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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

CONGRATULATIONS to Fiona on her 21st birthday

Any of the articles which I promised would be in this B.B. last month will definitely be in the October issue, if I receive them from their authors.  I also hope to make a start on Wig's enormous tome on Early Cave Photographers and their Work.  He did give it to me back near the beginning of the year.

Just because Mr. 'N' has apologised for his low article production this year does not mean he can do the same in the next Club year.  Weren't you going to do something on East Mendip Mines, Nigel, and do you remember I asked you to write something on Explosives Underground.

Tuska, where is thy article on Iceland, and by now you could add something about the Longwood Valley dig.

In the offing are R.N. diver’s courses by Ross, something more from Batswine, B.C.R.A. Conference review by someone, a long-awaited, multi-edited, word perfect, highly detailed account of I can't remember what by Greg, plus a host of other articles promised over the last year!

Happy Club year.  Bassett.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Jim Watson, San Francisco, USA.

Jim will probably be in the States another couple of years.  He visited Church Cave in Sequoia National Park about 2 months ago.  Perhaps an article….


Reef Diving In Florida

by Trevor Hughes.

Having helped pay off my last ship (HMS Bulwark) and seen her, sadly on her way to the breakers, I'm now back at sea again serving in HMS Bristol a one-off guided missile destroyer. Within a week of joining her we sailed from Pompey dockyard, heading for the Florida sun.

Our second port of call was Fort Lauderdale on the south eastern coast, 20 miles north of Miami.  We arrived on Wednesday August 5th for a week of superb weather, 35oC every day.

On the day after our arrival the ship's diving team spent a day out on the local offshore reefs using one of the ship's 13m workboats.

There are three Fort Lauderdale reefs, roughly running parallel to the shore.  The Inner Reef is 30 - 100 m from the beach and the depth varies between 3 and 7 m.  The visibility is usually only about 12m due to the effects of wind and swell.  A good variety of tropical fish can be seen but the larger species are rare.

Further out, ¾ - 1 mile off-shore, lies the second reef, with a water depth of 12 – I5m.  The diving conditions are better here, as is the variety of marine life.  Approximately one mile offshore lies the third reef, with depths varying between 15 and 25 m.  This reef provides the best diving.  Many species of fish were to be seen, including the larger reef fish such as goatfish, yellowtails, gruntfish (yes, they really do!) and spadefish.  The occasional barracuda was to be seen, keeping a beady eye on the diver.  The problem with this site was the strong northerly current.

Using the local diving guide book and a large scale chart it was a fairly simple task to locate our first dive site - the outer reef, called Osborne Reef in the area we were interested in.

I was one of the first pair of divers in the water and we anchored ready to dive.  The water was so warm I only used a 3mm vest, more for comfort than warmth.  We descended quickly but the boat had dragged its anchor and we had a hard up-current swim to cross the flat sand and reach the reef.  To augment the flatter sections of the reef, the local authorities have dumped huge lumps of concrete, wired up tyres and various bits of wreckage. This policy has worked well and the area is covered with soft corals, sponges and a healthy scattering of developing hard coral.  A wide selection of smaller, multi-coloured reef fish are to be found.  The top of the natural reef was at 15m depth and corresponds to an old beach level.  The visibility was around 25m and we spent an enjoyable dive drifting over the reef. The boat was still having problems holding its anchor and as a result we had another long swim back.  The other divers fared better and all had a good dive.

We moved inshore to the inner reef where the current was almost unnoticeable and, after a meal break, we got ready for a second dive.

The best features of this inner reef are the small, but well developed, coral heads: elkhorn, brain and chalice corals abounded.  Many were covered with tube-worms which, until disturbed, display their feeding feathers with radiant beauty.  The most amusing incident on my hour long dive was playing with a spiny puffer fish; when fully inflated they are totally unable to swim.

We finished the day by touring the extensive marinas of Fort Lauderdale there are more millionaires here per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world.

My diving appetite fully whetted the next plan was to dive in the Florida Keys.  The Keys are a 180 mile long string of 200 islands connected together by a single main road.  They run from Jewfish Creek in the north to Key West in the south-west.  The islands separate the shallow flats of the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida Reef that lies on the edge of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic.  The reef, which lies parallel to the edge of the Keys, is the only living coral reef on the North American continent.

On the Friday another ship's diver and I hired a car and drove down to the Keys, a two hour, 80 mile drive to reach Key Largo.

Arranging the dive was simplicity itself, although it might be better to book in advance.  The second dive shop that we tried had space available on its boat for the following day, not too bad going as it was by now 6.30 in the evening and the shop was officially shut, but nobody seemed to care.  The girl in the shop, a real "buxom barmaid" blond, rang round the local motels for us and so there, very quickly, was the solution to our accommodation problem.  A cheaper alternative would be to camp but I had left my tent with Jeni. Camping costs about £5 per night for two.

Our sailing time the following day was 0830 so after yet another "Big Mac and French Fries" aided by a 6-pack of michelob we went to bed early: definitely not in the B.E.C. tradition - I must be slipping.

An American breakfast at 0630 takes a lot of getting down but copious cups of strong coffee helped. We arrived on time, loaded our gear onto the "Sundiver" and set off just after 0830.  The basic half day trip was two dives so we hired a second bottle each.

Our first site, Molasses Reef, five miles off Key Largo, seemed fairly crowded, but once underwater there was plenty of space for all. Stated simply, the reef has to be seen to be believed.  The reef top at 3m depth drops down to flat silver sand at 12m.  The edge is a maze of gullies, sand pockets and small underwater caves.  The visibility was staggering, at least 30m, probably more, and the water temperature was 29 C.  Since the whole area is within the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park the marine environment is protected by law.  The coral and marine life have flourished as a result.

During our hour long dive we managed nearly everything, from feeding the fish with chopped up sea urchin to being stung by fire coral, an innocuous brown coral with a sting like a nettle.  Believe me, if you want to find out what colour adrenal in is try a face-to-face meeting with a 2m green moray, poking its head from its cave deep in a narrow gully. Actually the moray was so used to seeing divers that he didn't react at all, nor did a small spotted moray seen later on in the dive.  We picked up a couple of barracuda who trailed us for most of the dive; they kept their distance and are not dangerous unless threatened.  The coral here is are extremely attractive and are covered in various sponges and tube worms, and surrounded by a multitude of different fish. Additional interest was provided by the remains of an old schooner, the 'Windless', sunk at the turn of the century.

The second dive, on nearby Pickles Reef, provided my dive buddy with two lobsters and me with badly stung legs.  Again an hour long dive in incredible visibility, the reef here was flatter but numerous coral caves provided sanctuary for the ever evasive lobster. While carefully trying to extract a reasonable sized 'lobbie' from its hole my attention as well as my prey was totally lost as a school of at least 20 barracuda flashed past, at high speed, only about 15m away.  This reef has a wreck - an old barge that had carried barrels of cement, whose remains litter the area.  The wreck was very broken up, but most interesting.

We were back at the boat marina by 1330 after an excellent morning's diving.  We finished the trip off with a huge pizza and more millchelob before driving back to Lauderdale.

Any diver visiting the area should have no problem getting himself a dive.  There are a multitude of dive shops/charter boats along the length of the Keys all of whom offer trips from half a day upwards. Some form of certification is required.  My green R.N. diver's logbook was new to our charter dive master but readily accepted. The most pleasing factor of the trip was that you were not treated as a tourist or passenger: the boat's crew were chatty and helpful, and made every effort to use your first name from the onset. They were most interested in UK diving, especially our wrecks.

As for costs, well, it’s not expensive.  If you have already forked out for a Miami holiday then to spend a day diving, the extra cost is peanuts. Our hire car, a small Chevrolet, cost us under £25 for two days.  The motel was the expensive item at £16 for the two of us but would not be needed for a day trip.  The half day diving cost us £14.50, including hiring a second bottle.  A complete 2 dive, ½ day package, including boat fees and all the gear, would cost about £28.  All you would need to bring would be your log book.  Most boats also cater for snorkellers as well.  So if you're thinking of holidaying in the area then don't let Jaques Cousteau have it all on his own.  Spend a days diving in the Keys.  It's a lifetime's experience.


Providence Pot To Dow Cave

by John Noble

Providence Pot to Dow Cave is still a classic Yorkshire trip, so after a few pints in the Buck Inn, Chris and Ann, Al Keen, Pete Slater (all wee) and yours truly decided to give it a crack the next day.

Sunday broke dull and muggy with masses of savage midges taking great chunks out of arms and legs. The local booze seemed to have taken great chunks out of Pete who remained steadfastly in his pit refusing to move for any sod.  Fancy missing out on your tenth attempt, Pete.  One hour later, or was it two, saw the four of us at Kettlewell changing into caving gear ready for the one mile walk to the Providence Pot entrance.  Did I say one mile?  It seemed more like two to me.  Either the bloke who put up the signpost has a bent sense of humour or I'm even less fit than I think.  In fact the only thing that kept me slogging relentlessly on was that we were being followed by a bunch of wide boys from the White Rose.  Say no More.

Providence Pot is a pretty unspectacular place that does not warrant much of a description.  The entrance series consists of drops and crawls including the aqueous Blasted Crawl, before reaching a number of chambers' near the streamway.  The Palace is the largest of these.  Route finding throughout Providence is very simple - just follow the telephone cable.  At Stalagmite Corner the main streamway is met – Dowber Gill Passage.

Now this was more like it and we bombed off down a large passage through Skittle Chamber and on down a lengthy, boulder strewn rift passage until we reached a watery crawl which slowed us down.  After the crawl a slit in the left hand wall was followed to a rift which led to a window on the right.  We dropped through this and found ourselves in Bridge Cavern.  I found this the most impressive part of the cave.  It consisted of a huge rift with a floor of massive blocks.  We got some particularly fine views of the rift by traversing high up above the chamber (not by intention - we were lost). Near the end of the cavern is the Bridge itself.  This is an amazing arch of different shaped rocks, balanced against one another and spanning the rift.

After dropping out of Bridge Cavern we became more involved with the water, a chest deep canal to be precise, although this quickly became shallower and we grunted along two or three hundred metres of grim rift passage.  This ended at an oxbow which was followed to the so-called half way point of the cave, Eight Hundred Yards Chamber.  This is a fairly large chamber, which also seemed to be the half way clump, the floor being littered with all kinds of junk left from speleo picnics.

On reflection, the second half of the Cave was most definitely the bit with the teeth, especially as we chose to keep to the streamway than chance getting lost on the traverses high in the roof.

Leaving Eight Hundred Yards Chamber is a rift into which Chris and I dived headlong attacking the route with brute force while Al somehow glided through telling us we were doing it all wrong.  After beaching on a rock pile we jammed and chimneyed across Greg's Horror, a smooth, hold less section, and dropped once again to the streamway until we reached the boulder choke under Brew Chamber.

Here, beloved reader, your author drops a clanger, namely ripping out his lamp cable half way through the choke.  We tried everything to get the lid off in an effort to repair the damage.  We tried belt buckles, fingernails, even the odd lump of rock, all to the accompaniment of Milne, who shouted about bad maintenance, incompetent cavers, etc. Trust the Wessex to get personal.

Eventually I gave up and we carried on with me between Chris and Al while Ann stormed off in the lead. Actually the trip became very interesting from where I was, the highlighted passage silhouettes, the distant, misty light reflecting…bloody hell, I sound like David Heap.  Of course, the disadvantages of no light quickly became apparent: the odd misplaced boot in the face; the skull-denting rock face; the unforeseen deepening of the streamway.  Glug.

The streamway after Brew Chamber was becoming tighter until we hit chest deep water which lies under the Terrible Traverse.  Perhaps we should have stuck to the traverses as the next section of the trip was a very demanding part consisting of tight to very tight crawls and squeezes in the stream, coupled with some awkward traverses just above it.  Soon the tightness relented and, after clambering over some unseen obstacles, we came to the sump where we met up with Ann.

At the mention of a sump Chris, our resident diver, turned misty eyed and clambered over all of us to dive through.  Ann followed him and I went next, nearly losing my eye-balls on her fingernails. Al quickly joined us and we continued on down a fine section of passage in waist deep water until we reached the duck. This is situated under a large flowstone cascade which, apparently, can be climbed to a well decorated aven.  The duck itself was easily passed - the water just touched our chests - and we proceeded up a beautiful minaret-shaped passage towards our goal.

The cave was becoming quite misty by now and the odd whiff of carbide betrayed the nearness of the popular Dow Cave.  It was in this section that we met a couple of parties going the other way around so it gave us a chance to brush up on the ancient rites of Ebah gumese.  The slide up into Dow soon appeared and we climbed up into its well worn passages and the route to the entrance.  We walked slowly through the large entrance chambers taking in the views and discussing the possibility of a larger system of passages extending beyond the present end of the Caseker Gill section of Dow.  Soon daylight could be seen and, after clambering over a party of school kids ("Oh, look at the frogmen"), we emerged from the entrance of Dow, after an excellent four hour trip, to be met by mist and drizzle.

Although not possessing large pitches or stonking great stream passages or even any wonderful decorations Dowbergill has plenty of problems to offer and of course, it's a through trip, and we all like those, don't we.


The World's Deepest Caves

The following list, based on those published in Caving International but including certain, more up-to-date information, contains all systems over l000m deep - thirteen in all. Hocklecken-Grosshohle is not included as its reported depth of 1022m, reached during a solo trip, has not been verified by other cavers.

Jean Bernard

BU 56


Snieznaja pieszcziera

Sistema Huautla

Gouffre Berger

Pozo del Xitu

Sistema Badalona


Gouffre rUrolda

Sima G.E.S.Malaga


Felix-Trombe-Henne Morte



























How soon will this list be added to or out-dated?



Letters From America

Karen Jones
Rocky Mountains,

We are at present sitting in the most beautiful surroundings~ the scenery is very like that in Austria with pine trees and very little undergrowth.  It's been very hot - about 95°F for the past few days but has now cooled to 71°F so we've got our sweaters on!  The atmosphere is much more pleasant and much less humid which makes life much pleasanter.

There are chipmunks here in the forest that are incredibly tame - one tried to eat Gary's shoelace!  They're very pretty little creatures but the Warden told us they'll eat anything - that includes toilet rolls and travellers cheques (they have expensive tastes!)

We found New York totally overwhelming~ very busy, dirty and smelly.  The buildings made you feel like an ant crawling around and the view from the Empire State Building was incredible.  We took a ferry across to Staten Island for 25c return (that's about 12p) and that took 20 mins each way and passed near to the Statue of Liberty en route.  Although there wasn't much to see when we got there, it was worth going for the cooling breeze.

From New York we crossed into Canada to see Niagara Falls which were very Spectacular but also very commercialised. The noise was fantastic and the spray rose about 50 feet above the top of the falls. 

We then travelled overnight, stopping during the day in a city which we found rather tedious and we felt that we weren't seeing the 'real' America.  One difficulty about travelling on the buses is that they do only go to the towns and cities so you have to travel for a while to get into the country and find a campsite.

We then arrived at Bowling Green Kentucky and stayed there to sorting ourselves out and planning our route.  We visited a drag-race meeting which was quite fun but incredibly noisy.  The Americans certainly camp in style, some even having fairy lights around the doors and everyone has a TV.  We seem to be causing quite a lot of interest as we travel along; one day someone will run into a tree while they stare at us!

From Bowling Green we got a bus out to Cave City and then hitched a lift out towards Mammoth  Cave National Park, camping just outside it.  We walked to Mammoth Cave, about 9 miles, and went on the half day tourist trip which took four and a half hours and covered four miles.  It was supposed to be very strenuous but both of us found the walk to and from the cave more tiring.  The cave consisted of large, phreatic passage and vadose trench.  Most of the actual length of the cave (all 224 miles) is smaller passages leading off one large passage - this was on average about 40 to 60 feet wide and between 10 and 50 feet high.  Most of the passage was on the same level and there was very little change in depth.  You could easily do a trip that lasted several days without using any ladders or ropes.  The few formations that are to be seen are either covered in soot or are under thick layers of sand and dust, which makes the part of the cave that we saw rather unattractive.

At about half way through the cave there is a place called the Snowball Dining Room.  This room has a seating capacity for approximately 200 people, a canteen, a gift shop and toilets.  Our cave trip ended after a quick look at the only large formations that we saw in the cave: these were called the Frozen Niagara formations but they unfortunately looked rather red with dust.

As for organising any trips with local clubs, the distances involved have prevented us so far.

Karen and Gary.


Mammoth Hot Springs,

At present we're in Yellowstone National Park where we'll have spent two weeks, where we leave early next week.  That may seem a long time, but as it's the size of Wales (!) there’s a lot to see and do. The country is really beautiful around here, very much like that in Austria but a lot more arid.  Over 80% of the park is covered with lodge pole pines, the remainder being open meadowlands, rivers, lakes, etc.

We visited Old Faithful and saw several other geysers erupt whilst we were there.  They really are impressive, discharging hundreds, sometimes thousands of gallons each time they erupt, which can occur every few minutes or only once or twice a week depending on that particular geyser.  The hot springs are also interesting, and algae add various colours to the water, which is sometimes as hot as 199°F.  The colours vary, depending on the temperature of the water, the hottest allowing yellow and orange (the most simple in structure) to grow, going to green in cooler waters.  We were lucky to go on a walk and see the geyser basins at night, lit by the moon. Due to the cooler atmosphere there was more steam and you also noticed the different smells (rather like. bad eggs from the sulphur) and the sounds of the various steam vents and geysers more. It was quite eerie and well worth staying up.

The nights get pretty cold, the temperature sometimes dropping to 40oF, but during the day it's pleasantly warm and sunny.  The atmosphere is much less humid making activity more comfortable.

We also visited the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, which was very impressive due both to the different colours in the rock and the unusual formations.  We were lucky to be able to see an osprey sitting on her nest (this through a telescope), and two diving for fish.  The waterfall is magnificent, falling over 300 feet.

We've spent about five days hiking in the back-country and camping out overnight.  It was very peaceful and quiet and we met few other people. We saw lots of wild-life, bison, elk, moose, mule deer, pelicans, chipmunks and many wild birds and insects. One night we were woken by a pack of coyote howling which was rather unnerving but also exciting, making you feel very close to nature.  To camp in the back-country you have to get a permit and book your sites but this is all free.  A normal campsite is £1.50 to £2.00 depending on amenities.  At the moment we are spending about £42 per week which is pretty reasonable.

Today we went to the Mammoth Hot Springs which really are beautiful.  They are like gour pools and are formed in the same way, sometimes at the rate of 22" per year.  They estimate that the water brings about two tons of dissolved limestone to the surface every day.  These too are coloured by various algae.  A really magnificent sight.

I would love to stay here for longer, but as half of our holiday is already over we don't really have time, but it would certainly be well worth coming back.  We've seen some slides of the area in winter and that, too, looks truly beautiful.  From here we're heading to the West Coast and down to Yosemite and Sequoia National Park and then the Grand Canyon and across to Florida, via Carlsbad.



Letter From Nigeria

(the B.E.C. African Section) gets everywhere!

Chris Smart
Omo State


As requested for just on a year now please find enclosed what attempt I have been able to make at a "Biffo" song.  I should have liked to confer with Rob but I think New Year was the last time I saw him and on that occasion I think I was somewhat the worse for the demon brew.

The demon brew is very much in evidence here also and there are between 6-8 types of local lager available. Unfortunately there is no bitter and no scrumpy.  However, the local substitute more than makes up for it - this brew goes under the name of Palm Wine and has the colour of milk and the texture of a very thin porridge. It is straight sap that is tapped off the top of the raffia palms into plastic jerry cans that you see perched on top of the trees all through the bush.  It is then left to ferment for a day or so, by which time a scum/froth/crud/crust has settled to the bottom.  Finally the larger flies and insects are picked out and one gets it down one's neck….the final treat in store is that this stuff (if it's good and fresh) continues to ferment in your stomach which produces vast quantities of gas that even Quackers would be proud of!

There is, as a footnote, another story to add.  The palm wine is distilled to what is called "kie-kie" and has the subtle effect of

a)       making you fall over;

b)       making you forget where you are

c)       making you blind? (or just blind drunk.)

You can buy the spirit/rocket fuel for about 60p equivalent for a bottle the size of a normal lemonade bottle - as long as you provide the bottle.  Alternatively it's 5p for a single shot or 10p for a double.  If the cutting crews get wet and/or cold during the day they will con you to though to the nearest village and buy some.  After it they will chop through the thickest jungle possible, and demolish even quite fair sized hardwood trees.  It is not too wise at such times, or indeed at any time, to be in front of their machetes as they fly about.

We have seven ex-pats here now and we are running four cutting crews (i.e. one white man with three or four local cutters).  A good crew can do approx. l½km/day in total - that is clearing a trace about 2m wide; a fair to average crew will only manage about 1km a day.  A lot, however, depends upon the thickness of the bush, and how much around the villages and houses it has been cultivated.  We actually have 'carte blanche' from the State Govt. for whom the rural electrification is being conducted, to destroy any crops or vegetation we want, but it is a bit soul-destroying to plough through some poor guy's livelihood, so, wherever possible with crops particularly yams, we try to push them aside.  To be honest, though, it is a futile exercise as about two weeks after we survey through the main cutters come through - there are about ten or twelve of these, with three or four chainsaws, and they will fell anything within 11m either side of our survey centre line.  If they are lucky they fell them onto the crops.  When they are unlucky they put them down right across the road.  I measured a big one they had just managed to fell right across the main tarmac road - it was 60" across the diameter.  I counted in excess of 100 rings.  It took them 1½ days to clear the road and repair the 6" deep trench in the tarmac.

After a couple of weeks here you find that things are just the same as on all overseas jobs from the Far East, to the Middle East, North to West Africa - one becomes blasé about everything and tends to 'go native'.

For example, the twice weekly dead fly in the boiled cabbage, the nightly visit of cockroaches and lizards to your bathroom, the not so common, but still not unusual sight of a bare-breasted woman walking along some bush road - unfortunately these tend to be the 'old black mamas and they are about as exciting as a pair of kippers, which is what the breasts normally look like.  One just accepts it along with the filth and general decay of the; country - you would complain in the UK if the electricity went off, but here it is a daily feature - the only question is for how long - the record so far is 8 hours (and 24 hrs. for the water)

Herr Blitz.


Eating Contest

Some of the older members (Jok Orr and Bob Cross) may remember the foul food eating contests held periodically at the Belfry.  Well, now we have a new Champion in Jen Pogue, who performed against an itinerant Venture Scout from the Viking Unit.

Below is a list of things eaten or a attempted.  It must be noted that Jem ate everything offered, and did not puke once.  Anyone care to Challenge him?

Jem ate the following, on top of a Chinese meal.  His opponent failed to eat and honked at *

  • 1 pint of salted water with raw egg in it;
  • the egg shells;
  • large bowl of dry cornflakes;
  • a raw sausage; *
  • 1 tipped cigarette;
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder; 
  • Chicken flavoured munchies (cat food);
  • Catkins (fish-flavour); (Jem said that it was funny tasting caviar)
  • 1 sprig of nettles, freshly peed on;
  • 1/8 th lb of butter
  • 1 bottle of brown sauce;
  • 3 live matches;
  • 1 marmited Black Shadow condom; (chewed only in accordance with rules)
  • 1 chilli; *
  • 1 bay leaf;
  • 3 pieces chewing gum;
  • cup of milk with tea leaves;
  • 1 tea bag; *
  • piece of cotton wool.











Inspired during a hilarious surface surveying trip along Barengasse, Dachstein, Austria.  Put together by Herr Blitz.

You could hear his black boots pound as he raced across the ground,
And the knocking of his knees as they went round and round,
And he motored up to the Belfry, chewing upon a rubber vest,
His name was Biffo, and he did the hardest caving in the West.

Now Biffo loved his caving and he adored his digging too.
"Without it, chaps," he argued, "there's nothing much to do!"
Some said it was too much for him. "It's dirty and hard," they'd say,
But Biffo got his lagging on three times every day.

Now Biffo had a rival, an evil locking man,
Called Three Gibbs Rob from Upper Pitts with a Petzl in his hand.
Poor Biffo said, "I like Cloggers, 'cos Cloggers climb ropes best,"
But Rob replied, "I'd be happier with a Gibbs upon your chest."

In Austria they quarrelled hard, each night in the camp,
And Rob went up to Biffo's gear and he didn't half kick his lamp
Whose name was Premier,
And it lit the hardest cave trips in the West.

Rob taunted him about his prusik knots and his fancy rope work too,
And when Biffo saw the size of his Petzls he didn't know what to do.
He knew once he'd tasted a three point Gibbs he'd go no other way,
It looks so much better than sit-stand systems, slogging up pitches all day.

Now Biffo, he was pretty old - he'd been caving many a year,
But now he's gone to Rocksport to purchase other gear,
Where all the clients are weegies and electric lights are banned,
And a hard man's life is full of fun in that hairy, fairy land.

But a caver's needs are many and Rob, he gave up string,
But strange things happened on his weegie trips that disconcerted him:
Is that the carbide a-rattling, as down Goatchurch he slogs,
Or Biffo's ghostly toe-caps a-catching on the clogs.


More On Manor Farm 

by "Quiet" John Watson

The very thought of going digging down Manor Farm can strike terror in the hearts of the most hardened B.E.C. members, or so it seems when trying to recruit diggers.  So the aim of this short article, apart from keeping G.W.-J. happy, is to enlighten you of the situation, if you do not yet know the merits of the dig.

After an absence of several months a visit was made to the terminal rift which, although heavily choked, possessed an opening in which carefully lobbed stones rattled down for three or four seconds.

Heavy rain had washed large quantities of silt down the cave indicating severe flooding.  This was confirmed by Axel Knutson and I, (the remnants of a once fine digging team) when we reached the bottom the cave. Water had backed up from Blind Pot, where it was still in evidence, to a depth of four feet in the main passage. On reaching the dig we were surprised to find a very large boulder in the bottom and flood marks in the roof. The water, however, had almost completely drained despite a U-tube in the dig which again was almost dry, confirming the guess that we are merely in the top of a large rift, partially choked with stream debris.

This was the state of affairs until the end of August, by which time I had managed to persuade Mark Brown to have a look at the dig, and he was suitably impressed.  We have now cleared enough room to start descending the rift, which has a very refreshing draught.

Due to the rift's length (50+ft) the two of us have been unable to, stack the spoil in a satisfactory place, making the dig even more restricted.  A large scale assault is needed, so come on Wormhole, Bob Hill and Jem, and any other willing diggers.

To keep our options open, we also have intentions of digging Florence's Bath Tub which, because of the dry conditions more recently, has lowered somewhat and looks very promising. Both digs could prove very rewarding.


Some Small Sea Caves At Redend Point, Studland Bay, Dorset

by John Noble

Redland Point is situated at the southern end of Studland Bay, 200m south of Studland Middle Beach, at G.R. 038828.  One cave is situated on the point itself while the others are to be found in the cliffs to the north.

The cliffs are formed in the current bedded Bagshot Beds of the Tertia Era, laid down some 50 million years ago.  They consist of sandstones and ironstones at the base, followed by a thick band of lignite which is overlain by layers of sands and clays.  Iron staining is evident on the cliffs and pipe-like ironstone concretions can also be seen.  These hard deposits are also scattered along the wave cut platform which fronts the cliffs.

All the caves are formed in the sandstone/ironstone bed and are developed along joints which have been opened up by a combination of hydraulic and corrasional processes. These processes may have been assisted by chemical reactions between seawater, surface runoff and the ferrous condition of the rock.  As the caves are found on small headlands and the bay between them contains only small joint cavities, it would seem that the caves must lie in more resistant sandstone. The leas resistant sandstone, which now forms the bay, yielded to marine erosion along its joint and collapsed leaving the undulating platform now seen before the cliff.

Cave No.1. Situated 100m south of the path to Studland Middle Beach at the beginning of a small headland.

Basically a smooth, arch-shaped cave, 2½m in length with a maximum height of just under 1m.  There are a few ironstone protuberances forming a small ridge on the left hand side of the roof.  The floor is entirely covered in sand and slopes upwards from the front.  An interesting feature of the cave can be found under the entrance lip.  It consists of a wide, 20cm high crack ascending to a ledge formed at the junction of the sandstone/lignite beds.  Seepage water was noticed trickling down this

Cave No.2. Situated 10m south of cave No.1 on the same small headland.

This cave has a length of 4½m and a general width of 2m until it narrows at an impassable archway. The cave has a height of almost 2m just inside the entrance but lowers to under 40cm at the archway.  The floor is grooved and potholed and filled in part with sand and pebbles.  The walls are smooth and undercut.  Ironstone deposits protrude from the roof and small ironstone pipes are noticeable around the archway, no doubt influencing its formation.

Cave No. 3. Situated on the extreme end of Redend Point.

This cave is the largest of the three.  It extends 6m into the cliff and has an overall width of some 3m.  The height at the entrance is 1.6m and rises to 2.5m inside before sloping down to the end.  The walls are smooth and undercut and the floor displays grooves and potholes partly filled with sand and pebbles.  In the roof can be seen the joint along which the cave developed.


Coastal Studies in Purbeck.  Canning and Maxted.

The Geology of the Country around Weymouth, Swanage, Corfe and Lulworth.  Arkell., W.J.

Quotes Of The Month:

From our latest addition to the Cuthbert’s Leaders' Ian "Wormhole" Caldwell:

"Where’s the ladder for the entrance rift?"

"We're not using one."

"Can it be free-climbed then?"

and on seeing the Cuthbert’s Two dam…."How long has this been here!”


Walsall Gets That Sinking Feeling

from New Scientist 9th July, 1981, sent in by Ken James.

Three Black Country towns may be on the verge of collapse.  A few disintegrating pillars left behind from old limestone excavations beneath Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley could be all that is supporting large sections of the towns. A government research programme starts this month to find out just how serious the problem is.  Engineers will spend eighteen months mapping the old workings - which began 300 years ago and ended only as recently as the 1920's – and deciding what action should be taken,  Meanwhile, West Midlands County Council has postponed plans to build major roads in the Walsal1 area.  The county's engineers fear much more subsidence of the kind that recently turned a sports field in Dudley into a shapeless mass of earth and grass.

The chances of a disaster are worst in Walsall's town centre where there are caverns up to 14 metres high less than 70m below the surface.  The miners extracted up to 95% of the limestone, leaving cavern roofs held up by pillars as much as 20m apart.  Now acidic water flooding into some of the caverns is eating away the pillars, which are collapsing under the strain.

Consulting engineers Ove, Arup and Partners will use teams of divers and remote TV cameras to explore the state of the workings because few records were ever kept of the limestone extractions.  Some, near Dudley where the seams outcrop, have been explored. “You could fit a pair of semi-detached houses into many of the caverns,” says Tony Evans, Dudley Council's engineer. “We've injected sand into some of them to stop catastrophic collapse, but other caverns we simply don't know about. They could cave in at any time,” he warned.


Book Reviews

Caving and Potholing
David Judson & Arthur Champion Published by Granada, in paperback. 192pp £1.95

This is another "how to do it and what you need" book, aimed mainly at the newcomer to the sport.  Unfortunately the authors have also included chapters on Surveying, Organising Expeditions and Caving Clubs & Politics.  This last chapter is full of political waffle about C.N.C.C., C.S.C.C. and N.C.A~ as well as giving a political structure showing how we all report to the N.C.A.!!  This type of information is not required by somebody taking up the sport. Inaccuracies in the text are high: in one chapter it states that Derbyshire caving did not really start until the formation of the Cerberus Spelaeological Society!  The chapter on caving areas of the British Isles could have been a good introduction to novices, and a way of them saving pounds on area guides, but instead, all it does is list the major systems with no proper descriptions.  The maps, like all the drawings in the book are of poor quality. On the good side, the photographs are excellent and it is refreshing to see shots that are new and have not been constantly reproduced in other books or magazines.  Overall this is a very poor production and not the sort of material we would have expected from two experienced and respected cavers.  I get the feeling that it was written in the hope that it would become a standard reference book on caving, being cheap and easily available.  If this happens and libraries and schools adopt it as a standard work it will give novices a very bad impression of the sport.

A caving Manual. Jim Lovelock.  Published by Batsford, in hardback. 144pp, 98 b&w photos. £7.95

The best way of totally depressing oneself for at least a month is to read the previous book followed by this one.  James Lovelock's writings on caving are well known from his other books: “Life and Death Underground” and “Caving”, both of which have been used to get the Belfry stove going!  I fear this one will not even burn.  Firstly, when compared with other recent publications like "The Darkness Beckons", by Martyn Farr, the price extortionate.  The book is a general book on caving and is written in James Lovelock's normal, sensationalised style (he is a free lance journalist and this sticks out a mile).  The eleven chapters consist of the usual "how to do it and where" plus one on cave diving and another on caves of the world.  In the chapter on vertical technique a considerable amount of space has been dedicated to "Spider", the Clam products system for using abseiling and prusiking on a single wire - totally useless and using to beginners in the sport.  A substantial number of the photographs have been taken by Sheena Stoddard who, it says in the acknowledgements "is probably Britain's Best Woman cave photographer". Having seen the ones in this book I would say she must be the only one, as they are of poor quality and, in many cases, show bad technique.  Dare I suggest she gives up photography and takes up cooking!  The chapters on British caves and caves of the world are most interesting but are not detailed enough for my liking.  One rather amusing part, in the section on Cave Diving, shows two photographs.  One is entitled "Cave Diver Ken Pearce at Keld Head" and the other "Dr. Ken Pearce diving at Keld Head attached to a lifeline".  The first shows a head sticking out of the pool at Keld (the entrance cannot even be seen!) plus a lot of water. The second shows a body in the resurgence pool, with an air tank on its back attached by a thick lump of rope to a man in waterproof trousers waist deep in water! Two good shots of a cave diver! Another good shot is showing the "Latest rope for S.R.T. which appears to be 30 feet of hawser laid nylon or polypropylene.  To sum up, this is another poor book at an expensive price and I cannot see it getting beyond the sports section in the odd public library.

Martin Grass.


A Girondin In The Quest For The World Depth Record


being a translation of an article in a French Newspaper "Le Journal du sent to Rocksport in mid-August and borrowed there from.

The massif of the Pierre Saint Martin could well attract renewed attention from the general public in the next few days.  A team of cavers has come as a result of their discovery of a new underground river perhaps the deepest ever explored.

At the P.S.M. an important expedition is now exploring the heart mountain.  The object of this excursion - the pothole BU 56, so called because it opens in Spain on the flanks of Budoguia; a pothole which, many years, has interested the specialists.*

Last week their efforts were partially rewarded by the discovery, at -1335m., of a sump which, if it is passed, opens the door for a world first.

A Promising River.

The number -1335m., is significant of a great success, the fact that BU 56, now the second deepest cave in the world, has thus pushed the famous P.S.M. into third place.

The limestone massif of the P.S.M., famous for its karst scenery, at an altitude unique in Europe*, actually contains several subterranean rivers. The best known opens not far from the frontier col.  It is the one in which Marcel Loubens died at the beginning of the fifties.

Lower down, towards Soule, some pitches give access to the Lonne Peyret River.

The BU 56 system is developed, over 12 km, parallel to the P.S.M. river and having no junction with it.  It is debated that it is the course of the St. Georges River, for which cavers from all over the world have searched for thirty years.

The autonomy of this new river course and its length permits the supposition that one can go straight on, sooner or later, to reach a new world depth record, via one and the same route.

The Sump of Uncertainty.

The expedition is led by Jean-Francois Pernette, who already commands serious respect among international specialists.  This 26 year old Girondin who has lived for some time in Escoussans, not far from Cadillac, is the Director of the big expeditions of the Federation francaise de speleologie.

His experience will make him go cautiously over the next few days of the course of this operation.  As soon as the waters of the river St. Georges are lower it will be verified whether the sump which thwarted previous continuation can be passed.  This task lies with Fred Vergier, one of the best French divers, who will shortly set to work.  This reconnaissance in the glacial waters (3°C) will be the deepest dive made to date.

Afterwards, assuming that the difficulties have been surmounted, the descent into the unknown can continue.

Will it produce a record?

Jean-Francois Pernette does not discount this possibility, and such a record would be of the BU 56 pothole alone, and not an imaginary one obtained by joining up sections of other, known systems.

* I'm not quite sure what this bit means!


Access to Ogof Rhyd Sych.

Due to problems with the tenant farmer who controls access to Ogof y Ci, presently closed, you are advised to proceed to Rhyd Sych via the east side of the gorge.  Mr Williams, Pen rhiw Galis Farm, is very helpful and will allow cavers to use his farmyard for parking although there is only room for two cars.  Please contact Mr. Williams before proceeding to the cave.  You should avoid any confrontation with the tenant farmer on the west side of the gorge or use the remains of the barn to change until the issue over Ogof y Ci is settled.

Monthly Notes

a couple of days' worth, anyway!

Round Britain Cave Marathon: We did it!  In 17 hours 57 mins., all the caves were in flood, and Martin is going to write something about it for next month’s B.B.

The Rumour:  Is it Reservoir?  Is it Waterwheel?  Or is it, just rumour?

Red Hoss - Old Ing: These two caves in the Birkwith system below Penyghent have been joined in a dive by John Cordingley.  The sump at the end of the Red Hoss main streamway had been dived years 2 ago by John Parker and was reckoned to be at least 400 feet.  However the link up, to the air-bell half-way through the Old Ing free-divable sump, was made after a dive of only 215 feet.

Yorkshire Weekend.  A date for your diary - October 23rd to 26th.  We hope to be doing Ingleborough Cave, beyond the show cave section, and there should be the opportunity for a dive in Hurtle Pot.  It's also the weekend of Martin Grass's birthday, so .......

Austria 1981-82.  A number of teams are already being put together for an assault upon Barengassewindschacht, to see what goes beyond the 200m Ben Dol's Schacht.  The hut opens on Boxing Day, and it is my intention that we should be out there and ready for then.  This means leaving Britain around December 22nd as it may take a day or two to transport equipment up to the site.  All, of course, depends upon whether or not the site of Barengasse is accessible in the winter.  Nobody knows for sure, but I believe that, because of the location of the entrance high in a cliff, it will be relatively snow-free.  Who's coming?  You'll need X-C skis.



Twin Titty Hole 

by Tony Jarratt

Part 1 - The Reopening.

The eventual arrival of the summer in July brought on the usual spate of enthusiasm for a nice, secluded, surface dig (hopefully with a cave tree in situ) at which to sunbathe with a clear conscience.  Various sites in close proximity to the Belfry were looked at - none of exceptional promise and all with access difficulties of one sort or another.  It was then that we remembered that Martin Bishop had been negotiating with Bert Boddy for permission to dig Twin T's - Bert, being very worried about the open shaft, was only too pleased to give this on the condition that a strong lid was built over the six foot square hole.  The Belfryites thus joined Martin on his project and our ready-made suntrap (with cave tree!) was soon inundated with all the exotic paraphernalia of the Mendip dig.


Ref~ W.C.C. Jnl. No.126, Vol. 10, Dec. 1969.

Twin T's was dug by NHASA in 1968 - 9. The initial, dug, foot timbered shaft collapsed after having reached a draughting hole.  An experimental shaft was then drilled and blasted by Luke Devenish to the same depth where it entered some 80 feet of natural cave on 12th October 1969.  A well decorated passage was found ending in a hairy boulder choke.  This, and a couple of other passages, were inconclusively dug by NHASA and S.M.C.C. men until other projects (and collapses at the shaft bottom) lured away the diggers to more promising sites.  With the assistance of trundling local kids the cave was soon buried under some eight feet of boulders and debris and looked like becoming another of Mendip's "lost caves".

The reopening.

Work recommenced on July 12th when Martin Bishop and the writer assessed the amount of blockage in the shaft and the capping possibilities.  On the 17th they cleared the site of nettles and prepared the shaft top for the construction of concrete lintels on two sides.  The following day Bert Boddy used his tractor to tow across the field a six foot by nine foot steel compressor base which NHASA had intended as a lid.  This is to be fixed over the lintels. Quackers, Batspiss, Val and Bev also arrived and much concrete was mixed and expertly laid by Martin.  On the Sunday a large team erected the sheer legs and experimented with various haulage techniques.  Several "lager kegs" of spoil, boulders and a variety of reptilia were removed from shaft bottom.

On the 20th, 25th and 26th the concrete lintels were continued with until both fore and aft of the shaft top were made secure.  A nearby rubbish tip proved indispensable in providing a perfectly fitting railway sleeper and an assortment of steelwork for this task.

With this job completed it was now necessary to concentrate on digging at the obstruction before fitting the steel lid.  After a pre-booze up "token gesture" on Wedding Day, a major clearing session on 1st August took us down several feet and revealed how desperately unstable was the wall between the old and the new shafts.  The original NHASA digging kibble was found and, though deeply embedded, was soon pulled out with the aid or M.B.’s rigid winch, which was bolted to one of the new lintels.  As man-hauling was bloody hard work a winding system using the writer's "Jap Jeep" was tried, with great success, and this method was used henceforward.  Some timber shoring was installed in the shaft on 2nd August.

On 15th August, after only five actual digging sessions and the removal of some eight feet of (mainly) boulders, several holes leading down into the cave were opened - all draughting strongly.   Because of the unstable wall above these holes, half an oil drum was procured from the diggers "supply tip" and used as a shield in which to sit and excavate downwards until a passable squeeze into the cave was opened.

Tim Large, Bob Hill, Phil Romford and the writer passed this into the superbly decorated first chamber and explored the rest of the cave, Phil being one of the original explorers.

The horrific state of the entrance squeeze area was then rectified by the use of three 1m x 1m concrete tubes which were obtained from C.S.C.C. who had them stored for just this purpose.  If we had not undertaken the project the farmer had intended to infill the shaft, and without concrete pipe sections at this stage it would have almost certainly in-filled itself!  These were delivered to site by Zot and Bob Cork and, using Land Rovers, Suzuki, rigid winch and much manpower, were eventually consigned to shaft bottom and consolidated with all the debris that we had removed which was thrown back down and packed around the pipes.  This was topped off with spoil from the dig inside the cave.  The job was completed on 23rd August and much of the site tidied, tripod removed, etc.

All that remains is for the steel capping to be positioned over the shaft and an area of this removed for an "Al Mills Special" gate to be welded in place.

The next article on the cave will hopefully give details of the current dig below the entrance squeeze and a description of the vast caverns encountered.  Keep your fingers crossed, dear readers, and polish your ladders, repair your rubber dinghies and wait for the summons or even better, scrape the crap off your gardening tools, desert your honk-stained armchairs and join the merry throng.

25/8/81 A.R.J.

The Team.

Good support was received for the project.  Apart from the usual string of welcome visitors, girl-friends and dogs, the team consisted of the following (in order of appearance):

Martin Bishop, J-Rat, Quackers, Batspiss, Tim and Fiona, Val, Beverley, Rich Warman, Ross, Honk, Bernie and Debbie (visiting climbers), Phil Collett (S.M.C.C.), MacAnus, Bob Hill, Phil Romford, Zot, Jem "Football Hooligan and Famed Crevasse Diver" Pogue, Terry the Tattoo, Dave Aubrey, Quiet John and Bob Cork.

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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

CAVE DIVING TRAGEDY IN WOOKEY HOLE: Keith Potter, from Wedmore, a member of Oxford University Caving Club and South Wales Caving Club, died during a dive to the further reaches of Wookey on Saturday November 14th.

The cause of death is not yet known but it is not thought to be due to equipment failure.

RHINO RIFT: Several tons of boulders have made their way from the top of the 3rd. pitch in Rhino to the bottom.  Even more tons are waiting for their time to descend.  This time is not far off.  I suggest you avoid the area until further notice.


Some while ago I suggested that we could print photographs in the B.B. or even use good examples for photographic covers, occasionally.  We have the technology, but not the photographs.  You supply the pics., I'll see what I can do.

We shall shortly be requiring a new screen for the Gestetner.  If anyone knows of a cheap or free source, please let me know.


PUBLICATIONS: Alan Thomas has taken on the task of producing the next three sections of the St. Cuthbert’s Reports.  These are Part G., Cerberus and Maypole Series; Part I., September Series and Part J., Long Chamber Series and Canyon Series.  Alan is determined to have these produced by Christmas.

The surveys turned up at last, in Chris Howell's house in Birmingham.

250 to 300 of each report are being produced, and these about £1.00 each. 

Some back copies of previously published Parts are still available - contact me or ask at the Belfry.



Summer Exped., alps, 1981

by Bob Hill.

Whilst being as keen as the average B.E.C. member at talking about doing various character building, physical activities, there comes a time when you've actually got to go and do whatever you've been talking about doing for the last few months.

And so it came to pass that three persons, several tons of gear (most of it belonging to Dave Aubrey) and one blue Mini-Traveller all arrived together at Southampton and got on a ferry for Le Havre.

The sight of a blue Mini heading south down the Autoroute de Soleil at 70 mph. with, ice axes and crampons sticking out of it and a Home Rule for Langdale sticker in the back window caused several stares from incredulous English caravan drivers but we comforted ourselves in the thought that we knew what we were doing.  We think!?

The journey to Chamonix took about twelve hours and we arrived in the valley, which is the same height above sea-level as the top of Snowdon, at about 8.30 in the evening.

After pitching the tent and sitting down to look at the mountains, thinking about how far it was from Mendip in this small, isolated corner of France, and how nice it was to get away from everybody for a while, I nodded to the fellow next door who, looking at my sweat-shirt, said,

"Hello: do you know Trevor Hughes?"

"O God, No~" said I.

"I’m going home," said Dave.

"I'm going to fart," said Jem.

We then discovered that the camp site was half full of English and the evening was spent enquiring into mountain conditions, weather forecasts, the state of the refuges, price of beer, etc.

After a day playing on the local glacier to get back into the swing of things, we decided to attempt the traverse of the Domes de Miages, a fine, easy ridge rising to 3300m, but as we walked up the glacier to the Refuge de Conscits the weather began to worsen and by the time we reached the hut we were in thick clag.  After a meal we settled down and I awoke at 4 am to look at the weather, which was still bad, and again at 6 am to see no improvement. However, by 8 o'clock it started to clear and, although it was really too late we thought we would give it a try and in better weather we climbed to the base of a steep snow slope leading to a col.  Unfortunately, with the sun on it the snow was like icing sugar so we decided to return. We then made a mistake which could have cost Jem his life and it was a miracle that he was not badly hurt. Walking down the glacier in the afternoon Jem fell straight into a snow covered crevasse.  Because we were hurrying we were not roped up and he fell 30 feet to land on an ice boulder which was wedged about half way down. Fortunately his rucksack slipped over his shoulders and protected his face, and he landed on some soft snow.

To us on the surface he just disappeared and the first time we crawled to the edge and called down to him there was no reply.  To compound, it all he had our rope in his rucksack.  However, he answered our second call and, with the aid of some French climbers and their rope, he was quickly hauled out, amidst cheering and photographs from some of the French. We spent ten minutes taking deep breaths and reflecting on how lucky we were.  We returned steadily to the valley, roped up, I might add, and drank ourselves into oblivion.

The following day was spent festering to recover our nerves, and we took the Telepherique to the top of Le Brevent, a mountain some 8500 feet high on the opposite side of the valley, which affords a magnificent view of the whole Mont Blanc massif.

We spent the next couple of days drinking litres of French beer at 30p a time and watching the rain come through the tent until the arrival of Jane and Graham on the Friday. After another day on the Bossons Glacier fitting Jane into her crampons, and finding bits from a plane that was wrecked higher up the glacier 25 years ago, we set off to the Aiguille d'Argentiere.

However, when we awoke in the hut the following morning it was snowing and clagged in.  We set off anyway but were forced to turn back about half way up because, of bad weather.

The next day, in fine weather, we all climbed the Aiguille de la Glieres, 2888m., a fine peak on the other side of the Chamonix valley which gave excellent views of Mont Blanc.

The following day saw us plodding up to the Albert Premier hut on the side of the Tours Glacier, for an attempt on the Aiguille du Tours, a fine twin peak with excellent views. We were unfortunately without Jane, who had a blister on her foot.

Once again we were into this Alpine start business:

At 4 am the Guardian bangs on the door of the dormitory and people start groaning and fumbling for torches and various bits of kit.  Suddenly from under a pile of blankets in the corner of a bunk comes a sound like someone tearing asunder a 6 feet length of carpet:

"Gott in Himmell"

"Sacre Bleu!"

"Bloody Hell, Jeremy!"

Jeremy emerges beaming and happy from under his blankets and everybody makes a frantic dash for the door. Breakfast is a bowl of hot chocolate followed by some cheese and crackers.  Then there is climbing into boots and gaiters, putting on crampons and roping up, before plodding off on the crisp, frozen snow by the light of our head-torches.  As we trog across and up the glacier the dawn begins to touch the surrounding peaks, lighting up the tops while the valley is still in darkness.  We climb a steep snow slope to a col and emerge in brilliant sunshine at 6 am with everybody fumbling for suntan cream and sunglasses.  On the route to the summit we are accompanied by 10,000 French and Italians who are all trying to knit their ropes into a large net to catch people who fall off from higher up (or at least, that is what it seems like to us).  We un-rope and climb separately as none of our party can knit, and a short scramble sees us on the summit.

The Matterhorn sticks out like a huge thumb 60 miles away while 100 miles away are the Eiger and Jungfrau, standing like giant sentinels (I copied these last few lines from a good book - Author).

On the way back down we were resting under a large boulder when a Golden Eagle soared overhead to have a look at us.  For anyone who has not seen one before, it is a most awesome sight, especially when one realises that this beautiful bird could rip your arm off if it wanted to. We watched it until it disappeared and then wandered down to meet Jane.

So - we had been there for two weeks and managed to climb two peaks.  A pretty poor average really, but the weather was getting better and we were all fairly fit.

Auntie Jane and Bassett went off for a few days on their own somewhere so Jem, Noddy Dave and I decided to have another go at the Aiguille d’Argentiere.  At the hut that night the weather was grim and, true to form, we got a lie-in in the morning, but this time we decided to stay another day.  We spent the morning waiting for the sun to come out, which it eventually did, at which point Dave put on hat, gloves, goggles, mask, etc. (he came back to Britain the same snowy white colour he was when he left) so that he did not get sunstroke/snow-blindness/exposure/V.D. Anyway, Jem and I sunbathed with everyone else, while Dave cooked inside his wrapping.

Next morning it was cold and clear and, well, we had no choice really, and 3½ hours later we were on the top of majestic peak, 3902m., 12,802 ft., which gives marvellous views. I would recommend this peak to anyone visiting the area.

I felt a tinge of sadness as we descended, as we saw a rescue helicopter fly in to pick up two climbers, one dead and one seriously injured, who had been avalanched 2000 feet off a route on the opposite side of the valley.  In fact, five people were killed in three separate accidents in the area.

With only a few days of the holiday left we had to have a go at Mont Blanc, so Wednesday saw us taking first telepherique, then rack railway, to the Nid d'Aigle terminus at 2250m on the slopes of the Aiguille de Gouter.

Soon after we had set off Dave had to give up because of a gammy knee.  This was a great shame as the following day was his birthday and he would have loved to have spent it on the summit.

Jem and I reached the Tete Rousse hut at about 8.30 pm and then slogged up to the refuge de Gauter at the summit of the Aiguille de Gouter, reaching it by about 11.00. After sorting out crampons and ropes we set off towards the Dome de Gouter.  It was dry but very cold and I was glad of Dob-dob's duvet to walk in. We stopped for about half an hour to watch an electric storm over towards Geneva as we were at the same height as it and we were anxious to check that it was not coming out way.  We then continued up over the Dome and up to the Vallot bivouac box. By this time we were absolutely shattered.  It took us half and hour to climb the last 150ft. to the hut, where we arrived at about 2.45 am.

Inside I melted some snow for soup while Jem slipped into unconsciousness for a few minutes.  We then had cheese, peanuts, garlic sausage and three Gitanes for breakfast.

We were on our way again by 5 am, generally in front of the crocodile of head-torches that was streaming over the Dome. (We learned later that 320 people had stayed in the Gouter hut the night before.  The hut has accommodation for 60.)

The final slog to the summit turns you into an old man and every step takes all your strength.  For those who had had more time to acclimatise it was not so bad (truce note), but eventually we reached the top at about 7 am, shortly to be joined by the world and his wife.  In spite of all the people it is a fantastic sight and we have since realised that we could see mountains which were 150 miles way.

The descent was uneventful and we arrived back in the valley at about 2 pm.

So that was it.  After a day looking around the shops and sorting out the duty-free wine, we took two days to drive the 520 miles back to Le Havre and the boat home.

A wonderful holiday enjoyed by all.

The Exploding Alpiniste.  (a cautionary tale).

One incident occurred on the campsite while we were there which is worth noting.

Three English lads returned very tired from a long day, and, having lit one gaz stove started to change the cylinder in another.  The chap who was doing this did not move away because he was so tired.  It was the type with bayonet fitting retaining lugs underneath and he obviously did not fit the base correctly.  As he screwed in the jet assembly the cylinder shot out of the bottom and exploded, ignited by the other stove.

The chap concerned was very lucky in that he did not receive serious burns.  However, he lost all the hairs on both legs and one arm, and had three large skin burns, two on the leg and one on his arm.  Fortunately for him a British doctor was in the next tent so Dave and I did not have to perform a Belfry operation.  However, I would imagine he was a very sore, sorry little Alpiniste for the next few days.

Be warned!

NOTE: I have various guide books and maps which are expensive.  If anyone wishes to borrow them in the future then drop me a line, c/o The Belfry.

Bob Hill.


Dates For Your Diary





















































































































































































Mulu Symposium, BCRA, UMIST, Manchester



St. Cuthbert’s Rescue Practice.


Out Sleets Beck.  B.P.C. Fancy Dress.

Cherry Tree Hole.


Mendip for Xmas. All Welcome.

Those requiring Xmas Dinner see Tim Large.


Tunnel Cave.       


North Wales.  Walking and Climbing.  Staying in a hut in Llanberis.           


Wookey, dry passages.  Numbers limited.


Paul Esser Memorial Lecture. Details later.


Lake District. Staying at Fir Garth, Gt. Langdale. To book cottages, write to: Mr. Sanderson, "Fir Garth", Gt. Langdale, Nr. Ambleside, Cumbria. LA22 9JL.

Mention that you are with the B.E.C.


Penyghent Long Churn.  Geoff Crossley's birthday party. Queens Arms, Litton.  Snow permitting.


To be decided, but obviously in Yorkshire.


Bleadon Cavern. Numbers limited.


Peak Cavern.


South Wales. Camping at Crickhowell. Caving, Walking, Diving, Drinking.  Agen Allwedd, Rock & Fountain, Ogof Cynnes, Pant Mawr, Llanelly Quarry Pot, etc.    


Devon. Devon Great Consols Mine. Diving.



O.F.D. (Smiths Armoury, in via Top Entrance and out via OFD 1)          


Gaping Ghyll.  Camping as guests, of B.P.C.

Special winch rates available to B.E.C. members.




North Wales. Caving. Staying at N.W.C.C.



O.F.D. Traverse route from Marble Showers to Clay series.


A.G.M. and Dinner.

(see G.W.-J.)



(see M.G.)


(see M.G.)






(see G.W.-J.)


(see M.G.)



(see M.G.)








(see G.W.-J.)


(see G.W.-J.)




(see M.G.)


(see M.G.)





(see M.G. & G.W.-J.)



(see G.W.-J.)



(see G.W.-J.)



(see M.G. or G.W.-J.)



(see M.G. or G.W.-J.)




(see G.W.-J.)


(see Sue Dukes)

These dates are subject to amendment.

There are bound to be numerous additions made throughout the year.  In forthcoming B.B.’s I will, hopefully, list the important dates for following two months or so.  I will try to give notice of amendments, additions and cancellations as soon as I can.

Bassett and Martin.

Friday Night Cave Club Meets

Jan       8          Swildons

Jan       22         Sludge Pit/Nine Barrows

Feb       5          Lamb Leer

Feb       19         Eastwater

Mar       5          Longwood

*Mar     20         South Wales

Apr       2          G.B.

Apr       16         St. Cuthbert’s

Apr       30         Manor Farm

Hay      14         Stone Mines

Hay      28         Tynings Barrows

June     11         Mystery (meet at Hunters)

June     25         Burrington

July      9          Rhino

July      23         Longwood

*Aug     7          South Wales

Aug      2J0       Thrupe

Sept     3          St. Cuthbert’s

Sept     17         Tynings Barrows

Oct       1          Eastwater

Oct       15         Fairy Cave Quarry

Oct       29         G.B.

*Nov      13         South Wales

Nov       26         Reservoir Hole

Dec      10         Swildons

* The location/itinerary of the South Wales meets will be decided at a later date.  Note that these dates are Saturdays.

Otherwise meet at the cave at 7.30 p.m.

If you are interested in joining one of these trips, then contact:

Brian Prewer Home: Wells 73757  or Greg Villis Work: W.S.M. 27641..

The Friday Niters have been active now for several years.  Almost anyone is welcome to join them on their trips.  The trips are not super hard, specialist ones.  The core of Friday Niters enjoy taking their time underground and seeing each cave properly not hurtling through a system at Mach 12 and failing to appreciate the full beauty of the underworld.  If their caving sounds like your kind of caving, why not join them.


Letter to the Editor.

Dear Sir,

Whilst the general Belfry populace are quite prepared to tolerate children in and around the hut, I feel that I must express my surprise and dismay to see someone, changing their children's nappies in the main room of the hut on the weekend of the Dinner.

Apart from the hygiene aspect, as the main room is also the cooking area, I feel it is distasteful and bad-mannered to allow children to sit on their potties while people are cooking and eating.

Bob Hill.

B.E.C. T-Shirts.

There are only six left. 2 small - 34".  4 medium - 38".  Send your cheque to Sue Dukes, plus 20p for postage - £3.50 First come, first served.


Monthly Notes

ROCK & FOUNTAIN: or Ogof Craig nr Ffynnon, if you prefer the Welsh.  Just beyond the pitch down into the Promised Land, the diggers have pushed up a pitch above the rift for 40 feet, along for 20 feet, up a further 50 feet and finally into 200 feet of phreatic passage ending at a dry sump. (phone up Jeff Hill if you want to know what a dry sump is!)  Not much, perhaps, compared with the present length of Rock and Fountain, but it does show that the system's potential for growth is still being pushed, even if new passage is now that much harder to find.

OLD ING - RED MOSS: Apologies. The dive/link-up was not made by John Cordingley, as reported in the last B.B., but by Paul Atkinson, backed up (or backed out) by none other than Mendip Jim Abbott, et al, during a B.P.C. trip.

NIDD HEADS: The connection of New Goyden Pot with the Goyden Pot - Manchester Hole system was briefly reported in B.B. Number 400, page 7. Since then Julian Griffiths and Rob Shackleton have been at work in the rising at Nidd Heads.  Only a few weeks ago they found a route through the underwater boulders and emerged in large underwater passage that is clearly the main route towards the Goyden system.  They have lain 900 feet of line altogether.  They are working at a depth of about 50 feet.  They have a further 5200 feet to go before reaching the line in New Goyden, which terminates 750 feet into the sump at a depth of 45 feet.

PIPPIKIN POT: Beyond the choke in the Pippikin streamway below the Hall of the Ten, the streamway continues briefly to drop down a further pitch and a climb into Waterfall Chamber.  To the left is the sumped route to Link Pot, while to the right is the main downstream sump of Pippikin.  The original Belfry Boy, Dave Yeandle, dived this downstream sump for 200 feet, going no further in order to conserve air for a dive in the upstream sumps.  Now Geoff Yeadon has dived the Pippikin downstream sump and has laid 600 feet of line.  The sump continues.

Northern Cave Club members have bolted up one wall of the Hall of the Damned to a short horizontal passage and further upward pitches.  Radio-location from the end showed this point to be 40 feet up in mid-air, but this figure was corrected, understandably.  The point is now reckoned to be only 5 feet beneath a particular shake hole on the moor.  A new entrance to Pippikin here would improve access for digging no end.

DUB COTE-CAVE: This resurgence cave appears to be the original route for water that now rises mainly from the capped Drackenbottom Risings.  Dub Cote only issues a small stream except in time of flood.  Geoff Crossley and Jim Abbott believe they have now found an even earlier route for the water, now abandoned.  Returning from a dive to Dub Cote 3, Mendip Jim noticed a hole in the roof, just before they dived back through sump 2.  He disappeared into this for over half an hour, leaving a rather worried Geoff, all kitted up, in the sump pool.  Jim found himself in an old, fossil, trunk passage.  Subsequent explorations have shown this to be 747 feet long, with a further 150 feet of side passages.   At the end one route leads to 30 foot and 50 foot avens, but another branch, the apparent way on, is silted up.  Above this infill there appears to be large, rounded, gritstone cobbles, such as are quite common in the abandoned stream passages of some northern caves.  Above the cobbles seems to be a 30 foot high chamber or passage.  Only further digging can now reveal whether this passage leads towards Brackenbottom, or Douk Gill, or perhaps into the Penyghent master system.

The appears to be another large passage above sump 3, but is going to need bolts to gain access.

KINGS COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, REUNION: What has this to do with caving, you may well ask.  Answer - nothing. However, O.C.L. decided to go along and meet his contemporaries there but, in his own words, "They were a lot of old cronies there and I was extremely glad to get back to Mendip and normal people!”  Sorry, Oliver.  Overheard you at the Dinner.

DINNER 1982: Yes, I know it is long way off, but, it has been suggested that we go back to the Cave Man next year, and have a Disco in the Grotto Bar downstairs for those who would like it.  Let's have your views.


France ‘81  

by John Watson

A joint B.E.C. cum W.C.C. contingent embarked for France in mid-July with the aim of having a good time. Failing that, we would venture underground. Our group leader was Jeff Price, the other Wessex member being Pete Watts.

Having braved the English Channel we arrived at Le Havre at 10 o’clock.  An hour or so later we had managed to find the right road and were on our way destination Dordogne.  The first night was spent just outside Le Mans.  Having arrived at 3 am, tents were hurriedly pitched when, only to be found the next day on the camp-site road.  No wonder we had bent so many pegs.

We arrived in the Dordogne on the Saturday, the rest of which was spent recuperating.  On the Sunday morning we visited Padirac.  We all agreed that this was the finest show cave that any of us had seen - a huge shaft 200 feet across and deep, which can be descended either by a lift or by iron stairs, which lead to the bottom of the shaft.  From there a short walk in a large river passage leads to a canal, where a boat trip is taken.  After this a short walk leads to a huge chamber some 300 feet high.

Jeff had brought with him a French Caving Book, containing some of the Best Caves in France.  Between us we managed to decipher the description and plumped for The Grotte de Braugue. After an hour or so we managed to find the cave, with the help of the land-owner's daughter.  Without her assistance we would never have found it.

Initially the cave consisted of a large passage, 15 feet wide and some 20 - 30 foot high, leading past several climbs and a tricky, muddy traverse, to what looks like the limit of the cave - a large choked passage containing what used to be a fine grotto, but now severely damaged by souvenir hunters.  A systematic search was made for a possible continuation.  A passage, small by French standards, was followed for some 200 feet as an inclined rift.  Caving in wetsuits we were beginning to sweat in unmentionable parts, and wondered whether to pursue our goal or take the easy option and turn back, but, like all keen Mendip cavers, we continued.  After another 150 feet we were back in the main passage beyond the choke.  The climb down to this passage was helped by a conveniently placed log.  The passage upslope terminated at another grotto with some fine, large stal, whilst downslope was the way on.  We were soon confronted by a river of mud, similar to Tynings but on a grander scale.  Slow progross was made in this glutinous mud, until a small chamber with some fine white pretties was reached.  We pressed on.  The mud became deeper - knee deep in places.  At one point I nearly lost a tightly laced boot, whilst Pete decided to go for a mud-bath.  Finally we were confronted with a large void, a chamber 100 feet in diameter and 50 - 70 feet high, dominated in one corner by a huge stal boss, with a column on top some 20 feet high and 15 feet wide at its base.  After a short rest we followed the chamber downslope to a very muddy sump. A passage was followed leading off the chamber, which led to another, smaller chamber, similar in shape and size to Chamber 3 in Wookey, but that was where the similarity ended, for the rock was festooned with hundreds of stalactites, one to three feet long.  A closer examination made all the mud worthwhile - in between the stal were hundreds of thousands of eccentrics branching off in all directions like tightly baled straw.  The trip took just over two and a half hours but for those who like revelling in mud it was a classic and its vast forest of eccentrics would be hard to beat anywhere.

The following morning we embarked for the Pyrenees.  All went well until we reached Toulouse.  Having been suitably impressed by my Wessex colleagues carbide gobblers we went in search of a speleo-shop where one was purchased.  Jeff and Pete could not resist the temptation to spend some of their money and purchased two Petzl helmets for around £11 each.  Leaving Toulouse was far from easy.  Like a magnet it attracted us to its centre.  Our problem was solved after more than an hour by taking a compass bearing south.  From here we went to Andorra.  Jeff lost ten years off his life, driving up the mountain passes in a night fog.  Andorra itself is a tourist trap.  A word of warning - do not purchase drinks in night clubs. Jeff was stung £2 for a coke.

From Andorra we travelled to the Ariege valley.  Here the glaciers have truncated huge systems, the entrances to which are now some 200 - 300 feet above the valley floor. Some of these entrances are 100 feet square.  The best of these are the show caves of Grotte de Lombrive, and Niaux, with its fascinating cave paintings which are well worth a visit.  Apart from the show caves we visited the Grotto de Emite, a modest but impressive cave - you could call it a French Goatchurch.  Apart from its sporting aspect it had a very colourful, historic past, having been used by an outlawed religious sect in the Middle Ages for an initiation test.  The poor participants would be led into the cave and left there for days at a time.

The day after visiting Emite we went to the Grotte de Sabart, which virtually consists of a huge chamber, one of the biggest in France, some 650 feet long and 200 feet wide. We were dwarfed by its huge stal, one column being 30 feet high and 5 - 10 feet in diameter.

From Tarascon we made our way to Villefranche de Confluence, an old, walled, medieval town.  Having set up camp we took a wander round this quaint old town and were very surprised to find a Speleo headquarters. Consulting Jeff's book once more we planned to do the Grotte de Gorner, a large system some 14km long, and one of the finest caves in France.  Finding the entrance from the book's description was impossible and somehow we had to get permission to enter the cave.  In the midst of a hopeless situation we were struck by good fortune. We had searched in vain and, as a last resort, had asked an elderly French gentleman if he could help.  In very broken French we tried to explain our predicament.  This was partially understood, at which point he beckoned a younger man over and started to chat to him.  Luck would have it that he was the president of the local Speleo Club.  He explained, in French, that the cave was locked but said he would take us to the entrance.  He told us that if we were outside the cave the following morning we could go down the cave with another party who just happened to be going in then. All three of us then retired to the local bar, where all this was confirmed by a translator.

The following morning we were up bright and early and parked near to the cave.  After an hour's wait a car drew up full with what looked like cavers. They were totally dumbfounded when we tried, to explain to them that they were taking us caving.  They immediately told us that it was not possible, so we tried to explain to them that their president had OK'd it.  Words were fast and furious and confusion reigned. The leader pointed to our car and we followed him back into town.  This went on for about an hour.  We told them we had our own gear, at which point they relented and we drove back to the cave entrance, heads thumping with confusion.  Our French friends found it very amusing when we donned our wetsuits. This was followed by numerous gesticulations and tugging of boiler suits - I think he thought we would be too hot. I explained that all English cavers wore wetsuits.  All this commotion had attracted a large crowd.  Within minutes we were surrounded by dozens of amused French speleos (by way of comparison the leader, who never stopped talking, wore a boiler suit and a woolly hat, and had a hand held torch).  The entrance to the cave was like Fort Knox - a three inch thick steel plate door, 12" x 18", with an internally fitted lock - definitely pirate proof.  The cave was impressive from the start - a large phreatic passage with interesting holes in the floor, some over 100 feet deep.  After a hundred metres or so we reached a large, sandy chamber.  We were entertained every step of the way by our woolly-hatted French friend would point out the numerous formations with cries of "Inglish" (he was a real piss-taker).  After 500m we reached a section called the Metro, a huge phreatic passage, 30 feet round with a flat, sandy floor.  Although the passage was dry it floods to the roof in wet weather. This went on for another kilometre until we reached the start of the aquatic section, which can be followed for 2km, to another entrance.

After lunch we were taken down a French dig?  I was under the impression that the French did not dig for caves - a huge misconception - as it would have put any Mendip dig to shame.  We had been told by our French friends that the cave was very small, and that we would be better off to carry torches rather than carbides.  By this time Jeff started to worry.  The entrance was a sandy crawl similar in dimensions to Cwm Dwr entrance series.  Anything small, i.e. squeezes, had been blasted to leave a comfortable sized passage whose draught threw us into darkness many times.  After 250 feet a small chamber was reached, where an inlet made the going wet.  The end was reached after 350 feet.  The way on could be seen, tight and. wet.  This was not pushed, since we were clad in T-shirts.  Very impressed, we followed the compressed air hose out to the entrance.  It was later explained that it had taken eleven years to reach the end.  The potential, however, is enormous.

After the trip we retired to the bar, swapped addresses and said farewell to our French counterparts.

The following day we left the Pyrenees to sample the delights of the Med.


For Sale

Two nife cells 8 hours + light in each plus complete head set.

£50.00 for the lot.

Karabiners - an assortment of about 20.

£1.00 each.

Contact Mike Palmer Wells (0749) 74693

Two Ceags – complete   £15.00 each

Two Edison’s – complete, 3 cell type       £15.00 each

One Edison – battery only, 3 cell type

                           one cell faulty

                           good for spares £5.00

Two Nifes - batteries only, 3 cell type £10.00 each.

Variety of useful bits and pieces, free to any buyer of the above!

Contact Bassett Aylesbury (0296) or at the Belfry. 28270

Why not sell your surplus gear through a FREE advertisement in the B.B.  Come on!  I need something to fill up the space if you're not going to write enough articles.

Locker Fees

Belfry LOCKER FEES are now due for the year 1981/82, as shown below:











Stu L






Bob X






Colin D Screw






Worm Hole


Quiet John


Dave Glover


John Dukes




Bob Hill


Bassett & Jane


Ladder Construction

We have a large quantity of 4mm hemp cored steel wire (free, of course) which John intends to use for ladder making using Pin and Araldite construction.

Firstly, he needs information on the type of Araldite, or similar resin glue, to use.

Secondly, does the wire have to be degreased before construction and if so, can it subsequently be re-greased without destroying the bond.

If you can help with information, please contact John on Shepton Mallett (0749) 4815.


On A Trip On A Trip ?

by Jeremy Henley

“Who is this bastard stuck in Cuthbert’s Entrance Rift anyway?”  I hear someone say amongst the splash of falling water of which I am vaguely aware down the neck of the immaculate wetsuit borrowed from a yachtsman, who loaned it unaware of the tatters likely to appear in the neoprene in under an hour's caving.  To be fair, I was equally unaware until this moment, when I realised that a rent was appearing, that water was going in one end and out the other, cooling effectively parts that are not supposed to get too hot but certainly not that cold, and to cap it all I was stuck - not stuck jammed but stuck because I had not got the energy to move.  My first Friday night trip, halfway up the rift and it dawned amongst the muddle that I was the bastard stuck.

Now this is the sort of chaos that an uncontrolled diabetic can cause in a cave.  Some great strong bloke free-climbed below me and I gratefully used his head and shoulders as a moving platform to eject myself - just. The idiot feeling that I had was nothing to the fear and trepidation of Villis and Prewer, who decided that a diabetic caver was something of a liability, and it took some time to prove otherwise.  They eventually relaxed when, some trips later, they realised that, like a magician, I could produce an endless tube of glucose sweets from inside my helmet to feed not only me but also other, healthier persons a hundred feet or so below Mendip.

So a diabetic on insulin, short of sugar, is uncoordinated, weak, vague and remarkably unintelligent which, mirroring my normal self I find most useful in warding off stinging Belfry remarks from the regular gang with their in-jokes and private language, I can always plead sugar shortage when I fail to grasp the gist.  However it is not a good thing to have in a Cave so you will see me, gnome like, on a suitable pedestal rock away from falling water, with my helmet in my lap, groping about in the shadows, looking for and then eating with greet speed one, two or even three tubes of glucose sweets (fourteen to a tube) before continuing my journey.  The healthy caver takes, when offered, one or two daintily between his bleeding, muddy fingers and then feels sick at the cloying sweetness; consider eating 28 at once!

Cave pollution has gone up on Mendip: about 5% of all glucose tablets miss the mouth and there is now a sure way of telling where Henley’s been, and if you know the colours he was eating on particular day you can date the journey for the hitch-hiker’s guide to the grottoes.

Then there is this bracelet that identifies the diabetic - Medic Alert No. 12345, telephone 01-000-000 - very convenient at Swildons 4 – I always wear it - equally as good for cavers with one kidney, epilepsy, and foot and mouth.

So why this rubbish about diabetics - well I actually got to sump 2 and back one night without recourse to glucose as I had eaten half a stone of spuds before setting off.  This joyous feat I was expounding to Martin Grass who, bored to tears, said it would be useful for others to know about the problems, that I was not the only diabetic in the caving world, and why not write an article for the B.B.  The next paragraph explains it all and should make all you healthy people feel secure.

Quote: “ Normal people burn glucose in their muscles to provide energy. The glucose, which is obtained from digested foodstuffs, is absorbed from your intestines and enters the bloodstream.  Insulin acts by pushing the glucose from the blood to the muscles where it is burned.” This goes wrong in diabetics and younger onset diabetics need injected insulin and a diet to balance it exactly. In healthy people the balance is automatic.  If too little carbohydrate is eaten for the insulin injected, or more than usual exercise taken, then blood sugar level falls to a point where the diabetic becomes exhausted and disorientated.  Therefore a diabetic caver must always stoke up before going caving, must carry instantly available fuel sources such as glucose or Mars Bars and should always tell others that he is a diabetic.  No leader should go on a trip with a diabetic who has not obeyed these simple rules. If obeyed, no-one need worry!


Belfry Rules

The following rules have been created 'in committee' during the past two years, for the better running of the Belfry:

1)    2nd. February 1979

     Item 57



2)   18th. April 1980

     Item 66


3)   1st. August 1980

     Item 88




4) 5th. September '80




5) 7th. November '80

Animals may only stay at the Belfry at the discretion of the Hut Warden.

Generally animals are to be kept out of bunkrooms.


It was agreed that, for safety and social reasons, smoking be banned in the bunkrooms.


It was agreed, following an incident at the Belfry, and taking into account that no-one under 16 years of age could join the club, that 16 be the minimum age at which a person could stay at the Del


No personal gear is to be stored in the library or the loft.  Both library and loft must be kept locked when no committee member is in attendance.


Any person found storing or using explosive devices at the Belfry will be banned until the following committee meeting, when a decision on the matter will be taken.


Monthly Notes, Continued.

Diabetes: Dr. Don Thompson had added a few interesting and useful notes to Jeremy's article:

"Have you come across Glucagon?  This is wonderful stuff.  It's given by injection and can be given by amateurs to uncooperative hypoglycoemic diabetics while two or three other people sit on his head.  It raises the blood sugar within a few minutes sufficiently to enable one to persuade him to eat glucose sweets.  It can be repeated if not sufficient, and it cannot be given in doses too large for safety as there is really no maximum dose.  The only limitation is that it will not work on starvation hypoglycoemia because it cannot mobilise intracellular carbohydrates which are not there.  Your friendly G.P. can supply this on request."

So the next time Jeremy looks vacant after some loving Belfryite's hostile remarks, just sit on his head and pump him full of potatoes and glucagon.  He'll soon get the message:

STOKE LANE SLOCKER: Stoke 8 has only been visited twice - only once according to written records - in spite of the fact that the way on, through a boulder constriction, was clearly visible and simply needed enlarging.  This lack of attention may be partly due to the evil reputation of Stoke Lane, especially beyond sump 2, but is also because sump 6 has been blocked for some time. However, sump 6 is now receiving attention, last week (7.11.81) of a chemical kind.  After a healthy thump, perhaps the way to 8 is now open once more. Divers: Pete Moody (chemical hit man), Chris Milne, Ian (wormhole) Caldwell; Sherpas: Martin Grass, Blitz, Jane and Bassett.

P.S. Wormhole is now convinced that he has Weil's Disease.

RHINO RIFT: Tim Large and Phil Romford have been hard at work here putting in new bolts for rescue purposes, affording free-hangs for hauling.  When their work is complete the bolt positions will be concealed so they are not used for normal trips into the cave.

CHEDDAR GORGE: Have you driven down there in the day time recently and seen how much loose rock has been brought down, especially off the Coronation Street face, since the climbing season began. Beware where you park your car, unless you want a sunshine roof.

THE RUMOUR: We know where it is. It's big and it's black and it is hairy and you won't like it.


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor:   G. Wilton-Jones, 24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) 28270.

Yes, I know it is unprecedented to run the November and December B.B.’s in one issue.  By way of excuse, it was so I could get the Christmas issue out and delivered before the end of the year, and thereby catch up.

Hopefully the January 1981 B.B. will be produced IN January.

If you get your Lesotho Cave Art illustration loose it is because a well known national supermarket chain is reluctant to do this silly job for us in a hurry.

If you have not yet written anything for the B.B. this decade, remember that you have only nine years left, so why not start writing now and get it over with.  So far I have ONE article far 1981

News From Our Northern Correspondent

It is reported that northern cave diver, Ian Watson, has discovered another Boreham in Littondale. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, Boreham Cave is known particularly for two things; its long, clear sumps and its impressive array of straws hanging above a still pool. Nearby Stonelands Cave also contains a long, incompletely explored sump. Presumably the new cave is also notable for a long sump of clear water.  Watto is not saying anymore at present.

Unfortunately when the local farmer got to hear of the find he decided that the water supply had been polluted due to caving activities.  He got together with the three other farmer/landowners of Littondale and cavers have been banned from the whole valley.  Harry Long is trying to negotiate with the farmers, but until the valley is definitely open once more to cavers it would be wise to keep clear of the place, except of course to partake of ale at the "Queen's".

Hot off J-Rat's typewriter in Maseru, just over the border into Lesotho, comes this article on the decorated sandstone rock-shelters of the area.  This is J-Rat in his more serious mood, a rare moment, no doubt written while he thought he was dying of Histoplasmosis.

By the time you read this he should be back on Mendip suffering the more common ailments, related to Butcombe, Arkells, Badger, etc.


Caves And Cave Art Of Lesotho, Southern Africa.

Surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, Lesotho (formerly Basutoland) is a rugged, mountainous and harshly beautiful country.  It is about the same size as Belgium and is the only country in the world with all of its land over 1000 metres O.D.  Volcanic basalt forms the highest peaks of the Maluti Mountains and Drakensberg Range with horizontally bedded sandstones, shales and mudstones below. These layers are very photogenic, being alternate red, grey, white, orange and pink.  Despite the lack of limestone, some slight relief for the exiled cave fanatic can be found by studying one of these ubiquitous layers, the appropriately named Cave Sandstone.  Forming dramatic escarpment cliffs and spectacular river gorges, this rock is easily eroded by the elements to form huge, overhanging rock-shelters and the occasional deeper cave.  There are hundreds of these sites in all areas of the country and many have been occupies in the past by a variety of inhabitants.

At the present time, many of the drier and more accessible caves have drystone walled frontages converting them into dwellings, herd boys refuges and even missions for the local Basuto populace.  In the troubled times and famines of the 18th and 19th centuries the caves provided shelter and hiding places for Basuto clans escaping from Boer and Zulu oppression and also bases for roving bands of cannibals.  The Basuto, in their turn, had previously evicted from many sites the earlier settlers of these desolate hills - the San, Baroa or Bushmen.  This mysterious race (whose relationship with the original prehistoric inhabitants is unclear) were forced to dwell in the mountain regions by pressure from European settlers moving north from the Cape and by assorted Bantu races creeping steadily southwards from Central Africa.

Essentially a race of hunters, the Bushmen developed a strong artistic culture based on their lifestyle, especially in south-eastern Africa and Rhodesia.  Using natural pigments of ochre, clays, charcoal and animal fats they decorated the caves and rock shelters with superbly executed frescoes and murals of the animals on which they depended for food, clothing and implements. In the various sites can be seen paintings of eland, lion, baboon, fish, snakes, cattle, etc. Many human figures are depicted from short San bowmen and dancers to taller Bantu warriors and even the red-coated European soldiers.  Fishing, hunting scenes, battles, invading horsemen, village scenes and dances are also represented.  Like rock-art the world over, most animal pictures are depicted in silhouette and human figures are typically abstract.  They vary in size from 1m to 150m and the most recently (and last) painted are approximately 150 years old, though scattered remnants of the Bushman races still exist in this area, generally intermixed with the dominant Basuto people, whose own language bears traces of the earlier "clicking" speech of the San.

Although over 400 painted shelters are known, little information is available to the general public as originally published reports have led to desecration and vandalism. Another reason for lack of publicity is the unexcavated nature of most of the sites, though several have been investigated by P.L. Carter of Cambridge University and other professional archaeologists.  The most well known site is fenced off and operated by the Lesotho Government as a tourist attraction/conservation project.  Ha Baroana (or Ha Khotso) Cave is a huge, lengthy shelter with one of the finest friezes of rock-art in southern Africa. Animals portrayed include eland, hartebeest, lion, leopard, buck, blue crane and guinea fowl.  Intermixed with these are hunters, dancers and figures in huts. Flights of arrows are shown in mid air and striking various animals - all are portrayed in a beautiful polychrome style of red, white, black and mauve shades.  It is hoped that the other sites will be preserved in this way and that the work of discovering, photographing and recording these masterpieces of Bushman culture continues uninterrupted.

The following references were given for J-Rat's article on Lesotho:

MSS notes of Jim Smart.

The Lesotho Guide.  D. Ambrose.

Lesotho: Basutoland Notes and Records.  Vol. 6 1966-67.


Coniston Copper Mines

by Chris Batstone.

During the Club meet in the Lakes last February a visit was made to the old copper works above Coniston. It is hoped to return again this coming February.  This article should provide some background information.

The Coniston mines have provided approximately three quarters of the copper mined in the Lake District.  The workings are some of the oldest in the north of England and cover an area of approximately ten square miles of mountain country between Coniston Old Man, Carrs and Wetherlam. This area was extensively prospected during the 19th century but, due to the slump in copper prices, declined towards the latter half of the century, rather than because of dwindling deposits of ore.  Various unsuccessful attempts have been made to rework them since.


The copper veins are found in the volcanic Borrowdale Series.  They trend to the north-west and are cut by a number of north-south cross courses, some of which are very powerful.  The copper occurs mainly as chalcopyrite and more rarely as bornite. Quantities of iron pyrites, mispickel and blende also occur in some veins.  Large amounts of magnetite were also found in the Bonsor Mine deep levels.

The major veins were known as Bonsor, Paddy End Old and New, Triddle, North, Flemmings String, South, Belman Hole, Stephens, Gods Blessing and Brimfell.

The Mine.

The Bonsor vein was the major deposit of are, accounting for at least 50% of the are produced at Coniston. The vein was stoped out for a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile in depth of some 200 fathoms (1200 feet).

It was reckoned that the vein would carry a rib of solid chalcopyrite eight inches thick.  The great stapes on this vein were so vast that a large chasm was left called the "Cobblers Hole".  The price of copper had fallen beyond economic limits by 1895.  An increasing amount of magnetite was found in the area as the mine went deeper making gravity separation of the ore nearly impossible.  The pumps were stopped and the mine was allowed to flood.  Any payable pillars of ore were removed as the water rose.  Water finally reached the adit level in 1900.  Had modern methods of separation been available then (e.g. flotation) the vein left in the bottom would have been payable, but to un-water the mine now and reinstate the workings would be prohibitive.

An attempt was made in 1954 to re-open the Horse Level through to the Paddy End workings.  After clearing the level to the west of Old Engine Shaft it was found that the Cobblers Hole stope had collapsed.  A new bypass level was then made avoiding the collapse.

Previously work was done on Drygill vein, which runs through Old Engine Shaft at the Horse Level.  The old workings were reinstated and a level driven to connect with the northern crosscut, which was driven to the west of Cobblers Hole, in the hopes that the Horse Level would be clear to the New Engine Shaft.  A connection was made to find that the old stopes had collapsed.  The only way past would have been to drive a parallel level which was too costly, and the venture was abandoned.

In 1912 the Coniston Electrolytic Copper Co. Ltd. was formed to recover copper from the waste tips whilst the mine was cleared.  The machinery was installed on the site of the old Bonsor dressing floors.  The copper recovered turned out to be less than expected and the plant was closed down in 1915.  Work was not restarted and the plant was dismantled.

Paddy End Mine is probably the most ancient part of the mine.  The vein runs between cross courses on the southern side of the valley, and has produced some of the most valuable ore in the mines.  By the end of the 19th century all the available are pillars were removed.

In 1954 exploration was carried out at the Horse Level and efforts made to pump Hospital Shaft. These efforts seem to have failed. Whether or not payable veins exist in these workings is unknown.

Numerous other sites exist in the area - Triddle, Brimfell and Gods Blessing in particular, surrounding the Bonsor and Paddy End workings.

Other mines included in the Coniston mining field are to be found near Tilberthwaite and Greenburn Beck, although these do not warrant a description in this article.

Mining at Coniston has now ceased and cannot be expected to revive during the foreseeable future due to expense, and opposition by conservationist  This is also true of the majority of other mining areas in the lakes.

Stu Lindsey has sent in this brief account of a photographic session in Dan yr Ogof.  Incidentally this occasion was the only time I have ever been warned by the management about high water


Dan - Yr - Ogof

With the promise of an interesting trip across the fourth lake to commence proceedings, our 'expanded' party of eight set off.  On leaving the Show Cave water conditions proved to be quite high, a warning regarding a less than normal air-space in lake four proving correct - half of it was froth, hanging from the roof.  Seven of our intrepid explorers nonchalantly swam across leaving the rigid eighth, frozen almost to death (by fear) to inch his way across the exceptionally sparse ledges by his finger nails.

The first of two detours was to attempt to find the location of a 'Blue Stal'.  This was duly accomplished after a fifteen foot climb into a rifty chamber.  This amazing phenomenon, part of a small curtain, is worth seeing, if only for the effort put into getting there!  Pushing on we soon arrived at the start of the long crawl, marked at the entrance with an evil smelling pool, six feet long and three to four inches deep.  Detour 2, to a rift above the main route, Flabbergastery or something was to take photos a happy hour spent flashing away. To get up into this section necessitates a traverse around the wall.  This avoids disturbing the pool and the fish.  (Fish?!!)  Hardly the place to expect one of our number to commence training for the Olympic backstroke event.  A perfect take-off was achieved when the traverse line broke!  This poor unfortunate was also the focal point in the next scene.  Armed with a flash gun, he was requested to run ten feet, stop, flash, run ten feet, stop, flash, run ten feet…..A short distance away the second Lord 'Nevis' had someone doing pirouettes thirty feet below while he took his photo!

Luckily these diversifications ensured that we would be unable to complete the rest of the trip. However, five of our more masochistic entourage insisted upon swimming the Green Canal after a final piccy session.  This last episode was an attempt to record for posterity the playful frolicking of the Wycombe Wanzellor.

Speleo Teaser Answer

And now, the answer to last month's Speleo Teaser from Blitz.




























Free dives

Royal Oak





Free climbs




Vertical Caves

MORE NEWS extracted from BCRA Caves and Caving, No. 10, Nov.1980.

Eleven caves in the world have now passed the vertical kilometre - that is within the last 24 years, though half of these have been pushed to such spectacular depths within the last 3 years!  Reseau de Foillis, deepest at 1402m, is destined to go deeper yet this winter when the next shaft is descended.  In the PSM area the Sima di Ukendi (1185m) is still wide open, while in Arphielia the PSM streamway can be clearly heard; though the surveyed separation is 30m.  A connection would give about 1470m depth. A 1435m system would result from the connection of Schwyzer Schacht and the massive Holloch, making an epic through trip of over 1300m possible.

Dare I say it…..Bi-Monthly Notes

The Council of Southern Caving Clubs' Handbook and Access Guide 1980/81 has now been published.  A copy should be available from the club library or you can buy one for 50p if you must have it to yourself.

Apart from the two Phil Hendy cartoons and a couple of advertisements it is all fairly meaty stuff. The only criticism that seems to have been made (by several people, incidentally) is that the list of names, addresses and 'phone numbers of all MRO wardens has been included.

There has been much controversy on Mendip recently over whether MRO should be called out via official channels for every incident (e.g. "Can someone give a hand in Swildons to a bod who cannot climb back up the 20.)  If the call is official there is insurance cover.  However, the time may now come when someone just picks a warden from the list and 'phones them!

Hobb's have recently offered a planning application to turn Fairy Cave Quarry into a Leisure Centre. The intention is for Shatter and Withyhill to be made into show caves.  The formations would be protected behind glass screens.  The two caves would be connected to form an escape route in case of some emergency. Experienced cavers would assist with the creation of this show cave system. (see also note in 'Lifeline').

In the April/May B.B. Wig wrote about a postcard he had come across and he wanted to know which site in Cheddar it depicted.  He has at last come up with another card which reveals exactly the site of this ' Lost Cave'.  He promises more details of this in the new year.

Alison tells me that the dye test between Sludge Pit and Swildons yielded positive results.  Dye was recorded at the inlets in Swildons 6 and 7, and at points downstream from these sites, thus showing, as believed, that Sludge Pit water flows into Passchendaele.  Passchendaele is the passage that runs to the south of Pirate and Shatter Chambers.  The dye used was an optical brightening agent.

The U.S. Navy have been developing submarine communication using the sub-atomic particles known as neutrinos.  Although it is almost prohibitively expensive at present it may well be that radio communication through the earth (instead of round, via satellites) will ultimately be possible.  What potential for the caver!

O.C.L. was underground in Cuthbert’s very recently - in fact more recently than the Wig, who has not been near the place for a long time.  Please remember to write your trip up in the log, Oliver!

American scientists have been producing a new kind of light bulb in which excess heat is trapped within the bulb by reflection.  The light can then burn with the same intensity but using less power.  Such bulbs for domestic use should be on sale in Britain in 1981.  I wonder how long it will be before the technique is applied to small, low voltage bulbs, such as those in caving lights?

During the weekend of 29th/30th November there was a diving tragedy in Kingsdale. Details are sketchy at the moment, but the diver was a member of the Red Rose, though not a member of C.D.G.  He had dived through from Keld Head to one of the air-bells and said that he would not go back.  He was given morale and physical assistance and persuaded to make the dive back, but he died en route.  The cause of death is not yet known.

Re. the October B.B., sorry about the lack of cover.  This was not some snide way of emphasising my request for more covers, though this may be the effect that it had.  I simply forgot to bring the covers when we collated the B.B.

Erratum: page 3, para.3, line 4 should read: relative to the volume of passage…

The Lionels Hole survey is meant to be accompanied by an article on the cave by Andy Sparrow. A.S. please note, accept a reprimand and a smacked wrist, and send me the manuscript a.s.a.p., or sooner.


Marine Commando destroys British Warship with Thunder Flashes!  Naval officer runs amok with axe on ship!  Potholers in drunken orgy at sea! .....

Yes, Ross White, Tom Temple and Trev Hughes have been together, at sea, on the same ship, no doubt creating the same havoc and mayhem as at least two of them cause regularly at the Belfry.  They all had 'fun' ashore in Hamburg including the Rheeperbalm.  On the night of the B.E.C. Dinner they were all at sea again but I have it on good authority that the night did not pass soberly.

In between bouts of alcoholism Trev still managed to think of Mendip and has put together the following article.


Wigmore re-visited.  Some further thoughts.

Tony Jarratt's article in B.B. No. 371 marked the end of a lively series of articles about this interesting conglomerate cave.  This, I hope, will redress the situation and inspire some thoughts, and even probably some work underground.

At the time of Tony's article Wigmore was being dug virtually every day; I was on leave and Tony was on holiday.  The latest event in his article was the pushing on past the Smoke Room to where a large slab blocked the passage (30th Nov. '78).  What follows continues from there.

The weekend of 2nd/3rd December saw a large party of Belfryites attacking the offending slab by means of a rope winch.  This slab, the result of roof block fall, was removed and broken up by hammer and chisel. Approximately four feet of new passage leading to a choked right hand corner was entered.

An unreachable left hand bend, after a further two feet, could be seen.  A major setback occurred on that Saturday, the substantial mud and stone collapse from the Smoke Room.  This slump increased during the following days and completely blocked the way on.

Attention now turned to the large, black hole, through boulders, revealed by this collapse. Some stabilization was required but on 9th December '78 the upper section of the Smoke Room was entered. The chamber was found to consist of tiny rift inlets and wedged boulders.

On the following weekend a large B.E.C. team dug at the debris which blocked the way along the lower passage.  This flowing stream made spoil hauling a wet and miserable task.  It was decided to leave the dig until the following spring. The final comment in my caving log entry for that trip summed up the situation: "Much more work still to be done."

After this trip the cave appears to have been left alone - no entries were recorded in the hut log. I was at sea, enjoying only infrequent trips to Mendip; other digs found favour; the sun shone; the Hunter's was open; etc.  As a result, for twenty months Wheal Wigmore heard only the lonely knocker's chisel. No curse ridden digger’s breath nor shovel on rock.  Silence.

I could not allow this to continue.  A weekend on Mendip at the end of August this year found me with an itchy digging arm and two volunteers for their first ever trip down Wigmore; Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell and (Quiet) John Watson.  Deluded by promises of me digging in their recent extensions in the deepest reaches of Manor Farm Swallet they agreed on an exploratory trip.

The entrance pitch, Hesitation Chamber and the two climbs were unchanged apart from accumulations of vegetable debris and oddments of the capping formers.  However the winter streams of 78/79 and 79/80 had not been idle. The start of Christmas Crawl had been scoured out and now seems quite sizeable. The entry to Santa's Grotto had to be dug open - easily removable gravel choked the low section of passage to within four inches of the roof.

A large boulder and several smaller rocks had slumped into the entrance of Pinks and Posies.  These were moved or demolished and an entry made. The first section of Pinks and Posies was unchanged.  However the remains of the Smoke Room collapse and allowed gravel to accumulate behind it.  The last section of passage was fairly heavily choked to within six inches of the roof.  Ian's and John's moans of inactivity forced a retreat before I could come to grips with this choke.  The Smoke Room collapse, however, did seem to have largely vanished.

The next visit was a post AGM trip (good conglomerate mud is excellent for clearing the mind of such politics) by Chris Smart, 'Quackers', Nigel Dibben and 'Mac (I don't feel well) anus'.  Chris dug into the Smoke Room, passed the now non-existent collapse and reached a point some ten feet beyond the Smoke Room where a boulder obstructed the way.  The passage could be seen to continue.  This represents ⅔ of the original distance from the Smoke Room to the end of the cave as it stood on 2/12/78.

Inspired by the success of this trip Ross White and I ventured to the end on 11/10/80, armed with an array of digging gear.  A week of continuous rain had produced a fine stream flowing down the entrance shaft. This was diverted to a secondary sink in the clearing to the south-west of the entrance, where the water disappears through the Rhaetic Marl.  The cave remained very wet despite our efforts.  Ross put his talents to good use and rapidly moved aside the boulder that had stopped Chris.  The original end of the cave was quickly reached.  Loose gravel now chokes the passage at the left hand bend completely to the roof.  We both dug at this choke for a while.  However, having little convenient dumping space and no spoil hauling gear we decided to call it a day.  We returned, wet and filthy, to the surface.

On first glance at the terminal choke it is credible to suggest that the conglomerate passage bifurcates at this point, but this is not my belief.  Having viewed the end in December '78 when the present gravel choke was not there I wish to put forward the view that this choke is the result of stream deposition behind roof block fall, the material coming largely from the Smoke Room collapse.  Digging at the end is very feasible - the gravel is loose, mud free and easily dug. The most convenient way of removing the spoil would be in 'poly' sacks which could easily be hauled along the low passages.  A team of four or five diggers would be required.  The removal of the loose material will allow the block fall to be attacked either chemically of mechanically.  What could follow?  Open passage would most probably be of the same pattern as before: low bedding modified by block fall.  But what of the limestone?  Where is it? When will it be met?  Only by digging will the truth be known but here are the geomorphological details of the area: -

1)       All Eights Mineshaft (55965291) elevation 925 ft is only 1410ft north of Wigmore, the shaft cap being 45ft higher. Limestone is met at a depth of 80ft. The water in the shaft is said to emerge at Sherbourne Spring.

2)       The underlying limestone dips at 300 to the north-east - it is on NE slopes of the North Hill pericline.  The limestone surface can be assumed to rise in a SW direction.

3)       The unconforming conglomerate has in lower Wigmore, produced a bedding passage dipping to the south at 2-3O, most noticeably in Christmas Crawl.  (Incidentally, the average surface gradient between All Eights and Wigmore is 20 to the SSE).

4)       Wigmore Swallet is 78 ft deep at the end.

Personally I think the limestone is very close despite the fact that a groundwater divide separates the water flow routes of the two sites.

But what of Wigmore's subterranean flow to Cheddar?  I would like to propound that there exists an as yet unknown major drainage passage heading east-west that transits the Wigmore area.  The head of this catchment is the Tor Hole Swallet area.  This watershed is quite sizable and, as demonstrated by Tor Hole Swallet, bears little relation to the surface landform.

The passage of water through this system is extensively controlled by the layer of Harptree Beds, Marl and Rhaetic Shales which cover the area. Rainwater collects at discrete points on this impervious layer before flowing underground, giving rise to the large number of sinkholes in the area.  As the sinkholes develop they are choked by slumping bf the surface clays leading to slow flow rates by percolation action in the upper regions of these poorly developed caves.  The solutional power at depth is consequently proportionally greater due to the absence of calcareous matter in these clays. The amalgamation of water from these many, small, choked passages would lead to the formation of a master passage by preferential solution.  The depth of this initially phreatic passage would be just below the water table pertinent to the time of its formation.  This passage would be largely strike controlled, in the limestone, and would contour around the northern side of the North Hill pericline.

The major development of this passage would have begun at an elevation of about 650 ft a.o.d.  This development is supported by the existence of a large cavity, found by boring, at a depth of approximately 200ft in the fields immediately to the east of Wigmore Swallet.  A passage at this depth would correspond to a period when the water table was such that Great Oones Hole acted as the Cheddar resurgence, some 300ft higher than today.  This indicates the great age of the proposed passage.

The height of the lowest sinks (690ft) indicate that the large cavity most probably represents a fossil section of passage or even possible a chamber of a similar nature to those above the active streamway in Stoke II.

After the initial section of slow flow the flow in the main passage to Cheddar would be of a more rapid nature.  Examples of this flow structure are: -

1)                    Tor Hole, Long Wrangle and Minery Cottage Swallets, 1 mile to the east of Wigmore. Flow travel time to Cheddar: 72 - 87 hours.

2)                    Red Quar Swallet, ½ mile SSE of Wigmore.  Flow travel time: 5 days.

3)                    Bowery Corner Swallet, l½ miles west of Wigmore.  Flow time: 50 hrs.

Castle Farm Swallet, a B.E.C. dig in 1963/65, produced a draughting, choked passage at 20ft depth. This project has, I hear, been re-opened.  A dye test here would be of immense value.

The rapid travel time (11 hours) of the Wigmore water is highly significant.  I believe that it indicates the close proximity of the master passage and the relatively open nature of the passage to it.  The presence of the nearby cavity supports this proposition.

For Wigmore Swallet to reach the depth of the master passage a steeply descending passage is required. In the limestone a dip passage would rapidly reach the required depth.  Whether this passage is a low bedding or a vadose trench only direct exploration will tell.  The limestone passage may be well developed, of course, for the reasons stated earlier. I also predict that the Wigmore stream will be augmented at the obvious line of weakness - the conglomerate / limestone boundary.

Wigmore Swallet, with a length to date of 237 ft, is the only cave in the area whose underground course has been followed for any distance.  It must represent a potential key to this proposed system.  The terminal choke cannot be left alone. Digging there is not easy but the reward will surely repay the effort and could be of major significance.  The challenge should not be ignored.


Elm Cave Or Fordbury Bottom Cave, Murder Combe, EM 74644873

information compiled by Colin Houlden.

First found in 1956 by Dave Mitchell and Alan Cowley who reached the second boulder ruckle.

CDG newsletter series 50, 1979, January, page 14 reports dives by Pete Moody in May and June 1978 and states he could not find the way on.

In 1978 again, Dave and Dianne Walker, Alan Mills and Colin Brimstone blasted the passage in the dry section beyond the point where Pete Moody dived, as the water level had dropped.

Pete and Alison Moody reached the third chamber in dry passage, due to lowered water level. They saw a sump 20ft below but were unable to dive because of lack of tackle.

Sunday 14th September 1980: The sump beyond the third boulder ruckle was dived by Colin Houlden and Barry Wilkinson, with a back up team consisting of Marion Gay, Alan Mills and Glyn Bolt.

Diver's report, by Colin Houlden:

I dived first upstream and found a submerged chamber about 8ft x 8ft with a 2" to 4" airspace situated centrally in the roof.  There was no obvious exit from this chamber other than the entrance.  I returned to base.   On the second dive I explored the downstream area and found no obvious way on.  I returned to base.

Upon first examination of the sump, the water was crystal clear and an obvious hole at the upstream end about 3ft round was visible.  This was the object of my third dive.  The visibility was now zero because of the previous two dives.  I therefore decided to enter feet first.  I descended through boulder obstacles to a depth of about 20ft I aborted the dive due to faulty equipment.  Upon my return to base Barry dived in order to confirm my three dives.



Cooper's Hole, Cheddar

by Chris Smart

On the 19th October an Afro styled golliwog (see the Rocksport price list for your inflatable model) set off a remarkably silly chain of events.  He informed the massed hordes (well, eight of us, anyway) at the Belfry that there was now a totally new through trip possible on Mendip!  The whole room immediately jumped into action and prepared for a long, hard trip.  Unfortunately we were then told the location of this new trip - Cooper's Hole in the gorge.  Chris Bradshaw then went on to explain that a top entrance had opened about 20 - 25 metres vertically above the old bottom entrance.  From those present John and Sue Dukes and Martin and Liz Bishop volunteered transport and the remaining five of us - Quackers, Jane Clarke, Ross, Bob Cork and Herr Blitz - were soon at the Cooper's Hole car park.

As if to assist us nature decided to lend a helping hand and it began to drizzle.  Undaunted but feeling sillier by the minute we began the climb up the footpath towards the reported location of the top entrance. We were soon thwarted in this as the footpath had disappeared leaving an overhanging, circular hole of about 4m diameter and 20 or so metres deep.  After various people had demonstrated how it was possible to make the world move simply by jumping up and down, the B.E.C. 'Make a Cave Safe' team of conservationists decided that it would be necessary to do something about this large and dangerous orifice.  We were lucky in having a digging rope and felling axe with us, and with only a minimum of effort (all of us for one hour) we managed to enlarge the hole to about 7m x 4m and succeeded in losing a large tree down the shaft.  This should now cushion your fall sufficiently so that you appreciate the remainder of it!

The drizzle was by now bucketing it down so we decided to mix business with pleasure and sampled the Grockle shops of Cheddar and a cream tea in Gough's restaurant before returning to the Belfry.

For obvious safety reasons the upper entrance to Cooper's has been surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. The edges of the hole are reported to be very unsafe.  Another tree recently fell into the shaft, closely followed by a felling axe and then a John Dukes, this last being on a life line, fortunately for himself.  Will the finder of the axe, and the B.E.C. digging rope that is also somewhere in the hole, please return same to the Belfry.

It would seem that no-one has yet had the nerve to find out if a through trip is actually possible. The squeeze above the pile of debris in the original part of Cooper's is almost certainly blocked with boulders at present.

G. W.-J.


These extracts taken from ' American Caves and Caving' by William R Halliday M.D. show the American impression of cave digging!

'When talus crawling fails or is too risky, the question of digging may arise.

Such digging runs the risk of dislodging natural keystones or additional sections of loosened ceiling. Long handled tools, and sometimes careful timbering supervised by mine rescue experts, are essential - but at this stage of development of North American Spelunking it usually isn’t worth it.'

'Much of America's (North) underground is still in the initial stages of near random exploration.  Here and there, cave digging - the next step beyond scientific exploration is underway.  The number of cavers engaged in this thankless and dangerous task, however, is so small, and the British Caving Literature thereon so excellent, that those interested should refer to the section on suggested additional reading. '

Among the books mentioned are 'The Manual of Caving Techniques' published by ERG.


Why not make one of your New Year resolutions 'to write at least one article for the B.B. in 1981'.

I’ve just read in the BCRA rag about an extension in Manor Farm.  Apparently they (BCRA Eds.) don't know who did it.  Shouldn't it have been in the B.B. first?


Portland (Assaulted)

by Steve Woolven.

The assault on Portland and the taking by storm happened on a quiet, but hot, summer's Bank Holiday, this August, by the arrival of six B.E.C. members and friends.

Sunday dawned a clear sky, and the arrival of Niki and I meeting up with Gary, Graham, Neil and Bruce. Having just missed breakfast we hurriedly cooked and ate our own before catching the rest up on the cliff's edge, Blacknor being the whole point of the exercise.

The next two hours passed with an array of abseiling gear laying around, bodies sunning themselves, admiring the view of the Southern coast line and generally festering by passing a 'Party Seven' around.  At this point, may I thank Gary Cullen for donating the beer, even though he was not around this weekend - much appreciated.

Anyway, after slinging the rope over and. rigging up Graham disappeared over the edge.  A third of the way down the cliff (about 40') with the remains of the beer swinging in gay abandon, three feet below his waist, Graham successfully swung into the hole without spilling a drop.  Phew!  A very tricky manoeuvre.  One by one went over leaving myself to bring up the rear.

As I was clipping onto the rope two very well-dressed gentlemen with broad American accents, looking rather religious, passed by.  They were seemingly confused as to my purpose of bailing off a cliff wearing a miner's lamp and helmet.

"Are you a climber'?" they asked.

I had great trouble in explaining that I was a caver, when to them it looked as if I was going down the cliff into the sea.  Even more confusing when the cliff appeared to shout: -

"What the bloody hell are you doing up there?  Hurry up! Get a flaming move on."  And other such words which are better off not printed.

Once inside (caving at last) and crawling along the passage negotiating the gull’s mess we soon reached a cross rift.  Stepping over and down we squeezed, crawled and climbed along a new thin, tall rift passage.  Around some boulders, past a small, pretty section (the only piece in the cave, but rather nice) it took on the rift shape once again.  This carried on the same way until it closed down and blocked.

Gary and I climbed high up the rift to try and force a way on, but it only went a little further and then closed down too tight.  On the way back we looked up some side crawls, one of which ran parallel to the entrance passage.  It came out a little further along the cliff's a back entrance.  There was a nest of young gulls here, looking at us as if we were nuts, so we left them alone rather quickly and headed back out.

All sitting huddled at the entrance, looking out and seeing nothing but sea, gave us a gull's eye view. The difference between them and us was the fact that we were finishing off a beer, which went down great after such a dry cave.  Abseiling out of here was more awkward than going over the top, because once on the rope you swung out and away from the rock.  Sixty feet to the bottom and then a refreshing, cool swim in the sea.

'Blacknor' seems to be the only cave worth going into on Portland.  It has now got two metal stakes on the cliff, marking where to put the rope over, but, it is still advisable to take your own and to check these just in case. 'Blacknor' is best attempted on a hot summer’s day, where it has an almost magical appeal to it.  With a cool swim afterwards.

Unless of course you cannot stand rifts', 'which most of Blacknor is!


B.C.R.A. Conference 1980

As the BEC pulled out of the club stand affair this year I was condemned to attendance at the lectures. As this was only the second conference I had attended I viewed the prospect of sitting through all that technical talk with a sinking heart.  However I put on a brave face, picked out a good novel, took charge of all our cheque books and left early on Friday for Nottingham.

We, that is Martin, Myself, G.W.J., and Chris Smart, arrived at the Sir John Barlace Warren earlier than expected which was just as well as closing time was 10.30.  Having decided that this was a highly uncivilised district I retired to the car for a sleep leaving the others to the serious drinking. Much later I was woken by various bodies smelling highly of curry demanding to be driven to our lodgings. I was rather incensed at having missed the meal and still being very tired managed only a small scold before dozing off again.  Graham drove in reckless abandon to Heeston where an unsuspecting Bradford member had offered to put us up for the weekend. Having arranged ourselves on the floor we fell promptly asleep with a view to the early morning next day.

Breakfast consisted of various bars of chocolate bought on the way to the University.  We eventually found the correct entrance despite the bad signposting, and had ample time to have a good look at the stands before the first lecture.  Although the hall was smaller than the previous year and the number of stands less, there were certainly more bargains in evidence.  New ideas were also present in the form of Brenden Brews new ascender/descender.

Having decided on which lecture to attend we all trooped upstairs and took our seats.  All four of us had decided to see Caves of Nottingham as it was the only lecture not repeated on Sunday.  Unfortunately, although it could have been a good lecture, it was delivered by a boring lecturer.  It wasn't a help to have to sit through it in the coffee break either. However, King Pot, by D. Crossland & T. Whittaker, which followed, was an excellent lecture and I began to think things were looking up.  Lunch at the pub followed but we had to go on foot because the car key had snapped in half in Martin’s pocket.

After lunch we attended a slide medley in 3D by J. Wooldridge which was very good and would have been even better if the special glasses which had to be worn worked for me. I think I was alone in this respect as everyone else seemed most impressed.  This was followed by the unedited version of Treviso 79, winner of the Mick Burke award for that year.  Tea followed and we rounded up the day with an interesting talk on Mexico by Jim Eyre.

We dined that night in a Turkish restaurant, together with J. Dukes, and Biffo from the Bradford, a concession to me due to missing the previous night.  Feeling pretty tired by now we decided against the Ceilid at the Uni and went to the Star instead.

Having sneaked John into our lodgings we got to sleep in preparation for next day.

Sunday started off with Poro de Xitu, rated quite good, followed by Mulu by Tony Waltham.  Very energetic but lost me in the technicalities.  Morocco by P. Glanville came next followed by an interesting session in the pub along with half the conference.

We trooped back to Solo Caving Techniques a treatise given with the appearance of trying to justify the speaker rather than convince the audience.  Sardinia I can’t comment on because I promptly fell asleep five minutes after the lecture began.  The grand finale of the lectures, and I was glad we saved it to last, was Accidents Happen to other people by Dr. J. Frankland.  This was probably the best lecture I have ever attended in my life being funny while still managing to get over a serious point. The photo awards followed which was the expected bun fight after which most people made a beeline for the door to start the journey home.

For those interested the venue for next year is to be the same, already booked in fact.

G. Grass


More News From Our Northern Correspondent

In one of Nidderdale's major river caves, New Goyden Pot, another half a mile of big stream passage has recently been found.

Geoff Crossley. B.P.C.

After heavy rains in the north Whernside Manor’s Ben Lyon took a party into Bar Pot only to find that South East passage was sumped.  Later a party of Craven P.C. members found that Gaping Ghyll Main Chamber was flooded to a depth of 35ft.

Apparently the last time this happened, many years ago, it took five years for the system to return to normal.

Fred Weeks.  V.C.C.

B.E.C. Lake District Meet, 1981

Once again the club is off to the Lake District this winter.  The dates are 21st February to 1st March 1981.

Those requiring to stay at the cottages at Langdale should write to : -

Mr Sanderson,
Fir Garth,
Great Langdale,
Nr. Ambleside,
LA22 9JL

Be sure to mention in the booking that you are part of the B.E.C. group, otherwise you could be told that that the cottages are already filled!

The cottages hold up to five bods and the approximate cost will be £30.00 per cottage + VAT and electricity.  Last year the club plus its friends filled all the cottages so we suggest you book early.

Club members looking to share accommodation or transport would do well to contact one of the following people, who are all going up for the week: -

Martin and Glenys Grass, John and Sue Dukes, Chris Batstone, Graham Wilton-Jones (all three of him), Sue Tucker, Jane Clarke, John and Gill Turner, Chris Smart, John Knops, Simon (Woody) Woodman, the Palmer entourage, Greg Villis and Hiss Piggy.

Martin Grass

Graham W-J


QUOTE: - by Mike Palmer, re the recent Peak cavern trip, when water levels seemed rather high, and he had not managed to get into the cave on his last three attempts: -

"Why don't we send someone in to see if it's flooded to save us getting changed!''



by Tim Large

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION:- Everyone is reminded that subs became due on the 1st October.  So far very few people have paid up.  Without your money the club cannot continue to function, pay bills or continuo to provide the facilities you have come to expect. The subscription rates are the same as last year: -

Junior - £6                     Full - £8                        Joint - £12

The last date for payment is 31-Decomber-1980.  After that date your BB will cease and you will have to reapply.  Please send your subs to Fiona Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells.

DINNER 1980: - From all reports everyone appeared to enjoy this event at the Caveman - being attended by 132 members; friends and guests.  Our guest of honour was Harry Bennett, the manager of Cheddar Caves.  The evening was rounded off by a trip around Gough's Cave thanks to the kindness of Mr. Bennett. 'King Solomon’s Temple' echoed to the sound of 'The Exploration Song'.  Pete Franklin said that the last time the club did this was 16 years ago.

CHARTERHOUSE CAVING PERMITS: - are available at the Belfry from either the Hut Warden or any committee member who might be there.  Please make sure yours is up to date.  These are free to members.  Any guests you may take down the Charterhouse Caves can obtain a temporary permit also from the Belfry at a cost of 25p.

FIREWORKS AT THE BELFRY: - Recently an incident at the Belfry involving fireworks caused some damage.  Some members will already know what I am talking about; I don't think I need go into detail.  The outcome of the incident is that besides the person involved being severely warned as to future action, no fireworks or similar devices will be allowed on the club premises.  This applies to possession whether or not they are intended for use.  Any member contravening this committee decision will be suspended from the Belfry immediately until the next committee meeting can decide on further action.

FAIRY CAVE QUARRY: - Notice has been posted in the local newspaper that Hobbs Quarry have applied for planning permission in respect of development of cave and recreation facilities for tourists at the Quarry including a children’s zoo.  Looks like there could soon be another show cave on Mendip!  Maybe that is the best way to preserve caves like Shatter and Withyhill.

AGM 1980:- Though club must have set a record this year in completing the AGM business by 1pm. That included our usual break for lunch and beer.  The meeting was chaired by Alan Thomas.  The voting for the committee produced a return of 80 ballot papers and one of the highest for many years.  In recognition for his services to the club, Martin Cavendar was granted an Honorary Life Membership by the meeting.  For those who may not know Martin, he is a Solicitor, who has over the years helped the club in legal matters.  He also convened the Constitution Sub-Committee in 1978 which resulted in our present constitution.

BREAFAST TIME ON MENDIP: - For those members visiting Mendip who cannot stand the thought of cooking The Red Lion at Green Ore has started providing cooked Breakfast at reasonable prices on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Why not give it a try I'm sure you'll find the food and service good.

NCA EQUIPMENT SUB-COMMITTEE: - I know many members prefer to ignore what they call 'cave politics'.  So go bury your heads in the sand if you must, but one day you will find it to late and your freedom as cavers restricted with no way of finding a remedy to the situation.  The equipment sub-committee caused a stir several years ago with its ideas on reports and how it should lay down the do's and don'ts with regards to equipment.  But we thought we had got over the problem and quelled the misguided individuals concerned.  No such luck.  We now have an equally misguided convenor in one D. Elliot whoever he might be.  I believe he works at that place known as Whernside where they produce 'pseudo cavers'.  Well I am now given to understand that the equipment committee has invited the main manufacturers and suppliers of caving gear to sit on the sub-committee.  They also appear uninterested in caver’s ideas or having regional representation on the committee.  Some snippets that have filtered out are that they are drawing up specifications for the 'ideal' helmet, krab or whatever.  Does this mean that they are dividing up the gear market?  Will we soon only be able to use a certain make of helmet or else risk our insurance void; condemnation from a Coroner or restricted access unless we use the recommended gear?  This sub-committee also appears reluctant to meet on Mendip I wonder why?  What with this and the farce at the last NCA AGM over the election of officers, I wonder what is becoming of our national representative.

Starlight Cave

by Annie Wilton-Jones.

I must admit that, when Ian suggested trip to Starlight cave, I wasn't too keen.  The weather had been bad for quite a while and road conditions were somewhat treacherous.  The snow was still lying in places and the freezing rain was making little impression on it.  A day in front of the fire with some home made wine and a murder mystery sounded infinitely more attractive than huddling in my duvet in a car with a faulty heater, struggling to the entrance and then grovelling around in the dark.  As usual, of course, I gave in and helped to got everything ready,  We'd been told where Starlight Cave was but weren't too sure how to get there, especially as some of the roads were likely to be impassable.  A study of the map showed possible alternatives but, as I'm a lousy navigator, I didn't look forward to trying to direct Ian along these lesser known roads.  Knowing that we would probably have to park at some distance from the entrance we made doubly sure that we knew the route that we would have to take so that we wouldn't have to use the map in the rain.  I honestly didn't believe that any trip would really be worth all this effort.

The journey was as bad as I expected and I wasn’t in the best of tempers as we neared our destination. We drove as close as possible before parking but even so we had some way to go.  I didn’t relish the half mile walk in the freezing rain but I kept telling myself that it would be worth it when we got there.  Knowing that it was a fairly short cave we were a bit taken aback by the 50p a head entrance fee but, having braved the elements thus far, we didn't feel like wasting the effort because of a bit of profiteering by the owner. Reluctantly we paid up, knowing there was no way we could sneak in.  No doubt everybody else feels the same way, thus ensuring that the owner can afford his Christmas drinks!

We had no trouble locating the entrance as it was large and exposed.  The gate was open and a party was leaving.  “Not bad,” said their leader.  "Better than I expected."  Thus encouraged we ventured in.  It was immediately obvious how the cave got its name; the walls were a mass of scintillations, rivalling St. Cuthbert’s Balcony.  I was surprised at the ease of progress it was like walking in Gough's, though everything was on a smaller scale than there.  The formations were very impressive, particularly a pure white curtain of such a delicate appearance that it could have been a real net curtain hanging at our kitchen window.  The crystal pool, inadequately taped, was a fine example of its kind, and the perfection was matched by the pink tinged columns.

So far we had seen no one since we had lost site of the entrance, but this isolation was not to continue.  A noisy party could be heard nearby and, not wishing to get involved with an obviously inexperienced bunch of youths we decided to explore a promising looking side passage. Unfortunately this did not go, ending in a blank wall just out of sight of the main passage.  Resisting the urge to relieve our frustration by putting a B.E.C. sticker on the offending slab, we retraced our steps and continued on our original direction.  While the cave was undoubtedly pretty it was hardly sporting.

A bend in the passage concealed the next formation, which I promptly christened 'Garden Gnome' as it looked just like one of those things you see fishing in the garden pond.

Something that struck us forcibly was the state of preservation of all the formations in view of the cave's obvious entrance and easy nature.  Presumably the strict control of access has a lot to do with it. The cave is only open for part of the year and then only for part of each day.  As this open season is during the winter, bad weather must deter some of the less dedicated but, even so, apparently towards the end of the season large numbers turn up for a trip before it is too late and queues like those at the top of Swildon's '20' are not uncommon.  Luckily, for our trip Ian had chosen a day when the weather was so awful that all a few other parties were around.

Anyway we left 'Garden Gnome' to his fishing and strolled on.  When the going is so easy you get cocksure, don't you?  There I was marching along 'the 'Passage of a Thousand Snowflakes' gazing in amazement at the wonderful, glittering walls and roof when -- crunch!  My boot made contact with a projecting piece of the wall and I crashed headfirst into a daintily decorated alcove.  To my shame I discovered that the decorations were not very dainty anymore.  As there was nothing I could do about it I quickly kicked the bits out of sight and hurried on to catch Ian up.  As usual he wasn't a bit bothered about me - just annoyed about the damage.  For once I saw his point.  How long had it taken to create what I had destroyed in less than a minute?

At last we had come to a bit of a climb which helped to relieve the monotony of the previously level cave.  It was a simple climb and the passage leading away from it was of the same character as that leading to it.  By now I was wondering what made this trip so popular as the formations alone didn't satisfy me and I knew that Ian was feeling the same way.  If it hadn't been for the 50p entrance fee I think we might have called it a day.  As it was we were determined to get our money's worth.

I was wishing that we had made this a photographic trip as the formations were worth recording.  I felt sure that they could not last for much longer in their superb condition.  I had already done my bit towards their destruction and I wouldn't be the last.  Ian though had been certain that there would be nothing worth filming and, as he prefers to cave empty-handed whenever possible, he had left his box at home.

We explored every side passage and one or two avens but found that nothing went anywhere when suddenly we came into a fairly large cavern.  From the appearance of the large white boss standing at the entrance to this cavern we deduced that we had reached Snowman's Grotto, the largest chamber in the cave and the end of the known system.  As Ian was convinced that there must be a way on, we started exploring all the likely spots even though, as I pointed out, everybody else must have done the same.

It was Ian who found the most promising place, a small, round passage, leading downwards, choked with sand.  I joined him on hearing his shout and reluctantly started to dig at the sand with my hands, as he was doing.  "If it seems worth it we can come back later with some digging gear."

"I can feel something solid," I said to Ian.

"Oh, yes?" said a strange voice, and I turned to see an oldish chap in a red and white goon suit.

"Well, the lucky dip' is for the under-thirteen’s so you'd better get your hands out of it. And don't be too long with your Christmas present list as it's time for my lunch break!"


Marlow 11mm Polyester SRT Rope

The production of Marlow 11mm polyester SRT rope was almost cancelled because of the small caving market potential.  But following the raid on the Iranian Embassy by the SAS on three strand hawser which had been taken straight out of store and thrown over the side of the building, and the result of one SAS man hung up on a kink they decided that they needed kermantle rope and so contacted Marlow.  Marlow sent a sample of the 11mm SRT rope for evaluation, a group of Saudi Arabian reps saw the rope and ordered it for use by their forces (in black!).  Later an order was placed by the British Army for the SAS and all helicopter - borne units, which now gives Marlow 11mm Polyester SRT Rope a much bigger market outside of caving!

NEWS extracted from BCRA Caves and Caving No. 10, Nov. 1980.

The new system in East Kingsdale discovered by the N.C.C. and mentioned briefly in last month's B.B. is confirmed as being a big extension to Brown Hill Pot.  Martin Bishop is visiting it this year and has all but promised an article on the place.

The lower entrance to King Pot is now closed up again, as agreed with the farmer, so don't go trying any rappelling through.  On the subject of rappel trips (where the rope is pulled on through and exit made at the bottom of the system) Stu Lindsey has written an article on this which will appear in the January B.B.

Sorry, Stu, but I just didn't have time to get it in this edition.

Before King Pot lower entrance was blocked Geoff Yeadon pushed the upstream sump and extended the system by around 1000 feet.

On the West side of the valley of Kingsdale avens under Jingling have been climbed with maypoles and bolts, but there seems to be little hope of a connection from Pot to Master Cave here.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List October 1980

828 Nicolette Abell               Michaelmas Cottage, Faulkland, Bath

20 L Bobby Bagshaw            699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon

392 L Mike Baker                 10 Riverside Walk, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon

295 A. Ball                           4 Charlotte Street, Cheadle, Cheshire

818 Chris Batstone               8 Prospect Place, Bathford, Bath, Avon

390 L Joan Bennett               8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L Roy Bennett                8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

731 Bob Bidmead                 Valley Way, Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol

364 L Pete Blogg                  5 Tyrolean Court, Cheviot Close, Avenue Rd., Banstead, Surrey

336 L A. Bonner                   Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland

145 L Sybil Bowden-Lyle       111 London Road, Calne, Wiltshire

959 Chris Bradshaw              9 Coles Road, Wells, Somerset

868 Dany Bradshaw              7 Creswicke, Bristol

967 Michael Brakespeare      7 Red Pit, Dilton Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire

751 L T.A. Brookes               87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2

891 N.R. Brown                    The Barn, Lazy Lane, Fladbury, Pershore, Worcs.

756 T. Burt                           6 Roundwood Lane, Harpenden, Herts.

956 Ian Caldwell                   44 Strode Road, Clevedon, Avon.

977 Tony Callard                  75 Winter Road, Southsea, Hampshire

955 Jack Calvert                   4 The Hollow, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.

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

965 G. Childs                       Wheels, Southwater Street, Southwater, Nr. Horsham, Surrey

785 Paul Christie                  7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

782 Pat Christie                   7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

655 Colin Clark                     186 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol

211 L Clare Coase                The Belfry, 10 Shannon Parade, Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia

89 L Alfie Collins                  Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset

377 L D. Cooke-Yarborough   No known address

862 Bob Cork                       25 The Mead, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset

585 Tony Corrigan                139 Stockwood Lane, Stockwood, Bristol

827 Mike Cowlishaw             c/o Hilston, Cleveland Walk, Bath, Avon

890 Jerry Crick                     2 Coneacre, Chertsey Road, Windelsham, Surrey

680 Bob Cross                     42 Baynham Road, Knowle, Bristol

870 G. Cullen                       47 Eversfield Road, Horsham, Sussex

405 L Frank Darbon              PO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

423 L Len Dawes                  The Lodge, Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire

449 Garth Dell                      BLD 47 (Press), COD Donnington, Telford, Salop.

815 Nigel Dibben                  97 Worth Clough, Poynton, Cheshire

164 L Ken Dobbs                  85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon

972 Mike Duck                     c/o Wells Cathedral School, Wells, Somerset

830 John Dukes                   Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

937 Sue Dukes                    Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             11 Catherine Place, Bath

779 Jim Durston                   Hill View, Old Beat, Maidendown, Nr. Burlescombe, Tiverton, Devon

322 L Bryan Ellis                  30 Main Road, Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset

269 L Tom Fletcher               11 Cow Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham.

894 P. Ford                          40 Station Road, Greenfield, Holywell, Clwyd, N. Wales

947 P. Ford                          CPO’s Mess, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset

404 L Albert Francis             22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset

468 Keith Franklin                42 Ann Street, Dandenong, Victoria 3175, Australia

569 Joyce Franklin               16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

469 Pete Franklin                 16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

978 Sheila Furley                 1 Lower Actis, Glastonbury, Somerset

835 Len Gee                        5 The Warren, Denton, Manchester

265 Stan Gee                       26 Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport.

647 Dave Glover                   c/o Leisure, Green Lane, Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire

860 Glenys Grass                13 Granville Road, Luton, Beds

790 Martin Grass                  13 Granville Road, Luton, Beds

432 L Nigel Hallet                 62 Cranbrook Road, Bristol

104 L Mervyn Hannam          14 Inskip Place, St Annes, Lancashire

4 L Dan Hasel                      Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

893 D. Hatherley                  6 Withiel Drive, Cannington, Bridgewater, Somerset

935 Lynne Henley                 10 Silver Street, Wells, Somerset

974 Jeremy Henley               Rogate, Leg Square, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

917 Robin Hervin                  12 York Buildings, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

952 Robert Hill                     32 Ridings Mead, Chippenham, Wiltshire

905 Paul Hodgson                47 Wylie Road, Hoo, Rochester, Kent

793 Mike Hogg                     32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warks

898 E. Hollis                        1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 A. Hollis                        1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

920 Nick Holstead                7 Wingfield Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

387 L George Honey             Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden

971 C. Houlden                    16 Brue Close, Bruton, Somerset

770 Chris Howell                  131 Sandon Road, Cadbsoton, Birmimgham

923 Trevor Hughes                Wardroom, HMS Bulwark, BFPO Ships, London

855 Ted Humphreys              Frekes Cottage, Moorsite, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

808 J. Hunt                          35 Congre Road, Filton, Bristol

73 Angus Innes                    18 David’s Close, Alveston, Bristol, Aven

969 Duncan Innes                 0

540 L Dave Irwin                   Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Somerset

792 Ken James                    20 Osprey Gardens, Worle, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

922 Tony Jarratt                   British High Commission, PO Box MS521, Maseru, Lothoso, S. Africa

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

560 L Frank Jones                103 Wookey Hole Road, Wells, Somerset

285 U. Jones                        Woking Grange, Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey

907 Karen Jones                  Room 63, New Ednd Nurses Home, New End Hospital, Hampstead, London NW3

567 L Alan Kennett               9 Hillburn, Henleaze, Brsitol

884 John King                      1 St. George Street, Partridge Green, Horsham, Sussex

316 L R.S. King                    22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L Phil Kingston              9 Lingfield, St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia

413 L R. Kitchen                  Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon

904 C. Knight                       Whitebrook Fisheries, Whitebrook, Llanuaches, Newport, Gwent

946 A. Knutson                    21 Milford Street, Southville, Bristol

874 D. Lampard                    Woodpeckers, 11 Springfield Park Road, Horsham, Sussex

667 L Tim Large                   53 Portway, Wells, Somerset

958 Fiona Lewis                   53 Portway,  Wells, Somerset

930 S. Lindsay                     5 Laburnum Walk, Keynsham, Bristil

574 L O.C. Lloyd                  Withey House, Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

58 G. Lucy                           Pike Croft, Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks

495 L Val Luckwill                8 Greenslade Road, Sedgeley hill, Dudley, Worcs.

550 L R A MacGregor           12 Douro Close, Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants

725 Stuart McManus            Greystones, Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset

106 L E.J. Mason                 33 Bradleys Avenue, Henleaze, Bristol

976 Mark Matthews              3 The Barton, Compton Martin, Bristol

957 Dave Maurison               27 Maurise Walk, London NW1

558 L A. Meaden                  Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset

963 Clare Merritt                   9 Pipsmore Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire

704 D. Metcalfe                    10 troughton Crescent, Blackpool, Lancs.

308 K. Murray                      17 Harrington Gardens, London  SW7

936 D. Nichols                     2 Hartley Road, Exeter, Devon

852 J. Noble                         18 Hope Place, Tennis Courts Rod, Paulton, Bath

880 G. Nye                          7 Ramsey Road, Horsham, Surrey

938 Kevin O’Neil                   99 Forest Road, Melksham, Wiltshire

964 Lawrie O’Neil                 99 Forest Road, Melksham, Wiltshire

624 J. Orr                            8 Wellington Terrace, Winklebury, Basingstoke, Hants.

396 L Mike Palmer               Laurel Farm, YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset

22 L Les Peters                    21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon

499 L A. Philpott                  3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon

961 Mick Phinster                4 Old Mill Lane, Inverness, Scotland

337 Brian Prewer                  East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset

622 Colin Priddle                  PO Box 14048, Wadeville 1422, South Africa

481 L John Ransom              21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon

452 L Pam Rees                  No Known Address

343 L A Rich                        Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada

672 L R Richards                  PO Box 141, Jacobs, Natal, South Africa

945 S. Robins                      16 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

970 T. Roberts                     67 Mendip Road, Yatton, Avon

921 P. Rose                         18 Hocombe Drive, Chandlers Ford, Hants

832 R. Sabido                      15 Concorde drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

941 J. Sampson                   8 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

240 L A. Sandall                   43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

359 L C. Sandall                   43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

760 J. Sandercroft                5 Eastcroft, Henleaze, Bristol

237 L B. Scott                      Merrymead, Havestock Road, Winchester Hants

78 L R.A. Setterington          4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset

213 L R. Setterington            4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4

926 S. Short                        Flat 3, 1 South road, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

915 C. Smart                       10 Arnold Road, Woking, Surrey

823 A. Sparrow                    33 St. Thomas Street, Bath, Avon

851 M. Stafford                     28 Rowan Close, Sonning Common, Reading, Berks.

1 L Harry Stanbury               31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol

38L Mrs I Stanbury               74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol

575 L D. Statham                 The Bungallow, North Barrow, Yeovil, Somerset

365 L R. Stenner                  18 Stafford Place, Weston super Mare, Avon

865 P. Stokes                      32 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey

968 J. Tasker                       281 Canford lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Brsitol

772 Nigel Taylor                   Whidden Farm, Chilcote, Nr Wells, Somerset

919 T. Temple                      HMS Eskimo, BFPO Ships.

284 L A. Thomas                  Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                   Pendant, Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford

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

876 N. Thorne                      20 Hawkers Lane, Wells, Somerset

699 Buckett Tilbury               15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks

80 Postle Thompsett             11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L Dizzie Thompsett          11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L D. Towler                    7 Ross Close, Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L J. Tuck                       33 Crown Rise, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

382 S. Tuck                         Colles Close, Wells, Somerset

769 Sue Tucker                    Colles Close, Wells, Somerset

678 Dave Turner                   Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath

912 J. Turner                        Styles Weeks, Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.

635 L S. Tuttlebury               28 Beacon Close, Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

887 G. Villis                         30 Knightcott Gardens, Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

175 L D. Waddon                 32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset

949 J. Watson                      113 Abbey Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

953 J. Watson                      15 Farm Grove, Southfields, Rugby, Warks.

973 J. Wells                         1324 Leyland Drive, Yorkyown, New York 10598

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

861 Maureen Wheedon         91 The Oval, Bath

553 R. White                        Cedar Hall, Henley Lane, Wookey, Wells, Somerset

975 M. White                       Garland House, Upton, Langport, Somerset

878 Ross White                   PO38389Y, 5 Troop, B. Company, 40 Comando Royal Marines, Seaton Barracks, Crown Hill, Plymouth, Devon

939 Woly Wilkinson              17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

940 Val Wilkinson                17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                Address unknown

885 Claire Williams               Address unknown

559 Barry Wilton                  Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

568 Brenda Wilton                Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

943 Simon Woodman           Link Batch, Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon

877 Steve Woolven               21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman              11 Moreland, 11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath

878 Ross White                   30 Curley Hill Road, Lightwater, Surrey.

916 Jane Wilson                   University Laboratory of Psychology, Park Road, Oxford

559 Barry Wilton                  Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

568 Brenda Wilton                Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     Ileana, Stenfield Road, Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands

738 Roger Wing                   15 Penleaze Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex

877 Steve Woolven               21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman              11 Moreland, 11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones, 24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) 28270.

Club Officers for the year 1980/81 as elected at the Annual General Meeting: -

Hon. Secretary

Hon. Treasurer

Hut Warden

Hut Engineer


Caving Secretary

B.B. Editor

Committee Members

Tim Large

Sue Tucker

Dany Bradshaw

Nigel Taylor

John Dukes

Martin Grass

Graham Wilton-Jones

Sue Dukes

Stu Lindsay










(0749) 73960 (work)

(0761) 35165



(0749) 75686

(0582) 35145

(0296) 28270

(0749) 75686

With this, my first B.B., I have already managed to build up a small, relatively local editorial team who have assisted greatly in production.  I am still hoping to find more people able and willing to help with the initial copying of stencils.  Three people so far have offered photo-copying facilities, usually at their place of work. Are there any more offers, please. Let me know when you see me (I'll probably be nagging for articles at the time!) or drop me a line (with an article, of course).

It's a long time since we had decent photographs reproduced in a Belfry Bulletin.  If anyone has access to an electrostatic stencil cutter and can therefore copy photos onto Gestetner stencils please tell me a.s.a.p. Alternatively if you can reproduce slides or prints onto offset litho plates and can do the necessary printing, we need you.  At present we need about 220 copies of each B.B.  If you have to make a charge, let me know how much - it could still be worth it.

We will shortly run out of B.B. covers.  At current rates of production we need 5000 for two years.  Look at yours this month.  Can you make 5000?  For nothing, or very little?  Offers please.



Visit To October Grotto

Last year we read of Stu Lindsey dangling over the drop into G.G. in Yorkshire Now he relates his visit to Kingsdale Master Cave.

The day after the G.G. achievement saw me as the guests of Messrs Younitz, Hudson and Kinghorn in the Kingsdsle Master Cave.  These three intrepid Y.S.S. bods had spent the fast few weeks bolting an aven near Philosophers Crawl, initially with the aid of a maypole, and one more bolt should do it…. it did.  The honour of being first in was to be denied to Steve Y; constricted access and the low hang of the ladder required the efforts of the midget of the party. Access was gained to about 20ft of passage and the look of disappointment was paramount on the faces of the digging team.  But, they had found a superb, heavily decorated chamber - Helictite Grotto.

The obvious way on was blocked by a series of large, very solid stal flows, stalactites and stalagmites. The floor was also of stal. Turning around to descend, one cannot help but notice the straws in the solid roof opposite, they are in excess of 4ft (more probably 5ft.).  All possible ways on were investigated, except for the stal blockage.  There were none.

The name October Grotto was given by S.Y.  The maypole and other gear has been removed although a bolt has been left at the 30ft level.  A small, intermittent draught is present possibly caused through the volume of traffic relative to the volume of traffic - its one place that could challenge Swildon's for most people per minute, per passage!  The bottom of the aven is liquid mud, the top clean rock so it is probable the mud has been deposited by the stream 8ft lower.  The fluting of the wall provides reasonably conclusive evidence that the passage was once quite an active inlet.


Monthly Notes

Recently an ex-member of the club, Denis Read, turned up at the Hunter's (he left in 1952!!).  After donating some old copies of the B.B. his and Wessex Journal to the club library he invited any member round to house to help him get rid of 91.75 gallons of home-made wine that is cluttering up his living room.  Any takers!!

Denis's address is: 37, Broomground, Winsley, Bradford-on-Avon. tel. Bradford-an-Avon 6315.

On 26th Oct. Dave Morris, Rob Palmer and Martyn Farr dived the terminal sump of Agen Allwedd. Visibility was poor and much loose line had to be removed from the sump (4) before progress could be made. Eventually 300 feet of new line was laid in the sump and a line reel left in.  Exploration was terminated here.  The trip lasted 17 hours and was the first attempt on the sump since the tragic death of Roger Solari during June 1974.

A small expedition, mainly of S.W.C.C. members, left the U.K. last month for Ecuador.  Originally a much larger party should have gone in August but the main sponsors, British Caledonian Airways, withdrew and the trip had to be drastically reorganised.

Pages 8 and 9 of this issue show the long awaited survey of the Lionel's Hole extensions.  The end sump has recently been dived again, this time by Chris Milne (WCC) but again without success.  However two promising digging sites were noted near to the sump and it is hoped that these can be probed soon.  Lionel's is nowhere near finished yet.


Triple Troubles in the Double Troubles

The writer of this poem wishes to remain anon., but wonders if the characters portrayed recognise themselves!

We lay in 'The Hunters'
where we were in training,
and then we got worried
because it stopped raining.

We looked at each other
and let out a curse,
we would have to go caving
now what could be worse!

All three staggered out
feeling quite sick,
when some silly bugger
felt like a 'round trip'.

Frank was all keen
his mind must have blown,
for no word of a lie
he must weigh 18 stone.

Dave gave us a grin
and said he felt queer,
we all knew what that meant
as he brings up the rear.

Now I lit my pipe
and thought I would show 'em,
I'm the best of the lot
'cause I'm writing this poem.

So off to the green
and with lifeline and belay,
we got up the staircase
without too much delay.

On over the fields
it seemed like five miles,
and with Dave's half a pint limit
he soaked all the stiles.

Now into the blockhouse
and sit in the stream,
this just can't be true
it must be a bad dream.

Now trampling on cubs
and people in jeans,
we cleared out 'The Twenty'
with blasts of baked beans.

Up through the ' Temple'
and through the 'Mud Sump',
with Frank in the middle
the 'Incredible Lump'.

We pressed on with haste
and passed 'Shatter Pot',
falling into 'Blue Pencil'
a right shitty lot.

T'was at the first trouble
we got in a muddle,
it sumped off completely
when Dave pissed in a puddle.

He thought it quite funny
but soon lost his grin,
when 'we bailed with his helmet and left his head in.

So we pressed ever forwards
on sore hands and knees,
and Frank's moment of truth came at 'Birthday Squeeze'.

It took Dave ten minutes
and many a groan, 
Frank looked at his guts
and let out a moan.

He took off his helmet
and left off his light,
and shoved his head in
'till it fast stuck tight.

His bum seemed the problem
as his belly moved down,
it filled up his trousers
and they began to come down.

Dave pulled and I pushed
Frank let out a wheeze,
and said 'Deary me'
this is a tight squeeze.

He just couldn't get through
in his rubber suit,
even with help
from a size 14 boot.

So I pulled him back out
and he had an idea,
he said he would undress
I said 'That seems queer'.

He pulled off his jacket
and I said stop there,
'cause under his trousers
I know he was bare.

Some things are alright
and all this seemed fun,
but for one thousand quid
I won't look up his bum.

Dave said we need 'bang'
So I put in the boot,
and low  and behold
out did Frank shoot.

Now just at that moment
Dave was pulling him too, a
and he ended up
somewhere near 'Swildons Two'.

So next tine you're round there please give Frank a ring,
if you happen to find
a few layers of skin.

P.S. Now why do we do this
is it just for a lark,
or do we like groping
round holes in the dark

Couldn't we just turn the lights out!!


More Monthly Notes

Wig is now confirmed as an OFD I leader once more.  His phone no. is: Priddy 369.

Last month (October) the aven in Cooper's collapsed up to daylight.  Full details will appear in next month's B.B.

Pete and Alison (WCC) have, as usual, been active all over Mendip.  In Eastwater the rift at the bottom of Primrose Pot is now 50 feet long, draughting but very narrow.

At the end of October a dye test was conducted between Sludge Pit and Swildons.  If the results are positive I'll publish more details soon. In Longwood Pete and Alison are slowly but steadily pushing along the narrow, aqueous end of Reynolds’s Rift towards the sound of roaring streamway.

Still in Longwood, Speleo RHal have found over 200 feet of passage extending off the top of Waterfall Chamber.  It heads north and ends not far from the surface, near the present entrance. Radio location has shown inaccuracies in the original survey of up to 60 feet.

Tim Large reports that a well decorated chamber has been found at the very end of Goatchurch. Someone has dug under the 'impassable' rift beyond the Drainpipe and up through loose boulders to reach the chamber.

Thanks to Descent for the last two items of news.  It is good to see at least one of our national caving publications carrying up-to-date news.

In East Kingsdale, N.C.C. have done it again.  At the end of a previously known cave they have discovered a series of pitches, up to 90 feet deep for the largest.  The system is tight and strenuous.  That is a quote from Lugger and Geoff Yeadon who also say that at the bottom is an uninviting but promising sump.  "It'll be a long time before anyone dives that," one of them said.  More on East, and West, Kingsdale next month.

On the international scene, news has almost been flooding in during recent months of exceptionally deep caves, over 1000m in fact.  In May a connection between two of the Sistema Huautla caves in Mexico gave a depth of 1220 metres.

For some time now there have been rumours that Snieznaja Pieszcziera, at the eastern end of the Black Sea, was 1200m deep.  Confirmation comes through Descent once again that the 9 km system is 1280m deep.

Jean Pernette reports on a system 1195m deep in the lapiaz beyond Anialarra, in the P.S.M. area. The underground river is enormous and must be the St. Georges that resurges as the Cascade in the Kakoueta gorge. The cave has over 500m further depth potential.  The Cascade led to the original explorations of the area and the discovery of the P.S.M. The new, parallel system should be even bigger than the P.S.M.  Thus may end over 30 years of systematic prospecting.

One rumour - of a 500m deep shaft system ending only tens of metres from the highest part of Lamprechshofen, 1024m.


Annual Lake District Meet 1981


Saturday February 21st to March 1st  inclusive

Contact martin grass or Graham W-J for details and/or transport/accommodation   

Caving Secretary’s Report, 1980

Although no major finds have been made by the B.E.C. on Mendip, 1980 has been an active year for the Club.  Let's hope it continues throughout the decade.  During the year access was negotiated once again to the far reaches of Gough's Cave, and through the goodwill of the manager the Club has started two promising digs as well as diving a newly found sump.  Other caves in the Gorge which were previously 'out of bounds' have been visited and a dig started in Cooper's Hole in an attempt to link this with Gough’s.  In fact the management are so keen for this to happen that they reported that the connection had been made to H.T.V.!  Both sites are being dug regularly every Wednesday afternoon, by a small group of B.E.C. businessmen.

Other dig sites being actively pursued by Club members are Manor Farm and a new site in Dan yr Ogof.

As far as organised Club meets are concerned, these have been limited to caves where access is difficult, thus ensuring a good turnout of members Otter Hole, White Scar Cave and Dan yr Ogof have all seen at least one visit this year.  Club members again attended the Gaping Ghyll Whitsun winch meet and large group of B.E.C. and other clubs descended on Crickhowell for the Easter holiday.

The main Club expedition this year was back to Austria to continue the exploration of Barengassewindschacht.  Last year's limit was passed and exploration eventually ended at a pitch, thought to lead to a depth of about 400 metres.  A return this winter is planned to pass this obstacle.

Nearer home, in Cuthbert's, the Arête ladder has been removed to be strengthened and repaired but will be replaced in the near future.

(space for Editorial snigger)

Overall it has been a good, active year, with even a trip into Mossdale while it was raining!!

Martin Grass.


Letter to the Editor

Dear Graham,

A note for the B.B. if of any interest.

"Whilst on holiday at Erze-sur-mer, near Nice in the South of France, I visited the Club MarteI, 15, Av. Jean Medecin, Nice, 06000.  They meet every Thursday at 8.30 p.m. to discuss caving and the trips to be arranged for the following Sunday in the Alpes Maritime.

The president of the club is M. Greach, who speaks some English.

There are many caves in the region up to 5 km long, some with sumps for divers, and even with streams at temperatures up to 21°C though some are down to 2oC.

Anyone interested in joining them for a trip should call in to a Thursday meeting.

Obviously I gave them details of the B.E.C.

Yours sincerely, Jeremy Henley.


Many thanks to Tuska for donating his B.E.C. Dinner raffle prize, a copy of Martyn Farr's excellent book, 'The Darkness Beckons', to the Club library.


Lionel's Hole Extension Survey



The BEC Get Everywhere - Transvaal, South Africa

a letter from J - Rat.

Having a couple of weeks to spare the writer grabbed rucksack, aquaflash and borrowed diamond miner’s helmet and with thumb in the air tramped into the uninteresting prairies of the Orange Free State en route to the Rand goldfields and the Pope.  For newer members this particular Pope is not the one that Macanus tells jokes about, but an exiled Belfryite - Colin Priddle.  In true tradition the pair downed copious quantities of ale, retold the usual stories and then started thinking about caves.

A visit to the show cave of Sterkfontein, an hour’s drive from Johannesburg whetted their appetites.  Despite being situated in an almost desert like scrubland area of low hills - with no sign of karstic features - the cave was found to be an impressive phreatic network.  Several hundred feet of sculptured and well decorated passages were visited.  The rock formation here is Dolomite and bare rock walls resemble elephant skin - dark grey and beautifully eroded. Unfortunately many of the formations were vandalised, partly due to mining and quarrying operations and partly to an irate ex-leaseholder with a load of dynamite.  In the depths of this extensive cave lay a gloomy, placid lake which obviously stirred hidden desires in the Pope.  He was talked out of leaping in and removed from the cave to vent his passions on photographing the multi-coloured genitals of some local monkeys. A notable point of interest on this cave is that it is one of South Africa's most important archaeological sites - having yielded many remains of extinct fauna and several examples of early "ape-men".

A couple of days later the writer left the Pope to his gold analysing and caught an overnight train to Nelspruit in the E. Transvaal.   From here the monotonous landscape of the Veldt began to develop into picturesque hill country.  Some 20km from the town is the excellent show cave of Sudwala, again a phreatic system in Dolomite with both dead and growing formations. The "railway tunnel" entrance passages were once used by Sobhuz to hide from invading Zulus. Fierce battles took place here and in the valley below -  the Swazis only surviving with help from a BDoer commando camp.  Rider haggard also visited the cave, using it as a prop for his books "She" and "King Solomon’s Mines".  During the Boer War it was used as a Boer ammunition store for their "Long Tom" 94 pounder cannon.  The cave has over 4km of explored passage - much of the original exploration, survey and research having been undertaken by Derbyshire caver Harold Jackson and now in the hands of C.R.O.S.A. (Cave Research Organisation of South Africa - more of whom later).

Having done the tourist trip, admired the pretties and affixed "Bertie Stickers", the writer enquired about trips beyond the show cave and was told to try the following weekend.  He then headed off for the next cave, 100km north, spending the night at one of S.A.'s only decent pubs in the old mining village of Pilgrim’s Rest.

Two days later Echo Cave was reached.  A tatty museum in Bushman's Rock Shelter was looked at on the road to the cave - notable mainly for the impressive digging derrick which resembled a Medieval Catapult. This was duly photographed in order that Dark Satanic can weld one up for us.  On arrival at Echo Cave itself the writer was taken through the show cave by a Basuto Small Boy called "Boy", a sort of 10 year old black Dave Yeandle.  The tourist route is not over impressive.  Loads of dry broken stal litter and conspicuous electric cables with bare light bulbs were the main impression.  At one point Boy beat frantically on a stale with a rubber mallet to show off the echo from which the cave gets its name.  Beyond the lights several dark passages lurked - prompting the writer to ask about trips beyond.  He was instantly sent back into the cave with Boy (clutching a Tilley lamp) for a swift through trip via the Western Series to exit from a shaft further round the hill.  Huge, gloomy phreatic tunnels and a 300ft long by 100ft high chamber proved more spectacular than the tourist route.

Deciding to camp at the cave and explore further the following day, your scribe later met Steve Sehoombe - Afrikaner ex-pro boxer and new cave owner.  Steve had a survey of the system but having little knowledge of caves he wanted the place explored to confirm the existence of a supposed passage leading to another exit 16km away.  In payment for this, free luxury - accommodation and meals were offered!! Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth (and despite having to go UNDERGROUND) the writer accepted this generous offer and promptly got rigid with Steve and his mates to celebrate - swapping English jokes for Afrikaner tales of one "Van de Murver" (a S.A. version of "Murphy").

The following day, Friday, a phone call to the Pope elicited a quick response.  He immediately took the afternoon off and drove the 360km to the cave.  During the next couple of days the B.E.C. Africa Section explored practically every passage, including several not on the survey, for a total extent of less than 2km. The fabled 16km passage did not exist but much of interest was found in the system.  A high level grotto contained a superb old false floor.  A 15 ft wide gap was crossed by a 6 inch diameter tree root which bored off down a side passage, dropped 12 ft vertically and - like a water main or grotesque fossilised snake - continued off down another gallery for several hundred feet.  The Pope’s fascination for monkeys was again demonstrated when he was photographed hanging from the root where it bridged the false floor.  Other finds of note were three ancient beer cans left by previous explorers and some fine quartz "Boxworks" formations. Two Afrikaner lads and a girl hitch-hiker were also shown round the cave.

One of the systems most impressive sights was unwittingly found by the writer on a solo evening trip - or rather they found him.  Several horseshoe bats had been noticed hanging in ceiling pockets or occasionally flying about but just before 6 p.m. a marked increase in activity was observed. Suffering from loneliness, severe hangover and a scalpel-like gash in the leg, the writer was not amused when he was suddenly surrounded by scores of dive bombing bats.  With nerves on edge and thoughts of rabies and histoplasmosis - and not helped by skeletal remains of 6" centipedes littering the place - he crept bravely across the floor of the huge chamber with the increasing bat population whistling round his ears.  Realisation dawned that it was time for the nightly bat flight and the writer and several hundred Berties shot out of the shaft entrance in disarray.  Although only a few bats were seen underground, a visit to the entrance the following evening showed that at least 2,500 were in residence. They were coming out at about a hundred a minute and after half an hour we gave up watching them.  It is to be hoped that Pope's photos of the flight came out - and also an interesting snap of a Zulu night watchman with Bertie stickers on both his overalls and his knob kerrie!

Having wrapped up our exploration we bid a fond farewell to Steve and family and headed south in Pope's car, pausing to look at the spectacular Blyde River Canyon and some superb sandstone potholes in the river bed en route.  On Sunday evening we were back at Sudvala Cave. The tent was erected and some local cavers winkled out.  An evening of dedicated alcohol consumption proved most entertaining when the cave owner, Phillip Owen, turned up.  Within twenty minutes it was obvious that this as Africa's answer to Trevor Hughes.  Standing on a table in the cave restaurant he executed two superb striptease acts and then proceeded to do a "Ginger Baker" act on the crockery - drumming several plates, cups etc. into millions of fragments.  The rest of the evening is just a blurred haze!

Our Feelings and language can thus be appreciated when at 7 a.m. next morning a hairy faced Afrikaner dragged us out of our pits for a trip to Crystal Chamber - beyond the show cave. Pikkie, a C.R.O.S.A. member, sometimes takes parties of up to thirty novices through this muddy, boulder-filled crawl.  The fine crystals and helictites made the trip worthwhile though, and rounded off an excellent few days of caving and boozing.  Our thanks to Steve, C.R.O.S.A. and the S.A. Brewery Company for making the visit so pleasant.

Anyone interested in further information on the above caves can obtain this from the writer (who is writing this from his pit in a mountain chalet and worrying even more about Histoplasmosis!)

A.R. Jarratt.
Sept. '80


Speleo Teaser

by Chris (Blitz) Smart.

The following is a variation of an old puzzle which consists of a basic sixteen facts - your problem is simply to determine who drinks cider and who caves in Rhino.  I wish you the best of luck.  The answer will be published next month.

1.                  There are five clubs which, due to rebuilding, are now all next to each other in a row.

2.                  The Southerner is a member of the B.E.C.

3.                  The Northerner caves in Swildons.

4.                  Badger is drunk by the Wessex.

5.                  The Welshman drinks Arkells.

6.                  The Wessex is situated immediately to the right of the U.B.S.S.

7.                  The caver who uses SRT does so in Cuthbert’s.

8.                  Ladder is used by the M.C.G.

9.                  Butcombe is drunk in the middle club hut.

10.              The Irish caver stays in the first club hut.

11.              The speleologist who crawls stays in the hut that is next door to that of the Caver who visits Longwood.

12.              Ladder is used by the club next to the club who cave in Stoke.

13.              The free-diver drinks Royal Oak.

14.              The Scottish caver free-climbs.

15.              The Irish spelunker belongs to the club next to the Shepton.

16.              In each club one technique only is used, in just one cave, by one regional caver who only drinks one particular brew.

In next month's B.B. articles on South African caves and cave art, by J-Rat, some thoughts on Wigmore from Trev Hughes, Elm Cave exploration by Colin Houlden, more details about Coopers Hole,compiled by Chris Smart, and MANY OTHERS, I hope!

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Bad News From Nordrach

The New Year celebrations were sadly marred by news that the recently completed H.Q. of M.C.G. had been destroyed in an explosion.          The sight of the ruin shocked all who saw it the next morning.  What remained of the building will have to be demolished and a complete rebuild undertaken.  Luckily it was insured and we all wish the MCG good fortune and every success in 1980.

Dates For Your Diary

April 5th NCA Symposium ‘Caves and Community’, Buxton.

September 22-28 European Regional Speleo Conference, Sofia, Bulgaria.


Address Change

Phil Kingston, 9 Linfield Street, Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia

For older member the address of Bob Mayhew (of the Shepton) may be of interest:

40 Park Road, Southport, Merseyside.

The Odd Note

Charterhouse Caving Committee Permits

Members are reminded that permits are valid so long as you are a member of a CCC member club.  When your membership lapses or the permit is outdated are no longer covered by the insurance policies of both the CCC and the BEC. Secondly, only people over the 16 are allowed to descend the CCC controlled caves - this rule also applies to married minors.

Tim Large and Chris Batstone are the BEC leaders for the Cerberus controlled Shatter Cave.  Members wishing to descend this cave should contact either of these people.  Should you write direct to the CSS they will refuse to take you and point you into the direction of the BEC leaders.  This arrangement has been revived following protracted negotiations with the CSS and the club committee.

DYO - Graham Wilton-Jones is our leader into this cave.

In case you have not yet read the last page in this DB - this is your last BB until you pay the 1980 subscription.

Recalling orgies of the past Alan Thomas now has his story for the Absent Friends at the 1980 BEC Annual Dinner to be held on October 4th.  MAKE A NOTE.


Sludge Pit

Stu Lindsey notes the work carried out in Sludge Pit recently by club members…. 

Since the cave was first opened numerous persons have unsuccessfully pitted their wits against the very imposing sump, or the choked passage above (an exercise which never fails to fill the sump pool with an excess of un-required spoil!!!!)   It was over 2 years ago that Tom Temple and myself commenced our first digging trip, at the time it was a diversification from Wigmore, ‘the international one’!  During those winter months up until April, when most of our tools walked, we laid a pipeline between the dams to allow us to dump spoil in the streamway. Our efforts, with occasional assistance from others, soon showed a marked lowering of the sump pool area, about 2 ft. being attained, mainly by Tom's aggressive spade work after he had removed the greater part of his clothing?  Activities began to decline when Tom's “Exped” tour ended, and as previously mentioned the tools sprouting legs and walking.

However the turn of 1979 saw a new set of tools, a new digging team (at this time a bit conspicuous by their absence) and a renewed assault on the sump.  The area was cleared up, and prepared for some “MENDIP MAGIC”.  After three visits by the chemical activator, progress was determined at -3ft plus. This depth was however short lived, the Austrian Exped and holidays allowed vandals to kink, and thus block the pipe.  This resulted in water washing over the spoil heap, and the head of the water behind the dam finding a way through the shale bedding*!?*!

Two attempts were made to stabilize the site, with no success.  I have decided since that the only way to combat with the interference etc: is by removing the roof, thus handling only nice solid "BUILDING BRICKS'; at present Tim Large is giving occasional assistance; but anyone else who fancies themselves with a lump hammer would be welcome.

Stu L.


Austria - another view


Austria of course is not all drinking Stiegel, or trekking miles and miles - sorry kms and kms for the dubious pleasure of ripping to shreds an Enduro suit in less than 3 weeks.  For one the Exped does not finish until the reports, surveys and notes have been translated into a readable digest for the BB reader to gaze over. It is to this end this article has come about, for his tireless effort in this department, and for co-ordinating the social side of Austria '79, I would on behalf of all concerned like to thank, most profoundly Graham W-J for his effort ……thank you.

On the social side, one cold windy night Trev, Hand and Stu L were on the receiving end of a friendly German party.  PFIRSICHBRAND (Peach Brandy….it really works, and how) was the villain of the piece, they succeeded in relieving them of the greater part of the two bottles offered. Less than half an hour later on his way to bed, Trev managed to honk and dewater over the cars in the car park???? (Ed Note….the Weisberghaus is at about 6,000ft, the nearest road about 10kms!!!!!!!)  Stu managed to miss this, he was bedding down for the night in the KHAZI ….. apparently in preparation for his oncoming assault on the Glacier!

Amongst some of the funny looks often directed toward this motley crew, the one that surely sticks out must be that of Siegfried Gamsjager at the top of the 100m pitch in the Mammuthohle.  The source of his amusement….awe….was one the party nervously fondling a brand new, unused 6 bar GOLDBLOCK rack, complete with price label, its owner had never used one, lessons please-!?*?!  Whilst on about tackle wasn’t it the same person who had an experience with a French sounding expedition ascendeur……using it as a self lifelining device imagine the horror, sheer fright, the heart stopping, adrenalin generating situation wanting to stop……having to stop……but noticing how lucky - that the ROPE WAS HANGING FREE.  The why was because the spring loaded, two action cam was in the locked open position. (After this trip the device was shelved for a Gibbs…..well it worked pundits!) A separate article may be forth coming in regard to this device and how to try and combat its killer instinct!

On the return journey Jrat, Blitz, Big Jim and Stu L dawdled across Europe to visit the cave of Han-sur Lesse.  This superbly decorated show cave has been desecrated by a three tier cafe in its largest chamber.  It is well worth a visit and provided a little light relief on the journey home. In the town is a very interesting museum, it shows slides of the cave, its excavations etc…..an English spoken commentary accompanies it.

The final scene was a backstreet cafe, the town was Brussels, and the stage was set for the double DOUBLE “Rip Off”. We drank of the houses well watered, and very expensive vino, consumed an even more costly item 'pommes frites' at £3 per plate full, 11, and didn’t really enjoy the superb miniscule portion of steak (which was probably horse anyway).  So the ensuing argument was a reasonable diversion, especially when in the heat of it, the proprietors Parker Falcon got mixed up with the trips account book!?  Cheap meal for one of us anyway…scribble scribble…

The local bier, Stiegel cost about 23p at supermarket level to 85p at Simmonyhutte level, this is per 500m l/9 of a pint.


Viaduct Sink

Simon Meade-King continues his in depth account of the attack at……..

Part 3 – On the right track at last

After several promising leads got us nowhere, the dislodging of a huge slab from the right hand wall of the main passage revealed the mouth of a rift.  A squeeze, 10ft ahead, in the roof of the rift lead to a small enlargement. From beyond a barrier came the sound of falling water and through a slot in the roof we could see into a sizeable space.

Only one awkward jammed rock prevented us getting through into this space and this was soon removed. After a bit of thrutching, I squeezed up through the slot into a man sized rift petering out to the right, but running off, with the roof rising in the other direction.  It looked as if we were in - a stroll down and ever growing passage, with pitch following pitch, into the main drain.  In reality however, although the rift was standing height at one point, where an aven rose to 20ft, it came to an abrupt end after only 15ft. Here, a small stream of water fell through a narrow hole in the floor - the only way on.  But the sound of a larger stream wafted up from below, and we decided to face the hole the following Wednesday evening.

Before doing so the aven was climbed, but lead only to on horrendous boulder ruckle.  The alternative -proved more interesting with a 10ft deep, tights fissure dropping into a low descending crawl blocked after a few feet by a bank of mud.  The water disappeared to the left into a choked bedding - plane running across strike, and from which comes the roar of a stream.

Taking it in shifts, we cleared out enough of the choke to crawl in for 6 feet until a large flat slab prevented further progress.  After a short struggle this was roped, and gradually slid out.  We then had a clearer view ahead.  Across strike the bedding plane continued only inches high and falling at a steep angle from left to right to where there appeared to be a lip 4 or 5ft away over which stones rolled into a trench presumably carrying the stream.  A well placed charge on the following weekend and all would be revealed, and hopes again ran high for entry into the long awaited streamway.

The next Saturday April - 16th 1977 - was set aside for this operation, and it turned out to be a much harder task than expected.  The fumes from the bang failed to clear properly, and this coupled with the constricted access proved almost literally fatal.  But the day's objective was at least achieved, although the result was disappointing.  Richard Whitcombe disappeared down the bedding plane into the thick haze, only to return with the news that the roar came from a tiny stream.  This after emerging from a minute hole up dip crossed the bedding plane - itself only 6 inches high, and a hopeless prospect. All present suffered very unpleasant after effects from the bang fumes, end the return to the surface was something of an epic.

Only one real possibility now remained, the mud choked end of the passage off which the bedding plane had led, and there was evidence of 3 passages of varying sizes converging on this point.

We could see ahead along the limited airspace to where a mud slope rose into a boulder ruckle making it seem as if we were following an inlet back up to the ground level. However as we started clearing out the passage it was shown to be considerably deeper than the mouth of the bedding plane, and the floor gave no sign of rising towards the ruckle.  We were able for a short time to dump the spoil in the bedding plane, but it soon became obvious that we were going to have to take it to the surface.  The next 2 months were therefore spent in enlarging the approach fissure to take buckets.

When we finally resumed digging it was the middle of August, and progress was necessarily rather slow. The process of moving each bucketful of spoil from the face to its final resting place on the valley floor involved three separate sessions, and two intermediate dumps, including winching up the entrance shaft.   But there was no alternative in the absence of dumping space.  Vandalism to the surface works further delayed progress at this time.  The isolated nature of the site encouraging this - a contrast to the dig at Thrupe Lane where we never experienced this problem.  Several times we arrived to discover the wooden lid removed and almost everything moveable thrown down the shaft.  It was a depressing task clearing up each time and led to the unfortunate step of fitting a locked steel lid.

But to return to the digging - the easier disposal of the spoil with the improved access began to pay dividends as the true size of the passage emerged.  It was four feet high and clearly phreatic in origin.  Whilst the floor had been level with the ill-fated bedding plane, the water running into the dig had been able to escape down the bedding, but as we progressed and left the mouth of it high and dry flooding became a problem.  The resultant morass soon became christened the Grimpen Mine from the glutinous mixture left behind when the water subsided.

Despite this, by mid-September we had passed the lowest point beyond which the roof began to rise. If the floor rose with it, then prospects would be bleak, but this did not happen.  The solid floor remained level as the passage turned slightly to the right, and intersected at right angles a rift several feet wide.  This terminated quickly to the right, but to the left assumed an impressive size.  An aven in its roof had spewed tons of debris which now perched in a threatening mass on our left flank.

Before any further progress was possible, this danger had to be reduced, and this provided same exciting moments.  To try and bring clown the boulders by direct crow-barring would have been suicidal as there was no quick escape route.  Various methods were tried, including tying a rope to a bar and pulling from round the corner!  One particularly large slab with no obvious anchoring points was seemingly defying gravity, and clearly holding back a large quantity of material.  Richard started throwing stones at it, perhaps, in the hope that it might go a way.  Nothing stirred until we aimed our backs on it, when with an almighty crash the whole lot came down, fortunately without killing anyone.  Quite a close run thing.  On another occasion Bob Cottle had his Nife cell cable sliced through by a dislodged boulder.

A large black space view became visible and more material continued to be brought down and as soon as it looked safe enough we climbed up to investigate chimneying above the still unstable slope.  The roof of the aven was at least 20ft high and contained two inlets, both too risky to enter.  Down rift was a solid uninspiring choke.

We decided to ignore this rift, and with the resumed threat reduced and digging across its base into a choked continuation under the far wall with headroom reduced to a couple of feet.

The autumn and winter of 1977/8 brought unusually heavy rainfall, and as we probed further away from the rift, a second stream was heard from somewhere ahead, we redoubled our efforts.  A left bend followed a stal barrier and things looked exceedingly promising with the roar of the stream drifting up the meandering crawl towards us.  The passage turned to the right only to be cut in half by another stal barrier, requiring banging.  Beyond, perhaps 10ft away, we could see the main stream at last -

to be continued.



By Tim Large

Christmas at the Belfry was enjoyed by about a dozen regulars.  The shed was well appointed with colour TV, plenty of food and drink. With the films coming thick and fast on the TV everyone was reluctant to leave.  We received complaints from Roger Dors that we failed to report for duty one night.  Over the Christmas period we had visitors from Australia; a group with Julia James; Speleo Hollan who enjoyed a very wet trip down Swildons, and over the New Year the Pegasus joined us for the festivities.  The Australians were entertained at the Belfry with Belfry table cricket and sofa rugby – but much was to be learned from the B.E.C. team.

The club has now applied for a licence under the Lotteries Act in order that we can hold raffles to raise money for the Belfry improvements.  Other fund raising schemes are being considered and ideas from you would be welcome.

The Digging Competition has started in earnest.  Pete and Alison have found 150' of passage at the upper end of Sarum Inlet in manor Farm. We are still busy at the lower end of NHASA Gallery, but are investigating sites in Tynings.  It looks like our major project this year is to dig the bottom of the cave.  All help will be gratefully received.  Happy New Year.


The Marble Pot Saga

By Tim Large

I first visited Marble Pot in November 1975 encouraged to this section of the cave, by the details in the Cuthbert’s Reports and the vivid descriptions of the vertical squeeze as discovered by Wig.

The trip to Marble Pot and Hall provides an interesting route off the beaten track.  There are three ways of approaching it:-

1.                  From Rocky Boulder to Coral Chamber, climb to top of chamber and through hole in southern wall which brings you to the start of a large rift.  At the far side of the rift a hole leads to a spiral climb down with squeezes into a small chamber.  To the north is Marble Pot.  To south under a large boulder is Marble Hall.

2.                  Via Boulder Chamber, Annexe Chamber, Fracture Rift, Coral Squeeze, Coral Chamber and then as route one.

3.                  Instead of descending halfway along Fracture Rift, climb up to a higher continuation of it. Here much evidence of fallen boulders is seen, the walls being heavily scarred - ignore this!  At far end is the obvious beginning of a boulder ruckle rising above you.  A short straddle climb to the right at this point and you gain the ruckle proper.  A meandering route upwards over large boulders brings you to Long Chamber Extensions.  To your left will lead back to Long Chamber.  High up in the roof is Straw Chamber.  By an indefinite route to the right amidst boulders and dropping to a slightly lower level is the northward continuation of Far Chamber. Just off this route is a hole in boulders, (sometimes difficult to find).  This is the start of Ruckle Passage.  A twisting route downwards, best tackled one at a time, eventually brings you out to the start of the large rift which marks the start of the route to Marble Pot as described in route 1.  I can recommend this route as providing the most interesting stimulus – Terror!

On the first visit with Bas Slade the bottom of the pot was examined, but also a hole was noticed 15' above the floor at a point usually passed on descending the pot.  This was found to be partially blocked with stal deposits and pebbles.  With a minimum of digging it was possible to descend another vertical squeeze of about 6' to a point where a rift opens up.  A further drop of 8' brings you to a sandy floor with a rift going off.  This is blocked with pebbles in the floor after 15' and has a too tight continuation in the roof.  A draught was felt and eventually located at the beginning of the rift immediately under the climb down.  At floor level there was a tight bedding plane partially blocked with sand and a cool draught blowing out.  On this trip nothing more was found.

A week later, with John Dukes, the bedding plain was attacked with hammer and chisel and by crawling backwards down it, using boots as a snowplough, the sand was excavated allowing entry via a 5' drop to the base of an aven.  It is about 35' high continuing in one direction upwards over a boulder and the other, a tight rift descending about 15'.

Nothing more was done until July 1977 when John Dukes and I dug in the first rift of the new extension filling the entrance to a small passage filled with large cobbles.  The possibilities at the northern end of the rift were examined and proved virtually impossible to dig in the space available.  By the way, if anyone finds a 4lb hammer buried in the rift its mine!

After the Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting on the 30th September 1977 Martin Grass, Kangy and myself visited the dreaded pot again.  This time the final aven was explored at the upper end and a vertical connection with the bottom of Marble Pot proved.

One year to the day later accompanied by Fred Davies, Al Mills and Ross White, more digging was undertaken in an attempt to remove the squeeze at the top of the descending tight rift.

As you can see from the accomplishers so far, very few people are keen on a return visit, even Fred and Al did not think much of it.

During February 1779 the Wesex digging team of Alison and Pete were recruited to visit the passage. Alison was encouraged into the hole but found it very tight and doubted whether the return through the squeeze would be possible.

So fast running out of time and support I spied 'Clever Trevor' in the pub late one Saturday night. Being a keen lad he agreed to visit the Pot - 'Stupid Boy' – more digging was done at the squeeze but still too tight for us.

On 20th May 19 I spied the Hunters once more for recruits and lo and behold one J'Rat.  Having nothing better to do he agreed to visit the site after being recounted the visions of caverns measureless----- After removing various items of apparel he managed to slip through and descend 15' to a U tube which he negotiated backwards to slight widening of the passage but to be narrowed down after 10'. Tony’s return was eventful to say the least, both of us with visions of Neil Moss.

So ends the Saga having found only about 70' of passage.  Highly recommended for a once only visit.  At least it proves the theories that passages exist below Marble Pot.