounter with an evil spirit would suggest that Sturmey saw a ghost, but upon leaving the cave, Sturmey suffered from a malady known to all Belfryites as his own account suggests. "But for four days after my return I was troubled with violent headaches which I impate to my being in that vault".  (A) Unfortunately Sturmeys condition worsened and he died within a fortnight of leaving the cave with "a high fever and a pallid countenance".  At this stage I will point out that the words "spirit" and "headache” are synonymous with one another when associated with alcohol.  It seems to me, that contrary to popular belief, Captain Sturmey died, not though encountering a supernatural creature, but from drinking too much.  The symptoms he suffered after the trip certainly seam to indicate the common hangover! In that historic caving trip Sturmey made two "firsts".  He was the first explorer of Pen Park Hole and Britain’s first drinking caver.

So when you next sip beer in the Hunters, or sample the delights of a Belfry barrel, spare a thought for Captain Sturmey who discovered "Belfryitus" long before the Belfry existed.

A. Both taken from Philosophical Transactions No 143 by Sir Robert Southwell, dated 1670.


Bi-Monthly Notes Continued

Northern news.  The exploration of Nidd Heads has continued beyond Martin’s latest bit of news, and the underwater passage is now the second longest explored in Britain.  In Gaping Gill one member of a party abseiling the Main Shaft by way of the Rat Hole lost control and was killed.  It appears that he had only practised in trees previously, and attempted the descent using only three bars of his rack.  Another caver, already safely at the floor, held the rope in an attempt to control or slow the other’s fall, but to no avail.  He was hit by the falling, caver and received serious injuries.

In Diccan Pot a caver fell from a ladder and was found to be dead when lowered to the bottom.

Mendip.  Trevor Hughes has now received official permission to dive Rodney Stoke Rising (the little green door in the mountain) and first priority will be to pull out the boulder which has prevented previous access.

Martin Bishop has once, again organised digging at Cheddar (First Feeder) Main Rising.  At present, mid-May, this rising has almost dried up and any water that is emerging from among the boulders is actually flowing back towards the cliff!

World Depth Record.

The Gouffre Jean Bernard has been pushed to a depth of -1494m.  The Groupe Speleo Vulcain took five Gays in February to dive through the 1981 (-1455) endpoint.  They reached a 4th sump at the new record depth which they reckon is un-divable.


Mendip Rescue Organization.

Cave Rescues and Incidents for the Year ending 31st January 1981.

Over the year we have had a wide variety of call outs.  Apart from the now usual alerts and searches, we have persuaded a girl to dive back through sump 1 in Swildons, assisted two exhausted girls up pitches, helped two injured boys after they had fallen down pitches, unplugged a stuck caver in Longwood and attended another who suffered a fatal heart attack .in nearby G.B. Cavern. At the end of this more than busy year, a large contingent of Mendip cavers went on a works outing to help colleagues from South Wales at Agen Allwedd.  From this variety, however, we must note that four incidents on Mendip have involved inexperienced teenagers, three of which were led by teachers or instructors rather than club cavers.

Sunday 3rd February 1980.         Swildons Hole.

Dr. William Stanton was alerted by the Police from Frome at 1540 hrs.  He contacted the informants who had correctly remained at the Priddy Green telephone box and learnt that 19 years old Joan Cooper from Bracknell, Berks, was exhausted and unable to climb up the short pitch at the foot of the old Forty Foot Pot.  William then telephoned the Belfry and Chris Batstone took charge of the call out there.  Dr. Don Thomson was told of the incident and he advised that the Reviva warm air breather should be used to prevent possible exposure problems.

Mike Duck, Jim Watson, and Trefor Roberts were underground within twenty minutes of the callout and were followed by a five man party with the Reviva.  Other parties were in the cave at the time and were able to give assistance.  Brian Prewer established a radio link with cavers stood by at the Belfry from Priddy Green.

Miss Cooper was helped out of the cave by 1630hrs and taken to the Belfry to change and warm up.

Sunday 24th February 1980.       Swildons Hole.

Three climbers from Bristol were reported by local cavers to be doing a Long Round Trip earlier in the day.  They had been seen underground using maps to find their way.  When they had not surfaced by 2330hrs, cavers were stood by at Priddy and the police informed.  The overdue trio surfaced shortly after midnight having underestimated the difficulty of the trip.  One was particularly tired a he had not done much caving before.

Friday 22nd February 1980.        Cuckoo Cleeves.

David Irwin was contacted by Frome police at 2000hrs with news that a 14yr old boy in a party from Dorchester school, Bournemouth had fallen and broken a leg.  It appears that Nicholas Amor got ahead of another party of local scouts who were also doing the cave.  On descending the entrance pitch and hurrying through the ruckle, he is thought to have tried jumping the 13ft pot!  He sustained a bad fracture of the leg.

Cavers at the Hunters Lodge Inn were alerted and Rod Harper quickly responded with a strong party and essential rescue equipment.  Rod used his veterinary’s skills to good effect and Amor was soon hauled out to have his injuries inspected by Dr. Don Thomson.

He was then taken by ambulance to hospital where he remained for several weeks owing to the severity of the fractures.

Friday 11th April 1980.   Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire.

Devizes contacted Brian Prewer and asked him to telephone Chief Inspector Cooper at Corsham regarding a possible incident in Box Stone Mines.  Two girls exercising horses near the mines had heard voices that might have been cries for help.  A check had shown that no one was thought to have gone down the various entrances, but, a bunch of freshly picked primroses was found near the railway tunnel.

The Police wanted a search of the mines to eliminate the possibility of any Children being lost there.

Brian alerted Bob Scammell, Keith Newbury and Chris Batstone in the area and asked them to conduct a search of the main routes.  Tim Large raised a standby party and David Irwin was ' advised of the incident.  He then collected equipment from the Belfry and made his way to Corsham keeping in radio contact with Eric Dinford.

The search party spent from 1730 to 1915hrs looking around the main routes but found nothing.  It was assumed that the children could have entered Box Tunnel and travelled through it so that the voices had been heard from one of the air shafts.  The Police called off the search at this at this point.

Monday 5th May 1980.   Brown’s Folly Mine, Wiltshire.

A call was received by Brian Prewer at 1945hrs from Devizes Police who, reported that the parents of four teenagers had informed them of a party missing in the mines.  Brian immediately contacted Bob Scammell at Bathford who went straight to the site and got on with the search single handed. Chris Batstone and Martin Bishop stood by.

Bob soon found the missing party of seven youths lightless at Clapham Junction.  Apparently ten had entered the mines earlier after few had claimed to have been down them the previous week.  Then for some inexplicable and irresponsible reason, the three with good torches left the remainder with failing lights and simply went off to a local public house.  It was left to the parents to raise the alarm.  All were out of the mines by 2100hrs having been underground in light clothing or about six hours.  No one took kindly to the youths regarding the incident as a huge joke and they got a well deserved dressing down.

Chief Superintendent S.J. Ashley subsequently wrote to thank MRO or helping and paid tribute to Bob Scammell in particular.

Saturday 25th May. 1980.           Longwood Swallet.

At about 1415hrs Andy Williams went to the Hunters Lodge and reported that a large man was stuck in Longwood with Geoff Price and another caver on the wrong side of him to give assistance.  He was John Hopton from Fishponds, Bristol.

The Police and Bristol Water Works were advised of the situation and Alan Thomas went to the cave to assist, arriving at about 1430hrs.  Meanwhile Brian Prewer and Bob Scammell went for hauling gear, whilst Stewart McManus and Tony Knibbs provided back up.  Dr. Peter Glanvill as alerted and Tim Large and Nigel Taylor set up radio contact from the cave to the Belfry.  Mr and Mrs Trim kindly allowed, access through the farm and were most helpful. The victim was soon moved by help from the right direction and out of the cave by 1600hrs none the worse for his experience.

Saturday 7th June 1980.             Manor Farm Swallet:

Howard Barker aged 34 from Targarth, Powys, and Miss Josephine Laver, aged 25 years from Salisbury Whiltshire, went down the cave at 1430hrs.  Both had been caving together for several years.  A ladder was used on the Entrance Pitch and ropes were carried for September Rift and the pitch in Curtain Chamber.  The trip went well until they turned to the pitches on the way out.

When Josephine became exhausted and unable to climb up the awkward September Rift, Barker had to leave the cave for assistance.  He reached the Belfry at 1900hrs and explained the situation to Nigel Taylor who raised a party of seven to form a hauling party.  Brian Prewer was alerted and the police informed of the incident.

The BEC party reached the cave with Nigel at 1920hrs and were soon underground.  By using a sit harness, it was a straight forward matter to assist Josephine Laver up the rift and then out of the Cave.  All had surfaced by 2000hrs and everyone stood down. Miss Laver was not hurt so she returned to the Townsend Campsite, Priddy, with Mr Barker.

Saturday 16th August 1980.        G.B. Cavern

Yeovil Police contacted Brian Prewer at 1753 hrs to report that a caver in G.B. was having trouble with his breathing.  The informant had wrongly left the telephone and so further information was unobtainable.

David Irwin was requested to go to the cave at 1755hrs for an on the spot assessment and after experiencing difficulty in making a telephone connection to the Belfry, Brian alerted Marilyn McManus to establish an alternative radio contact there.  She also raised Wessex Cave Club members. Fred Davis was called at 1810hrs and a party with Chris Batstone and Dany Bradshaw left the belfry about same time. Meanwhile, Dave Irwin reported that 33 year old Ian Mille from Bristol had suffered a heart attack at the foot of one of the climbs in Mud Passage.  Dr. Don Thomson was called at 1825hrs and asked to attend.  Jim Hanwell was then contacted and all went to the cave.

Fred Davies went underground at 1845 hrs and found BAR and ECM being applied by the earlier arrivals. He continued with this until Dr. Don Thomson reached the scene at 1900hrs to report that the patient had died. The deceased was hauled to the surface by 1950hrs and the cave cleared by 2015hrs.  Another party below completely missed the entire incident which had lasted only 2⅓hrs.

Apparently, Ian Miller had no previous caving experience but had requested joining a small well equipped group visiting the Ladder Dig Series.  He appeared to be in some distress on the way out and then suddenly collapsed.  At the Inquest, it was recorded that death had resulted from a heart attack probably brought about by unaccustomed exertion.

Wednesday 1st October 1980.                Swildons Hole.

Brian Prewer was contacted by Yeovil Police at about 2230hrs concerning a 14 year old girl who was refusing to return through Sump I.  Apparently, two teachers had taken ten girls from Merrywood School, Bristol down the cave at about 1700hrs.  The party was well equipped with wet suits, boots and lamps to a standard beyond that expected for such a group on their third caving trip.  Moreover it was planned to visit Swildons II via the streamway and sump.  One teacher with nine of the girls was met on their way out at the Twenty Foot Pot by Greg Villis and Dave Gill.  They learnt that the other teacher had remained on the far side of Sump I with Rebecca Lane who was refusing to dive back after experiencing some, difficulty in going through on the way in.  Whilst Greg hurried to sump one to help, Dave left the cave ahead of the school party to call out MRO.

Brian Prewer happened to be in the company of several MRO wardens and cavers on receiving the alert. He contacted David Irwin and Martin Bishop and the first rescue party was underground within 30 minutes of the callout.  A substantial group followed with comforts, warm clothes the Little Dragon warm air resuscitator and a small breathing apparatus in case Rebecca would prefer it to dive back.  A telephone line was established through the sump and Dr. Don Thomson was present.  In the event Rebecca refused all encouragement to help herself.  Eventually, with both parties on either side of the sump in telephone communication, she was carefully lowered into the pool and hauled through none the worse for the experience.  After some hot food and warm air, all made a rapid exit to be clear of the cave by 0200hrs on the Thursday.

It is vital to note that the telephone communication was essential to co-ordinate both parties when such a "pull through" technique is used.

Saturday 8th November 1980.                 Sludge Pit.

Anthony Dearling a Scout Leader mainly involved in introducing  novices and those of medium experience on occasional caving weekends to Mendip since 1974, took a party of seven down the cave just before mid-day. Two sixteen year old beginners were present, one being Martin Jackson.  All were members of the 2nd Syenham Scout Group.

After about 2¼ hours underground, the party started its return with the leader moving directly ahead of the two novices in front to speed up the journey out.  At this point, Robert Jackson at the rear of the trio missed his footing to fall about 6.5 meters down the rift in the main passage beneath the Upper Series.  He sustained facial injuries and was badly shaken.  It appears that he may have fallen owing to the failure of his carbide lamp so that he was with out light when crossing the rift.  The incident is thought to have occurred at about 14hrs. After assessing the extent of Roberts injuries, the leader sent out Susan March and Alan Jackson to raise the alarm.

Brian Prewer was alerted by Yeovil Police at 1530hrs, but was unable to gain more details other that someone had fallen in the cave since the informants has left the telephone. Brian contacted David Irwin who went straight away to gather more information at the scene.  He found Alan Keen, Adrian Vanderplank and Glyn Bolt from Upper Pits already on their way to help with hauling gear, ladders and a carrying sheet.  They entered the cave less than 30 minutes after call-out.  Meanwhile Brian stood a party of six and asked Dr. Don Thompson to attend.  The injured boy was able to help himself quite well in the circumstances and was assisted out of the cave by 1650hrs.  Dr. Don Thomson examined his injuries and then he was taken by ambulance to hospital in Bath to have deep cuts stitched and an X-ray.

Weekend 17 – 19th January 1981.           Agen Allwedd

Three dozen Mendip rescuers went to help South Wales who were bringing out a patient with a broken leg from Southern Stream Passage.  Another two dozen stood by.  The full report of this mammoth operation belongs to the South Wales Rescue Organisation of course.  However, we may record that the controller, Brian Joplin, found out radios a great help and the little Dragon warm air breather proved invaluable.  We are especially grateful to the Warden of Crickhowell Youth hostel for his hospitality to all from Mendip.

J.D. Hanwell.
Hon Secretary & Treasurer,
Mendip Rescue Organization.

IMPORTANT:     Informants must remain at their telephone until contacted by a Warden for full details of any incident.


Bi-Monthly Notes Continued

Fairy Cave Quarry.  The current state of play on this issue at the C.S.C.C. meeting March 13th 1982 would appear to be as follows:-

The Cerberus, in conjunction with the Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation, have made a formal offer to Hobbs through agents.  There appeared to be no other interested parties.  The C.S.S. have stated that they will control the cavers but could not give any guarantee of access to the caves for C.S.C.C. members at the present time. C.S.C.C. may be prepared to support C.S.S. in their negotiations if the access to the Caves becomes clarified.

Northern news from B.C.R.A. journal, Caves and Caving.

N.C.C. seem to have found another streamway in Pipikin.  Some areas in the cave are so confusing that they are intending to re-survey the system.

After work by Red Rose and N .C.C., Lost Pot was briefly connected to Lost Johns, but one wall of the pot collapsed seriously injuring a caver.  The pot has been sealed to allow the boulders to settle.

In King Pot over 15,000 feet of passage have been explored. 

Dale Barn Cave is well over 9,000 feet long.



Letters to the Editor,  etc.

London, SW 7

Dear Editor


Concerning the B.E.C. Dinner - no disco, please.  It is out of character with the occasion and would be a distraction where none is wanted. I go berserk at discos, while there are those who do not like them.

A dinner to one's liking? Herewith a cautionary tale about habits picked up when abroad.  A girl I was with in France persuaded me that the escargot or French snail is a succulent dish, as it proved to be.  Each animal is taken from its shell, cleaned, cooked and put back with a delicious garlicky sauce.  Given a pair of tongs to hold the shell and a winkling-out fork, off you go, not forgetting to mop up the sauce with soppets of the bread provided.  One wet and cold November evening, I arrived in the Spanish city of Logrono. Finding a promising restaurant I sought a menu, and there it was - caracoles - the Spanish snail.  Just the job before a plate of roast lamb, Spanish style.  A dish was put before me.  It was full of a soupy stew in which the shells of the snails could be distinctly seen. No tongs winkling fork.  What to do?  Luckily a girl at the next table was served with the same dish, and I sat fascinated while she tackled the snails, chatting all the while with her companion. You pick out a shell between finger and thumb, and there is the stewed beast looking at you, horns and all. Applying your lips to the snail you suck it out of its shell, but of course it will only come so far.  Holding the snail in your teeth, preferably with lips parted, you pull the shell smartly away from, you when - SPLAT, the far end of the snail detaches itself and literally smacks you between the teeth. One chews, savours and swallows - unless the snail is a bad one which you can soon tell by the taste. Fortunately I was hungry, having started from hot and sunny Peniscola with a hangover first thing in the morning, hence only a couple of cups of coffee on the slow mountain road to Zaragosa. So, with a few glasses of wine and one eye on my fellow snail-eater the plateful soon disappeared.  It is not an experiment I would care to try again, although it certainly won't stop me from sampling dishes as yet un-tasted.

I can hear the voice of Mendip saying; "Serve the bugger right for mucking about with foreign food" (sorry - "crap").  But wait - my ears were pinned back this evening by an opinion on traditional English fare which sailed forth from the BBC "Grouse - the meat of that scented bird tastes like the flesh of an elderly courtesan marinated in a bidet" - well, yer pays yer money and - which reminds me, sub. Herewith.

All best wishes for arrangements for the Dinner, which occasion I hope to disgrace with my presence if possible - meanwhile, as the Spanish say, 'Good appetite' -

Yours &c.


But of course, it must be Keith Murray.

P .S. There seems no reason why impoverished non-members should not be able to subscribe to and receive the BB unless this happens to be the last straw which breaks the backs of printer, publisher and distributor.



Dear Fiona

Herewith my sub for 1982. Sorry about the delay in sending it, which has nothing do with lack of means, or interest in the club, but a lot to do with human lethargy!

Why (and I've made this point several times before to various people) don't you consider the use of Banker's Orders.  The 'non-active' member can hardly be blame for not living, eating and sleeping "BEC", and a brief note at the bottom of one page of a rather irregular BB is easily ignored or forgotten.

I'm sure the club loses many members each year because of this.  I know that in these inflationary times Subs go up each year, but as you will have received at least the amount of the previous year's sub., I think the Club should be able to stand the cost of sending out a new Banker's Order and request for the balance to those who pay that way - or, to put it rather bluntly, if the Club can’t be bothered to make some effort to keep its old members, then it won’t have any grounds to gripe if they don’t renew their membership.

If you feel you can’t raise this with the Committee or if it has already been considered and turned down, then I'd like to see this letter passed on to the Editor, with your, and/or the Committee’s views, for publication and discussion.

Best wishes,

Chris Howell


Any individual is welcome to arrange payments to the Club through their own Bank to: -

Branch No.. xx xx xx

Account No.. xxxxxxx.

I would point out, however, that as the subs change from time to time, it would be better to arrange to pay by Direct Debit rather than Banker's Order.

Direct Debit enables the Club to take the amount of subs relevant each year without returning to the Club member each time far a new signature.  The members will be informed of the change in subs in the BB before the subs are due, and if any memeber disagrees with the amount, the Direct Debit may be cancelled at any time.

If Banker's Orders are used the member must be prepared to sign a new order every time the subs are changed.

We will try to arrange far some Banker's Orders and, preferably, Direct Debit arms to be duplicated, and these can be distributed through the B.B. if the response merits it.

Sue Dukes.


The letter below has been received as a result of our sponsored cave trip.  The trip raised the sum of £500 which was divided between the school below and the High Wycombe Mentally Handicapped Society.

The Avalon School,

Dear Mr Tilbury,

I write to thank you for the generous donation of £250 for the children of this school.  We are a day Special School for children with a wide range of learning difficulties including mental handicap.  Your kindness will enable us to provide more effective help for the children in our care.

Please convey my thanks and appreciation to members of the Bristol Exploration Club.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Cann.


St. Cuthbert’s Swallet III

by Phil Romford

This year is to be the time for cracking the Cuthbert’s III problem.  III? you say.  Yes III. We must find it!

Since 1968, the year of the Cuthbert’s 2 breakthrough, a varying amount of work has been done in numerous places in an attempt to extend the cave, namely at Sump 2, the Man Trap, the downstream end of Sump 1, to name but a few.  The work up until the end of 1981 culminated with Dutch (S.M.C.C.) Tim Large and myself, plus various B.E.C. and S.M.C.C. members, preparing for the big push.  Some blasting was done in the roof of sump 2, the idea being to remove about 500mm to allow access to the 3rd air-bell 5 metres in, to save baling.  However, we only proceeded about 1.5 metres.  On two occasions Tim and I baled Sump 2 into the last dam, in the first instance to look at the problem, and in the second instance to place bang in the roof.

Tim and I feel that we should continue pushing Sump 2, as this currently takes all the combined stream water.  It does, however, back up in, severe flood conditions - we have seen tide marks up to 2.5m above normal stream level.  There are, we realize, some people who will disagree with our decision for various reasons. We will give it a go all the same.

In order to achieve our goal we must make further preparations, namely, more dam building. Dutch, with other S.M.C.C. members, has started work upstream, of Gour Hall which is yet to be completed.  I, with the help of Chris Batstone and Jem, have started new dams in the depression.  These surface dams will control water from Mineries Pool, the Plantation Stream, and hopefully the Shower Bath and Maypole streams. Finally, to complete our control of cave water we will build one dam at Sump 2, close to the water/roof line, to reduce the quantity of water to be baled, and one dam downstream of the Eight foot Pot in II, to act as a catch-tank in case of any upstream dam failure.

When these preparations are complete the work plan will most likely be to have organised working weekends on a shift rota.

So, be warned, you active B.E.C. members.  Your help may be called for!  Soon, we hope.

Since we have to bale sump 2 to dig the end, there will inevitably be a danger of being flooded. To try and alleviate this problem I propose that some small breathing apparatus be available for the endangered diggers.

So, Biffo, Quackers, R'pic, et al., be prepared to loan kit, please.


Bi-Monthly Notes continued

Northern news from B.C.R.A. journal.

In Garsdale a find of over half, a mile is still being explored and surveyed.  The entrance is loose, tight and flood prone.

Craven P.C. have extended Cliff Force Cave by 1,500 feet of high level passage running from the chamber with the Gigantoproductus fossils poking out of the wall, to join the main passage further upstream.

The fixed ladder has been removed from P 8. You now need to take two of your own.

Northern Sump Index. This fascinating document is free to C.D.G. members, but is a must for any caver interested in northern caves, whether divers or not.  When will there be similar productions covering Mendip, South Wales and Derbyshire.

After the Easter meet four of us went over to County Clare to do some of the more well known systems. In the extremely dry, sunny conditions we were able to, do Coolagh River Cave in perfect safety.  We also visited St. Catherine’s - Doolin, Faunarouska, Cullaun 2 and 5, Pol an Ionain and, of course, O'Connor's Bar.  Apparently Pat Cronin and Ken James were out there just before us, and discovered five new caves.  How about something for the B.B. Ken?

B.E.C. lapel badges. Pin on enamel lapel badges depicting a bat and the Club initials are now available, price £1.50.  Get your order in now, as they are going fast.  Contact Tim.

You will notice that several of this B.B.' s pages are photo-copies (Not apparent on this re-print). Many thanks to Jeremy Henley for providing us with this facility at cost price. 

If you don't want the June/July D.B. to be empty please start writing now.




Bolt Belays For SRT

Taken from NCA Equipment Committee Information Report No. 80/3 by Paul Seddon.


Over the past few years there has been a large increase in the number of expansion bolts that have appeared at the heads of pitches, a situation that in the interests of cave conservation is to be discouraged unless the bolts are absolutely necessary.

Examination of the cause of this increase reveals that there are probably two main reasons.

The first lies in the fact that Single Rope Techniques are becoming increasingly popular, and that what often constitutes a good position for a ladder belay (by tradition usually not a bolt) may not be suitable for S.R.T., because of the necessity for a free hang for the latter.  However a bolt belay positioned to suit S.R.T. will usually be perfectly suitable for a ladder belay.

The second reason is simply a lack of trust in bolts placed by other people, and judging by the state of some of them, they can hardly be blamed.  It is not uncommon to see anchors sticking out from the rock by as much as 5mm, or to see loose anchors due to bad drilling, or even to see them placed in detached blocks or flakes - all of which are potentially lethal.  Yet a properly placed anchor (which is well greased immediately after insertion) is not only very safe, but is also virtually maintenance free, and should be useable for many years even in the damp environment of the cave.

What can be done to prevent the spread of unsightly Bolt Rash in our caves and at the same time increase the safety of bolt belays?

Perhaps part of the answer is to make sure that when each of us needs to place a bolt, we do so correctly so that subsequent parties will be confident in them, thereby eliminating the necessity to place a bolt of their own.

The Self Drilling Anchor

At the present time the most popular method of bolting is to use the 8mm self drilling anchor.

The anchor is made from hardened tubular steel, has cutting teeth at one end and is threaded inside the other.  It is fixed in the hole by driving a conical wedge into the toothed end which expands the anchor and jams it against the sides of the hole.  A hanger with two holes (one large enough to take a carabiner) is fixed to the anchor by means of an 8mm diameter set screw, otherwise known as a "bolt" which should be made of high tensile steel (Fig. 1).

Safety Through Back-Up

How safe is the self-drilling anchor?

Whilst it cannot be denied that therre are inherent weaknesses in design, and although theoretically things could go wrong, experience has proved the self-drilling anchor system to be extremely safe, when properly placed together with a back-up bolt or natural belay.  In a ladder system the lifeline should hold if the ladder fails but in SRT the Main Belay at the pitch head must not fail under any circumstances.  The back-up anchor (Fig. 2) substantially reduces the chances of a serious accident if for some unknown reason the primary anchor, or one of its component parts did happen to fail.  A development of the back-up anchor is the shared anchor (Figs. 3 & 8) which is safer for reasons explained later, but sometimes impractical to rig.  Although relatively new in the UK this system of linking two anchors to provide the main belay has been used very successfully for several years in other countries, where it is considered that the chance of failure of both anchors or their component parts in anyone incident is so low that any inherent design weakness is an acceptable risk.


Recommended Procedure.

The safety of a bolt belay is dependent upon three main factors;

a)       The quality of the rock.

b)       The correct positioning of the anchors so that the load is transmitted in the correct plane by the hanger to the bolt and via the anchor to the rock.

c)       The correct insertion of the anchor. i.e. the drilling of the hole and fixing of the anchor.

What then is the ideal position for a bolt far SRT?  Of course it depends upon the nature of each pitch head, but in each case the basic requirements are as follows:

a)       The Rock.  This should be sound.  By visual inspection and by tapping with the hammer, check that you are not about to drill into a detached block which may become even more detached when a load is applied!  Avoid places giving a dull hollow sound.  Calcite (stal) is also best avoided where possible, it is not as strong as limestone, and in any case may just be resting on mud (and therefore insecure).  Where an ideal placement is impossible, make sure that the back-up anchor is well placed in solid rock with no slack in the connecting rope.  Each bolt produces an area of stressed rock for a distance equal to the anchor length on each side of the hole, so make sure the anchors are far enough apart not to' interfere with each other, or with a free edge of rock {Fig. 4}.

b)       Positioning the Main Belay.

1.       The best arrangement is to use two anchors loaded equally (Fig. 8) to form the Main Belay (shared belay).  The two anchors should be a safe distance apart and may even be located on opposing walls leaving the hang point in space.  If equally loaded each anchor takes less than the full load, thus is less likely to fail and will not produce a shock load on the remaining one, even if one should fail.  A more common but less satisfactory arrangement is two anchors one above the other (Fig. 2) (back-up belay).  As long as these anchors are more or less vertically in line with each other the distance apart is not critical bearing in mind the comments in a). However ensure that the connecting rope has as little slack as possible (not always easy) and remember that the upper anchor will take a shock load if the lower anchor fails, so place both with equal care.  Often this situation may be improved by a form of shared anchor, the theory, being that there is little point in having two anchors available and loading only one. (Fig. 3).

2.       Try to position the rope so that it hangs free immediately it leaves the anchor carabiner (Fig. 5).  Also ensure that the knot will not abrade against the rock (Fig. 6). If this is not possible use a rope protector, or extra carabiners or maillons (Fig. 7).

3.       Do not forget that for S.R.T. a completely free hang for the whole pitch is best so position the anchor with that in mind.

4.       Place the main anchor high enough to allow for easy access to the belay ledge (either from ladder or rope) on the return 1.5-2m above the ledge is about right.

5.       Could the pitch be wet on your return?  Try to position the anchor so that the rope or ladder will hang clear of the water.

If the Main Belay with its two anchors has to be placed out over the pitch to satisfy some of the above requirements, a traverse rope is best placed high and diagonally in towards the belay ledge to aid movement back on to the belay ledge on the return trip (Fig. 8).  (It is more difficult to get off the rope than to get on it).

The traverse rope provides a back-up for the Main Belay and may be attached to a natural anchor.  A single anchor is normally sufficient at intermediate belays (abrasion points) as the Main Belay provides back-up from above (Fig 8).

c) Drilling

1.       Screw the anchor on to the threaded portion of the Driver, making sure that the head of the anchor is tight up to the locking nut, so that stress is taken by the nut and not by the threads.


2.       It is essential to drill at right angles to the rock (Fig. 9) otherwise the hanger will not sit correctly and may stress the bolt unnecessarily.  Avoid drilling the hole so that it is pointing up into the rock, because then the holding power of the anchor relies solely on the wedge fixing.  The anchor is  designed to do this but the first way described is much safer as it relies more on the lever principle.

3.       The first few millimetres of drilling are the most critical.  Take care to keep the teeth of the anchor in exactly the same position at the early stages of drilling to ensure that a perfectly round hole of the correct diameter is formed.  Later when the anchor is about 15mm into the rock this will be automatic.

4.       Use a hammer with a head weightt of approximately .5-1 kg.  A standard piton hammer is ideal.  Drill the hole by hammering the head of the Driver, at the same time rotating it in a clockwise direction to prevent the anchor sticking in the hole being drilled. Rapid light to medium blows are best. Heavy blows tend to damage the anchor teeth.

5.       Withdraw the anchor frequently and tap the end of the Driver (not the anchor) to free any spoil.  The frequency is particularly important when the rock is wet as the spoil becomes a paste and can be difficult to remove.  A small piece of strong wire is invaluable to poke out any that is obstinate.  A length of plastic tubing is useful to blow any debris from the drilled hole - and avoids dust in the eyes.

6.       Drill as described until the locking nut is flush with the rock surface.  Now continue drilling until any weathered unstable surface rock is passed and the head of the anchor lies slightly below the surface of un-weathered, sound rock.

7.       Withdraw the anchor, blow out the hole to clear any spoil and tap all spoil clear from the anchor.

8.       Visually inspect the anchor in the (unlikely) event of any hairline cracks replace it with a new one.

9.       Insert the expansion wedge slightly but firmly into the drill end of the anchor.  Take care not to cause any expansion of the anchor whilst doing this.


10.   Replace in the drilled, cleaned-out hole and this time without rotating the Driver, hammer the anchor home.  DO NOT OVERHAMMER.  When the anchor will go no deeper into the hole any extra hammering will only reduce holding power and may split the anchor or surrounding rock .

11.   Check that the anchor is a good tight fit by applying a little backward .and forward pressure to the end of the Driver.



If the anchor is loose it is probably due to:

a)       Bad drilling causing the hole to be too large a diameter to set the anchor. or

b)       Fractured anchor (unlikely). Or

c)       Wedge not driven home - could be soft rock or a weakness at the bottom of the drilled hole.  Try setting it further into the hole by hammering the Driver (gently). If the anchor remains loose do not use it.  Place another anchor and destroy the loose one by filling it with mud or by destroying the internal screw threads.

Remove the Driver by unscrewing in an anticlockwise direction.

12.   It is very important that the head of the anchor does not protrude from the hole.  It should lie flush with or slightly beneath the surface of the sound rock. (Fig. 10).  Again check the end of the anchor for any possible hairline cracks.

If the anchor protrudes from the hole. (Fig. 11) or any cracks are visible do not use it.  Place another anchor and destroy the protruding or cracked one.

13.   Equally bad is a cone shaped hole caused by poor drilling (Fig. 12).  Here the load is not transferred properly to he rock causing the anchor to be incorrectly stressed.  Place mother anchor.

14.   Offer up the Hanger, insert he high tensile bolt and tighten.  Care should be taken to ensure he bolt is the correct length for the anchor.  Those supplied with commercial kits currently available (Troll. Petzl) are correct.  The Hanger should lie flat against solid rock so it may be necessary to cut away any protrusions or weathered rock.  This can be achieved by using the anchor (attached to the Driver) as a chisel, but a piton with a chisel end is better.

15.   Do not over-tighten the bolt.  Finger tight plus half a turn with a spanner is sufficient. A bolt breaks when the total force applied (load applied plus tightening force) exceeds the breaking load.  By over tightening the load which can be supported is reduced.  Over tightening can also have the effect of beginning to extract the anchor from the hole.

16.   The Hanger should be positioned so that the carabiner hole is in line with the direction of pull.

17.   To protect inserted bolts from corrosion and therefore increase their safe working life, a liberal coating of thick grease should be applied to the inside of the anchor AFTER insertion (but NEVER before). Also smear the bolt head if the hanger is to be left in place.

18.   There are several arguments as to whether bolts and hangers should or should not be left in place.  One argument in favour is that it is easier to see a hanger than the end of an anchor, and therefore there is less likelihood of it being missed and another anchor being placed unnecessarily.  Also the bolt will keep grit, mud and water from the inside of the anchor and delay corrosion.




On the other hand, if the hanger and bolt are not in place it is easy to check the anchor and one will not be put in a position where one is tempted to rely on an unsafe anchor, a bolt that may be too short, or a hanger that may be over-worn.  (Remember that hangers. particularly alloy ones, wear rapidly with continuous use).  On balance it must be safer to supply one's own bolt and hanger because then presumably the quality of the various parts is already known or automatically checked before use.  Some type of plastic plug that could be left pushed into the anchor would solve the problem of keeping out mud, etc., and if this was brightly coloured, spotting it would be made easy.


Fig. 13 Some knots used in SRT

Further reading:

Techniques de la Speleologie Alpine by Georges Marbach and Jean-LouIs Recourt.  Probably the best book on the subject.  Unfortunately it is only available in French, however in most cases the many excellent drawings speak for themselves.

Vertical Caving by Mike Meredith.

Single Rope Techniques by Nell R. Montgomery