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

Editor: Robin Gray

From the Editor

Happy New Year...May I984 be a tremendous year for us all with successful trips, magnificent discoveries, and everyone getting their share of the action.

Well,here it is.  My first BB.  Firstly, many thanks to Bassett for the really superb job that he has done for so long and for making it easy for me to take over.  It will be a hard task for me to maintain his high standard.  At least my typing should improve!

Thanks to all of you who have provided material for this BB; I have some held over for next time, but don't let that put you off writing more.

I984 looks like being an exciting year for the B.E.C.  The new extensions to the Belfry should. make life easier but will take a lot of fund raising; something the B.E.C. have not been heavily involved in before, preferring to spend all their time caving.  That’s fine, but we can't complain if the living conditions become poor as a result.

Please have a go at my caption comp.  It seems like an easy way to raise a few pounds. Dany has asked me to draw your eye to his note about the next working weekend.....Page 3.  Many thanks to Fi for her help with the typing and please keep the articles coming in.

Cheers, good caving.


Library Additions

Collieries of Kingswood & South Gloucestershire by John Cornwall

The Caves of India & Nepal by H.Daniel Gebaur (see review)

Bulletin of the S. African Speleo; Assn. 1956-1978 (Some missing)

Many thanks to Dr. Steve Craven of SASA/CPC for these.

Cango - The story of the Cango Caves of S. Africa by SASA

Scotland Underground by Alan (Goon) Jeffreys.

Thanks to C. Batstone Esq. for donation of Descent, BB’s ,Wessex Journals etc, and to Jonathon Roberts (MCG)for a similar heap of publications.


Caption Competition For Improvement Fund

PRIZE….A signed, framed copy of this REG cartoon with your caption.

Send your captions to the Editor together with 50p per caption.  No limit on entries.  Cheques/PO to BEC.


Mendip Notes


Brian Prewer reports that on the evening of 5th Jan much of the unstable passage at the start of the Browne -Stewart series moved blocking the entire section.  Much work has gone on in this part of Reads over the last year as reported by Mark Lumley in BB420 and Descent 55.  Two cavers must count themselves lucky to be in the land of the living today as they were there when the big rocks were on the move.  It is unlikely that the series will be entered for a long time.


The farmer has requested that all cavers wishing to change before and after visiting the cave should use the barn as local residents and visitors have no wish to see your bum and various other bits and pieces.

He is aware that often large groups of novices visit the cave and this causes him some concern as he is well aware of the caves ability to flood and become dangerous.  He has no wish to put any limit on caving at present. Please shut all gates and stick to the path to and from the cave.  The Council of Southern Caving Clubs Suggests that the Burrington area is a more suitable training ground for novices and a note to this effect is to be found in the Belfry.


Only a few members turned out to lend a hand at the last working week end but a fair amount of work was done non-the-less.  There is still a considerable amount of work to be done much of which is urgent.  The next working week end will be held on the 4th and 5th of February.  Please try to come and lend a hand and let’s hope for good weather.



Job's For The Boy's

Digging Projects which NEED YOUR HELP.   Compiled by Tony Jarratt

A member recently told me that not enough information was printed in the BB about club digs.  He suggested that a list be compiled and published in the hope of maybe attracting some of the newer (and older) members into action.  All sites listed are either Official or Semi-Official Club Dig Sites and their respective FOREMEN would be pleased to see you turn out for YOUR shift!

EASTWATER (Westend Series)

A vast amount of work still needs to be done here.  A main line survey has so far been completed as far as the squeeze before Lolly Pot, there is still over 1,000 feet of side passages still to be done.  Much of this is in the first part of the extension and could be done on a midweek evening trip.  This area still has to be further explored and there is a chance of a connection to the Boulder Chamber or 380 Foot Way areas which would make the route a lot easier.

The very end of Greek Street still needs digging, but it is taking a rather large stream making progress difficult, unpleasant and potentially lethal.  With the next dry spell the dig should yield a lot more passage judging by the howling gale which is draughting out.  Water Tracing, further photography and Smoke Tests still have to be carried out. Interested parties should contact Tim Large or Tony Jarratt.

EASTWATER (Morton’s Pot)

Temporarily out of favour due to recent discoveries, work should hopefully restart soon with the help of NHASA's compressed air drilling rig.  A promising site with good potential.  Main contact Tim Large or Tony Jarratt for details.


Digging and Blasting at the end of the cave making a nice change from Eastwater - some 20 feet of low bedding passage taking a stream can be seen ahead.  Some recent problems have been experienced with CO2 build up making digging trips short.  A good midweek digging project.  Contact Tim Large or Tony Jarratt for details.


A very promising site at the very bottom of the cave, with lots of potential.  Due to ROMANCE digging has waned here in recent times so a new influx of blood is needed to keep this superb site going.  See John Watson for details.


A nice cosy dry cave just five minutes walk from Biffo's teapot (and wine bottles) will hopefully be this years winters digging project.  An ideal midweek dig with a good chance of breaking into the further reaches of Wookey Hole.  Contact Trevor Hughes for details.

Gough's Cave

Visit Mendips most luxurious dig site.  Helmets, lamps and overalls provided most freshly laundered.  Warm sheltered changing facilities with running water and hand drier - what better way to spend and evening than building sand castles, and what about playing with a model railway!  Fancy an adventure caving trip (ITS HARD, ITS DIRTY, ITS FUN).  For those with an eye to becoming a television personality the possibility is there and especially for the ladies how about Page 3 of The Wells Journal.  The dig itself is a large black hole (don't all rush) heading out into the unknown. The HARD WORK takes place on a Thursday night 6.30-9pm followed by a well earned drink in the Cliff Hotel.  Contact Tim Large or Chris Bradshaw for details.


Another temporarily lapsed site best left for a dry spell.  Contact Tony Jarratt for details.


Borrowed from NHASA a couple of years ago and now returned to them (in better condition).  Contact Brian Prewer far further details.


A new site directly above the presumed route of Swildons.  No obvious surface indications but should be excavated just in case. The area to be covered is some 20x60 feet and grass seed will be provided for those with a conservationist outlook.  For details contact Jane Thomas.


TIM LARGE, Wells, Somerset,


TREV HUGHES, Wookey Hole, Somerset

CHRIS BRADSHAW, C/O Cheddar Caves.

BRIAN PREWER, West Horrington, Nr Wells Somerset.


The 1983/4 Committee Of The Bristol Exploration Club

Hon. Secretary: Tim Large, Wells, Somerset

Hon. Treas: Jeremy Henley, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

Hut Warden: Phil Romford, Coxley, Somerset

BB Editor: Robin Gray, East Horrington, Nr Wells, Somerset

Caving Secretary:  Stu MacManus, Wells Road, Priddy Somerset. 

Hut Engineer: Dany Bradshaw, Wookey Hole, Somerset

TackleMaster: Bob Cork, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset.

Floating Member John Dukes, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Hut Warden Roster

As we have no full time hut warden a roster of members to do 2 weekends a year has been established. The following have agreed to help:-

Nick Holstead

John Dukes

John Turner

Ian Caldwell

John Watson

Paul Hodgson

Chris Castle

Robin Gray

Greg Villis


Brian Prewer

Dave Aubrey

Axel Knutson

Pete & Joyce Franklin

J Rat

Keith Gladman

Bucket Tilbury

Chris Smart

Jane Clarke

Trev Hughes

Nigel Taylor

Andy Lolly


Bob Cork

Danny Bradshaw

Tim Large

Chris Batstone


If your name is not on the list and your conscience allows you to volunteer please do so a.s.a.p. to me. Keeping the hut in good order is a high priority on the administrative requirements of the Club so the more volunteers the better!

J.  Henley


Hut Wardens Report I982

It must be pointed out that I took this post by default, since no other person would take the responsibility.  I made it clear that that I would accept the post on my terms and that it would not be entirely satisfactory in that I was not regularly staying at the Belfry over Weekends.  However, I did set out to improve the declining services offered.  A major concern was that the Royal Navy may move to another club for their mid week activities, thereby depriving us of considerable income. After a lot of hard work with the help of a very few, the condition of the Belfry was considerably improved resulting in the RN coming to us again and regularly.

Early in the year I fitted a new front door and look which required issuing new keys on request, about 60 have been issued since.  During my term I went into business with my own caving shop.  Unfortunately this resulted in not being able to put in the effort that I should have over the last four months.  However, I have kept up to date with the Belfry accounts as the Treasurers report shows.

Bed nights.  During the year 82-83 there were 1547 members and guest nights and 693 Navy nights; in 61-82 there were 1866 ordinary nights and 621 Navy nights.  Thus we were down by 339 ordinary nights and up by 72 Navy nights, on balance there was less income this year than last.

It is my recommendation that the new Hut Warden should be both regularly staying at the Belfry and that he should have a well developed sense of responsibility.  Members should be strongly discouraged to not use the Belfry as a Pig Sty and giving guests the wrong impression.  My thanks go to those few who have helped me through this year.

P. J. Romford
Hut Warden

Would those who have lockers in the Belfry please let me know which they have and send me the fees due. Locks on lockers unidentified at the end of March 1984 will be removed and the lockers emptied and relocked with new locks.

Large lockers round Belfry Table - 50p.

Tall lockers - £1.00.

J. Henley


University Of Bristol Paul Esser Memorial Lecture 1984

Our Lecturer for 1984 will be the canoeist, Dave Manby.  He will be describing some of the white-water canoeing expeditions that he has made, under the general title of:


This was the conclusion arrived at by a Yorkshire man on a coach tour of Austria, when he saw the canoeing party climbing up the river bank into the car park in Landeck.

Dave Manby has been canoeing since 1968, has visited the Himalayas three times, the Orinoco Naipure Rapids, British Columbia, the U.S.A. and Alberta.  In 1982 he paddled the greater part of the Coruh River in N.E. Turkey.  His British Columbia expedition in 1979 included the first British descent of the Overlander Falls, an 8 metre vertical drop on the Fraser River!  His 1983 expedition is another attempt on the Braldu River of K.2. - solo - returning in November. 

The lecture will be given at 8.15 pm. on Wednesday, 15th February, 1984 in the large physics lecture theatre, Tyndall Avenue, University of Bristol.  The Vice-Chancellor will be in the chair.

If parties coming from a distance will let me know beforehand, I can have seats reserved for them. Admission is free.  Write to Dr. Oliver Lloyd, Withey House, Withey Close West, Bristol, BS9 3SX

1st November. 1983


Darfar Pot

As I read In a recent BB that I was soon to be supplying a write up on the above find in the Manifold Valley it looks as though I'll have to cough one up.  Although I have visited Derbyshire on relatively few occasions, the secretary of the Trent Valley caving Group, who made the find, is a patient of mine.

The TVCG consists of a small core of young caving enthusiasts whose keenness and methodical approach more than makes up for their lack of experience.  They have been digging in the Manifold Valley for about 4 years and the result of their work has been a significant contribution to the knowledge of the underground drainage of the Manifold, and the excavation of a very attractively decorated dry system at Darfar Ridge.  For those curious about this Tolkienesque name-it means badger.

For those who do not know the Manifold Valley, most of the river sinks in dry weather at Wetton Mill and resurges at Ilam 4 miles away and 160 feet 1ower.  During spring and summer, as the rainfall diminishes, the river is progressively captured by a series of swallets in the river bed further and further up the valley.  It is fascinating to watch these swallets in action because they behave like bath plugholes.  The river bed is dotted in some places with little gurgling whirlpools.  In wet weather or flood these swallets act as resurgences and in fact one or two finds have been made when concrete cappings placed optimistically over swallets to stop the river drying up have been blasted off by resurging flood water!  The best known cave sites in the valley are Redhurst Swallet and the severe Ladyside Pot, both thought to be part of the same drainage system.  The resurgences have also received the attentions of a number of cave divers but have both proved dangerous and impenetrable.

Despite the fact that the Orpheus had attacked the main sink at Wetton Mill on a number of occasions (one dig in the river bed went 5 metres through boulders), the TVCG were undaunted, and after some initial poking about in the valley, began a dig just below Wetton Mill at the base of Darfar Crag, on the river bank.  They received help and encouragement from Simon Amatt, an Opheus member.  A trial trench led to the excavation of a choked entrance at river 1evel.  This was found to happily take the entire river without backing up so the diggers pressed on.  As one would expect with a dig in such a location, wet weather digging was impossible so effort was sporadic.  However, in I986, a series of tight crawls and squeezes was entered and the river reached.  Unfortunately it rose and sank in boulders and in dry weather completely disappeared. Some avens off the second chamber were briefly examined before the weather deteriorated and the cave became un-enterable again.  The cave was not then accessible until mid 1981 when in the far chamber, a rift was extended to a point where through a cleft, the dull roar of the river could be heard again.  Again bad weather and other digs meant little progress until the drought this year when the breakthrough was made.

As is often the case, the breakthrough was unexpected.  The avens were being re-examined when a previously unnoticed hole in the wall of one of them was noticed to swallow stones.  It was opened up and progress was then swift.  I am a little hazy about the exact details but it appears that a series of rifts above the Manifold streamway were entered which give access to it at various points.  The initial section reached revealed the stream roaring down a tube with little airspace.  It was so intimidating that nobody pushed it, but fortunately a bypass soon found and a 25 metre section of streamway explored to a sump.  Although short, it is apparently impressive, being a steeply inclined 5 metre wide 1.5 metre high bedding cave with a meandering phreatic tube in the roof.  The water flows into the sump with incredible force – only suicidal cave divers need apply. A possible draughting bypass to the sump is in the process of being excavated - weather permitting.  Altogether Darfar is now about 1300 feet long and 135 feet deep - one of the longest: caves in the valley.

Current work is being directed; at finding a drier route into the system.  There are one or two potential sites nearby which have already been partially excavated and I am sure diggers will not be in short supply after the recent finds.  One curious feature of the discovery is that the cave is at present going up valley instead of in the direction of the risings!  If anybody wants to know more about the TVCW’s work at Wetton Mill, contact their secretary, Steve Johnson, who lives at 27 Bracken Way, Fernwood Estate, Rugeley, Staffs.

Peter Glanvill  Oct. 83


Review……The Caves Of India & Nepal.

H. Daniel Gebauer

Obtainable from Tony Oldham; Bat Products; etc; Price £5.00.

A new publication in the style of the old Britain Underground, listing all known cave sites in the two countries.  Surveys of the larger cave and a very compreh6nsive bibliography are included, as is a report on the Speleologische Südaisen Expedition 1981/82 of which the author was a member.

Written in both English and German with one or two entertaining translation errors: - . . . ‘of course there are hundreds of bats and- an abundance of porcupine’s pricks’.

Essential reading for those with an interest in the potentially very promising karst areas of the Indian Sud-continent.


Discount Dying

In a recent article in a management journal, the Ilkestone Co-op (nr Nottingham) are giving 50% discounts on the price of a funeral if you arrange it before you die!   The offer apparently also gives the person preferential treatment and discounts at all its retail outlets.  This could mean up to 3 extra barrels at the wake!!!

Pegasus C.C. correspondent.


Merstham’s Underground Stone Quarriers

The firestone and hearthstone mines along Surrey's North Downs have, for a long time, been used as a training ground by the south east caving clubs. But it is only recently that the historical significance of the mines, or quarries as they are rightly called, has been appreciated.  The workings occur all along the base of the downs, where the narrow strip of upper greensand joins the chalk.  But it is at Kerstham where the most important in terms of industrial archaeology occur.

Most study of the industry has centred on an area known as Quarry Dean to the east of the A3. Quarry Dean lies in the small valley formed by the Downs to the north and the Rockshaw Ridge, lower down to the south.  The valley contains a series of depressions up to 30' in depth and as much as 100 yards long, lying in a fairly straight line running west to east.  These depressions are of course, the remains of old mine entrances, which have been back filled or blasted shut, and over the years have become overgrown and wooded.  Locals have little ideas of what lies below and that the south ridge is virtually hollow.

It was from those mines that much of the stone used for building London in medieval times was quarried, and for building such things as canal basins and bridges during the industrial revolution. The stone itself is a calcarcous sandstone which is found in a layer up to 40' thick at Quarry Dean.  The stone is found in varying qualities and it was known as 'Firestone', that was principally sought by the quarrymen.  The stone was largely used as a building stone, but some was used for lining furnaces and it is from this use that it gets its name of 'Firestone'.  The stone is nearest to the surface in the valley floor, and it dips away north and south under the chalk and greensand ridges.

The mines were dug along the valley at its lowest point, by sinking a sloping trench until the stone was struck.  The trench was then continued until there was a sufficient depth to enable tunnelling in the stone itself, similar to adit mining, where horizontal tunnels are driven into the hillside.

The stone was extracted on a 'broad face' and one contemporary reference of 1819 describes passages of 30' wide, though today’s explorers see little of this.  As the quarry men worked forward on their broad face they trimmed the blocks to size so that only usable stone needed to be moved.  This was known as 'scappling'.  The rubbish or 'deeds' were then stacked neatly along the walls leaving only a narrow access for hauling stone to the surface along the un-stacked wall.  In some mines, there is evidence of part finished blocks, and splitting wedges and spike hammers of varying length have been recovered.  These hammers or picks were called Maddocks or Jads or sometimes Jadders.

As the quarrymen advanced, they left pillars of rock to support the roof - a technique known as 'pillar and stall'.  In some places, deads can be found neatly stacked around these pillars giving the impression of pillars composed only of rubbish stone.  During the nineteenth century, continental miners were employed, and they insisted on using wooden props.  These had little strengthening effect and were often called 'wind ups' by local quarrymen.

The collapse of piles of deads into the passages in places gives the quarries the appearance of natural cave and this has been encouraged by low routes forced over deads by explorers. In addition to this stal formations abound in the oldest mines.  Many unspoilt areas still remain however, and there are passages which bear the foot prints of the old Quarrymen as yet untouched and it is hoped that they will continue to be preserved.  In one passage a pair of boots, left behind by a quarrier around 1750 still lie untouched, where they have collapsed but are still undisturbed.  A credit to the local cavers and historians who regularly visit the area.

The quarry's were all named and many of the original names are evocative of days gone by.  Names such as Quarry Banfield, Bedlam's Bank, and Stonefield bring pictures flooding into the imagination.  The entrances forced by today’s explorers have nothing of this magic in their names which help only to put them into order – i.e. No 3, plastic pipe or football field.

Quarry Dean is believed to date from Roman times and indeed a section of ‘Roman Arches' bears Roman characteristics in its stone brick lining.  This particular mine lies beneath 50' of tipped flyash and is now entered by concrete pipes which have an interesting deformation half way down. The bricks are in fact beautifully cut stone blocks fitting with hardly any mortar. The mine was entered by Mr Harrison who farmed at Quarry Dean.  He dug his way into the mine in 1960 and it was he who gave its contemporary name when he found the arched section.

The earliest mention so far found is a reference dated 1522 to Quarrepitden the farm house.  Since it has been known as Quarryhouse, Quarryclale, Quarrydene and Quarrydene Farm.   Merstham Manor was owned by the monks of Canterbury in 1018 but was reclaimed by Henry VIII in 1540 when he gave it to Robert Southwell.  This early church and state connection throws light on the fact that Merstham stone is to be found in Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.  It can also be found in the Guildhall and was used in the construction of the medieval London Bridge.  Merstham stone was used again in the new London Bridge, as infilling which was then faced with Granite.

This stone came, in all probability from Lower Quarry which was sealed in 1911 and it has so far been impossible to find a way in again.  It is thought that stone used for the rebuilding of London after the great fire, came from the massive workings known as Bedlam's Bank and from here it is possible to get into much older workings known as Quarry Ockley.  It has been suggested that stone here may have been worked for the first 500 years of the Norman Conquest.  This old section has peculiar grooves in the floor, similar to those in Roman Mineral Mines on the continent and it has been suggested that Ponies or Oxen may have been used to haul stone from here.  In more modern times flat barrows (Circa 1750) and railways (Circa 19th Cent) were used.  In many places flagged plate rails may be found inside and hidden by undergrowth outside.

Much work has been done, in sorting out the history of the Merstham Stone Quarries and much still remains to be done.  Their full extent, for instance, is still not known.  Legend abound to tantalise the explorers.  The legend that I like best concerns an underground lake with a boat that was left by the Jollifes when they surveyed the workings prior to purchase in 1788.  It might be there:

It is hoped that a weekend trip can be arranged sometime in the summer for anyone interested when it should be possible to see a great proportion of the workings and their important remains.  Anyone interested should contact Mac or myself.

Ref:  Various papers produced by Unit 2, Croyden CC and Croyden Natural History and Archaeological Society.

P.S. The Fremlins Ale is superb!

Robin Gray
January 1984


Offensive In The Ardennes


Friday 2nd December saw the invasion of the continent, once again, by the BEC.  An initial team of fifteen had dwindled to a mere six due to the problems of legally obtaining a university minibus for the transportation of uneducated drunks.  Those with the willpower and cash who remained were Mac, J'Rat, Barrie Wilton, Matt Tuck, Bob Cork and Alan Thomas - divided into two car loads.  After crossing the channel at different times on Friday we eventually met up at the Speleo Nedarland hut at Bohon near Dubuy in the Belgium Ardennes.

Unable to gain access to the hut we headed for the bars of Borveausc – expecting to meet the Dutch lads in (at least) one of them.  Meanwhile the Dutch lads were in Dubuy 1ooking for us.  Late that night we returned to the hut - full of ale and "joi de vivre" and minus the usual carrots and tomato skins.  With no Dutchmen in sight we removed a wooden window pane and attempted to get some kip in the prevailing artic conditions - only to be disturbed soon after by an even more paralytic bunch of Nederlanders.

Late Saturday morning, with blazing international hangovers, the assembled planned the days caving. Alan accompanied Peter Staal and Co on a gentle fester to the Grotte de Bohon whilst the remainder were taken to the steep swallet cave of Laide Fosse (Ugly Shaft) near Rochefort.  This cave was initially dug open by Marc Jasiniki and his team in the fifties and consists of a few hundred feet of usually dry passage on two levels.  In our delicate state we only visited the fairly well decorated upper level where all are under the impression there is more to be found.  A couple of interesting climbs and an exposed traverse were not made easier by the general lack of balance of the party.  Despite this we moved a lot easier than the Belgium novice groups infesting the cave.  It was near the entrance to Laide Fosse that a small foreign field will remain forever polluted by Matt’s gastric juices.  Too bad the electric fence was turned off!

Consciences eased we descended upon Rochefort.  While John, Fransh and Josh returned to the hut for Laurens Smits and Peter (Speleo Limburg) the BEC found the roughest cafe in town where a homely lady (Sylvie Hobbs double) turned out to be the local brothel Madame.  Following a visit to several other cafes and fritteries we returned here to meet the Dutch.  By now a regular fight was in progress amongst the locals with Mademe well in the thick of it - having forgotten all about her offer of free young ladies for the English Speleos.

With little to keep us here we were forced to take up Laurens Smits offer of an overnight caving trip.  One pub and many drinks later we were all gathered in a field, at midnight near the Grotte Le Han.  One of Europe’s most renown show caves with some 3km of tourists trails it is difficult to obtain permission to visit the several kilometres of undeveloped system beyond.  This can be solved by enveloping Laurens and Bob Cork in neoprene and persuading them to swim a hundred metres or so up the river exit from where they are able to open the show cave door.  Meanwhile the dry clad must creep past the restaurant trying to keep quiet in the foot deep frozen grass, very difficult.  Once safe inside a whole underground world is yours to play in.

We followed the tourist trail to the underground river, pausing to admire the huge underground cafe with its helium balloons and locked booze cupboards and the enormous Salle du Dome – 154m long, 136m wide and 200m from the base to summit of its underground mountain.  At the river a plastic dinghy was acquired and, like Jules Verne heroes, we embarked on a subterranean voyage across the mighty Lene to the far bank where the entrance to the Resau Sud led off.  Several hundred feet of walking and crawling passage ended in a huge boulder strewn hall with some of the finest formations in the cave - mainly tall white columns and pillars.  After some three and a half hours we returned to the entrance via the Salle du Dome, where a quick burst on the show cave lights revealed this gigantic chamber in all its glory.

The hut was reached at 5am on Sunday and sleep indulged in.  By 1pm we were inspecting another cave.  The Grotte d'Alexandre must be one of the most ideally situated caves in the world.  Leading from the back room of a caving pub with a very friendly Belgian landlord (who was a soldier in Melton Mowbray 1945!).   As we had already planned to visit another cave we left this one for another time and concentrated on the front room and beer.

Our afternoon trip was perhaps the most novel yet.  The entrance to the Resurgence Lucianne consists of a small hole ten kilometres up the inside wall of an active railway tunnel!  Keeping an eye out for passing trains and the other for passing gendarmes a large team of BEC, Speleo Nederland and Speleo Limburg climbed up the electron ladder into the system.  A series of thrutchy tubes is followed by a maze of much larger passages, cascades and streamway with well decorated chambers.  Perhaps the most memorable part of the trip being the babble of French, Flemish, Dutch, German and English as various hordes of illegally exploring cavers attempted to converse with each other.  An excellent trip, marred only by the fact that Peter Staal was not carried off by the train which hurled past him as he was climbing down the ladder!

For some this superb weekend finished with a Chinese meal in Danant - for others another nights drinking had to be endured.  In conclusion, our thanks to Peter, Janet, John, John, Fransh, Josh (Speo Nederland) and Peter Goosens and Lauren (Speleo Limburg) and to Alan Thomas for looking after us.  Over eleven cafes, five caves, one railway tunnel and some superb scenery were visited.  Roll on the next trip.

Tony Jarratt
January 1984


Mendip's Oddest Cave Entrance

Although previously noticed by others it was only on a recent Swildons trip that the writer spotted a third potential way in, almost directly above the grilled 'flood entrance’. From inside the cave it is possible to look up an aven, 15 feet high approx: and circular in form, to daylight. Though slightly too small for human passage it could be widened using a carpenter's saw as the aven is straight through the trunk of the large old tree adjacent to the blockhouse.  If passed it would add a completely natural extra 15 feet of depth to the cave though the fine crop of toadstools growing from the underground roots would be somewhat upset.


Club Trips For I984

I initially thought of producing a 12 month trip list for 1984, but no sooner had I started, when I found other events on the caving and social scene clashed with my suggested trip dates.  Oh well! What made my task even harder was that except for a few suggestions by others, the trips were my own suggestions. This I thought is NOT what it's all about so come on you club members (young and old) give me your suggestions for caving trips; the ones you'd really like to go on.  Perhaps you could even lead one of them!!

I’ve decided therefore to produce a trip list for the next six months and as you can see, cover the major caving areas within the U.K. (and Eire).  Other trips are constantly to being arranged at the Belfry and the Hunters, and trips to OFD, DYO, Rock and Fountain can be arranged at short notice.

One final word - 'CLUB EXPEDITION' (OK I know that's two!).  Bob Cork and Dany Bradshaw are looking for people to join them on their trip to Austria to continue their success in the Barengassewindschact in June/July. Response at present is slow, so come on lads and lasses, see Bob or Dany if you're interested.

Mac.  3.1.84

P.S. If you have already arranged or are intending to arrange a trip and you have spare places to fill, you can always ring me at home on Wells 74061.


Sign Here Please

A large parcel from the USA was received recently by the Librarian.  Feverishly opening it, he found three American car licence plates ( Colorado, Virginia and Wyoming) and a metal sign advertising The Chinese Physical Culture Assn; in two languages!

Our thanks to Dave 'the Skunk' Newson for these Belfry trophies - and lets hope he doesn't want us to pay for the postage.

New Locks for the Belfry

At the AGM it was decided to fit new locks to the Belfry and tackle store.  A special security lock has been purchased and this will be fitted to the front door.  The key will also open the tackle store.  Paid up members may request a key on the form below.  £2 cheque or PO should be included with your request for the key.

NAME ................................................................................................... BEC Membership No……………

ADDRESS ....................................................................................................................................................


…………………………………............................................. POST CODE …………............

I enclose cheque/PO for £2 made payable to the B.E.C.

SIGNED ………………………………………………………………….............................

B E C Caving Trips for JAN - JUNE I984





JAN 15th


JAN 28th/29th


FEB 10th-17th


FEB 12th


FEB 25th/26th




MARCH 24th/25th



APRIL 20th/23rd Easter



APRIL 20th/27th Easter week


MAY 5th



MAY 26th/28th.



JUNE 16th

Rock and Fountain


Derbyshire (Giants etc)


'A week in the Lakes'


Derbyshire (Peak Cavern)


Northern Dales (Alston)

Cliff force. Smelt Mill Beck

Caverns,& some very good mines


Yorkshire(Dowber Gill Passage, Goyden Pot (Nidderdale)


South Wales DYO, OFD, AGGIE, R&F etc


Co. Clare, Ireland


Otter Hole (Provisional).  Limited to 6 persons. 7.00 car park


Yorkshire. Various trips and show caves


Devon Prid: Bakers Pit, and Reads – hopefully





























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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Shortly after buying himself one motorbike, Wig has replaced it with another.  It has an engine bigger than that on Jane's car, and has already taken the Wig to Austria and back.  Wig is a little new to motor-biking, hence the cartoon on p.14.


Wig met up with Helmut, et al, and did a number of caving trips in Austria and Germany.  Articles will be forthcoming.

Bristol Exploration Club Annual General Meeting.


This is a meeting for all members of the Club.  Yes, ALL members.  If you have any Views on Club business or policies, this is the time to air them. If you know that you will be unable to attend but you have some point to be raised, then please forward this, preferably in writing, to a member of the committee.

Nominations For The 1982 - 1983 Committee

Your nominations are now requested for the new committee.  If you know of someone who wishes to stand for the new committee, they must be proposed and seconded by paid up members of the club.  Please send your nomination/s, in writing, as soon as possible, to our Club Secretary, Tim Large.

A JOKE:  Wormhole has taken Nicola to the South of France IN HIS CAR!


Stretching Time In County Clare

by Jane Clarke

After three days of good caving and general mirth and merriment the South Wale Easter meet was brought to a close.  The B.E.C. still had its white ensign, the Beaufort Arms still had beer in their barrels, the Boy Scouts had retrieved their latrine tent, and Gooff Crossley's tent resembled a chicken's latrine.

A small group of us (Martin & Glenys, G.W-J. and myself) had decided to extend the Easter holiday and so arrangements were made to visit County Clare. With visions of Guinness and Bailey's Irish Cream before us we left Crickhowell camp-site heading towards Fishguard.  As we were travelling on a middle of the night ferry there was plenty of time to visit a few sites on the way.

The first stop was Carreg Cennan Castle, a superb ruin set up high from the surrounding countryside on a large limestone outcrop.  A short drive from the castle we reached Llygad Llychwr, having planned to do a hasty en-route caving trip.  Eventually we found all four of the river chambers after plenty of swimming and wading in quite a strong current.  I kept an eye out for the Lewd Letcher but was disappointed.

The ferry arrived in Rosslare and a few hours later we were brewing up and cooking breakfast by the roadside.  Sometime later, having visited Kilkenny Castle on the way, we pitched tents in a field on the outskirts of Doolin and spent the evening foot-tapping and glass raising in O'Connor's Bar.

The first cave we visited was just up the road from the campsite; the Doolin Cave System.  St. Catherine's 1, the entrance, to Fisherstreet Pot, the exit, is a 3 km long through trip, and is considered to be a County Clare classic.  Having first tackled Fisherstreet Pot, we were then driven by Glenys to St.  Catherine's 1.   After a partly wet crawl we dropped into the stream way,  where there very good examples of limestone shelving. Climbing up into the Beautiful Grotto we stopped for some good photo's of straws and stal.  I was very impressed by the Main Streamway, named the Great Canyon, and described by the guide book as being “high, wide and handsome.”  The stream covered the floor of the passage and, in some places, was quite deep.  Apart from the cave entrance and a short distance in bedding cave much of the trip is in large walking passage.  Although there do not seem to be many decorations the passage shapes and rock sculpturing definitely make this a worthwhile photographic trip. Another point in its favour is that the trip begins in a field in the middle of nowhere and comes out not so far from O' Connors Bar.  Who is to say that the first visitor to Doolin Cave was not a Burren peat-digger escaping from his nagging wife to O'Connor's for a quick Guinness.  Cunning folk.  Wednesday evening saw us foot-tapping and glass raising yet again, this time in the company of a mixed bunch of D.B.S.S. and Cerberus.

On Thursday we drove the short distance from the campsite to see the Cliffs of Moher which, in some places are up to 700 feet high and face straight out into the Atlantic.  It seemed that every horizontal surface was occupied by some type of nesting bird. Kittiwakes, gulls, fulmars, cormorants, shags, sea-duck and puffins were either bobbing below us on the water or flying aimlessly around the cliffs.  Wandering aimlessly with both feet firmly on the ground was yet another familiar face - Mike Cowlishaw.

Sitting in the nearby information centre, writing postcards and drinking coffee, we chatted to Mike Russell, a well known figure in Irish folk music.  At the mention of caving he told us all about a concert tour made by himself and his late brothers.  This tour included meeting with Durdy and playing at the Pegasus dinner, which he had obviously enjoyed.

Driving east from Lisdoonvarna, which was our main food-shopping town, we spent some time at the Kilfenora Burren Centre.  Various displays showed the flora, fauna, geology and archaeology of the area - well worth a visit.

As the weather was so good, with not a cloud in sight, it seemed a good opportunity to visit the most flood-prone of County Clare's caves - the Coolagh River System.  The flood warning in the guide book was enough to keep the adrenalin flowing in my system for the whole trip:

"The Coolagh River Cave has a very large catchment area (approximately 6 sq. kms) and responds both quickly and violently to rainfall.  During a major flood the cave fills to the roof and water fountains out of the surface holes around the and of the cave under a 40 metre head of water."

We entered the system via Polldonough South, following the stream into the low entrance.  Crawling over pebbles we soon passed daylight - the small B 9a entrance.  The stream soon cuts a channel in the floor and the passage takes on he appearance of an hourglass.  Traversing along the top section  of Double  Passage,  as it is known,  we soon reached an ugly  flowstone column after a rather slippery climb down.  There appeared to be lots of vegetation stal-ed into the column, presumably flood debris.  Another short crawl leads into Gour Passage, particularly notable for a series of cabite dams, remnants of an old false-floor.  A 6m pitch drops down into the Lower Main Drain, where we met with the Main Stream and continued to follow it downstream over several cascades. Looking up some 20m. to the roof of the high, sheer-walled, scalloped canyon we were constantly reminded of the flood potential of the cave by the debris draped around the ends of stal and the foam way above our heads.  The Terminal Bedding Cave, with its walls covered in slimy sump mud, was our downstream limit.  Back upstream, just beyond the Gour Passage climb, we stopped for a few photographs of Balcombe's Pot, a 5 m. deep pool.  To avoid the cobbly, wet entrance crawl we exited via the B 9a entrance, amidst brambles, and walked back to the car.  As the weather was still good we crossed the road and went for a short romp into the beginning of Polldonough.  After passing a couple of very dead farm animals, definitely not smelling their best, we returned to the sunshine.

Our days were beginning to take on a pattern of sight-seeing in the morning and early afternoon followed by caving.  Evening meals were, on occasions, early breakfasts.

On Friday morning we followed the coast north towards Black Head, and then on to Ballyvaughan.  The countryside was very rugged and barren, most of the hillsides being bare limestone an with the occasional glacial erratic.  The edge of the sea cliffs were littered with dead sea urchins and, nearer to the road, spring gentians grew from seemingly bare rock.  Having stopped to look at a well preserved 16th century castle, Gleninagh Castle, and a roadside Pinnacle Well, we drove through Ballyvaughan to see a turlough, the Irish equivalent of a polje.  Two miles from Ballyvaughan is Ailwee show cave, discovered by Dave Drew and opened to the public in 1976; the entrance buildings well deserved their architectural award and could certainly teach Cheddar Caves a thing or two.  Aillwee is famous for its bear hibernation pits.  Driving across country, away from the coast, we passed many archaeological remnants, particularly stone ring forts and the odd dolmen.

As we had spent much of the day sight-seeing we decided to do a few, short caving trips that evening. Pol-an-Ionain seemed a good idea as a first trip.  Having heard all kinds of tales of farmers dumping animal carcases and rubbish down the hole I was not looking forward to the crawling sections, anticipating oozing bags of giblets and mammoth sized maggots, none of which we found. However, there were some very suspicious looking black poly sacks, tied up with string.  I was very careful not to trend on any.  The Main Chamber, one of County Clare's biggest, was quite unexpected after the grovelly and uninspiring entrance. In fact, the only justification for doing the trip at all, in my opinion, is to see the very impressive Pol-an-Ionain stal.

Emerging hot and sweaty from the cave, we set off to find Faunarouska, carefully following the guide book.  After some time wandering over the moor land ferreting down many other holes we returned to the car and to a rather bewildered Glenys who, having seen us set off, then watched as helmets bobbed up and down and dark figures hovered on the skyline. We did not find the cave.

The campsite had all that we heeded in terms of loos and water supply.  The only thing missing was a shower.  Although it bore no resemblance to Chamonix in summer the cold water stand pipe that stood, caressed by Atlantic gales breezes, in the corner of the field served its purpose.  Not only were we much cleaner and less smelly but Martin had a batch of action-packed, good entertainment value slides.  (For the information of those of you privy to Mr. Grass's slide show, I was grabbing for Graham's towel).

On Saturday we crammed in yet more sight-seeing.  The Craggaunowen Centre has some excellent reconstructions of an Iron Age lake village and ring fort.  Quin Abbey is a well preserved monastic building with a ruined village clustered round its walls and now buried by grass.

To get to Cullaun 5, our first caving trip of the day entailed a drive across peat land and through coniferous forest.  The entrance was in a small collapse on the forest boundary.  Memories of this trip are of stooping, crawling and black, sticky mud.  On reaching the final bedding crawl of 80 metres there were plenty of pine needles in the roof, indicating that these sections must flood right up.  It is not often that I have come eye to eye with a frog but in part of the cave we met four.

In Cullaun 2 we followed the main streamway to the sump.  Although not as large as some of the caves we had visited Cullaun 2 still had a canyon-like main passage.  Chert bands and nodules were in abundance, as was iron staining in the stal, one of which was called The Bloody Guts.

Our last day, Sunday, was to have been a gentle drive back to Rosslare for the evening ferry. However, Graham in particular was very disappointed at not finding Faunarouska, and so we decided to visit the cave and then hurtle for the ferry.  It did not take long to find the entrance, going on directions from Tony Boycott, whom we had met earlier in O'Connor's Bar.  After ¾ mile walk we came to the large entrance.  Once again the passage was canyon like, but very narrow, twisting and turning for much of the way.  There are a few crawls and ducks under flowstone, with some quite pretty decoration.  The stream has exposed ledges and nodules of chert which, in a few places, have formed small cascades.  Eventually the cave changes to being phreatic.  Having reached the Letterbox we turned back and made a rapid exit, saving the rest of the cave for our next visit to County Clare.

A speedy change and an even speedier, but pleasant, drive across Ireland, squeezing in a visit to Dunratty Castle and Folk Park on the way, got us to the ferry just on time, which, in turn, got us back to England just in time for work on Monday morning.

We had been absolutely exhausted by five days of intensive caving, touring and pubbing.  As a first time visitor to County Clare I was very impressed by the scenery, the caves and the friendliness and generosity if the people, particular Gussie O'Connor and his wife, and Arthur the fisherman.

County Clare -  Easter 1983

We are currently planning a trip to Ireland for next year, visiting over the whole of the Easter weekend as well as the week after.

We are considering staying in a cottage, perhaps McCarthy's Cottage, although the campsite by the strand is perfectly good, provided that the weather is reasonable.

If you are interested in coming along - perhaps you have not yet visited County Clare or maybe you would like a change from Crickhowell at Easter, then contact Martin Grass ( Luton 35145).


Mendip Rescue Organization

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

This account covers the calendar year 1981 and so starts by repeating the note on the lengthy rescue in Agen Allwedd, South Wales, ending my last report. The list below continues the format of the thirty year record also published last year.  It shows that we have now passed 200 incidents over half of which have occurred during the past decade.  I have not listed an incident in which some boys were lost in the so-called Devil’s Hole Stone Mine, Bathampton, last July because they were found by the local Police.  Nor have I included two call-outs of the Cheddar Cliff Rescue Team to Salthouse Cliffs, Clevedon, on 27th June and to High Rock, Cheddar Gorge, on 3rd October for these reports are best left to our climbing colleagues.  They have been to three cliff rescue calls in as many years.

The fourteen cave rescue call-outs during 1981 were as follows:-

l7/l9th Jan

14th Feb

15th Feb

5th Mar

13th Mar

6th June

11th July

28th July

1st Sept

13th Sept

20th Sept

14th Nov

14th Nov

29th Nov

Agen Allwedd, South Wales Longwood Swallet

Swildon's Hole

Swildon's Hole

Read's Cavern

St. Cuthbert's Minery

Swildon's Hole

Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire

 G.B. Cavern

Singing River Mine

Swildon's Hole

Goatchurch Cavern

Wookey Hole Cave

Swildon's Hole















Boulder fall, broken leg

Fall, badly bruised



Lost, lights f.

Presumed missing person

Fall, broken leg

Lost, lights f.




Fall, broken ankle

Diving fatality


The details of each rescue given below are based upon the field reports prepared by Wardens during incidents.

Weekend l7-l9th January            Agen Allwedd

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

Saturday 14th February             Longwood Swallet

MRO was alerted to standby when an Oxford Polytechnic caver in a Wessex Cave Club party fell from an aven in the Upstream Galleries of the August Series.  It appears that unsound rock gave way when she was climbing.  In falling about 6 metres she was lucky not to be badly hurt and then plucky to get out with assistance from the Wessex party.  On being advised of the incident by Yeovil Police at 4.30 pm.  Brian Prewer stoodby parties at the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio. Dr. Don Thomson was contacted and remained available until the underground party surfaced safely at 5.30 p.m. An examination at Wells Hospital revealed bruising to head, hip and foot.

Sunday 15th February                Swildon's Hole

A call was received concerning a party overdue.  It was not necessary for a rescue party to go underground.  No further details are available.

Friday 5th March                        Swildon's Hole

A call was received from Yeovil Police about midnight.  They had been contacted by a Mr. Pearse from the New Inn, Priddy, concerning a party of Venture Scouts who should have been out of the cave much earlier.  Brian Prewer telephoned the informant at Priddy and, during his conversation, the scouts appeared having under-estimated the time that their trip would take.

Saturday 13th    March               Read’s Cavern

Alan Dougherty from Wrington and Alan Hutchinson from Southville Bristol, went down the cave early in the evening expecting to return home by 8.30 p.m.  Both were experienced cavers.  They left their car off the track approaching the cave.  When they had not returned by 9.45 p.m., Mrs. Dougherty informed the Police at Weston-s-Mare, but their patrol was unable to locate the car in Burrington Combe.  A neighbour drove her to the area and she found her husband's Mini Clubman near the U.B.S.S. Hut.  She contacted the Police again at 11.15 p.m. to alert MHO.

Brian Prewer received the call from Yeovil Police at 11.20 p.m. and raised search parties from the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio.  Bob Hill and Mike Duck took a quick look around the cave whilst Ken Daws and Chris Batstone checked out Rod's Pot and Drunkard' s Hole nearby.  These initial searches proved negative and so specific routes were followed.  Tim Large led a group to Z- Alley whilst Alison and Pete Moody covered the Browne-Stewart Series.  Radio links were set up on the surface.

The missing pair were found at the lower end of Z-Alley and brought safely to the surface at 2.25am on the Sunday.  It appears that they had lost the way when lights gave trouble and then failed. They huddled together in a polythene bag to keep warm and this appeared to be effective in the circumstances. All search parties returned by 3.00am.

Saturday 6th June          St. Cuthbert's Minery

Wells Police called Brian Prewer at 3.30pm concerning a report of an abandoned tent and sleeping bag on Mr. M. Cotter's property bordering the minery.  Mr. W. Foxwell suggested that it had been there for about a week and so the Police were concerned that the missing occupant may have gone caving and failed to return.

Tim Large was contacted at the Belfry.  He inspected the site for signs of caving equipment and made further enquiries from local residents and cavers.  This investigation indicated that the camping gear was unlikely to belong to a caver and no one had been reported overdue from a caving trip.  The Police were advised of this at 4.30 pm and no further action was taken.

Saturday 11th July         Swildon's Hole

Phillip Casemore, aged 37, from Crawley, Surrey was returning from Sump I on his first caving trip when, on approaching the Old Grotto, he stumbled and fell headlong. He sustained a fracture to his right leg below the knee and was in considerable pain.

Dave Irwin received the alarm through the Police at 2.15pm and alerted Stewart McManus, Chris Batstone and Alan Thomas to organise rescuers at the Hunters' Lodge.  Since the informant was unsure exactly where the incident had occurred in the Upper Series, Alan and Trevor Hughes searched the Dry Ways and reported the site to a team consisting of Martin Bishop, Mike Duck, Ross White, Tony Jarratt, Roger Gosling and Phil Hendy.  Dr. Stewart Parker was called from Bristol and arrived at 4.15 p.m.  Meanwhile, Martin Bishop had plastered the leg and a routine haul out was in progress.  A relief team of Wessex cavers was organised by Glyn Bolt.

The patient reached the surface at 4.35 p.m. and was met by the ambulance that had been guided across the fields by Jim Hanwell and Oliver Wells.  He was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment.

Tuesday 28th July                      Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire

Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 6.21pm.  They had a request from Devizes Police for assistance in finding three boys missing down the mines.  Apparently, the mother of a 13 year old had reported that her son had gone with two friends, aged 13 and 11, to find the Cathedral via the Back Door.  They had failed to return and only had one torch.

Bob Scammell and Chris Batstone were alerted to organise search Parties.  Several members of the Oolite Mines Exploration Group took part, their knowledge of the area being invaluable.  A radio link between the Quarryman's Arms and the Belfry was established and Alan Butcher and Dave Irwin were asked to standby.

At 7.30 p.m. it was reported that a search to the Cathedral had been negative and so two parties had set out to cover the B12 and Jack Workings respectively.  The missing boys were eventually discovered by Bob Scammell’s Party at the Four Ways Junction.  They were lost and their torch had all but faded.  By 7.55pm that had been brought to the surface unharmed but, we must hope, rather wiser.

Tuesday 1st September              G.B. Cavern

At 2.30 p.m. Brian Prewer was told by Weston-s-Mare Police that a party of four cavers had been reported overdue from a trip down G.B.  Six members of the 1st Greenford Scout Troop, London, aged between 15 and 17 had entered the cave about 11.30am with M. Day and R. Wheatley as leaders.  They split into two groups to follow the Mud Passage and Devil's Elbow routes.  When the Devil's Elbow party failed to make the rendezvous in the Gorge, Day left the cave, telephoned the Police and then returned underground.  This meant that MHO had no details to help in alerting rescuers.  Tim Large went to the cave followed by Brian Prewer and Jim Hanwell.

Apparently, the Devil's Elbow party had traversed across the top of the pitch because they thought the chain was too short and did not indicate the way on.  They retreated on being unable to continue and met Day on his way back after raising the alarm.  All were safely out of the cave at 5.00pm to explain what had happened to Tim large.  He was told that the trip had been arranged by the London Ambulance Service Caving Club.

Sunday 13th September.            Singing River Mine

Paul Sutton and Graham Sweeper collected the key to the mine from the Belfry at about 4.00pm.  As they were camping in the area, they left details of their trip on the Belfry board and estimated that they would be back by 7.30pm.  When they had not returned by 10.00pm, Chris Batstone and Bob Hill went to Shipham and found that their car was there and the entrance shaft was still laddered. They alerted the Belfry and search parties with equipment set off at about 10.30pm.  Jim Hanwell informed the Police of' the incident and Dr. Don Thomson was asked to stand by.

The missing pair were found on the route to the Stinking Gulf and all were safely out of the mine by 11.10 pm.  It appears that they had not been down the system before and had failed to find their way back from the Gulf.

Sunday 20th September             Swildon' s Hole

Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 2.54pm that a Mr. Wick at Bath had reported his Son overdue from a trip by about 2 hours.  No further details were known.  However, when Brian telephoned the informant, he discovered that the son had already rung home to say that his party was out of the cave.

Saturday 14th November             Goatchurch Cavern

Richard Wright, a Scout aged 33 from Hove, Sussex, led a party of' four novice and one caver with some experience down the cave at about 2.30pm.  On his way to the Boulder Chamber, the leader mistook the route avoiding the Coal Chute.  Instead, he found it and fell off the climb into the Upper Chamber sustaining a Potts fracture to his left ankle.

Dave Irwin was alerted of the call-out by Brenda Prewer at about 3.15pm.  He immediately contacted Chris Batstone at the Belfry and a party led by Tony Jarrett left with medical and hauling equipment.  A radio relay was set up from the cave entrance to the Belfry. The patient was strapped up by Bob Hill and carried out to the awaiting ambulance in about 45 minutes.  He was taken to Weston-s-Mare General Hospital for treatment straight away.

In a letter of thanks, Richard Wright compliments those who helped him and and recalls the morals: “never treat familiar cave with the familiarity that breeds contempt; always look before you leap, and always obey the rules you teach others”.

Saturday 14th November             Wookey Hole Cave

Keith Potter, aged 22, from nearby Wedmore and a medical student at Exeter College, Oxford, drowned when diving to Wookey 20 during the afternoon.  He was a member of the Cave Diving Group and, apparently, had done the route once before.

Martyn Farr, Ray Stead and Keith Potter arranged to dive to Wookey 24 whilst other divers were training with Doctors Peter Glanvill and Tony Boycott in the Show Cave.  Keith was given the benefit of the clear water and chose the Deep Route from Wookey 9 to 20.  Martyn followed along the Shallow Route and found Keith without his gag about 4 metres below the sump pool entering the chamber.  He brought him out and immediately started resuscitation.  Ray then arrived to help but they were unable to revive Keith over a period of about two hours.  Eventually, they returned to Wookey 9 with Keith and were assisted by the two doctors in alerting those concerned. Peter Glanvill retrieved equipment left behind in Wookey 20 the next day.

At the Inquest, Mr. Fenton Rutter, the East Somerset Coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death although exactly what went wrong remains a mystery.  In giving this conclusion, the Coroner noted that explorers throughout history had taken risks, and that the world would be a poorer place without them.

Sunday 29th November   Swildon's Hole

At about 2.30 a.m. a Police Patrol car arrived at the Belfry.  Someone in Bristol had reported that a Mr. R. Lewis had gone caving on Mendip with three young ladies and had not returned when expected.  The Police had apparently driven from Bristol to search for Mr. Lewis' white Marina car. Fiona Lewis from the Belfry (no relation) accompanied the patrol on a search of cave sites visiting Eastwater and Upper Pitts before finding the car on Priddy Green.

Pete and Alison Moody were aroused to start a search of Swildons for the overdue party.  Before this got underway, however, Lewis' party returned safely having spent a lot of time lost in the Upper Series.  It must be noted that the correct call-out procedure through Yeovil Police Was not used by those concerned, nor had Lewis left word of the cave being visited.  Such time wasting would be serious in other circumstances.

Calling out Cave and Cliff Rescuers through M.R.O.

Visitors to caves and mines in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire should note the following procedures for calling out MRO. Climbers in Cheddar Gorge use the same system to alert cliff rescuers.

In the event of an emergency, go to the nearest telephone, dial 999 and ask for the Police.  When in contact with the Police, request that the Mendip Rescue Organisation is called and give them EXACT DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT, ITS LOCATION AND THE TELEPHONE NUMBER FROM WHICH THE CALL IS MADE. INFORMANTS MUST THEN STAY AT THAT PHONE UNTIL CONTACTED BY A WARDEN OF MRO FOR FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED.  Whilst a few minutes may seem an age at the time, there must be a short delay before being contacted by a Warden and this is a vital step in initiating a successful call-out.  Please resist the understandable desire to leave the phone after alerting the Police because your personal knowledge gives MRO a better opportunity to organise a speedier response with appropriate rescuers and equipment.  Time must not be wasted.  In almost all cases rescuers will arrive within the hour.

Please note that 999 calls in the region are routed to Police Division Headquarters at Yeovil (Priddy-Wells-Frome), Taunton (Axbridge Cheddar-Charterhouse), Weston-s-Mare (Burrington-Blagdon-Banwell), Bath (Harptree-Bath) and Devizes (Box-Corsham).  All have details of MRO and switch emergency calls for cave and cliff rescues to Yeovil.


Hanging Chamber - Again

by "Kangy"

The esteemed Alfie Collins could never understand a lack of articles.  He reckoned that if one could be written then that formed the basis for three:

1) "St. Cuthbert’s - A trip into a Supersystem"

2) "St. Cuthbert’s – revisited";

3) "Caves I have known – St. Cuthbert’s".

This may be my second comment on Hanging Chamber.  I cannot remember my first.  It was probably something like, "Coo! Lummy! Gosh!" or maybe we had simply had too much beer - that at least cannot have changed.

Hanging Chamber has changed; at least, it has in the imagination.  When we first violated it with a maypole it seemed vast and mysterious. It was always a damp and chilly trip, time consuming and difficult.  We persevered because it seemed the best hope to extend the Maypole Series.  Always, away up in the darkness beyond our acetylene flames, were the dim promises of high holes to climb into and, seemingly, a huge aven poised so high and so far above that we, with our limited resources, were content just to dream about it.  This is the stuff of Romance!

Jonathan and I were at the Belfry early in the year waiting to take some Boy Scouts or Wessex or something on a tourist trip.  They did not turn up.  With a low profile we hurriedly took the opportunity to join Bassett and Jane.  They intended to recover the gear from the oxbow passage which had been climbed into from Hanging Chamber.  Intriguingly this was that "inaccessible aven" which had haunted my imagination for years.  By all accounts it was an opening which formed a high level loop back into Maypole Series.  Yet another oxbow to tick off from possible extensions to St. Cuthbert’s.   We eagerly seized the chance to see the area again.  I hope to read about it too! (see previous B.B., Ed.)

The huge canyon which is the start to Maypole has retained its impressive character and the same draughty dampness.  From the bottom of Maypole Pitch the dark wall climbs in two large steps to the curved lip of Hanging Chamber about sixty feet above.  Previously we had left a wire hanging off a bolt for use as a pulley. This had been replaced by a wire ladder which we climbed easily to Hanging Chamber.

By the excellent light given by my Nife Cell the wall looked free climbable.  I enjoyed taking my time and looking around.  Everything looked amazingly near.  Graham got on with the job of Prusikking, Jumarring, Clogging, Gibbing, or whatever it is, up the hanging access rope and rapidly climbed the thirty feet to the hole.  This was our mysterious hole, now easily seen in the sum of four powerful electrics. Its position was now seen to be vertically above the landing ledge of Hanging Chamber.  Certainly it was too far to maypole but it is much nearer than we had thought.  Just opposite was the "ledge" where Pete Hiller and Fred Davies had hung off slings managing the bottom of the maypole.  It was scarcely a ledge, more a mud slide and tremendously exposed. Bloody optimists, I thought.

Snug in my furry suit, enjoying the well lit spectacle, I suddenly remembered how it was when Fred Davies and I stood looking for a way on.  Two skinny, shivering blokes in wet, floppy, muddy boiler suits, peering short-sightedly into the gloom cast by fitful acetylene flames.  We could not see the "aven" from the landing of Hanging Chamber and from the next level up it seemed to be far away over the gut-gripping drop into Maypole Pitch.  To get where we had had meant exceeding the current technology of Maypoling. This had been a consequence of failing to free climb to Hanging Chamber.

I had managed to free climb to within 2 few feet of the lip but the crux quite put me off.  It was a long way up un-roped.  It was wet and I kept wondering what the hell I would do if a drip extinguished my light.

We were obliged to find a way to avoid this climb.  We succeeded by maypoling from the ledge opposite but, once in the chamber, we simply could not see any way of using one to get into the "aven", even if we could see it.  We speculated about hydrogen balloons and went home.

S.R.T. is neat and powerful and, with good, warm clothing has opened out a lot more cave.

The moral must be - keep up with progress!


Charterhouse Cave

by Graham Wilton-Jones

Sixty years ago U.B.S.S. first paid attention to the swallets and shakeholes around G.B. and one of their first successes came with a breakthrough in the easterly, active swallet. This was Read's Grotto, named after the same Reginald Read of Read's Cavern.  The grotto itself, several tens of feet in through a restricted entrance passage, marked the end of the cave - the boulder chokes were considered a waste of time.  Twenty years ago the entrance fell in and an undisturbed chaos of brambles and weeds conceals the shakehole.  Only a few feet away from Read's is an outcrop of limestone split by a wide cleft. Boys from Sidcot School dug here for some time, revealing a number of narrow passages, small chambeers and loose boulders.  In 1976 the last digging trips were made and interest waned - the loosest of the boulders had won.

Earlier this year Pete and Alison Moody had a look at the abandoned digging site and Alison pushed on down a narrow rift below loose boulders to arrive at a three inch wide slot through which the draught blew.  Two bangs and they were into another rift from where the way to the present end of the cave was wide open.

After the squeeze, which is now gated, the rift drops gently as walking height passage until stals and some false floors in the roof force you to crawl beneath.  Already much of the stal is becoming muddied as it is very vulnerable and great care is needed in this and several other sections of the cave. The discoverers have put in protection tapes in a number of places and have also taken in water containers and scrubbing brushes to use as necessary.  Beyond the crawls it is possible to stand again for a while.  The rift passes a smaller rift on the right through which a beautiful white stalactite is visible - the main route passes this a little more closely later on.  A second passage on the right is the way on but when Jane and I visited the cave we continued straight ahead and thence up through a dig in gravel and false floor deposits to enter a much larger passage.  This has only recently been found.  It is thought to be the old entrance passage to the system, deriving from a glacially obliterated swallet.  It is well decorated and ends in breakdown and stal having headed out towards Longwood.  The passage can be seen from further down the cave but cannot be entered from there. Back at the way on it is necessary to grovel through a shallow pool and then pass underneath the beautiful white stalactite.  After another rift with a pool is a drop into a larger rift leading down cave, and there are now no complications in the route.  The passage gradually enlarges and soon enters a big chamber about half way between the floor and the roof.  The chamber is about 80 feet high and 40 feet long.  On the right is a near vertical well of mud, boulders and stal, beneath which the floor slopes steeply away over mud and large boulders.  Clearly there has been a monumental collapse in the not too distant past.  On the left hand overhanging wall, some twenty feet down from the roof, perches a precarious pile of mud and boulders.  On the right water running down the wall is just be beginning to wash off the mud and gravel to reveal clean white stal underneath.  There are passages at the top which could prove quite awkward to reach.  At the bottom of the chamber the main passage continues to drop quickly, often over boulders, sometimes across small potholes, and after a short distance there is a slight, left hand bend.  Climbing up here leads to the top of the main chamber and the route to Pearl Passage. Carrying on downwards shortly drops to the base of the Main Chamber underneath a G.B. type bridge of large boulders.  The roof quickly comes down to form the end wall of the chamber but a crawl among stal leads to the final chokes, which seem to lie under the edge of the Great Swallet.  It may be that a way around these chokes can be found and dye tests have been carried out to determine whether this would lead back to G.B. or into the great unknown.

The climb up into the top section of Main Chamber is a slightly awkward overhang - at present many of the holds here and elsewhere in the cave are liable to drop off at the mere mention of their presence.  Above the climb a passage leads past good mud formations to an excellent view of the Main Chamber.  This has been estimated to be about three quarters the size of G.B. Main Chamber.  There is a good vantage point for viewing the chamber and its very good stal.  This is at the end of a mud and rock floor close to the edge of the lower passage. A path has been made through the floor formations but most of the other stal will remain inviolate, being high up in the roof.  One of the alcoves has been reached high up at the south-western end.  Other passages at roof level remain to be entered.  At the beginning of the chamber, up in the right hand wall, is Pearl Passage.  The pearls and the passage in which they lie are to be taped off, but an aven beyond leads to passages that lie within a few feet of Devil's Elbow in G.B.

Like all the caves in the G.B. area Charterhouse Cave is on Bristol Water Works land and is controlled on their behalf by the Charterhouse Caving Committee.  Our rep on this committee is Tim Large who is also C.C.C. secretary.  C.C.C. have decided that, in view of the vulnerability of the formations in the cave, the site shall be gated (this has already been done) and that each member club of C.C.C. shall hold a key.  Each member club shall supply two leaders for the cave, presumably for their own club and for trips requested by non C.C.C. clubs.

All trips at the moment are working trips - exploration, taping, surveying, etc. and tourist trips are not yet possible.

Congratulations to Pete and Alison on this fine discovery.  They surely deserve something like this as a result of their efforts instead of those tight, muddy grovels in that love of their life, Swildons.

At the risk of putting a bat among the stalactites, condolences to Sidcot schoolboys (who should really be spending time on their studies, anyway!).


Bi-Monthly Notes

THE BELFRY. Various members have spent some time tidying between the Belfry and Walt's track.  It has been raked free of stones and has been mown.  If you fancy a mow when you are visiting, bring a pint of petrol.  Please do not park your ten-ton trucks on the lawns.

There is talk of acquiring a Belfry croquet set!

The Drinking Pond has been enlarged, presumably to accommodate those larger or wilder members who have occasion to be thrown therein.

Walt Foxwell has replaced his old man-hole cover near the Pond with a new one, and has autographed the cement surround.  He said something on the lines of, “Oi maynt remember you buggers, but youm buggers 'll remember Oi”  He has also agreed to act as the Club marriage guidance councillor.

Don't forget to make a few newspaper pulp bricks for the stove using our Brick-making Machine, next time you’re at the shed, and keep bringing those newspapers.

Members: Bolt celebrated his birthday at the Belfry recently with a Barrel but, the highlight of the evening was surely watching him try to blow out his own trick candles - they light up again immediately of their own accord.

Fi did a special cake for the event, and she also made one for Tim's birthday, a few weeks later.

Trev Hughes is now permanently on Mendip (heaven help us all) and is living at Wookey Hole (in a house).

Brian and Lucy Workman have now moved onto Mendip and are living at Oakhill.  So that should be two good house-warnings soon.

Several members gave caving and digging a miss recently (so what's new) to help Mac build an enormous set of concrete steps concealing the front of his house.  Each step is individually sized to accommodate all states of inebriation in his visitors.

CLUB LIBRARY:  This is being 'fettled' and many gaps in series of journals; newsletters, etc. have been noticed.  The Librarians would be most grateful for any old caving books or publications by any clubs.  Spring clean your bookshelves, my pretties, and help fill up the Belfry shelves.

Any duplicates are passed on to W.C.C., M.C.G., S.M.C.C. and M.N.R.C. to ensure that all the Mendip Clubs' libraries are up to date.

Many thanks in anticipation,


N.B. Collection can be arranged - just phone the Belfry

B.B.'s - vol's 3, 9, 19, 20, 21, 24, 29 & 30 are missing from the library.  W.C.C. journals nos. 43 - 59 are also missing.

Many thanks to all those who have donated old publications already.


Golden Oldies On The Isle Of Skye!

from Kangy.

The Black Cuillin Ridge is the finest and most difficult mountaineering expedition in the British Isles.  It stretches for six miles, has climbs on it graded V. Diff. which are not easy to avoid, takes anything from a record 4 hrs. 9 mins. to two days, and is succinctly described in "Classic Rock."

To their credit, Roy Bennet and Alan Bonner have just completed it in sixteen hours.  They went from Gars Bheinn to Sgurr nan Gillean in good weather on the 3 rd. June 1982.  They share over one hundred years of age between them!  They reckoned the hard part was the continuous concentration required to avoid falling off the extremely exposed ridge.

John Stafford and John Attwood did the ridge in May 1956.  Stafford wonders if anyone from the Club has done it in between times.

T.G.O.F. Finds In County Galway.

Around Easter time this year Ken Jones and Pat Cronin, both of T.G.O.F., were in Western Ireland, caving in County Clare and doing some exploratory work near the Galway - Clare border.

They explored and surveyed five sites altogether:

Poul a Crab;

Poll behan;

John Quin's Cave;

Poll blath Gairdin;

Poll E Puthe Kittleon.

Pat tells me he has been dying to use this last name on an Irish site for ages. 

The deep pool in Poll behan remains to be explored.

The caves vary in character from a small solution hole, 4 m. deep, which is John Quin's Cave, to the vertical depression of Poll behan which is 28 m. deep to water level, and the 23 m. deep Poll E Puthe Kittleon, with its 4 m. x 4 m. 450 passage ending in a suicidal ruckle and the sound of a stream beyond.  Pat and Ken both plan to return to the area around the first week in November.


Long Chamber Extension

- an extract from the Cuthbert’s log, 18th April

Pushed bedding plane of chamber 47* (above Long Chamber Extension).  A low trench with many fine formations leads up to a slot on the left onto more confined passage.  This was followed for 40 feet to a 20 foot wide chamber.  This chamber is very well decorated. The flow being white stal with many crystal pools.  Beyond this chamber is a 20 foot climb up a decorated rift, ending in stal chokes or an upward crawl and a tight squeeze into a final bedding plane.

Andy Sparrow and Andy Cave


* ref. Wig’s Long Chamber Extension Preliminary report for numbering system of chambers.


Bi-Monthly Notes, continued.

LARGE POT: While N.C.C. were digging the old N.P.C. dig of Little Pot, near the bend in the Turbary Road, N.P.C. attacked Large Pot (within spitting distance) and broke through to a series of shafts leading down several hundred feet.  This is of particular interest because it is directly above the drainage route from Marble Steps to Keld Head, so its potential must be considerable.

GAVEL: Ian "Watto" Watson has dived the sump here towards Pippikin and Beck Deck Head for 1,500 feet, at an average depth of 20 feet, apparently without breaking air-surface.

HURTLE POT: Geoff Crossley hoped to lay lots more line in the sump here, but the route dropped through a slot from its average depth of 90 feet and has now reached a depth of 115 feet.  It now has the deepest average  depth of any sump in Britain.

GOUGHS CAVE: Chris Bradshaw & Co. are digging here, and its about time Chris had written something about it for the B.B.

DRAYCOTT CAVE: The Army have been digging here, but I cannot imagine what for!

CASTLE FARM DIG: Work continues here on sunny, summer weekends.  Glenys was struck by flying debris the other month, and proudly showed her bruise to all.  How about a note from the diggers, on progress and potential?

DAN YR OGOF: The 40 foot pot, banged into at the end of Tubeways, has been called Falklands Pot. The narrow streamway at the bottom, Exocet Passage, had to be banged a second time to allow the passage of bigger-than-Jane sized cavers.  At first it headed a short distance southwards, but then curved around and dropped down two pitches, 10 feet and then 15 feet.  At the bottom is a static sump and the stream gurgles away in a low passage which has yet to be pushed.  Disappointingly, it seems to be heading north, away from Mazeways.



Entered by two tight squeezes over a static sump, the passage enlarges to join a large rift. Downstream there is a short distance to a choke.  Upstream, awkward traversing in a large rift, is followed by steep ascents to a 40 foot aven, which is stal choked at the top.  A very tight side passage goes to another aven where a twig was found. Other side passages are being banged. There is, apparently, an old swallet passage terminating below Swildons dry valley, with the possibility of a new entrance.


The Diggers' Song

(Dedicated to a rare body of men and, in particular, to the stalwarts of St Cuthbert’s by KANGY)

I wanted to go down a cave
And now my ambitions I've got 'em,
In Cuthbert’s I'm all the rave
At the dig in the hole in the bottom.

Digging away, digging all day, dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,.

I only went out on a spree,
Thinking to sup and be off, when
I encountered a crowd, BEC
All lewd and licentious and tough men.

Digging etc"

They said - -Young man it will go
If you carry these ladders and drop 'em
Into a hole that we know,
That's not really too much of a problem.

Digging etc"

Now the entrance pitch is divine
So long as you're skinny and narrow,
The walls are all covered in slime
From the drippings of Walt's old wheelbarrow.

Digging etc"

We continued on down the Arête
The shaky old ladders appalling,
But, as the other bloke said
“Its a ruddy sight better than falling”


Two ladders and then the Wire Rift
Were next on the menu they brought me,
To traverse I needed the gift
That my ape-like ancestors had taught me.

Digging etc"

Mud Hall and Sta1 Chamber too
And Boulder with boulders abundant,
My mates disappeared from my view
As they hurried to show me what fun meant

Digging etc"

A hole at the end gave the clue
Leading to Everest and gravel.
We slid down the scree in a queue
More or less in the right line of travel.

Digging etc.
I staggered along in a daze
Dimly noting the Sewer in passing
They'd knotted me up in a maze
When I suddenly noticed the splashing.

Digging etc ••

A wall immense and quite tall
Traversed the passage we trod in.
Blocking the flow in the Hall
And changing the level of Oggin.

Digging etc ••

At the side stood a large bucket wheel
Fixed in it’s bearings by packing.
This fiendish device seemed to deal
With the drive of a pump double-acting.

Digging etc ••

So sloshing the water about
It pumped from one place to another.
A muddy great hole was washed out
Without any effort or bother.

Digging etc ••

A spade all corroded and rough
I was given to my consternation.
They invited me kindly enough
To get digging and start exploration.

Digging etc ••

So now I'm a digger of note.
To be found at my post every Tuesday.
On cave exploration I dote -
I'm sure I'll be digging till Domesday.

Digging away. digging all day. dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.



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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

1983 B.E.C. Meets List

29.1.83 ROMAN MINE

One last look before this mine is sealed. (see Caving Report No. 15.)        M. GRASS


Rescue practice.            M. GRASS

5.2.83   WOOKEY HOLE

Evening trip to upper passages.   M. GRASS

19.2.83 DAN YR OGOF

Dali's Delight/Far North   T. LARGE, G. WILTON-JONES


Derbyshire w/end.  Staying at the Pegasus hut.    M. GRASS


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

1.4.83   CO. CLARE
10.4.83 CO. CLARE

Caving, drinking, and walking for three whole days.           M. GRASS, G. WILTON-JONES. P. ROMFORD for place on mini-bus

10.4.83 DEVON and
2.5.83   DEVON

Visits to all major caves plus some diving.            M. GRASS


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

28.5.83 PANT MAWR
29.5.83 OTTER HOLE

Camping at Crickhowell. M. GRASS


Top entrance to Smith's Armoury and out of One. G. WILTON-JONES.


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

17.7.83 to 29.8.83          NORTH WALES

Caving & walking.           M. GRASS


11.9.83  Through trip.      T. LARGE


Visit to Lower Series.     M. GRASS

1.10.83   B.E.C. A.G.M. & DINNER

Contact T. LARGE

22.10.83            SLEETS GILL
23.10.83            DOW/PROVIDENCE POT

Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut            M. GRASS


A trip to remember.

(For All The Wrong Reasons) 

by Bolt.





It had not been the most auspicious start to a trip, I pondered, staggering along at 8,000 feet under the weight of two fully laden rucksacks.  The four of us who were to attempt Yorkshire had arrived the night before to find the two tents already set up, my little solo tent having been erected on a small, grassy ledge with fabulous views, but which also contained, I later found out, an intrinsic convex curve that precluded sleep in any position!  Thank you lads!



The rain arrived shortly after us and we retired, the other group having an extra guest in the form of one of the Canadian Army boys who had arrived, begging to join us.

The following overcast and icy cold morning found us all looking decidedly rough, except me, who looked fabulous….well I couldn't see myself!  We broke camp and set off at 0900, feeling very weak and panting from unaccustomed altitude and arrived in the designated area half an hour later. It was a breakdown area with mounds of rubble everywhere and our search for the cave entrance slowly started spreading further afield as realisation hit us that no-one really knew where the opening was.  The first cave found was Mendip Cave ( ! ) closely followed by Derbyshire Pot, but eventually a voice from far away informed us that he had it and we set off to join him hence my two rucksacks.

Their weight hampered my progress and by the time kitting up was complete the rest had already entered the cave, so, squeezing down past the large snow plug in the entrance, I hurried after them.  Passing the medium sized boulder that represented my back up belay, I distinctly recall doubts at its ability to hold my weight and then, so help me, not even glancing at the main belay, but clipping on the rack I slid over the edge. Twenty feet down the 45 foot first pitch of Yorkshire Pot my main belay failed.  The sudden horrifying feeling of freefall was replaced almost immediately by the jerk of the rope as the back up held.  Musing on the feasibility of changing one's underpants came to an abrupt end as rumblings from above warned me of what was to come and I curled up into a ball on the rope.


What a stupid move that was! The chock-stone that has been the main belay subsequently hit the back of my neck sending my helmet spinning down the pitch.  Yells from below indicated that the helmet had caught the rest of the party up, even if its' owner hadn't.  Descending through waves of dizziness and nausea was fun but they passed and we carried on into the cave until shortly afterwards and not surprisingly, my carbide failed completely.

A spare carbide got us going again but we found most pitches required replacement bolts and the going was very slow.  The lead changed several times and at one stage, after inserting a bolt and abseiling down, I found myself ahead of the main group with the Canadian behind me. A small hole, a short constriction and my head popped out above the next pitch.  Ooer!  Trying to back out soon confirmed that the body really won't bend in all directions and it took 15 minutes of shouted instructions from my sudden best friend in the whole wide world before a sweaty Bolt re-emerged literally standing on his head. The pitch was then rigged by entering the hole feet first!

At this point we were joined by an expatriate caver, a Brit named Chas Young - ex Sheffield University Caving Club.  Here was experience and expertise indeed; he'd actually been down the cave before, in 1973 as it turned out.  He confirmed that the top of the first pitch had definitely altered in shape somewhat and suggested the return journey was going to be interesting as the rope now ran up a very tight rift.  Chas was a whippet type and with a roar of afterburners soon disappeared into the gloom. Time passed.  Rounding a corner, I found we had a bottleneck consisting or a smooth and very tight rift suddenly opening out above a nasty looking drop and crossed by a manky and very greasy old rope.  The bottleneck looked forlornly at me as I arrived….damn! Minutes later, reaching the far side, my standby carbide dimmed to almost zero candle power and could not be resuscitated.  Carbide was in the bottlenecked group, so I waited patiently for them to arrive. Many grunts, groans and curses later, but no arrivals, boredom set in.  The same manky rope appeared in the dim light to be tied around the large boulder that was my resting place.  Peering over the top, the knot of the rope was hanging against the vertical face of the boulder below me and the ground appeared about 6 feet below that. Reaching down and grasping the knot I slid over the top.  Never will I complain at carbide again. The sudden movement produced a transient spurt of light which illuminated the sight of the penultimate pitch of 130 feet, dropping away below.  A split second later I was standing on the safe side of the rock again, panting heavily. Pure magic.  How did I get there?  Don't ask me.

The top of the final 50 foot pitch was a steep and highly unstable boulder ledge wedged between high walls.  There was no belay worth the name and not enough rope left to feed back to a suitable place. Problems!  We tried all combinations while every now and then rocks would whistle down from those still descending.  Eventually, all spare cows tails, krabs, slings etc. were passed down to us, clipped together and fed round a nasty, smooth looking outcrop. The only back-up available was one of the outer ledge boulders, but this, unfortunately involved a 12 foot drop before coming into action.  Chas went down followed by me, eyeballs out on stalks, willing the belay not to slip. The rest now arrived at the top and after deep consultation a voice pronounced us as mentally deficient. No-one else, it said, was coming down and what's more, we weren't going back up until they'd sorted out the safety aspect.  The bottoming kit was now two pitches back (130 feet and 93 feet) and two men set off for it while Chas and I ate all our food.  A more secure belay was found that left our end of the rope 15 feet above the ground, but when I attempted to free climb up to it, the holds proved brittle, one snapping off 10 feet up and despatched me at speed back to the bottom. The bolting kit was not forthcoming and eventually a system was worked out that involved two men at the top taking part of the strain off the belay and us two getting up there but fast!  This we did, the decision was made - we turn back. Rigging the pitches had taken far longer than expected.  We reached the surface after nine hours and staggered down the mountainside to the pickup truck.  Down the track to the camp.  NO CAMP, NO FOOD, NO AINYTHNG.  They'd moved to another position 17km away. *? !=£ ..


Hut Engineers Report

After having taken up the post of Hut Engineer eight months ago several attempts have been made to organise working weekends, most of which have failed due to lack of enthusiasm by Club members.

However, certain jobs have been carried out in the last eight months, including the long awaited repair of the tackle store roof (which, I must admit, I have not checked for any leaks yet), the leaking toilet pipe, and the gammy lock on the tackle store door, etc., etc.

There are many jobs of great importance that still require completion: these include the missing slates on the roof, for which we are still trying to find a source of materials (i.e. pinching them off someone else's roof) and the new carbide store. This needs to be built before the proposed Belfry extension can begin.  The Belfry also desperately needs painting.

I have made a full list of all the jobs that require doing and this will be pinned on the notice board. I would like to see at least one job done every weekend by the people staying at the Belfry.  This, I think, should include non-members as well, but I know we've got no chance of that!

As most of you have already seen, plans for the proposed Belfry extension and alterations have been drawn up by John Gwyther.  We shall, in the next couple of weeks, have these plans submitted to the council for planning permission and building regulations approval, for the latter of which I have produced structural design calculations.

By next summer I hope we will have this extension well under way, so everybody's help is required.

It must also be noted that the Club committee have issued me with a cheque for £50 for the purchase of building materials.  In recent weeks this has proved most useful to me and has enabled me to get on and do jobs with much more ease.

Ian Caldwell

Caving Secretary's Report

At last year’s A.G.M. it was suggested that a list of meets was drawn up and sent to members.  This was published in the October/November B.B. and various reminders appeared during the rest of the year.

The Cuthbert’s rescue practice attracted four Club leaders and one guest leader - not very promising. Some trips had to be cancelled during December and January due to bad weather but the Wookey dry trip had 16 members on it.  Trips to Bleadon Cavern, Peak Cavern and Devon were cancelled due to lack of support, but trips to South Wales have been well attended (although there is always plenty of room on the Dan-yr-Ogof working trips). These have been very regular this year and the Club has an official dig at the end of Dali's Delight.  All help is welcome.

There have been various comments this year on Club leaders for South Wales caves such as O.F.D., and I have contacted our leaders, who all wish to continue and say they never refuse trips for members.  The names of all leaders are regularly published in the B.B. and anyone requiring trips should contact them.  Brian Prewer has been nominated as an O.F.D. leader and Tim Large for Dan-yr-Ogof.

The Club has been very active on Mendip with digs at Cuthbert’s 2, the end of Tynings, Castle Farm, Manor Farm Swallet and Haydon Drove.  Help is always required, so contact the diggers if you feel like lending a hand.

Trips to all major caving areas have been made, including County Clare, and members turned out in force this year at the Bradford P.C. Gaping Ghyll winch meet, and helped with the radio-location carried out at the end of Ingleborough Cave.

Martin Grass.


Belfry Bulletin Editor's Report.

This has not been one of the best years for the B.B.

Partly due to the usual lack of response for articles from members, but mainly due to lack of editorial time, the majority of issues have been bi-monthly.  This latter fault should be eliminated now that I am living closer to Mendip.

Many members are not aware of the tasks performed by the Editor.   They are:

  • Possess space big enough to keep 100 or so reams of paper clean and dry;
  • Possess working space for a printing machine and its effects;
  • Ensure adequate stock;
  • Have about 20 hours spare time available per issue;
  • Cajole people into producing articles; (this includes being a regular, well known visitor to Mendip, and keeping in touch with the local, national and international caving scene);
  • Edit (correct and layout) articles and type onto printing stencils (typing skills are useful here);
  • Print 200 copies of each stencil;
  • Understand all the vagaries of the printing machine and be able to perform basic repairs;
  • Collate the B.B.;
  • Deliver to the distributors.

I owe many thanks to various people who have helped to relieve me of some of the burden:

The printing machine and paper will in future be housed in Trevor Hughes' house at Wookey Hole. Maybe he, or some other local person, might care to take over the printing.

Many people have helped with the typing, particularly Buckett, Jane, Blitz and Fi.  (Surely there must be other typists in the club).

Several regulars and weekend visitors to the Belfry, including guests, have assisted with or taken over collation around the Belfry table.

Jeremy Henley has organised the printing of diagrams, surveys, cartoons, and some typed work, at cost price.  I am sure everyone will have noticed the improvement in quality.  Although the cost by this process is doubled, I am sure that the quality of finish and the lack of hassle warrant the extra expense. I hope to 'use' Jeremy more next year.

Tim and Fi have handled distribution throughout the year, although Jane and I will probably take over this.

Dave Turner has offered to computer record and print the address list.  Labels can be made for B.B. envelopes.

The bi-monthly B.B. is only an interim measure.  I hope to return to producing monthly very soon.  I did hear Trevor complain that a 30 page B.B. is the maximum thickness for stapling!



Freke's Cottage Well

by Trev Hughes

Sunday 4th. July (American Independence Day) dawned at 10 a.m., sunny and clear.  I didn't feel very sunny or clear and the only thing I was independent of was a few more brain cells after the après pub barrel to celebrate Bolt's umpteenth birthday.  Eventually, after a 'Beans A la Hobbs' breakfast, Wormhole and I set off for the darker reaches of north Dorset. Wormhole's car was making some indefinable "oh,-it's-something-inside-the-engine" noises.  We nearly completed the journey without incident but, a couple of miles from Ted Humphries' superb, 300 year old house at Moorside, the car died on us, the battery totally flat.  Luckily the car started with a push and we eventually reached Ted's front drive.

Ted was on his front lawn clad only in shorts and sandals, leaping into the air emitting blood curdling curses amid a cloud of flying nastiness.  Ted, tired of mowing an already immaculate lawn, had decided to mow a wasps' nest, with the expected result.

We unloaded the long-suffering car of all the usual paraphernalia associated with a cave dive, and I started to get changed.  Wormhole, of course, had to tend to his car before anything else:

"Ted. Have you a battery charger I can use?"

I struggled into my wetsuit.

"Ted.  You don't happen to have a tyre pump, do you?"

Valve and bottle were readied.

"I'd better top up the radiator.  Ted, have you got a watering can?"

I made up a shot-line to plumb the well.

"It's a good job I had some 20/50 in the boot."

I honestly don't know how that car ever made it to Priddy, let alone round the north of France.

As I have mentioned Ted has quite a historical house: named Freke's Cottage after an MP sent to the Chiltern Hundreds for handing out boiled sweets to orphans, or after an unfrocked vicar, or somebody similar.  The house, and possibly the well, date from the 16th. century.  The well itself is about 3 feet diameter and stone lined.  It resurges, at ground level, at about 3 gallons per minute and the water forms a small stream at the garden edge.  A 1 foot high parapet surrounds the well.

Looking down the well into the crystal clear water it appeared that the stone ginging stopped at about 30 feet down and a roughly hewn, natural stone shaft of larger size could be seen.  We plumbed the well to 82 feet deep with the shotline.  I kitted up and, by weighting myself to be negatively buoyant, I went hand over hand down the line.  Natural light was lost at 30 feet and my newly converted nicad aquaflash proved its worth by providing a far stronger beam than is usual with such a torch.  By looking downwards I could see the stone ginging descending to the bottom - the appearance of an unlined shaft was an optical illusion.  The shaft bottom was covered with stones and thick, algal deposits.  Although the vis quickly dropped to zero I was able to see some modern oddments, including a short length of scaffold bar.

Wormhole dived next but, due to the poor vis, was unable to find anything of importance.  He recovered a paint tin and some milk bottles. Surprisingly, also, Wormhole managed to survive the dive without any of his kit falling apart, although he did manage to break some of mine.  (I had it welded up at work the next day!).

If the well is of a similar age to the house then excavation of the bottom may prove worthwhile from a historical viewpoint.  The local rock is a thickly bedded strata of oolite and is unlikely to contain natural, enterable passages.  Further dives using a wire shopping basket and hauling rope will be needed to remove debris from the bottom.

Ian's and my thanks must go to Ted's wife, who cooked us a superb, Sunday lunch, the timing of which was absolutely perfect for the completion of our diving activities.

And the drive back to Priddy.  Well, that's another story!


Monthly Notes

G.B. RESCUE. Since the 1968 floods and the collapse of the swallet above the head of the gorge, vast quantities of mud have been washed through G.B. to be deposited at the sump.  The water is liable to pond up more and more frequently as the deposits solidify and it is now often necessary to swim across to the climb to Ladder Dig.

On Sunday November 21st. three parties swam across the pool and visited the extensions.  There had been frequent, heavy rain and this continued while the parties were underground.  The pool rose and overflowed into Ladder Dig.  One party only just managed to scramble out as the passage sumped.  The other two parties were competently organised, experienced and well equipped.

Divers found the Ladder Dig to be sumped at three points, the third sump being choked with gravel as well, and not possible to clear in the confined space and zero viz. Fortunately, dye testing only three weeks previously had proved that nearby Charterhouse Cave water did not enter any of the known parts of G.B.  The Fire Service pumped vast amounts of water away into Charterhouse, and the Ladder Dig pool lowered unbelievably quickly.  It then became possible to bale the sumps and dig through the choked area.

The trapped cavers were none the worst for wear and what could have been a serious affair ended after only a few hours.

Dozens of cavers turned up, mostly on spec, having heard about the rescue from sources beyond/outside M.R.O., particularly radio and T.V., and many enjoyed a welcome beer back at the Belfry in the early hours of Monday morning.

WOOKEY HOLE. Having heard various conflicting reports on Martyn Farr's dive in Wookey, I have spoken with Martyn and I am now able to give a more detailed account of the push.

The sump descends steadily as a high rift, comfortable enough with side mounted bottles by descending slightly on one's side.  At about -150' the rift opens out to a 20' square tunnel, which continues a steady descent.  At about 450' from base, at a depth of -200', the roof begins to close down, eventually meeting the sandy floor as pendants.  The whole River Axe appears to flow through this gap.  Martyn is not sure of the width of the river at this point but he guessed at, at least 20'.  He investigated the left hand edge and reckoned that, in view of the sandy floor, a way could be forced through beneath/between the pendants.  Through a low, two foot wide gap there he could see the passage continuing its steady descent to at least -205'.

DAN YR OGOF. We are now banging the boulders at the top of an aven above Falklands Pot (at the end of Tubeways).  Scalloped flow markings indicate that Tubeways water came from this region, but the passages seem immature (although Windy Way and the Long Crawl are both immature i.e. small).  A survey and brief description of the Falklands Pot area will appear in the B.B. soon - when I give the rest of the figures to Phil Romford!


Charterhouse Caving Committee

The Bristol Waterworks Company are the owners of several square miles of land in the area surrounding Charterhouse-on-Mendip.  Numerous cave entrances and sites of speleological and archaeological interest are located on Company property.  During the latter 1950s the Company placed a restriction on caving and made a request that cavers who wished to visit sites on Company land should rationalise their activities under a corporate body with whom the Company could negotiate a set of conditions under which caving could be continued.  An agreement amongst Mendip caving clubs, the Charterhouse Caving Committee was formed.  It comprised representatives of eleven caving clubs and an Honorary Secretary/Chairman.

The Member Clubs are:-

·         Avon Scout Council

·        Axbridge Caving Group

·         Bristol Exploration Club

·        Cerberus Speleological Society

·        Charterhouse Outdoor Centre

·        Mendip Exploration Group

·        Mendip Caving Group

·        Mendip Nature Research Committee

·        Shepton Mallet Caving Club

·         University of Bristol Speleological Society

·         Wessex Cave Club

The Affiliated Clubs are:-

·         South Bristol Speleological Society

·        Toby Caving Club

·        Unit 2 Cave Research Group

The first meeting of the Committee took place in December 1959 and it set about the task of negotiating an acceptable access arrangement with the Bristol Waterworks Company based on three main requirements:-

a)                  That the Company should be indemnified against any claims arising out of caving or archaeological activities on its land.

b)                  That persons taking part in these activities should hold a permit to be shown on demand to a Company representative or tenant of the land involved.

c)                  That no fresh excavations should be made on, or under the surface of, Company land without written permission.

After protracted discussions, the Company granted the Committee a licence in 1963 giving it sole rights concerning caving and archaeological interest in the area; exploration, excavation, photography, publication and the issuing of permits. A sub-licence granted similar rights to the UBSS with respect to G.B. Cave.  The Licence requires the Committee to:-

a)                  Insure the Company against all possible claims.

b)                  Bear any expenses incurred, including the upkeep and repair of entrances and the proper legal expenses of the Company.

c)                  Maintain a register of permit holders and accept responsibility for compliance with the conditions stated on the permits and the regulations governing the use of the land. Member Clubs are required to return all used Permit Counterfoils to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer.

Having due regard for its obligations, the Committee has made every effort to simplify access arrangements.  However it has not been possible to escape from adopting a certain amount of formalised procedure.


Permits may be issued by anyone of the eleven Member Clubs to their own club members and guests. Each club maintains its own public liability insurance which provides cover for members and guests.  Permits may also be issued by the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer to:-

a)                  Cavers wishing to visit the area as guests of the Committee, i.e. those who are unable to make a guest agreement with a club.

b)                  Members of caving clubs who choose to become affiliated to the Committee and maintain an insurance policy covering members and guests.

The Committee maintains a public liability insurance to indemnify both itself and Bristol Waterworks against claims arising out of caving activities.  This policy extends to cover guests.

Guests may obtain a Temporary Permit to cover a period of 14 days at a cost of 25p each.  Members of Affiliated clubs may obtain a Period Permit, valid for one year at a cost of 50p.  These charges provide a source of revenue which helps defray the costs of insurance and other expenses; the majority of such expenses are met by a subvention from the Member Clubs.  The Permit issuing system ensures that holders of either permit are covered by the necessary insurance.  Applications for permits from Minors (16-18 years) must be accompanied by an Indemnity Form signed by the Parent/Guardian, Member Clubs hold a supply of these.

Note: Members of the member clubs are entitled to 5 year permits which are free.  These are only valid whilst still a member of the issuing club and cannot be transferred.


To comply with the regulations under the licence and sub-licence, caves in the area are required to be gated.  However, there is no difficulty in obtaining a key for the caves concerned:- G.B. Cave, Longwood/August, and Rhino Rift.  A leadership system is in operation for Charterhouse Cave.  Other smaller gated sites include Timber Hole and Longwood Valley sink.  Reads Grotto Dig is not gated.  Although there is no formal booking system, cavers visiting the area as guests of the Committee are requested to write to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer giving one months notice and stating the following, so that the necessary arrangements can be made:-

a)                  Full names, address's and ages of party

b)                  Cave

c)                  Date of proposed trip

d)                  Enclose £5 returnable deposit

e)                  25p each per permit

Address to which applications to be sent is 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset.


All Member Clubs hold a key for use by their members and guests.  Affiliated clubs and guests may also obtain their key from the Honorary Secretary/Treasure (see above section).

a)                  The Cave is to remain locked at all times and parties must lock the door both on entry to and departure from the cave.

b)                  It is the responsibility of the caver to satisfy himself with any tackle used in the cave; particularly the rawbolts placed to facilitate the club up into Ladder Dig Extension.

c)                  The use of acetylene (carbide) lamps is not permitted in the cave.

d)                  The Party is limited to SIX persons including the leader.

e)                  NOVICES and UNDER 16' s are NOT PERMITTED.

It must be noted that responsibility for G.B. Cave is held under sub-licence by UBSS.  Excavation, photography and publication are not permitted without authority from UBSS. Permits are countersigned for G.B. Cave by a UBSS signatory.


WARNING:        Under conditions of prolonged and/or heavy rainfall, some active sections of the cave (notably August Hole Streamway) are liable to become dangerous or impassable due to flooding.  Pumps that take water from the springs at Charterhouse will stop pumping automatically making the cave more prone to flooding.

RHINO RIFT    (As G.B. Gave).

WARNING:        The cave is almost entirely vertical in character and care must be taken when on pitches to avoid dislodging boulders. Do not wait unnecessarily at the foot of ladders/ropes and beware of falling debris.


This cave formally known as Reads Grotto Dig was discovered in April 1982.  This cave has many fine formations and in an effort to conserve this system in as good a condition as possible whilst still maintaining access the Committee has set the following rules:-

a)                  Access is available through approved leaders.  Each Member Club has two 

b)                  Each Member Club has one Key to be shared by the leaders.  Party size is restricted to 4 including Leader.

c)                  No Carbide

d)                  No Novices

Applications to visit this cave may be made either to the Hon. Secretary/Treasurer or a Member Club. At least SIX weeks notice is required. The BEC's two leaders are:-

Phil Romford, Coxley, Nr Wells, Somerset.

Jane Clarke, Wedmore, Somerset.


a)                  Applications to dig anywhere on Charterhouse controlled land or in any existing cave must be made to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer who in turn will obtain permission from Bristol Waterworks Company.

b)                  If permission to dig a specific site is granted either above or below ground it is not transferable to another site.

c)                  Explosives are not permitted without specific permission of Bristol Waterworks Company.


The Committee is deeply concerned that maximum regard is given to cave conservation and the Bristol Waterworks Company insist that activities in and around the caves do not constitute a health hazard.  All cavers are required to: -

a)                  Do not leave any litter in or around the caves.

b)                  Do not damage or disfigure any part of the cave or calcite formations.

c)                  Do not urinate or defecate in the caves.

d)                  Do not commence any new digs (see section entitled DIGGING)

e)                  Be considerate towards others who may be using the cave or area especially in Longwood which is a nature reserve.

f)                    Do not install bolts or fixed aids in the caves without the express permission of the Committee.

The Committee exists to ensure the continued use of the Charterhouse caving area by all cavers and relies upon their cooperation.

Tim Large, Honorary Secretary/Treasurer Charterhouse Caving Committee October 1982


Monthly Notes (Continued)

TACKLE. Equipment is still going missing.

Until now the rule has been:-

When you borrow tackle, use the Tackle Book to list what is borrowed, name the cave, sign the entry and date it.  Tackle should be signed back in and this entry dated also.  Since this simple method is obviously failing - cavers are borrowing equipment without signing the book - a stricter system of control is to be introduced.

If you don't like stringent methods of keeping tabs on our tackle, yes OUR tackle, then stop borrowing it without signing it out…..and bring back the gear you left in your car boot, your garage, your cave dig, or wherever…..and don't leave it in the drinking pond and expect it to crawl back to the store of its own accord.

SNIEZNAJA PIESZCZIERA ( SNOWY CAVE). Moscow cavers and the U.S.S.R. academy of Sciences have pushed this system to a depth of -1335m ± 25m.  The present end is a boulder choke.

NAPRA.  A depth of -970m. has been reached here, and the potential depth is nearly 2,300m.

These two caves are in the Bzybskyi Range of the Caucuses.

Caving International No 14.

CAVING INTERNATIONAL. At last No. 14 is out, with some interesting news but a lot of it is rather dated.  There's an interview with Julia James (if you’ve never heard of her, let me just say that she could drink you under the table any time and probably cave harder than you any time too) two articles which are heavy on archaeology, more on equipment, yet another spiel about the Andros Blue Holes, the Toohey Ridge Cave System, near Flint Ridge-Mammoth, and a strip cartoon which is fun but rather a waste of space in an expensive, fairly serious magazine.

Wig is our Mendip agent for C.I. so, if you want a copy, ask him.  You'll find him under a pile of postcards at Townsend Cottage.

WELCOME IN THE HILLS. If you stand in the entrance to Rock and Fountain and look out across the Clydach Valley you see the village of Llanelly Hill.  Ian and Annie Wilton-Jones have now settled in to the village and anyone is welcome to drop in (phone call first, please - Gilwern 0873 831182 )

If you fancy breakfast there on your way to Dan-y, or wherever, they'll do it for a fraction of the cost of the little chef down the road, or if you want a bit of floor space for the night, or if you just want a natter - all cavers are welcome.

To find the house, just follow the signs for Llanelly Hill from the bottom of the Clydach, find the Jolly Collier and then ask (for the local wild-life park!!).

Ian & Annie, Llanelly Hill, Gwent.

CONCRETE MIXER. The Club now owns a concrete mixer (which broke during the capping of Charterhouse Cave but should soon be functional again).

It is available for hire, at rates well below the usual.  If you want to borrow it, apply to any member of the committee.

P .S.  Ian & Annie have camping Space available, they are three minutes walk from the pub, and can sometimes provide milk and eggs (straight from the pump!).


Wildlife And Countryside Act 1982

The Wildlife and Countryside Act received Royal Assent on the 30th October 1981.  Prior to this its passage through the House of Commons aroused considerable interest and in excess of 2000 amendments (a record number) were tabled to it.  It was considerably strengthened during this process, and although much of the interest, both in and outside Parliament, related to wildlife and habitat conservation it nevertheless could have considerable bearing on the future protection of caves and their environments.  For the purpose of this review comment will be confined to those parts of the Act that might have some direct bearing on caving activities.

The implementation of the Act will essentially fall to the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC), and generally strengthen the statutory provisions for nature conservation in Britain.  It also modifies the National Parks and Access to The Countryside Act 1949 which provided most of the NCC's original powers.  Particularly the Act increases the ability to safeguard sites from threats which do not constitute development as defined in planning law, for example agricultural improvement and afforestation.

The Act is split into four parts covering Wildlife (Part 1), Nature Conservation, Countryside and National Parks (Part 2), Public Rights of Way (Part 3), and Miscellaneous and General (Part 4).  A list of Schedules relating to the Act is also included and primarily consists of lists of species covered under Part 1.

Part 1 - Wildlife

The only, sections of this Part with bearing on caves are Sections 9-12 entitled 'Protection of other animals'.  In respect of, caves this includes bats.  Previously only the greater horseshoe and mouse-eared bats were offered any statutory protection, but the Act now gives full protection to all species.  The provisions of the Act make it illegal to intentionally kill, or injure or take any of the scheduled animals, or to be in possession or control of any whether live or dead.  Furthermore it is illegal to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place or structure which the animal uses for shelter or protection and/or to disturb any such animal while it is occupying a place or structure for that purpose.  Certain exceptions can be made to the above where the persons doing so are appropriately licensed.

Part 2 - Nature Conservation, Countryside and National Parks

The Town and Country Planning Act already gives some protection to SSSI's in that local authorities are required to inform the NEC of, and thereby give them opportunity to comment on, applications that might affect these sites.  The new Act however stipulates that the NCC must be consulted over activities that can be undertaken without planning consent where these activities have been specified as likely to affect the scientific interest. To enable compliance with this, Section 28 requires the NCC to re-notify all existing SSSI's, and to notify all new ones, to owners, occupiers, local planning authorities and the Secretary of State.  This notification must now define the reason for scheduling and provide a list of all activities likely to damage the scientific interest.

The owner/occupier is allowed a three month consultation period after notification and is then required to obtain NCC's agreement before undertaking any of the activities specified. Without this agreement the owner/occupier is legally prevented from carrying out these activities unless they form, part of an already, existing management agreement, or unless three months has elapsed without a formal management agreement being reached.  In the event of a dispute or the inability to reach agreement, the Secretary of State can make an order under Section 29 of the Act extending the negotiation period to twelve months and specifying the determination of compensation consequent to this.  Basically the new provisions allow early warning of any damaging activities and gives the NCC the opportunity to act.

Section 34 is the next of interest and allows for the .protection of limestone pavements. Previously the extraction of limestone for agricultural use, for example building walls etc, was permitted, whereas commercial extraction, including taking stone for rockeries or other ornamental purposes, required planning permission.  The Act now offers total protection to Limestone pavements which have been notified to the local council.  Limestone Pavement Orders can be made either by the Secretary of State or the local planning authority, and once in effect extraction of stone for any purpose will be illegal.

Section 38 is of particular note.  This supersedes Section 3 of the NCC Act 1973 and enables the Council to give a grant or loan towards projects "conductive to nature conservation or fostering the understanding of nature conservation".  Such grants or loans are subject to approval by the Treasury, and certain conditions may be imposed.

Part 3 - Public Rights of Way

This section covers a number of minor aspects referring to public rights of way.  It states a duty to keep definitive maps and statements under continuous review, refers to making changes, additions and updating public rights of way 1 and requires reclassification of roads used as public footpaths.  Also included is a section prohibiting the keeping of bulls on land crossed by public footpaths, but excluding those bulls under ten months old and those of a recognised dairy breed kept with a herd of cows or heifers.

Part 4 Miscellaneous and General

This final section covers minor items such as definitions and minor amendments to various previous Acts. It contains nothing of relevance.

Graham Price
Conservation & Access Officer (CSCC)


Monthly Notes (Continued)


Down to a Sunless Sea – Mike Boon
Caving and Potholing – Dave Judson & Arthur Champion
The Caves Beyond – Joe Lawrence & Roger Brucker
Caves of South Wales – Tim Stratford
Discovering Caves (new edition) – Tony Oldham
Ghar Parau – Dave Judson

plus all the latest Mendip club newsletters and old and new publications from other clubs.

Donations still most welcome.


T-SHIRTS. There: is just one small B.E.C. T-shirt left.  Contact Trev Hughes, 8, West Bank, Wookey Hole, or at the Belfry.

WANTED (it's very late and I'm tired but that is meant to say "WANTED".  Storage Heaters for the Belfry.  The old ones have had it.

SOUTH WALES LEADERS. Tim Large is now a Dan yr Ogof leader and Brian Prewer is an O.F.D. I leader.

CLUB LOGS. Been caving recently?  Don't forget to write up your trip in the log. Our log books go right back to the very early trips made by club members, and these books are kept in the Club library.

MORE RUSSIAN CAVES.  In Soviet Weekly, Apr. 18th '81, is a report on the cave TOR LIANI (W. Georgia/Soviet Trans Caucasia) which is claimed to be the third deepest in the world, with a depth of just under 4000’.  Is this just another name for SNOWY CAVE, perhaps?

It contains a 545' waterfall, and has a constant entrance temperature of 0° C, rising to 60 C at -3200'. There are now 500 known caves in Georgia, including Tsonskaya, 7000' asl and the highest site of prehistoric human habitation in Europe.

SHEPTON BUFFET. As usual this was an excellent affair, differing mainly from previous years by having a disco instead of 'The Band'.

In the competition Trev Hughes and Hartin Grass put all their pennies in the cups, and Edrich, son of Sid, exceeded all the opposition's expectations by consuming three shredded wheats, dry, quicker than anybody else.  We won, but of course, S.M.C.C. did as well.  The food was superb value, the wine and beer flowed freely food flowed (and some freely over certain people's heads), and every other person spent the evening firing aerosols of plastic spiders' webs at everyone else.

Many thanks to all the organisers.

SHORT GILL RISING Barbondale, Cumbria.  The sump here was blocked with lots of loose boulders, but these have been removed, particularly by pushing them down the underwater boulder slope.  A much larger passage has been revealed.  Prospects sound good, in spite of only 10 m progress into the sump after several dives.          C.D.G. Newsletter No. 65 (Oct '82)

STOKE LANE SLOCKER. Wormhole, Pete Moody, Chris Milne et al eventually pushed their way to Stoke 8, and when the water levels are lower, sometime next year, it is hoped that they will have a go at the very end. Wormhole will be made to promise to write an article.

STENKRITH PARK.  Northern Dales.  Earlier this year Martin Grass, Geoff Crossley, Jane and I looked at the short, but aqueous and sporting Devil's Grinding Milll, not knowing that M.S.G. had discovered a similar cave, the 1400 foot Angel's Drainpipe, in the same outcrop of Brockram, only a few months earlier.       Caves and Caving. No 18 (Nov ’82).

LUNEHEAD MINE CAVERNS. The entrance to these is totally blocked by a landslip of many tons of large boulders, which will take a lot of shifting.

BOGG HALL CAVE.  Kirbymoorside, North York Moors. Scunthorpe Caving Club have extended this through two short sumps to over 600 feet.  At the end the River Dove emerges from a flooded rift at least 40 feet deep.

Caves and Caving No 18.

Also in the same issue of Caves and Caving are reports of expeditions to Norway (Glomdal), Austria (Totes Gebirge), Spain (Picos de Cornion and Matienzo), and Andros.  Other interesting international news includes a note about St. Pauls Cave, Palawan, Philippines, where a 4¼km river passage, tidal throughout its length and often over 10 m. wide, can be traversed entirely by canoe!

EAST TWIN. South Bristol S.S. are continuing their work here, and the dig from the Third Chamber now extends over 65 feet. Digging is assisted by a monorail.

Descent No 52.

Not a bad copy of Descent this time around, with articles on Russet Well, Aude Gorge, S.R.T., S.R.T., S.R.T. etc.

The PAUL ESSER MEMORIAL LECTURE for 1983 will be delivered by Dick Renshaw on Wednesday, 2nd February, at 8.15 pm. in the Physics Lecture Theatre, University of Bristol.

Here is the Lecturer's summary.

In March this year, a team of six led by Chris Bonnington set off for China to attempt the unclimbed East-North-East ridge of Everest.  The team consisted of four climbers - Chris Bonnington, Joe Tasker, Pete Boardman and Dick Renshaw, with Charlie Clarke and Adrian Gordon as their support team.

It marked the return after an absence of forty years of British Mountaineering to the north side of Everest.  The objective was a very challenging ridge, the crux of which was just below 27,500 feet, where it joins the North-East Ridge, the line taken by the earliest British expeditions, including the attempt by Mallory and Irvine in 1924.

The idea was to climb without oxygen and without high altitude porters.  After reaching a high point of 26,700 feet, Dick Renshaw had a mild stroke and had to return home.  As Chris was exhausted, Pete and Joe decided to go for a summit attempt after a short rest at Base Camp.  On 17th May they were at a height of 27,100 feet, and were last seen at 9.00 pm., still climbing and presumably looking for a place to pitch their tent.  They were never seen again.

Dick Renshaw tells, with slides, the story of this expedition and of their journey through Tibet.

Admission is free, but parties coming from some distance may reserve seats by writing to the Trustee, Dr. Oliver Lloyd, Bristol, BS9.


An Obituary To Stan Gee (1933 - 1982)

Members present at the Annual Dinner this year will remember hearing the news that Stan Gee died on September 11th at a Ceilidh in Stockport.  He had a severe heart attack at the end of a particularly vigorous dance.

Stan Gee, BEC member No 265 since 17th August 1952 (although his membership did lapse for a while) was born in about 1933 and has always lived in the Stockport area.  His caving started around 1948/49 and he was associated with the Orpheus Caving Club (Northern Section) at the time and continued caving with the Derbyshire Caving Club in 1959 when it was formed as a splinter group of the OCC.  There is a description of Stans work in Oxlow and Maskhill mines in BB No 72/August 1953.

Most of his caving was in and around Derbyshire as travelling in the 1940's early 50's posed considerable problems.  Stan used to tell of an early trip to Alum Pot when the expedition left Stockport for Manchester Victoria Station riding on the back of a coalman's horse drawn cart.  He did his National Service in the Fire Service at Aldershot and it is probably at this time that he first visited Mendip.

After the formation of the DCC, expeditions started to go to the Cordina area in Italy and Stan soon became a regular participant. Within a few years he had taken over the organisation of the expeditions and continued to go to Italy every year thereafter making many close friends.  This led to reciprocal visits by the Italian Cavers and Stan's house was often home from home for itinerant cavers.

Throughout this time Stan kept two other outdoor activities going, rambling especially in Derbyshire and archaeology at places such as Elder Bush Cave and Fox Holes as a member of the Peakland Archaeological Society. The Latter activity continued until very recently when Stan was digging at Pooles Cavern in Buxton.

Stan was never happy if he wasn’t organising something and the range of his activities was wide, from black magic to New Year Parties, stunts like the creation of the English Republican Army (raiding Welsh Castles on St Davids Day) to the reopening of Alderley Edge Copper Mines at Alderley Edge and non-caving activities in Sutherland.

For many years Stan combined his caving and rambling activities with folk singing and playing. He played the guitar, accordion and harmonium and was part of a jigband called Slipper Alley Sidewalk Stompers in the 1960' s.  This band became the Bullock Smithy Folk Group which gained local and national fame with appearances on radio and northwest TV programmes.

His latest venture after Bullock Smithy, packed in were with folk dancing and. the formation of a women's Morris Dancing team called Fiddler's Fancy.

Stan was married for a while but for many years shared a home with Ethel Burton.

Nigel Dibden   23rd October 1982


British Spelaeological Expedition To Mexico

J-Rat, Bob and Dany are currently with the expedition, near San Cristobal in Chiapas.  In a four day recce several caves have been found, including one of 2000 feet (length?) and rumour has it that some members were captured by Indians and ransomed: for several thousand pesos!!  Full report on progress next month.


Alan Thomas was knock down by a vehicle in Wells on Saturday (18th.) and is presently in Bristol Royal Infirmary.   We wish him a speedy recovery.

Hallowe'en Rift

by Trev Hughes

It seems that so far this year new caves on Mendip have been found by chance or fairly easily, viz Hole in the Road and the extension of Reads Grotto Dig, now called Charterhouse Cave. Little did I know that what I initially labelled simply 'Unnamed Dig' in my caving log was to follow a similar pattern.

I came across the site while studying the wooded slopes in the area above the village, three fields away from the bottom of my garden.

Initially all that was visible was a moss-lined, widened joint, hidden under brambles and hawthorn, in a low outcrop of dolomitic conglomerate.  Spotting a spider's egg cocoon similar to those found in many caves I decided to return the next day to investigate the area with suitable digging equipment.

Saturday October 30th saw the start of work.  The first job was to remove the dense brambles covering the area.  Suspecting that any cave passage might follow the joint roughly northwards I started digging a hole at the edge of the outcrop to give space to allow progress to be made horizontally.  Very quickly it became apparent that I was digging in a rectangular shaft filled with jumbled rocks and sandy subsoil.  By the end of the day's work I had a 1 x 1.3 m shaft, 1.5 m deep, which I suspected could be a mine shaft, although there was no evidence to support this, such as shot-holes, etc.

I worked solo on Sunday morning but after lunch J-Rat and the Hut Warden's husband, Phil, came along to help.  We worked steadily throughout the afternoon and as the sky was darkening Phil opened up a clean walled rift in the northern part of the shaft.  This was narrow at the northern end but widened to 0.3 m towards the still covered southern end.  The rift walls were lined with old stal/flowstone and the deepest point appeared to be about 4 m below surface level.  As it was Hallowe'en the name of our embryonic rift cave was easily chosen.

My next visit (solo again) was on November 3rd.  I spent the afternoon digging out the infill from the southern side of the shaft and opened up a widening rift.  I was able to clear away the overburden without too much of it falling down the rift, which is about 0.4 m wide as it undercuts the southern wall of the shaft. After three hours work I was able to descend this rift to a small, stony-floored chamber, the walls and roof of which were thickly covered with massive (but mostly shattered) stal, not to mention some huge spiders.  By rearranging the stones on the floor I was able to peer into a larger, low chamber to the east of the entrance rift.  Due to problems with my nife cell I decided to finish for the day.  Open cave passage had been entered after only 17½ man hours of work - quite reasonable progress.

Earlier in the week I had been to see Dr. Frank McBratney, the manager of Wookey Hole Cave on whose land this cave lies.  He voiced no objections to the dig although he wished to consult that other Wookey Hole resident, Jim Hanwell, on the whys and wherefores before giving the full go-ahead.  (This has now been done and permission given).

J-Rat and I next marked at the site on l Nov. 5th and, with Tony heaving up buckets of stones and me loading them, we lowered th floor of the first chamber by some 0.6 m.  Not surprisingly, the inevitable J-Rat dry stone wall appeared!

With the floor of the chamber lowered I was able to determine that the opening on the eastern side, first noticed two days before, was only an alcove measuring 2 m. x 3.m., but away to the west a low passage (a half tube in the roof of a low bedding plane) could be seen.

After about 3 m. this passage appeared to open up.  The floor was composed of uncompacted sandy mud and broken pieces of calcite floor. By wriggling into this passage, pushing the mud to the sides and then reversing out with as many lumps of calcite as possible, progress was quickly made.  Three such operations opened the end up to passable size.  After hauling out the last of these blocks Tony joined me at the bottom of the rift.  Once into the half tube a noticeable outward draught could be felt.

With Tony hot on my heels I squeezed into the larger bedding passage beyond.  To the left the passage sloped away down dip and straight ahead the low bedding, now 4 - 5m. wide, continued.  The floor is mostly sandy mud and the roof generally 0.5m high.  This area of the cave was christened Guy Fawkes Chamber for obvious reasons.


From the survey it can be seen that the passages are joint controlled and the bedding continues to the east although it is filled to the roof with mud.  At this stage we estimated that we had 30m of passage with two obvious dig sites.  The total digging time to date: 24½ man hours.

The next day Tony and were joined by Chris Batstone who, unfortunately, decided that the narrow entrance was not for him.  His part in the day's proceedings was to haul spoil up the entrance rift while I cleared out the bottom. J-Rat and I started digging at the two sites within the cave; both are low beddings and work is tiring on the arms.

Jane Clarke, Bassett and I completed a Grade 3 survey on Nov. 7th.  With a strong pencil beam light the dig nearer the entrance can be seen to open up after 6 - 7m.  Beneath the 0.2m space soft mud overlays a calcite floor resting on more mud.  A crowbar can be used to open up a trench in this to give a workable roof height.

On Nov 10th. Quackers and I did some more work clearing out the entrance rift floor and the choked northern side - it may well continue northwards at passable size.  It is far larger than the other rifts in the bedding roof (on 3150) within the cave and is therefore well worth clearing out.

The latest trip at the time of writing was on Nov. 16th. when, again solo, I continued working at the eastern dig site.  By blocking the edges of the bedding with spoil I revealed that a draught, roughly comparable with that leaving the entrance crawl, comes from the low arch now only a couple of metres away.  The calcite blocks extracted from this dig are hampering further work and must now be properly removed.  The low roof makes this vital.  Work continues and more discoveries may have been made by the time this article appears in print.  All help is most welcome.

Finally, what of the other, more well known, cave in this area?  Well, does the idea of a dry grots trip to Wookey 22 appeal to anyone?


Tourist Caving Abroad

from Bryan Scott

The two articles reproduced below were sent in by Bryan, who has visited Harrison's Cave and thoroughly recommends it.  If you should be lucky enough to travel to Barbados, take a few B.E.C. stickers with you - Bryan didn't have any!

He also says that the caves on the island of Rodriges (east of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean) are well worth a visit, and adds:

The B.E.C. get everywhere - OK!

For those who would rather not trek to the back of beyond merely to "get away from it all," but who still want to have an exciting and educational experience, some memorable vacations are to be had right here in Western Canada.

Discover Canada April ’81

by Joanne Macdonald

Take caving, for example. Uncommon, true, yet it can be ideal for everyone from families to special interest groups.  Paul Griffiths, president of the B.C. Speleological Federation, a public interest group involved in cave conservation and cave-related resources, says that public tours offered in various locales over the past few years have been hugely successful, largely because often they can be geared to the groups' specific interests.  Accompanying guides advise on caving techniques and the cultural and geological points of interest, as well as such areas as underground photography. Such tours, while sponsored by the BCSF, are actually organized by other groups around the province.

The Regional District of Mount Waddington is one.  From May to September (high season for caving), Mount Waddington arranges tours four days per week.  Specialized caving equipment is provided, and participants bring their own sturdy work boots, gloves, pants and a warm sweater.  Last year's cost was a mere $5 per day, and may be slightly higher now. Cavers are expected to find their own accommodation.

As an offshoot of the BCSF, Speleolectours, a company catering to the public interest in caving, has been operating since May, 1980. According to Griffiths, who advises the company, Speleolectours is the headquarters for weekend speleologists, providing information on cave tours on a year-round basis.  For more information on recreational caving, contact Speleolectours' Karen Bischoff at 283-2691, Gold River, B.C.

Barbados 1982, Canadian Travel Press.  Timothy Baxter (Editor)

For years visitors to Barbados have been captivated by quiet beaches and abundant sunshine.  Now they can also plunge below the surface into a world of darkness, cascading waterfalls, pools of clear, cold water, and cream coloured caverns that glisten with thousands of stalagmites and stalactites.

The Government of Barbados officially opened Harrison's Cave here recently, after spending vast sums of money and five years preparing it for visitors.  The opening was festive, with Prime Minister I.M.G.M. "Tom" Adams officiating.

The tour of Harrison's Cave is unique in the Caribbean.  It begins at the Visitors Centre, with a short colour slide show that will prepare the visitors for the journey into their cavern experience.  Also in the Centre are some fascinating artefacts of the island's first inhabitants: the Arawak Indians.

Visitors then board a 36 passenger electric tram that transports them down into the cool earth and away from the hot, bright sun.  Indirect lighting has been installed in the cave to enhance the magnificent scenes as well as for safety reasons.

Sights on the tour, which lasts about an hour, include the 150 foot long Great Hall, with a 50 foot view downward, full of stalagmites and stalactites; the Explorers Pool, a long passage leading to the Twin Falls, two glistening water cascades which plunge to the cave’s floor and then disappear from sight.  As the tram crawls further into the caverns, winding along streams, pools, and waterfalls, it reaches the deepest point of the journey; Mirror Lake, a clear and still pool which reflects the detailed formations on the cave's ceiling.

Then the tram halts, allowing visitors to walk around and explore the cavern.  For the daring, walks under the 40 foot high waterfalls are possible, while for the less adventurous; strolls by the greenish-blue pools are encouraged.  Visitors then proceed to the highlight of the tour; The Rotunda Room.  This is a stunning chamber 250 feet long, 100 feet high and wide - composed of white and cream coloured formations that glitter like crystal.

Harrison's Cave was known to exist in the parish of St. Thomas for hundreds of years, and was charted in a document dating from 1760 by a group of English travellers.  It was only in 1970 however, when Ole Sorensen discovered the beautiful Rotunda Room after a series of heavy rains opened a passage to it.  It is now believed that this may be the only cave in the world where running water is found in connection with clear crystal-like formations.

In 1971, Sorensen suggested that the cave be developed as a tourist attraction.  The Barbados Government began the project in 1976 under his direction.

Tours of Harrison's Cave are given daily on the half hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Entrance fees to this national treasure are about $3.50 ($7 Bds) for adults, and $1.50 ($3 Bds) for children.


The Conversion of Aquaflashes to take Nicad Rechargeable Batteries.

by Trev Hughes.

A standard aquaflash, using three cells, gives a light output of 1.35W when using a standard bulb but, if converted to take rechargeable nicad batteries the light output is increased to 3.6W.  I have a catalogue advertising 4 Ah cells for about £4.50.  A normal dry cell costs about 35p so the increased light output is not the only advantage.

The actual conversion process is quite simple and can be done on the kitchen table (if you're a bachelor, Ed:).  The only tools required are a saw (for cutting plastic), a small rat-tail file and a craft knife, plus a sheet of sandpaper.  The operations are as follows:

1)         Mounting the Bulb

A pre-focus/screw thread bulb converter is required (I have plenty to spare) and a metal washer cut as shown in fig la.  These allow a 3.6V 1 A bulb to be fitted to the standard reflector.  The plastic bulb holders must be adapted to fit into the reflector's back.  The inner hole is enlarged to the external diameter of the bulb converter and, to allow for the extra thickness of the washer an equal amount must be removed from the end of both pieces (fig 2).

2)         Fitting the converted Reflector

When mounted in the reflector the bulb protrudes past the edge.  A spacer must be made to ensure that the bulb clears the screw down torch lens. A piece of plastic drainpipe or similar to the sizes shown in fig lb is used.  It is most easily made by sanding down the rough sawn annulus on a sheet of sandpaper resting on a hard, flat surface.  To compensate for this spacer the torch body must be shortened by a similar amount to ensure that the "0" seal does not leak.  To complete the job the brass contact strip is shortened by the same distance.

I have tested my converted torches in Wookey Hole and Freke's Cottage well to 80 feet, and to 110 feet in the sea off Poole with no leaks.

If anybody requires 4Ah nicad batteries (U2 size) I have the details.  If a large order can be sent then the unit cost is reduced.



Bonfire Night.


(With apologies to Phil Hendy, manufacturer of fireworks & sometime member of the Wessex.)

Come 'itherall you Belfryites,
I pray you lend an ear.
This tale I shall relate to you
Will bring forth mirth and cheer.

'Tis of the Wessex cattle grid
The truth I shall unfold.
So them with guilty consciences,
Turn over - or be bold.

'T'was on one dark November's night
(Most nights are dark y'know.)
When the Mendip rain did rain quite wet
And the Mendip wind did blow.

The 'Hunters', having served its' last
Cast out a merry rabble,
Who made their way to the Wessex hut
For fireworks and a barrel.

The Wessex, being the folk they are,
Hid their barrel well and good.
So everyone went back outside
And round the bonfire stood.

The blaze it was a goodly one.
The flames they were quite wild.
Apart from the wind and the wet all about,
I suppose you could say it was mild.

Suddenly there was a blinding flash,
As the sky turned from crimson to gold!
The crowd cast their eyes to the heavens
And forgot about beer and the cold.
Our appetites whetted, we all leaned forward
And eagerly looked for another.
But "Hendy" made fireworks being what they are,
Had to rapidly look for some cover.

The "bought ones" went off with a hell of a zip
And erupted with colour up high.
But poor Phil's bangers, rockets and whizzers
When lit, would just smoulder and die.

Now in order to be fair to the lad
And give praise where praise is due,
At least ONE of his fireworks actually went off
And being generous, perhaps even two !

The display being over, the fire almost out,
We all went inside for refreshment;
Jacket potatoes and hot apple pies
And of course, brown liquid contentment.
Amidst the laughter and sociable chat,
There was some rebellious talk
And a group all wearing Bertie Bat badges,
Disappeared off for a walk.

What happened next I'll leave up to you,
But suffice it just to say;
A hole appeared in the Wessex track
Where the cattle grid used to lay.

An older group of Wessex men
Soon left the hut for their cars
And groping their way down the darkened track,
Were met by a hole without bars.

Said one, a loyal Wessex chap,
“It's the B.E.C. doing, I can smell 'em.”
Said another, “Lets not be hasty now.
Our Committee 's inside, let's tell them.”

When the news was told, great clamour broke out!
Someone called an Emergency Meeting:
And all agreed that the terrible deed
Was beastly, unfair and unsporting.

"The grid must be restored at once!"
There were volunteers aplenty.
One man offered to lead the troops;
The gentleman's name was Hendy.

They made their way to the edge of the pit.
"Do you think if we dig, it might go?"
They peered down over the 18 inch drop
And told Pete Moody "NO!"
"Come on. Let's shift this damn grid back."
And they grunted, heaved and they strained.
Ten minutes later, all thirty sat down,
Decidedly weakened and drained.

"There must be something we can do to outwit them!
Let's see what we've got in our pockets."
So they all rummaged deep, then Phil Hendy cried;
"I've just found my last home-made rocket!"

They looked at each other with vacant expressions
And some scratched their heads quite a bit.
Some staggered off to fill up their glasses
And some disappeared to their pits.
"Don’t worry 'bout them." said one lone voice,
But Phil, he'd not noticed a thing.
He was too busy tying the stick of his rocket
Round the end of the grid with some string.
All thought, "Gosh! What a grand ideal"
And were just going to let out a cheer,
When a few remembered the display they'd just seen
And yet more disappeared for some beer.
"Now come on lads" said Phil commanding,
"Come 'ere and give us some light."
One bent down and struck a match
And the touch paper glowed livid white.

The rocket, being shocked by its' untimely launching,
Began to smoulder and splutter
And those that were left still stood round the hole,
Began to giggle and mutter.

"Don't worry!" said Phil, "This is one of my specials!"
"You're in for a big surprise!"
And as he spoke the rocket shuddered
And the cattle grid started to rise.

The rocket roared and the string it strained
‘Till it looked nearly fit to bust.
Then the cattle grid raced off up into space,
Leaving only a cloud of dust.

Then Phil sat down, his head in his hands
And wailed, "Oh woe is me."
"This is the end now.  I'll be banned
Can I join the B.E.C.?"

And what of the Wessex cattle grid?
Now it's only seen at night.
It's taken a place in history,
As the first Mendip satellite!

by A.N any-Mouse.


Rumblings In Tynnings Barrow Swallet

by Phil Romford

It was all Biffo's fault! After a digging trip to 'a day' he took it into his head to poke this enormous boulder with a short stick.  I expect you know the one, just down from the Aardvaark Trap.  He prodded while I held him by his belt ready to pull him clear.  It fell, but gently and all too easily, all twenty tons of it. The route was under that!

Since Biiffo's joyous day Tim and I have been back to stabilise the remaining loose bits in the roof. Hairy stuff this, prising off lumps we had blasted while sitting under them.  It seems that, upon reaching 40, one gets sillier - my wife agrees.  On Saturday (before August Bank holiday) Tim, Andy Lolly (who is joining the B.E.C.) Fish and I went back to finish removing loose stuff and blast a new, safe route through.  To make sure the way over the dropped boulder was not passable we slid a large slab over the hole and prised some more slabs from the roof. This caused major heart attacks for all, as we thought the whole roof was going to drop on us.  It's true, adrenalin is brown!

Fish decided to take over the banging exercise from Tim.  He placed ¼lb on a thin slab to knock a corner off, we fired it, and went straight back for a look.  Much to Fish's embarrassment it had only blown the dust off the surface.  He is now known as ‘The Expert’.  ½lb later the offending corner was removed. *

With a little more work the cave should be safe again.  Beware, however, in the meantime.

* Since this event Tim and I have prodded the loose wall above Pyramid Pot.  One prod from Tim is as good as a couple of pounds of bang. Now that is all about to fall down too!



Jobs To Be Done On The Belfry

In spite of a limited turn out for the latest working weekend much valuable work was done, particularly by the regulars.  Many thanks to all who turned up to improve/repair/maintain OUR hut.

Much still remains to be dealt with.  Why wait for the next working weekend. T ake your pick from the following list, and try and do at least one job next time you're at the Belfry.

1. )       Repair or replace men's bunkroom door-frame;

2. )       Treat men's bunkroom ceiling with fungicide;

3. )       Paint men's bunkroom doers;

4. )       Fit envelope box to hut fees box;

5. )       Fit fire extinguisher in kitchen;

6. )       Make duck boarding for shower-room and changing room;

7. )       Paint female toilet;

8. )       Board up window partition by female quarters;

9. )       Re-fit ceiling light cover in female bunkroom;

10. )      Fill in gaps around ceiling in female bunkroom and re-paint;

11. )      Re-felt roof of wooden shed;

12. )      Check and repair plumbing in loft;

13. )      Lag all plumbing an~ check water tank;

14. )      Fit new tiles (2) on Belfry roof;

15. )      Make and fit shower 'curtain to female shower;

16. )      Wire in extension to M.R.O. radio to library;

17. )      Install coin slot meter in ladies shower;

18. )      Completely service all gas fittings;

19. )      Paint floors with appropriate floor paint;

20. )      Clear out and rearrange tackle store;

21. )      Expose, lag and re-cover rising main;

22. )      Replace damaged chimney pipes;

23. )      Mend joints in chimney with fire clay.

If you have a locker at the Belfry and wish to keep it for next year then please let me know (at the Belfry or on Wells 75407) and also pay for it (50p/small locker, £l.00/large locker).

In January unclaimed lockers will be opened, emptied and reallocated.

Many thanks to Andy Nash for the donation of a 'fridge'.

WANTED: Usable single (2' 6" wile) mattresses for Belfry bunkrooms.

Phil Romford, Hut Warden.



Full Membership - £10                            Joint Membership - £15

Sent now to: Fi Lewis (or complete standing order and present to your bank)

Before  31st  Jaunary 1983


Letters To The Editor

Wookey Hole,

16th Nov  ‘82

Dear Editor,

I would like to comment on some editorial misinterpretations appearing in the last B.B.  Firstly, I have never quoted a figure of "30 diving members" of the B.E.C.  I believe an accurate figure to be 19 or 20 (of whom only 12 were at the A.G.M.). Secondly, the motion to set up a diving section only failed because of the constitutional requirement to have a 75% majority of those present to change the constitution.  The meeting was quorate and it is interesting to note that the greater proportion of those for the motion were non-divers.

The setting up of an independent diving group is progressing.  At the moment Chris is waiting to hear from the S.A.A.

To change tack, the Cave Digs section of Lifeline in the same E.B., especially as it covers work for one third of the year, is somewhat partial in its approach, not to say flippant in its attitude!

Reading this article it would seem that there are only half a dozen active diggers/pushers in the B.E.C. and those a very select closed shop.  Apart from the erroneous inclusion of Twin T's and Wigmore an update on Castle Farm Swallet could have been included.

A few other sites worth mentioning that I have worked on this year are as follows:

1)       St. Cuthbert’s:  Rob Harper and I were never given credit in the B.B. for the Jerusalem Oxbow bolt climb;

2)       G.B.: Rob, Quackers and I carried out a desperately thin three hour aid climb into a well decorated roof passage named Salisbury Hill;

3)       Wookey Hole:  Rob and I are again working here.  So far we have forced a squeeze by digging at the top of Wookey 20 to give a round trip in the upper section, discovered what might prove to be an important side passage off Coase's Loop Extension (although bad vis of late has prevented any accurate survey work), and, for our latest project, have started work un a major bolt/free climb at the far end of 24.  Rob has been very tied up with work lately and this has delayed progress here. Maybe the local divers can find the way on in Wookey where others have failed;

4)       Hallowe'en Rift:  This latest B.E.C. find has, of course, taken up a lot of my time lately and a full discovery report and survey will be published as soon as possible, hopefully in this issue of the B.B.

5)       Swildons 12,  Triple Aven:  It is a bit unjust and unnecessarily flippant to describe this dig as 'playing with a boulder ruckle'.  The trip to 12 and back is a reasonable undertaking on its own - about a five hour journey.  To work at the bottom of a boulder ruckle at the far end of Desolation Row does require a greater expenditure of energy and adrenalin.  I consider that Ross and I did quite enough to open up a metre square hole into open passage on our last visit.  As we found sandstone cobbles and are only 60 metres below the surface the importance of this dig should not be underestimated. Ross is very busy with his promotion course.  Would any other B.E.C. members care to lend a hand.

In between these and other underground forays, plus, of course, most of those mentioned in the Cave Digs article, I have still found time to squeeze in a fair amount of ale, sea-diving weekends and even a couple of morris tours.  So come, Tim, on behalf of those missed from your article, there are a lot more diggers active than your article seemed to indicate.

Yours, for impartiality,

Trev Hughes.



Japanese Spelaeological Reconnaissance of England,
Gatwick Airport, London

Honourable Editor,
Banzi Exploration Club, Tokyo,

10th November, 1982.

Most Honoured Master,

Be pleased to receive most worthless despatch flom humble self on last day of vely interlesting Nippon spelaeologioal reconnaissance of Ingerand.

Last night I blivvy at Wookey Hole Clave entlance having had velly interlesting time with pair of Ingerish clave dlivers.  Ah! Dlivers most supplised to find me sitting on rucksack slipping olange squash by light of candle at clave door.

So! Dlivers carry plenty equlipment and dressed in wetsuit - not like pearl dliver at home; lot less pletty as well!  Wun dliver, him called Ar Pic and fellow, him called Blif Oh.  Me thought all Ingerish called Smlith or Bloggs, most strange

As there no clave dlivers in Japan me ask to join such noble company.  "Please to come claving with you,” I say.  "Of course" say dlivers and we glow to chamber tree to see clockodile.  Ah so!! Blitish clave dlivers vely blave! Not only witches in clave but clockodiles in sump!  Next we glow to chamber nine to where rest of kit put on and then to nine wun, where dlivers enter water.  Most cold, but where is blass monkey they speak of?

Dlivers say they look for passage off Cloases Loop Extension but 'vlis' bad and they not find it for sure. What of most noble Master is a 'vlis'?

Dliver Ar Pic him glow to nine wun and. black and then to tree flom wun in nine but Blif Oh him glow to tu in nine flom wn in nine but then glow off again flom wun in nine to search for plassage but only flind offerings to clockodile to spend on saki. Ah, all this most confusing but glad to slay dlivers not join honourable ancestors.

Blif Oh him say real Glod of Wookey Hole, him 'Welshman called Flarr' and him bloldly glow where no man glow before - maybe him another shark or clockodile or even, but me not see him.  I offer yen to water to please this Glod.

Ar Pic and Blif Oh take me black to entlance and they say gloodbye.  They go for saki in ghiesha house at Pliddy.  Ah sol At least in some ways mad Ingerish claver same as noble speleo of Japan.

Your humble servant,

Wun Hung Lo.

(See, I said that I’d print anything! Surely YOU can better this rubbish article.  Well, its Christmas isn't it!" - Ed.)


Is Caving Hazardous To Your Marriage?

What prompted lie to write this article?  My own marriage being on the rocks and caving being mentioned prominently in the list of complaints, it made me wonder whether caving is perhaps a cause of the break-up of marriages.

To answer this we need to look at sate statistics.  Unfortunately my sample is very small and consists of only nine couples or ex-couples. The reason is that these are the really hardcore cavers - people who have been at it for many years.  I could not count those ex-cavers who were with us for a few months and then decided to do something else (and in any case I have lost track of most of them).

Of these nine couples, five are ex-couples.  This sounds very high.  Well, lets have a closer look at these figures.

From the South African Statistical Year Book.  (1980) I calculate the average divorce rate as 2,4 for the period 1973 to 1978.  This means that roughly two in five marriages will fail and end in divorce.  From the sane book I compiled a graph (Figure 1) indicating the duration of broken marriages. This shoes that the probability of divorce is highest between the second and the fourth year.


This allows us to calculate the probability of divorce for a couple during tenth year e.g. the probability of divorce in their tenth year of marriage is: -


Figure 2 shows the accumulative distribution, which allows us to calculate the probability of a couple getting divorced before they are together for ten years.  This is :

2,41-1 x 0,68 = 0,28

Using this method of calculation I could get to work on the sample and calculate the expected number of divorces.  Naturally I have to withhold the names of the couples so I call them A, B, C etc.


Years Married

Probability of Divorce





























This means we could have expected 2,4 divorces in the sample but, in fact, we had five.

Before we go further, let us test whether this is a significant difference or whether it could have arisen by chance.  We do this by testing the hypothesis with a one-tailed test at the 0,05 level of significance.  If the absolute value of 2 is larger than 1,645 we accept the hypothesis that 5 divorces in our sample is significantly different from the 2,4 expected.

Z =                                 =         = 1,33

Z =        = 1,95

We therefore conclude that five divorces is significantly above expectation and it appears that caving is hazardous to your marriage!

From here on I can only speculate.  Why should caving be bad for your marriage?  What about other sports and hobbies such as golf, deep sea fishing, Scuba diving, etc.  They also take hubby away from the family.  Or is there perhaps something special about the psychological make-up of cavers which makes them difficult spouses?  I don't know.

H O Miller

(Taken from "FREE CAVER" No. 11 ( South Africa)

Colin Priddle who sent this article suggests that as Mr. Miller got only a small sample from his own club that be would be pleased to receive a larger sample from a bigger club - B.E.C.!  Please help this important spelaeological research all you divorced Belfryites and send details, date married, length of marriage to Tim Large (divorced once) at the Belfry.


Friday Night Trips, 1983





































































































































































































Nine Barrows/Sludge


Tynings Barrow


St. Cuthbert’s


Charterhouse Cave


Manor Farm


South Wales


Charterhouse Cave


Lionel’s Hole


to: be arranged!!


Swildons - Black Hole


North Hill


Burrington (barbeque)






South Wales


Lamb Leer


Charterhouse Cave


to be arranged!!


St. Cuthbert’s


Reservoir Hole


South Wales


Fairy Cave






















































3 only






3 only – alt. Longwood




















3 only – alt. Manor Farm






4 only



(L) = a number limit

If you are interested, then ring B.E. Prewer (Wells 73757) or G. Villis (W-S-M 412770 - work).  It is advisable to ring on the THURSDAY before a trip to confirm that the trip will take place.  Meet at the cave at 7.30 p.m.  Three trips to the new Charterhouse Cave are provisionally planned.  Each trip will consist of a leader plus three. Preference will be given to regular Friday Night Trippers.



(where we hope you're discovering caverns measureless)

Payment Of Subscription By Standing Order

Your 1982/83 subscription became due at the A.G.M.

The rates are unchanged –

Membership £10.00

Joint Membership £15.00

You may now pay your sub by standing order by using the form below.  Enter the name of your own bank and account number, the amount of the sub, * the date of the first payment (day, month and year) and of any subsequent payments (day and month only), sign and date.

Then present the form to your own bank.

* in figures and words inside the brackets,

Tear off hear

TO………………………………………………..BANK PIc     Date……………………………

Please pay to Lloyds Bank Plc Shepton Mallet xx.xx.xx for the credit of Bristol Exploration Club Account No. xxxxxxxx the sun of £

(                                  ) .


Commencing………………………………………and thereafter every………………………………..

annually until further notice from me in writing.




A/c No…………………………………

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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Bet you thought I'd given up for good!  No such luck - you'll have to put up with my verbiage for another year yet, and, I threaten, more regularly than of late.  The move from Aylesbury is now complete and you'll see that I am now a local.

The printing machine has recently emerged from hibernation beneath cardboard boxes and packing cases, the file of B.B. articles has been found, and we've created enough floor space in one room of the house to sit down and type.  We're in business again, so send in your articles.  There's still time to catch the Christmas B.B.

At this year's A.G.M., which Alan Thomas did a remarkable job of managing, Trev Hughes and the Batswine proposed the creation of a diving section within the Club, together with the new committee post of Diving Secretary, rather like the old climbing section.  Chris kept quiet for most of the discussion and Trev did not argue his case particularly well.  The issue was, to say the least, contentious.  Trev would have done better had his 30 diving members of the B.E.C. all been at the A.G.M., and perhaps he should have published his thoughts in advance. The majority at the A.G.M. were for the proposal.  However, it failed because those at the A.G.M. who were for the proposal did not represent a great enough proportion of the Club membership.  In other words, there were not enough members present at the A.G.M.  Indeed, at one point some members left the room and the meeting became inquorate. That's apathy for you.

In next month's B.B. we have something from the Pope + a South African article on caving and marital breakdown, caving in Canada, by Bolt, (if I can find the article amongst all the chaos) together with some of his cartoons, 1981-82 Officers reports (caving sec., hut engineer, editor), a note about Tynings, more on Wookey, maybe a snippet about Gaping Gill/Ingleborough, a new show cave in Barbados, a list of jobs which YOU could do to help maintain the Belfry, all the latest news from Mendip, plus bits from those other, minor caving regions of Britain and the rest of the world, plus much more, I hope.


Quote of the whateveryoucallfourmonthsoneaftertheother:

by Biffo in Wookey 20.

“Is there any water in this cave?”


Fund Raising

The Belfry Extension will cost £5,600 for materials alone.  £2,000 is in the kitty.  £3,600 is needed.  Just £20 per member, including lifers.

Every member is asked to contribute at least £20 by straight contribution, bankers order, or by running some fund raising activity - a sponsored climb of the north face of Everest or steal a bell from the Mary Rose, or even a sponsored drive home with Alan Thomas after an evening at the Hunters.

Nigel Taylor proposes to con people into "buying blocks for the Belfry" and Trevor Hughes will be selling 7,600 raffle tickets to raise the whole damned lot himself.

Would members be prepared to "Buy a drink for the Belfry" each time they visit.  50p into a pot for the first round of the evening. Forty drinking evenings will raise everybody's £20.

Other ideas for raising money breathtakingly awaited.  The best suggestion will win one free ticket to next year's dinner.

Providers of £20 or more to the fund will have their names published in the B.B.

The best idea yet! Tip the Belfry as well as the barber every time you have a haircut.  The year 2000 will pass before we can afford the roof tiles but catch Trevor quick before he goes for his next interview.

Jeremy Henley.


Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

John Stafford and Kangy King have great satisfaction in reporting the successful completion of their journey over the Roof of Wales.  They climbed over 40 peaks and did 170 miles in 12 days.

Starting at the Roman road near Drum in the Carneidau, North Wales, they successively climbed Snowdon, the Moelwyns, the Rhinogs, Cader Idris, Plynlimon, The Welsh Wilderness, the Eppynt and finished on the Brecon Beacons, crossing the highest point of each range.


24th July to 5th August 1982.

In the last B.B. Kangy asked if any other B.E.C. members had done the full CUILLIN RIDGE.  In 1976 I did it during two glorious days one May, but I was a W.C.C. member then.  Does this count?

Martyn Farr dived in Wookey this weekend, attempting to pass Sump 25, which he had pushed to a depth of 125 feet or so, back in 1977.  On this occasion (29th. to 31st. October) he camped inside the cave in order to reduce the problems of decompression.  He reached a depth of 200 feet where the way on lay through a slot 6 ft. wide and one foot high - not a pleasant prospect at that depth.

He has left it for "the next generation".


Space Filler: When mending wet suits beat hell out of the glued joins whilst the adhesive is setting using a blunt instrument.  This helps to fuse the edges into the adhesive.

J. H.


Headquarters Notes

by Phil Romford.

As your new, democratically elected hut warden, I would like to make a few comments and observations which affect the year's running of the Belfry.

Firstly there is concern by myself and many other members who use the Belfry that squalor has set in. This, unfortunately, is a reflection of the general standards of cleanliness and discipline of a few people. I for one would like to see this change. Over the next few weeks this situation will change with the help of a responsible committee.  This applies not just to the Belfry interior but to the whole site which, frankly, is a tip.  It came to my notice over the A.G.M. weekend that the Royal Navy, who have been using our facilities for some time now and providing a large and welcome income to the club, are not happy.  Due to the normal squalor the R.N. officers are proposing to use the S.M.C.C. hut and have already taken schools there.  This, of course, results in a loss of income to us.  At this time, while we are building our funds for the Belfry extensions, we can ill afford this loss.  So, Belfryite, buck up your ideas or you will be disciplined!

The chief problems appear to be firstly in a lack of direction from a responsible warden; various members are not taking any part in Belfry cleaning and are leaving rubbish in any available free space within the Belfry; there seems to be a general lack of interest in Belfry maintenance; when there are working weekends little seems to be achieved, with many jobs being unfinished.

I have no doubt some people will argue that this is a caving club hut and not a bloody hotel.  While I agree that we are first and foremost a caving club, this provides no excuse or reason for turning it into a scrap yard.

Since I shall be essentially a non-resident warden, only being at the Belfry say on one day over a weekend, I shall enlist the help of resident members, i.e. Trevor Hughes and Nigel Taylor, who are committee members, and any other willing member I choose. However, I will expect my deputy to go along with my philosophy of general cleanliness.

Over the next few months there will be some working weekends where club members are expected to participate. It would also help if members would donate any spare materials they may have, such as paint, ceramic tiles and like materials; any spare plumbing bits and pieces would come in handy.

The next working weekend will be: Friday - Sunday 3rd - 5th December.


  • Working refrigerator in reasonable condition.  Needed at the Belfry. Price negotiable, however, a donation would be even better.
  • Usable single mattresses for Belfry bunkrooms.
  • Ceramic wall tiles.

If you have any spare, can you donate them to the Belfry?

For all of the above, contact the Hut Warden, either at the Belfry or on Wells 75407

Address Changes:

''Wormhole'' (alias Ian Caldwell), University College Cardiff.

Ian & Annie Wilton - Jones, Llanelly Hill, Gwent.

Graham Wilton - Jones & Jane Clarke, Wedmore, Somerset. DS 28 4AX


Austria 1981/82  

(The story they tried not to tell!!)

Since the expeditions of the summers of 1978, 79 & 80 there had been various plans, discussions, Ideas, thoughts, proposals and blueprints of another trip to Austria.  These were mostly conducted in the academic atmosphere of the Hunters, on the back of odd beermats and fuelled mainly on 2 star Badger Beer.  The discussion ran along the lines that the final shaft (Ben Dors Shaft) in the Barrengassewindeschact which was fairly wet in summer ought to be dry in the winter as all available surface water should be frozen.  And this is where the story really starts.

In November 1981 another odd beermat was found and accordingly plans were laid for a reconnaissance party to go out at Christmastide.  Despite several false starts and detours, and the odd misunderstanding or two, plus the Government’s movement of Boxing Day, a strong crack team consisting of Rob (Harpic) Harper and Chris (Blitz) Smart prepared themselves. The initial stages of the expedition i.e. the first four hours were spent repairing the brakes on R.H.’s Renault 5 (and all without any form of sponsorship) so that Joanna could drive back to Bristol. This was then followed by the two expedition superstars packing a 1arge amount of food, ropes and kit into the back of an elastic Renault 5 (another one) much to the amazement of the passers-by and the passengers of the local bus service - it was rumoured that they were infact running special coach tours.  We rushed to make up for lost time and no sooner had the feature film 'Close Encounters of the Turd Kind" finished, we leapt in what space was left in the car and drove like a snail out of hell for the coast and La belle France.  We caught the 3 am ferry from Dover to Boulogne, assumed funny accents and arrived in France at 5:30 having ceaselessly lost an hour somewhere in mid-channel.  (For those of you with a nervous disposition you will no doubt be glad to learn that we did infact find it again on the way back.)

A couple of hours of driving found us bleary-eyed and dangerous to the other road users, did you know they all drive on the wrong side of road!?, so we stopped for a few hours sleep in a 5 star luxury, rustic shelter.  (For the use of any interested parties it is on the V7 next to Windmill Cemetery at a town called Haucourt and is well worth a detour.  It has hot and cold running draughts in all its one rooms and a quite exquisite view of a dead tree.)  The rest of the day was spent motoring to Germany and 10 o'clock that night saw us halted in the Black Forest by frozen roads. During the resultant brew up the road was salted and our intrepid heroes managed to make another 5 miles to a Teutonic bus shelter.  It would be no exaggeration to say that the night was a little on the cold side.

It was the cold that forced us to an early breakfast of cheese and wine which was preceded by Rob entertaining the bus queue and an old lady who was passing on her bike with a traditional BEC dawn chorus six foot length of carpet being rent asunder.  We then continued onward through a Germany which was trying hard to do a series of Christmas car impersonations - and doing them very well!!  The remainder of that day was memorable for its monotony that was only relieved by our two heroes dropping the equivalent of about £10 in loose German coins onto the tiled floor of a Bank and Blitz managing to obtain a complete list of German Bank holidays without really trying.

We arrived in Halstatt in the early evening and began the serious business of the expedition, and this is where the story really starts.  Over a few beers we made the acquaintance of an attitude of mind that was soon to become all too familiar and was to turn up everywhere during our entire stay.  The Austrians are welded to a pair of ski-boots from the moment that the first small flake of snow gently drifts poetically down from the sky; although we did ponder whether they were actually born with a pair, and since we took every opportunity to change into smart but casual shoes for sitting in bars etc., each time we announced our plans and intentions there would be a stunned silence and then the bravest local present would exclaim…”IN THOSE SHOES?!!!”.  Sure enough 'after a couple' of beers and the establishment of language of communication (perm any four of four from English, French, German and Sign) the barman asked us what we were doing in Halstatt and what our plans were.  We said we were cavers and we intended to walk up to the Weisburghaus tomorrow; he seemed stunned and glancing at our footwear gave birth to the phrase. However our first priority was to find overnight accommodation i. e. the nearest bus shelter, but were waylaid by a phone box and a chance to report our progress so far to base camp Bristol.  Blitz then remembered the underground car park that he had used two years before & we thought the accommodation problem was solved.  Two minutes later we were engaged in answering a few Police questions who thought we were a pair of Polish refugees.  As there seemed to be a local panic on regarding these refugees we though tit would be wise to seek '1egal' accommodation and asked the Police about the local Youth Hostel.  N.B. There used to be one in Halstatt but not now and we spent an interesting time following the Police car round the town and watching as they would drive up to some unsuspecting late night reveller and then give him the third degree treatment about accommodation locally.  The Police had been drafted in from outside the area, for the refugee scare, so did not know the town and at one point we ended up backing up a one-way street. Eventually a man was found who admitted that accommodation did exist in Halstatt and he directed the convoy to a house use nearby.  The owner finally, surfaced and answered the door and admitted that he had accommodation available, but that he was going to Canada, the following morning by helicopter.  Now given our somewhat p*ss*d up state and the limitations of 'Teach Yourself German' we think that was his intentions, but any how he lead us around the back streets of Halstatt which consist mainly of wooden walkways apparently super glued to the cliffs, and battered on a door until it was opened to expose the witch from Hansel and Gretel.  She was obviously on holiday from molesting small children and offered us her spare room.  This turned out to be a fairy story eyrie at the top of the house, high overlooking the lake with an enormous double bed (I'm sorry Rob but the truth must be told).  We retired to the car to fetch our kit and returned to gaze at the seemingly vast acreage of the endless bed, before crawling into it and going straight to sleep with only a bolster between us to maintain moral standards.

Over breakfast even Granny, the friendly witch, chided us about our choice of footwear for the day ahead and ensured frequent and regular stops by insisting we both finish a litre of coffee each.  We drove up to the start of the Dachstein cable car to try to make contact with the show cave manager, to get in touch with the local cavers, but the ticket man, a mental defective, denied all knowledge of his employer so we decided to try and walk up to the Weisberghaus by the normal summer path which in winter is a cross country downhill ski-run.  So by 12 noon we were packed and ready to go, anticipating beer and schnapps in two or three hours, and were gratified to be told by a group of small admiring boys that the path was open but might take four or five hours.  Three and a half hours later battling with waist deep and deeper powder snow left us knackered, thirsty, hungry, very tired and with what can only be described as definitely homicidal feelings towards, the small boys.  Blitz managed to add to the atmosphere of the moment when his gloved hand slipped on a frozen pack strap smacking himself on the nose and we had a few panic stricken moments when we thought that he had lost a contact lens in the snow.  (The wound left him with a large black scab, the size of a sixpence, in the middle of his nose that was guaranteed to stop all conversation wherever we went).  At our highest point we were still less than half the way up to the hut and it took us two more hours to get off the mountain leaving nothing but a few footprints…..Blitz and Harpic body sized footprints in the ski-run to trap unwary Austrians.

….And this is where the story really starts….Granny agreed to have us back for the night but as it was New Year's Eve intimated that she would prefer us not to come back too p*ss*d up. She just had to be joking!!  We were so shattered it was unbelievable and only managed few beers each, mind you, had we discovered the special black label export brew before retiring to our bed.  The only good thing to come of the day was that news of our exploits was filtering down the mountainside, mostly from skiers caught in a series of 'mantraps' in their ski-run, and the, locals were immensely impressed with our performance considering we had neither skis nor snow shoes.  We were a force to be reckoned with, Mein Gott!

During the night we were woken regularly by the sound of fireworks, once by the noise of a massive avalanche far across the valley and once by Granny (could this be the answer to a thousand sexual fantasies) who gave Blitz who was snoring happily a thorough telling off for leaving the electric fire on.  (It didn't suit him anyway).

The morning of Few Year's Day dawned miserable and then proceeded to get worse, but Granny in a mood approaching that of humour served our breakfast and because of our success with the coffee the morning before, increased our coffee allocation to two litres each.  We were defeated but only just.  We then sauntered out to see the havoc wrought by the local population on the town - fair to good was the conclusion, and the remains of a once proud sofa would have added the finishing touches to make it indistinguishable from the Belfry on a Sunday morning.

Blitz had had a brainwave the night before over the beers and we struggled to remember it…..then it came again, what we needed were snow shoes…..and this is where the story really starts.  His German, it was thought, probably would not cope with such a request and we decided to call on one Herr Siegfried Mittendorfer, a local rambler who had caved once, who had been more than helpful in the past.  Initial reaction was good after we had managed to wake him, and he made us welcome, and insisted we welcome the New Year in with a couple of glasses of wine (at 9.30am!).  He made a few quick phone calls and tracked down the only pair of snowshoes in Halstatt (remember I said Austrians were born with skis on) and arranged for us to call in at the shop that morning.  We bought them and hurried off to the mountain path eager to try them out, with thoughts of lightly running across the snow.  We found that where there wasn’t any crust or marginal consolidation at all they worked extremely well but on unconsolidated powder snow there was little to choose between them and ordinary boots.  Blitz then had another brainwave and suggested that if we wove some pine twigs on and out of the bindings it might make a difference…..it did, it meant that you looked as if you had a bush growing out of each boot, and all this in a Nature Reserve, but that they were still not adequate.  We sought solace in a brew-up and were not amused after having spent half an hour melting and boiling snow when Blitz kicked pressure cooker of tea all over the ground.  The resultant yellow stain in the middle of our makeshift kitchen caused some consternation to a passing women skier that she almost lost balance, as she saw us preparing food next to what she assumed was the contents of a large urinal.  It was obvious that after this our reputation could only grow still bigger.

We decided that our standing would only diminish if we sneaked back to Granny, and that we really should be getting rougher and tougher so we headed for the underground car park and a bivouac.  That night saw two foot of snow fall in the valley and it turned out that our ‘bedroom’ was the very place where they kept the spare blades for the snowplough.  If you don't know how much noise a gang of Austrian workmen can make with large sledgehammers changing snowploughs, then contact Harpic or Blitz in the pub some time.

Bad Ischal, being the nearest place of any size was elected as being the only place likely to have another pair of snowshoes, so waved goodbye to the Halstatt commuters who by now were starting their cars and driving them through our bedroom, brewed up (again!) and slid the Renault down the snowy (Where are you, snowy?) roads to the biggest metropolis this side of Priddy.  Blitz did at one stage suggest that we should buy a quantity of sausage while we were there just so that we could say we had gone to Bad for-Wurst, but the sausage shop was closed so the joke doesn't really count.  Buying snowshoes was not as easy as it might first appear and again we came up against the problem that all men, women, children, and probably cats and dogs in Austria are born with skis.  We were reduced to mimes using tennis rackets in one shop and in another the assistant didn't even know the word when shown it in a dictionary! Eventually another pair was purchased and plans were once more laid for storming the strongholds of the Gods and descending caverns measureless to man etc.  (I knew I could get a mention of Wigmore in here somewhere).

On the way back to the underground car park Blitz, he had all the good ideas, suggested we should try to contact the Dachstein Showcave manager, Herr Siegfried Gamsjaeger, at his home mentioning that even if he wasn't then his wife might be and that she was definitely worth seeing.  He wasn't and she was.  It turned out that he was away organizing a cavers cum local peoples type party for that evening at one of the nearby show caves…..but, and this is where the story really starts, were we interested in going to a caving club hut for the afternoon and then going on to the session in the evening.  Can a Duck swim?  At last this was what we had come to Austria to do.

After some complicated car manoeuvring later and a variation on the old phrase, what in those tyres! We found ourselves at an eighteenth century farmhouse on the shores of the lake, which the local cavers were in the process of renovating.  Not only was it incredibly picturesque but every room had a wood burning stove in it and for the first time in days we could be warm again.

We were introduced to the two cavers in residence in the bedroom             and Frau G. left us in their tender care.  We rapidly realized that it was the old one caver + girlfriend arrangement and that we had disturbed them at what I can only describe, with decorum, as a delicate and very intimate stage in their relationship (not to mince words, I think it is number 43 in the book).  However differences were soon put aside, and dress adjusted, as we joined them for some apple tea.  The subject of caving arose and after Rob's revelation that he had done some cave diving in Britain, and Chris's offhand remark that he had caved in the Himalayas they were left open mouthed with awe.  It was obvious that here were two cavers to be reckoned with, men who could stand alongside such superstars as Martel, Casteret, Eyre, Waltham and Wormhole (well after some discussion they decided perhaps not Wormhole).

Fitz's girlfriend Gabby, honest we didn't make these names up, could speak English fairly well and from her we gathered that the evenings festivities were a torchlight procession by the villagers to the show cave, the Koppenbrullerhohle, followed by songs in the snow with a traditional 'oompah' band, and then songs around a camp fire with lashings of 'tee-mit-rum.  Needless to say we couldn't wait to get started, and paused only to eat a tin or two of cold Irish Stew, which served to increase our reputation still further, and attempt to explain that ‘Yes, in those shoes/tyres.’  As with all well organised p*ss ups we had to do a check on a number of bars to find the other cavers and/or their girlfriends but things got underway at about 7:30.  The cave was quite uninteresting but, and this is where the story really starts, the band, the singing, and the witch like cauldron of 'tee-mit-.rum' more than made up for it, as did the cementing of relations with the local speleos. (And not to put too fine a point on it we now had accommodation.)

The following morning we woke late and abandoned all previous thoughts of going up the mountain, the rum had had its usual effect and we were savouring the delights of comfortable surroundings.  At one point the previous evening we had finally made contact with the elusive Herr G. and arranged to go into the Mammethohle which is the major cave of the Dachstein area, but that was for the day after tomorrow.  Blitz at this stage, I felt, disappointed the Austrians by declining to push some of the local risings, clad only in a dash of aftershave (without sponsorship) and a smile.  This was not the lack of activities that one expects from a Himalayan caver.

It was not until the next evening, after yet another day of ‘weather’ that Siggy turned up and confirmed our trip into the Mammethohle for the next day with a trio of Viennese cavers who were doing a photographic trip.  We also managed to discuss and begin to rectify some of the problems that had arisen from the surveys from the summer expeditions.  By 10:30 the next morning we were at the small hut (the Emma Hutte) which serves as a base for cavers going into the Mammethohle.  We were again lucky that all three of the Viennese spoke all too excellent English, which was a great help as Blitz's pocket dictionary had never really recovered from the snowshoes episode and was beginning to look a little the worse for wear and would probably would not have survived a long caving trip.  The trip itself was very good, if indeed a trifle slow by Mendip standards; we were gratified at one point to be asked breathlessly 'Do all English cavers cave so quickly?', actually we been going slowly so that they would keep up!! The cave posed no great technical difficulties or dangers apart from the horrendous fixed aids; it is painfully obvious that they haven’t heard of the words liability or insurance.  In all we spent about 6½ hours going in the main drag as far as the formation, yes that’s right, THE formation and also had a quick look at the head of the pitch into the furtherest reaches of the cave, the Krippensteingang.  If I have forgotten to mention the walk from the Emma Hutte to and from the Mammethohle it is because we are both still trying to erase the horror from our memory, suffice to say that the last 50 or so metres one has to scamper across a powder snow avalanche slope that is in constant use judging by the fact that there is a large accumulation of fresh snow boulders at the bottom, that there is a large unblunted break-off point 100 metres above and also that the locals who had quite happily negotiated previous sections that had reduced us to dry-mouthed whimpering, felt that this stretch was sufficiently serious to cross one at a time in complete silence.  That eve was spent in the hut with them, impressing them with the delights of pressure-cooked tea bags that produced a very thick strong black tea (who are you calling thick ?)

After catching the cable-car back down the next morning we watched the weather get worse and worse and worse and worse as we sat drinking in one of the bars at the foot of the mountain. We felt very depressed and were about to call it a day and go and cook some food (yes real hot food for a change!) when the door of the bar was flung open and, words were spoken that look simple enough on paper, but which struck terror into our hearts.  'Herr Blitz, Herr Bobby' we heard, and we knew the day of reckoning had come early.  The voice belonged to Fritz Platzl, the guardian of the Weisberghaus, our summer base and the object of winter desires, who, insisted we follow him home for a liquid supper just to round the days drinking off.  He and his wife, Mitzi then proceeded to insist that we come for lunch the next day…..how could we refuse?  Fritz had been impressed by the drinking of the English cavers on the summer trips and we struggled manfully at lunch the next day to maintain the BEC reputation.  He had bought two full crates of beer for us but we had to call a halt when the bootleg schnapps was produced and he suggested we corner the market on the produce within our own stomachs.  Blitz did make a brave attempt to save the day by downing a schnapps in one but was notably quiet for the next few minutes as he decided whether or not it was biologically possible to live without the use of his stomach.

Back at the caving hut, a rational discussion of the situation told us what we should have realised before, that namely we were really achieving very little by staying on. In almost record time the Renault was packed and we headed for the UK, stopping off en route to pay our hut fees to Herr Siegfried Gamsjeager, and to have and last look at wife (stop it! you'll go blind).  We then travelled literally non-stop back to Woking which took just on 24 hours, having managed to refind that missing hour in mid-Channel, but getting back from Woking to Bristol took nearly 2 days, Britain not being in quite the same league as the Continentals for road c1earing …..and this is where the story really starts.

Some Conclusions: - Reading back through this article there seems to be some considerable number of references to drinking in bars, and indeed drinking anywhere, and little on climbing and caving.  This in fact is a very fair representation of the time spent and highlights a problem that we as cavers found in mid-winter but which is familiar to climbers all year round.  The problem is basically that in the Alps or any high mountain range, unless the weather is good and stable there is virtually nothing to be done except sit and wait for a few days more.  On one occasion over a 15 minute period while waiting in one of the car parks we counted 8 major avalanches, and that was on a good day.

Also since we were in receipt of a I.D.M.F. grant, it is valid for the club to ask did we achieve anything; indeed was it worth our while going?  We believe the answer to be yes.

i)                    We ascertained beyond doubt that the tackling of the cave entrances on the plateau, unless one is an exceptionally gifted skier is impractical.  There is between 8 and 30 feet of unconsolidated powder snow making navigation hazardous both by obliterating landmarks and by covering some shafts with fragile snow plugs.  If this was the only positive result I should still maintain that the expedition was valid, at the very least it has ended considerable speculation.

ii)                  We disproved the theory that all the melt water would be frozen into ice, so the caves would be dry and noted that there was little perceptible difference between the risings in winter or summer.

iii)                 A presence was shown out in Austria and valuable contacts were made or extended. If nothing else we now know where the caving hut is!!

iv)                 We bought two pairs of snow shoes with £40 of the £60 of the I.D.M.F. grant, which have been donated to the BEC. The remaining £20 of the ' grant was returned to the fund.

v)                   'The local cavers are very keen to take on the Barrengassewindeschact (although it is not certain that they would find the entrance) and it is essential that the club, continue to show an interest in the area.  At the time of this trip we were pressed very hard by them as to a firm commitment for this summer.  The area is very well worth a visit and the locals are all extremely friendly, even to people in casual shoes; the caving potential is excellent and the Mammethohle, a few kilometres away from Barrengassewindeschact is a1ready the seventh deepest in the world with continuing potential.

vi)                 And this is where the story really starts……The End (until next time).

References to the previous expeditions can be found in the following copies of the BB

Oct 1978, vol 32 no 10 (366); Feb  1979, vol 33 no 2 (370); Nov 1979, vol 33 no 11 (379); Aug/Sept 1980, vol 34 nos 8 & 9 (388 & 389).


Thank you Chris and Rob, for the article, and particularly for having typed it onto a stencil. Typed articles, on stencils or on good quality white paper make my job so much easier.

Thanks also to Fi, who typed the next nine pages of the B.D. Bassett

FUND RAISING: Lil Romford and some of the other women members who regularly stay at The Belfry are planning a Christmas raffle to raise funds for the improvements planned for the hut.  Primarily they aim to raise money towards refitting the women’s room in the new extension, after which any surplus money will go towards the general building fund. There will be a wide variety of prizes which have been donated by other members so when the time comes please support generously. (If you don't then Lil will set about you!!)



By Tim Large

SUBSCRIPTIONS: It’s that time of year again folks. Subscriptions this year are as last £10 single, £15 joint.  Send your money to Fi Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset BA5 2BQ by the 31st December 1982.  Those who have not paid by then will find themselves BB less!!

ROSS WHITE:  In recognition of his services to Queen and Country during the Falklands campaign it was decided to award Marine Ross White a years Hon. Membership.  Ross was one of the Marines captured on South Georgia when the Argentineans invaded, later he was amongst the Marines who retook the South Sandwich Islands.  Well done Ross.

BELFRY IMPROVEMENTS: The latest position is that John Gywther has drawn up the plans and these have now been presented for Planning Permission and Building Regulation Consent.  When this has been done an EGM will be called to give members a chance to express any views they may have on the next stage.  I have been in touch with Mendip District Council with regards a grant to help with the costs of building the extension, they have no money available.  The next move is for me to get in touch with Somerset Playing Fields Association and if they give no joy we lastly approach The Sports Council.

ST CUTHBERTS LEASE: Any delays we have recently been faced with in leasing have been caused by reorganisation at The Inveresk Paper Mill from whom we are getting the lease.  At present I am waiting for a date on which to walk the boundaries with a representative of the mill to assert the area of land the lease will cover. When this has been done the lease can then be drawn up.

CAVE DIGS:  The club has its fingers in many pies at the moment, with digs in Dan yr Ogof at the end of Dalis Delight led by Martin Grass, Tim Large, Graham Wilton-Jones and Jane Clarke who say that any help would be welcome.  Eastwater at the bottom of Mortons Pot a very promising dig with much potential here again it involves Tim Large, J'Rat, Graham Wilton-Jones, Jane Clarke, Stu McManus etc.  A’Day at the end of Tynings involving the above group, Wigmore led mainly by J'Rat, Twin Ts where much exploration worlds is still taking place, Trevor Hughes and Ross White have been playing with the boulder ruckle at the end of Swildons 12 and say that on the next visit they should break into new cave!  Finally the dig to crown all digs Goughs Cave, Cheddar, Tim Large, Chris Bradshaw etc assisted by various ex cave guides, electricians, are digging a passage off Heartbreak Hill. Some of the luxuries afforded by this dig include heated changing room with hot and cold running water, boiler suits and lamps curtsey of Longleat Estates laundered after use, electric lighting, power for Hilti drills etc, mobile spoil carrying machines (ex Cheshire Home electric wheelchairs) and access for cars(minivans) right up to the dig. What ever are we going to do if the dig goes!!

AGM AND DINNER: The AGM was well attended.  Alan Thomas chaired the meeting and the food was provided by Fi Lewis, beer by Alan Thomas.  It was a rather long drawn out meeting with several controversial issues discussed.  It is proposed that rather than pick things out and put them in this column that I will try and get the minutes typed up and put them in the next issue.  The Dinner was attended by approx 120 people who sat down to a splendid meal which was enjoyed by all.  As usual there were several presentations to make; Zot presented Graham Wilton-Jones and Jane Clark with a sign ‘The Bassets’ for their new house at Wedmore.  Pete Franklin presented Tony Jarrett with The Driver of The Year Award for writing off his Suzuki Van in Derbyshire, and Chris Batstone on behalf of Bob Hill who is working in Holland presented Trevor Hughes with The Bore of the Year Award.

The 1982/83 Committee

HON. SECRETARY                   Tim Large

HON. TREASURER                   Jeremy Henley

TACKLEMASTER                      John Dukes

HUT WARDEN                          Phil Romford

HUT ENGINEER                        Ian Caldwell

CAVING SECRETARY               Martin Grass

BB EDITOR                               Graham Wilton-Jones

MEMBERS                               Trevor Hughes, Nigel Taylor



LIBRARIAN                               Chris Batsone


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List October 1982

828 Nicolette Abell Faulkland, Bath 
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon
818 Chris Batsone Bathford, Bath, Avon
390 (L) Joan Bennett Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol
214 (L) Roy Bennett Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol
731 Bob Bidmead Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol
998 Crissie Bissett Exeter, Devon
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle Calne, Wiltshire
959 Chris Bradshaw Wells, Somerset
868 Dany Bradshaw Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset
967 Michael Brakespeare Dilton Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire
1004 Brendan Brew Sutton-in-Craven, Keithley, West Yorkshire
751 (L) T.A. Bookes London, SW2
756 Tessie Burt Harpendon, Herts
956 Ian Caldwell Senngenydd House, University College, P.O. Box 8, Cardiff.
955 Jack Calvert Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.
1062 Andy Cave Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset
902 (L) Martin Cavendar Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.
983 Jane Clarke Pilcorn Street, Wedmore, Somerset.
1003 Rachael Clarke Pilcorn Street, Wedmore, Somerset.
211 (L) Clare Coase Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset
862 Bob Cork Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
827 Mike Cowlishaw Cleveland Walk Bath, BA2 6JW.
890 Jerry Crick Address unknown
680 Bob Cross Knowle, Bristol
423 (L) Len Dawes Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
815 Nigel Dibben Poynton, Cheshire
164 (L) Ken Dobbs Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon
1000 (L) Roger Dors Priddy, Somerset
972 Mike Duck Bishops Batch, Priddy, Nr Wells, Somerset
830 John Dukes Shepton Mallet, Somerset
937 Sue Dukes Shepton Mallet, Somerset
779 Jim Durston Chard, Somerset
996 Terry Earley Wyle, Warmister, Wiltshire
771 Pete Eckford Itchen, Suton
997 Sandra Eckford Itchen, Suton
322 (L) Bryan Ellis Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
269 (L) Tom Fletcher Bramcote, Nottingham.
404 (L) Albert Francis Wells, Somerset
468 Keith Franklin Dandenong, Victoria 3175, Australia
569 Joyce Franklin Stoke Bishop, Bristol
469 Pete Franklin Stoke Bishop, Bristol
769 Sue Gazzard Tynings, Radstock, Nr Bath, Avon
835 Len Gee St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
459 Keith Gladman Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
1069 Angie Glanville Chard, Somerset
1017 Peter Glanville Chard, Somerset
648 Dave Glover Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire
1006 Edward Gosden Brighton Hill, Basingstoke, Hants
860 Glenys Grass Luton, Beds
790 Martin Grass Luton, Beds
1009 Robin Gray Frome Somerset
1010 Sue Gray Frome Somerset
432 (L) Nigel Hallet Yate, Bristol
1008 James Hamilton Wells, Somerset
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam St Annes, Lancashire
999 Rob Harper Hanham, Bristol, Avon
4 (L) Dan Hassell Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset
893 Dave Hatherley Cannington, Bridgwater, Somerset
974 Jeremy Henley Leg Square, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
917 Robin Hervin Trowbridge, Wiltshire
952 Bob Hill Chippenham, Wiltshire
373 Sid Hobbs Priddy, Wells Somerset
736 Sylvia Hobbs Priddy, Wells Somerset
905 Paul Hodgson Nailsea, Avon
898 Liz Hollis Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset
899 Tony Hollis Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset
920 Nick Holstead Trowbridge, Wiltshire
991 Julie Holstead Trowbridge, Wiltshire
387 (L) George Honey Address not known
971 Colin Houlden Bruton, Somerset
770 Chris Howell Edgebaston, Birmingham
923 Trevor Hughes Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset
855 Ted Humphreys Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset
73 Angus Innes Alveston, Bristol, Aven
969 Duncan Innes Traherne Hall, Uywn Grant Road, Penlyn Hill, Cardiff
540 (L) Dave Irwin Townsend, Priddy, Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt Station Road, Congresbury, Bristol
51 (L) A Johnson Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol
995 Brian Johnson Ottery St. Mary, Devon
1001 Graeme Johnson East Park Road, Leicester
560 (L) Frank Jones Chilcote, Wells, Somerset
285 Urban Jones Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey
567 (L) Alan Kennett Henleaze, Brsitol
884 John King Cowfold, Sussex
316 (L) Kangy King Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon
1007 Jonathan King Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon
542 (L) Phil Kingston St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
946 Alex Ragnar Knutson Bedminster, Bristol
874 Dave Lampard Horsham, Sussex
667 (L) Tim Large Wells, Somerset
958 Fi Lewis  Wells, Somerset
930 Stuart Lindsay Address unknown
574 (L) Oliver Lloyd Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trim, Brisatol
58 George Lucy Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks
550 (L) R A MacGregor Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset
106 (L) E.J. Mason Henleaze, Bristol
980 J Matthews Clifton, Bristol
979 Richard Matthews Clifton, Bristol
558 (L) Tony Meaden Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
704 Dave Metcalf Long Eaton, Nottingham
957 Dave Maurison London NW11
1012 Al Mills Shepton Mallet, Somerset
989 A Nash Downend, Bristol
936 Dave Nichols Exeter, Devon
852 John Noble Tennis Courts Rod, Paulton, Bath
938 Kevin O’Neil Melksham, Wiltshire
964 Lawrie O’Neil Melksham, Wiltshire
396 (L) Mike Palmer YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset
22 (L) Les Peters Knowle Park, Bristol Avon
499 (L) A. Philpott Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
990 Jem Pague Frogwell, Chippenham, Wiltshire
337 Brian Prewer West Horrington, Wells, Somerset
622 Colin Priddle Wadeville 1422, South Africa
481 (L) John Ransom Patchway, Bristol, Avon
682 John Riley Linton Falls, Skipton, North Yorkshire
945 Steve Robins Knowle, Bristol
1046 Gerard Robinson The Common, Patchway, Bristol
986 Lil Romford Coxley, Wells, Somerset
985 Phil Romford Coxley, Wells, Somerset 
921 Pete Rose Chandlers Ford, Hants
832 Roger Sabido Lawrence Weston, Bristol
941 John Sampson Knowle, Bristol
240 (L) Alan Sandall Nailsea, Avon
359 (L) Carol Sandall Nailsea, Avon
760 Jenny Sandercroft Victoria Park, Bristol
237 (L) Bryan Scott Havestock Road, Winchester Hants
482 Gordon Selby Wells, Somerset
78 (L) R Setterington Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington Chiswick, London W4
915J Chris Smart Woking, Surrey
823 Andrew Sparrow Bath
984 Dave Speed Dinder, Nr Wells, Somerset
1 (L) Harry Stanbury Bude, Cornwall
38(L) Mrs I Stanbury Knowle, Bristol
575 (L) Dermot Statham Cole Road, Bruton, Somerset
365 (L) Roger Stenner Weston super Mare, Avon
1002 Alan Sutton Alveston, Bristol
284 (L) Alan Thomas Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset
348 (L) D Thomas Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford
1013 Gwyn Thomas Wells Road, Priddy, Nr Wells, Somerset
571 (L) N Thomas Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.
994 Martin Thompson Matson. Gloucester
699 Buckett Tilbury High Wycombe, Bucks
700 Anne Tilbury High Wycombe, Bucks
80 Postle Thompsett-Clark Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
381 (L) Daphne Towler Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex
157 (L) Jill Tuck Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales
678 Dave Turner Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
912 John Turner Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.
925 Gill Turner Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.
635 (L) Stuart Tuttlebury Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey
887 Greg Villis Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
982 Christine Villis Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
175 (L) Mrs. D. Whaddon Taunton, Somerset
949 John Watson Bedminster, Bristol
553 R White Wells, Somerset
878 Marine Ross White RM Detachment, HMS Endurance, BFPO Ships, London
939 K Wilkinson Melksham, Wiltshire
940 V Wilkinson Melksham, Wiltshire
916 Jane Wilson Portswood, Southampton
568 Brenda Wilton Clutton, Bristol
850 Annie Wilton-Jones Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
813 Ian Wilton-Jones Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
943 Simon Woodman Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon
914 Brian Workman Little London, Oakhill,  Bath
1011 Lucy Workman Little London, Oakhill,  Bath

(L) = Lapsed 

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

Editor : G-Wilton-Jones

Officers Of The Club

Hon Secretary: Tim Large

Hon. Treasurer: Jeremy Henley

Tacklemaster: John Dukes

Hut Warden: Phil Romford

Hut Engineer: Phil Romford

Caving Sec: Martin Grass

B.B. Editor: Graham Wilton-Jones, Trevor Hughes, Nigel Taylor

Membership Sec: Fi Lewis

Librarian:Chris Batstone

Ian Caldwell has had to resign from the post of Hut Engineer.  He is currently taking a course at Cardiff University and is finding the pressure of work there to great for him to devote adequate time to B.E.C. business.

Phil Romford is presently taking over the task of Hut Engineer, as he feels Hut Engineer and Hut Warden are more easily managed by one and the same person


FOR SALE: One pair Dolomite Guida Major mountaineering boots, size 9, full steel shank, Vibram Montana soles, high ankle giving good support for front pointing.  Little used.  In excellent condition. £40 o.n.o.   Phil Romford.  Wells 75407


Henry's Hole

by Andy Sparrow

This new find is about 200 yards from the Backdoor of Box Mines.  It was found at the end of a friend’s garden during the digging of new foundations for a shed.  It consists of a natural rift together with mine passage, and has a total length of about 400ft.

A dig has been stated to try to find a connection with Box Mines.

Sketch Plan   


Belfry Notes

Since the scare about possibly losing the Royal Navy for mid-week revenue I, with the help of a few others, have managed to raise the standards of our accommodation a little. By writing a grovelling letter to the R.N., apologising for last year's shambles and indicating where improvements were to be made, and with the help of Graham Johnson (Bolt) I have had a favourable response.  The R.N. have now booked for several weeks ahead.  This should amount to around £300 income.  However, we must not become lackadaisical in our attitude - we still have a long way to go to meet my goal.

Changing Room: A number of people are leaving odd items of tatty clothing lying around, some of it unmentionable.  If, at the end of a weekend, they are not claimed or given away, they go on the fire.

So the message is, if you value it, take it home!  If you must leave kit at the Belfry, see me and I will try to provide you with a locker, at a cost, of course.

Working Weekends: It has been suggested that we try for a few months to have one working day coinciding with committee meeting weekends, which are always the first weekend of the month, so do try and help. Just to confuse the issue, the next working day is Saturday 12th March.

Car Park:  To aid people in the dark areas we intend to fit an exterior halogen lamp to the south end of the Belfry.  To prevent parking on the lawn we intend to place some large limestone blocks, which will very definitely be car proof.

Front Door: The Belfry now has a new front door complete with a new lock and even brass knobs (The appointment of Hon. Knob Polisher to the B.E.C. has already been suggested.  Please don't write. Ed!)  A new lock means a new key.  These are available FREE from the Hut Warden.  You may contact me at any time at the Belfry or at home to obtain one. All new issue keys will be serial numbered so I know who has keys.  I must appeal to all key holders not to have copies made for their mates, etc., since the whole idea of having a lock is to provide a degree of security to our property.

Lockers:  I am trying to collect fees owing for lockers used by members.  £1.00 for large ones, 50p for small ones.  I feel sure that some are not used but are still locked.  If you do not use your locker will you please let me know, so that I can re-issue it to someone in need.

Library Keys: It is known that a few keys are in the hands of non-committee members.  If you have one, please return it in the interest of security.


Two night-store heaters for the bunk rooms

Lots of 2' 6” wide mattresses

Timber for making duck boarding, 2 x 1 for example.



Chris Batstone, overheard at the "Bassett's" housewarming recently:

"Oi ! Move yer fat gut.  I can't get by.


Austria 1983

by Phil Romford.

There has been some disjointed talk in the pub on going back to the Dachstein area of Austria to try once and for all to bottom the Barengassewindschact.

So far those interested are Trev Hughes, Tim Large, Rob Harper, John Dukes, Ross White and myself. However, to date there is no firm commitment from anyone to say that we can form an expedition.

I think it is well known that this is an S.R.T. expedition.  Therefore I am looking to pull together 10 – 12 strong cavers who are well practised in S.R.T. and, preferably B.E.C. members.  It is the opinion of some who have been to the area that if we do not bottom it this year we shall have to offer it to the Austrians. We can’t have that, can we!

So, you guys, let’s have some committed response from you.  I am prepared to coordinate the expedition if I get sufficient support. However, I must add that each person may be asked to pay deposit to the expedition, firstly to be a form of commitment – I know you lot, you say you’ll do one thing, then go off and do something else – ands secondly to help toward the purchase of expedition equipment.  At this early stage I do not know how much money we are looking for.

When I have had sufficient response to this plea, I shall call an expedition inaugural meeting to discuss finance, travel, equipment, accommodation, etc. and possibly form an expedition committee.

On small aside: I am hoping to have time to get to Chamonix for some mountaineering after the expedition.

The approximate timing of the whole affair will most likely be mid to late July 1983.

You may write to me at:  Coxley,Wells, Somerset.

Please consider this seriously and contact me with any queries as soon as possible.

Incident At Lamb Leer

Following a rescue call-out to Lamb Leer recently Martin Grass and "Tom Big", well known B.E.C. member, Club Secretary and M.R.O. WARDEN, rapidly kitted up in front of the Belfry stove and then dashed to the scene.

Some weegees were met at the top of the pitch.

" O.K.. lads," says our “Tom”.   “Make way for the M.R.O."  “ We'll soon have everything under control," he continues, as he ties off an S.R.T. rope and threads his rack.

"See you at the bottom," he calls to Martin , and is about to leap off the edge for a super-fast descent when he hears Martin musing -

"Shouldn't your rack be threaded the other way round, 'Tom'.”






A World First To Cap Them All

( Coal gold + base minerals of Southern Africa 1981)

This article written by C J Taylor A.R.I.C. Chlorides Technical Director takes an in-depth look at an important development in the cap lamp industry.  The article was sent to us by Colin Priddle (Pope) who lives in South Africa.

The South African mining industry is the largest user of cap lamps in the Western World.  Our mines requirements run to some 570,000 lamps - 3% of the western world total - while India is estimated to require 550,000 lamps and, there are some 850,000 in the other non-communist countries.  The Soviet Union and China between them are estimated to have some two million cap lamps in use.

The history of the cap lamp dates back to candles and subsequently the break-through of the Davy lamps which allowed naked flames for lighting without fear of methane fires. This was followed in the early 1930’s with the first electric miner’s lamp incorporating a battery encased in a metal cylinder worn on the miners belt.  It was not until 1950 that lead acid accumulators replaced the old alkaline battery and introduced for the first time the advantages of a self-service operation in the storage frames.

Since then, the mining industry has been growing at a fast clip world wide, but the miners cap lamp market has been relatively static.  Increased mechanisation and longer shifts offset what would otherwise have been a proportionate market growth.  This situation has now changed as the traditional miners cap lamp nears the end of its capacity for use in a rapidly changing mining industry.

Though the 1950-based cap lamps have served the industry well, certain disadvantages became of increasing importance in a rapidly developing mining industry which was gravitating towards longer shifts and deeper level mining.  These factors were particularly important in the South African mining sector following the boom in metal prices in the late seventies.  As new mining plans were announced the need for an advanced miners cap lamp led to a focus on the traditional products disadvantages. These were:

a)       Limited ampere-hour capacity which does not allow for longer shifts.

b)       Inadequate light output for industry’s future needs.

c)       The accumulators need constant topping up which means removing each filler plug for inspection.

d)       Charging time was considered too long as the industry moved towards longer shifts. A 1:1 charging to light availability ratio was regarded as Optimal.

e)       Liquid filled batteries incorporated a spill danger which caused minor accidents such as acid burns; and

f)        The mass of lamp unit was considered somewhat high in relation to output.

In order to meet the needs of the mining industry world wide and the South African market in particular, Chloride pursued the development of a new miners cap lamp and accumulator. The technological objectives of the research programme demanded a product that would incorporate:

a)       A maintenance free accumulator

b)       Shorter charging time.

c)       Higher ampere-hour capacity

d)       Improved light source and output!  and

e)       Reduced mass

Consequently, Chloride Technical in the UK, a subsidiary of the international Chloride Group, the worlds largest manufacturer of chargeable batteries, launched a two year development programme which resulted in the development of a maintenance-free accumulator and improved cap lamp.  In April 1980 the group placed some 200 of the new lighting units at Vaal Reefs and Doornfontein gold mines for testing which was monitored by the Chamber of Nines. The results surpassed the industry’s expectations and will result in full scale manufacture of the product later this year.

The new Chloride accumulator is the hub of the development.  Being maintenance free it should contribute to improved cost effectiveness while its power specification promises a much improved power: mass ratio, thereby fulfilling two of the major criticisms levelled at the traditional units.

In normal batteries oxygen and hydrogen are released from the electrolyte bring the charging process and this requires the units to be topped up with water.  However, Chlorides work on recombination technology has resulted in the manufacture of a battery which never needs to be refilled and thus can be completely sealed.  In fact though the battery is a lead acid type, the electrolyte is contained within the plates and the separators, so even in the event of damage to the battery case; there is no liquid to spill.  Thus, allied to maintenance free operation, Chlorides product should contribute to improved safety by avoiding minor accidents related to acid spilling.

Incorporated with the maintenance advantage the new mining accumulator is claimed to provide 61% more power, having a discharge cycle of 16 hours compared with 12 hours previously. At the same time the exterior casing has been cast in a plastic which showed nine times greater resistance to abrasion and impact than a hard rubber case.

This result should be particularly important in developing the export potential of the new miners lamp, as South African quartzites have in the past proved far more damaging to the battery cases than conditions pertaining in other parts of the world.






No. of Plates

Battery dimensions (mm)

Volume (m/)

Mass (filled with cover (kg)

Cycle Life


Container material


Duration (0.9A)

Operational voltage range (V)


3(2 negative 1 positive)

41 x 150 x 187



750 cycles (70% depth of discharge)

Resin Rubber


10 hours

4.00 to 3.70


3(3 negative 4 positive)

40 x 125 x 187



500-70 cycles (70% depth of discharge)

Abrasion resistant Rubber


16 hours

4.00 to 3.70

The, new accumulator is completely compatible with existing charging systems in the mining industry. But for full potential a new rack and charger has been developed which reduce the charge time through higher charge rating.  Incorporated in the accumulator is a fail safe feature in the form of an inner seal which allows gas to be released in the event of a serious over charge.

Though the significant breakthrough is in the development of. a maintenance free accumulator, Chloride has built into the unit certain other advances.  The plastic not only conforms to fire resistant specifications laid down by the mining industry, but is tamper proof and offers greater comfort to the user.  An integrated belt loop and the leak proof advantage make the unit more comfortable to wear, particularly in the narrow confines of a stope.  In addition the cable joining the accumulator and the battery has been redesigned with a new cable lock to prevent disconnection. Chlorides tests show that the cable lock can withstand forces of up to 670N at the headpiece and 1300N at the battery before becoming disengaged.

Allied to these efficiency and improved safety improvements the refined headpiece promises to fulfil the rest of the industry’s requirements.  In a mining environment the need for safety is paramount, and insufficient light at work stations contributes to minor accidents and a resulting fall in labour efficiency.  By incorporating a new-headpiece using a 4V 1A halogen bulb with a larger reflector, Chloride claims the new lamp boosts lumen output by six times.  (The introduction of a miniature halogen bulb is the result of extensive development by the major lighting companies in Europe and America).  Illumination at a distance of 2m is said to be 2klx, the greater energy needs being provided by the improved accumulator.

The impressive specifications of the new accumulator and headpiece have been sustained in local testing underground and have led to a very favourable reaction from a mining industry committed to enhanced safety and improved cost control.  In April last year 200 lamps were placed in both Vaal Reefs and Doornfontein and during the testing there was a notable decrease in the incidence of minor accidents.  In fact, the new product is probably technologically ahead of current mining industry needs, but should offer lighting to keep abreast of development in mining methods.

Though the maintenance free miners accumulator and improved cap lamp has a rival in new European nickel cadmium units, price and power capability suggest the lead acid system will be far more popular.  Not only does the maintenance free system offer significantly higher light availability, which makes it particularly suitable to South Africa’s longer shifts, but it is also priced some 7% lower.  This pricing difference stems from the cost of the metallic constituents in the NiCd Battery and the longer production runs possible in South Africa where 3% of the Free Worlds miners cap lamps are in use.


Not only will the launch of the maintenance free accumulator and improved headpiece be a world first for South Africa, but at the end of 1981 all components will be made locally. Initially the only imported component will be the halogen bulb, but plans are in hand to manufacture the item in South Africa.

In order to cater for local demands Chloride has invested some R1 million at its Benoni factory. Recently, Chloride SA managing director, Don Searle, said production would be geared to satisfying South African demand.  But as the South African Company will be the only Chloride operation worldwide manufacturing the new accumulator and headpiece export potential is huge.


The total cap lamp market outside the Soviet Union and China is estimated as 2 million units of which 570,000 – 30% are in South Africa and 550,000 in India.  This R50 million market includes export potential of around R35 million, in which the advantages of the long South African production runs and the manufacture of a product suited to arduous conditions locally should enhance sales potential of the Chloride development.  Thus, one local demand is satisfied the maintenance free development should allow South Africa its first major drive into a potentially huge export market.  Management is confident of success as the Chloride product is competitively priced.

The introduction of a world first maintenance free battery in the cap lamp market and the development of export potential could have far reaching effects in an industry constantly aware of the need for containing increases in mining costs.  Beyond that, the development could well pave the way to maintenance free, motive power batteries for underground and surface use which will help the industry in the constant battle to contain costs.


a)                  Completely sealed.

b)                  Maintenance free.

c)                  60% more capacity in accumulator.

d)                  Under test conditions battery case offered nine times more resistance to abrasion and impact than the old unit.

e)                  Fits all existing charging units but for complete technical compatibility the new charger and frame are recommended.

f)                    Extra burning time and even illumination.

g)                  Leak proof even if container is damaged.

h)                  Re-sealable safety - the inner seal allows gas to be released if battery is seriously over charged.

i)                    New cable lock which prevents cable from being pulled out of lamp or battery unless force exceeds 670N at the headpiece.

j)                    Flame resistant container for underground application.

k)                  Tamper proof - special tool needed to take off lid.

l)                    Stainless steel shoe available for hard-rock mines.

m)                New lamp fits onto any standard helmet.

n)                  Six times greater lamp output.

o)                  Charging rack designed to take 10 lamps or multiples thereof with features which make it easier to handle and offer longer life.

Colin Priddle’s note: "I’ve got two of them cost £16 each (R32) Charger (R30).  They are superb, Terrific beam, 16 hours light".


Bassett's Notes

EDITORIAL DISPLEASURE: Over the past few weeks there has been a distinct lack of articles. Therefore it’s a rather thin B.B. covering two months.  In future I shall number each B.B. according to issue, and not the months covered. Thus, this B.B. is not Vol. 37, Nos. 1 & 2.  The next issue will be no. 2 for the year, whether it comes out in March or December…and that depends upon you.  Put pen to paper now!

DEADLINE for next issue's articles is Monday March 21st.  Write or 'phone (Wedmore 712284) or give me your offering when you see me in the Hunters.

GAPING GHYLL - INGLEBOROUGH: I suggested a couple of issues ago that I might soon have a snippet about the G.G./Ingleboro' System.  After yet another dive by Geoff Crossley and Geoff Yeadon the two caves were finally linked, though only just.

A passage leads From Radergast’s Revenge, above the Ingleborough sumps, to a boulder choke. In Gaping Ghyll, beyond the Clay Cavern Orifice and below the Spirla Aven area, a small tube descends to a chamber ,in which the ceiling and three of the walls are very loose boulders (The "Boy" dug there for a time when he was a member of ULSA, while Jane Clake, "Bones” of the B.P.C. and I had another poke there last Whitsun.  The G.G. chamber was proven, by radio-location and an ultra accurate re-survey to lie very close to the choke off Radagast's.  On the connection trip a party was present in the chamber. Initially only a visual connection was made, but, at another point, through the boulders in the roof of the G.G. chamber, a foot/hand connection was possible.

Due to the instability of the G.G. chamber, digging the choke from this side has been rejected, and digging to make a through trip feasible will take place from the Ingleborough end.

I wonder if the newspapers have remembered their promise, made years ago, of £1,000 to people who manage to link the two caves.

SUBS:  Apologies from Fi if you have paid your subscription for 1983 (if you're reading this B.B. you should have by now) but have not yet had a receipt.  The late issue of receipts is due to Tim & Fi's move a few doors up the road.

CAVE SCIENCE: B.C.R.A. TRANSACTIONS:  These are quite often rather deep, very specialist papers, their subjects totally beyond the understanding of the average caver and far outside his or her interests.  However, all of Vol. 9, No. 4, Dec. 1982, should be essential reading for all active cavers.  Its title is "Techniques and Equipment".  You'll find it in our library.  Make good use of it.

AGEN ALLWEDD: Martyn Farr tells me that he has been along on some of the Chelsea S.S. digging sessions in Trident Passage (off the end of Main Passage) where a crawl now extends for over 1800 feet.  The new passage runs parallel to Southern Stream Passage.  It appears to be the upper fraction of a much larger passage. The infill starts as a fine grained deposit - typical Aggie Main Passage stuff, but gradually becomes coarser throughout the length of the extension.  Clearly the hope is that finally the fill will be cobbles, and then there will be the river....

There is an enticing draught at the digging face, and the very easy progress (tens of feet at a time) mean there is no shortage of diggers, in spite of the arduous hour of flat out crawling required.

Some of the Rock and Fountain Caving Group climbed into ''new" passage above Turkey sump, only to find that C.S.S. had been there before - a long ago unrecorded visit. However, there are good possibilities of extension.

C.S.S. have discovered that three times the volume of water upstream of the 4th boulder choke flows downstream to the 5th choke.   3 - 1 = 2. Therefore there must be another big streamway, somewhere behind the 5th choke, and a new dig is planned for the site.

MEXICO: Bob, Dany and J-Rat have returned to Mendip full of tales, and there has already been a slide show in the back-room at the Hunters.  We await their full, written report with eager anticipation.

DONATIONS:  Many thanks to Oliver Lloyd for a donation of £5 towards the Building Fund, and also to John King and J.R.S. Roberts for donations of £20 towards the same fund.  The fund is steadily growing.  What ideas have YOU had for raising more loot?

ADDRESS LIST:  Thanks are due to Dave Turner and one of his computers for the new, computerised address list.  Dave has created a suitable programme and we have just about completed the listing.  The system is easy to update and to alter, and has just about done away with one of my biggest chores - writing address labels.  Did you notice the label on your last B.B.?

WOOKEY HOLE:  Trev Hughes and Rob Harper have pushed a passage that bypasses Sump 23.  It may be that extensions to this passage will be made in the future, giving a dry route all the way from 20 to 24.  Some avens remain to be climbed.

This news is rather brief. Trev hopes to be able to put together an article for us, but it seems that C.D.G. have copyright on any writing about Wookey.  Funny, I thought there was no such thing as copyright in caving circles.  Anyway, Trev is trying to obtain permission from C.D.G. secretary.

PERU:  Jan Wilson has written something on her visit to South America, only it's in the B.C.R.A. bulletin.  How about something for the B.B., Jane?

Still on that area, Sue Jordan is recently returned, and dropped into the Belfry a while back.

TACKLE MAKING:  This takes place on several Tuesday evenings at the Belfry.  If you are available any Tuesday, give John a 'phone call to check if it's on, and go along to help make some ladder.

The tackle store is looking slightly healthier these days, but if you still have B.E.C. tackle out, please return it a.s.a..p.  There are one or two other active members in the Club!



The Belfry Improvements

by Tim Large

At the last AGM members asked for the latest information regarding the improvements following publication in the BB prior to that meeting of plans which had been put forward for Planning Permission approval.  Over the last few years I have attempted to keep members informed via the BB of the latest position.  To dispel any uncertainty I have set out in the following lines the history of the developments,

At the 1979 AGM a members resolution by Roy Bennett and Dave Irwin proposed the setting up of a Belfry Improvement Fund as it was felt the Belfry needed bringing up to date.  This was passed by the meeting. The Committee subsequently set about organising various fund raising schemes and a Lottery Licence was obtained from Mendip District Council.  The Hut Fees were raised (Members from 30p - 50p Guests from 50p - £1) the extra increase being devoted to the fund.  Also at the AGM the subscription was raised from £5 to £8, in its calculation every aspect of the clubs expenditure was analysed, it included £1 per member for the fund.  These amounts have been transferred to the fund every year since.

At the 1980 AGM progress on the fund raising was detailed by the Treasurer.  The Hut Engineer in his report detailed the developments regarding the plans.  A planning meeting had been held on 16th May 1980 attended by 14 members.  At that meeting various ideas were discussed along with sketch plans by individuals of what would be desirable.  The meeting recommended that an architect be consulted for the best advice and to draw up suitable plans for submitting to the planning authorities. The report was approved by the AGM.

During the following year discussions were held with John Gwyther of Priddy a professional architect. Several 'on site' meetings took place.  Nigel Taylor and myself also visited Mendip District Council Planning Department in Glastonbury to obtain the relevant forms and to seek advice.  At the 1961 AGM the Hut Engineer (Nigel Taylor) again updated members of the latest progress.  There was not much to show but the plans were slowly being drawn up.

Final plans were submitted to the Committee on 6th August 1982.  These were approved and it was decided to submit them for the relevant permission with Mendip District Council.  At present these plans are still being considered and several queries are still being ironed out.  The estimated cost of the project is £12,000 with work being done by builders.  It has been necessary to work on builder’s costs as it is proposed to apply for grants from the Sports Council etc.  Any grants given will be based on such estimates.

Much thought went into the final plans the considerations were:-

1.       The Library is only a box room and does not give ideal storage for books.

2.       The Kitchen facilities are not ideally sited in the main room.

3.       The Showers and Chancing Room are not ideally sited or adequate.  Also there design should make for easy maintenance and maximum hygiene.

4.       There are no drying facilities. 

In the new proposals as publicised in the BB:-

  1. The Library is a room which can be used as a proper Library with space for tables and chairs, it will have adequate and proper storage space for books, maps etc.  Ventilation will be much improved providing for a better environment for the books etc.
  2. It was felt that a self contained kitchen would improve hygiene and release much space in the main room for lockers etc.
  3. The Showers and Changing Rooms both male and female will be better sited for ventilation and provide more room.  The main changing room will incorporate a dirty area entering the Belfry via the present women’s room external door.  Once caving kit has been removed members can go to a cleaner changing area which will include washbasins, toilet and showers.  A similar system will exist in the women’s changing area as can be seen on the plan.  Ventilation will be aided by extractor fans and floor to ceiling tiling and better drains are to be provided so that the area can be hosed down and kept to the necessary hygienic standards.
  4. The provision of a drying room leading off the main changing area was decided to be of utmost importance.  Ventilation will be provided by an extractor fan ducted to the outside wall.  Heating could be provided by under floor electric elements linked to the off peak meter.  This system is used at the Bradford Pothole Club and works very well.
  5. The new female bunkroom will still only cater for 6.  The space on the plan is at present shown to be flexible, but once a suitable size has been decided on the room a stud wall partition will be erected and any space left will be used for storage for the time being.  The vacant space will give us room to expand should the need arise.  One possibility for the vacant space would be an extension to the Library.

So the overall intention of the proposals is to improve the club’s facilities based on more or less the sane usage as at present.  But should usage increase at some time in the future then we will have the space to expand into and facilities designed a higher throughput of people.  Of great importance is that the design incorporates features that ensure easy maintenance and a higher degree of sanitation. Those few left at the end of the weekend can much more easily clear up after everyone else’s mess!!!

For those of you interested a larger scale plan as presented to the Mendip District Council is on display at The Belfry.


Large Pot

by Rachel Clarke

Large Pot is the ‘new’ N.P.C. find, situated in a shakehole adjoining Little Pot.  Discovered in March 1982 the two distinct series of the cave have bean explored to a boulder collapse (Arcadia Series) and a perched sump (Red Herring Series).  The current N.P.C. journal gives a full, detailed account of the cave and a grade 4/5 survey.

The entrance pitch is 25 feet followed by a 15 foot free-climb to an awkward crawl (especially for tall people!) leading to the head of a 40 foot pitch.  The take-off of the pitch is tight, the belay - a wedge and chock stone in the rift.  The pitch widens out passing a bucket-shaped ledge at 30 feet to the bottom of the rift. A short climb is followed by a 20 foot pitch (thread belay above pitch) to Thornton Hall.  From the Hall, an obvious bedding with a double slotted floor goes to Pit Junction, where the two routes diverge.

To reach the 140 foot Colossus Pitch the left turn is made at the junction into the old Arcadia Series. At the Junction the downstream passage is the start of the Red Herring Series, the present drainage route.  We followed the Red Herring Series to the superb 80 foot pitch (thread belay in roof) which leads almost immediately to a 15 foot pitch (belay - spike on left).

At this point there is a choice of pitches - Flake Route (100 feet) or the Main Passage to a 40 foot pitch (bolt and chock stone belay), followed by a 23 foot free climb.  A small, twisting streamway emerges in Flake Aven, where the two routes converge at the head of a 23 foot pitch (flake belay). From the base of the pitch a grovelly crawl is compensated by good formations and small false floors.  At the end of the crawl the last ladder pitch (29 feet, thread belay) is followed by two short climbs (18 feet and 12 feet) to a boulder chamber; a wet crawl leads to the sump, which has been dived and is apparently 40 feet long, through two small air-bells, ending in a silt blockage.

De-tackling and tackle-hauling offers great entertainment, the entrance 40 foot pitch requiring military organisation and giving me a chance to improve my aim and practise shouting "Below!”

An excellent cave that warrants a second trip to visit Arcadia Series.


Letters to the editor.

Ref: Is Caving Hazardous to your Marriage?                5th January '83:

Dear Sir,

The article sent by Colin Priddle from R.S.A. (Rotten Statistical Articles?) is nonsense as it stands.   Perhaps there are chunks missing?

I'm sorry to see mathematics used in such a sloppy fashion.  It does not do us credit.  The analysis as presented is not logical.

Starting by assuming that the stated divorce rate of 2.4 means one couple in 2.4 are divorced in South Africa the author appears to ask the question 'is his group of 9 with 5 divorces amongst them typical of the population of South Africa or is it different?’ The 'rate' for the group as it stands is 1 in 9/5, or 1.8.

If another caver joined the group, they could be divorced or not.  If not, the rate is 1 in 10/5, or 2.0.

If divorced, the rate is 1 in 10/6, or 1.67

In other words, the group is so small that the addition of one more member would drastically alter the conclusions.  Beware of using statistics on small numbers.

We are invited to participate in some research because it is "important".  I can see that sampling a larger population would give more meaningful results if processed properly but why is it important?  What is important is that we should not be so egotistical that we neglect the marriages we've got.  Let's get priorities right.  It is easier to cave than to create a happy marriage.

Finally, I refuse to reveal the length of my marriage to Tim Large.  He and I are just good friends.




Dear M Editor,

A recent incident in Rhino Rift highlights the need to educate people - even Club members - in proper S.R.T. practices.  Prior to this event, which started an M.R.O. call-out, Tim Large and I were asked how the cave should be rigged, since it is fairly well known that Tim and I spent a lot of time putting in safe S.R.T. belays which provide free hangs and even knot protection.  I spent some time explaining to one of the errant Club members how to rig the pitches and what equipment to take for safe conduct.  However, after all this, he declared that our system was too complex and that he would do it his way!  We all know the result.  I must say that I find this cavalier attitude rather disturbing and express my displeasure.

This event prompts me to fully write up the Tim and I did for the benefit of all B.E.C. members indulging in S.R.T.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Romford.

Editor's note: For the benefit of those who know nothing about the Rhino Rift call-out, it occurred when two members were overdue from the cave.  One had little S.R.T. experience and had great difficulty ascending the second pitch.  This led to a delay well beyond their e.t.o.

It is Phil's belief that the difficulties experienced were essentially the result of poor rigging, indeed he believes that dangerous practices were employed which could have caused a serious accident.

He has promised to submit an article explaining what he and Tim have done to improve the rigging of ropes in Rhino Rift, and how we can make best use of the system.


New Members.

We welcome the following new members to the B.E.C.:

1014     Chris Castle, High Wycombe, Bucks

1015     Andrew Lolly, Kingsdown, Bristol.

1016     Darren Granfield, Nailsea, Bristol.

1017     Dr. Peter Glanville, Chard, Somerset.

1018     Richard Palmer, Weston-Super-Mare, Avon.

1019     Lavinia Mary Smith, Wells, Somerset.

1020     Robert John Bailey, Westbury-Sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.

1021     Edric Wayland Hobbs , Hokerstone Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.

Address changes.

Tim Large & Fi Lewis, Wells, Somerset. BA5

Ross White:  Arbroath, Angus, Scotland

Tong and Liz Hollis, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Jerry Crick, Bath, Avon.

Dave Nicholls, Kalgoorlie, W. Australia, 6430.

Brendan Brew, Leeds 8.

Meets List, March To May.






Manor Farm

Friday Niters

B. Prewer






Giants/Oxlow ?

Derbyshire w/end, staying at Pegasus Hut.




Giants/Oxlow connection is thought to be sumped at present.







Peak Cavern








South Wales

Saturday trip with Friday Niters

B. Prewer






County Pot/Link Pot

Yorkshire w/end staying at Bradford P.C. Hut, Brackenbottom

M. Grass


Simpson's Pot

As above

M. Grass






County Clare

Caving, Guinness, Walking, Guinness, Folk music, Guinness, Guinness, Gui...

M. Grass














Charterhouse Cave

Friday Niters.  Limited to THREE.  Alternative is Longwood.

B. Prewer






Lionels Hole

Friday Niters.





B. Prewer



Visits to all major caves plus some diving





M. Grass







Friday Niters Mystery Tour (by the sound of it )

B. Prewer






Swildons - Black Hole

Friday Niters

B. Prewer






Birks Fell Cave

Yorkshire w/end, staying at Bradford P.C. Hut

M. Grass


Roaring Hole








Pant Mawr

Camping at Crickhowell

M. Grass


Otter Hole




Agen Allwedd