Local Services

Search Our Site

Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor.

Mendip Rescue Organisation

In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481.   BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tele:  WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     D. Turner
Members:          R. Bagshaw; W. Cooper; D.J. Irwin;
                        N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas;
                        R. Orr;  R. Hobbs.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. Thomas, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. Large, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 2 Broughton House, Somerset St., Redcliffe, Bristol 1.
Hut Warden:      R. Orr.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Hut Engineer:    R. Hobbs, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol. Tele BRISTOL 77368
Tacklemaster:    W. Cooper, 259 Wick Rd, Bristol BS4 4HE.  Tel: BRISTOL 77368.
B.B. Editor:       S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Publications:     D.J. Irwin.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.


 

Editorial

History

Since this year marks the twenty fifth anniversary of both the Belfry and the B. B., we make no apology for printing as our main article this month; a further version of the history of the B.E.C.

The last such article appeared twelve years ago in the B.B. for May, 1960 - number 147.  In that year, we reached the twenty fifth anniversary of the founding of the club.  A lot has happened during the last twelve year's and it seems to be a good point in time to record it.  We hope that the article will remind older members and acquaint newer ones with some of the background to our present position as a club.

In Print

Given good luck, this should be the first ever B.B. to be printed rather than duplicated.  We hope that all goes well, and that you approve of the result. Several people have already been kind enough to tell us that they approve of the new style B.B.  The change to printing is one more step in the moves to improve the B.B. in all directions.

Hint Weekend

Arising from the paragraph headed ‘Hint Taken’ in these notes last month, John Manchip raises his voice in defence of the other point of view and writes:-  ‘Dear Alfie, I am interested in the "wasted paper" in the Christmas B:-B.  Keep up the good work’.  It is difficult, if not impossible to please everybody at once.’

“Alfie”


 

Water Tracing Cuthberts 1971

Most readers will know of the work which has been carried out for some years now by ROGER STENNER on water tracing and analysis.  This article describes some recent work.

Two water tracing experiments were carried out, both of which were connected with earlier water tracing results.   The first was concerned with the Maypole Series sink, and the second with Plantation Swallet.  In each case, about 5 gm of pyranine conc. was added to the streams indicated in the text, and activated charcoal detectors were used in the sites in the cave. Small portions of the charcoal were subsequently treated with 20 ml of a 10% solution of potassium hydroxide in methanol.  The solutions were then examined under a ultra-violet lamp.  The presence of strong characteristic green fluorescence showed a positive connection.  In both tests, the positive results were all sufficiently strong to make a spectrophotometric check unnecessary.

1. The Maypole Sink

The results of hardness measurements made in May 1965 quite unexpectedly located the source of the Maypole Series stream.  It was a depression at the lower end of an over¬-flow channel from Plantation Stream into St. Cuthbert’s depression.  This sink is now called the Maypole Sink.  Since this result was published in the January 1967 B.B., there have been two developments.  An article on the variability of limestone hydrology and a negative result of a water trace using pyranine conc. They will each need to be discussed at some length.

An article in the March 1969 B. B. may be thought to cast doubts on the assumptions on which the Maypole Stream arguments were based.  The essential data was this.  Total hardness figures are in p.p.m. CaCO3 + or - 1 p.p.m.

St. Cuthbert’s Pool                     148 p.p.m.

Plantation Stream                      114 p.p.m.

Maypole Series Stream             143 p.p.m.

Other streams in the cave coming from St. Cuthbert’s Stream showed an increase in hardness. Temperature measurements showed that the Maypole stream came from a surface stream.  The stream sinking in the Maypole Sink (water from St. Cuthbert’s Stream mixed with overflow water from Plantation stream) was the only stream which met this criterion.  The assumptions were that the hardness of St. Cuthbert’s Stream remained fairly constant throughout the sampling programme, and would not become supersaturated.  The large area of marshy ground which is the source of St. Cuthbert’s stream acts in such a way as to damp effectively hardness fluctuations.  The variance of its hardness is considerably lower than that of Plantation Stream. The bicarbonate content of St. Cuthbert’s stream is too low to enable photosynthesis by water plants to make the water strongly supersaturated, which happens for example downstream of the Rodney Stoke risings.  In November 1967, three sets of samples taken from St. Cuthbert’s Stream at four-hourly intervals had a maximum variation of 106 p.p.m. CaCO3.  Confidence in the earlier conclusions was unshaken.

The second development was the tracing experiment carried out using pyranine conc. in November 1967. The dye was placed in the stream well upstream of the upper dam, and the result from the Maypole Series stream was negative.  This also supported the earlier conclusion, since at the time of the test, the Maypole sink was dry.

A further test was designed to find out more about the Drinking Fountain stream, confirming the earlier result at the same time.  In January 1971, David Turner and Martin Webster placed detectors in the Maypole Series stream; Disappointment Passage Stream, and the Drinking Fountain Stream, Pyranine conc. was placed in the Maypole Sink, which was taking water from St. Cuthbert’s stream.  All three detectors gave positive results.  The three sites all gave negative results in 1967 when the Maypole Sink was dry.  These results need further discussion, since the streams in the cave do not immediately dry up when the Maypole sink dries up.

The Maypole Series Stream

The St. Cuthbert’s stream overflows into the Maypole sink in wet weather, or whenever the top dam is left in place.  In unusually wet weather this water supply is joined by water overflowing from Plantation Stream.  The water flows fairly quickly through the Maypole Series, the temperatures being similar to those of the Main Stream while flowing from the surface to Traverse Chamber.  I suggest that beneath the Maypole Sink is a large depression filled with rocks and a large quantity of mud.  This mud acts as a reservoir, which is 'topped up' in wet weather and, when the sink dries up, drainage from this mud enables the Maypole Series Stream to flow for many days afterwards.  A full hydrological study of the Maypole Series stream would check this suggestion and also allow the calculation of the effective volume of the reservoir, enabling an estimate to be made of the volume of mud that would have to be dug out to enter the Maypole Series from the surface.  I also suggest that except in unusually wet weather, additions to the Maypole Series stream from other sources are negligible.

The Disappointment Passage Stream

In January 1971, the stream was moderate in size, but it is usually very small - a mere trickle. This would suggest a single effective source, the Maypole sink overflowing its normal course in high discharge conditions.  This is a reasonable explanation for the rapid reduction in stream size compared with the more gradual reduction in that of the Maypole Series Stream with the same source. The upper end of Disappointment Passage is very close to Plantation ' Swallet.  It is possible that small trickles here come from plantation stream, but this is pure speculation.

The Drinking Fountain Stream

This stream flows strongly when the Maypole series stream is almost dry.  This suggests that the stream has more than one source.  There is not enough evidence to permit speculation about the remaining part of the stream.

2. Plantation Swallet

The present state of knowledge dates from July and November 1961, with the results obtained by Bryan Ellis, using rhodimine B and treated cotton hank detectors.  In November 1971, Plantation Stream was diverted into the depression, and no water was reaching Plantation Swallet itself.  Dave Irwin placed detectors in the Main Stream upstream of Plantation Junction, and in Plantation Stream just upstream of the Junction.  It was possible that Plantation Stream in the cave has a large source besides the surface plantation stream, and this occasion gave a very good chance to test this. The pyranine conc. was placed in the surface stream well upstream of the diversion.  Both detectors gave positive results.  This means that there is no evidence of a large additional stream.  The conclusion to be drawn from temperature and hardness results is, in fact, that Plantation Stream in the cave does only have a single source, with additions from elsewhere being negligible.

I would like to thank Dave Turner, Dave Irwin and Roy Bennett for placing and retrieving the detectors in the cave, and Tim Atkinson for advice with the method for racing water with pyranine con.


 

A Short History of the Bristol Exploration Club

…….based on an account by T.H. Stanbury and others.

Since the early records of the club were lost in the blitz during the last war, and since there are very few members who are accessible and whose association with the club goes back to those days; accounts of the very early years of the club are bound to be a little hazy.

The story of the founding of the club is an established part of Mendip folklore by now but, like most folklore, is probably greatly embellished.  At any rate, a small group of fellow employees of our founder, "Harry" Stanbury formed themselves into a caving party in the summer of 1935 and visited Goatchurch.  The trip was a success and, after acquainting themselves with the procedures of the existing societies, they decided to form a new club.

Initial membership was about a dozen, and an inaugural meeting was called later in the year at which a set of rules was drawn up, and the bat adopted as the emblem of the new Bristol Exploration Club.  The basic phraseology of the aims and objects of the club in our present constitution comes straight from these original rules, and it is flattering to think that at least one other club - the Westminster - has drawn heavily upon this wording of 1935 in formulating their own constitution over twenty years later.

The few years between the founding of the club and the outbreak of war in 1939 found the infant club constructing tackle - rather differently from the methods we use today! - and running trips to most of the caves which existed on Mendip at the time.  The membership remained small and steady, as the club made little or no attempt to persuade others to join them until they felt they had acquired enough experience to be able to offer new members a reasonable standard of caving knowledge.

At the outbreak of war, club membership was 15 - a figure which the subsequent call-up soon began to reduce, until it was hardly possible to get a caving trip together.  The Emplex Caving Club, composed of employees from the Bristol Employment Exchange, found themselves in a very similar position, and in 1940 the two clubs agreed to combine.  The combined clubs agreed to retain the name of Bristol Exploration Club.

Matters continued to get worse, even with the extra manpower provided by the merger, and by 1943, the club existed in little more than name.  All its forces members were not available for caving, and the few left behind found it almost impossible to carry on.

Just when it seemed that activities would have to be wound up and hopefully started up again when the war was over, one or two additional cavers contacted Harry Stanbury, and a meeting was held at which it was decided to renew caving activities.  The club membership numbers date from this meeting, at which ‘Dan’ Hasell, who usually presides at our annual dinners, was present.  His membership number is 4, Harry Stanbury's being 1.

The end of the war in 1945 found the club shaky but still functioning.  On most occasions, since nearly all the early members lived in the Knowle area of Bristol, trips were organised from the Stanburys' house in Redcatch Road; but on occasion, members would change at Maine's Barn at Priddy.  It was these visits to 'The Barn' by some members of the B.E.C. which were mainly responsible for the dramatic growth of the club during the next two years from a handful of cavers to one of the major caving clubs of Mendip.

Maine's Barn in 1945 was the home of a collection of cavers from a variety of sources.  The only actual club represented was the Bridgwater Caving Club, who were in the main employees of the Puriton explosive factory.  Don Coase was one of these.  Another of the organised groups was a small band of ex-U.B.S.S. cavers who had found the Burrington hut too far from the caves of the Priddy area in those days of little, if any, personal transport.  This group provided members like 'Sett', 'Postle' Tompsett, 'Pongo' Wallis and 'Alfie'.

As these cavers got to know each other, it became obvious that it would be a good thing if they all banded together into one club.  The obvious choice was the B.C.C., but there were fears that this club would be disbanded as soon as the Puriton factory ran down on explosive manufacture.  It was the few B.E.C. members who visited the barn - like, George Lucy - who provided an alternative club round which the inhabitants of the barn could rally and in the end, they all joined the B.E.C.  This increase of membership was rapidly swollen by returning forces members, many of whom brought friends along with them.  At about this time the Mendip Speleological Group were also absorbed into the B.E.C. and, by the end of 1946, membership had risen to 80 and the B.E.C. had become a major Mendip caving club.

The need for a permanent Headquarters was now becoming of great importance and, accordingly, money was lent to the club by some members and a small wooden hut purchased.  This was the original Belfry, which started life as a sports pavilion on Purdown in Bristol and was taken to pieces and erected by the club next to the small stone hut by the slag heap near the Shepton Headquarters.  (This was, of course, long before the Shepton arrived on Mendip).  On Saturday, 1st February 1947, Don Coase spent the first night under the club's own roof at the Belfry.  Exact records have not been kept, but something approaching a total of 25,000 bed nights have been spent at Belfries by club members and guests since that date.

January 1947, the first issue of the Belfry Bulletin was published - Edited by Dan Hasell.  This number is 293, which seems to need no comment.

With the possession of a hut, the club continued to attract more members.  An active group from Nottingham University were amongst these.  The club now began to play a part in the discovery of new caves on Mendip.  In the summer of 1947 Stoke Lane Slocker was transformed into a large cave by the discovery of Browne's Passage by Pat Browne and the forcing of the sump by Don Coase, Pat Browne and 'Sett'.  It is a sobering thought to realise that 'Sett' is the only living survivor of this trip.  At about the same time, club members assisted the Browne’s in digging out Browne’s Hole and the nearby Withybrook Swallet was entered by the club.

At about this time, the Bridgwater Caving Club was formally incorporated into the B.E.C.  For many years after this, a B.C.C. membership card and key to Swildons used to hang in the old Belfry to commemorate this event. The significance of the Swildons key was that, in the days of Maine's Barn, the rest of us could only get down Swildons by courtesy of the B.C.C. who had an official key.

By 1948, membership had risen to 98 and the club's activities grew in proportion.  A survey of Stoke Lane was exhibited at a caving exhibition held in the Bristol Museum; the Clifton Caving Club were absorbed into the B.E.C.; a London Section of the B.E.C. was formed and a new loan amongst members resulted in a new and bigger hut being purchased.  The old original Belfry was bodily moved; towed down the road and re-erected on the present site and the 'new' Belfry built nearby.  This was the hut which was finally destroyed by fire.  Meanwhile, the club's interests continued to expand an active Climbing Section spent most weekends in North Wales and elsewhere; the club supplied most of the Somerset Section of the Cave Diving Group, and club trips began to be organised to France and other European countries.

By 1949, the membership had reached 120 and the meetings at Redcatch Road had begun to suffer from overcrowding.  The idea of holding meetings on a Thursday was so that club members could organise the coming weekend's caving and climbing. A room was therefore hired at Redcliffe Church Hall, and remained for many years the focus of the club in Bristol.  This year marked the end of the rapid post-war expansion of the club.  From 1949 to 1961 membership remained virtually steady, dropping in most years by one or two until a low point of 110 members was reached in 1961.  In 1950, the first annual dinner was held at the Hawthorns Hotel in Bristol.  This year also saw a porch added to the 'new' Belfry by the Belfry Engineer - Tony Johnson.

In 1951, the club ran a stand in the 'Our Way of Life' exhibition in Bristol as part of the Festival of Britain arrangements.  The stand aroused considerable interest.  In this year, a number of changes were made in the way in which the club was run with the object of distributing the work of running the club amongst a greater number of people.  The present system of club officers and the makeup of the club committee date from this time.

In 1953, accommodation on Mendip was again improved by the addition of a six foot length to the Belfry. This was used to enlarge the kitchen and the Women’s' Room.  This year also saw the most important discovery which the club has yet made. By permission of Mr. T.C. Cunane, excavation was started in the depression near the Belfry and after a few months continuous work, a cave system was entered in the October of that year. St. Cuthbert’s is too well known to need any further description or comment.

In 1953 and 1954, the club surveyed Redcliffe Caves in Bristol, presenting a copy of the survey to the city engineer.  The work on this survey was written up and published as the first of the B.E.C. series of Caving Reports.  Caving work of the time also included the opening of Hunters' Hole in 1954.

During 1955, the land on which the Belfries stood came onto the market and was purchased by the club in 1956.

The future of the Belfries had been worrying members ever since the Town & Country Planning Act had come into force but now that the land belonged to the club, all was well and the renovation of the 'new' Belfry was put in hand.

Thus, during 1957, the Ladies' Room and the Men’s' Room were decorated and mains electricity connected to the Belfry.  This year also marked the final demolition of the original Belfry, which had served the club so well, to make room for permanent stone building - the first permanent building to be erected by a caving club on Mendip.  In this year, the B.B. first came out with a printed cover and the size was increased from four pages to six.  On the caving front, the club assisted in the re-opening of Pen Park Hole in Bristol doing, in fact, about three quarters of the digging required to get in.  After running one tourist trip, the club had to abandon its co-operation with the other societies involved owing to a disagreement with “the management”.  This, however, was offset by the new discoveries in Cuthbert’s of The Maypole Series and the Rabbit Warren Extension.

January 31st, 1958, Don Coase died after an operation.  A simple plaque in Cuthbert’s was erected by the club as a permanent reminder of his work. On the Whit Monday of the same year, 'Herby' Balch died.  He was an honorary member of the club and the father of caving on Mendip.

Much work continued to be carried out in Cuthbert’s and on the Belfry.  The new stone hut gradually grew and work was done Tankard hole and other smaller caves.  Apart from this, 1960 saw no new activity of note - except possibly the claim that the Belfry was the only Mendip hut which never closed which accommodated more people than all the other caving huts combined - a state of affairs which will probably never occur again.  Club ties and car badges were introduced at about this time.

By 1961 the stone Belfry had been completed externally.  The internal fitting out scheme involved the construction of a shower, but this never came to pass.

The next few years, from 1962 to 1965, were marked by steady if unspectacular progress.  Membership, for some inexplicable reason, rose steadily over this period from 110 in 1962 to 185 in 1965, at which value it again stayed steady.  In 1963, a record number of bed-nights was reached at the Belfry - an impressive total of 1,861.  It is very doubtful whether this will ever again be reached and if so, not by such a relatively small band of ‘regulars’.  During this period of time, much work was put into the Belfry and this was balanced by a steady amount of new discovery in Cuthbert’s - a good example being that of the Coral Series.  Members of the club took leading parts in inter-club activities in communications and surveying.  A new entrance was made to Cuthbert’s to avoid past snags due to flooding of the entrance.  Sad events of the time were the untimely deaths of Jack Waddon on a practise dive in Mineries and Ian Dear, who left a sum of money in his will for the use of younger members caving or climbing abroad.  A feature of the B.B. over this period was the regular contributions by 'Stalagmite' whose identity became a favourite guessing game amongst members and the B.B's best kept secret.

In 1966, Belfry charges, which had remained constant ever since the Belfry first opened in 1947 at 1/- per night and had done so in spite of inflation because of the sheer number of people staying there, were at last raised to 1/6.  Some discussion as to where to site the proposed new toilets led to a few members suggesting that a long term plan for the Belfry site would be a good idea. A semi-¬official team of three men was set up and at the 1966 A.G.M.  This body was enlarged and made official.  Also in 1966 the club bought the barn which it later sold to the Shepton who have made it into their new permanent headquarters.  A new survey of Cuthbert’s was started at this time.

In 1967 the idea of a definitive report on Cuthbert’s was conceived by Dave Irwin and planned as the most ambitious documentation of a Mendip cave ever attempted.  Work on this report began as a 15 part publication  A fund was started for a new permanent Belfry, and the Long Term Plan was passed by the 1967 A.G.M.  This was started in 1968 by the cutting and opening of a new track for the local farmer.   The early part of 1967 was marked by an outbreak of foot and mouth disease which led to the closure of most of the caves on Mendip.  This lack of caving was made up for later in the year by the passing of the sump in Cuthbert’s and the opening of Cuthbert’s II.  Publication of the Cuthbert’s report started this year and, at the A.G.M., it was announced that the fund for the building of a new Belfry now stood at £751.

On the evening of Monday, 15th September 1969, some visitors who were staying at the Belfry returned from a visit to the Hunters to find the building in flames.  The Belfry was a write-off, although the main shell remained intact.  Within days, a special committee had sorted out the necessary admin and got an insurance claim filed with the insurance company.  They also prepared a report for the A.G.M. which, luckily, was only a few weeks away.  Meanwhile, other club members had tidied up the site and organised the Stone Belfry into a temporary headquarters complete with sleeping and cooking arrangements - thus gallantly maintaining the tradition of a Belfry which never closed. At the A.G.M., the fact that there was already in existence a cut-and-dried plan for rebuilding which had already been passed by all the relevant authorities enabled the club to swing straight into action without any delay.  After the A.G.M. and dinner, a party was held in the ruins of the Belfry.

On the 9th of May 1970 - two hundred and thirty six days after the fire - the present Belfry was ceremonially opened and the whole of the £3,000 or so which the building had cost was paid by the club without any from of help from any outside body whatsoever.

Almost inevitably, after an effort of this magnitude a period of relative quiet followed in 1971, which brings us to the present day.  This point in time, as your present club historian sees it, is likely to prove one of the more difficult in the club's history.  We have got to learn how to and use our new headquarters properly: we have got to learn how to adapt to these times of rapid change; we may well have to adopt a more professional approach as befits our status as property owners.  At the same time, we must somehow manage to preserve all that is best in our club - which, is in many ways unique.  Luckily, there are signs that many club members - both on and off the present committee - are becoming aware of the situation and the need to find a formula which will enable the club to preserve its reputation for good fellowship and informality while at the same time running as an efficient organisation. Given the usual mixture of good luck and judgment which has brought us all the way from that small band of cavers who went down Goatchurch in 1935 to a body nearly two hundred strong whose assets run into thousands of pounds, we should be able to find our way once more round any snags which may arise - as we have done so often in the past.

In this account, a few people's names have been mention from time to time.  This should not be taken to mean that only those so listed have played exceptional parts in the formation and building up of the club. To list all those members who, through their hard work and enthusiasm have produced the club we have to-day would be an impossible task.  Many more, who have played no direct part in the building and running of the club have nonetheless made equally important contributions in fostering the friendly atmosphere which has been so typical of the B.E.C. and which represents an asset as important if not more so than mere property or cash.  All these people's names should, by rights, be included but to do so would involve a list of most of the 700 odd members and past members of the club.  If we are to have a spokesman to represent this great crowd of friendly and likeable characters, I will let George Weston speak for them in the words which he wrote to win our first song competition and with which he so unerringly laid a finger on the pulse of the club.

We are the B.E.C.
And this we must confess
Whatever is worth doing, we
Will do it to excess.

Providing that we continue to recognise what things are worth doing and to pursue them with the enthusiasm which more timid souls might regard as excess, we shall not go far wrong.

*****************************************

If any members have EMBASSY COUPONS or GREEN SHIELD STAMPS which they would be prepared to donate to the Belfry, they will be used to obtain CHARGERS for nife and oldham cells. Please give or send coupons and or stamps to the HUT WARDEN - JOCK ORR - at the Belfry.


 

Recent Caving on Mendip

An up to date review of caving activities by Tim Large.

Discoveries In Stoke Lane Slocker

During November 1971, the Avon Caving Group dug into a tight, aqueous series of passages leading from the stream inlet near Sand Chamber in Stoke II.  The entrance was effected through a series of awkward ducks and followed along a narrow rift passage with more stream inlets and meanders in the typical Stoke Lane style.  This passage is joined via a mud tube to another inlet running in a parallel direction. These passages are named Ward's Way and Bailey's Way after members of the digging team.  The end of Bailey's Way is very near to the stony Crawl in Stoke I, and an oral connection has been proved.

It is unlikely that it will ever be a bypass to sump I due to its tightness and the awkward ducks at the Stoke II end, which would probably make it worse than sump I. This, of course, would depend on the water level in the cave, but would in any case be undesirable from a preservation point of view.

 

Hunting Lodge Slocker

This shaft, in the Stoke Lane area, has been dug for the last two years by the West London Caving Club.  When work began, the Shaft was only forty feet deep, the floor consisting of boulders and farmyard debris including horse and cow remains.  The W.L.C.C. set about removing all the debris to the surface - some very large boulders caused numerous problems at times.  The present depth is about sixty feet where the shaft is gradually narrowing. The two side rifts, Fusilier Rift and the one in the wall opposite, are now left high and dry as digging work continues - still downwards and over the whole shaft area.  Not far away from this dig is East End Sink which flows to St. Dunstan's Well.  Also the Upstream Series in Browne’s Hole - a foul place - (This was spelt 'fowl' in the MS, presumably no place to chicken out of - Ed.) leads in the direction of Hunting Lodge, being about four hundred feet away.  Hopes are still high of a discovery and work continues.

Editor's Note:     Members may be interested to note that Browne’s' Hole was largely dug out with B.E.C. labour, under the direction of Les Browne. His son Pat, who was the discoverer of Browne’s Passage in Stoke Lane, was a B.E.C. member and he also discovered the Upstream Series in Browne’s' Hole up to the first chamber.  After Pat's death, two B.E.C. members - John Bindon and Alfie - pushed the second drainpipe and discovered the Condemned Cell.  The idea by then was to establish the connection between Browne’s Hole and Hunting Lodge Swallet.  They enlarged the second drainpipe and carried on beyond the Condemned Cell before retiring from the dig.  Work was then carried on by Dave Mitchell - a member of the B.E.C. at the time who broke through into the further portion of the Upstream Series (Fred's Passage, The Parade, etc.)  Later, as a member of the East Somerset Caving Group, they attacked the problem from the Hunting Lodge end.  At that time, Hunting Lodge Swallet was full of rubbish almost to the top.  They removed some forty feet of rubbish.  The present team are therefore following a long tradition - and the best of luck to them.

The Tuesday Night Digging Team and Cuthbert’s II

Since Sump I was safely opened with a good airspace during the winter of 1970/1971, work could begin on exploration projects in Cuthbert’s II.  To begin with, Sump II was seriously attacked.  To aid this, another two dams (would you believe - courtesy of 'Crange' ?) were built just upstream of Sump II.  These are to facilitate bailing of the sump, which was accomplished several times, enabling the sump passage to be entered for about twenty to twenty five feet to a murky pool with a steeply dipping underwater passage partially blocked with boulders, gravel etc.  This area was greatly enlarged, not without causing many and sometimes very hazardous problems.  All went well during the drier months, but bailing became impossible during the winter and so work has been temporarily stopped.  At one stage the team witnessed a strange happening.  With the sump nearly bailed and no water running into it, the water level rose on one occasion nearly trapping Roy Bennett who was working at the end of the sump.

Martin Webster has attempted to dive the underwater passage but found the entrance too tight due to boulders in the stream bed.  Meantime, the height of the dams is being raised, which now means that a squeeze has to be negotiated over the top of the Gour Rift dam because it was built underneath a large jammed boulder - purposely, I might add.  In the summer, another attack will be launched.  One line of attack could be to drain the sump as far as possible, remove the boulders, and attempt another dive.

Until work on the sump is resumed, the team has started another maypoling and climbing programme; systematically working upstream from just below the ten foot pot.  So far three holes have been investigated, but did not yield anything.  The system of working used is to climb where possible, or maypole to the roof level at selected sites and then traverse along the passage inspecting every possibility. At roof level, large quantities of mud have• been encountered, ranging from dry powder to thick glutin¬ous accumulations which have made conditions difficult.  Lumps of charcoal have been observed on the surface of mud banks at roof level up to sixty feet above the streambed.  There are plenty of holes in the roof all along the II streamway and it is intended to work over its whole length.  We are also improving maypoling techniques to enable us to rise to even greater heights!

Anyone interested in joining us on Tuesday evenings is very welcome.  The Cuthbert’s II streamway is well worth a visit.  We meet at the Belfry at about 7 pm.


 

Book Review

The book reviewed here is new addition to our library and may prove contentious.  It is hoped that a further, review may be received for the B.B. stating the case somewhat differently

"QUARRYING IN SOMERSET” Somerset County Council (1971).  Published by Somerset County Council.  Price £5 plus post and packing from County Planning Department, Taunton. 349 pp. 66 plates. 28 maps. 23 figs.

Some idea of the scope of this report may be gauged by the fact that the report is on A4 size paper and well over one inch thick.  At the price quoted and bearing in mind that the edition is a limited one, it is doubtful whether more than a handful of copies will find their way into the personal libraries of cavers.  As a library book, which will shortly become available to all members, it certainly deserves careful reading.

The report is divided into seven main parts which are followed by a number of appendices which provide more in the way of background to the main report.  Together, they cover almost every aspect of the quarrying industry - its background; history; future prospects; geological importance; relationship to the rest of Southern England and relationship and conflict with other land uses.  The final part of the report proper consists of the findings of the survey.

Apart from the relationship between quarrying and caving, there is much of general interest in this report, whose text is liberally embellished with tables of statistics, diagrams, and maps.  These range from the distribution of wind velocity and direction with season over Mendip to flow diagrams of a modern stone crushing plant.

However, it is the relationship between quarrying and caving which will, no doubt, be of greatest interest to cavers, and it is in this respect that the views of individual cavers are likely to differ in their reactions to and interpretation of this report. The first thing which strikes one is that quarrying on Mendip is a large industry of national rather than regional importance and, as such, cannot be airily dismissed with a wave of the hand. On the other hand, caving views are well represented - indeed, it has been said that on looking at the bibliography at the end of the report, too great an emphasis might have been given to caving views.  Certainly this bibliography contains a large proportion of caving authors, but when this is compared with the sources of information given as acknowledgements at the front (pages 5 and 6), it will be realised that the bulk of the information has been acquired from commercial and public sources.

As far as conflicting interests are concerned, I personally feel that the report is as objective and free from any kind of hysteria as one could expect.  Items of special pleading (which include caving interests) have been properly confined to the appendices whose contents are briefly summarised in part 6 - that part which deals with conflict¬ing interests.  The findings of the survey - in part 7 ¬are presented with commendable brevity when one considers that they cover the entire scope of 230 pages of report and take just over one page to do it.  A précis ratio of over 200:1 is not the easiest thing in the world to achieve!  As an example of this, it is probably worthwhile quoting the paragraph of most interest to cavers in its entirety, as follows: - ‘The conflicting interests are many and will have to be evaluated and the merits of some are such as could affect the continued expansion or the opening of new units within the production areas.   Of the conflicting interests, it would appear that the conservation of water sources will take precedence over the quarrying interests - at least for the foreseeable future.  In the Central and West Mendip production areas, amenity; recreational and scientific interests could outweigh the regional and national claims of the extractive industry.  In the East Mendip production area there are fewer conflicting land interests.’

One is left with the general impression that quarrying is seen as an important industry and that the intention is to cater for its requirements wherever possible.  The report, says, in effect, that while doing so, attention must be paid to other interests - including our own - and that a balance between the exploitation and preservation of the region must be achieved. The big question must be that of asking oneself how much weight the arguments in favour; of preservation will have in practice when weighed against the growing national demand for stone.  The report lays down no rules here.


 

In Committee

A Brief Review of the main activities of the club committee.

The March meeting of the committee dealt mainly with routine matters.  The detailed investigation of the Belfry is well under way, and it was agreed to deal with this at some length at the April meeting.  Joan Bennett, as club auditor, pointed out that if any changes to the Belfry required a lot of money, then the committee should refer this to the A.G.M.  It transpired that the committee has no legally defined limit of expenditure but the chairman assured her that any scheme involving large amounts of money would in any case be referred to an A. G. M. for their approval or otherwise.

*****************************************

‘MENDIP’S VANISHING GROTTOES’ is now on sale.  It is hoped to include a review of this book in the next B.B.  Meanwhile, the price as announced in last month’s B.B. is in error. The FULL price is 50p, but members will be able to obtain copies for 40p up till the end of May.  Get in touch with DAVE IRWIN and secure your copy without delay!

*****************************************

Have you any club library books - or club tackle - or any thing belonging to the club in your possession? There are a few items missing. Have a good hunt round your shed or attic and send anything you might find to any committee member of the relevant club officer.

*****************************************

Spares for NIFE lamps and CARBIDE lamps are now available.  These spares, particularly for carbide lamps, tend to be more difficult to come by as time goes on.  Why not dig out your carbide lamps and give them a birthday?  Even if you only use them during power cuts, a few spares could make all the difference. Spares are kept at the Belfry.

*****************************************

Read any good books lately? Why not send us in a REVIEW of any interesting caving, climbing, fell walking etc. books that you may have read and think would interest club members?


 

Just a Sec

Notes from our Hon. Sec. - ALAN THOMAS.

As you will have read in last month's B.B., the committee are going to look into the Dinner business in view of the dissatisfaction over last year's dinner and the fact that the pattern of club dinners seems to be changing.  As Hon. Secretary, I get invited to a number of dinners, and I am being forced to the conclusion that dinners just ain't what they used to be. This year, the season opened as usual with the B.E.C. dinner which I have already said was a poor meal.  The dinner was nonetheless enjoyable, but this is because the B.E.C. have a great capacity for enjoying themselves despite adversity. The committee expressed our disappointment to the restaurant and we have finally settled for a sum less than we were charged.  The difference will be sufficient to provide a drop of free beer at the next one.  Make a note by the way of the 7th October 1972 at the Cave Man.  The agreed price seems good value indeed.

I attended the W.S.G. dinner (which was £2) and the U.B.S.S. dinner (in the star at Wells for £1-70) so perhaps we need to rethink the price we now pay.  The W.S.G. dinner coincided with a rescue, so that we dined at 9 pm and there was a superb Punch and Judy show at the U.B.S.S. dinner by Oliver Lloyd which he has promised to repeat for our next.

The most important piece of information to my mind that comes with the M.R.O. report this year is that the police have taken out an insurance policy through the county treasurer to cover civilian personnel used on cave rescue work.  It is therefore imperative that all rescues are reported to the police if there is any possible risk to life and limb.  The police have to pay £2 per day in respect of every rescuer below ground and £1 per day for everyone above ground.  After a rescue, therefore, we must inform them immediately of the people involved.  The policy provides £10,000 for death; £5,000 for loss of one eye or limb; £30 per week for temporary disablement and £1,000 p.a. for permanent disablement.  If anyone wants further details, I can provide them.  There is no cover for such things as mileage expenses, loss of earnings etc.

Editor's Note:     Alan Thomas has just become an M.R.O. Warden and Tim Large a team leader.

Dates for your Diary

26th MARCH

Box Stone Mines.  Leader, Jock Orr. Meet at the Belfry at 9.30 a.m. (Sunday).

1st APRIL

(Easter Saturday) Little Neath River Cave.  Party will leave the Belfry at 9. a.m. Leader, Dave Irwin.

8th APRIL

Stoke Lane Slocker.  Meet at the Belfry at 11 a.m. Leader Tom Gage. (Saturday)

30th APRIL

Reservoir Hole.  Meet at the Belfry at 10 a.m. Leader Dave Irwin. (Sunday).  N.B.THIS PARTY IS LIMITED TO FIVE.

Aug – SEP

Sutherland. Caving, Climbing, Walking etc.  Contact Jim Abbott at 34, Kirkgate, Shipley, Yorks for further details.


 

Ian Dear Memorial Fund Meeting

This was held at the Belfry on the 12th of December 1971.  It was chaired by R.A. Setterington and the minutes taken by M.A. Palmer. N. Jago,  R. Bagshaw and A. Thomas were also at the meeting, whose purpose was to discuss the existing rules of the I.D.M.F. and how they could best be publicised.

The meeting was reminded that IAN DEAR had bequeathed a sum of £300 to the club for the purpose of assisting young members to visit the continent to cave, climb anal visit places of interest.  It was generally agreed that greater use should be made of the I.D.M.F., since it was felt that IAN's original intention was that the money should and would be spent fairly rapidly.

To this end, the meeting agreed on a three point plan as follows: -

  1. Improve Publicity.
  2. ALTER THE RULES
  3. Foster more trips abroad.

The improvements in publicity were covered, the meeting felt, by the insertion of more notices in the B.B.; by including more information in any club advertising and by supplying information about the I.D.M.F. with application for membership.

Changes in the rules were agreed by the meeting, but will need to be covered by the next A.G.M., since the committee (who had the new rule changes submitted to them by the Ian Dear Memorial Committee ) ruled that the I.D.M.F. committee was a special committee rather than a sub-committee and was therefore responsible to the A.G.M. The changes proposed to the rules will be published in full in a later B.B. and this will give all club members roper chance to study them well before the A. G. M.

In general, the changes in the rules are designed to let the I.D.M.F. adopt a more flexible attitude by relaxing the annual 'deadline' by which applications have to be in by relaxing the age qualification, subject to certain provisions.  The maximum amount to be paid in any one year remains unaltered, but the maximum individual amount may be increased under the new rules at the discretion of the I.D.M.F. Committee.

The meeting considered probable that some older club members would be prepared to foster younger members when making trips abroad, and felt that this should be encouraged.  Any intending trips abroad by members prepared to carry out fostering should be publicised in the B.B. for the benefit of younger members.

As already stated, the minutes of the meeting were submitted to the general committee and it was agreed by them to give this subject publicity in the B.B.

*****************************************

Tim Reynolds says in the latest Wessex Journal.  ‘Don’t tell your troubles to your beer mug or a passing stalactite.  It's unlikely that they will be able to do much for you.’ It's much more likely that something will be done if you WRITE TO THE B.B. ABOUT IT (Tim didn't say, that bit - I did.)  It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to write a short note and put it in the post or the B.B. post box in the Belfry.  Get YOUR views over to the club!  The B.B. is YOUR magazine after all, why not use it?


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 20.

1

2

 

3

 

 

4

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

13

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Twit Sue for comfort underground. (7)
6. Everyone in Mud Hall. (3)
7. Step in Eastwater. (4)
8. Hole with sailors added is unaltered. (6)
10. Remove 7 down manually. (6)
12. Sore old Mendip product. (4)
14. Night before. (3)
15. A camera tripod does. (7)

Down:

2. Above ground again on the blackboard. (1,1,1)
3. New metric units, five hundred and small bed for a Mendip cave. (6)
4. Often triggered off by itself beheaded. (4)
5. Stops rope slipping off pulley. (7)
7. Many chambers have these large stones. (7)
9. Cave type five with medicinal draught. (6)
11. Diving or climbing at no cost? (4)
13. Appropriate word for this position? (3)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

 

N

 

O

 

 

 

B

 

D

O

W

N

B

E

L

O

W

 

T

 

M

 

 

 

N

 

 

A

 

A

R

E

T

E

S

 

Q

 

P

 

S

 

S

 

R

U

C

S

A

C

 

L

 

 

A

 

 

 

A

 

O

 

D

R

A

I

N

P

I

P

E

 

T

 

 

 

E

 

E

 

 

Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor.

Mendip Rescue Organisation

In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481.   BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tele:  WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     D. Turner
Members:          R. Bagshaw; W. Cooper; D.J. Irwin;
                        N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas;
                        R. Orr;  R. Hobbs.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. Thomas, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. Large, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 2 Broughton House, Somerset St., Redcliffe, Bristol 1.
Hut Warden:      R. Orr.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Hut Engineer:    R. Hobbs, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol. Tele BRISTOL 77368
Tacklemaster:    W. Cooper, 259 Wick Rd, Bristol BS4 4HE.  Tel: BRISTOL 77368.
B.B. Editor:       S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Publications:     D.J. Irwin.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.

Member’s Addresses

Additions

P.G.Faulkner, 65 Broomfield Cres., Middleton, Manchester.
R. Brown, 33 Greencourt, Leagrave, Luton. LU4 9PJ.
I. Rees, 20 Broad St., Presteigne, Radnorshire.
J. Murray, Latymer Ho, Hill Close, Wincanton, Somerset.

Changes:

R. Cross, 36A Memeage St , Helston, Cornwall.
J. Abbott, 34 Kirkgate, Shipley, Yorks.
S. Tuck, 3 Colles Close, Wells, Somerset.
G. Wilton-Jones, The Tumery, North Dean, Speen Rd, High Wycombe, Bucks.


 

Editorial

Untitled

The move towards a more legible B.B., which started last month by the move to printing is, no doubt, an improvement but readers will have noticed that most of the titling was near enough unreadable.  The reason for this has been found and, until we can be sure of the process involved, most of the titling will be done by hand.  We hope that you will bear with us while we sort out the tricks of a new trade.

Non-Event

In contrast with the first B.E.C. surveying course, the last one was a non-starter.  This was due to a series of misunderstandings as to the date and time for the start and also as to the duration of the course.  We have made a. start in the business of keeping members informed with what is going on ¬both in the B.B. and on the Belfry notice board; but it looks as if our communications can still do with some improvement.

Historical Errors

By and large, the last edition of the History of the B.E.C. was well received, and several members have already been good enough to say that they thought it was both useful and informative.  Apologies, however, for getting the year of the discovery of Cuthbert’s II wrong! There are probably more small errors in the account.  If any older readers have information which they think would add to any further version it will be gratefully received and put away carefully until the next occasion.

“Alfie”

Library Notes

from our new Hon. Librarian, DAVE IRWIN

At the time of writing these notes a number of books in the club library have been catalogued and are available to members wishing to borrow them.  Books are loaned out for ONE MONTH and it is to be hoped that members will co-operate by returning them within this time limit, as other members may well be waiting to read them.  A review of the latest acquisition is to be found in the March B.B. - the important Somerset County Council publication discussing the future of quarrying on Mendip. Member wishing to borrow books through the post may do so, but postage and the necessary insurance is out of their own pockets.  A list of books will be available soon - a small nominal charge will be payable to defray the cost of production.

Recent Additions To The Club Library

Caves and Karst Vo113 Nos 3 & 4.  The application of stable isotope studies to karst research - Russell Harmon. ( USA)

 Axbridge C.C.Newsletter - mainly club news - March 1972.

 C.R.G. Transactions Vol 13 No 1.  Includes Caves of Western Sierra Cuera; Quantitative tracer methods; Development of avens in Peak Cavern; Excavations at Ogof-yr-Esgryn and Archaeological sequences in the Peak District.

C.R.G. Transactions Vol 13 No 2.  Symposium on the origin and development of caves (various topics.)

B.S.A. Bulletin.  New Series, No 5. (Feb. ‘72).  World expeditionary association.  (Details). News from Yorks. particularly Langstrothdale, also extension to Calswick Cavern in Derbyshire.

Chelsea S.S. Newsletter Vol 14 Nos 4 & 5 (March '72) Geological History of S. Wales; List of gear for camping and caving holidays; Care of tackle and suppliers of cells for caving.  Care of Nife cells.

*****************************************

USEFUL GEN.   Dave Irwin informs us that Bryants in Bristol now only give a 5% discount to club members, and then only on orders in excess of £5. This is worth bearing in mind if you are thinking of getting any new equipment from them.


 

Never Mind The Patient – Watch That Stal!

A report on the Practice Rescue from September Series by the 'Victim'.
Chris Howell

On the 16th of January, 1972; sixteen of us met at the Belfry for a short introductory talk from Dr. O.C. Lloyd before setting out for September Chamber for a practice 'carry' through the September boulder ruckle.

'O.C.L.' commenced his briefing with a demonstration of the use of the bowline-on-a-bight for hauling an exhausted caver up a pitch.  Although his method of tying this particular knot directly round the body of the subject was undoubtedly very quick, and required little or no adjustment,   I personally found it rather hard to follow and must confess that I would now be quite incapable of repeating the knot.  I feel that for most cavers, the easiest method is to double back some six or seven feet of rope, and then tie a straightforward bowline, which can be adjusted if necessary.  The patient's thighs are placed in the two loops created by the knot, and the remaining loop passed round the chest.  It is particularly important to keep this chest loop as high as possible to prevent 'toppling' during the haul.  Ideally the knot should be high up in front of the chest or over one shoulder.  For a long haul, some method of padding the leg loops would prevent cutting off the circulation to the legs.

We were next shown how to tie the 'victim' into the M.R.O. carrying sheet.  In a moment of misguided public spirit, I had volunteered to act as patient for this particular rescue and so within a very few minutes I found myself securely trussed within the confines of the heavy canvas sheet.  It is worth noting that, where a patient is conscious, his arms should be left outside the sheet if he is capable of helping himself.  He is then able to assist the carriers by pushing and lifting to some extent.  Anyone who has ever compared trying to haul an inert person up a pitch with hauling up someone who is only capable of ‘pawing’ at the rock will know what a difference a degree of self-help can make.  There is no doubt an additional psychological element involved here too - it seems to me to be bad practice to strap a person up if he feels capable of helping himself.

Hauling ropes are attached to the sheet at the head and tail and also on each side when the passage permits of enough carriers.  Ropes at the bottom of the sheet are tied round the subject's feet in a manner which permits the ropes to take his weight when in a vertical position without restricting his circulation.  This point is particularly important. I well recollect a practice rescue from Cuckoo Cleeves when this was overlooked.  I was, again, the victim and after reaching the surface I was unable to walk for about fifteen minutes due to the numbness in my feet.

Finally, a pair of goggles are provided to protect the patient from muddy ropes getting into contact with his eyes.

Into the cave at last. I feigned a fall beneath the ‘pretties' in September Chamber.  The drag sheet was laid out by one team memberr, whilst others removed my nife cell to avoid spillage of electrolyte and consequent burns.  The helmet is, of course, left on the victim is head.  I was then picked up by four of the rescuers who supported my inert body throughout its length - not forgetting my head!  I was carried to the sheet and for the second time securely strapped in and the goggles put on.

The carry went smoothly for the first twenty minutes or so, down the drops from September Chamber where Warden Prewer uttered the comforting words, "Never mind the patient - watch that stal!, then on along the short rift passage to the start of the ruckle.  The only observation I would make at this point is that, if the patient is conscious, remarks such as "Can we get someone below the stretcher on this drop in case it slips?" are not likely to inspire confidence in either the shocked victim of a real accident or the (supposedly) fearless victim in a mock rescue! This apart, I suffered very little buffeting, although clearly, very great care must be taken about where the sheet is set down on a real incident particularly when the victim is likely to have suffered fractures or suspected internal injuries.

We had now arrived at the crucial point of the ‘carry’ - the boulder ruckle.  The confined space between the rocks ensures that for most of the remainder of the journey out High Chamber, nobody can lift or haul at the sides of the sheet.  Again, things progressed fairly smoothly, although even more slowly, for some ten minutes or so, with frequent rests whilst rescuers were instructed to lie in holes in the floor to smooth the passage of the carrying sheet.  However, a hiatus was reached at the narrow vertical ‘S’ bend which occurs beyond an inclined slab and is met some fifty or so feet into the ruckle from the High Chamber side.  Due to the constricted room at the front end, only two persons were able to get a purchase on the hauling ropes, and they were unable to provide sufficient pull to get the sheet round the vertical corner.

Here I remained firmly stuck for some ten minutes or more - though it seemed like an age.  The final straw came when it was discovered that there was some difficulty in moving the carrying sheet back for another attempt. Now, I have never suffered from claustrophobia, but at this point I must admit to becoming distinctly worried about the whole business.  From the position of the sheet within the ‘S’ bend, it was clear that nobody could get at the knots to release me - and it seemed that progress, either fore or aft, was impossible.  After another five minutes, I felt that since I was officially conscious, this was a point where some self-help was more than justified!

By doubling up my legs and straightening them whilst the rescuers pulled on the head ropes, I found that progress was possible, and promptly shot through the squeeze like a cork from a bottle - or so it seemed after the long time of inaction.  From then on, progress was rapid, if a trifle bumpy, and I was finally carried out into High Chamber an hour or so after first being put in the carrying sheet in September Chamber.

At this point, all my rescuers disappeared save for a grinning Roy Bennett, who handed me a large, wet, muddy and heavy sack containing the carrying sheet from which I had been recently released.  "Pick up thy bed and walk!"  Huh. Unfortunately from my point of view, Roy (who, with no disrespect is almost old enough to be my father) can propel himself round St. Cuthbert’s carrying a heavy, bulky sack faster than I can travel ‘clean’.  By the time we reached Mud Hall, he had obviously tired of my slow pace and I was relieved of my burden (further ignominy).  Progress then regained its normal pace (for me!) and the last of us were out of the cave some four hours after entering.

Some final observations from the victim's point of view:-

a)                  More co-operation between those in front of the sheet and those behind.  I felt that there were times when people were standing about not knowing quite what was expected of them next.

b)                  More attention to smoothing the victim's passage over holes and rocks.  I came up with some great bruises the following day.

c)                  Longer head ropes for the sheet might have helped in the Ruckle, although the pull would have been over the top of a slab - perhaps this could be tried again. However, as I am small and light, extrication of a heavy victim could be very difficult and something other than pullers would be needed, I suspect.


 

Just a Sec

from our Hon. Sec. ALAN THOMAS

I hear from the Cambrian Council that there has been some movement in Cwm Dwr Jama main passage and in the boulder choke where the connection between Cwm Dwr and Ogof Ffynon Ddu is.  The South Wales Caving Club advises cavers not to go through the connection under any circumstances.

Some months ago, a caver who broke his arm in Eastwater left a 25' proprietary ladder in the cave in a canvas bag.  It is said that it was subsequently brought to the Belfry.  I should be obliged, if anyone knows anything about it.  Give me a ring or drop me a line if you do.

With great regret, I have to inform you of the death of Harry Glover - so well known to Belfry users of seven years ago.  (For the benefit of newer members, Harry and his wife used to run Priddy stores - Ed )

You will be sorry to hear that the County Council plans to make a large part of the mineries area (that part owned by Lord Waldegrave) into an official picnic area complete with car park and toilets.  It is intended to ‘improve’' the pools.

It is on the cards that the C.R.G. and B.S.A. may merge.

Snowdonia January

A Climbing Article by R.J. MARSHALL

The B.E.C. were up in Snowdonia in force in January, searching for snow.  There was none evident when we arrived in the Llanberis Pass on the Friday evening, but we were hopeful.

Looking up to the surrounding peaks in the morning, a smattering of snow showed up, contrasting with the grey clouds.  There was rain in the air, but it was not rain¬ing then.  After breakfast, we split up, John Minors and myself decided to attempt the main wall of Carn Las.

This is a hard severe climb on a crag about a mile and a half on the South side of the pass below Crib Goch.  We left the car beneath the Grochan and made our way back up the pass, turning off the road to cross the farm bridge across the stream.  As we climbed up towards the crag, it started to rain and by the time we reached the scree the rain had turned to sleet.

From here it was possible to observe the main wall.  It is an interesting line, wandering between lines of overhangs.  We were damp and cold by the time we had soloed up the waterfall to the start of the first pitch.

We split the climb into five pitches of various lengths.  These are not of particular technical difficulty - about severe - but as you climb you become more conscious of the exposure.  You are moving on large jugs usually with more than adequate protection.  After about two hundred feet, you belay on a large ledge in a corner.  From here you make an interesting move across to and on to the top of a fragile looking spike.  This is a wide step.  Looking down, you can see the scree about three hundred feet below.  Moving on, and around a corner you come on to a steep juggy wall.  A rising traverse across a steep slab leads to the top.

Sitting on the belays it is possible to watch the cars travelling up and down the pass.  We were pretty damp and cold on the later pitches. Looking down and seeing our tents a couple of miles away gave us that "What the hell are we doing here?" feeling.  Even so, winter climbs have a slight exciting edge over summer routes.

On the Sunday, John and I made our way round the Horseshoe.  The wind was gusting strongly as we started out along the Pyg track. We could see a smattering of snow along the ridge.  Ahead of us, another couple of climbers were battering against the strong winds.

We were soon to find out just how strong the winds were.  We left the Pyg track to climb up to Crib Goch.  There was about an inch of snow on the ridge.  We saw the tracks of the two previous climbers leading on to the ridge but along the ridge there was no sign of our leaders (yeti?).  We crawled along the ridge, keeping as low as possible out of the wind.  We were engulfed in spindrift several times as we climbed up to the 'hotel' at the summit. Passing the shelter behind the 'hotel' we passed the summit cairn on our way to Llewedd.

The climb down to the start of Llewedd was treacherous, loose and slippery.  This was successfully overcome and the easy climb up Llewedd started.  This being the easier part of the horseshoe, we were able to move quickly.  After rejoining the miners' track, we were back at the Pen y Pass about four hours after we had left in the morning.

Other members were at Trenadac and on the Glyders, no doubt their accounts are being prepared.

(Let us hope so - Ed. )

*****************************************

CAVING PUBLICATIONS have for too long been regarded as a minor activity of the club.  DAVE IRWIN starts to put this into a more correct perspective in the article that follows, with a review of what has been achieved to date and some thoughts as to where we go in the future.  Club members might be surprised to learn that more money is currently being handled by the Publications Department than is handled by the Belfry!  Caving Publications thus form a major club activity.  We hope that the review which follows will help to put members ‘in the picture’ on this aspect of the B.E.C.  (Editor's Note.)


 

Where do we go from there?

Since the mid-fifties, the club has published fifteen caving reports and one climbing report.  When one looks at the subject matter, it is easy to see that this series is one of the most varied set of caving publications now on the market.  Number 1, a survey of Redcliffe Caves by AIfie Collins, recorded most of the underground stone workings that lie in the area of Redcliffe Church in Bristol. It was available to members until quite recently, but is now out of print.

The association of the B.E.C. and St. Cuthbert’s Swallet is inseparable.  Number 2, a preliminary report on St. Cuthbert’s Swallet by various leaders of the time outlined the intricacies of the system.  The sketch surveys by Don Coase are most illuminating. At that time, when little of the compass work had been started on the survey, the outline of the cave as we recognise it today from the later Ellis Survey or the later still Irwin/Stenner survey first appeared. This report has been out of print for eleven years and is eagerly sought after by leaders and by members attempting to complete their Series of Caving Reports.  It is the rarest of all the caving reports and copies have changed hands for £1

One of the mainstays of the early publications, and their editor until 1968 was Bryan Ellis. Though now mainly associated with another Mendip club, he was very active with his pen back as far as 1958. The publication his Caving Report No 3 - the S.M.C.C. method of ladder building - and his survey of Headwear and Lighting were among the first of their kind.  The Headwear and Lighting Report has always had a fairly good sale, and in 1967 was completely revised by Geoff. Bull.  Only fifty copies of this reprint were published before the stencils became damaged.  Now it has been re-typed and is in the waiting pile for another reprint - this time about a hundred copies will be available.  Although the prices and the equipment mentioned in the text (over seventy pages of the stuff!) are pre-1967, it does give the caver a pretty good coverage of the various types of equipment and spares that are available. Surprisingly, this is still - fourteen years after its first appearance - the only publication its kind to be found anywhere in the country.

A revised edition of number 3 was issued as number 3A and a few copies were still available as recently as 1971.

Alfie Collins put his digging background to good use by writing Caving Report number 4 - the Shoring of Swallet Cave Entrances.  This has been out of print for a couple of years, but was already by that time out of date and in need of complete revision owing to advances in shoring techniques.  Whether this will ever appear in a revised form remains to be seen.

In 1962, there appeared the first of two reports entitled Some Smaller Caves of Mendip.  The first of these (Caving Report No 6) was compiled by several of the active diggers of the time.  The details of Alfie's Hole and Vee Swallet are amongst the digs of the past.  The only survey made of Hunters Hole (a grade 5 by Ellis et a1.) and Tankard Hole (by Roger Stenner) will be found in this publication.  A retype of the stencils with a few corrections was made in 1966, and a few copies are still available at the Belfry at 15p each.  The second report on Smaller Caves of Mendip was written by John Tucker of the Axbridge C.C. At the time of its publication (1963) the A.C.G. had no outlet such as our caving report series, so out they came as Caving Report Number 9.  Four copies of this are still available at 15p each, but when they are sold it is very unlikely that this report will ever be reprinted unless the demand is large enough to merit the cost of reprinting.

In 1962, St. Cuthbert’s Swallet again appeared in a second report - Caving Report Number 7.  This was an updated and more detailed description which included newer discoveries such as the September and Maypole Series. Cuthbert’s was again the subject of Caving Report Number 8 - the well known Ellis preliminary plan of St. Cuthbert’s together with the survey notes.  Again, both number 7 and number 8 are long out of print, number 8 being the rarer of the two reports.  Cuthbert’s was to have been the subject of number 9 - the Elevation of St. Cuthbert’s, but this did not materialise because, as already mentioned, number 9 was brought out as the second part of the Smaller Caves of Mendip.

Following the death of Don Coase in 1958, some unfinished manuscripts on the B.E.C. method of ladder construction came into the possession of the club.  Norman Petty and Alan Sandall modified and completed this manuscript which was subsequently published as Caving Report Number 10. Still available, it is largely an historical document, although one ladder still to be found in the tackle store (the larger rung ladder) was made by this method.  Tests carried out on this in 1966 showed that the un-brake screw method of locking the rungs was still the strongest method yet devised!

For years, the Long Chamber and Rocky Boulder area of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet was a puzzle even to leaders of long standing.  In 1964, Dave Irwin systematically explored the area and his results were published as Caving Report number 11 (Now out of print for two years).

For some time, members of the club had been actively engaged in surveying and in 1967; Alfie Collins published a paper in the series entitled Presentation of cave survey data. This sixty page report was a small scale publication in that only fifty copies were placed on the market.  To the surprise of all, it went out of print in a matter of a few weeks.  Due to the coloured banda plates being damaged in the meantime, this report has never been reprinted, though the new ideas suggested in the report have been published elsewhere - notably in the C.R.G. Transactions on the Cave Surveying Symposium.

In 1965, it was suggested that as the club had complete access to St. Cuthbert’s, they were morally obliged to give to the caving fraternity all the information which had been collected within the system.  In order that this could be readily available between 'two covers', a massive report was planned.  A completely detailed survey - broken down into a number of sheets; full description of all parts of the cave; detailed historical account of the exploration of the system; water tracing; fauna and flora, and not least a comprehensive discussion of the formation of the cave by Derek Fordo  Although taking longer than was first anticipated to produce; the five parts that have appeared so far out of the projected fifteen have been well received.

In September 1971, there appeared the first formal archaeological report - Roman Mine (Caving Report No 15).  Not content with merely producing a list of finds made in the mine, Jill and Norman Tuck have added much other and valuable material.  The whole work is printed by the offset litho process, and includes photographs and a survey.  Where, might you ask, is number 14 in the series?  The answer is simple - it's on the stocks.  It is, in fact, Roy Bennett's account of the B.E.C. Pyrenean T rip.

Lastly, but not least in this roundup of the Caving Reports, is number 16 - which has hit Mendip like a bomb to say the least.  Many members will remember the many enjoyable hours spent in Balch Cave during the few years that it was open to cavers.  One can now browse through a book and enjoy the magnificent photographs of John Eatough and Roy Pearce.  John Eatough and John Attwood spent many hours in Balch producing a photographic record of the cave soon after its discovery.  In a similar way, Roy Pearce photographed Shatter Cave.  Selections from both these collections are published in a report called Mendip's Vanishing Grottoes.  Printed on good quality art paper, at 10" x 8" with outline surveys included, it is one of the best buys to date.  Until the end of April the price is 40p rising to its full price of 50p after this date.

What of the future? There are still ten parts of the Cuthbert’s Swallet report to appear.  The B.B.C. Caving logs from 1944 - 1971 should make excellent reading and make available for the first time the full record of the discoveries of the club. This should surprise those feel that the members spend all their time in the bar of the Hunters!  Another popular seller should be the proposed Burrington Atlas - containing surveys of all the caves of Burrington with descriptions; surveys and photographs.

All these publications can be obtained either from the Belfry or by post from Dave Irwin, Townsend Cottage Priddy, Wells, Somerset.

*****************************************

FOR SALE  One Mountain tent.  Stormproof. Very good condition.  £23.

Also one Tinker tent with flysheet and sewn-in groundsheet .£20.  Owner has given up camping and needs the cash.

If interested, write to:- N. RICH, Eoonenive Forestry Group, Ballochyle Estat,e Sandbank, Dunoon Argyll

Additional Address: Mrs P. Jones, 50, Louisville Ave~ Aberdeen, AB1 6TX.


 

Dates for your Diary

APRIL/MAY

Club & Guest trip to South Somerset Cave. Including Quaking House Hole, Milverton; Holywell Cave and Cannington South Quarry Cavelet and North Quarry Cavern. YOUR chance to visit these little known caves.  Food Beer available. ALL DETAILS FROM NIG. TAYLOR, Somerset Farm Institute, Cannington, Bridgwater OR Whiddon Farm, Chilcot, East Horrington, PHONE: Wells 72338.

MAY 6th

MAGIC LANTERN SHOW.  Norman Petty will be showing some historic B.E.C. slides.  At Belfry in the evening.  See Belfry board details of time.

Aug/SEPT

Sutherland.  Caving/Climbing/Walking etc. Suit all tastes.  Contact Jim Abbott at Kirkgate, Shipley, Yorks for details.

At the Belfry

The talk on the chemistry of limestone solution given by Roger  Stenner on Saturday evening 11th of March was both interesting and well attended.

The intention was to make this subject understandable to ordinary cavers, and this was done by describing the results which Roger had obtained from samples and other work tin G.B. and St. Cuthbert’s.  These fitted together to give an overall picture of intense solution by streams in the entrance boulder ruckles and an undetectable rate in stream passages except where tributaries enter.

The study of flow patterns and analyses of streams and Drips of percolation water was described, and this was shown to lead to a model of a typical Mendip shake hole cave.  A lengthy discussion followed with questions on both the theory and on practical applications to cave exploration. Finally, there were slides showing sampling measurement, analysis etc. of the cave waters.

R.H.B.

In Committee

Brief reports on the meetings of the club Committee 

The April Committee meeting started at 2.30 p.m. as usual and had dealt with all the routine items by about four.  They then went on to examine the Belfry in detail and did not finish until nearly 7 pm. A complete analysis had been done by Dave Irwin, who earns the thanks of the committee for all the work he put in.

Most of the points which are known to worry some members of the club found spokesmen amongst committee members, and the discussion was both full and detailed.  In particular, it was felt that club members were not always getting full value out of the Belfry - one way and another.  However, the financial facts tended to limit most of the possible solutions.  It appeared that the Belfry was paying its way, but only just doing so - and with nothing to spare.  Under these circumstances, the committee realised that there was very little room for experiment or manoeuvre.  Until or unless revenue improves, it must be a question of "He who pays the piper calls the tune." The Hut Warden has therefore got the job of giving priority (where necessary) to those who contribute to Belfry funds while at the same time (where possible) making the Belfry available to all club members on as wide a basis as possible.  It was realised that the Hut Warden would have difficulty in any attempt to find some suitable balance within these very necessary conditions, and it was hoped that club members would support him and would realise that the club has very little choice in the matter of running the Belfry.

A more detailed account, under a separate heading, will appear in next month's B.B., since it is felt that this is a subject of great interest to nearly all club members.


 

A weekend In Yorkshire

….being the latest episode in the saga of, the High Wycombe branch of the B.E.C  

by GRAHAM WILTON –JONES

One Friday evening in mid February, Bert Byers, Bucket Tilbury and I; together with others who are not so keen on the underworld, set off up the M1 for the North, leaving an hour later than planned.  At Newport Pagnall we came to a halt - caused by twenty or so cars which had got involved in minor bumps except for one major one and one burnt-out shell.      On again, after an hour, and on to the M1/M6 link. A great idea, this road, cutting the journey to Ingleborough from Wycombe to four hours.  We could have!+@@%! the A.A. bloke who informed us that the link was now complete and opened - the ignoramus!  Anyway, we reached Fred Weekes's place, at Padiham, Lancs at 2 o'clock on the Saturday morning, after seven hours on the road.

Hence, 8.30 on Saturday morning was not the ideal time to get up.  We drove quickly to Clapham; telephoned Prestwick and they predicted odd, light showers perhaps.  The moors had a covering of snow and a small stream sank in the elongated hollow which contains the entrance to Stream Passage Pot.  I quickly rigged the first pitch with a twenty foot ladder and Buckett and I walked down the narrow, meandering stream to the eighty five foot pitch, to check on the conditions.  All seemed reasonable so, after blocking the pot entrance with snow (We had exited but Bert was below) we had a quick look at G.G. from the surface.  Bert had not seen it before (he escaped from the pot).  A little later, while the others prepared tackle, I went back to the first pitch to re-rig with a ten foot ladder.  At this depth there is a rocky projection and it is possible to swing on to this, and free-climb the remaining drop.  Pennine Underground (PU) reckons twenty five feet of ladder here, so we saved considerably there.  According to Martin Webster in the B.B. for January 1970, the take-off for this pitch is difficult, but we did not find this so.

At the eighty five foot pitch, instead of dropping down with the water to the lip of the pitch, we traversed onwards as far as possible to where a hole has been worn in a flake of rock. A second tether was used to draw the ladder away from the waterfall.  Even so, we met with freezing spray thirty five feet down.  Rigged in this way, the return to solid rock from the ladder is a little awkward for the first man up.  PU suggests 85' of ladder, but we found that seventy feet reached the bottom.  Laddering from the lip reduces this to sixty feet.

The hundred and ten foot follows immediately.  We laddered from the top since we could not rapidly find a free climb down to the ledge - fifteen feet below - and we were cold and wanted to hurry.  Martin's article suggested that this could be climbed, but we were fairly certain that this section would be a climb only for the expert.  In our opinion, fifteen feet of ladder is necessary.  Below the ledge, it is possible to free-climb the pitch.  The water poured over the ledge, and was beautifully deflected sideways, along the rift, by a flake of rock, while the ladder dropped straight over the edge.  The pitch was thus relatively dry.  It was easier to use the ladder for the section just below the ledge, but a free climb for the final thirty feet seemed wise, as the ladder vanished amidst the full force of the waterfall.  Dropping tackle down this pitch was awkward, as it snagged on the numerous ledges.  We lost a pulley and a krab under the deluge and nobody felt like searching for them - so bang went £3.50!  The ladder reached the bottom 95' from the top so, subtracting the free climb at the bottom leaves 65' as the length of necessary ladder.

The final pitch is in a narrow rift, and was dry except for heavy drip at the bottom.  We had rigged sixty five feet of ladder, hopefully, and found a good solid ledge a short swing away.  A further free climb brought us into Stream Passage.  PU suggests 75' of ladder and this would have been necessary had we rigged further along the rift as sixty five feet is only suitable at one point.  In all, we reduced Thurber's given length of ladder from 295’ to 210’ and this could probably be reduced further to 160, or less.  None of these reductions necessitated difficult free climbing.  We were already used to this technique!  We did Disappointment with 125' instead of PU’S 155'.  The first pitch is only 20' and the fourth has several free-climbing possibilities. Swinsto suffered the same way. The 100’ belay on the first pitch must be a misprint.  There is an obvious, good natural belay right above the pitch.  The second pitch is a free climb, the third is only 25’, the fifth and sixth are both 45' and the seventh is a free climb.  230' is thus reduced to 165'.  All lengths are given to the nearest five feet.

From Stream Passage we cast about for the way on.  We were all unfamiliar with this part of G. G. and had only consulted a rough survey in front of the Ingleborough cave blurb.  Following the stream down, it soon sinks in boulder at a 'T' junction with a much larger sandy floor tunnel - Stream Chamber.  We explored to the left, until the way on was blocked with sandbanks. We tried to the right now, hurrying a little, for we wanted to show Bert the waterfall in daylight.  In our haste we missed the obvious way on, having peered over a deepish overhang.  We returned to the water and followed it upstream to the limits of caveability! Back downstream, to where the water sank we searched for another way down to the stream.  Finally we all squeezed down to a boulder pile, following the sounds of water.  We regained the stream only to be stopped by a pot, down which the water vanished.  We returned and resumed searching at the right hand (SE) of Stream Chamber.  There was no other possibility.  We soon found the way on and reached the first signpost scratched on the wall (for which G.G. is infamous) we quickly came to Sand Cavern.  By the time we reached the Main Chamber, it was utterly dark above, but it was interesting to see the waterfall in light only from below. This gives a completely different perspective from a daytime view.

Time was pressing, so we began to hurry back.  It was evident that snow was melting on the surface.  Water was caascading where none had been before.  At the top of the lowest pitch we were all cold.  At the next pitch we had already experienced difficulties in dropping tackle.  We had to prevent the lifeline snagging when returning it to the bottom in order not to waste time. We had lost much time on the lowest pitch when the returning lifeline snagged - leaving those below wondering what on earth the hold up was.  Communication was impossible.  The first man up the next pitch used a double lifeline.  The second tied on to the middle of the line and ascended.  The line was pulled back and firstly tackle, and then the third man, went up attached to the middle of the line. Tackle was prevented from snagging on the way up by holding it clear of the rock using the lower rope.  (This method is, in fact, a technique for steadying a stretcher on ascents.)  The fourth man went up on the end of the line.  If only we had thought of this when lowering the tackle, we would have had that pulley for the final pitch.  I wonder how many cavers and potholers already use this obvious and simple technique?  It has its faults for the inexperienced, however.

On the long pitch, we watched the second climber disappearing amidst the spray, just halfway up the ladder, and suddenly realised that we had only a few feet of rope left at our end.  In record time, extra rope was added after a bit of super high speed uncoiling and knot tying.

As mentioned, there was no communication from top to bottom. I know I’m rather light but, as I reached out for the first handhold of the free climb, it vanished below my feet, as did most of the others.  I ran up sheer rock and ladder alike.  There is nothing like a good lifeline!  The next pitch was undoubtedly the most difficult, and was very wet.  We were all getting numb with cold, and much energy was lost on this pitch, especially since we all started on the wrong side of the ladder.  All fingers were numbed at one time or other - mine halfway up the ladder where they refused to grip the rungs.  I yelled for a tight line and, as both hands released their grip, I had to sweep my hands behind the ladder and fold my arms and climb like that.

Emerging, after eight hours underground, suspicions were confirmed.  The moors were virtually devoid of snow and the air was almost warm. We reached Fred's house around mid-night.  There, we experienced the pleasures of having a friend up north.  Hot baths, turkey dinner and wine - a fitting end to an excellent, testing trip.

Sunday was spent in a leisurely way, pottering on the surface around Malham Cove and Gordale Scar. It was like a spring day, with artificial climbers (well, what else do you call them?) in hordes, basking in the warm sunshine and hanging in various unlikely positions all over the cove's massive limestone cliff.  Bradford Pothole Club were out, trying their latest prussiking device a sort of ferruled wire.  In one hand, a small boy held sufficient for the cove from top to bottom - over 250 feet.

We mused on the vast system of cave that might lie behind the cove, waiting for someone to find a way in. Unfortunately, the dip is in a direction opposite to the underground stream flow.

Then we visited Gordale Scar, where there is a massive but heavily weathered and eroded stale flow forming a waterfall.  This is an old cave that is now a gorge, with walls sloping impressively inwards.  Higher up, there is a natural arch, with a waterfall dropping through it.  On either side there are numerous hollows and a few caves.  Subsidiary faulting, caused by the Mid-Craven Fault which gave rise to both Gordale Scar and Malham Cove (also to Attermire and Giggleswick Scars ), is visible in two places.

Altogether, in spite of the long and arduous trip on the Saturday, we enjoyed a pleasant and restful weekend.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 21.

1

2

 

 

 

3

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

9

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

Across:

1. Found in spare crystals on Mendip. (4)
5. They have a crack at it climbing. (5)
7. Cops out for a Cuthbert’s chamber. (7)
10. Old climbing nail maker of metallic sound. (7)
11. Once fast Mendip publican. (5)
12. Describes a well known rift. (4)

Down:

2. Black Hole? (5)
3. Best way to operate a winch? (2,5)
4. Somerset river surrounded by water. (4)
6. Blue rod type of cave rock. (7)
8. Part of Cuthbert’s drainage system. (5)
9. Mendip weather condition which doesn’t sound like a hit! (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

W

E

T

S

U

I

T

 

F

 

T

 

I

 

 

A

L

L

B

O

L

D

 

 

L

 

A

O

 

 

C

A

V

E

R

N

U

 

 

O

 

A

 

 

G

L

I

F

T

E

D

 

 

E

D

 

R

 

 

O

R

E

S

E

V

E

 

 

S

 

N

 

R

 

E

X

T

E

N

D

S

 

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

Editorial

Belated Greetings

…and a Happy New Remainder of 1971 to one and all.  The postal strike you know about of course, and we will not bore you with all the other reasons why the publication of the B.B. has reached such a low ebb.  As you will notice, in order to catch up, this number is dated January and February and we have to go back to 1959 to find the last occasion in which only eleven B.B.’s appeared in a year.  In fact, we have to go to all the way back to 1951 to find a gap in the publication of the B.B. as large in time as this one.  A solution to the snags of organisation must, and will be found by the Committee, but in discussion all the factors that have led to this gap in publication, other matters are almost bound to be discussed which will affect members as a whole – particularly those who can visit Mendip only occasionally.  The most important of these factors as discussed in this Editorial in the section following.

End of the Monthly Journal?

For many years, the B.B. has proudly borne the subtitle’ Monthly Journal of the Bristol Exploration Club’.  Its monthly publication has in times past enabled news to be sent to members who are away from Mendip while it is still news, and its frequent appearance compared to many other caving journals has often been spoken of appreciatively. There are, however, several factors which point towards a possible change in the future.  The more important ones are as follows: -

1.                  Next year sees the 25th anniversary of the B.B.  It would be nice to be able to sort out the future pattern of the B.B. this year, so that it can enter its next quarter century on a stable basis.

2.                  After the end of the postal strike, postal rates are almost bound to rise, and an increasing amount of member’s subscriptions will have to be spent in sending out a monthly B.B.

3.                  It’s becoming increasingly difficult to finds members with enough spare time to collate, staple, fold and address the B.B. every month.

4.                  The need for a better form of print may mean the abandonment of our duplicating in the B.B. In this case, a longer time scale may be needed between issues.

Obviously we have got to steer some sensible path between producing a B.B. which is worth having without it either costing too much per issue or getting behind, as it has done recently OR cutting down the number of issues per year without making members who come to Mendip only now and again feel that they are no longer in touch with what is going on.

As many of you probably know, I have always said that caving magazines should not try to copy each other – because if the B.B. for example becomes exactly the same as, say, the Wessex Journal, then there would be little point in both continuing to exists. Bearing this in mind, I am beginning to come round to the idea of a ‘fat’ B.B. once a quarter – properly printed and having something like 40 to 48 pages of caving, climbing, travel, club news, what is going on, on Mendip, book reviews, humour, and the like.  To keep some form of the old monthly going, I suggest that some of the regular features would still be written on a monthly basis – thus, readers would be getting three separate accounts of what went on during the time since the last B.B.

This all wants a lot of thought and the Committee will no doubt be doing just this over the next few months.  However, if any new scheme is to have a decent chance of success in 1972 plans must be laid BEFORE the next annual general meeting.

‘Alfie’


 

A Good Welsh Weekend

by Steve Grime

Some climbing seems to be much more in the news than it was at one time, here is a typical climbing account to start this years B.B…….

Dawn broke quietly and greyly as we walked round the shores of Llyn Idwal.  We had flown up to Llanbedwr from Boscombe Down on the previous day, and then scrounged M.O.A. transport to Ty Newyddion in the Nant Francon Pass.

On reaching the base of Idwal Slabs, it was still to dark for us to be able to see the climb, so we struck off up the path to Twll Odu.  Imagine our surprise as we passed through the cloud on our way to the top of Glyder Fawr. When we arrived at the summit we were able to appreciate the view even more.  In the still, cold morning light, the Snowdon mass seemed far harsher and more inaccessible than it really is.  As we sat there, the sun slowly rose above the clouds and bathed them in a multitude of colours, this effect being enhanced by the constant change of form of the cloud top.

Reluctantly, we arose from our grandstand seats and applied ourselves to the task of descending into Llanberis Pass.  This we accomplished very quickly and easily.  The die was cast for the day, and we ground uphill again – this time for the summit of Crib Goch.  Breaking through the cloud again, we found that it had risen considerably and now only three hundred feet from the summit.  Again, we stopped to drink in this fantastic sight, so rarely seen in Wales.  A sea of cloud stretched away in all directions as far as the eye could see. Our ridge ran away before us, and we fairly cracked along it, the exhilaration of our position lending wings to our feet.  Yards, furlongs, miles, pinnacles and whalebacks flew behind us and suddenly – we were gasping; sweating and clag-bound on the summit of Snowdon.  I had completely switched off during the journey and Tim said later that I had been going as if the devil himself was after me.

As there was nothing to be seen here but swirling mists, we soon quit Snowdon and moved at a more regular pace down the track, from there breaking left for the col between Llewydd and Yr Wyddfa.  The Llewydd ridge passed in a grey succession of ups and downs.  We were tiring, and the odd stumble brought forth a curse. It was somewhere around this point that I realised that we hadn’t seem a single soul so far all day – a rare occurrence in the area excerpt for midweek in winter.

As we descended to the Llyn Llidaw reservoir the first spots of rain hit us, and we arrived at Pen-y-pas more than a little damp.  Our day, however, was not yet over.  After mugs of tea and scones, we left Pen-y-pass and set off up the grass bound slopes of Glyder Fawr – a very different mountain from the one we had gambolled over just seven hours previously.  The uneven tussocks of grass broke our pace and the water clinging to them soaked us through.  At the summit, I thought of giving up, but I had promised Tim that I would show him North Wales, so the next phase of our walk just had to be completed.  We strolled over the boulder field to Glyder Fach and there banged and scraped our way along Bristly Ridge and so to the top of Tryfan.

Sheltered in the lee of the summit rocks, I let my mind wander back fifteen months when I had crawled, dragged and heaved myself up one of the gullies to the east side of Tryfan in the most horrible and unsafe snow conditions I had ever coming across.  It was only sheer luck that got me to the top. I had fallen off three times while climbing jammed boulders and, as I was on my own with only an ice axe, it was pretty desperate.  I had reached the summit in a state of physical and mental collapse.  How long I had huddled in the shelter of the same rocks which surrounded me now I couldn’t guess, but I know that it took me some time on that earlier occasion to pull myself together and get off the thing.

We rested on the summit for half an hour or so, eating Kendal Mint Cake and smoking, then we turned downhill on the last leg of our journey.  We jolted and jarred our way down the ridge to Llyn Ogwen.  On reaching the road, we turned off west and hitched a lift to Tyn-y-Maes and so a last mile or so to the cottage.

              Data:      Distance           17½ miles
                            Height gain        9,030 feet
                            Time taken        11 hours

That night we supped well in Bethesda and, under the influence, slept equally well.

The next morning saw us thumping back up the road again.  The rain of the previous day had given way to an extremely damping fine drizzle. Our objective for the day was the summit of Glyder Fawr.  Not much one might say, but fair as it was 1,400 feet of fine rock climbing ahead.

We uncoiled the rope at the base of Tennis Shoe on the slabs and, after trying on, I lead off up the route. The not difficult but delightful nature of the climb took our minds off the weather and we bumbled gently upwards. On reaching the top of Tennis Shoe, we shambled up to the foot of Holy Tree Wall, where I made a wonderful mess of the initial moves and fell of twice.  At last, I had to resort to skulduggery and, as those were the days when a nut was a nut was a nut; a beautiful bath type brass nut jammed in that cursed groove quite nicely.  With a quick heave on the attached sling, I was up on that bare little slab and cruising up the groove beyond.

By the time the route had been completed, I wasn’t quite the cool calm determined mountaineer that I had posed six hundred feet below.  Continuation Wall led to an even more desperate struggle, so we decided that instead of doing Central Gully on Glyder Fawr, we would take an easier looking corner to the left of it.

This route started at the foot of an overhanging ten foot wall and then eased off for another three hundred feet, where it curved out of sight.  After another spectacular peel – of course of which we saw me being smashed between the eyes by a large ‘D’ stubai screw gate – followed at once by a belt on the back by the head of the aforementioned bath nut – I eventually started the route.

I had to traverse left to avoid a bulging wall covered in green and black slime and found myself precariously balanced on a wall the colour of which was a nice reddy pink, the sort one sees some shales turn to after firing.  It was quite lovely.  The only thing wrong with it was the fact that it had cleaved into little bricks about four inches long, an inch wide and half an inch deep and they were all quite loose.  I was quite, quite frightened.  Somehow I managed to get upon the thing and, in doing so, traverse back into that nice comforting groove.  By this time I had run out my full length of rope.  Fortunately there was a fair sized step in the right wall of the groove so, with one foot braced in this, I had to bring Tim up that nasty black bulge.  How he did it I will never know.  He plopped twice and still managed to regain and continue. He was very gripped.

Eventually, we arrived at the summit and took off our packs, vowing never to climb laden ever again. After a brief rest, we hopped down to the Pen-y-Gwrd and then hitched back to Llanbedwr, bivvying out at the Victoria Inn for the night and then flying back to Boscombe on the Monday.

              Data:      Distance           About 1,100 feet of climbing and thrutching
                            Height gain        Too long.
                            Grades             Hardest, severe but seemed more than that in big boots, in rain, with packs.

*****************************************

….having been climbing with Steve, we now go caving with Colin Priddle…….

 


Yorkshire

by Colin Priddle

Friday, the 8th of January saw eleven bods rushing up the M6 motorway to go down Birks Fell Cave.  After camping at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Bob Craig phoned the met office and reported back to us.  Heavier rain later in the day was forecast.  Most people, remembering Pen-y-Ghent, decided against the cave under these likely conditions, and so we went down Ireby Fell Cavern.

In all, thirteen people descended the hole and the Ding; Dong; Bell; Pussy; Well and Rope pitches.  None of these pitches were over forty feet and after the first four, there was a long passage which we estimated to be half a mile long which sloped slightly downwards and was just about a body’s breadth wide.  It was perfect for high speed caving except that ‘S’ bends were sometimes a little sharp. After this passage the gradient steepened until the master cave was reached.  This terminated in a sump.

A few photographs were taken of the masses of people in the master cave.  On the way out, three of the party visited the newly discovered Red Rose Inlets. Judging by the name of this series, the extensions were found by the Red Rose Cave and Pothole club.  The three who visited this series thought it very beautiful and well worth a photographic trip.  The party eventually came out in three separate groups – it was not organised but just happened that way.  Everybody enjoyed the trip, being not too strenuous but pleasant with it’s moderately wet pitches.  One of the groups into which the party had split, took a look down Marble Steps afterwards and went as far as the top of the first pitch.

The whole party consisted of Alan Butcher, Bob Mehew, Martin Mills, Brian and Janet Woodward and Bob Craig (all S.M.C.C.) plus Martin Webster, Martin Huaun, Colin Priddle and Dave Yeandle (all B.E.C.) plus Pete Rose and two others.

Later, in the Crown Inn at Horton during the evenings socialising, Martin Webster was caught flicking beer at the Boy – the penalty was his being chucked out by the landlord.

Sunday was a lovely day. Messrs Woodward, Priddle, Yeandle, Rose and one other joined forces with Fred Davies and Ian Jepson (W.C.C. and N.H.A.S.A.) and did Swinsto – coming out into the valley via the Kingsdale Master Cave.  The multitude of pitches were quickly passed by abseiling using two travelling ropes. Seven people are too many for a trip like that, and this party split into two.  The first party out did it in two hours, but this time could have been shortened considerably with better organisation.  The abseiling technique is a very pleasant way of getting down to the valley floor.  On the wet pitches you can get to the bottom incredibly quickly.

Meanwhile the others went walking and, after the usual lunchtime refreshments, we walked to Ingleton via Beezley’s Falls in pleasant sunshine.  Then we headed for home.


 

Cuthbert’s

by Tim Large

A rescue practice was held in St. Cuthbert’s on the 5th of December last.  The carry was started from the bottom of Stal Pitch.  The first party carried from there to the downstream side of the Choke.  The second party then took over, and carried from Traverse Chamber to the top of Pulpit, where both teams combined for the final haul.  The time taken was about three and a half hours.

On the whole, the practice went very well, giving everyone experience in every aspect of rescue technique. It was disappointing to see only a few people turn up for this rescue practice, and I am sure that not everybody who caves in Cuthbert’s knows what to do in such circumstances.

During the rescue practice, the Choke was finally broken through in the hope that it could be used, but this route was found to be impracticable at the moment.  It does, however, give a new direct route down the streamway instead of having to go round by-pass Passage.  At the moment, the new passage is a flat out crawl in the streambed, which consists of mud and gravel.  We hope that this fill will be gradually washed out, now that a through passage exists.

At the Cuthbert’s Leader’s meeting held on the 22nd of November certain items of fixed tackle were recommended to be brought out of the cave.  These were as follows: -

1.                  The chain on the Great Gour.

2.                  The chain in the Rabbit Warren Extension.

3.                  The chain on the Water Chute.

4.                  The top chain on the Wire Rift.

5.                  The four rung ladder into Pillar Chamber.

The recommendations were turned down by the Committee as they felt that they might not representative of the Cuthbert’s Leaders as a whole, since only ten out of the twenty five leaders were present at the Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting.  The question of the fixed tackle will be again debated at the next Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting, when it is hoped that a decision will be reached with the Committee can have more confidence in.

Another decision taken at the Leader’s meeting was that of opening the Maypole Series again.  This series was closed to enable scientific work to be carried out, but there has been almost no work has been done for a long time, and in view of this, it was not felt to be fair to penalise the ordinary cave by keeping the series closed.  It is thus open again.

*****************************************


 

Cave Paining of Le Portel

It seem appropriate to follow some caving and climbing with a little archaeology, and it is pleasant to welcome back to the pages of the B.B. one of our older members, Johnny Ifold (of Ifold’s Series in Eastwater, Ifold’s Horror in Stoke Lane, etc.)

This cave is situated not far from the railway station of Varilhes.  The paintings were discovered in 1908 by Dr. Jeannal.  The cave is entered by going through a low narrow corridor which descends sharply.  At the bottom of this corridor, an iron gate gives access to the painted galleries.

The first painting which I saw rather a surprise, for, instead of it showing one of the animals which one associates with the art of prehistoric man, it represents a little owl which has kept watch over Le Portel for at least twenty thousand years.

The principal chamber is about a hundred and eighty feet long, from which several galleries branch off. There are some fine horses painted in a soft brown colour – their archaic style recalls the dappled horses of Peche-Merle.  The largest painting is of a horse over four feet long and this painting is also distinguished by its being the only complete polychrome picture in the cave.

One of the galleries is full of paintings of horses drawn in black outline.  The eye is immediately fixed on one – little horse stamping his left foreleg.  This simple movement gives him a tremendous amount of life and interest.  One would like to know why the artist drew him this way.

The most famous panel in Le Portal is that showing three black Magdalenian bison.  Two of the bison with heads lowered face each other. To the left of this a pair is the third and most splendid of the bison.  Thus, the two great art cycles are clearly represented in this cave: relatively early Aurignacian-Perigordian and early Magdalenian.

*****************************************

An EVENT is being organised at the BELFRY on Saturday, MARCH 27TH!!!!  And will consist of…

Old Fashioned Mendip Singsong

BEER AVAILABLE!         ALL WELCOME!       YOU DON’T OFTEN GET THE CHANCE!


 

In the Cuillins

by Bob Cross

Skye is the largest island in the Hebrides and it’s about sixty miles across country form north to south and uneasily and fairly cheaply breached from the mainland.

Whichever road you take to Skye, the scenery is magnificent, and you may become so overawed at what you see that you may never get to Skye at all.

The Cullin Mountains are in the centre of the island, on its west coast. They are dissected by glens and lochs where camp sites are plentiful.  The mountains are black and foreboding.  Consider yourself lucky if you see much of them, for most of the time they are clothed in cloud.  The massif is basically a long ridge, running north to south, and is flanked by spurs with steep points lopped off by the glaciers.  Vegetation on the upper slopes is very sparse indeed.  Owing to a near complete absence of soil, the slopes are broken by crags of steep slabs, affording varying rock climbs.  The scope for rock climbing here is overwhelming but fell walking is limited though by the good fortune it is possible to ascend Sgurr Alasdair – at about 3,200 ft. the highest mountain on Skye – without the aid of a rope given fair weather.

I had the great pleasure to ascend the peak around midsummer during a brief stay on Skye.  Four of us set out one morning from the Youth Hostel at Glenbrittle.  The weather was settled and a warm breeze wafted through our hair.  The first leg of our route lay down the track from Glenbrittle House, a small farmstead form whence we followed a track up through the heather passing a waterfall called Eas Mor.  On we went, over a hillside strewn with boulders and small rocky outcrops and soon reached a lochan called Loch-an-Fhir-Bhallaich.  We halted beside its limpid waters and had a bite to eat.  From here, our eyes were drawn down along the length of Loch Brittle, banked by steep cliffs and narrow pebbly beaches, and on out to sea where the wind whipped up white horses.  On our left loomed the hills of the Isle of Rhum and between them and us could be seen the uninhabited Isle of Soay.  Off the northern coast of Rhum lay Canna, and far out to sea was the south end of South Uist and the isles of Barra and Eriksay.  The sea was a deep blue and made an indescribably beautiful contrast with the island scenery.  Scanning the view with my field glasses I glimpsed a solitary fishing boat bobbing up and down on the waves.  After a few minutes here we set off up, spurred on by the expectation of even better views.

Gradually the character of the hillside changed.  Grass and heather gave way to scree and boulders and our path dropped gently into the Coire Lagan.  Below us the waters of the Allte Coire Lagan ran on their way to the sea.  We followed the banks of this stream up until the waters spilled over a great chute of smooth glaciated rock of the tarn above. Our route lay up the sides of this chute and on to the level ground surrounding the tarn.  The going proved easy, my vibrams gripping perfectly on the sometimes wet rock.  The seaward side of the tarn was rimmed with smooth rock through which ran veins of white marble like calcite which contrasted strongly with the reddish brown of the rock.  We were in a vast amphitheatre.  On our left rose a great ridge – Sgurr Dearg while in front of us soared a tremendous stone chute of incredible proportions, the like of which I have never seen before or since.  For what must have been six hundred feet or more, the scree rose then vanished between the sheer black walls of a gully.  Above this and to our right loomed the towering summit of Sgurr Alasdair, disappearing for moments under blankets of cloud.  At our feet lay a chaos of boulders and scree thrown down form the chute.  There were two fellows on the scree.  We waited for them to gain the summit ridge, as they were dislodging stones and welters of debris would frequently thunder down, echoing from the surrounding ramparts. After what seemed like hours, the continuing crashing sound died away, and we thought it safe to carry on. Having studied the other team’s progress, I decided it would be better to keep to the slabs at the side of the scree, rather than do battle with the scree itself.  This proved a much faster ascent than we had witnessed, and we gained height rapidly.  Soon we were in the gully and solid slabs gave way to a jumble of boulders from wall to wall.  This section of about four hundred feet was very steep and many stones were dislodged. One caught me on the kneecap, and the culprit was bitterly cursed.  The top was getting near signalled by a fresh breeze whistling down the gully.  At last we were on the ridge, and what a fantastic view!  A quick scramble up a bristly arête and we were on the summit.  It fell sharply away on three sides into the depths of the valley below and we could just make out the figures of the two rock climbers coming up from Sgurr Scumain to the south west.  The view was glorious, as by now the sun had begun to set over the Hebrides.  I was overawed and felt very humble.  We didn’t stop there long as the light was fading fast and the temperature dropping. We descended to the valley in silence and utter contentment at what we had done.  These feelings are for me the sum of the spirit of mountaineering.

Editor’s Note:  Do climbers make better writers than cavers? Are they more literate?  Do they have better brains?  It would seem so, judging by the lack of writing about CAVING – a sport which used to be practised to quite an extent in the B.E.C. The climbers show that you don’t have to discover a new mountain – or even a new route – to be able to write interestingly about a trip.  Why can’t we have some of the same sort of treatment done for CAVING trips?  What about it, you young, keen, active cavers?

*****************************************

HAVE YOU PAID YOUR SUB YET?

Subs are DUE on the 31st January.  Full members £1.25 (25/-) married couples £1.75 (35/-) and junior members under 18 years of age £).75 (15/-)

Cheques, cash, etc. to R.J. BAGSHAW, 699 WELLS ROAD, KNOWLE, BRISTOL 4.

Why not do it now? Article 20 of the constitution says…..’membership mat be deemed by the Committee to have ceased if a member’s annual subscription, being due on the 31st January and being requested at the member’s last known address before March 31st following, shall not have been received by April 30th of that year.’

Hence, the well know jungle
Annual subs must all be in
Ere the month of May begin
Any bloke who fails to pay
May not get B.B. for May!

DOITNOW+SENDIT TO BOB+ DOITNOW+SENDIT TO BOB+ DOITNOW+SENDIT TO BOB+ DOIT


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 8.

 

1

 

2

3

 

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

11

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

2. Describes a long way. (3)
5. Form a plan with survey included. (3)
7. Eyes open south east and east. (3)
8. ‘O, my leap!’ (of this?). (7)
11. Water for mixed teams. (4)
12. Not for NiFes. (4)
14. Singe it – and sets off bang. (7)
16. Top value in some kinds of game. (3)
17. Rats to in Cuthbert’s. (3)

Down:

1. Insane backwards device in Cuthbert’s? (3)
3. Useful in perpendicular opening. (5)
4. Home of this in Lamb Leer and Cuthbert’s. (3)
6. Apes Sag along cave route. (7)
7. Cork Les on Eastern Mendip. (7)
9. Softly two directions for Mendip hill
10. Typically about nothing. (3)
13. 3 down forms this. (4)
14. Cold notice not absent. (3)
15. Drink Yorkshire ale. (3)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

 

Stencils completed 11.3.71

Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor.

Mendip Rescue Organisation

In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481.   BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tele:  WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     D. Turner
Members:          R. Bagshaw; W. Cooper; D.J. Irwin;
                        N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas;
                        R. Orr;  R. Hobbs.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. Thomas, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. Large, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 2 Broughton House, Somerset St., Redcliffe, Bristol 1.
Hut Warden:      R. Orr.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Hut Engineer:    R. Hobbs, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol. Tele BRISTOL 77368
Tacklemaster:    W. Cooper, 259 Wick Rd, Bristol BS4 4HE.  Tel: BRISTOL 77368.
B.B. Editor:       S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Publications:     D.J. Irwin.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.


 

Editorial

The Belfry

In this B.B. you will find a few words written as a result of the recent Committee enquiry.  Just how they strike you will depend on your personal attitude but, considering the relatively short time that the present Belfry has been in operation, the situation is no worse than might well have been expected and should give no cause for alarm.

That the B.E.C. finds itself in a position where the Belfry cannot be its member’s own hut to the exclusion of all others; and that it must give priority over day and even¬ing visitors to those who sleep there may strike some as a novel - even sinister - turn of events, but is this really so?  It is certainly not novel.  For many years the club encouraged visiting cavers to stay at the Belfry and acquired many useful contacts as a result.  Similarly, the 'regulars' evolved an image of life as it was then lived at the Belfry and took the view that if others did not like this, they could lump it.  We both gained and lost people by this attitude.

Whereas few people would like to see the B.E.C. turn into a dull; respectable; studious and narrow minded body, it must be admitted that attitudes change and that if the present one is towards more caving and away from singing and bottle walking, then that's how it is.  Worse things could happen.

Unskilled Labour

As you will see, printing enables one to drop a greater variety of 'clangers' than does duplicating, and this B.B. could well serve as an example of what NOT to do.  Have patience - we will get the hang of it!

“Alfie”

Letters

Letterewe
Wester Ross,
Scotland

24.3.72

Dear Alfie

The ripples and noises of dissention have spread even to our far-flung position in the B.E.C. empire and I would like to put the views of an exile if I may.

My views on club politics are well known - but committees must be.  That the B.E.C. committee through the years has been a successful one must be apparent from the history the club in the March B.B.  I personally know about 70% of the present committee. I have stood before them for the odd bollocking and a thank you - the former well deserved and the latter gratefully received.  Now these people have been elected time and time again - proving the club’s acceptance of their expertise.  They may be getting a bit long in the tooth in the eyes of some of the younger and newer members but before one begins to criticise, look back at their record.  I joined the B.E.C. in 1960 because the Belfry was a better place than Maine’s Barn.  Over the years, my loyalty to and pride in the club have increased without my being really aware of it - and it would be a great pity if the club were to suffer from any form of dissention.

My advice to dissenters is ‘Put up or shut up.’  Let them go into print (yes, print now in the B.B.) and let every one hear their point of view or, better still just shut up and leave it to the experts - for that is what our committee at present are.

Yours Sincerely

Steve Grime.

Member’s Addresses

New Members

775/6  Mr & Mrs J. Upsall, 82 Eastlland Rd, Yeovil, Somerset.
777     J. Durston, Tolcarne, 90 Wells Rd, Glastonbury, Somerset
778/9  Mr & Mrs J. Calder, 14 Trinity St., Salisbury, Wilts.

Change Of Address

T. Fletcher.  11 Cow Lane, Bradcote, Nottingham
C.G. Howell, 131 Sandon Rd, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
R. Toms, 22 Lancing gardens, Edmonton, London N9

Paid Up

G.S. Watts, 100 Chesterfield Rd, St. Andrews, Bristol 6


 

Geophysical Cave Prospecting

A short account of the possibilities of various methods written for the B. B.

by JOHN LETTEREN of M.N.R.C. & Wessex.

Introduction

It has long been the dream of many cavers to construct a little black box to detect and locate caves. The great majority of known caves on Mendip occur on the Black Rock/Lower Limestone Shales boundary, and have been discovered by digging active or extinct swallet type entrances. A few large solutional cave systems, notably Lamb Leer and Pen Park have absolutely no surface features and were discovered (by mining operations) quite by chance.  The discovery of Pen Park in the early days was, in fact, facilitated by a natural opening in the roof of the main chamber, but there are probably a considerable number which, like Lamb Leer, retain their secrecy.  Other examples are Manor Farm Swallet whose roof collapsed in 1968; the larger caves of Fairy Cave quarry, which were broken into by quarrying and - if you believe in fairies - the gulf at Sandford Hill and Palmer's Chamber off Lamb Leer.

Dowsing

Until the physical principles of this method are understood it must be regarded as a black art.  No significant caves have been discovered by this method.

Resistivity

Various workers, notably the late Prof. Palmer, have measured earth resistance in an attempt to delineate caves.  The method is extremely slow and tedious, as it is necessary to traverse the area not once but many times with different probe spacings to work to different depths. One worker in the U.S.S.R. has taken 20,000 readings in one area alone.  Even then, there is a chance of detecting faults as the method is only capable of detecting surfaces, not volumes.  Although various people have claimed success; few, if any large caves have been discovered (i.e. entered) using this method.

Seismology

I spent three years working on explosion seismology.  I received echoes from the region where Palmer’s Chamber should be, also from G.B. and some others.  This method is even more prone to detecting surfaces and was deliberately shelved by myself for that reason in favour of gravitational methods.

Microwave Thermometry

As the earth loses heat at night, cavities near the surface act as insulators and prevent the earth's heat from reaching the surface thus giving rise to cool areas.  However, the temperature differences are so small that a microwave thermometer is needed to measure the wavelength of the infra-red radiation.  The Americans fly such instruments at night to detect old mine workings under highways etc. and they claim to detect not only the tunnels but even the pit props! Unless one of these is hi - jacked, it would appear to be beyond the Scope of a club project.

Gravimetry

The earths force (or acceleration, if you insist) of gravity diminishes slightly over a cavity.  The figure obtained from theory over Lamb Leer main chamber is a quarter of a part per million, or 0.25 milligal – a milligal being approximately a micro-g.  One can purchase an instrument having an accuracy of 0.01 milligal, but before putting this to your committee, I should mention that such instruments cost about £3,500.  Various types of gravimeter have been proposed.  The one referred to above is the Worden.  Others use variations of the Cavendish balance or clever overbalancing mass-spring systems (such as the von Thyssen).   Bristol University and others have realised that electronic timers are now fast and accurate enough to time a falling mass to one part in ten million at least, but there are problems in determining the start and finish times to the required accuracy.  I am myself working on a home made gravimeter but as it is just possible that the idea might be worth a patent, I won't discuss it here.

Other Methods

There are several other cave finding methods about, but I won't attempt to describe any more here. Ideas like putting down boreholes all over the place and lowering down miniature T.V. cameras I will leave for you to exploit if you so wish.

Ethics

Is there a case for NOT using these methods?  Are they, like poisoning foxes, basically unsporting?  I do not think so.  Any method, however effective, will only detect caves in certain environments and even then, the problem of breaking into the detected cave arises.  The Palmer's Chamber dig has been going on steadily for generations, and had still a long way to go.  However, a really effective instrument could reward its designer by finding at least one new, big, shining, unspoilt cave and - a part from Rhino - it is a long time since anyone has done so on Mendip.

Editor's Note:     This is a subject which does not get heard of for long intervals in the B.B., and it is interesting to learn that workers are still busy in this field of enquiry.  Any comments from readers on either the scientific or ethical sides of this subject?


 

Climbing 1971 – 1972

Anan account of climbs and trips carried out by club members during the past twelve months

by GERALD OATEN.

The passing of this Easter makes it a year since the B.E.C. climbers headed for 'Them thar hills' namely Glencoe, Scotland.  (The account of this trip was published in a previous B.B.)

On arrival. we had prepared for the worst, having aired our thick jumpers, over rousers and long johns. To our amazement, the sun beat down on us for six days.  This made the gully climbs soft going, so the intrepid climbers made their way to Glen Etieve and the famous Trilleachan slabs.  Nigel Jago and Derek Targett climbed Hammer, 500ft, and Spartan Slab - both V.S.'s.  On returning, they said that it was some of the most enjoyable climbing they had done. On the last night of the stay, out luck changed.  It rained and blew all night.  Thus we beat a hasty retreat from Scotland.

The next trip that members made was at Whitsun.  This time, we migrated south to Cornwall.  Early on the first morning Derek, Fred and Nigel descended Ash Can Gulley at Chair Ladder to climb Bishop's Rib (X.S. 190' ) while Peter Sutton and myself scrambled down the easier way and made our way at sea level to Central Route (V.S. 195'). On sighting the start of our climb some fifteen feet above us on a ledge, Pete made his way up the short vertical wall.  Then it was my turn. I made the first two moves then it happened! - my shoulder came out again.

Pete's quick thinking saved me from falling into the 'Oggin.  He made the rope fast and belayed me to it. Then off for help he went, leaving me alone.

Although the tide was going out, the waves were sometimes crashing over me; making me wet and miserable. After what seemed an eternity, Pete returned with the boys and they decided to inform the coast guard at the top of the cliff.  After about a quarter of an hour, the coastguard arrived - wearing a white shirt and tie and Wellingtons. (Presumably trousers as well? Ed.) He brought ropes and a rescue stretcher with him.

The general idea was to haul me up the two hundred odd foot of cliff face on the stretcher.  By this time we had quite an audience, plus a lot of help from nameless climbers.  After a half-hearted attempt, they decided to abandon this method, making me think that they were going to leave me to the mercy of the sea.  All of a sudden there was a mighty roar and a rush of hot down draught from a Royal Navy helicopter.  The Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines had arrived!  After some skilful manoeuvres by the pilot, I was winched up into the craft and whisked away to Penzance Hospital and those pretty Cornish nurses.

Derek and Nigel made ascents of Diocese (V.S. 205') and Little Brown Jug (V.S. 200') on the following days while the rest of the group tried to get a suntan on Sennen beach.

After returning from Cornwall, some of the active climbers set about climbing some of the harder routes on the Avon Gorge.  The four climbers who took part in these climbs were Peter Sutton; Roy Marshall; Nigel Jago and Derek Targett.  They climbed in pairs.

Limbo (X.S. 230') was climbed by Derek and Nigel.  This is a fine route on Suspension Bridge Buttress.  It takes a line just right of the arête.  From the first belay you climb on ‘S’, all rounded pockets on a slightly overhanging wall, breaking out from this left on a hand traverse.  At the end of this is a difficult mantelshelf, which I was sure Nigel was not going to make as he thrashed over it. The route then follows Hell Gates to the top.

Earl of Perth (H.V.S. 210') is another route on the buttress and this also was climbed by Nigel and Derek. This takes the same stance as Limbo, but starts off to the right over the black bulge on the same sort of pockets as Limbo.  After the first couple of moves you use a peg, then follow the grooves that tend to go right, finishing on the final wall of Hell Gates.

Pete and Roy joined Nigel and Derek for the ascent of How Hard (H.V.S. 250').  Our four musketeers next tackled Clan Union (X.S.380i).  Nigel and Derek were the leading pair.  The first pitch is the same as Hell Gates, where you belay in the cave.  If you get a chance to do either of these routes, there is a writing book in the cave with some interesting comments in it.  This was first put there by (How's the climb going? Ed.) Drummond.  From the cave, traverse left across the diedre by a series of bridging and hand traverses.  The belay for this pitch is in a hairy position in slings.  The route then follows the fault line ascending to the left for some hundred feet.  This involves some difficult hand traverses.  By this time Pete and Roy were on the second pitch with Pete in the lead.  Roy came across the diedre in spectacular form with a series of back ropes for protection and he ended up spread-eagled on the diedre.  The last pitch is the same as for Limbo.

After doing this route, Derek and Nigel decided to try Last Slip (X.S. 130').  The first pitch of this is made by fingery lay backs that prove to be very strenuous.  In the following weekends they did this pitch so often that they could have done it blindfolded.  The second pitch of the climb takes a clean cut groove with a bolt for protection nearly at the base.  Nigel, who was leading, made it to the bolt and a little above, then he came to a halt. The moves to make are a series of bridging and backing up ¬or that's what it says in the guidebook.   Barrie and I were prussiking up the climb taking photographs and uttering words of encouragement.  The reply we received was “Go follow the sun!”  After several attempts at the climb, they gave it up as a bad Job.

The last hard route done was Spinor (X.S.130').  It is a very strenuous climb on red overhanging wall in the Amphitheatre.  If anybody would like to look at some black and white photos of these routes, contact the Climbing Secretary.

One Monday afternoon in August saw ten members on a ferry in the middle of the English Channel on their way to the Alps.  The transport we had was a twelve seater van that was very much overloaded with climbing and camping gear for eighteen days.  With so many navigators in the van, we found ourselves somehow in the middle of the Paris fruit market but eventually we managed to get on the right auto route that took us deeper into France and the Alps.

After eighteen hours driving and after many wrong turns and traffic jams, we arrived in Chamonix just as a heavy rainstorm started.  We had arranged to meet Bob and Lyn White and also Bob Sell in the Bar National, where we all had a long awaited and well deserved beer. We managed to pitch camp on the same site as the others.  With gear strewn all over our camp, we were the spectacle of the site, with the French walking past and muttering words that sounded like 'Mad Anglais.'

Nigel and Fred set off to climb Mont Blanc (15,772 ft) by crossing the Bosson Glacier and staying at an alpine hut.  At this height, they both suffered a bit and so decided not to go on. Barrie, Derek and Bob Sell did not know this, and they set off to cross the glacier at a narrower point to meet up with the other two.  It must have been very funny to see these three slogging up the path with ice axes, crampons, heavy boots and pack and being overtaken by old women carrying handbags and wearing shoes. On reaching the edge of the glacier they were so tired that they decided to come back down.

After our stay at Chamonix, we moved on to Interlaken in Switzerland.  This time the camp was quite good.  It had an English style bog!  From the site you could across and see the north face of the Eiger in the distance (13,026ft) and the Monch (13,449ft).  To see the sun setting on these mountains was, I think, the most beau¬tiful sight of the entire trip.

Bob Sell was the only person in the group that did any climbing.  He set off one day with a friend to reach the summit of the Eiger by its west flank.  While he was doing this, the rest of us set about sightseeing and put in some strenuous drinking (it was a long way to go for a booze up!)

Our trips included a drive to Trummelbach where there is a large waterfall which cascades from the middle of a cliff face.  For a small fee you can go up in a lift and see the water crashing along its course. A lot of the time was spent on the grassy banks of one of the lakes sunbathing.  On one occasion while the rest sunbathed, five of us went to a place called Kleine Scheidegg (6,762ft).  There are a couple of hotels here at the base of the Jungfrau and from there, there are two ways up.  Walking, or catching the mountain railway.  We took the latter.  On reaching Kleine Scheidegg we sat on the grass and ate a watermelon we had bought.  After this, we walked 'the couple of miles to the famous town of Gundelwald and had a look around while waiting for our lift back.

After the long journey outwards, we decided to make the return journey include an overnight stop. This turned, out to be in a little sleepy village just outside Dijon and here we spent a pleasant evening drinking in the bars with the locals.

We made an early start in the morning, getting to Le Havre at about 7 pm and managing to get on the 10.30 ferry. On arriving at Southampton we nearly had to push the van off because it would not start.  Since our return, the climbing section has not been very active but now, with the lighter nights coming, I am sure that our members will be climbing with renewed vigour after their long rest through the winter months.


 

Dates For Your Diary

The second B.E.C. Course Cave Surveying is being held on consecutive Saturday evenings at the Belfry from 7:30 to 8:30 pm. Dates and subjects as follows: -

Saturday, 3rd June.

General Introduction (Aims of a survey.  What the surveyor should be asking himself, etc.)

Saturday, 10th June.

The Line Survey.  (Including calibration etc.)

Saturday, 17th June.

Traverse Closures.

Saturday, 24th June.

Detail and Survey Presentation.

Saturday, 1st July.

Survey Drawing.

SUNDAY 9TH JULY

Practical surveying in the flue tunnels.

*****************************************

Bred any good Rooks lately? - sorry, Read any good books?  If so, and the book is of interest to cavers, climbers etc.  Why not write a book review for the B.B.? Any length from a short paragraph will be useful!  Have a go!

Have you bought your copy of MENDIP’S  VANISHING GROTTOES yet?  Copies are running out fairly rapidly and - like the caves they so vividly illustrate - may soon disappear.  Get your copy before this happens - at the Belfry or from Dave Irwin.

At the Belfry

A periodical review or the Belfry scene by the Hut Warden,  JOCK ORR.

Let's start off with caving. Things are improving.  Some of the names appearing in the Belfry hut fee book also appear in the caving logs.  Early morning trips on Sundays are well supported with people getting up after a reasonable night's sleep; cooking their breakfasts and carrying on with the day's activities.

Hung-over festerers emerging at 11 am snarling and snapping at the cooking fumes are no longer part of the accepted scene, but have become somewhat of a novelty and are regarded as social pests.

Recent visiting clubs at the Belfry include the Bradford Pothole Club over Easter who, after an enjoyable Mendip weekend underground, interspersed with suitable periods for refreshment, eventually flaked out on Monday in Goatchurch.  Representatives of several university, scout leaders clubs and polytechnics put in appearances prior to Easter and filled the place to capacity.  And - a new development - Box Stone Mine has suddenly become a popular tourist attraction.

What about digging? There are three probes going on at the moment and Cuthbert’s is due for another all-out shift system attack on sump II sometime in the summer.  Our Caving Secretary is looking very happy as a result!

Over the weekend of 7-9th April, Hut Engineer Rodney Hobbs sniffed out a ruptured 'T' junction in the main water feed pipe running underneath a corner of the Belfry foundation raft - after the Water Board had detected thousands of gallons of water disappearing somewhere between the road and the building. Directing operations with professional aplomb, Rod set his squad to digging trenches and expose the elusive pipe.  A passing J.C.B. excavator was hired the spot and the new pipe was trenched; laid and reconnected by Messrs Gander and Prewer in the space of an afternoon whilst the committee was in session on the enquiry into the financing and running of the Belfry.

I must say I am impressed by the general tidiness of the Belfry recently and the clearing up of various piles of rubbish around the site.  Although there has been a slight decrease in the number of people staying, those who do are taking an obvious interest in operating the place as a caving headquarters with less accent on - to put it bluntly - a doss house for inebriated layabouts who have no intention of going anywhere further than the nearest pub.

From what I have heard at Committee meetings, there is every indication that this is going to be a busy year.  A particular club officer commented during the last meeting “Some club members think the committee is out of touch with the club requirements.  In actual fact, some club members are not only out of touch with the committee but with the club itself!"  I would agree.  The individual who bleats and blahs about how he would run the club is way out on a limb - in the moonshine - by himself.

Norman Petty is putting on a very interesting slide show on the second weekend in May.  It is all about the old Belfry.  Some of the slides are really historic.  Saturday night after the pub.  The club library is now operational, and you can now obtain lighting spares, club ties and badges and also publications at the Belfry.  Dave Irwin and his crew are digging Gour Rift down Cuthbert’s sharp at 9.30 every Sunday morning, so come along and give a hand - or join the Tuesday Night Diggers if you can’t make it on a Sunday.

If you're not caving, there are several maintenance jobs awaiting people with willing hands.  Come and help us to take a pride in the Belfry and continue the good work and traditions of the club.

‘Jock’


 

Some lesser Yorkshire Caves

For those Mendip cavers who fear that all pots in Yorkshire consist of hairy great pitches, this article by DEREK SANDERSON should provide encouragement!

Most Somerset cavers, when they venture north tend, for one reason or another, to head for the deeper super-severe caves and pots.  Yet this may not always be possible.  A few weeks ago, three Mendip cavers found themselves in the Pennines in something of a predicament.  Keith Sanderson (W.C.C.) and Derek Sanderson (B.E.C.) had sprained wrists, while Roger Wing (B.E.C.) was still suffering from the after effects of a broken leg.  Thus, the more difficult pots were out.  However, the following trips were made:-

SUNSET HOLE  SD 742 759 Length 2180' + Depth 120'  M.P.

Situated on the NW slopes of Ingleborough-Simonds Fell, about a quarter of a mile NE from the slit entrance of Meregill Hole, where stream sinks in a shakehole.  The stream passage is about two to three feet wide and formed as a rift.  The rocks are brownish and well scalloped.  There had been considerable rainfall during the previous days and the water level was high.  In several places the current was too strong to walk in.

The stream passage winds for about a quarter of a mile uninterrupted.  There are a few formations, but they not impressive - except perhaps a stalagmite boss on the right which is stained dark red.

After a quarter of a mile, the first pot is reached.  This only eight feet and can be free-climbed by traversing over the pot to the left, chimneying down a rift covered by yellow flowstone and dropping the last few feet back into the streamway.

A short distance and the stream drops over a few short steps and falls into the next pot of ten feet. Under normal conditions this pot would be free climbable, but as it was, the stream would have swept us off and barred our return.  We used a 120’ handline belayed double to a calcite column high on the right about 25’ back from the lip.  This made the descent invigorating but not dangerous.

After about three hundred feet of narrow passage, the stream drops over the third pot of twenty feet. This is passed by traversing over it into a narrow rift with wedged boulders as a false floor.  A squeeze through the boulders and a climb down a sharp flake of rock leads into a final chamber with a sixty foot drop into the final chamber. The stream drops to the right and emerges into the final chamber as a forty foot waterfall.  We didn’t tackle the final pitch (I’m not doing sixty foot pitches without a lifeline for anybody!)

We took an hour and a quarter, though some time was wasted retrieving a length of ladder which was swept away by the stream at the ten foot pot.  There is a well-decorated extension to the cave, but we missed it - though a small passage does lead off to the right above the twenty foot pot. Perhaps this leads to it.

MID WASHFORD -.GREAT DOOK CAVE.  Through trip. SD 764 747.  770. Length about ½ mile.  M.C.

There appears to be about three entrances at the Mid Washfold end, situated about half a mile NE of Sunset Hole around a sheepfold.  The wet entrance is behind the sheepfold, but was impassable.  A second wet entrance is seen where a stream sinks in the limestone pavement twenty yards to the south.  We descended a dry entrance amongst the clints between the sheepfold and the footpath.

A narrow passage leads in for a short distance until a low tunnel turns off to the right. A crawl over pebbles for about twenty yards leads to a flat out bedding plane crawl for a few feet until a hole downwards of three feet leads to flowing water. Descending the hole is awkward. Below is a second bedding plane about 1' 9" wide with, on this occasion, a foot of water in it.  After crawling downstream for about thirty feet, a considerable volume of water enters from the right (wet entrance) and a further forty five feet leads to a junction with more water entering from the left.  From this point, the roof rises and one is in the upper reaches of Great Douk Cave.

Great Douk is straightforward - walking practically the way.  The passage varies from a typically northern crawl to a high rift passage.  In some parts the water reaches waist deep, at one point it races crystal clear along a smooth-washed floor in a high, scalloped rift barely two feet wide.  Eventually one passes under Little Douk Pot, a fifty foot shaft from the surface, and into a large passage which leads to the wide entrance of  Great Douk Cave, where the stream flows over a ten foot waterfall.

CALF HOLES - BROWNHILL CAVE through trip. Birkwith area.  SD 804 775 / 801 778   2,000'   M.P.

Three hundred and fifty yards NNE of Old Ing Farm, where a stream drops impressively into a thirty five foot shaft.  Ladder the shaft through an eyehole on the left for a dry descent.  The ladder pitch is straightforward.

We didn't find this cave as impressive as David Heap would have one believe from 'Potholing beneath the Northern Pennines', though it is still worth a visit.  An upstream passage leads for about 750' to a chamber which contains a thirty foot waterfall. This passage consists mostly of a bedding plane with a gully cut in to it on the right by the small stream. There are many interesting though small formations on the left of the stream.  The final section of passage is a flat out crawl.

Downstream from the Calf Holes entrance, the passage is large and for the first seven hundred feet reminiscent of the London underground (and almost as crowded!)

Eventually, the stream sinks under the left hand wall and, a hundred feet on where the roof begins to get uncomfortably low, a small tube leads off to the left.  This links Calf Holes to Browgill Cave, and is known as Hainsworth's Passage.  It is the best part of the whole system.  The rock is light grey and rubbed smooth and shiny. The tube deescends for a short distance and an awkward drop of three feet leads to a cramped chamber.  From here, a delightfully smooth solutional passage leads back to the stream which flows in a surprisingly clean large tube-like passage.

Soon, the stream drops over a twenty foot waterfall, but dry solutional tubes on the right lead to Staircase Bypass which drops down to a narrow rift.  Left leads to the foot of the waterfall whilst right leads over boulders for a hundred feet until the streamway is regained and easy walking leads to the entrance at Browgill.  We took an hour and a half over this one, but Roger was suffering a bit.

DISMAL HILL CAVE.  Birkwith area.  SD 805 768 Length 450’ Depth 40’   V.D.C.

Situated to the south of Dismal Hill, about a third of a mile due south of Old Ing Farm, in a small dry valley halfway between the wall and t he scar.

The entrance consists of a horizontal letterbox in clean grey rock about eighteen inches high.  A flat out crawl leads for twelve feet. From here, a chimney drops fifteen feet to a ledge.  Three feet to the right, a second descent of twenty feet leads into a rift.  The descents can be free climbed, but we used a handline belayed to an obvious flake of rock outside the cave.

To the right, the rift is blocked at high level by pale yellow calcite on the right hand wall, but crawling underneath a pebble floor for about fifteen feet leads to an awkward twisting scramble over a sharp flake of rock to a wider part of the rift. Straight on is a small chamber containing rotted calcite on the floor.  However, just after the flake of rock at floor level, a clean layer of grey rock leads under the left hand wall.  This is the start of a tight bedding plane crawl of about seventy feet. At a number of places in the crawl the head has to be turned on its side owing to lack of space.  One can easily become stuck if one fails to follow the slight winding groove which takes a trickle of water.  Midway is a constriction in the form of an ‘S’ bend formed by blocks of false floor in the bedding plane.  The whole crawl is difficult but challenging.  From the crawl, one emerges into a stream passage running from left to right.  It is dead straight at this point, three to four feet wide and p1easantly scalloped. The stream is swift flowing.  I was the only one to pass the crawl and I didn't explore the streamway which felt somewhat remote.  This cave is worth a visit.

OLD ING CAVE   SD 806 768 Length 1350’  D.C. 

Situated in the same are as Dismal Hill cave~ on other side of a ruined sheepfold in a shakehole where a stream flows into a rift passage.  There is nothing complicated about this cave.  Its main attraction is the sculptured stream passage which winds for a considerable distance until a waist deep canal is reached which ends in a scummy sump.  About halfway the stream flows through a series of circular rock ribs as if it were flowing through hoops about six feet in diameter set two to three feet apart with deep pools in between.

At the first right hand bend a tributary passage enters on the left.  A traverse at high level along this leads to the tributary stream which can be followed upstream to a canal five to six feet deep and three feet wide with a low duck at the end.  This duck was first by passed by A. Gemmel ('Underground Adventures').  After the duck, the passage forks.  To the right the passage looks dusty and uncomfortable. To the left the stream can be followed until a flooded cross rift halts progress.  This rift is over six feet deep and must be near the surface of the moor.  Old Ing Cave is a pleasant, friendly cave and barely deserves its 'difficult' grading.


 

Belfry Enquiry?

The Belfry is the largest asset of our club and one towards which many have contributed to an extent far in excess of their normal subscriptions.  The running, maintenance and use of the Belfry is thus a subject of great importance.  The 1971-72 Committee have recognised this and, as a result of a suggestion from the chairman has recently conducted an enquiry on all aspects of Belfry running and use.  The purpose of these notes is to give members some idea of what resulted.

The first thing to emerge was that the new Belfry costs a lot more to run than the old one did. Insurance and rates are very much higher.  It costs more to heat.  This latter might well be made more efficient but even so, the building is bigger and inadequate heating is going to cost the club money in repairing damage due to damp. An estimate of running costs suggests a figure of £210 p.a. or about £4 per week.  It is possible to nit-pick a little about this total~ but not much.

Still, a high running cost is not the end of the world if it is matched by revenue.  Well, is it?  The committee found that in the first full year of operation the revenue was £278 and the estimate for this year is £234.  Obviously it is paying, but is the drop in revenue any cause for alarm?  If it were to fall much further, the Belfry would no longer pay.

Luckily, the position is brighter.  Dave Irwin's very detailed analysis showed that the drop is due to members - guests stay at a constant level - and that the drop in members is only a seasonal one; falling over the summer months.  This can be explained by the fact that fewer members are spending parts of their summer holidays at the Belfry.  Thus, provided we do nothing to make the present situation any worse, the Belfry looks as if it will continue to pay for itself.

Not entirely, however. So far, only running costs have been considered.  It was generally agreed that something like £50 per year should be allowed against small maintenance costs (and fifty pounds doesn't go very far to-day!)  On this basis, the Belfry is losing money. Even this does not take into account any money which ought to be set aside for later and bigger repairs or for capital improvements - so we can put away any flags which we might have thought of waving.

Thus, unless things alter, the committee will have to dip into general club monies for anything the Belfry might need.  But general club monies already have a lot to do.  More Belfry expenditure could well mean less tackle or less B.B. for instance.

What about publications? In the last B.B. it was stated that these now handle more money than does the Belfry.  Maybe, but they don’t make a large profit.  The committee have now to examine ALL club spending.  It is, however, very unlikely that a continual drain on general club funds could be permitted as a method of financing the Belfry.

Even so, there is no need yet for alarm and the committee sees no need for any special measures to be taken.  It is merely a situation which needs careful watching.  It is still early days, and it is possible that a natural balance may yet arrive.  As a first step towards helping such a balance to occur, the committee considered the amenities of the Belfry and have asked for schemes to be prepared for improving the size and accommodation for the Ladies Room; improving the heating arrangements; and improving the showers and toilets.  If these can be done at reasonable cost, they will be put in hand.

They then went on to discuss the use of the Belfry, and here the subject becomes more contentious. Even so, the facts tend to act as clear signposts.  For instance, some felt that the proportion of guests was too high – but the fact remains that if there were no guests, then every single club member would have to pay an additional pound a year (including all life members!) merely to keep the Belfry afloat.  So the Belfry, at present, cannot cater exclusively for club members.  Neither can it afford to cater for club members who do not contribute directly to its funds, if any such catering means a reduction in those who do.  It must be a case of 'He who pays the piper calls the tune'.

Of course, many members have paid a considerable personal sum towards building the new Belfry, and these people ought to be able to enjoys its use.  Social events, slide shows and lectures bring a variety of club members together and where else but at the club headquarters?  This is obviously true, but it must be remembered that if any such events dissuade people from staying at the Belfry it become very difficult to justify them.  To provide a financial voice which would demand a hearing, evening or day use of the Belfry would have to bring in about £10 a month, and no scheme so far gets anywhere near this.

It goes without saying that the committee will welcome and examine very carefully any suggestions from members on this subject.  The committee, on the other hand, cannot gamble with club finances and schemes which say in effect “Spend out THIS much - or take the risk of losing THAT amount of revenue and you MIGHT make an overall improvement EVENTUALLY” must be looked at with extreme caution.

Editor's Note:

The Editor would welcome any comments on the subject of running; improving; maintaining; costing or any other aspect of Belfry affairs.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 22.

1

2

 

 

 

 

3

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Rock is this the caver underground. (5)
5. Can describe water or cave floor. (4)
6. Iron this makes ruddy stal! (5)
9. Climbing aid in pot? (5)
11. Backward skin blemishes can embellish cave. (5)
12. Blinded warriors home this on Mendip. (4)
13. Mendip Hole. (5)

Down:

2. Cave dweller stab in back? (4)
3. Large type of this in Cuthbert’s and small in Goatchurch? (5)
4. Mendip Hill in Ordnance Survey provides new cave. ,5)
7. Stone used differently in survey work. (5)
8. Stream goes loud, deep and south. (5)
9. Sailing boat going backwards for cave waters. (5)
10. Evacuate. Halve and reverse underground. (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

S

P

A

R

 

B

 

 

I

 

I

 

 

T

Y

R

O

S

 

T

 

B

 

T

 

 

L

O

C

T

O

P

U

S

 

E

 

H

 

U

 

R

 

S

 

M

 

C

L

I

N

K

E

R

I

 

 

D

 

S

 

W

 

S

P

E

E

D

 

 

E

 

T

 

 

R

 

W

I

R

E

 

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

Editorial

Au Fond Des Gouffres

One hopes that the detractors of Mendip’s potential will have received quite a jolt with the discovery of Rhino Rift by John Cornwall and his team.  This remarkable hole by Mendip standards goes down over four hundred feet with something less than fifty feet of horizontal development if the estimates turn out to be correct and give Mendip something very like a Yorkshire pothole.  It only needs a South Wales type cave to be discovered at the bottom going the best part of the way to Cheddar to give Rhino Rift a national standing.  We hope, of course, to be able to obtain an account for the B.B. on the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, North Hill proceeds steadily downwards under the direction of NHASA and threatens to become Mendip’s toughest descent.  The story about Mendip being played out; lacking hairy cave and being on too small a scale begins happily to be less credible.

Stal Still

In this same happy mood, it is good to note that the decorations on Shatter cave seem to be standing up well to the passage of time and cavers.  With a few notorious exceptions – like the erratics which have been carelessly and quite unnecessarily TRAMPLED through by some unimaginative moron, the cave is still very photogenic – thanks to the care of the Cerberus, to whom all credit is due.  If anyone doubts the need for, or effectiveness of a decently controlled gating system, here, is its vindication.

That Box!

Leaving no gimmick unexplored, a mail box has been recently installed in the Belfry with the idea that it might just prompt someone to write a letter or even an article for the B.B. So far, the Editor’s key has revealed nothing but a few wood shavings left over from the box’s manufacture – but we can still hope!

Postal Department

The Editor has actually had several offers of HELP recently which are being taken up and might result in a stable system for the addressing and sending out of the B.B.  Keep your fingers crossed!

“Alfie”

*****************************************

It is possible to RING UP the Belfry.  The telephone number of the first Mendip caving hut to be on the ‘phone’ is WELLS 8697. The correct postal address of the Belfry is: - The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset, BA5 3AU.


 

The 4,000’s in Winter

By Steve Grime

The warden at Loch Morlich S.Y.A. hostel was muttering things like ‘If anyone goes up there today, he wants his head read.’  Unperturbed, we continued to check and pack our gear.  Soon, the sound of words like ‘social irresponsibility’ reached our ears, so without more ado; we grabbed our packs and fled into the early dawn light of a very dark January day.

Our aim was to ascend all the 4,000 peaks in the Cairngorms – though we doubted if we could do it under these foul conditions.  My companion for the day was a ski instructor from the hostel – I was there on ten days holiday.

Piling our gear into the car, we set off for Coire Cas car park and, as we passed the tree line of Rothiemurchus Forest, we passed through the clag and burst into brilliant sunshine.  There wasn’t a single cloud above us.  We were jubilant.  One can imagine the things we said about the wardens of Scottish Youth hostels.

We left the car at 9.15 and, with ski strapped to our packs, struck off to the west heading for the Sinclair Hut.   Crossing the Lairag Ghru path and passing the Sinclair Hut, we ascended the slopes Sron na Lairag and reached the first decent snow and kicked our way up to it at a good fast rate.  On the summit of Sron na Lairag we were able to put on our skis and had a nice half mile or so run to the base of the final climb to the top of Braeriach (4,248).

From Braeriach, we had a good run on hard snow to Einich Cairn (4,061) and then to spot height 4,149. From there, we walked to the edge of the coire and peered in.  The snow scenery was out of this worls and cornices hung on every edge (we didn’t get too close) and the walls were plastered.  Not a rock showed anywhere.  It was really beautiful.

Returning to our skis, we clipped in and slid down to the start of the climb to the top of Cairn Toul (4,241).  Here we had our second rest of the day, the first being at the summit of Braeriach. It was then that the thought of ‘doing the Ben’ first crossed our minds.  It looked so close that one felt one only had to reach out to touch it.  We turned our task and climbed the five hundred feet or so to the summit.  From here, the view was truly splendid – even better than when John Manchip and I were there in similar conditions in November 1967.  Wave on wave of mountains reared up north and west.  Visibility was such that I have never known before.  Ben Wyvis looked as if it were a mere stone’s throw away when in fact it was nearer sixty miles from where we stood.  The Kintail and Torridon mountains were white blobs floating of a sea of cloud, and the Trossachs to the south west merged as one into a seemingly vast plateau.  However, time was pressing so we plunged down the north east arête of the hill into the lairag Ghru.

At 2.15, we reached the side of the Dee opposite Taylor’s Burn and stopped for lunch.  Peter said he wanted to go into Loch Aron after Ben Macdui so, as I wished to do the Cairn Lochan, we parted arranging to meet on the Cairn Gorm summit.  I crossed the Dee at 3 pm and arrived at the summit of Ben Macdui at 4.10 pm in a bit of a sweat.  After a twenty minute rest, I put on my skis and followed the tracks Barry Abley (a work colleague) and myself had made the previous day.

The snow on top was quite hard and my skis made a nice crisp swishing noise as they passed over it. In the hollows, out of the wind, it was a little slushy and progress was slower.  As I followed the ridge, or rather plateau rim, round to Cairn Lochan the sun finally sank below the horizon in a lurid red glow, and by the time I had reached the cairn on Cairn Gorm it was almost dark.  It was dark by the time Peter joined me.  I had seen him as a dark spot moving slowly across the snowy wastes of Coire Raibeirt from the gap containing the Uisage Burn.

A slow but hairy descent of an iced up White Lady run in the dark brought us to the foot of the hill and then we walked down to the car park and drove down to the hostel.  Over dinner we talked about going to Fort William and putting the ‘Ben’ on the list for the twenty four hours so, packing up once more; we drove through the snow to Glen Nevis.  We slept in the car until 4 am and then after a quick breakfast, set off up the path.  The only sounds were those of our breathing rasping and our feet stumbling over what must be the worst popular hill path in the country.

That the weather was turning was pretty obvious.  However, we kept going until the halfway lochan just to see if we were going to rise above the cloud.  After another few hundred feet it was plain for all to see that a real stinker was blowing up and there’s not much fun to be had out of milling around on mountain sides in the dark in a young blizzard trying to navigate by torchlight with a soggy map.  The only possible thing to do was to retreat, and this we did with alacrity.  We piled back into the car and scurried through the murk to Inverness where Dorothy was staying with her folk’s and arrived there in time for a late breakfast.

Data: (Discounting the ‘Ben’.)

Distance:

Height Gain:

Taylor’s Burn

Ski Runs

Time (car-car)

21 miles.

9,800 feet.

Crampons on ice.

10 miles approx.

9 hrs 15 mins.


 

Monthly Notes No. 38

By “Ben”

Rhino Rift

It can no longer be news that the great engineering project (including the Trans-Rhino Rift railway and Control Room) has resulted in a cave.  After a few preliminary discoveries, the Rhino Rift team broke into a nicely stalactited chamber which forms the top of an large shaft, thirty feet across and a hundred feet deep.  This ends in a steeply sloping stalagmited boulder slope leading to a spacious fifty five foot pitch followed immediately by a more rift-like pitch of eighty feet.  The bottom of this third pitch, some 280 feet below the top of the first pitch, is quite large also and the prospects of further discoveries at this point are very good.  There is at present quite a lot of loose rock on the ledges and in the third shaft. When this is cleared the descent will become much safer and will become the longest and most pleasurable vertical descent on Mendip.  The prospects around the top of the shaft are also good, and the R.R. team are likely to be kept quite busy in the next few months.

Reservoir Hole

The dig in the terminal boulder choke is looking promising, but is becoming rather hazardous.

Stobart’s Hole

Entered by Messrs Stobart and Harvey after about three hours work in the face of the Tarmac Quarry at Shipham.  It is about fifty five feet up the face and consists of a very loosed by spacious rift some fifty feet long.

North Hill

This has also gone to the extent of yielding a hundred and fifty feet of passage ending in an impossible light section.  Even Fred Davies is stuck at present at this point.

Yorkshire - Whitsun

Anyone interested in a trip to Yorkshire at Whitsun (May 29 – 31) visiting Alum Pot, Disappointment Pot and Ireby Fell Cavern should contact TIM LARGE at 16 Meade House, Wedgewood Road, Twerton, Bath, Somerset.

Climbing Meets

The following Climbing Meets have been arranged: -

SCOTLAND       9h to 20 April.
NORTH WALES            7th to 9th May.
CORNWALL      Whitsun and August Bank Holiday.
PEMBROKE     24th to 26th September.
GOWER COAST           15th to 17th October.

There are additional meets in North Wales between these dates. Contact ‘Fred’ Atwell for details.


 

M.R.O.

Every caver on Mendip is a member of the M.R.O. and may find himself on a rescue at some time or other. That means YOU and the M.R.O. may well need YOUR help one day.  To enable the B.E.C. to play its full part in rescue work, as many of its members as possible MUST be on an efficient call-out system.  PLEASE send the following information to TIM LARGE at 16 MEADE HOUSE, WEDGWOOD ROAD, TWERTON, BATH, SOMERSET as soon as you can.

Your home and work phone number if any.  Whether you are prepared to help underground or on the surface.  Whether you have transport, what is consists of and how many people will it hold besides yourself.  How long have you been caving and what Mendip caves you have a thorough knowledge of.  Whether you have any special knowledge of little parts known parts of cave systems. What real and practice rescues you have been on and whether you are qualified in any kind of first aid.

PLEASE take this seriously. It is a serious subject.  NOBODY wants to be called out on rescues but if you are fit and active or have knowledge and experience and do nothing towards putting these at the service of the M.R.O. some poor bloke might well die who could be alive but for your laziness or selfishness.

Think about it.  No DO something about it.  Go on, do it now.

Notices

Have you got an old WHEELBARROW?  You know the sort of thing.  It has one wheel, two handles and flies.  If you have, or you know anyone who has – preferably a contractor’s barrow BRING IT TO THE BELFRY or contact the Hut Engineer.  Perhaps you can LEND us a barrow at a pinch (you might even get it back again if you’re lucky!)

The Committee would like to record their thanks to Nigel Rich for the donation of two hundred Christmas trees for the Belfry site.

THERE WILL BE ANOTHER EVENT AT THE BELFRY ON SATURDAY THE 22ND OF MAY.  THIS WILL BE PRECEDED BY A TACKLE AFTERNOON AT WHICH THE ONE AND ONLY NORMAN (“Tacklemaster”) PETTY WILL BE PRESENT IN PERSON TO SHOW HOW B.E.C. TACKLE IS CONSTRUCTED.  DO NOT MISS THIS ASTOUNDING AND UNREPEATABLE DEMONSTRATION…..FOLLOWED BY AN EVENING’S BEER, SONG AND FIRE PREVENTION.

Thanks to our old friend and club member ‘Tessie’ Burt (Nee Storr) who has recently sent a donation to the club and who will be pleased to see old friends when they are in London.  The number is Harpenden 62588 and the address is 66 Roundwood Lane, Harpenden, Herts.

WET SUITS can be obtained at a discount price.  £12 for a nylon lined kit.  Double skin available if required.  We must get TEN orders for this discount price.  HOW ABOUT YOU?  Contact TIM LARGE, 16 MEADE HOUSE, WEDGWOOD ROAD, TWERTON, BATH, SOMERSET.

Have you paid your sub yet?


 

Dan-yr-Ogof

A group of us visited the South Wales Caving Club Headquarters of January 7th for one of our regular fortnightly trips into O.F.D. where we have spent most of the winter caving weekends in exploration.  A friend (Martin) from S.W.C.C. said that he was going into Dan-yr-Ogof to remove eighty feet of electron ladder from Rottenstone Aven in D.Y.O. II.  This was to be replaced with nylon line hung from a rawlbolt.  Since trips into the cave require an S.W.C.C. leader, we jumped at the chance to join Martin.    Buckett and I always take wet suits with us, just in case we are offered a trip into Dan-yr-Ogof.  Bert’s neoprene bags barely resemble a suit, so he left them at home in Wycombe. However, he managed to borrow some wet suit trousers which helped.  Dan-yr-Ogof is, in places, very wet.

The show cave is closed for the winter months, so we had to go in by the river entrance.   This is some thirty feet below the show cave entrance and is quite impressive in itself, with plenty of water resurging from it. The water is several feet deep in places, and the current pretty strong.  Before daylight is lost, a climb into a hole in the roof from which a small stream trickles leads us through a gated grille into the show cave.  On concrete paths, the walk to the lake is easy. There seemed to be no spectacular formations in the show cave, but Martin gave a very talented tourist guides description of the various bits of stal.

We soon dropped down to the lakes, which form the main part of the stream.  Traversing the edge of these, Bert caused much amusement in his topless wet suit.  The lakes are largely deep and slow moving and have a floor of that irritating sand that gets into boots all too easily.

Leaving the roomy passage for low roofed boulder-stream chambers followed by a high narrow rift passage, we eventually arrived at the beginning of the endless crawl.  This seemed neither long nor arduous as expected, although much heat was generated by all.  A right angle bend proved to be much easier than that in Blue Pencil. If, at one time, there were any very tight or awkward parts, these must have been removed with bang or the passage of very many cavers.  At the end of the crawl, a descent via ample ledges, followed by a fixed chain ladder allows one to drop straight into the Grand Canyon in Dan-yr-Ogof II.

The Grand Canyon is full of straws, up to five feet or more in length, and they are clustered in groups of several hundred.  In spite of the high roof, it is necessary in many places to duck in order to avoid damaging them.  On shelves at the sides there are many small helictites.  A short distance along the Grand Canyon is a fine pool, almost filling the width of the passage and containing orange crystals and soapflakes.  On the journey out, we gingerly picked our way round the far side of this pool and climbed into Flabbergasm Chasm.  Here are some superb straws.  Although few in number, they are up to ten feet long.  One has a large pendant stal attached and seems to sway gently. All looked so fragile that we tiptoed past, hardly daring to breathe.

Grand Canyon ends in a short climb, and the Green Canal lies immediately ahead.  This is a narrow twisting rift containing deep, cold, green water.  Bert used a lilo mini dinghy to get through the two hundred feet of canal and paddled with feet dangling over the sides, for all the world like a troglodyte duck (such creatures DO exist – see the Caves of Northwest Clare.)  The canal is only wide enough for a swimmer to pass the lilo safely in one or two places.  Not wanting to be held up treading water and rapidly freezing, we waited for Betrt to disappear from sight and sound.  This took some time, for firstly he played and spun round in the water, and then he is a noise fellow anyway.  I set off at racing speed, splashing water everywhere, only to find Bet attempting to hide from my wrath in the nearest passing place.  I set up eddies, spinning Bert out of control, until Buckett came along and set the poor fellow to rights again.  On the return journey, we discovered that we had swum much further than necessary – we could have stood up after a hundred feet or so!

Rottenstone Aven.  The name could hardly be more apt.  Loose boulders abound, and the landings off the ladder both top and bottom, are quite nasty.  The upper one is a ledge of boulders, cemented loosely with mud. While the rawlbolt was being fitted, we traversed a mud and boulder ledge and crossed a very narrow slippery bridge made of similar materials to the ledge from which Bert nearly discovered the quickest way to the bottom of the aven.  Climbing a steep mud slope, we came to a couple of chambers a hundred and fifty feet above the aven floor.  From the roof of each hung many beautiful white delicate tree-like formations, composed of helitites and calcite crystals.  Some looked like inverted corals in bunches of about three inches in diameter.

The ladder had been in the aven six months, and looked like it.  All but Buckett descended using the ladder, while he finally let down the ladder and abseiled down on a new nylon line.  Having noshed, we set off rapidly for the first rising.  Here, water from the sink Waen Fignen Felen appears from a sump but soon vanishes into the boulders on the floor.  Water from the much larger sink Sink-y-Geidd is seen again only in D.Y.O. I in the lakes and at the resurgence.  Clearly, much large passage remains to be discovered.  We did not go into D.Y.O. III, but it is reached via a fixed ladder through a hole in the roof near the rising.  We emerged after an excellent, though not technically difficult seven hour trip, to a fine evening with full moon and pale starts twinkling.  A fitting end to a trip into such beautiful system.


 

A few days in Yugoslavia

by Colin Priddle

Unlike hitching from Austria into Yugoslavia, hitching in Yugoslavia is very much easier and I had soon found the Karts Research Centre for Slovenia in Postojna.  There I was shown their fine museum and given the address of the Jamerski Klub Ljubljana, and was told that they met every Friday at 7 pm.  The next day being Thursday, I went to the famous Postojnska Jama in Postojna.  The trip in the cave lasted a hundred and five minutes and was made up of about two kilometres in the train and a walk of about a mile.  It was really magnificent.  All of the cave was shown as abundant with formations.  The lighting was perfect and the English speaking guide very informative.  Later that day, I went to the Predjamski Grad, which is a castle in the entrance to a cave.  The cave behind the castle is about five kilometres long but it is not for the public’s eye.  On Friday, I hitched back to Ljubljana and eventually found an insignificant door along a dingy corridor.  After a look around the town, I returned at 7 pm. After an hour in the clubroom, we went out for a few beers and as the Yugoslavians could speak very good English, I found the evening interesting, informative and, of course, boozy.

The next day, I found myself travelling by car to Idrija which is about forty kilometres from Ljubljana and soon after an excellent picnic meal, there of us were donning wet suits and diving equipment (designed for sea diving) and passed a forty metre long sump in a resurgence cave called Ukovnok. This sump was passed for the first time the weekend previous to my visit, and the purpose of this trip was to survey the cave and to dive the second sump.  Both were unsuccessful.  The clinometer was lost, probably in the first sump and the dive into the second sump only resulted in a small bell being found.

After we had explored the complex of small passages near the second sump, I wandered further back in the cave, went though a small passage and found a large chamber which bypassed the second sump.  After showing the Yugoslavs this chamber, they promptly named it Pope’s Hall and we soon found the third sump and a static sump at one end of the chamber. To carry diving equipment to this sump would have been far too strenuous (the kit was twin sixties) which was a pity, as they were perfect looking sumps.  Further back in the cave, we found another side passage and they insisted that I went first.  Unfortunately it ended after about fifty metres.  We had, however, doubled the length of the cave as we finally dived out.

In the morning on the way to the cave, I was shown a huge resurgence below a hundred metre high cliff face.  The resurgence is a lake about forty metres square with a river running off at one end. The resurgence has been dived to a depth of forty metres, but has proved too be too big for divers to see where they were going.  The lake is called Divje Jezero (The Wild Lake).

Upon returning to Ljubljana, I had dinner in one of the caver’s homes and as I had to be up early in the morning, I went back to the clubroom to sleep. It should be noted that I missed one of the best booze-ups in Ljubljana as that night the Yugoslavian-American basketball match took place, resulting in Yugoslavia wining the world championship.

At 5.45 SUNDAY MORNING I was up and half an hour later on the train at the station.  It is surprising how busy the place is at that time, but apparently it was quieter than usual on that occasion, owing to the celebrations the night before.  At eight o’clock, we were having a picnic meal and shortly afterwards, changing for the cave.  The cave we were going into was not far from Postojna and it is a lovely national park, wooded, with deep limestone windows looking down on the underground river Rak. There are two rock bridges over the limestone windows.

As we were changing, one of the cavers was chopping down a large pine tree, with another shouting in English, “But this is a National Park!”  I was amazed when the tree, with its side branches out off, was carried into the cave.  About a hundred metres inside the cave, it was used as a bridge and was certainly better than getting wet.

The cave we were in is called Zelske Jama, the series Julhi Rov and the passage Blata which means muddy. It was very muddy and unfortunately my caving clothes were the only clothes I had in Yugoslavia.

At the end of this muddy passage was a boulder choke and a sump that looked easily diveable.  The object of the trip was to bang (they say mine) at the top of the boulder choke, where there was a howling wind.  There is almost certainly lots of large cave beyond. After two bangs, the passage was open but not yet safe, so we had to return as we had no fuse left for further banging.

For the information of bang experts, the Yugoslavians use a slow burning fuse, home made mercury fulminate detonators and T.N.T. obtained by breaking open German bombs left over from the war.  The bombs are stacked in several caves.

I was shown a further part of the series, very big and pretty and then we went out to fester in the sun for a couple of hours before going to catch the train to Ljubljana.

In Slovenia, which is the northern part of Yugoslavia, they have about three thousand five hundred explored caves and only about thirty five cavers – not all of those very active.


 

Muscial Surveys

Meanwhile, the following has been sent us by Bob Bagshaw…

On a cave survey which we received recently form the States, certain musical notations were used.  To keep the B.E.C. up to date, a group of armchair troglodytic scientists have set up a special study group.  Their preliminary report indicates some of the lines on which the Americans may now be working.

The group of armchair troglodytic scientists now require some measurements to be carried out underground and are looking for some unusually clever keen erudite robust souls to investigate the notes emitted by strategically placed stalactites when struck by a standard laboratory hammer (e.g. the base of a carbide lamp containing a specified quantity of Belfry carbide) under varying climatic conditions. They will appoint and Acting Sound Surveyor who will ascertain which stalactites should be included in a survey to facilitate musical route in finding caves.

Due to the lack of space, the full deliberations of the Group of Armchair Troglodytic Scientists cannot be published, but the above gives some idea of their reasoning and special hopes.

I.N. Itial

Christmas Puzzle

At present, “Sett” gets the two pints of beer, unless somebody else comes up with a more ingenious solution.  Answer and final winner will be given in next month’s B.B.

Have you paid your sub yet?

Monthly Crossword – Number 9

 

1

 

 

2

 

 

3

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

6

 

 

7

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

12

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Use twit for strenuous caving. (3,4)
4. Initial form of bang. (1,1)
5. Minor caving operation. (2)
7. Light in rift or chamber. (5)
9. Be tempers frayed in this series?. (9)
10. Diggers do this. (5)
11. Artistic inside of straw? (2)
13. Direction to go for further exploration. (2)
14. Muddled Rat’s egg to the Belfry from the Hunters? (7)

Down:

1. “….will do it to excess.”? (2)
2. Is gun very mixed in this caving activity. (9)
3. Top of top? (2)
4. Type of charge. (7)
6. Stream to a cave. (5,2)
7. Mix paste to show the way. (5)
8. Custom may be exhibited in caves but not dress. (5)
12. Has been beheaded. (2)
13. Alternative. (2)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

 

D

 

D

R

Y

 

B

 

M

A

P

 

O

 

S

E

E

 

M

A

Y

P

O

L

E

 

P

 

S

 

E

 

O

 

A

E

A

S

T

 

A

C

I

D

N

 

L

 

A

 

K

 

O

 

I

G

N

I

T

E

S

 

A

C

E

 

N

 

R

U

N

 

E

 

W

E

T

 

P

 

 

Stencils completed 16.4.71