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In this issue of the B.B., you will find the annual list of member’s names and addresses in the form of a supplement fixed into the centre pages.  It has been decided to include this in the November B.B., rather than the Christmas edition, as this will give members longer time to have these before Christmas.

There is plenty of space for adding new addresses or changes of address during the year - you will find the first few of these alterations in this B.B., and it is hopes to print more in each B.B. during the coming year.  You will also find a list of useful addresses of committee members etc.

In spite of our publishing the list in this B.B., it is still hoped to make the Christmas B.B. its usual size.



It has been suggested that a competition will be held at next year's dinner for a Photographic Essay on a caving or climbing subject.  The essay should consist of between ten and twelve photographs.  The essay may be either a black and white essay or a colour slide essay. In the latter case, it should be accompanied by a short 'script'.  Suitable prizes will be awarded.  It is appreciated that the preparation of such essays will take some time, so this is a first announcement giving nearly a year's notice.  Further reminders will be issued at intervals during the year.


Please note that the address of the Editor is NOT as given in the supplement of members names and addresses.  THIS IS IMPORTANT, as it is doubtful whether correspondence addressed as shown in the supplement will be recognised by the postman.  The correct address is: -

S.J. Collins,
c/o “Homeleigh,”
Bishop Sutton,

Caving Programme.

December 11/12  Yorkshire.  Easegill.
December 11/12  Mendip.  Lamb Leer.

Access to St. Cuthbert’s.

Parties requiring trips into St. Cuthbert’s should write to Pete Franklin, 20 Clayton Street, Avonmouth, Bristol, giving at least 4 weeks notice.  Please make this widely known to all cavers.

St. Cuthbert’s Library.

Phil Kingston still requires photographs, notes, logs, etc.  Please give him any details you may have.

Whitsun in Pembroke

The article which follows was submitted some time ago, and it has unfortunately had to wait until now for a suitable space for publication.  We apologise to Kangy and others for its lateness, but rust it will bring back pleasant memories to those who took part, and prove useful to those who may be thinking of a holiday next year along similar lines.

It was noticed on a visit last year that the area of limestone coastline between Stack Rocks and St. Govan's Head abounds with caves and potholes.  The potholes very often have a sea connection and "blow" in stormy weather.  The cliff height is of the order of 150 feet and the strata are mainly horizontal. The area is also an army range.

This year, two of the most interesting pots, the first for its promise and the second for its sensation, were laddered by Alan Thomas, Eddy Welch and Kangy.  Our leisurely campaign was brought to an unexpected conclusion because the range was closed after two days, forcing us to sunbathe idly on a beach while Thomas went to be psychological somewhere in St. Cuthbert’s.

The first pot, laughingly called B.E.C.1 for want of a local name, is the furthest inland of two potholes midway between St. Govan's head and Stack Rocks (Map Ref: 151/947938). The first forty feet is roughly circular and shattered in cross section after which it becomes more solid and rectangular.  An enormous quantity of ladder was assembled and lowered into the hole and belayed to outcropping rock.  There was an awkward start for the first twenty feet, then a free section to a ledge at forty feet.  The next eighty feet was free after the initial few feet although quite close to a fine wall.  This is very similar to the last pitch of Primrose Pot, Eastwater.  Sufficient light filtered down the shaft to show us the bottom with its sandy floor, driftwood and old iron.  To seaward there is a low crawl which was not pushed. Opposite the ladder was a slit like passage leading to a chamber with aven and a low crawl which seemed blocked. Inland, the interesting direction, the line of weakness led to a narrow rift.  The rift was a tight fit for twenty feet and then opened up into two consecutive small chambers, the final one of which ended in a small aven and contained small calcite flows and stalactites.

The leading dimensions are: - Depth, 120 feet, laddered in one pitch and 100 feet of passage inland from the ladder.  The second pot attempted, by precedent laughingly called B.E.C.2 is the obvious narrow slot near the edge of the cliff at the greet hole between Elegug Stake and Flimstone Ray (Ref: 929946).

This is a 150 foot pitch and not really a laughing matter.  The ladder was laid from a stake driven into an odd foot of top soil.  It followed four distinct sections.  After approximately thirty feet of crumbling limestone, it twisted onto about twenty feet of earth and stones at the angle of repose to a ¬boulder wedged into the earth at the narrowest point of the shaft. Below the boulder, the shaft continues vertically and the ladder hung by a wall similar in composition to the previous earthy section, except here it is vertical.  Twenty feet below the boulder and eighty feet above the floor, the shaft opened out into the side of a wonderful hall or tunnel in massive limestone open at both end to the sea.  The final eighty foot section twisted initially and then hung free.

Because of the danger of falling stones, only one descent was made.  The first section was descended slowly removing most of the loose stones within reach and sending them crashing below.  The sloping earth was treated similarly.  The boulder gave rise to much thought.  To remove it was to remove a bung holding up a mass of debris. As the ladder had to rest against it to climb below it was to risky disturbing it.  Emotion receded as experiment showed that the weight of the ladder put to boulder into compression, so it was alright.  Emotion still demanded a rapid climb down to section of the junction of shaft and tunnel where what fell, fell clear of the ladder.  All continued well until with about twenty feet to go, the lifeline jammed. Shouting failed.  Jerking the line failed.  A pause then a careful look around showed that it is possible to reach this part of the cave by swimming in from the sea.  This determined, the ascent began, clipping on to the rope to take up the slack every twenty feet or so, being cautiously aware of each rattling stone.

Once at the surface, the ladder was retrieved - a protracted and difficult manoeuvre which released even more stones.  We bemoaned the lack of a suitable transmitter and receiver and hand hoped that the Club Dachstein party would have these for their convenience and safety.

More descents of other pots had been planned including shooting a film of B.E.C.1, but the “good old Territorials wot fave death wiv a smile” had the range for the remainder of our holiday, and so that was that.  We are intrigued to know more of these pots.  The locals could not help, and we thus welcome information.


The Mendip Cave Registry

The Mendip Cave Registry is a collection of all known references to Mendip caves.  The actual registers are thick “twinlock” binders and may be inspected at the Bristol reference Library on College Green and the Wells County Public Library.

It must not be supposed that the Registry is a sort of super guide book to the Mendip caves.  It does not itself contain any but the briefest information on the caves themselves.  What is does contain is the most complete set of information as to where you will find published information on any particular cave.

All the caves are listed under map references, and a complete set of maps of the Mendip area is included in the Registers themselves, so that the whereabouts of every cave may be found and the information looked up.  For many year now, a group of Mendip cavers have put in a great deal of work to bring the Registry up to its present state, and it may well be wondered how useful is all this information to the average caver.  The purpose of this article is to try to explain how the ordinary caver can make use of this information, which is by far the most complete for any caving area in the British Isles, and possibly in the world.

The caver who is doing some form of research will obviously find the Registry of great use.  Let us suppose that some caver has the idea of writing an article (or even a book!) on the Exploration of Swildons Hole.  He will no doubt be familiar with the early writings of H.E. Balch, but may well be at a loss to sort out the bewildering amount of exploration carried out by so many clubs in parts of Swildons since the last war.  On consulting the Registry, he will find nearly six feet of entries on single spaced typing all dealing with this cave, and all will have brief notes beside them as to what they are about.  All he then has to do is to copy out those which have something to do with exploration, and he is then armed with a complete list of published references to the exploration of Swildons Hole.  Many of the books referred to may be obtained from the reference libraries, and he should remember that any library will obtain books for from any other library. Some of the books might be a little more difficult to get hold of, but at lest he will know what he has to obtain and where it may be found.

On the other hand, the caver may have been wandering on Mendip and seen a likely looking depression or swallet.  His enquiries may not produce anyone who knows whether it has ever been dug in the past. A visit to either of the libraries will rapidly show whether there is any known reference to the site (since the register is arranged in order of map reference, it becomes a very easy matter to look up a site which may well have no name or no ether way apart from the map reference of describing it).  A good example of this was the enquiries made by cavers some years ago about Emborough swallet.  This is a fine looking swallet containing an active stream, and it seemed unlikely that it had never been investigated.  Nobody who was asked had even heard of the place.  Eventually - much more by luck than by judgement – a reference was found in an early edition of the 'British Caver'.  This reference was not under the heading of the cave name, but a reference to it in some miscellaneous notes on Mendip generally.  To find this sort of reference, you would have to comb' through all the caving magazines you could think of and this could well take months. This has all been done, once and for all, by the registrars of the Mendip Cave Registry and it is continually being kept up to date.  If the B.E.C. restarted work on Emborough, within a few weeks of an article or reference to this cave being made in the B.B., an appropriate note would appear in the books in the libraries at Bristol and wells.

It is possible that you have no actual object in mind apart form a desire to read up a bit more about Mendip caves.  Perhaps you have already read Balch’s books and are wondering what other books there are to be read.  A browse through the Registry will show you what books are being referred to for what caves and this will give you a very good idea as to what you are likely to find in any book mentioned.

It is hoped that this short article has given some of the uses of the Registry.  If interest is shown, another article will follow explaining things in more detail.



Estimated Times Out.  Will leaders please try to keep to the estimated times out as shown on the Belfry blackboard.  There have been a number of cases recently where the party has been overdue, and a rescue has been contemplated.  Please remember that the details shown on the blackboard are important.

Overheard at the B.E.C. Dinner

Three cavers, belonging to the Wessex, the S.M.C.C. and the B.E.C. respectively, were discussing what clubs they might have joined, if things had turned out differently for them.  Said the Wessex member, “Before I joined the Wessex, I was thinking seriously of applying to the Shepton.”  To which the Shepton member replied, “If I hadn’t joined the Shepton, I should have certainly joined the Wessex  The B.E.C. member, listening to this drivel said, “If I hadn’t joined the B.E.C., I’d join the B.E.C.”


19 Greencroft Ave.,

To the Editor of the Belfry bulletin.

Re. the pipe in Swildons

Dear Sir,

When I first came to Mendip fresh form the tumbling waters of Lost John’s, Rumbling Hole, etc, I thought “What a weegee idea to have a pipe in a cave at the top of a pitch!” As it happened, this was the summer of 1959 when Swildons was bone dry anyway, so the pipe to my superior northern eyes looked even more ridiculous.  However, after a few trips in a wet Swildons, I began to change my mind, particularly when I had met some of the amazing collection of odd bods who manage to stray down under all conditions.

It was therefore with alarm and disgust that I read of the removal of the pipe, just as I was thinking of fitting one to Gaping Gill Main Shaft.  Must the so-called tigers take it upon themselves top do such anti-social things? The pipe had been there for years – accepted as part of the scenery.  Why, then, remove it?  Surely, if you want a really sporting climb, then hang your ladder over the end of the pipe – thus getting the full force of the water where it will do most good.  If the tigers must spend their time removing things from caves, let them make a start on carbide and old sardine tins, not on things serving to make a cave a safer place.  Having removed the pipe, I suggest the tigers take the next logical step and do without ladder.  One must not be artificial!

Yours faithfully
D.D. “Grassy” Greenwood.

Editors Notes

It is custom at this time of year to endeavour to produce a B.B. of somewhat larger than normal size, and we are pleased to be equalling, and in some way exceeding the record this year. A forty page B.B. has, in fact, appeared before, but not a forty page B.B. containing nothing but reading matter as distinct from the usual four or five pages of names and addresses which have been until now included in the Christmas B.B.

It is also heartening to note that this year the main problem has been now to find room for all the articles which have been submitted.  We have a good variety as well and something to suit most tastes. A climbing article; travel; a little comic relief; the write up on the official club trip to the Dachstein area last summer; a scientific article and a caving/archaeological article as well as several smaller items.

This B.B. is also being used to experiment with a new type and grade of paper.  If this proves a success, we hope to go over entirely to this paper for the 1966 B.B. which will be the twentieth volume.  There are other improvements coming, but in line with our new policy of not winding the neck out, northing more will be said in anticipation.

It remains to wish all club members, all our readers and all cavers everywhere….

“A Very Happy Christmas”



The Year’s Climbing

The proper way to present this would be to have the Mountaineering Year illustrated, because the greatest impact from this year’s activity was visual.  There was enough good weather to give fine views and walks and the opportunity to climb satisfying routes.  Many trips were also made other than those described in this summary which is concerned with club meets.

The end of January brought the usual crop of enthusiast to North Wales, to the Peterborough Hut in the hope of deep satisfying snow.  It wasn’t quite like that.  Enough snow lay around to encourage a party to look for a suitable gully below Glyder Fawr but the soft state of the snow caused attention to be concentrated instead on Bennett, plodding around on a pair of skis (on his shoulders) and Kingston glissading (on his face).  Phil’s glissade was a gracefully executed classic as he successively threw away his ice axe and then finished in a flurry of head rolls.  Is nothing too difficult for Kingston?  Dermot could not join us because he was buying boots in Bethesda.

Tryfan was ascended en masse the next day.  A perfect day.  Part way Eddie Welch and Mark James left the main party and climbed the North Buttress. The others, Ann Farrington, Mo Marriott, Wilton, Kingston and Kangy went on up the North Ridge.  Bright sun with blue skies accentuated by white snow and a foreground of clean rough rock satiated the eye.  Meanwhile Titas practiced glacier lassitude in the van.

A Wye Valley trip was made in mid April.  Base camp was, very pleasantly, by the river at the Biblins. Notably, two interesting routes, not to be found in the guide, were made by Roy Bennett on the upstream Seven Sisters Pinnacle.  The wetness set in on Sunday and the party, after glooping at a few climbs and holes, squelched home.

During Whitsun, the opportunity was taken to combine a Caving and Climbing meet.  Climbing was mostly on the Dewerstone near Plymouth.  A note from Roy Bennett reads “….some of the cavers were introduced to the delights of granite – big jugs – but not too many.  Zot lost his teeth on a climb.”  Tho that wath my Zot wath thaying “Theckthy” tho thurlily.  Climbs were also done on the tors and as a grand finale a large party walked in pleasant weather via Wistmans Wood to the Beardown Man.

Conditions for the meet on the 17th – 18th July were extremely fine and this resulted in a multiplicity of climbs being done.  This was the first attempt at a combined meet with the Insmen Climbing Club.  On Saturday, the Insmen set off very early for the East Face of Tryfan, Grooved Arête in particular.  The B.E.C., nine strong, made for the less crowded precincts of the Carnddau climb on Crag-yr-Isfa where Roy Bennett and Mark James did Pinnacle Wall whilst Steve Tuck, Kangy, Eddie Welch, Bob Sell, Flicka Nash and Phil Derrick struggled up the moss covered Avalanche Gully to reach and climb South Buttress, which has two interesting pitches at the start.  We rendezvoused at the summit.  The majority then followed a most interesting and enjoyable walk to the top of Carnedd Llewellyn and thence to Carnedd Dafydd, Pen-yr-Olwen, Rhaedir Ogwen and back along the road and track to the Gweren-y-gof Isaf campsite.  The distance covered was twelve miles and some discomfort was caused by lack of water on the Carneddau.

The party split up soon after Carnedd Llewellyn as Kangy and Mark descended to the bottom of the Black Laddeer, Ysgolion Duon, Jacob’s Ladder which could not be identified as it was getting late, they ascended Western Gully – a first class evenly graded V. Diff.  The Sunday was another remarkably beautiful day and the B.E.C. and the Insmen combined to swarm all over Dinas Cromlech.  Here novice was encouraged by tiger and tiger was encouraged by warm dry rock and Flying Buttress, Parchment Passage, Neb’s Crawl, Horsemans, Spiral Stairs, Holly Buttress and Sabre Cut provided enjoyable finishes to a marvellous two days.

Tradition is perhaps to be respected, but William’s Isaf is really getting too noisy on Friday nights. On the October meet, seizing a break in the weather after a sleepless night, Mark James and Kangy climbed the Main Wall of Cryn Las most of which was suffering from leaks.  A high spot in the climb was the great cheer from members of the Climbers Club that greeted the peg hammered in by a Brummy and left at the stance before the crux.  The cautious lad who won applause later managed to find room for about a dozen runners on that pitch – and he still had a dozen left!

Main Wall was followed by Rectory Chimney in an attempt to join the bonnets, Tuck, Welch, Ron Pepper and Phil Derrick who had climbed the Parsons Nose.  Sunday dawned bright and the combined party made individual attempts on Moel Siabod.  Pepper, James and Kangy climbed several hundred feet of slabs to the right of the Great gully in the East Face.  The climb is worth identifying because it is not in the literature.  It starts at the short chimney in the lower left corner of the sweep of slabby rock which is the face to the right of the Great Gully. The game is then to stay close to the left edge.  The others who had enjoyed views from the East Ridge were joined at the summit.

The last meet of note was in the Brecon Beacons in November.  Accommodation was arranged at the Storey Arms for a dozen and from there a walk was planned to Pen y Fan and Pen y Fawr.  This is an easy route in sunshine but with the visibility down to twenty yards, compass work was required.  The rain ceased as the party gained height, but after contouring round the hill and gaining the crest of the ridge near the monument, the full blast of the wind was felt.  Movement required considerable effort and hair rapidly acquired an armour of tiny crystals.  The flat summit was gained, a photograph was taken and plans to descend via another ridge were abandoned in order to get out of the wind.  More sheltered slopes were followed to the valley.  High spirits wrestled and rolled down the hill to the roaring fire at the Storey Arms.  The supper was excellent and plenty of it.  Afterwards a pub was found and the rest of the evening passed in quiet contented mood as tired muscles relaxed.  Two more members turned up for the Sunday walk and after a rather disappointing breakfast, the meet started from Crickhowell across the Black Mountains.

Again the wind was fierce with a temperature lower than Saturday’s, but every now and then the sun broke through.  Unlike Pen y Fan, there is no escape from the wind on the smooth plateau-like ridges of the Black Mountains but because there was no mist and the rather boggy ground was firm and frozen, the walking was invigorating.  The views were superb with only the walkers to appreciate them.

On the descent, the party split into small; groups chatting together – something not possible on the ridge, and walked down a wide grassy path to reach the cars.

January, April, June, July, October and November.  These have been the popular times for meets and the 1966 meets will follow this pattern. The need has arisen to cater for the mountaineering novice so a deliberate efforts will be made to formulate a new programme.  This should cover ability and weather conditions to enable everyone to get the most out of that most precious experience, the climbing weekend.  Thanks are due to the efforts that Roy Bennett has made to organise and arrange accommodation for the meets and also to climb with newcomers.

Compiled by Kangy during December from reports by Phil Kingston, Eddy Welch, Ron Pepper and Roy Bennett.



Whilst still on the subject of climbing, we must offer our congratulations to Simon Davies, aged six, who seconded Fred and Kangy on Knight’s Climb at Cheddar recently.

Caving Meet

by John Manchip.

At various times between mid-day and halfway though the afternoon, parties left the Belfry to visit Coral Cave and Axbridge Ochre Cavern.  Joan Bennett, Eddie Welch, Phil, Bob Bagshaw and myself set off for the Ochre Mine at about 12.30.

Following Dave Irwin’s directions for an easy route to the entrance left us wandering around the hill some two hundred yards to the west of the mine.  At this point Joan left us to walk to Coral Cave. I think we were all very tempted to follow her, as the weather was really beautiful.  However, we had the good fortune to meet a local a little later, who pointed out the way.

Entering the mine about two o’clock, we went up to the cave and explored this in a few minutes, then spent another ten looking for more.  Descending to the mined section and walking to the end, we observed that the ‘mining” consisted of scooping out the ochre from a natural rift, no rock cutting being necessary.  After fighting our way out of the cave, we changed and left for Coral.

Arriving there at dusk, we met Dave Irwin’s party just going down and so formed a party with them.  An interesting time was spent in the cave examining the formations in the coral, e.g. tins cemented to the wall by flow – two bicycle frames, one milk churn and much assorted ironmongery.  Sampling the delights of the pitch again, we returned to the Belfry for a meal and a wash – a fine end to an enjoyable day.


A Trip to the Falls

Our next article is rather topical at present – although strictly non-political! Seriously, we thought that a travel article might help to dispel the British winter….

by George Honey.

It was one of those long hot summer days you get in South Africa with not a cloud in the sky when we set out from Devon, a little town on the Transvaal.  The usual evening rain had not come that day and we had an easy drive to Pretoria some seventy miles away.  Of course, we reached the town just as everybody was coming out from work, but we got through without too much delay.  From Pretoria, to Warmbad is about sixty miles across the flat, high veld plain.  Here and there we passed small villages and farms, but for most of the way there was just a view of miles of dry grass and small thorn trees – bush land.  However, the Zephyr I was driving simply ate up the miles and we reached Warmbad just as it was getting dark.  We had a quick coffee there to let it get properly dark (it takes about fifteen minutes in those parts) and then on to the border at Beit Bridge.  We had hoped to cross into Rhodesia and get as far as Bulawayo that night, but we soon found that this was not to be as a line of cars greeted us as we drove to the custom post.  The border closed at 8 o’clock.  After some nosh at the local café, we did as everybody else and went to sleep in the car.  At first light, everybody was up and we were soon through customs and into Rhodesia.  We got to Bulawayo at midday and this proved to be a modern, well developed town with lots of new bungalows in the suburbs.  After some food at a road house (which was a copy of a medieval castle) we decided to try to reach the falls that night, so we took to the road again and soon the bush closed in and the road became two strips of asphalt each about a yard wide. It was surprisingly easy to drive on except when you wanted to pass somebody.  Fortunately we only met one other car in the whole 230 mile trip, so all was well.  We then came onto a new highway, and we were driving along in fine style when we passed the wrecks of two new cars.  We were later to learn that these had hit, or had been hit, by a herd of Kulu – a lesson that wild life was very close and to be reckoned with.

We reached the falls just as it was getting dark.  It’s easy to see them from about five miles away, as there is a cloud over them in otherwise a clear sky.  When we got to Victoria, we found that all the hotels were so full that it meant another night in the car. However, it’s quite warm there and there is a good rest camp where one can get a shower and a shave, so it’s quite pleasant really.  There is a superb restaurant where the food is excellent and quite cheap which almost overlooks the falls.

The next day, we were proper weegees and took many pictures.  The falls are more than a mile across, as the Zambezi is quite wide before it falls 350 feet into the gorge below.  The gorge itself is quite narrow – only two hundred yards or so but there are a number of cross gorges where the falls used to be.  As the river finds a new cross fault in the rock, the falls move suddenly upstream. They are now having their fifth go! The map on the next page will give you some idea of the situation.

There are some interesting routes to do.  One – the Knife Edge – is about three feet wide and you get very wet in the process. A canoe trip to Livingstone Island gets you wetter still if you miss it.  On the west side of the falls, the incessant spray causes a tropical rain forest to grow.  The guidebook advises you to take a raincoat, but we had a cheap shower when we walked through it.  After this free bath, we walked back to the rest camp and had a long talk with the owner of an art shop.  His wife did the most beautiful paintings of native faces and places.

That night we stayed in Zambia, being received by a charming coloured gent at the frontier. The waters of the Zambezi are wonderfully clear above the falls and we had a good wash in them – although there are supposed to be crocs and hippos about.  Then to a native stall where we did battle with the vendors.  They will try to sell you anything.  For example, a genuine assegai for an English shirts.  We wanted our shirts, so we left them grinning and shouting, “Boss, boss, you buy my spear and I will give you a shield as well.” Back to the customs post and we showed our passports.  The Rhodesian customs officer saw them and said, “I say!  You’re English, aren’t you?”, “Righty O chaps, this way.”  He let us through with the sincerity and charm that all Rhodesians seem to posses.

We decided to go through the Wanki Game Reserve on the way back.  Most of the parks in Africa are areas of country where the game is preserved and concentrated.  Nearly every sort of game can be seen and it’s a photographer’s paradise.  That night, we stayed in an hotel in Det.  This was a typical English pub.  Yes, such places do exist right in the middle of the bush!  You just walk in and ask for a pint of best bitter and you’re right back in England.


After a riotous booze up and a good night’s sleep, we drove to the border at Beit Bridge and reached it in time to cross back into South Africa.  The monumental forms we had to fill in didn’t deter us, and, under the heading of ‘What is the racial origin of your parents?’ I put down ‘Eskimo-African & Chilean- Chinese.’  In answer to the question ‘How much fund have you?’ I put ’50 Yen, 2d.m, 4 Kroner, 2 Zambian Shillings and a packet of fags.’  They obviously couldn’t read them as, after a delay of half an hour or so we got through.  Our comments on leaving Rhodesia were, “It’s an Ace Place


Caving Meets

March 13th.  Mendip. August/Longwood System.

April 8th – 11th (Easter) Yorkshire. Including Grange Rigg & G.G.

May 28th – 30th (Whitsun) Yorkshire. Including Mungo Gill/Stump Cross trip.

July.  AUSTRIA.  Dates to be announced.

August 24th.  Stoke Lane.


At about this time of the year, it has been the endeavour of the B.B. to try to bring a little culture into the otherwise drab lives of its readers.  Older members will no doubt remember the Rubaiyat of Omar Obbs and the Norse Saga of Berewulf.  It is therefore with justifiable pride that we were able to announce this year that our researches into the depth of English Lit. have unearthed a hitherto unpublished portion of Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’.  This fragment is thought by scholars to be an earlier version of part of the Prologue which Chaucer was later forced to abandon by persons unknown who wished to suppress this early reference to the B.E.C.

Although the more difficult aspects of the spelling and pronunciation of the text have been removed (final e’s are not sounded for example) we realise that it still makes difficult reading.  However, it must be remembered that ‘you can’t not ‘ave instant culture’….

A cavynge ladde ther was, a stryplynge he
Yit wel y-versde in spelyologye.
A lampe hadde he of bras upon hys hatte
Y-broyderde on hys cloke ther was a batte.
Hys bootes grete of lethir on hys feete
Al dubbynde wer, and sette with nayls complete.
Around hys wayst hadde he a nylone lyne
And from thys gerful hyng a karabyne.
As wel coude he pleye on a giterne
In al Meydeepe, nas brewhouse ne taverne
Hadde he ne visitede, and dronk hys wyn
Til dun he fel, y-dronken lyk a swyn.

Now turned oure hoste unto thys caver mery
And seyde “Before we goe to Caunterbury
And tells oure tayles wonderful and longe
We al woude lyk from you a mery songe.”
Thys caver then bethoughte himself to singe
Ne wishynge in that plaas to she whys rynge
So strucke of herynge and of leccherie
Then alle setde when he hys songe hadde sunge
“He hath a rotten, fowle and yvel tunge.
We al mst leewe thys cavynge ladde byhynde
For eke he hath a wikkyd twystede mynde.”

“Now by Seynt Cuthberd!” spake thatte caver bolde,
“Righte ribalde tayles will ye al hawe tolde
Upon youre wiage.  If I go alonge
Wyth you we will have many a Hunters songe
And mayk oure way by ridge-walks on the doune
Thatte runs to Caunterbury from London toune.
Oure Clymbynge Secce will wryte, for al to see,
A notys of our tryppe in the B.B.
And diverse other cavers joyne oure ranks.”
“Agrede!” seyed every oon, “You have oure thankes
And, if you come to Caunterbury, we
Wil al applye to joyne the B.E.C.”

Editor’s Note:    It seems doubtful whether any other cavynge – sorry, caving club can claim such an early reference in English Literature!

Speleological Fallout.

In return for the use which cavers make of aluminium alloys developed for aircraft, cavers have been able to contribute towards the safety of the Concord supersonic airliner.

Lightweight caving ladders were lent by the Bristol Exploration Club to the Filton Division of the British Aircraft Corporation to help in evaluating escape techniques. From the ground, the Concord wings are twenty feet up.  Escape hatches are positioned over the wings and this means that some controlled method of descent which can be stored on the aircraft is essential.  The ladders were tried as a possibility because they are light, strong and, strange though this may seem to a caver, able to resist heat.

R.S. King.


Austria – 1965

by Dave Irwin and Joan and Roy Bennett.

The Following article is not intended to be a day to day report of the various activities, but a general description of the visit to the Dachstein Plateau and the caves visited under the fine guidance of Helmuth Planer and Wolgang Hvemer.

The reconnaissance of the Dachstein Plateau produced several ‘finds’ – none being extensive which probably are already known to the Austrians.

The notes made by various members of the party showed that most of the caves found were shafts, all in the immediate area of the Simony Hutte and the Wiesberghaus (1½ hrs. from the Simony Hutte).  The average depth of the shafts was 40ft. ending in stone of clay chokes.  There was one exception; Shaft No.7 was bottomed at a depth of over 100ft.  The shafts appeared to be mainly formed by vadose action, whereas the short caves rarely over 6ft. long were mainly phreatic.

The systems noted were immature in appearance but the number of holes in the karts indicated that the lower reaches of limestone must have considerable quantities of water collecting to form large cave systems.

The first days search involved two parties.  Party 1 searched along the large doline and scree slopes of the Tauben Kogel and found several shafts (Area ‘C’ on Fig.4).  At the base of the Tauben Kogel a very large phreatic tube was inspected but was found to slope upwards and terminated in a rift that could not be entered.

The second party inspected that smaller doline (Area A on Fig.4) to the west of the Simony Hutte and found several shafts (all choked at about 20 Feet) and short caves.  One of the caves contained a very fine ice grotto made up of crystal clear ice pendants and ice curtains.  There appeared to be little melting taking place although the air temperature outside was probably 65OF.  A snow block at the entrance was probably the agent cooling the air entering the little system.

Shaft No.7 was visited the next day and proved to be over 100ft. total depth (area B Fig.4).  The shaft, on inspection, was some 20ft. deep with a steeply sloping bedding plane inclined at 40O heading approx. south west. This led to a rift passage that ended in a 20ft. pitch into a bell shaped chamber.  From this chamber a meandering rift led to a second and final chamber.  (See Fig.2).

Later that day a party of 5, undeterred by the pouring rain, had a further look for sinks along the path leading to the Dachstein Ridge.  It had been reported by a member of the party that he had noted a particular active sink.  Several sink holes were found, and considerable quantities of water were seen to be poring into them.  It was extremely interesting to watch the water flowing down the steeply vadose trenches all leading to larger trenches, with the water finally sinking in small shafts leading under snow fields but never appearing at their lower edges.

On the second day a group visited the series of large dolines north of the Wiesberghaus.  The intention was to locate an ice cave reputed to be finer than the Dachstein Ice Cave, but they met with no success (Area D Fig.4).

However, many entrances were found including a 35ft. deep double shaft that ended in a tight extension at the bottom.  It soon became clear to the party that this level was more promising then the higher levels near the glacier but, time and descending cloud made further inspection inadvisable.

During discussions that followed it was generally felt that we needed more information about the area, and that the likelihood of finds were much better at the lower levels near the heads, or on the sides of the deep cut valleys.  The higher regions nearer the retreating glacier contained only small holes as those found on the small conical peak called Schoberl, lying south west of the Simony Hutte.

A small cave in the North West side of this was reached by climbing.  It consisted of a small chamber with an inaccessible chimney in the roof.  Other holes were noted in the vicinity, but did not go.  No draughts were noticed in any of these caves.

As a change from looking at holes a trip was taken up the local peak, the Hohe Dachstein, 3004m (nearly 10,000ft.) high.  This was quite easy under the prevailing conditions and comprised a walk across a very un-crevassed glacier leading up to the rock wall of the peak.  This should have made a pleasant finish to the climb, but was entire ruined by the vast amount of ironmongery, chains, stemples, etc. The party did not linger on the top because of the inclement weather.  Members enjoyed some good glissading on the way down.

One cave in particular found near the Dachstein Peak was of interest as it was a small phreatic tube.  Further down form the peak two small caves in the north wall of the Neiderer Dachstein were climbed up to.  The east one had a chimney entrance full of vertical soft snow.  This could be climbed to a small chamber with ice on the walls and an inaccessible chimney in the roof.  The west one was a small chamber containing old snow, with no extensions.  Further down the same ridge there were two rather inaccessible and unpromising looking holes.  Lower still in the east face of the Neiderer Kreuse there was a much larger hole which was not visited.  After leaving the glacier, the path passed east of, and close to, another hole which would have been worth another look.  Nearing the hut again, a small shaft on the same side of the path as descended for about 12ft.  There was an estimated 30 feet to go to what appeared to be a small chamber or passage. (See Fig.3).

From the notes made by various members there was general agreement that if parties were to return to this area then a terrific amount of digging would be required to get into anything big and that the lower reaches would pay bigger dividends.

HIRLATZHOHLE  (alternatively Hierlatzhohle)  (Fig.5).

Following a 9 o’clock start (central European time – not Belfry time) a short car drive led to the bottom of a heavily wooded scree slope at the base of the high and impressive Hirlats Wall.  Our path to the cave entrance involved a longish (so we thought) climb up the scree slope.  It was not long before certain members, sweating from head to foot, were swearing that they would never smoke another cigarette!  A half hour later, after numerous stops, we arrived at the cave entrance with our guides Helmuth Planer and Wolfgang Hvemer looking as cool as when they left the cars.

The cave entrance was some 25 feet above the floor level and reached by a fixed iron ladder.  The entrance was locked by a heavy iron gate, the key for it having been obtained from the proprietor of the Café Bilz at Halstatt.  Soon everybody was ready, feeling more that we should go down into the valley and recuperate from the ‘exhausting’ climb than face a long caving trip.

As we entered the cave, a fresh blast of air greeted us becoming stronger as we approached the twilight zone.  Here the roof dropped to a low bedding plane forcing one to grovel and manoeuvre over planks of wood thus keeping out of the cold pool of water on the right hand side. Our guides were quite surprised to find that the entrance was not still iced up.  At this point the air moving out of the cave was almost gale force, blowing out the lamps and creating a miniature sea storm on the surface of the pool. After a seemingly endless delay of passing kit through the bedding plane we warmed up in a fair sized chamber with a mud covered floor.  From here a long stretch of ‘narrow’ passage with a series of blind potholes in the floor led to several kilometres of sandy passage, broken frequently by potholes up to 40ft. down.  Suddenly the passage became blocked by a boulder choke and a bypass through small sandy passages led to an enormous passage over a kilometre in length.  The floor, strewn with boulders of varying sizes, was about 20 – 30ft. wide and the roof rarely dropping below 20 – 25ft. in height.  A fork in the passage terminated this large section.   To the right our way was barred by a large lake, but we were informed that this was quite short and a passage continued for quite some way the other side.     The left passage involved a traverse around a deep vadose trench, with an active stream feeding the lake.  After a few yards the sandy type of passage continued until we reached a camp site. Here a well earned smoke break was taken.  It soon became apparent that the cave was generally colder than the average English cave. The ground was extremely cold to the touch, and the cave temperature varied between 3°C and 6°C in comparison with the average English temperature of 10°C.

Leaving the camp site we continued to the last section of the cave.  A fixed wooden ladder led to a high level passage, at first being quite small, but soon returning to the average size passage of some 10ft. wide. This last section was particularly interesting.  The ‘fill’ was a fine lime dust that was apparently not brought into the cave but was said to be formed from the continuous break-down of rock within the system.  Another interesting feature was several 3” – 4” long elliptical shaped patterns on the mud surface.  This, we were told, was due to the water dripping off the roof, being carried by the cave wind, and striking the soft mud surface a fairly high velocity.  This section of the cave was covered by black dust that was brought in from the entrance by the wind and settled in these far regions.  Apparently an annual equivalent to our gorse burning takes place high in the valley. The ash is carried down by the wind and some of it is blown into the cave.  A further interesting point is that many of the boulders were noted to have scalloped marks on their faces resulting from phreatic conditions, a rare sight in Britain where most boulders have been acted upon by stream action and this in general only wears down the sharp edges.

The whole cave seemed to be phreatic in origin, as did most of the caves that we visited, with little subsequent vadose action.  It seems probable that the fluctuations in temperatures in the past created large volumes of glacial and snow melt water and the caves were only active (to any great extent) during these melt periods, leaving the cave relatively inactive during winter months, and thus displaying little vadose development. 

All in all, this was an impressive system, having a total length of approx. 6 kilometres of which we covered 5 kilometres each way.

It was reported later by a visitor at the Simony Hutte that a top entrance to the Hirlatz had been found recently in the form of a deep shaft, but this has not yet been verified.


About 10 miles to the north of Halstatt lies the Totes Gebirge which includes several high peaks, one being the Schonberg.  In one of the ridges leading to this huge limestone mass lies the Raucher System. A short walk from the entrance is the Ischler Hutte, a mountain hut run by the Austrian Alpine Club which gave all the comforts one could wish for – particularly the wine.

The Raucher System was found some 3 to 4 years ago and has several entrances, all except one being pitches.  The exception was a small hole which had been dug and blasted to achieve an easier access. This entrance was our way in, and led to steeply inclined passage, the wall of which are quite shattered by severe frost action.  The angle of the passage lessened as we approach a 15 – 20ft. diameter shaft said to be some 150ft. deep.  From here the passage increased in size, but the slope of the floor eased to a slight incline, only to fork into 3 smaller passages.  Following the left hand one of the 3 a short crawl, with quite a chilly draught, led to a large passage terminating in an advantage point overlooking a huge chamber.  This was the largest chamber in the cave several hundred feet long and about 100ft. wide.  The roof appeared to be about 100ft. high.  These figures are an estimate of the wall distances but the chamber extended into large ‘fingers’ leading to other series, not seen from the centre of the chamber.  Its immenseness is difficult to describe, but one could barely make out the walls from the lights of a fairly large party.  With the aid of ‘spot’ torches the colour of the walls appeared to be deep reddish brown streaked with white patches; which no doubt would make a fine photograph if sufficient light were available.  At least three large circular shafts entered the side of the chamber.

On our first visit to the Raucher System we were taken on a general tourist trip, the first passage off the main chamber was a dead end that terminated in a 100 metre shaft; another shaft close by had been laddered (the only one of 42 shafts!) to a ledge some 150ft. down, with at least another 150ft. to the bottom.  Next we went to the ‘Newlands’ off the Fledermausgang Series. Again we met with more deep shafts some at least

30 – 40ft. in diameter and perhaps 100ft. deep, leading to smaller holes at the bottom.  Although short pitches and a little crawling through phreatic tubes at the entrance to this series made the going a little tedious, the passage beyond returned to the ‘normal’ size for this system.  Like the Hirlatz Cave this system is mainly phreatic with a terrific amount of sand fill.  Many of the large passages displayed superb rock pendants by the hundred.  At the end of the known section two members of the party found a tight and apparently deep rift.  This new ground is in the form of two narrow rifts in the section beyond the traverses around two potholes.  The first one was descended by climbing and led away from the known cave to the bottom of a large pothole with no way on.  A small stream fell into the pot and flowed out along the floor of the rift which inclined steeply and seemed to run back under the approach passage.  This was left as we did not have a lifeline with us. The second rift was roughly 20yds. further on and commenced as a sloping passage which led to another vertical rift where we were again hampered by the lack of a rope.

We returned the following day to the second, more promising rift, to find that it was climbable, but a lifeline desirable.  There was a trickle in the bottom which could be followed upstream for quite some distance until the rift became too narrow.  It was generally narrow anyway, and progress downstream was only possible via an awkward vertical squeeze.  Beyond this point the rift was quite remarkable and consisted basically of a meandering stream cut cleft averaging 4 to 6 inches wide.  It was locally enlarged along a rough horizontal line which could be followed with some difficulty and repeated small changes in level. Owing to the narrowness, the little stream soon disappeared out of sight and the roof could not be seen.  The party suggested that, before the squeeze, the height was at least 50ft., possibly more.

The rift was followed for quite some way and showed little change in character, but further exploration was not possible as carbide was running low.  Helmuth Planner considered it worth following as it could lead to the postulated lower level of the Raucher System.  As a characteristically friendly gesture he named the B.E.C. Cleft.

A second party explored the shaft near the first pitch to the “Newlands”.  Here an initial pitch of 60ft. leads to another of 25ft. with a further shaft dropping away for at least a further 60ft.  Alas, the lack of tackle prevented further exploration.

Continuing our tourist trip on the first day, the party returned to the big chamber and were then shown a new extension found by Helmuth Planner, our guide.  This proved to be a series of passages and chambers, although not of the size of the main passage chamber they were of impressive dimensions.  Here one saw rock sculpturing at it’s finest, not only more pendants, but eyeholes and fantastic rock screens all pale pink in colour.  Although the cave lacked stalagmite formations it was well decorated with ice formations in the Ice Series.

It was the luck of several members to be included in a surveying and exploration trip.  Following a slow, but interesting survey near the dining room in a passage with a large quantity of fill containing many bat bones, and our only sight of vadose action in the cave, we returned to the Ice Series. Leaving the Ice Lake we chimney up an ice covered rift leading to the top of a snow choke giving access to an awkward 15ft.climb on to a 30ft. high snow cone.  Towering above, a rift could be seen emitting faint rays of daylight, perhaps 100ft. or more above.  After a careful descent of the snow cone we landed at the edge of a cave glacier. The chamber at this point was fairly large, the whole floor being covered with about a 20ft. layer of ice, sloping away at the afar side to a boulder pile.  To the right of the snow cone a small passage led to a little complex of passages; one of which was covered with fine 1 inch long ice crystals. The climb down the glacier proved to be quite an experience for all the English party.  Strange as it was to see ice in a cave, it was even more strange to see great piles of snow and to cave over it!  With only two pairs of crampons between us, the unlucky ones had to hang on for dear life to a handline attached to a point at the head of the glacier, for fear of sliding perhaps 30 or 40ft. into the boulder pile at the bottom! In fact one member of the English party who was wearing crampons was the only one two slide, taking one of the Austrians with him!  (Guess who? – typist).  Once at the bottom of the glacier, the way led to a series of passages displaying remnants of fine ice formations, the majority of which lay shattered on the floor. Occasionally one saw ice pendants, some up to 30ft. long, hanging precariously from the roof.  It was not advisable to linger at the point in view of the recently fallen formations lying around.  Apparently the formations are at their best when the melt water enters the cave in the spring where it is immediately frozen due to the cold underground conditions.  Eventually the passage ended in a 50ft. or more drop, across the top of which one had to climb. This involved an awkward manoeuvre to reach a short ladder hung there for convenience and easing the climb up across the top of the pitch. The higher level passage soon led to another pitch that could not be avoided, and was the farthest point reached by the Austrians in 1964.  One member of the party (who was in fact our leader) had been down the pitch into the chamber beyond.  Although only 60ft. deep it was one of these awkward pitches where one is alternating between free and against the rock face.  At the bottom we found ourselves in quite a large chamber perhaps 100ft. long and about 50ft. wide.  The roof height being at about 50ft. or so.  As so much time was being consumed on the pitch by passing down rucksacks (no need for small compact ammo boxes) the first two down went off into a large passage containing several very deep shafts about 20 – 25ft. in diameter. Another was a rift thought to be some 100 metres deep and at least 70 metres above us – neither top nor bottom could be seen, even with powerful spot torches.  From here the passage forked and most of the branches were explored, but these ended in deep, narrow rifts – perhaps if pushed they might go.  Many large passages (Mendip size) were ignored as being too small!  A branch was found leading back to a balcony in the large chamber where the main party had commenced surveying.  The remainder of the English contingent explored passages at the far end of the chamber and found more massive ice flows and a rabbit warren of passages. The 12 hour trip in this part of the cave gave a completely new insight to caving.


1.                  KROPPENBRULER HOHLE.  An active resurgences cave that floods to a considerable degree in the spring is the lowest of the trio of show caves.  Although the entrance is large and impressive, the size (at least the public section) soon closes down to a narrow rift some 2 – 3ft. wide. Inside the entrance small boulder choked chambers are to be seen, and apparently the waters alter the cave scenery annually during the floods in the area.  There then follows a long section of rift cave terminating near a stream entering on the left only to sump almost immediately.  Small stal. deposits line the walls indicating a slightly higher temperature than that of the higher caves.

2.                   DACHSTEIN ICE CAVE.  A magnificent cave who’s entrance affords a wonderful view of Lake Halstatt.  There are two ways to reach the ticket office high on the mountain side.  One is by cable car; the other by walking up by the mountain track.  It was remarkable how few people were seen on the track, compared with the state of the cable cars.  From the cable car, a longish walk led to the cave entrance.  The guides, dressed in forestry uniforms, led the way through strong iron doors into a passage that increased in size, ending in a large chamber one displaying a few formations long since destroyed by the early explorers. Continuing down the passage, the main chamber was soon reached, having huge boulder piles on the far side.  Soon we were climbing up again to a narrow passage blocked by a doorway.  Once the door was opened one saw an archway of ice, a fine ice glacier and a 60ft. high ice wall.  From here, though an ice tunnel, the party entered a magnificent chamber displaying huge ice formations, some as high as twenty feet, flows, and a mass of ice crystals covering the chamber roof.  Wondering how much there was to see, we entered another chamber where a descending staircase led to an ice chapel, a high circular chamber carved out of ice. Returning to the chamber above, we soon reached daylight by a low, wide passage.  This exit is about 60ft. above the entrance and connected by a steep pathway.

3.                  EISRIENENWELT.  (The World of the Giants).  This show cave is situated in the Tennengebirge which is a rugged limestone massif to the west of the Dachstein.  A mini-bus is taken up a hairy private road through the woods and deposits passengers a short distance form the cable car. This raised a further 100m metres to a small chalet/café, where one spends the time before the trip around the cave.  There is then a 20min walk along a made-up path, around the cliff, to the cave entrance. The entrance is huge, being 65ft. high, and nearly as wide, and is set in the middle of a practically sheer cliff.

The show section of the cave basically consists of a long, high passage which climbs steadily up from the entrance into the mountain.  There the way goes up a large ice wall which nearly reaches to the roof of the chamber. The route continues through various passages and chambers filled with beautiful ice formations.  There is a memorial to Alexander Mork, one of the original explorers of the cave who was killed during the First World War.

The way goes past a section of ‘glacier’ which shows lines of deposition during various years.  The way back is cut through the first enormous ice wall, and although many people pass through it, there appears to be little melting.

The cave is not lit by electricity as is the Dachstein Ice Cave, but various members of the party carry large hand carbide lamps, whilst  the guides carry large rolls of magnesium ribbon, which are used to light up the various formations, and which is very effective.

It is also possible to arrange a caving trip to the further section of the cave which takes, in all, about 10 hours.  The show cave is about 600 metres long, whilst the whole cave covers about 26 miles.






Callan Pot

(Another B.E.C. First?)

by Keith Murray & Alan Thomas.

Holes are always worth going down, even if sometimes the cave doesn’t seem worth the candle.  The object of this weekend was to investigate a hole which Keith had first seen three years ago, and again in an enlarged condition two years ago.  (What or who was in the enlarged condition? – Ed.)

Cwm Callan may be reached by following the A40 as far as Bwlch, then turn sharp left across the Usk to Talybont and take the road which runs alongside the Talybont reservoir and on to the Taf Fechan reservoir, passing spectacular waterfalls on the right. Take the road marked Dol-y-Gaer across the reservoir and, at the station, the road suddenly becomes a track under a railway bridge and goes on up Cwm Callan.  There are derelict buildings on the left, at which it is convenient to park.  The hole lies up to the left near a partly walled earthwork, known as Y-Gaer. Leaving the Belfry at 5.30am on a November morning – having been savaged by an alarm clock – it was found to be only three hours drive via Gloucester.  We returned next day via the ferry in about the same time.

The hole stands on an open moor land.  There is a the stump just to the North of it, but we preferred to ladder from the east, using two stakes brought for that purpose, as the ledge appeared to be safest from that side.  I was disappointed to find that a twenty five foot ladder climb reached the top of the mound which had been formed by the collapse of the roof.  This mound sloped down for a further ten feet and there was no sign of lateral development.  It was interesting to go down a hole formed in breccia rather than solid rock, though there was a tendency for loose stones to strike one.  Keith explains the situation as follows: -

A outlier of a steeply dipping limestone outcrops around D0l-y-Gaer station onn the old Merthyr to Brecon Railway.  It is bounded on the south side by a stream flowing down Cwm Callan and to the north, ends in a spectacular fault zone shown by a line of dolines and a tree lined gulch of great sandstone blocks turned over at a very steep angle, which runs down to the reservoir.  The whole is crowned by the circular earthwork of Y-Gaer.

About a hundred yards to the south of the dolines this pot, which was expected to be in dark, close-grained limestone, appeared.  It turned out to be, not in solid rock, but in a zone of brecciated quartz conglomerate and limestone which looked to be dangerously loose, but was found to be firmly cemented – one presumes by carbonate deposits from water dripping from the roof which had an ‘L’ pendant of streaky bacon hanging from one section. The pot is roughly cylindrical with a domed roof, one portion of which had fallen in and accounted for the loose funnel of drift material seen from the ground, the contents of which have piled up in a mound on the floor of the pot.

The pot is therefore in the crush zone of the fault area and is not therefore likely to connect with any cave system, although a trickle of water disappears under a rock flake in the North West corner of the floor.

The only thing which remains to be said is that the farmhouse fare which we consumed during the weekend made it an event of greater significance gastronomically than speleologically.

B.E.C. Caving Report Number 11.

Will the owners of copies of this report please note the following errata…

Page 6.  Rocky Boulder Series – delete words ‘part of’.   Note (b) should read ‘…South end, together with a pothole.’  Line 26 should read ‘..has been included in a Grade 6 survey’

Page 21.  Fig.(5) should read ‘Section looking North West’

Page 22.  Fig.(13) should read ‘….looking West’

Page 25.  Fig.(15) should read ‘….looking North West’


An Elementary Consideration of Heat Losses from Streams of Water in Caves

Our next article is an example of the scientific approach to caving problems. Members of the B.E.C. are paying increasing attention to this side of caving, and this article is both appropriate and topical…

by Mike Luckwill.

Conditions of heat exchange in a large cave are extremely complex and will not be unravelled until a large number of temperature measurements, together with water flow rates and other variables, have been obtained.  The construction of an extremely simple model enables hypotheses to be tested and may point the direction in which results are required. I therefore make no apologies for the crudity of the model I shall investigate.  I will, however, attempt to examine the consequences of the over simplification involved.

First of all, let us look at some facts.  The temperature differences concerned are so small that heat losses due to radiation are negligible and so we need only consider heat losses due to conduction. Water conducts heat about twice as well as rock and about twenty times as well as air.  We shall assume that the water loses heat only to the rock and that the rock is capable of absorbing this heat without increasing in temperature. This assumption is quite reasonable when one considers the vast quantities of rock in relation to the small amount of heat. Furthermore, we shall assume that the temperature of the rock remains constant at 8°C.

We shall assume that the greater mass of water has a temperature t°C and that this temperature only starts to drop within 1 cm of the water/rock surface, giving a temperature gradient of (t-8) °C per cm.

The temperature drop of the water is then given by T where

 °C/sec. where K = Coefficient of conductivity of water = 0.0015.

A = Water/Rock surface area and V = volume of water.

Let us consider a semicircular channel, radius ‘r’ cm and length ‘l’ cm.

The ‘A’ = prl and V = pr21/2 hence A/V = 2/r.

T therefore = 0.0015(t-8)2/rOC/second and, if r = 40cms, T = 0.000075(t-8)OC/second.

The correct method of finding the manner in which the temperature varies with time would be to use the calculus.  However, in the interests of simplicity, I will make an approximation by assuming that the water stays at the same temperature for ten minutes, and calculate the temperature drop every ten minutes.  Thus,

T = 0.000075(t-8).600OC/10 minutes or 0.045(t-8)OC/10min.

Graph 1 expresses the above result…

We now construct a graph showing the change of temperature of the water with time by the following method.    A time O, we shall assume that the water temperature is 12OC.    From graph 1, we find that the temperature drop at 12OC is 0.18OC.  Subtracting 0.18 from 12 we get 10.86, and we plot this as the temperature for time 10 minutes.  We now find the temperature drop for 10.86 and calculate the temperature at 20 minutes, and so on.  By this method, we obtain graph 2…


Let us now consider water percolating through rock.  Typical dimensions for a suitable model would be a cylinder of water radius 1cm.  Once again, A = 2prl and V = pr2l, giving

A/V = 1/r = 1 in this case.

Hence T= 0.0015(t-8)OC/second = 0.9(t-8)OC/10 minutes.

Thus, at 12OC, a drop of 3.6OC might occur in ten minutes.  Using the same methods as we did to produce graph 2, we can now produce graph 3, which has been plotted on the same graph above, again showing the change in temperature with time.

What conclusions are to be drawn from these results?  Firstly, a stream arising from percolating water will quickly reach the rock temperature. Thus, the temperature of the rock may be measured by measuring the temperature of a suitable water inlet in the cave e.g. the drinking fountain in St. Cuthbert’s.  Secondly, the temperature of such a stream is likely to be 1OC lower than the temperature of the Main Stream in the cave, as the main stream would take several hours to reach rock temperature.

To construct a simple model to find air temperature is more difficult.  I suggest that deep in a cave, the air reaches the rock temperature of approximately 8OC.  Accepted temperatures of about 11OC are probably wrong because of the difficulty of measurement.  As soon as one approaches a thermometer near enough to read it, ones breath must quickly cause the thermometer to give a false reading.

Book Review

DOOLIN – ST. CATHERINE’S CAVE.  by Dr. O.C. Lloyd, published by the U.B.S.S. at ten shillings.

This is yet another very worth while publication by the U.B.S.S. on one of the caves of County Claire.  The publication consists of thirty pages of text, together with eight photographic plates and a grade 4 survey.

The bulk of the text is devoted to a detailed description of the cave system and an explanation of its origin.  This is preceded by a history of the exploration of the system in which is included a song inspired by the Doolin Cave and a description of the cave rescue carried in 1957.

The cave consists of nearly five miles of passages and any person proposing to explore the system would be well advised to make reference to this publication.

Tony Meadon


Second Report of Roman Mine

Readers may remember the work which Jill Tuck is doing over in Monmouthshire from the earlier articles which have appeared in the B.B. on the Roman Mine and on Slit-Sided Stalactites.  Here is her report on the latest position….

by Jill Tuck.

Further exploration, digging and surveying over the last few months has shown that the mine is basically a natural cave which was worked over by miners, that it consists of two main natural rifts with cross passages, and that the total length of open passage is approximately a thousand feet at present, although digging and removal of miner’s debris would extend the mine in several places.  The plan of the cave is extremely difficult to plot clearly as some of the passages lie above each other, following the same rift at different heights, and thus as many as five could be superimposed on one another on a survey.

Since the previous report in May 1965, the mine has been visited by others including Dr. Thomas (Dept. of Industry) and G. Boon (Dept. of Archaeology) of the National Museum of Wales, and Dr. Jefferson of the S.W.C.C. who is interested in it from a zoological aspect.  The archaeological finds have since been examined by George Boon and Dr. Savory of the National Museum of Wales, whose report – abbreviated – is as follow: -


Shards of carinated bowl in hard, coarse grey ware.  This type of bowl is common in Flavian context at Caerlon, and the present specimen is probably a local copy of this type and of approximately similar date say c. A.D. 75 – 100.


Portion of a single edged bone comb of normal composite form, consisting of six hand sawn plates held – by bone pegs – between two, slightly arched, lateral strips; a decoration of four scored lines on the end of each strip as preserved.  The end plate is of slightly horned shaped.  This type of comb is not Romano-British, and in so far as can be dated, clearly belongs to the Merovigian or later periods on the continent i.e. to the VIIth Century or later.  The example is plainer than this, but it exhibits the beginning of a more designated ‘winged’ type, where the end plates protrude above the line of the back. In the winged type, however, the back tends to be more boldly arched than here.  Combs of similar type have recently been found, in Viking period contexts, during excavations in the city of Dublin.  In the full medieval period, the tendency was for combs to become once more double edged. Although, therefore, the comb cannot be said to be closely dated, it would appear most likely have been ‘Dark Age’ to early Medieval date, with the emphasis probably on the IXth to XIth Centuries.


Found with pottery next to hearth.  Portion of heavy spar containing barites, chalybite and haematite.

More pottery from the same jar has been found scattered along the Main Entrance Passage, and a large part of this was found thrown on top of a heap of miner’s deads near the beginning of Pool Passage.  The clearing of a few rocks away from this heap revealed much charcoal and a hearth, apparently untouched, since the stones were found still arranged in a circle and with their inner sides blackened by fire.  In spite of a careful search, we have not been able to find the remaining pieces of the bone comb, and it is probable that, if they are in the mine, they have fallen further down Comb Rift.  An attempt was made to follow this down but the steep angle of the stone slide made it extremely difficult and excavation is now in hand on the upper portion of the rift.  This is very awkward for the digger, as it is very similar to being at the bottom of the coal shute!

Very briefly, the information we have accumulated is as follows.  Once the Romans had established themselves sufficiently in this part of Wales, they immediately began to take out the metals.  An extensive site of roman lead washing and smelting works has been excavated in the valley about three hundred feet below the hill, but the source of the metal has so far been unknown, although it was assumed that it was mined locally.  The mines were under military supervision from Caerlon, and the actual mining was probably done by slave labour.  As Mendippers, we were very interested to learn that there is a strong possibility that the legion managing this Roman Mine had just come fresh from controlling the mining operations on Mendip.  The actual working methods were either to pick out the veins with a pick, chisel and hammer (pickmarks can be seen in many places in Roman Mine) or to build fires against the rock and then to drench the rock with cold water so that it shattered.  The ore was then carried out in baskets or on a miner’s shoulder, or put in a wheel barrow, or winched up in those mines where there were shafts.

Before we found Roman Mine, it was thought that in this area, mining during the Roman occupation consisted probably of surface working and that, if any ore had been taken from thus hill, all traces would have been swept away by the later mining about 1800. Although Roman coins have been recorded in an unnamed shaft in the vicinity, there was so little definitely known about this find that it was possible that they had fallen in from the surface, and all the workings remaining were assumed to be the 19th Century. We have not been able to find any trace of work of this date in Roman Mine.  No pipes; shoes; footmarks; tools or shotholes – which are frequent in adjacent mines.

The Bone Comb is a rarity as there is nothing exactly like it recorded and any information from the dark ages – especially in Wales – is very valuable.  Its presence in Roman Mine is a mystery which we, with I.C.I. Fibres Speleological Section, are trying hard to solve by digging upwards in the rift where it was found.  If we can prove that the rift extends to the surface, it will suggest that the comb fell or was thrown in a passer-by.  However, if the rift connects only with an upper passage, it may be evidence for mining activities between the VIIth and Xth Centuries, and may be of great importance.

We are working at present on this, also to discover the original entrance which is still unknown and to find what ore was mined in the cave as there is some doubt about this. Archaeological investigation is being undertaken by M. Hussey, who has previously dug a similar site.  Because of this work, we do not wish to publish the actual situation of the mine, but if anyone would like to visit it and will get in touch with us, we shall be pleased to arrange a trip.

Editor’s Note:    Seeing the subject of this manuscript, we rashly assumed that if it was the work of Jill alone, and gave no credit to the other half of the Tuck caving Team.  We apologise, Norman, and hope to buy you beer when you’re next on Mendip.  For good measure, the Tuck’s address is: -

48, Wiston Path,

Photo Essay

This is our second monthly warning about this competition, for next year’s dinner.  There are still ten months to go, but don’t get to complacent. It will take a fair amount of work to get between ten and a dozen photos telling a connected story – either in black and white or as colour slides, on any subject connected with the B.E.C. (Providing it is suitable for showing or displaying at the dinner next year!) Detailed rules will be coming out shortly in the New Year, but meanwhile, everybody is getting adequate warning.  Here is a real chance for the caving or climbing photographer to do something more ambitious!


Following the very successful trip to Austria, it is planned to return during 1966 at the invitation of the Austrians.  This expedition will be to join the Austrians to carry out an extensive exploration of the Raucher System.  The expedition will commence on July 9th and end on the 16th July.  This will mean (for those with a fortnight’s holiday) a midweek commencement for their holiday, leaving England on a Wednesday evening.  Members on the 1965 trip will have first refusal, but any member interested should let Dave Irwin (9 Campden Hill Gardens, London w8.) know as soon as possible so that early arrangements (booking ferries etc.) can be completed.  A meeting will be arranged at the New Inn on Sunday January 9th to discuss arrangements. All those interested should put in an appearance.


Well, that, as they say, is yer lot.  Once again, we are very conscious of the fact that this larger issue of the B.B. has been produced with insufficient time at our disposal.  This is also the end of the nineteenth volume of the B.B.  Whilst still sticking to our policy of not making rash promises, we hope to be introducing some further improvements with next year’s B.B. and as a result, the January B.B. will almost certainly be a little late.  We hope, however, to produce it in January.  Once again, we wish everybody a Happy Christmas – especially those who we hope are busy producing articles for next year’s B.B.


After last month’s B.B., we trust that club members will overlook the size and to a lesser extent, the contents of this one.  Your Editor has been away in London for a week, which has tended to muck up the B.B. arrangements.  However, we will try to get back to an acceptable standard next month, and meanwhile wish all readers a very happy new year.


Club Officers

As a result of the recent election, it is now possible to announce the names of the club officers for 1964 as follows: -

Hon. Secretary & Treasurer          R.J. Bagshaw.

Caving Secretary                         “Mo” Marriott.

Assistant Caving secretary           M. Palmer.

Climbing Secretary                      R. Bennett.

Tackle Officer                              N. Petty.

Hut Warden                                G. Tilly.

Assistant Hut Warden                  K. Abbey.

Hut Engineer                               J. Ransom.

B.B. Editor                                  “Alfie” Collins.


To avoid the loss of further tackle, the tackle store will be locked in future.  Keys are permanently held by K. Abbey, N. Petty, R. Bennett, J. Ransom and G. Tilly.  In addition, four keys are available at club each Thursday for mid-week cavers.  These must be returned within a week.

Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting

Firstly, apologies are for the lateness of these minutes, which have been delayed due to forgetfulness and Christmas.

The meeting was held at the Belfry on Sunday, 17th November and was very well attended.  Out of the possible total of 27 leaders 17 were present and as there were five or six who were definitely not able to attend, this was quite a good showing.

An agenda was issued to leaders which seemed to cover most points for discussion, which went as follows: -

Revision of Leaders List and New Leaders.

Everyone seemed to agree that the list of leaders should remain as it is, there being no satisfactory way, without offending someone, of revising it at present.  Two exceptions to this, though, become apparent during the discussion on item 2.  Regarding new leaders, two points were decided.  Firstly, that leaders should have a good working knowledge of the cave and essentially the By-Pass Passage and Pulpit Routes. 

Secondly, that prospective leaders would serve a probationary period in which they would arrange to take other leaders caving (with/without a party) to convince them of their knowledge of the cave.  It is suggested that the other leaders should consist of THREE, the total being formed by either one, two or three trips.  The new leaders were accepted with these stipulations.  These were Bryan Reynolds, Kevin Abbey and Nick Harte. A forth person awaits acceptance pending further enquiries.

Responsibilities of Leaders in the Cave.

It was decided that parties should be restricted to six including the leader, thus minimising delays in the cave; allowing greater areas to be covered and giving greater control of the party.  Leaders must be well equipped and should ensure that the party is also adequately equipped and that the club rules concerning these matters are being adhered to. A leader has the right to refuse anyone a trip who he thinks might endanger the party for any reason e.g. inadequate dress etc.  The two exceptions mentioned in item 1 are that Leaders found to be persistently avoiding arranged trips may be removed form the list by the order of the next Leaders Meeting and that any leader noticed to be negligent (e.g. allowing members of the party to cause damage – permitting excessive numbers etc.) may be removed from the list by the same means.

Cleanliness of the Cave.

The dumping of carbide was discussed and it was decided that it could be left anywhere in the streams and otherwise only at the following places.  Quarry Corner – Dinning Room – September series in Illusion Chamber. Next, it was decided that greater care by leaders was required (sometimes the biggest culprits!) to ensure removal of chocolate wrappers, flashbulb packets etc.  A party is also to be arranged to clean up the Dinning Room, which is becoming very untidy.

Naming of New Discoveries.

The meeting decided that new names should be proposed at Leaders Meetings and that they would only be accepted by a majority vote at such a meeting.  This is to ensure that overlapping or double naming does not occur. In this connection, Roy Bennett volunteered to run a trip to Coral series – Long Chamber area to finalise and agree on names given by recent discoveries.  These will finally be accepted at the Leaders Meeting as described.

Practice Rescue Trips.

It was agreed that in the early part of 1964, a series of practice rescues would be run.  Firstly to sort out the areas which will present the greatest difficulty in rescue work and secondly to attempt to list the places at which accidents are most likely to occur.  A full scale rescue would then be run to find out the manpower and the difficulties presented by the cave rescue party.  It is rumoured that John Cornwell has agreed to act as the victim. It was also agreed that, as leaders were the obvious people to form the main body of any rescue teams in Cuthbert’s, the names, addresses and ‘phone numbers of the most accessible leaders would be forwarded to M.R.O. as soon as possible.  This is being organised by the Caving Secretary.

Locking, Enlargement of New Entrance & Status of Old Entrance.

The new entrance enlargement was put into the capable hands of Mike Thompson, who I believe, fulfilled his promise before I wrote these minutes.  Further, it was agreed that the new entrance ladder required modifying to make the shaft easier to negotiate.  Nothing else appeared to be decided on this matter.  When this had been done, however, it was agreed that the new entrance would be locked and a limited number of keys issued to leaders.  The old entrance was to be boarded over, or fitted with a lock, the only keys being kept, for emergency purposes, in the M.R.O. box.  The general feeling seemed to be to board up the shaft.

Digging Operations in the Cave.

Mike Thompson reported that the digging in the sump is coming along fine.  Apart from this, any other work must be kept silent about as there were no further reports.  The feeling of the meeting was that a bit more work could be done of people would pool their ideas on digs.

Review of Fixed Tackle in the Cave.

The tackle situation was discussed and a list of priorities evolved.  The tackle on Stal. Pitch urgently needed replacing and this pitch should be avoided until this had been done.  Alternatively a ladder and lifeline can be used.  No tourist trips are to use this route otherwise.  The chain on Ledge Pitch ladder requires replacing.  Care should be exercised when using this ladder. The Mud Hall requires repairing and securing.  The wire in the Wire Rift requires removing as it has become dangerous to hands etc. General feeling was that a chain be substituted.  A rawlbolt should be fitted at the top of Pulpit Pitch.  The Wire Rift Ladder requires fixing, and should not be walked on unless really necessary.

Any Other Business.

The question of sewage seeping into the cave was discussed and it was decided to refer this matter to the committee.  The meeting closed at 5.00pm.

Mike Palmer.  Asst. Caving Sec.

Climbing North Wales – 14/15 December, 1963

Nine members took part in this meet arranged by Roy Bennett.  We stayed at the London Mountaineering Club Hut at Nant Peris which was otherwise deserted throughout the weekend.

On Saturday we split into two groups.  Joan Bennett lead a walking party comprising Barry Wilton, John Slapp and Bob Bridges up Snowdon via the Pyg Track.  They found the conditions icy with some unusual frost formations on the summit cairn, and finished up by walking down to Llanberis leaving John’s car at Pen-y-Pass.  The other party, after some indecision, made their way to the Devil’s Kitchen where they found a variety of fine ice formations including a fifty foot cascade over the capstone at the back of the kitchen.  Roy Bennett and Brian Reynolds proceeded up the climb, followed by Mo Marriott, John Howliston and Lionel Williams.  Cold Rock and snow blowing vertically upwards made the climb interesting but lengthy (very interesting with cold rock as well as snow blowing vertically upwards! Ed) so, as it was getting late, we walked down the easy route to Ogwen.  On the way back to Nant Peris, we stopped at the Pen-y-Pass and discovered John’s car. Thinking the walking party was still on the mountain, Roy and Lionel went off up the track to look for them.  Meanwhile Joan and her party back at the hut were told of these heroic actions by the other climbers and Joan and John then set off to look for Roy and Lionel!  They finally met up somewhere near the causeway and returned to the hut together.

On Sunday, the higher climbs being covered with ice, we all went to Dinas y Cromlech.  Lionel and Barry went up the flying Buttress Route followed by Mo, Bob and John Howliston.  Roy and Brian started up Neb’s Crawl but about halfway up got lost on an unstable pile of boulders and heather and finished up doing the top third of Horseman’s Route. Joan Bennett and John Slapp sat at the bottom and acted as scorers for Roy and Brian as they accidentally dislodged stones from the aforementioned pile.  Afterwards, Mo, Bob, John and Brian went across to a little pinnacle called the thumb which was climbed by way of a large crack by Mo and Brian while Lionel and Barry tackled some boulder problems and Roy and Joan tackled their lunch.  We all enjoyed this weekend very much indeed, so many thanks to Roy for organising it.

Brian Reynolds


By the way of a change this year, Sett has suggested that he contributes a series of problems for the B.B. each month, of a similar type used by O’Bierne in the New Scientist which used to be tackled regularly at the Belfry.  Each problem will be in two stages, one for amateurs and one for mathematicians.  Sett will decide who is a mathematician and they are debarred from claiming the monthly prize for solving the simpler part.  Prize is one pint per month to either the amateur or mathematician who produces a logical solution to his part of the problem.  Answers to the editor for forwarding, or (preferably) direct to Sett.



A.         The diagram represents 4 stage and 16 stage moves from A to C.  If we consider the possibility of making the steps very, very short what will the length of the line AC become if AB=BC=1 inch?

M.        Assuming that the answer is /2, prove that /2 is irrational.

“On The Hill”

by Stalagmite

Having now emerged from the alcoholic haze which surrounds everything at this time of the year, I now find time to look around to see if anything interesting has happened lately. The seasonal time of last month seems to have given the lie to the B.E.C. on teetotalism in the Wessex, and I hear this point was noted by Gordon Tilly who visited the lads at Hillgrove; returned to the Belfry and then did a ‘Carter’ by flaking out on the floor (R.I.P.)

The S.M.C.C. held a successful dinner at the Red Lion, Shepton Mallet where a good meal was enjoyed by all and there have been suggestions that the next official B.E.C. Dinner should be held there.  I say official so as not to be confused with the Christmas gathering traditionally held at the Star, Wells.  The S.M.C.D.G. held a trial dive at Balch cave which I gather was not successful. Still, I think they might be termed one of the most active bodies on Mendip.

The B.W.W. with the charterhouse C.C. have returned trusteeship of August/Longwood to Mr. Young who now has absolute carte blanche as to who he allows or not down.  The E.G.M. problem now seems to have resolved itself and has turned us, I hope, once more into a caving club rather than a quasi-political organisation.  I sincerely hope that all are now pleased to see John Ransom back in harness and look forward to some Belfry Bulletins.  There are at least ten caving clubs on Mendip.  B.E.C., Wessex, M.N.R.C., S.M.C.C. and U.B.S.S. to name but one.  I deliberately refrain from using the term active here since I can get no news of at least 50% of them.  The M.N.R. should be now be installed in an incomplete state, in the county library. Perhaps reading through this will bring forth more activity.

That’s my lot for the moment.  Not very thrilling, but one really can’t make a silk purse etc.  One last snippet, I hear that Mike Palmer and Pat Laws got engaged. Congrats from Stalagmite.

Ruthless Rhymes for callous cavers

The editor has a small space to fill up here, and, on the flimsy grounds that one member has asked for some more of the ‘Ruthless Rhymes for callous cavers’ which appeared in the B.B. from time to time some years ago; proposes to bore you with further with some more from this nauseating collection of twenty size sick caving verses.

Getting through a bedding plane
Teddy squeezed, but all in vain.
“Ah well,” they said, “That’s just like Ted
He always thought he’d die in bed.”

Jimmy bet us he could crawl
Through a crack extremely small
Now he’s gone it isn’t funny.
How are we to get our money?   

Much as we would like to stay
And extricate poor Clarence Day
We’ll have to leave him stuck, I fear,
For opening time is getting near.

Quentin, neath a stalactite
Raised himself and stood upright.
Now there is a shocking dent in
The hat and cranium of Quentin.


“A hundred B.B.’s”

We hope that readers will not mind the editor doing a little bit of private celebration on this occasion, as this issue completes his first hundred B.B.’s.  The extra size of this number is the result and, for whatever reason, is presumably welcome as such.

The B.B. has had its usual ups and downs during the time from March 1957 – when the present editor took over – until now, but we hope that the downs have perhaps not been not quite as far down as been in years previous.  The hundred B.B.’s were produce in 101 months – we did not publish any B.B. at all in November 1959.  The previous hundred took 123 months to appear, so some gain in regularity can be claimed.  Size has also gone up – although the page size is now smaller, so is the type and the wordage per page is very little different, so we may say roughly that the minimum size of the B.B. is now 8 pages against 4 and the maximum size has reached 40 against 16.

On the other hand, the quality of the duplication has not made any real strides.  No issue has been as bad as the worst B.B. ever, but no real significant improvement has been made either.  We still seek a cheap way of producing more legible B.B.’s

The quality of the articles has, in general improved over the years, but we do seem to be a bit in danger of losing our sense of humour.  If the W++++x J+++++l; can publish the occasional, very good, humerous article, I certainly think that the B.B., could also.

This is part of the message you’ve all heard from me many times in the past.  The B.B. should reflect all the activities of the club, and ideally should therefore include serious (and not so serious!) caving and climbing articles, a bit of interesting travel experiences, some humour, news of club doings (and those of other clubs and a few general odds and ends. Various methods have been tried in the past to achieve this sort of balance – one with any real success, but the editor keeps on hoping that one day he will find the magic formula!

I will end this note on my first hundred B.B.’s with a personal resolution.  I will not gas on about what it is hoped to do in the future! So many times, just when we thought we had something good in the bag – things have gone awry at the last moment that, in future, any improvements will come as a pleasant surprise.  I expect that, by the end of another hundred B.B.’s you will have a different editor, but meanwhile, we must make a start on the next hundred.  There is a fair amount of articles in the pipeline at present so I hope that the next hundred will get off, at any rate, to a good start.


July Committee Meeting.

At the July Committee Meeting, a number of subjects were discussed very fully.  The Hut Engineer reported very satisfactory progress on the new toilets, and this led to a general review of the Belfry site and its amenities.  Plans are in hand which may lead to the extension of these facilities and a number of committee members are to form a long term planning group to study the general problems of the site.  The tackle situation came under review.  Again, the position is good but ways were investigated to make tackle easier to obtain without upsetting the present system   (which at least has the merit of ensuring that we have tackle).  The Caving Secretary gave his report, as did the Hut Warden.  The Climbing Secretary reported that there was little climbing news and that members did not seem to be coming into the climbing section in any significant numbers. Final arrangements for the Dinner were discussed, also arrangements concerning the B.B. covers and Caving Reports. Publication of the terms of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund were also approved.  In addition to this, a large volume of minor business was dealt with.

Caving Meets.

July 17/18th.  Working Weekend on St. Cuthbert’s. Flood entrance pipes.  Any help would be appreciated.  A good opportunity for those who have enjoyed many trips down the cave to do something to help maintain and improve it.

September 11/12.  South Wales. Dan-yr-Ogof and O.F.D. Accommodation at S.W.C.C. cottage applied for, camping site available.

Climbing Meets.

July 16/18.  North Wales. Camping.

Sept 17/19.  North Wales. Camping.

A.G.M and Dinner.

This will be as usual on the FIRST SATURDAY IN OCTOBER which this year, falls on the 2nd.  Dinner will be at the Cave Man and will consist of Soup, Grilled Trout, Roast Turkey & Veg., Sweet or Cheese and Biscuits and Coffee. Price of the ticket will almost certainly be 16/6.  This is an advance warning!

Junior Caving Competition.

A Competition will be run by Alan Thomas which may be entered by any cavers up to the age of 18 years old.  It will NOT be confined to B.E.C. members, so if you have any caving friends outside to club who qualify, please let them know.  There will be several useful and valuable prizes.  Further details later.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund

The bequest made to the club under Ian Dear’s will has now been received and the rules, as approved at the A.G.M. governing the administration of the fund are set out below. In the circumstances, clause 5 regarding the date of applications will not be enforced this year.

1.                  The fund shall be known as the Ian Dear Memorial Fund.

2.                  The bequest will be used to set up this fund to assist junior members to visit caving or climbing areas of the continent.  Further donations may be added to the fund.

3.                  The fund will be administered by a sub-committee of five club members, of whom one must be the Hon. Treasurer of the club.  The remainder shall be nominated annually by the general committee.  The sub-committee shall report to the Annual General Meeting.

4.                  Any club member under eighteen years of age may apply.  Members over eighteen and under twenty years of age may be considered in exceptional circumstances.  The age qualification will apply on the First day of July in the year of the proposed trips.

5.                  Applications must be received by the First day of March of the year of the proposed trip. The applicant must furnish brief details of itinerary and cost at the time of application.

6.                  The maximum amount to be allocated in one year shall be limited to Fifty Pounds.  The maximum amount allocated to each individual to be limited to Ten Pounds.

7.                  The Fund shall be invested in National Development Bonds or a similar scheme.

Obituary – Noel MacSharry

It is with deep regret that we learn of the death of Noel MacSharry, while serving in the R.A.F. in Borneo.  A post mortem examination revealed that he had died of coronary thrombosis.

In the relatively short time that Noel was a member of the B.E.C., his keenness for caving and climbing became evident to all who met him.  Although he knew that he was suffering from a serious condition, he never allowed this to affect him, and maintained his cheerful outlook until he left us to go abroad again.

We should like to add our sympathies to all his friends and relatives.

Pollaraftra (Co. Fermanagh – Ireland.)

by Dave Irwin.

On Whit Sunday, during my visit to Ireland with the W.S.G., a party of six including myself entered Pollaraftra.  The cave is situated, apart from being in the middle of nowhere, in the centre of a long valley.  Had we had to leave the car on a metalled surface road, a walk of two miles would have been necessary to reach the cave.  Fortunately, the car that brought us was man enough to defy the rocks and potholes of the Irish track, this eventually leading to a derelict farm cottage that we were thankful for the use of the latter when we emerged from the cave.

The entrance is one of a pair of shakeholes, one of which takes the stream.  Access to the cave is by a short climb down the dry shakehole in the form of a shallow pot.  This leads to a wide passage opening out almost immediately.  In the roof of a large chamber, a short climb of six feet gave access to a wide ledge some thirty feet above the chamber floor.  An eyehole on the left with a handy belay point for the ladder seemed the easiest way of tackling the pitch.  In fact, it proved to be the most awkward.

Once at the floor of the chamber, one could appreciate its size – some fifty feet high by fifty to sixty feet long – with the boulder strewn floor sloping under the high level ledge.  On the opposite wall to the ladder is a very fine stal. flow, falling in angular steps. The right hand side of this flow showed flood debris; mainly twigs that had become stalled over producing the curious effect of a frozen forest.

The way on was scrambling under a low arch to a rift passage in places rising to about thirty feet or so. A traverse across this section brought us to a small chamber where the stream flowing under the boulders final sumped. The way on was not clear – even though I had been given ‘clear’ instructions of the route before entering the cave by Billy Shields of the Irish Cave Club.

After wasting the party’s time, and about half hour’s thrutch, we came to the end of hundred and twenty foot long drainpipe which had to be negotiated on one’s side with camera boxes as well!  At last the right squeeze was found – all 86 feet of it!  This proved to be tighter and more awkward than the first passage.

The party got through after a few B****y H**l’s we set off down the active stream passage once more. This led us to a fair sized chamber displaying some fine cream coloured curtains.  Following the stream again through pools; down a ten foot waterfall, through a lake (traversable on the side) and past some extremely fine stalactites about seven feet long, we came to an uneven chamber the floor of which was strewn with huge blocks of limestone.  Crossing this chamber, we rejoined the stream.  We had now entered a superb rift some four to five feet wide and sixty to seventy feet high.  Here the stream bed was composed of gravel and water worn stones.  Over or through four boulder chokes, we continued along the rift until we reached the second (?) sump.  A way on was seen above the sump but it involved an awkward climb up a mud slope.  This, we learned later, led to the canals that are apparently quite extensive.

On our return, we went through one of the boulder chokes a different way.  This led to an upper chamber perhaps thirty feet square containing one of the most colourful stalactites that I have ever seen, together with a fine coloured stal. flow displaying many shades of red, brown, yellow and shades of grey.  It appears that there is and extensive upper series in addition to the canals, that make this quite a large system having a total length exceeding one mile.


After six hours in the cave, we finally emerged in pouring rain, making the farmhouse a welcome shelter. To date, the cave has not been surveyed (at least, not according to the I.C.C.) so, for the record, I’m sticking my neck out by drawing a Grade I.

Having had some Club News and Notices, and a Caving article (involving some foreign travel as well!) we continue with a climbing tale. 

A Little Peace and Solitude

by M.L.

In order to find a reasonable amount of peace and quiet, one has to travel a fair way at Easter Time. Not to the end of the world perhaps, but at least to the ends of Britain.  The Cornish Coast, Dartmoor and Exmoor are all good centres for walking, but are quickly becoming a popular off season as during the summer.  It was with this in mind that we decided, this Easter, to visit Skye and Wester Ross.

The weather before Easter had put us in high spirits, and we drove up to Glasgow on a glorious evening.  The next morning was not so bright, but we were determined not to be put off by a few clouds and had a very pleasant day driving up to Skye. The road to Portree is at present undergoing improvement and this means that heavy lorries, bulldozers and other machines have turned it into a wasteland of potholes and boulders that reduces sped to one or two miles an hour.  It was with a certain amount of relief then, that we arrived at Glen Brittle with the car still in one piece.

The classic climbing books about Skye have given the island an aura of which is hard to dispel.  One feels that one must enjoy one’s stay – even if it rains every day – as it can do.  It was thus interesting to discover what has changed and what has remained.

Sligachan is, of course, a legend and it is still possible to obtain there a delicious Sunday tea. One must arrive early, because the supply of cakes runs out after a short time.  Delicious scones, Scottish pancakes and fresh bread are accompanied by lots of jam, a plate of biscuits and shortbreads.  When everyone has finished, the climbers stay behind to finish up all the leftovers.  Sitting comfortably in the lounge listening to the older residents recalling their past experiences and including no doubt, a few tall stories, brings about a sense of security – a withdrawal from the workaday world.

Some things have changed, however.  The an-Stac stone shoot – which must in its day have been a fine descent – is now just a bare gully and an awkward descent, especially in wet weather.  “Weather” is the perennial topic on Skye!  The weather on the island is most reliable and highly unlikely to let you down.  It will rain continuously! Certainly, for our six days there, the island lived up to its name, which is Gaelic for ‘ Island of Mist’.

The day we chose to drive back to the mainland and up to Torridon, the weather cleared up and by this time was really excellent.  There is a new road from Shieldag to Torridon.  This not only makes Torridon of easy access to the tourist, but has cut into some of the few remaining natural pinewoods in Great Britain. These woods are the only haunt of the pine martin - another aspect of our fast disappearing flora and fauna. The pine martin is not an animal one sees easily – a night long vigil is required.  However, we were able to see several Roe Deer.  Two in particular were very inquisitive – presumably our own scents were masked by that of the car.  Unfortunately, it was too dark to get a good photograph.  Liathic and Benn Eighe, which offer good walking and climbing, had an impressive covering of snow and their round, massive forms offered a contrast to the Cuillins we had just left.

On the way back to Mendip, we stopped at Glencoe.  This glen seems to have a magnetic attraction to those who know it well and every year one can be sure of seeing some of the same faces and meeting old acquaintances.   Here we managed to wrestle three days from the weather and, on one of these, enjoyed an interesting traverse of Aonach Eagach Ridge.  Towards the end the cloud dropped and, although I thought I knew the area well, we completely missed the track which descends by the side of the Clachaig Gully and instead found one which goes down to the Youth Hostel.

We were rewarded, however, by the sight of a mountain hare in its winter coat.  The following day, we were wandering up Stob Corrie nam Beithe when we saw, on the final snow slope, two birds which appeared to be some kind of ducks, walking purposefully up to the top.  They were quite large – about a foot long – their upper parts were black and underneath they were white.  One of them had a red crest over its beak.

They were making excellent speed although one kept getting ahead and turning round as if to encourage the other and it was with some disappointment that we had to leave them without discovering their purpose.

So at last we returned to Mendip, our holiday cut short by the weather.  One blessing remained however.  With everyone either in Cornwall or Yorkshire, Mendip was the ideal place to enjoy a little peace and solitude.

Highways & Byways in St. Cuthbert’s

Finally, back to St. Cuthbert’s for another of those interesting and informative descriptions entitled…

Two:  One Hundred Feet above Boulder Chamber.

In January of this year, whilst looking for a rift described by John Cornwell to be in the floor of Long Chamber Extension, a small hole in the roof was entered.  A projecting boulder which made the initial squeeze through this hole just a little too interesting has now been removed and can be seen on the floor.  A small chamber is entered and the way on is straight down over the stal. bank to the right; not, however, before the formations on the left have been observed. These include some fine mud ripple marks, curtains and flow.  Do not attempt to follow the small canyons in the north wall or negotiate the obvious route through the east wall, as this would undoubtedly lead to the damage of the curtains and crystal pools on the other side.  Instead, follow the right hand wall and turn left at the bottom and arrive at the top of the hundred foot drop into Curtain Chamber.  This pitch needs a hundred foot of ladder and fifty feet of tether which may be secured round a boulder in the west wall floor of the chamber.  The bottom of the ladder should also be secured to prevent it swinging against the curtains.

To the north is a six foot chimney enabling a traverse to be reached, care should be taken.  The passage entered contains the stream which flows over the curtains and thus it is essential not to stir up any mud or to deposit anything in the stream.  It also contains many good formations which require careful protection.  After a few feet, drop down to stream level and walk over some rimstone pools.  There are several six foot curtains on the right and ahead and may be seen a three foot stalagmite some three inches in diameter. A step upward brings into sight a fine stal. flow on the left wall.  Now climb well to the right to avoid the white stal., and turn right. At this point may be seen a curious forked stalagmite as sketched in the figure on the left.  There is also an erratic rather like some of the formations in Balch Hole and consisting of a straw with a horizontal growth form one side some little way from the bottom.  Now climb between the curtains on the right and the large stalagmite on the left which need not and MUST NOT be touched.  Despite the fact that there have only been eight trips in this area, this fine stalagmite is disgustingly filthy

and is a poor reflection on the leaders and their companions who have been there.  Unless one has a very good reason for doing do, there is no point in going further along this passage.  Turn right, cross a series of gorges until one comes to a large crystal pool at the bottom of a large canyon. On no account touch anything inside the tape. Follow the gravely bedding plane down keeping well to the right to avoid damaging some formations.  At the bottom one sees a phreatic tube some four feet in diameter, illustrated on the left.  Climbing the flow and negotiating the squeeze brings one into an eighty foot passage, running up at an angle of 40°.  About one third of the way up one comes across some mud drip pockets.  Two of these are 3” in diameter and seven or eight inches deep.

At the top of the passage is a large chamber also sloping at 40°.  The west wall has a tight bedding plane at the bottom and a little further up it can be entered and climbed up into a final chamber.  The final passage contains some excellent curtains which are almost transparent, giving the appearance of lace curtains.

The series has been surveyed by Dave Irwin, the initial parts being surveyed to Grade II and from the squeeze onwards to Grade V.  The final chamber appears to be above Quarry Corner and the whole development tends towards Lake Chamber.

On the 15th May, the aven was again visited in order to confirm that all the bedding planes are too tight, but might well be profitable enlarged with the aid of a chisel.  The traverse south along the east wall of Curtain Chamber is interesting and leads to an interesting bedding plane in the east wall.  From this bedding plane can be seen what appears to be a large rift continuing in the direction of Curtain Chamber.  This also requires the aid of a chisel to permit entry.  Unfortunately one of the footholds required for this traverse detached itself and now lies on the floor of Curtain Chamber where it isn’t really much use.

Mike Luckwill

Postscript to Alan Thomas’ article in last month’s B.B. 

Comment by Alan after thirty hours alone in the dark, “I haven’t gone mad, I’m a good dog.”

Cleaning Cuthbert’s

by the Caving Secretary.

Recently two parties spent some time cleaning up parts of the cave, and the following items were found. The list, I think, speaks for itself. MORE CARE IS REQUIRED ON THE PART OF THE LEADERS.

1.         Kanchenjunga.

2 empty carbide tins.
1 soup tin.
1 boiler suit.
1 pair of carbide lamp clips.

2.         Railway Tunnel.

2 flashbulb packets.
12 or 13 flashbulbs.
1 sweet wrapper.

3.         Dining Room.

Carbide dumped all around the chamber, empty sardine tins, etc.


The last two items in this B.B. tell a sorry tale.  It would appear that some of the Cuthbert’s leaders are not taking a responsible attitude – there is no other possible interpretation.  Being a leader isn’t just a question of knowing your way round the cave.  It is some time since the editor burst into rhyme but the following seems appropriate…

“Sing a song of preservation
Let the caving population
Do its bit of conservation –
Stop this wear and tear!

Gentlemen like Balch, when caving
Found formations well worth saving
And – like gentlemen behaving –
Left no litter there.

Caves were then much fewer
Cleaner, whiter, newer,
Shone clear and bright
And not like something floating down a sewer.

If this present trend increases
Fine formations – gone to pieces –
Might as well be made of faeces
For all we seem to care.

On being a “Victim”

by Roger Stenner

Being ‘rescued’ from the bottom of Catgut Rift was an intensively interesting experience, and very thought provoking.  First, a reaction about practice rescues.  Although I realised that the rescuers would do their best to prevent me from getting hurt, I was very happy when the practice had ended.

I was very grateful for the visor which kept mud of my eyes, and prevented my nose getting cut.  My conventional caving helmet was a nuisance. The rim caused the helmet to jam and it was difficult to keep the helmet on my head.  The helmet had to be removed for much of the rift.  A handkerchief over the ears would have been very welcome. Mud or water dropping straight into the ear is very upsetting.

Twice I was parked in an uncomfortable position for a time while nothing happened apparently because the person in charge at the time had moved on without passing his authority to someone else.  This could be most disconcerting to a real victim.

Without a wet suit or even a boiler suit, I was warm at the end of the rescue.  I am sure I could have spent several more hours under these conditions without being bothered at all by the cold.  I don’t think it possible to overemphasise the effects of water.

Of the psychological reactions, my strongest feeling, once the practice got under way, was one of guilt, especially when everyone else was working hard.  When Phil Kingston was hit by a falling rock, I was so upset that I wanted to ask Oliver Lloyd to call of the practice.  In spite of the comment earlier, the general impression given by the team would be most reassuring to the victim.  The team worked with an air of competence and confidence.


Don’t forget the Annual General Meeting and Dinner will be held on Saturday, October 2nd.  Make a note of it NOW!


Once again, we are afraid; there is no cover for the B.B.  The Editor has no time to contact the printers, but a volunteer has come forward, and there may be some hopes for a cover next month.

As the person who insisted on a printed cover when taking over the B.B., the editor finds it particularly galling that the present state of affaires has occurred.  It is the usual story.  Promises have been made, but not kept.  Unfortunately, a mixture of shaky transport, being away on firm’s business and cottage building has prevented him from personally chasing the offender.  Let us hope we have our cover again soon.


Caving Meet – South Wales.

A Caving meet has been arranged for the South Wales area for the weekend 25/26 April.  Accommodation will be provided at the cottage of the South Wales Caving Club, with trips to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu and Pant Mawr.  Will members who are interested in going on this meet please contact me by Thursday, 2nd April at the latest, in order that advance booking of accommodation mat be made.  All offers of transport will be gladly accepted.

“Mo” Marriott,     Caving Secretary


We are sorry to hear that our worthy chairman, Dan Hasell, has recently lost part of a finger in an accident.  Members will be pleased to hear, on the other hand, that “Sago” is now up and about again, after the recent loss of his leg.

North Wales (18th and 19th, January 1964)

by Carol Sandall.

After a restful night at the Peterborough and Wellingborough Montaineering Club’s jointly owned cottage at Gefnan, near Bethesda; our party of seven, which consisted of Roy Bennett, Tony Dunn, John Howliston, Bob White, Lionel Williams, Alan and myself left the cottage on a sunny Saturday morning feeling reasonably fit.

As we were making our way to some climbs on Elidir Pillar we came upon Lake Marchlyn Mawr which was partly frozen.  Alan decided to try the ice and ended on his rear.  The party scrambled round the edge of the lake, admiring the ice formations that had formed on the rocks.  On reaching the climbs which centred on Gendarme, we split into two groups. Tony, Bob, Alan and myself climbed a short gully while Roy, John and Lionel climbed on the arête.  After a brief lunch, we climbed up a slippery gully reaching a ridge below the summit of Klidir Fawr.  Before us was a magnificent view of mist rolling over the Glyders and Carnedds.  The way back lay over Mynydd Perfedd.  This was nice walking on springy grass to the last peak called Carnedd y Filiast.  From this viewpoint, the Elidir Fawr appears like a perfect cone.  A rapid descent was made past the Bethesda slate quarries to the cottage.

After a meal and a tidy up, we motored through Bethel (which has five chapels and not one pub) to the Staffords’ residence.  The men, accompanied by John, left to obtain refreshments from a pub nearby.  I was told that free sandwiches were supplied at this particular pub.  It was raining, so we bid the Staffords goodnight at a reasonable hour.

Sunday morning dawned misty and damp.  We packed up and proceeded to Ogwen where John Stafford met us.  Accompanied by John Stafford, Roy and John set off to climb the direct route on Glyder Fawr; Tony and Lionel to climb near the Devil’s Kitchen while Alan, Bob and myself walked up Y Griben to the Glyders.  After spending an hour walking in circles in the mist, we eventually retraced our route and scrambled down the Bristly Ridge. Night had fallen by the time Roy and his party arrived at the cars, there were explanations of wet slippery rock and missing holds.  After a bite to eat, we set off for home.  A most enjoyable weekend.


The climbing secretary would like to announce that the next Climbing Trip will be to Cornwall at Easter.  Please contact him for further details.


Congratulations to Sid and Sylvia Hobbs on the birth of their son.  The editor was told all the details, and will buy the parents suitable drinks when he sees them next to atone for forgetting!

Mathematical Puzzles

by ‘Sett’

First, the solutions to last month’s problems.  (A) If we add the total length of the four vertical steps, we find it is one inch. Similarly for the four horizontal steps. Thus the total distance from A to B is 2 inches.  This argument still applies no matter how short the steps become.  Note that this form of argument does form a feasible, but a complicated way of determining the area of the triangle ABC.  (M) Let there be a fraction x/y reduced to its simplest terms, which is equal to Ö2.  Then x squared equals two y squared.  Since the R.H.S. is even, x must be even, because the square of an odd number is always odd.  Therefore we can write x = 2a and therefore we have 4a2 = 2y2 or y2 = 2a2.  We use a similar argument to show that y must be even, but if x and y are both even, then x/y is not in its lowest terms.  Therefore the original assumption is incorrect and it is not possible to represent Ö2 as a fraction. Therefore it must be irrational. This argument can be applied to any number that is not a perfect square.

Pam and Spike produced the correct solution to last month’s (A) problem, but they admitted that they had sufficient qualifications between them to count as mathematicians.  Kevin also guessed the right answer, but was unable to prove it.  Bob Bagshaw finally claimed the pint in the Cock Tavern near Oxford Circus.  Richard Roberts sent in a correct solution to the (M) section, but was three days behind Bobby.  Hard luck, Richard, but try again this month.

(A) You are presented with twelve pennies all identical in appearance, but one is different in weight from the other 11.  With a pair of scales, but no weights, determine in three weighings which is the odd coin and whether it is heavier or lighter.

(M) If  you solved the above problem when it was bandied about in the B.E.C. many years ago, try this one.  Is twelve the maximum number for which you can solve the above problem? Is it still the same if we do not require to know if the odd coin is light or heavy?  Obtain a general solution for any number of weighings, together with a general method


Because of the inevitable lateness of the Christmas B.B., it has been decided this year to print the list of members names and addresses in NOVEMBER B.B.  The editor realises that this is a very early announcement of this fact, but happens to have a space to fill up on the page!

Caving Log

Numerous trips were made to St. Cuthbert’s and Eastwater during December and January, of which some were of particular interest.  On the 21st December, Phil Davies, Bob Cannicott and Nick Harte took 24 feet of maypole into St. Cuthbert’s to explore the passage above Kanchenjunga (the one where water comes from).

About five hundred feet of new passage was found which followed the bedding that forms the roof of Quarry Corner.  The way out was found via a rift which led to Long Chamber Extension.  No name has been given to this passage yet!

On the 30th, Roger Stenner did some more survey work in Cuthbert’s which included the area between Lower Mud Hall and Traverse Chamber.  Roger reports that stations have been left for the future survey of the Rocky Boulder series.

On an evening trip into Cuthbert’s on 7th of January, Kevin Abbey. Barry Lane and Frank Jones went to Gour Rift and decided to climb it, just above the duck.  The object of the climb was to investigate the possibilities of bypassing the duck.  After a climb of about thirty feet, a narrow rift seemed to continue, through which the sound of water was heard.  Has anyone else investigated this?

On the 12th January, digging was continued at the back of the Dinning room by Mo Marriott and others. Mo reports that another ten feet of passage was gained which looks into a ‘T’ junction.  Both side passages of this junction are choked and only about twenty feet of new passage was found in all.  The lower (left hand) passage seems to have possibilities for more digging while the other leads to an extremely small stream passage.

On the 26th January, Brian Reynolds took a tourist party around St. Cuthbert’s and reports that, while ascending the Wire Rift, one of the party slipped and a piece of wire went through her finger.

It is proposed to start digging at the South East Inlet (Puke Swynne) in Swildons in the near future. It anyone interested?  If so, contact Barry Lane.

On the Hill

by ‘Stalagmite’

When I started writing this feature, I was amazed at the amount of activity going unpublished on Mendip. However, there now seems to be a dearth of interesting news, but here goes!

February this year sees the first publication of as Speleological year book full of interesting information on all the most likely looking booze ups – sorry – dinners, of the various clubs.  It may be noted that despite our own C.A. Marriott being on the advisory panel of the publication, no mention of the B.E.C. A.G.M. has been made.  This could, I suppose, be due to the botch up we made of the 1963 A.G.M.  There is at the rear of the book a notice of a bi-monthly magazine, the Speleologist. Obviously American influenced!  I also notice that Cerberus offer an open challenge at skittles.  I’m sure that, had this been ‘shuvvers’ we could have accepted their offer.

The club will soon be saying goodbye, and my personal good wishes to Tom and Rusty who are migrating again.  This time to Canada.

News of the Wessex is that they are thinking of a change of premises, further away from the Hunters at that, with prospect of a farm in the Haydon Drove direction.  It appears it would be a toss up between White Hart, Wells, the Slab House or the Hunters for their local.  There is also a strong rumour that, after John Cornwell’s dice with the floor at Hillgrove they will be erecting crash barriers on all bunks.

Talking of bunk, someone submitted to me the other day from C.S.S. (Kerebos) an occasional bulletin on Speleological Research sites on Eastern Mendip in which the official Wessex dig Thrupe Swallet is described as “excavated in 1936 but closed due to dangerous rock.”  Do the Wessex know this?

I cannot list the clubs from which I have heard no news at all, sufficient that there seems to be plenty of secretive caving clubs on Mendip!  The general dearth on news does, however, give me a chance to include one or two snippets of information which have belatedly come my way, though not, unfortunately of a caving nature.  I hear, for instance, that a B.E.C. team was beaten at ‘Boat Race’ at the S.M.C.C. dinner, by a team who I understand rejoice in the name of Ken’s Crappers. Bad show, B.E.C.  I also hear of a strange Orange Squash Cult which has gained foothold at the Hunters.  I find it hard to believe, but I am told it has even caused ‘honking’.  As far as I am concerned, the mere thought is enough.

The cave research in South Wales again emphasises the absolute (to me) stupidity of using non-cavers in these operations.  On B.E.C. interviews, two cavers were heard to say that conditions were normal for this type of cave, while the miners declared it to be suicidal (I wonder what the miners would think of Tankard? – Ed.)  Remembering back to Peak Cavern, it might be interesting for members to give this subject a thought and air their views in the club magazine.

Book Review

by Ian Dear.

Rivers of London.  By Nicholas J. Barton.  Published by Phoenix House &Leicester University Press at 21/-

From Kew to Erith, the Thames has fifteen tributaries, of which ten are underground.  The book traces the history of these streams, with water wheels and quays to the present day. After an introductory chapter dealing with topography and history of the city, there are detailed accounts of each lost river, giving its past and present courses and uses.  Finally there is a chapter with the alliterative title of ‘Disaster, Diseases and Drains.’

This is a very readable book, written by a learned author and includes an extensive bibliography. To a Londoner, who can follow the course of rivers under streets and buildings familiar to him, it will be a book to spur him on to further discoveries.

I found this book quite fascinating and I feel that it could be in the club library for our London members.

A thought for 1964

by the Editor

Looking through the Speleological Yearbook and Diary, it can be seen that the B.E.C. is one of the twelve pre-war caving clubs listed.  It is also very high up in the list for total size.  This makes the B.E.C. one of the oldest and biggest clubs in the country. Lack of cover at present notwithstanding, does the B.B. reflect this state of affairs?

This year, in October if all goes well, we shall have reached the Two Hundredth publication of the B.B.  It is true that we have few articles, mainly on foreign caves, up our sleeve, but this is largely hand to mouth existence makes for a small B.B.  The Christmass B.B. recently showed what could be done, and the editor hopes that, later on in the year, he will have more free time to devote to the B.B.  We have many members in the club – most of whom can write, and there are plenty of aspects of club activities from which to choose if writing and article.  The B.B. has been through rough periods before, but let’s try to make 1964 good year and get enough stuff coming in to be able at least to have a bumper 200th number as well as a large Christmas edition. How about it blokes?