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Foot And Mouth

The recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth (known as Hoof and Gob to some) did not reach the Mendip area, although there was a scare, when cattle at a farm just north of Bristol was suspected of having the decease, on Christmas Eve.

It appears that your Committee made the right decision by keeping the Belfry open to members living outside the restricted areas.  Other clubs made similar arrangements though some ‘closed’ their huts to members.

Caving Again!

Certain caves are open again following the Foot and Mouth outbreak.  At the time of writing (7-2-68) the following caves are open: -

1.                  a).  Burrington area.

2.                  b).  Charterhouse area.

3.                  c).  St. Cuthbert’s, Hunters Hole and Cuckoo Cleeves in the Priddy area.  Swildons Hole is NOT yet open.

Members wishing to visit any other cave should first contact the farmer before crossing fields. Remember to use foot baths if they are provided at the farm entrances.

Practice Rescue - St. Cuthbert’s.

The Wire Rift practice (Jan.21st.) organised by Keith Franklin was a complete success.  It had been thought the rift would have produced problems that could have been overcome by special equipment.  ‘Prew’ and Mike Palmer laid a telephone wire from the Belfry so that a complete log of events could be made.  Pete Franklin played the ‘victim’ so well that he is applying for a job as an instructor at the R.A.D.A.

The Club Needs Your Dollar

For the small sum of 5/- a week (two pints of beer) for three years YOU could help rebuild a new permanent Belfry – why not sign a Bankers order right away.  More details from Bob Bagshaw.

Annual Dinner & AGM – October 5th. 1968.

Make a note in your diary now.

January Committee Meeting

Main points discussed were a) Long Term Planning.  b) Foot and Mouth – it was decided to await the C.C.C. action.  c) B.B. – changes of format and cover design.  Cuthbert’s Guest Leader system – several clubs had replied and a meeting to be held in the near future.

Useful Addresses

Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, Bristol. 3.
TACKLE MASTER – N. Petty, 12 Bankside Road, Brislington, BRISTOL.
PUBLICATIONS – B. Ellis, ‘Knockauns’, Combwich, Bridgwater, Som

Subscription

January 21st. – does that ring a bell?  It’s well known that it’s the last day of January but did you know it is also the time that the BEC SUBSCRIPTION is due?  Come on cough up.  Remember 25/- (under 18’s 15/-) and when you send it to Bob also enclose your membership card for endorsement.  To please Bob even more send a S.A.E. so he can return the membership card immediately.

Thanks From the Thanks Department

Many thanks to Juliet Parker for typing the January B.B. and to Barry Wilton for arranging the printing of the B.B. covers so quickly.

Late News

Members having a note of importance can get it into the B.B. providing that it is no longer than 150 words and in the hands of the Editor by the Saturday evening prior to the 1st. Sunday of the month.

All other material should be received by the Editor at least two weeks before printing.

Easy Recognition

In the past it has been difficult to locate any particular B.B. quickly.  It has meant searching through a pile of B.B.’s and looking inside the front cover to find the issue number.  To make things easier the B.B. number and month of issue is now typed in the top left hand corner of the first page.  Members wanting to use this as a quick reference need only fold over the back corner of the cover.

Christmas Puzzle

Only one answer was received – from Tony Meaden.  He has not found the most efficient method (which only needs a single question asked three times) but he will be bought a pint by Alfie when the occasion arises.

Address Changes: -

R. Broomhead, 14 Cedar Park, Stoke Bishop, Bristol. 9.
I.M. Daniels, ‘Handsworth’, Pilgrims Bay, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent.
T.H. Hodgson, 19 Alfred House, Kingsdown, Bristol.
D.J. Irwin, 23 Camden Road, Bedminster, Bristol.
W.J. Smart, c/o Richard Costain (CE) Ltd., N.E. Aprons Contract, Central Complex, Heathrow Airport, Hounslow, Middx.


 

O.F.D.

Since the opening of the Severn Bridge South Wales caving areas have acted as a magnet to Mendip Clubs.  Cavers from the Bristol area are now able to reach Aggy Aggy in about an hour and the Penwyllt area in something under two hours.

Our next article, written for the B.B., comes from Paddy O’Reilly (SWCC), one of the leading lights in the exploration of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu now the longest and deepest cave in the British Isles.  The Swildons v. Penyghent argument is quietly put to bed!

The road to Penwyllt winds steeply up over the grey limestone slopes and clings to the edge of the hill till it peters out in an ugly soar of spoil heaps and quarry debris. The view for the casual visitor changes as he climbs the hill.  The green slopes of Craig-y-Nos on the valley floor disappear from view as he climbs past the deserted quarry workings.  There is a wide gaping hole by the roadside that someone has thrown an old mattress into. ‘A cave’, he mutters, as he continues, unaware that the small cave segment is part of an enormous system of underground passages that stretch for miles under his feet and somewhere far over there on the moors, near Pwll Byfre.

The Byfre is a cliff face, which swallows a sizeable stream.  The stream is not seen again until it emerges several miles away at Ffynnon Ddu.  The resurgence at Ffynnonn Ddu attracted many cavers, but it was not until the newly formed Cave Diving Group attempted to force a way into it in 1946 that it seriously received attention. 

Peter Harvey dug in a small fern shrouded hollow nearby for some time before being able to negotiate a narrow crawl.  It led into a still pool, over six feet deep in places, with several passages on.  A week or so later he returned with a rigid wooden ladder to climb into the passages, but the excitement of the discovery led to disappointment when all the ways on appeared to peter out.  The cave, Pant Canol, was abandoned, and it was not until years later that it was proved to connect with the main cave.

Harvey persisted nearby however, and some time later broke into a large passage that ended in a sump at one end.  In the other direction it went on and got bigger till at last the roar of water could be heard – there was tremendous excitement and an archaeological digging party at Ogof-yr-Esgryn joined in the exploration; the stream way was followed until it was found to emerge from a small side passage which sumped.  On ahead the way went into a big boulder-strewn river chamber that was blocked by a huge boulder collapse, Boulder Chamber.

There was a certain amount of disappointment after the initial burst of enthusiasm – there was hardly a quarter of a mile of stream way, and the Byfre was more than two miles away.  Within a few months John Parkes(?) had climbed a waterfall and discovered an extensive network of high level passages that led off from the main stream passage that gave hopes of providing the bypass to the sump.  The series did not ‘go’ however.

Don Coase attempted to dive the sump, but was forced to give after a couple of hundred feet nor so when the passage narrowed and turned a right angle.

Another high level route was discovered, the Rawl Series, on the other side of the Main Stream and with it came hopes of a route beyond the sump.  A survey showed Starlight Chamber, a large collapsed chamber, was vertically above Boulder Chamber.  It seemed as if the only way to progress was by digging inside the cave.

Everything that happened in 1953 was overshadowed by the incident in which Bill Little and Lewis Railton were trapped in the Rawl Series by flood waters.  Foresight meant that they had dry clothes with them but their three day enforced encampment was a nerve-wracking experience for both.  The Byfre had to be diverted away from the sink in order to allow rescue workers to get to their shelter.

Despite this setback, diggers got to work and several successes were made – Pant Canol was connected into the main cave, posing the problem “had Ogof Ffynnon Ddu been extended by several hundred feet or had Pant Canol been extended by three miles?”

What appears to have been the first determined attempt on the boulders in Boulder Chamber was made by Dai Hunt and some others about 1953.  A small tube to the left gave access to a muddy pool which was baled but only led further into the boulders.  Digging in the floor led to a small chamber with a sump on the right which was called Hush Sump.  It was later found, that in cases of extreme flood the level of Hush Sump gradually rises till it overflows out to join the main stream.

O.C. Wells dived in Hush Sump and returned with tales of a magnificent diving site ‘rivalling Wookey’, but it was several years until it was revisited.  There were two major digs going on at that time, the one in Boulder Chamber and one in Coronation Aven near Starlight Chamber – named partly because of the year in which it was discovered in, and partly because of what almost happened to many of the diggers.  That was a miserable dig – wet, cold and draughty and interest in it was spasmodic.

As the years dragged by there seem to be little progress in location O.F.D. II.  Many digs were started on the moors – the most likely of spots between Penwyllt and Pwl Byfre were examined again and again.  The Pros and Cons of digging where or there were thrashed out over pints of Vale of Neath in the Glyn.  Peter Harvey believed that if O.F.D. II were discovered it would be relatively underdeveloped. 

Nonetheless Cwmdwr Quarry attracted attention because a cave that was known to exist there; but had been filled in.  A systematic dig began and for many months Clive Jones and his fellow workers dug in narrow, constricted droughty rat holes to emerge into a large dry passage, Cwndwr Jama.  It ended in both directions in boulder chokes, but in the lower choke a small stream disappeared.  It was traced to O.F.D.

It was 1960 before divers returned.  Meanwhile the Boulder Chamber dig had produced some interesting results.  A way through had been found and a large circular passage followed down dip to end disappointingly in another sump – Dip Sump. A connection was proved between Hush Sump and Dip Sump, but it was on the latter that a big ‘push’ was made. Charles George and Brian de Graaf did a splendid series of dives through the sump which was 200ft. long, to an airspace, from which appeared to be several ways on.  The Shrimp Series, as it became known, was explored except for one or two high inlets.  The main stream entry, Oxygen Pot, was dived, but only a bedding plane, so the way on was not through there.

Attention turned away from sumps and digs.  The Hot Air Mine was found one snowy day, and a few efforts led to a chamber about 70ft. down, but again there seemed no easy way on into O.F.D. II.  Alan Coase discovered an aven in the Waterfall Series, Tiger Aven, that led through an interesting series of squeezes to a big pitch – it proved only to be a circuit and the pitch was back into Crystal Chamber. Bill Little discovered the Fault Series right by the entrance – a network of small interconnecting passages that lay undiscovered for so long, close to the entrance.

The summer of 1966 saw renewed activity in Dip Sump.  Charles George returned back to the Shrimp Series and climbed into one of the inlets left unexplored.  It appeared to go on into a small network of interconnecting passages.  Subsequent dives were backed up by John Osbourne and Terry Moon and a big pitch was found that led into a ‘big black space’.  It was obvious that O.F.D. II had been entered.

The big black space led to an intersection – Piccadilly.  To the left the passages grew in number and size until a big chamber – The Smithy – was entered.  Here the confusion really began.  A stream (later proved to be the Cwmdwr steam) could be heard below the Smithy and when followed it emerged as small inlets from a network of minute passages. Downstream, a canyon type passage meandered in till it widened out and joined near a low arch by a much bigger stream. On the day it was discovered it was in flood, nevertheless it was followed upstream for a considerable distance. The two elated divers returned through Dip Sump to announce that O.F.D. II had been found.

The effect on outside activity was fantastic.  Renewed efforts were made in Coronation Aven and a way through to the new cave was made, but after one person has been through, the whole thing collapsed, leaving the diggers scuttling for safety in the confined space.  The dig was abandoned after rescuing the trapped caver.

The bottom boulder choke in Cwmdwr was re-examined but no way through could be found.  Prospecting was carried out on the moor and a site for a shaft was decided on, near the old Engine House.

The returning divers pushed upstream.  The magnificent stream way continued on and on, past a series of potholes, round a great oxbow and on at last to a great waterfall 20ft. high, taking all the stream. Maypoles were carried through Dip Sump, and the waterfall scaled.  Disappointment was acute when the character of the stream altered almost immediately, and the lofty stream passage after two miles, degenerated into a miserable bedding plane sump.  On that particular trip the diving party had a narrow escape when returning towards Dip Sump.  The route involves crossing a chamber with an unstable floor.  The whole thing collapsed and trapped one of the party.  For a few moments it seemed as if he was lost completely but then it moved again and the boulder shifted so that he was thrown clear. The party came back safely through Dip Sump.

 

For a while the new cave was left alone until one day a party of divers went to search for a connection with Cwmdwr.  While eating sandwiches in the Smithy they were disturbed by a loud explosion. Smoke billowed out of a nearby boulder pile.  The divers split up.  John Osbourne followed one route and after some distance and extremely intricate squeezes emerged in a well water worn boulder collapse.  Half an hour previously Clive Jones had been digging there but had gone away disappointed.  John raced towards the entrance and followed the others to the SWCC headquarters where he had quite a job convincing those present that at long last there was a dry way into O.F.D. II.

Then the masses invaded the place.  The delicate floor formations rapidly disappeared under the eager visitor’s ‘vibram’ boots and the numerous side passages were pushed to their limits.  In the stream way at the Marble Showers, an area of beautifully flecked rock, an extensive series was entered and led to the head of a very large waterfall near the bottom of the stream.  Further upstream there was very little progress and the Top Waterfall was only visited and admired.

Convinced that there must be a way around the final waterfall and sump, Paddy O’Reilly and Colin Fairbairn maypoled one of the inlets about three quarters of the way upstream, to gain access to a network of interconnection rifts.  In several places there were passages floored with a peculiar white mud, like mochmilk, and thought at one time to be a clay mineral. It has never been seen anywhere else in the country and its origin is still unknown.

The Clay Series was visited on several occasions and its distance from the entrance meant that trips of fifteen hours or more were needed before any serious exploration could be done.  One particular trip Paddy O’Reilly and Susan Bradshaw camped near one of the best formations in the cave, The Trident, a 15ft. long stalactite, and with several others managed to follow a very large passage, the Chasm, to its ultimate end – a boulder choke.  There seemed every possibility that this passage might lead to the stream way beyond the Top Waterfall.  On the second day of the camp a network of large dry passages that criss-crossed again and again was found.  In one of them there was an aven below which was a pile of pebbly debris, with land-snail shells and bat droppings, indicating that is was close to the surface. The radio detection device was used and the spot located as being vertically below a scree slope on the surface. There was no indication of any cave underneath, but when digging began, with a party inside, a way through was cleared within three hours and the farthest reaches of O.F.D. II were again thrown open to the masses.

Again visitors came in droves and again much of the shine was removed from the virgin cave passages; so much duplication of effort was done on those first few weeks after the new entrance was opened that several passages were rediscovered again and again. The most important one was left untouched however for the original party to push it.  A traverse of about 200ft. over a deep rift led over the choke that had previously blocked passages and a way down into a large stream passage was found. Downstream it ended in a bedding plane sump and upstream a twelve foot waterfall barred progress.  The following week, a maypole defeated the waterfall, but the flood waters prevented the party from following the river all the way. By traversing at a higher level in places another half mile of stream way was explored; it ended in a sump. The sump was eventually bypassed but within a short distance a large river chamber was found.  It ended in a very final boulder collapse.

So the exploration has ended.  Perhaps only for a while, for there are undoubtedly many for thousands of feet to be added here and there.  A preliminary survey of the major passages has been started and the total passage length of O.F.D. is likely to be in the region of 15 miles.  The final chamber now reached is no more than several hundred feet from Pwll Byfre although it is still south of it.  The character of O.F.D. III is very much different from O.F.D. I or O.F.D. II; the usual; cascading stream is only met occasionally, and for most of the part the passage is wide, meandering and nearly horizontal. In its length, O.F.D. III hardly drops 100ft, while O.F.D. II drops nearly 600ft.  From the new entrance to the level of the water in Gothic Passage, the vertical distance is almost 850ft. making the system the deepest in Wales and certainly deeper than any in England.

The development of the cave is difficult to trace.  The Clay Series contains some very large passageways that seem to follow on from O.F.D. III and appear to be cut off; it has been suggested that an original cave system existed with passages extending from the Clay Series, downwards towards Cwmdwr Jama and the Smithy thence to the Rawl Series.  It will however be many years before any theories can be properly formulated at any rate not before the system is properly surveyed.

Paddy O’Reilly, Penwyllt.


 

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir

I would like to thank all those concerned with the presentation which was very much appreciated. This gave me an excuse for non-caving, as I can now claim that the carbide chamber of my lamp has two holes drilled in it and I couldn’t take it down a cave as this would spoil the plating.

The remainder of the ceremony was not so enjoyable, but I would like to say how much I appreciate the thought behind the presentation which will always remind me of my time as B.B. Editor.

 “ALFIE”

Outdoors with “Hedera”

The risk of catching a cold on a nasty wet rock or foot and mouth from a wall eyed mountain sheep begins to diminish and our scene begins to swing.

As does D. Targett Esq; Derek, reporting little recent activity apart from Avon Main Walling has two limestone areas in mind for a swinging ’68.  Last year a speculative poke at a newish face at Swanage yielded an as yet un-named A2 route and promises more while at Wintours Leap he tied up with a party to put up “Flight” a new route on Fly Buttress.

Ed Ward-Drummund’s proposed code giving a detailed description of a climb is said to prove a) useful b) useless.  My impression is that if a climb is hard then any description is useful (including where it is S so I can avoid it).  Ed. W-D has departed for Bangor, presumably to paint white lines from the Red Cliff to the Padare Lake Hotel.

Two new routes to try out on the 24th March on the Frome Valley Sandstone.  Derek Targett’s introduction to the area resulted in “Direct” H.V.S. (in technique) on Bridge Buttress.  This takes the line directly above the Cave.  Start on the right wall of the Cave and take the wide crack in the roof of the Cave.  Pull over two overhangs to the thin wall to the left of The Ramp and then indulge in a spectacular finish over the final big overhang.  The other route completes (I think) Cave Quarry with “Middle Slip”. Extreme in technique.  Climb “Dusty Ledge” to the impossible bulging wall with the diagonal scratch and climb it.  Obviously.

B.E.C. joined Insman in Corwall in mid January at the O.C. Hut, Bosigran.  BEEOOTEEFUL weather smirked Peter Sutton, Bob Sell and Fred Atwell. Back in the Old Days Cornwall attracted HUGE meets basking in balmy Easter sunshine with mighty man Sandall playing throwing Kangy or Bennett (or anyone to hand).  I once even saw Norman Petty with his coat off!  This year we go to on 18/19 May, sez Eddy.  TIP Mark James has regained his Big Van……….

Nice to see Terry Taylor at the Waggon though unfortunately his North Wales activities are curtailed.  Which reminds me that the February meet will probably be in the Lakes instead of North Wales if, as it seems likely, the current restrictions remain.

 “Hedera”

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The following books are in print or will be ready soon available from WEST COL PRODUCTIONS, 1 Meadow Close, Goring-on-Thames, Reading, Berks.  MONT BLANC RANGE (Vol.1) from Col de la Seigne to the Col du Geant by R.G. Collomb and P. Crew, Vol.2 – from Col du Geant to the Fenetre d’Arpette – same authors.  Price Vol.1 35/- Vol.2 28/-.  PENNINE ALPS Vol.1 (35/-).   Saas Fee and Zermatt by R.C. Collomb Vol.2 – Arolla and Western ranges (28/-) by Collomb.  olomites by P. Crew (25/-).  DAUPHINE ALPS AND VERCORDS by J. Brailsford and E.A. Rangham (28/-).  BERNESE ALPS from the Lotschenpass to the Grimselpass by Collomb (30/-).  BREGAGLIA WEST - Sciora, Badile and Cangalo and Crew (16/-).  GRAIANS WEST – Tarantaise and Maurienne by Collomb (25/-).  Maritime Alps by Collumb (18/-).  DENTS DU MIDI REGION Tours Salliere-Ruan-Tenneverge (18/-).  ENGELHORNER AND SALBITSCHIJEN includes Wallhorn and Scheidegg Wetterhorn by J.O. Talbot (21/-).


 

Ahnenschacht

by Roger Stenner

A REPORT OF SCIENTIFIC WORK CARRIED OUT DURING THE 1967 EXPEDITION

I was invited to join the expedition to organise a programme of scientific work that could be carried out during the exploration of the cave.  This work would not be such as to hinder the purpose of the trip, the descent of the shaft.  In Austria, I was to maintain a surface base camp with telephonic communication with the parties in the cave.

 

Scale is Depth in Metres

SURVEYED BY V.L.H.O. 1961

The provisional plan was to analyse water samples collected from the surface and from the cave for carbonate, calcium, magnesium and aggressiveness towards calcium carbonate (these analyses to be made at the base camp using transportable laboratory) to collect water samples for a comprehensive analysis in England; to check progress in the cave using an altimeter with a second altimeter at base camp to give the necessary corrections; to study water and air temperatures in the cave; to collect rock samples for analysis in England.  The provisional plan relied on members of the exploration and tackling teams being able to collect samples, measure temperature and altitudes and during the making of the plan, this did not sound unreasonable.

This was the plan, however, in practice there was no surface water to study, and because of the difficulties met within the cave only two sets of water samples were collected, and one water and air temperature measured in the cave.  Springtails were seen but none collected.  After returning to the valley a resurgence was examined but it is not known whether a water connection exists between this and the Ahnenschacht.

The altimeter work was more successful.  The measurements at the base camp were started in clear hot weather.  A thunderstorm swept the mountain that night. The following day was dry and windy, but the night brought another thunderstorm, and the ten hours of heavy rain put an end to the assault on the shaft.  The surface altimeter changed 178ft. in this time.  Three sets of readings were duplicated at different times, giving a check on the method of correcting the results.  (See footnote 1).

Readings were taken at the foot of the tenth pitch illustrate the method of correcting readings.  The values off the corrections were obtained from a graph by plotting readings made at the base camp with the second altimeter.

FOOTNOTE 1.   For further reference B.B. Nos 148, 161, and to the section on the use of a barometer in the book on Cave Surveying now being prepared by members of the Mendip Survey Colloquium.

FOOTNOTE 2.   The method of measuring the aggressiveness of water towards Calcium Carbonate devised by the author is explained in a paper in the course of preparation.

STATION

ENTRANCE

FOOT OF 10th PITCH

 DATE

23-8-67

23-8-67

24-8-67

25-8-67

TIME (HRS)

18.15

23.45

09.40

02.50

ALTITUDE (FT)

4942

4590

4640

4695

CORRECTION (FT)

0

-45

-115

-16

CORR. ALT. (FT)

4942

4545

4525

4530

DEPTH (FT)

0

450

470

465

The altitudes quoted are relative to an arbitrary value of 5,000ft. for the base camp.  The altimeters are graduated to 20ft., and the readings were estimated to 2ft.

RESULTS:-

1.                  Pool at Schachthalle:  Water 3.5oC., Air 4.6oC.

2.                  Drip feed above pool at ⅓rd. pints/min.

3.                  Resurgence: Water temperature 6.8oC.

 

SITE

 

1  (POOL)

2  (DRIP)

3  (RESURGENCE)

 

Calcium…………………

70

68

79

Magnesium……………...

22

19

29

Bicarbonate……………..

83

84

101

Permanent Hardness……

9

4

7

Chloride…………………

0

0

0

Aggressiveness………….

0

+6

+1.5

pH……………………….

8.0

7.6

7.1

Saturated pH…………….

8.0

7.8

7.4

All values expressed as 105 conen (M).  (105 x Molar Concentration).

The following cautious observations can be made: -

1.                  Water temperatures are lower than those met in British caves.

2.                  Calcium to magnesium ratios are unlike those met within the major caving area of Britain.

3.                  Absence of chloride, if this is a regular feature, may have unexpected biological consequences.

Analysis of rock and water samples brought back to England is not yet complete.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

If it at all possible a separate party should be available with the sole purpose of being responsible for the collection of samples and data.  It is not fair to exploration teams to ask them to undertake this extra work.

The author has information on the choice and package of chemicals and apparatus for expeditions, and has first hand knowledge of the special problems of carrying out chemical analysis in primitive working conditions.  I will be very happy to share this knowledge, either by direct correspondence, or if the Editor wishes this, by means of a B.B. article.


 

Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue

The first of a series of practice rescues in St. Cuthbert’s planned for this coming year took place on 21st. January……

One of the problems associated with cave rescue in St. Cuthbert’s is what to do in the event of an accident occurring in or near the Wire Rift.  It is feasible to take the victim on up the Old Route or it would be necessary to go back to the New Route with the added complications of rigging Upper and Lower Traverse (these would be omitted if an accident occurred near Lower Mud Hall and the victim taken down the bedding plane top the top of the Water Shute), Gour Passage and Pulpit Pitches.  The question was partly answered on January 21st. when a practice rescue was held from Mud Hall to the bottom of the Arête Pitch.  The victim was P. Franklin with a carrying party of R. Bennett, P. Coles, B. Ellis, K. Franklin, P. Kingston, Dr. O. C. Lloyd, C. Priddle, D. Roberts and S. Tuck.  A telephone party of B. Prewer and M. Palmer used the practice rescue as an exercise in line laying techniques and communication with D. Irwin and R. King as surface link in the Belfry.

The “accident” site was in Mud Hall and there the victim was tied into the carrying sheet.  The rescue route decided was a two stage pull up from Mud Hall to a high level carry across to the end of the Wire Rift.  Then on above the Chockstone via the false floors followed by a drop down to just above the ladder guarding Waterfall pitch. From here a stream level carry was thought best to the beginning of the rift; again a two stage pull up Ledge Pitches to the bottom of Arête Pitch.  The time taken was 1½ hours but this could probably be cut by half an hour so giving a comparable time to that taken in the New Route.

There were several points arising from the practice.  The hauling party for Mud Hall Pitch should be right up in the high level passage and the pitch split into two parts, first using the steel ladder as a guide up to the ledge then on up with two people below the victim and one above for manoeuvring purposes.  The drop down to Waterfall Pitch ladder proved a bit difficult in that the victim had to go down feet first so he had to be brought out above the pitch across two people braced over the drop and then guided back down.  The stream carry was most easily effected by a hauling party providing the forward movement helped by one person directly above the victim giving a small upward lift.  This person should give the instructions to the hauling party as to when to pull. Odd bods should be stationed in the various pots up the rift to provide a smooth path as possible.  Again at the Ledge Pitches the hauling party should be right at the top of the pitches and the ladders used as a guide.

This practice rescue showed the feasibility of the Old Route provided the injury sustained is not too serious (a fair bit of manhandling is involved) and that the carrying party are ALL experienced and competent cavers.

K. Franklin

From Other Clubs

by Gordon Tilly

U.B.S.S. Proceedings.  1966 – 67. No.2   Vol. 11.  This edition contains two archaeological reports.  “The Bridge Circles, Mendip, Somerset.  Henge Monuments” by Prof. E.K. Tratman and “Excavations at Gatcombe, Somerset, in 1965 and 1966” by Barry Cunliffe.  There is also a paper by T.A. Atkinson:  “The Geomorphology of Longwood Swallet, Charterhouse-on-Mendip” which is well worth reading, and finally a report on “The Little Neath River Cave, South Wales” by M.G. Norton, D. Savage and F.A. Standing. This report includes some photographs and a CRG Grade V survey.

SPEPEO. Vol. 6.  No.1 Autumn 1967.  Newsletter of the S.W.E.T.C. Caving Club dealing maily with reports of club meets. The most interesting being their visit to Norway in 1967.

Exeter U.S.S. Vol. IV.  No.2. This newsletter gives general information on the activities of the society.  There were no articles of any particular interest.


 

Swildons Not Yet Open

Many people have been enquiring of Farmer Maine when he intends to re-open Swildons Hole.  As far as I can gather the cave will be open when the National restrictions are lifted as a precaution against the spread of Foot and Mouth.  It has been reported that he is not opening the cave until the main door of the blockhouse has been fixed into position.  Rumours are rife at the moment; the worst being that the cave may not be re-opened.  All, it seems, that we can do at the moment is to wait and see what happens.

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ADVERT from a South Wales local newspaper:  “INDUSTRIAL SCRUBBER for sale; offers invited.  Contact secretary – Garalydan Social Club.  Ebbw Vale.”  Should the B.E.C. make an offer for the Belfry?  Must be cheap at 3/- a night!

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Members requiring a copy of “Caves of Wales and the Marches” or any of the Dalesman publications (Mendip, Derbyshire and P.U.) and should contact Dave Irwin by the end of March.  Dalesman offer generous discounts to clubs making ‘bulk’ purchases – the profit will enable the Librarian to purchase more books for the library.

New Balch Cave (Mendip).

Discovered by quarrying in Fairy Cave Quarry.  NGR. ST65764763.  Located in S.E. corner of the quarry.  Gated by Cerberus S.S. on instructions of the quarry management. Members wanting a trip should contact ‘PREW’ Prewer.  The new passage lies under Crystal Chamber that was part of the now destroyed Balch Cave.  A full description of the cave will be published, with a survey and photographs in the B.B. later this year.  Photographers should note that the formations are superb and if they want a trip they are advised to get a trip in as soon as possible – the best formations are particularly vulnerable to damage.

Cavers Bookshelf No. 2

by B.M. Ellis.

Mendip Karst Hydrology Research Project:  Phases 1 & 2.  by T. Atkison, D. Drew and C. High.  Wessex Cave Club, Occasional Publications, Series 2, Number 1.  Price 10/-.

The only two criticisms of this work are its title and the numbering of the series.  A simple title on the lines of “The tracing of Swallet Waters on Eastern and Central Mendip” might not sound so impressive but it would have given a much better idea of the contents. Similarly, numbering of this “Series 2, Number 1” immediately gives rise to the question, what was series 1?  The answer is that it has yet to be written and published.  The report is in fact very interesting and informative on some very important Mendip field work.  For years the resurgent sites of many Mendip swallets have been the cause of much discussion and argument.  Now the streams disappearing into a number of swallets on Eastern and Central Mendip have been traced to their resurgences using the latest technique of lycopodium spores.  The work covers the major cave systems of Swildons, Eastwater, St. Cuthbert’s, Longwood and Stoke Lane, together with a dozen or so of the smaller slocker streams.  The report is well written, giving full details of the new technique, the results and the preliminary conclusions.  It is likely to become a ‘classic’ in its field. 

The price is not particularly high as it is extremely well produced and contains 19 pages of closely printed text, 25 tables, maps and diagrams and eight photographs.  Each full page contains about 900 words which is equivalent to nearly double that on the pages of most other reports, and production is by good quality offset lithography.

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M.R.O.  Would all members prepared to help in cave rescue fill out the form attached so that the club records can be brought up to date. Please send the form back to either Keith Franklin or Dave Irwin.

Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, Bristol. 3.
BEC PUBLICATIONS: - B.M. Ellis, ‘Knockauns’, Combwich, Nr. Bridgwater, Somerset

C.C.C. NOTES

All members requesting their first C.C.C. Period Permit should complete the indemnity Form and hand it to Phil Townsend, 154 Sylvia Ave., Bristol 3.  He will issue a Period Permit that is valid for ONE YEAR only.

Members already holding Period Permits should check and ensure that they are still valid.  The early permits were issued in 1964 and have a 3 year expiration period.

People holding Period Permits but are not members of either Member of Affiliated clubs have not the necessary insurance cover.  They are very definitely not allowed in any of the cave systems with a Period Permit. They can however obtain a Temporary Permit and go caving as guests of a Member Club.

The key for August/Longwood is kept by the Hut Warden (G.  Tilly) and is for the use of B.E.C. members only; the key should not be let to members of other clubs under any circumstances.  The loss of the key will mean that the club will have to replace the lock and the entire set of keys now held by Member Clubs – the cost will be in the region of £4.

Dr. E.K. Tratman has retired from the post of Hon. Secretary of the C.C.C. after seven years.  The new secretary is Tim Hodgson, 19 Alfred Place, Kingsdown, Bristol.

ACCESS TO G.B., Read’s Grotto and Tyning’s Great Swallet.  Members visiting these systems should use the new gateway to the field alongside the road from Charterhouse to Tyning’s Farm at Grid ST 47655631.  NO OTHER ROUTE MEY BE USED.  The road and long Barn can only be used with the permission of the new owner of Lower Farm – when it is sold.

Foot and Mouth

The northern part of the Peak District National Park is now in a controlled area, but this does not mean that precautions against the spread of foot and mouth disease should be relaxed. In and near infected areas walking, climbing, caving, ski-ing and angling is strongly discouraged on farm land to which stock have access.  It will be appreciated that open moor lands come within this category.  People from the rural parts of infected areas should be particularly discouraged from going on farm land elsewhere.

The Peak Park south of Bakewell and Buxton is still in an infected area, and visitors are asked to keep away.  There have been five outbreaks near the National Park boundary in the last five days, so the situation is still critical.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; The National Farmers Union and the Peak Planning Board wish to thank the public for their co-operation but emphasise that their efforts could easily be wasted if they were to relax too soon, and would urge patience for a little longer.  The situation is being kept under constant review.

It is reiterated that visitors to the whole of the Peak National Park are asked to avoid all agricultural land, moor land and footpaths.

Joint Statement issued by: -

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Nottingham.
National Farmers Union, Chesterfield.
Peak Park Planning Board, Bakewell.
15th February. 1968.

Quote: -

“There are more good caves in the USA than in the whole of Europe” (R. McKenny – Here’s England).

Persistent Damage in St. Cuthbert’s

Just over a year ago the large white stal. flow in the passage below ‘T’ Junction Chamber was badly smeared with mud.  Later Tony Meaden and others scrubbed the flow clean.  Tony reports that it has been badly dirtied again and he adds, “There is no need to touch it at all” (I fully agree. Ed.).  This is no one else’s fault but the leader of the party.  We all know that the Rabbit Warren extension is one of the more sporting routes through the cave but please need the parties go at express train speed through this section of the cave that has so many fine formations many of which are particularly vulnerable.

B.B. Developments

Photographs and Surveys can be printed by offset litho.  Those sending photographs (black and white only) should ensure that the prints are very contrasty.


 

Towards Wookey Hole

By D.J. Irwin.

The long discussions on ‘what happens’ beyond the Cuthbert’s Sump that take place at the Belfry from time to time has stimulated the author to set down some of his ideas where best to dig.  The aim of this article will first to discuss digs that will, we hope, eventually extend the cave beyond its present boundary in the hope of regaining the main stream way and secondly to discuss other possibilities within the cave system.

All the recent discoveries have been within the present boundary and up to the present only two sites show real promise of entering fresh lands; though, not forgetting ‘sods law’ that makes the final breakthrough in the most unlikely place. The two sites are the Sump and the dining room Dig.  Although these two sites have been mentioned specifically there are several other very good sites that I believe will eventually lead away from the present cave boundary.  Time is precious and the sites can only be worked at the pace governed by the available labour.  The main trouble is that there are not enough digging teams to attack all the sites, that number over 100, simultaneously.  All of these sites have been looked at recently.

1.         TERMINAL SUMP

This is the obvious point to attack and, as it is being worked at the present time there is little to say except when the sump is passed and an extension found it is unlikely to be free divable; a bypass will have to be found. Surely it is better to commence looking for a way round the sump now rather than let the divers have all the fun.

2.         DINING ROOM DIG.

Although some 400ft. to the north west and about 50ft. higher than the sump it starts at the fault line and is following roughly the same direction as the sump passage (mean bearing 2160 Grid N.).

The first section of the excavated passage is distinctly phreatic with no noticeable signs of vadose action.  Beyond the ‘Arch’ the passage rises steeply (about 6-8ft. above the entrance to the dig) and levels out into a choked passage with about 6” of airspace. The section of the passage now being dug is about 18” high and some 10-12” wide.  This rather confined space is because the diggers have not removed sufficient infilling.  The next move is to open up the excavated passage to make things easier for speedy digging.

The digging area soon becomes ‘steamed’ up making conditions very uncomfortable but it is hoped to reopen the choked passage that connects D.R. Dig with Mud Ball Dig that was opened up by Bennett and others in 1966.  The connection is too small to cave through but it will allow air to circulate through the first section of the D.R. Dig.

A close examination at the start of the dig will show some small roof pendants pointing into the dig and just beyond’ faint markings can be seen on the right hand wall which ‘looks’ as if the water flowed into the dig – perhaps some expert would like to make an inspection of this section of passage and voice his opinion for our guidance.  For all we know it might be an inlet.

3.         END OF GOUR RIFT

The end of Gour Rift, just beyond the Duck, has been of interest to the writer for some time.  The rift closes down rather abruptly and is not rounded; a well developed pothole in the breccia above the end of the rift comes from a small and heavily stal’ed inlet passage – the Bank grill.  If the water had always flowed into the Sump Passage, as it does today, the end of the Gour Rift must have been rounded - which indicates to me at least – that the water has swept under the end of the rift and the terminal wall that we see today is merely the roof of the now choked passage.

There are two further points that lead one to suspect that water went under the end wall.  These are: - a) deposits of charcoal found down to a depth of 5ft. and b) the stream way is heavily goured and stalagmited from Stal. Pitch to the ‘Duck’.  At the ‘Duck’ the gouring ends abruptly as though the passage floor dropped away rapidly; this is now badly choked.  As the Sump Dig has only dropped four feet it is possible that the end of the rift is open enough to get a caver through with only a little digging.  Just prior to the Sump digging weekend in 1967 Barry Lane and the writer closely inspected the sump passage for charcoal deposits.  For over an hour we dug and searched but no charcoal could be found.  If none is found by any one else it would be fair to assume that the Sump Passage is a recent recapture and that the cave is choking itself again.

The initial part of the Sump Passage is heavily stal’ed immediately beyond the ‘Duck’ and appears as a whole to be rather immature.  Beyond the ‘Duck’ the passage opens into a round section as a result of the fairly large inlet in the roof and then forms into a rift with well exposed chert bands to finally degenerate into a wide bedding plane at the sump.

One of the troubles of the lower section of the Cuthbert’s streamway is that the rock floor is never seen after the Everest – Main Stream Junction and so one will never know the true depth of choking at the duck or sump, but it appears to some that the Sump Passage is merely the top of a very large passage – this is only a feeling and so should not be taken too seriously.

To be continued.


 

Multiple Flash Unit

By Jock Orr

This unit is intended for situations where it is inconvenient to use the ordinary flash lighting techniques.  In effect, it is a lightweight studio lighting outfit which enables the cave photographer to position his lights as and where he wants them.  The general arrangement is shown on the next page and the Central Box circuit diagram, also on the next page, is quite easy to follow.

The electrical components may be obtained from any amateur radio shop, and the flash bulb sockets from a photographic dealer.  The reflectors are made from scrap headlamp reflectors, and although the parabolic form of the reflector is designed to cast a beam, this can be altered to cause the spread of light by trial positioning of the flashbulb socket before final fixing.

 

 

Apart from the major expense of the cables, the cost of the unit amounts to about £3, and while a description of its construction may be of general interest, it will only be of a particular interest to the serious cave photographer who will recognise immediately the technical advantages to be gained form this equipment.

N2/P2  Battery 22½ - 30 volts

N1/P1  Battery 22½ - 30 volts

 

OUTPUT

 

Switches ‘UP’ 25v fires 1 to 3 Flash.

 

Switches ‘DOWN’ 50v fires 4 to 6 Flash.

Switch ‘A’  Double Pole

Switches ‘B’ & ‘C’  Instrument switches

R1 – Resistor 3,300 OHM

R2 – Resistor 5,600 OHM

C1 – Capacitor (electrolyte) 25-30v. D.C.  100mf

C2 – Capacitor (electrolyte) 50-60v. D.C.  100mf

S.W.1  Miniature Press Switch.

S.W.2  Miniature Press Switch

L.1  Miniature Signal Bulb

L.2  Miniature Signal Bulb

The control box consists of two tobacco tins soldered together with cut-outs for mounting the components shown in the circuit diagrams.  All sockets and plugs are standard 2 pin, flat body, ex-Woolworth’s. All electrical connections should be soldered.  The cable and flashbulb circuits are SERIES.  Operating instructions and suggested layouts will appear in a later issue of the B.B.


 

Monthly Notes.  No.11

by “WIG”

SIDCOT SWALLET.

On 2nd February 1968 ‘Fred’ Atwell, Dave Light and Sam Powell ‘found’ a very tight squeeze leading to a decorated chamber.  Only ‘Fred’ could get through and he writes, “….. a very tight squeeze which I had tried six months ago.  I wriggled my way through the squeeze into a large chamber….The formations are white and quite untouched…. I found a passage on the right hand side which went up a little way but came back because the others could not get through the squeeze” (readers will understand why when they realise that ‘Fred’ is about 5’ nothing and proportionally as small the other way round!  Ed.). A sketch plan of what he entered is sown below – does any reader know of this passage?  If you do please send a note to the B.B.

WOOKEY HOLE

On Saturday 17th February 1968 the 19th Chamber was found by Dave savage (C.D.G.).  The chamber lies about 250ft. further on from the 18th and is very near the resurgence level.  To get to this point involves not only a very long dive but that the diver has to swim to a depth of 70ft. and then rise steeply to the 18th chamber and then on to the 19th at a depth of -10ft. below the show cave water level. It is certainly to be hoped that open passage is not very far away.  When this happens does it increase the length of Swildons or St. Cuthberts’ or Wookey? – It’ll give the club politicians a heyday sorting the problem out.

NEW DIGS IN THE HILLGROVE AREA.

The Wessex are actively digging two recent collapses in the Hillgrove and Green Ore area.  The first is behind Green Ore Garage and the second in a shake behind the W.C.C. H.Q. at Hillgrove.  From all accounts a short spell of digging at the Hillgrove site showed sizable gaps between the boulders.  After all the hard work put in by the Wessex in this area they certainly deserve some success there. One of the main diggers is John Cornwell who, it would seem is after his ‘triple’.

ROOKHAMWOOD MINESHAFT

On 26th November (now it can be told! Ed.) Mr. Glass, the owner of Rookham Wood, came to the Belfry and asked whether anyone was interested in old mineshafts.  A mass visit of festering (because of Foot and Mouth Restrictions) B.E.C. members was the result as soon as the Sunday closing hours permitted!  Members crowded around the top of the hole and soon had the shaft laddered.  It was about 25ft. deep.  Watched by the Glass family Jock Orr and Bob Cross descended the shaft with ‘Wig’ and Kangy taking turns to lifeline where necessary.  At the bottom it sloped away but a mixture of animal skulls, bones, assorted tin cans and other rotting matter prevented Bob from getting far although he became suitably ‘muddied’ in the process.

Later, after some more probing, Alan Thomas persuaded a boulder to disintegrate enabling the cavers to get by.  By courtesy of the W****x C.C. sheer legs were erected above the shaft in February and the following weekend saw several members ‘assisted’ by the climbing section of the B.E.C., Messrs Sell, Sutton and Rees, digging at the bottom of the slope, entered another, but larger, shaft.  On breaking through the others on the surface heard their voices coming up through the ground some little distance from the open shaft.  The three below climbed towards the surface and found that the shaft was capped; this was soon removed and the shaft opened up once more to the light of day.  The depth of the new shaft is 80ft.; 40ft. down to the entry from the shorter shaft. Digging is continuing at the bottom.

On the bitterly cold afternoon of the initial inspection Phil Kingston and ‘Wig’ found a small, choked, hole that was emitting warm air.  This site is further down the valley and could possibly connect with the shaft that is now being dug.  Has anyone details of the shafts in this wood?  As far as I know there are several noted by older members of the B.E.C. just after the 1939-45 war.

SPELEODES.

To help raise money for the ne Belfry ‘Alfie’ has very kindly given the club copyright of all his Speleodes.  It is intended to publish these in booklet form.  They are being illustrated by Jock Orr.  Further details will appear in the B.B. when available.  Those interested in purchasing a copy should get in touch with Alan Thomas so that he can get some ideas of the likely demand from Club Members. Just think – you can have the ‘Caving Machine’ and ‘Percy Pound’ in your own home.

DID YOU SPOT IT?

 - the editor’s deliberate mistake!  To those who did he would like to offer his sincere apologies for putting the time back a month – to those who didn’t well……….!  A reasonable excuse going to be offered by the Editor was that he was experimenting with a fortnightly B.B.! Oh! by the way in case you did not spot the error just glance at the front page of B.B. No. 239 and you will see that it reads ‘January’ instead of ‘February’.


 

Outdoors

with ‘HEDERA’

Two indoor, outdoor events worth having this month.  A B.E.C. radio programme on climbing and Ken Wilson’s Cloggy lecture.

The B.E.C. effort, “Arêtes, Faces and Cracks” was an hour long.  Why do it?” with answers ranging from Mallory’s “Because it is there” to a frank female opinion that “Women are in it to get a Man”; and if that doesn’t frighten you then you must be married.  Bar or Apres Grimpagne noises were pretty dreadful with, “She’ll be coming round the Mountain when she comes” etc sung with tremendous apathy by a Holiday Fellowship group making merry on cocoa.  Though I must admit Tom Patey’s Ballad of Joe Brown (see The Hard Years) and particularly one about Bill Murray were intriguing.  I liked the blow by blow live recording of a snow climb too. Very real.  As was the advice given by Longstaff, a very old man:. “Take all precautions, take all the precaution you can, but once you have started don’t be put off.”

Ken Wilson’s lecture was different entirely.  He knew precisely why he wanted to climb Clogwyn du’r Arddu, this was reflected in the precision of the account of the cliffs development.  There is to be a book.  It must compare in technical content to Graham Brown’s masterly account of the Brenva Face, but I imagine that if the lecture is anything to go by then it will also be humorous.

FEBRUARY MEET.

The Feb. 17/18 must have been a good W/E for travelling.  B.E.C. went to the Lakes, joining the Insman at Langdale, and to North Wales.  A careful evaluation showed that conditions were better in Wales and there were 30 consecutive photographs top prove it.  Reports suggest that mattresses left for months are better used with a groundsheet and that a mattress sandwich is worse than a sleeping bag.  Easy gullies were climbed to the absolute stunner of the tops in sunshine.  Fantastic! There was no time for beer on Saturday for the flowing reason: -

ANALYSIS OF AN ACCIDENT.

A B.E.C. party of seven having climbed Y Garn in superb snow conditions were in a dilemma.  The day was bright, the snow was good, there was sufficient day light remaining to continue to Glyder Fawr by way of steepish snow.  However, two of the party were without ice axes, one of then had in fact been discouraged from buying an axe that day “Because he wouldn’t use it much”.  These two decided to descend the tourist route into Cwm Idwal.  Though one was familiar with the route the conditions were unknown.  So, should the party have split?

Two descended, five climbed the Fawr then glissaded and walked back to Idwal arriving about an hour or so after nightfall.  At the Slabs they apprehensively discovered that the two were climbing, rather slowly, up the Ordinary Route.  While the leader had little mountain experience, he had climbed hardish rock easily and is a competent caver.  His second was not completely fit and had done very little climbing.  They had completed about two pitches and communication was difficult but it was established that the leader knew the way off. What could be seen of the rock was dry. They had about 400ft. to go and time was short.  Should they have been made to come down?

The five decided to stay warm by returning to the cars at Ogwen and waited.  Should they have waited at the Slabs?

The two did not return within the estimated time and so the party returned to the Slabs with torches and ropes and warm clothing.  One member was left to warn the Rescue Post as a precaution.  At the Slabs two lights were seen, high in the Cwm, descending. Shouts were answered by one of the two so a runner was sent back to Ogwen with the good news.  When the two arrived they were seen to be with two rescuers with torches.  The rescued pair had been calm and had decided to sit it out until, eventually, they saw lights in the Cwm and naturally requested aid which was willingly given.

Of the pair, the leader wore wet Masters (for the Ordinary Route, his other boots were rubbish) the second’s boots were more suitable for walking.  It was seen that the second’s screw gate snaplink was unscrewed with the gate uppermost; the classic position for the running rope to slip through. They had no spare clothing to face a freezing night and had allowed no time for unforeseen difficulties, in this case snow filled cracks and the way off obliterated by snow, and of course without torches.

There go I.

Is a life worth a little forethought, a few quid on the right gear and not minded being thought a nagging old twit?  Not to mention selflessness.

Good reading, get it now, nag Dave Searle for it.  The lesson is taken from “mountaineering” – a Penguin Handbook by Alan Blackshaw (a good bloke) at 18/6.  Oh, and have a look at your gear – now.  Rope worn? Boots bloody awful?  Anorak, have you even got one, let alone warm trousers?

 ‘HEDERA’ (nagging old twit)

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(A complete list of books in the B.E.C. library is being published in the April B.B.  Ed.)


 

From Other Clubs

by GORDON TILLY

BRADFORD POTHOLE CLUB BULLETIN  Vol 5. No.2.

Contains a summary of the recent finds in the Craven Area.  This lists 29 different sires including Mongo Gill Hole which has now been connected with Stump Cross Cavern and Southerscales Pot, Chapel le Dale which is given length of 4,000ft. and connects with Great Douk Cave via a 45ft. sump.

For those interested in climbing there is an account of the second ascent of Trolldind Wall, Norway and also an attack on Lowfell Buttress.

There is also a technical article on the manufacture of carbide by G.P. Benn which may be of interest to members.

N.C.G. Newsletter No. 62 & 63. Nov. and Dec. ’67 and Jan. 68.

These two publications contain miscellaneous information concerning the N.C.G.

THE JOURNAL OF LONDON UNIVERSITY CAVING CLUBS.  No.5  Jan 1968.

A well produced journal containing articles as “Some observations on Helictites” by P.W. Francis and a description of the O.F.D. II Clay Series complete with a survey.

NORTHERN PENNINE CLUB NEWSLETTER No.24.  Dec ’67.

This edition deals mainly with the N.P.C. experience in Norway last year.  Also details of their new committee.

M.N.R.C. Caving Publication.  Vol.1. No 4/5.

The most interesting item in this bulletin is an article on The Results of a Map Dowsing Survey relating to Lamb Leer by P.A.E. Stewart.

S.V.C.C. Newsletter.  Dec. ’67 & Jan. ‘67

List of trips carried out by the S.V.C.C. and A.G.M.

THE TRANSCATIONS OF THE CAVE RESEARCH GROUP.  Vol.10. No. 1.  Jan ’68.

“ Pleistocene Bone Caves with special reference to the Mendip, Somerset.”  by E.K. Tratman.  “Features of Cavern development in Central Mendip.” by Derek Ford.  Report of the Leeds University P.E. Dept. Expedition to some caves on the Djurdjuru Mountains, Algeria, July 1966? by Alistair J. Milner.  Some examples from the South Hars Region of Cavern Formation in Gypsum by Eric Hensler.


 

Cavers Bookshelf No. 3

by B.M. Ellis

University of Bristol Speleological Society Proceedings.  Vol. 11. No.2.  1966 – 1967. Price 13/-.

This publication reports on both the archaeological and speleological activities of the society and although at first sight this appears to be a good thick volume for the price, closer examinations shows that only a third is of interest to the caver. In the 111 pages there are only two caving articles, one on the geomorphology of Longwood Swallet, and the other on the Little Neath River Cave in South Wales.  The remainder consists principally of two long articles of archaeological interest; the Priddy Circles are described by Dr. Tratman, and the excavations carried out at Gatcombe by Dr. Cuncliffe.  If the speleological third could be obtained at one third of the price it would be extremely good value but the economics pf printing don’t work that way unfortunately. Although this is not possible, both of the caving articles are at present available as off prints at 5/- each and for most cavers this would be the best value.

Atkinson’s paper on Longwood Swallet continues the work done in other caves by Dr. Ford.  It describes the structural geology, geomorphic history and modern hydrology in the system.  As regards the Little Neath River Cave the Society are to be congratulated on producing a report giving a description, geological notes and a grade 5 survey within 12 months of the discovery of the cave.  Other clubs could very well copy this example.  All measurements are given in metric units which takes some getting used to but this is something we shall have to do very soon.

CRAVEN POTHOLE CLUB JOURNAL.  Vol.4, No.1.  (1967). Price 10/6.

For nearly 20 years the C.P.C. Journal has been one of the ‘quality’ caving magazines, this issue is no exception.  In fact with 80 pages it is one of the largest they have ever produced and by accepting advertisements they have kept the price down.  There is the usual range of articles which should be found interesting although admittedly there are none of special interest to the Mendip caver. There is a description of the discovery and exploration of the Aille River Cave, articles on caving in Africa and New Zealand, various meet reports, book reviews (including the only complimentary one yet seen for ‘History of Mendip caving’) and expedition reports to various foreign lands, as well as some more general articles.

SOUTH WEST WESSEX TECHNICAL COLLEGE CAVING CLUB NEWSLETTER.  Speleo, Vol.6 No.1

(Autumn 1967)  Price 1/-

Like many club magazines, this has a strong club flavour and some of the content deals with club affairs. This is a ‘complaint’ of almost all caving publications (with notable a few exceptions) but then you can’t go very wrong at a shilling!  And this is much better than most ‘school’ club journals.  What is more, the money from any sales is donated to the Mendip Cave Registry.  This issue, in addition to several club trip reports, a report of their A.G.M, etc, does have an account of a further expedition to Norway which includes descriptions of several caves.

Caving and Climbing Meets

CAVING MEETS

Mar. 10, Sun

Burrington.

EASTER.

Bridge Cave & O.F.D. I & II.

April 21, Sun.

Practice Rescue – Coral Chamber.

May 12, Sun.

G.B.  (Committee MUST attend – Pints Rule).

SPRING HOLIDAY

Disappointment Pot & others to be arranged.

 

 

Further information from:-

The Caving Secretary,

 

R.A. MacGregor,

 

The Railway Arms,

 

Station Road,

 

Theale,

 

Reading, Berks.

CLIMBING MEETS

Mar. 24, Sun.

Frome Valley.

April 28, Sun.

Wye Valley.

May 18/19

Cornwall.

June 22/23

North Wales or Lake District.

 

 

Further information from:-

The Climbing Secretary,

 

E.G. Welch,

 

Frenchay Lodge Bungalow,

 

Malmains Drive

 

Frenchay,

 

Bristol.

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LONG TERM PLANNING. :-  ‘Alfie’ will be giving a short report in the April B.B.

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TACKLE STORE KEYS are held by: - Dave Irwin, Andy MacGregor, Norman Petty, Dave Searle (for mid-week caving), Alan Thomas and Gordon Tilly.


 

Guest Leaders System

The scheme is being introduced as an experiment and will attempt to widen the source of Cuthbert’s Leaders.  Up to the present time the B.E.C. whose agreement with Wookey Paper Mills makes them responsible for the controlled access, have drawn the leaders from their own members.

Various Mendip clubs have been invited to submit names of their own members who would make suitable leaders.  The clubs are: - Wessex Cave Club, Shepton Mallet Cave Club, Mendip Caving Group, University of Bristol Spelio. Society, Westminster Spelio. Group, Mendip Nature and Research Club, Axbridge Caving Group and Severn Valley Caving Club.

The outline of the plan is as follow: -

1.                  A meeting is being held 24th March to explain the procedure and answer any queries.

2.                  The Guest Leader will have to carry through the 5 ‘test’ trips (also a requirement for B.E.C. members) and be familiar with all main tourist and escape routes.  The B.E.C. Caving Secretary (Andy MacGregor) will make all the arrangements.

3.                  All parties (including B.E.C.) will sign a special Cuthbert’s log book to ensure the rules applying to the cave are understood by all entering the system.

4.                  The Guest Leaders will not be issued with keys and the cave will only be available to them at weekends.

5.                  Guest Leaders will be expected to take all their club trips and one of the B.E.C. arranged trips with their clubs.

6.                  All visiting clubs, other than the clubs having members as Guest Leaders, will still book trips through the B.E.C. and not any of the clubs in the Guest Leaders Scheme.

7.                  Once the Guest Leader has completed the record form he will be able to descend the cave at will during the course of a weekend BUT the final decision to accept him on a permanent basis is left to the Leaders meeting (usually held in September) and the B.E.C. General Committee.

8.                  As St. Cuthbert’s is the only large cave system on Mendip still in pristine condition the B.E.C. hold the right to cancel this experiment without notice should the B.E.C. Leaders feel that there has been, during the trial period, a noticeable deterioration in the condition of the cave.

Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, Bristol. 3.

Address Changes: -

C. Priddle, 37 Fishponds Road. Fishponds, Bristol 5.
C. Hall, 37 Fishponds Road. Fishponds, Bristol 5.
M. Hanham, “Lowlands”, Orchard Close, East Hendred, Berks.
J. Laycock, 41 Woodlands Park, Quedley, Glous.
T. Marston, 3 Maple Grove, Plymton, Plymouth, Devon.
G. Selby, 913 N. Olive St., Corona, California, USA.
R. White, c/o 22 Bayham Rd., Knowle, Bristol.
R.M. Chandler, 83 Spring Place, Pound Hill, Crawley, Sussex.
A.C.J. Davies, 9 Queens Road, Clevedon, Somerset.

Current List of Cuthbert’s Leaders.

R. Bennett, P. Kingston, B. Lane,  C, Priddle, J. Hill, D. Irwin,   M. Palmer,   D. Palmer,  Dr. O. Lloyd,  A. MacGregor, J. Eatough, R. Stenner, P. Franklin, K. Franklin, B. Prewer,   S. Tuck,   M. Luckwill,   M. Calvert, J. Cornwell,  A. Sandall,  A. Meadon, N. Petty, B. Ellis, R. King and A. Coase.

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

Grateful thanks to Ralph Lewis for the gift of two fine digging ropes.

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

Gordon Tilly has ONE Helmet left at 10/-.

CARBIDE is available at the Belfry at 1/6 a pound.  Please supply your own tins.

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

IF
      YOU
             HAVEN’T
                    PAID
                          SUBS – THIS IS YOUR LAST B.B.

Dates for Diaries

BEC BARBECUE – BEC BARBECUE

JUNE 29th in the CUTHBERT’S DEPRESSION
TICKET ONLY   PRICE 6/- or 10/- on the day – get yours from Zot NOW.  Limited number only.

ANNUAL DINNER at the CAVEMAN FIRST SATURDAY IN OCTOBER


 

Destruction and Discovery in Fairy Cave Quarry

For many years Fairy cave Quarry has been a centre of cave discovery from the armchair but it goes without saying it has contained, and still does, among the most beautiful of Mendip caves.  The following article sums up the present position.

By “Prew”

During recent quarrying operations at Fairy Cave Quarry certain parts of Balch’s Hole have been destroyed, these include Cascade Chamber, Maypole Chamber and crystal Chamber. At present the way to the Stream Series has been blocked at quarry floor level and the way on to the final chambers has not yet been reopened.  This entrance lies some 20ft. above the quarry floor level  in a pile of extremely unstable boulders.  Of the remains of Balch’s some parts such as erratic Passage and Pool Passage have been damaged and little of their former beauty remains.  Other parts such as Bulrush way and Gour End still remain in reasonable condition. The cave at present has three entrances, one of which is extremely dangerous, another is only accessible by rope from the top of the quarry and the third is at floor level and is safe. The third entrance is the end of Pool Passage where it entered Maypole Chamber.  It is therefore possible to enter Pool Passage and reach Bulrush Way and Gour End. It is also possible to climb up from the end of Pool Passage and arrive at the quarry face at the entrance of what used to be Cascade Chamber.  This entrance is the dangerous one.  Higher up the quarry face it is possible to enter Erratic Passage but for anyone who saw it in its original condition I would recommend that they stay away; at least the photographs remains.  I recently went into Pool Passage and Bulrush way and found the whole length of the passage dried out and covered in a layer of grey quarry dust.  This is probably due to the through draught caused by having two entrances.  The survey shows the areas of Balch’s that may be entered.  The hatched areas are blocked but not quarried away.   (see page 65).

The problem of dust extraction at the quarry was solved recently by mixing it with water which formed a slurry similar in consistency to that of ‘Magicote’, the slurry was then fed down Hilliers Cave with the effect that over a period of a few years the cave gradually filled with slurry until the 20ft. crawl just near the entrance became completely filled to the roof.  It is hoped to dig the crawl out soon when enough mud loving diggers can be found.  When the blockage is removed it is not known whether Tar Hall Boulder Choke has collapsed or not due to the recent blasting in the vicinity.

Most of the other caves in the quarry have now been lost or blocked.  Fernhill lies under a waste tip along with Duck’s Hole.  It is possible that these two caves cloud be entered from Fairy Cave but a lot of work would be needed.  Fairy Cave itself is still open although care is necessary at the entrance and for the first 50ft. or so.  This again has been caused by blasting nearby.  Finally Christmas Hole is blocked at the entrance and could probably be cleared fairly easily.

That deals with the destruction that has occurred in the Quarry over the last few years.  During the later part of 1967 a few new interesting discoveries were made.  The one known as Conning Tower Hole consists of a hole in the quarry floor 15 feet deep, at the bottom of which there are two ways on.  The first ends in a muddy pot, the second is at present blocked by a large boulder that has peeled away from the wall.  It is far too dangerous to proceed until the slab has been removed by a little chemistry.  The hole has been temporarily covered with an oil drum – hence the name given to the hole. Would be explorers should equip themselves with a heavy duty tin opener.

Shortly after the discovery of Conning Tower Hole, a small hole in the quarry face at floor level was cleared out to reveal a new cave – Balch’s Extension.  This cave is 250ft. long and contains many fine and unusual formations.  Some photographs of these are included in this article.  The floor formations are exceptional and great care is needed not to damage some of the crystal pools.  The colour photographer has vast scope in this cave for the contrast of colour is quite outstanding.  Near the end of the cave a 40ft. drop down a muddy rift gives rise to a deep pool of water, to date no outlet has been found.  This short section of cave is in complete contrast to the rest and because it is so muddy it is best left as mud removed from the series would certainly spoil the rest of the cave.  The final chamber of the cave is a rift like feature, about 40ft. high, with some stalagmite flows.  Recently some high level passages in this chamber were maypoled but without success, all the inlets are blocked with stalagmite.

The small annex chamber to the right, Red Pool Chamber, contains some fine formations including pink and white ‘candy – like’ crystals and most of the walls are covered in ‘flow’; in fact one might observe that there is very little limestone showing at all.

 

Survey of BALCH CAVE (Traced from survey by D. Warburton et. al. 1962 with their permission)

This article was written for the B.B. and published with the kind permission of the Cerberus Spel. Society.

 

LILY PADS IN BALCH EXTENSION

 

CRYSTAL COLUMN IN BALCH EXTENSION

 

FERNHILL CURTAINS

On January 1st 1968 a new cave was entered in the quarry after several hours of ‘gardening’.  It proved to be a short but high rift containing some mud formations and one gigantic stalactite that has fallen and partially blocked the rift.  No further passages were found and New Year Hole was left to the mercy of the quarry owners.  A fortnight later another hole was entered which although at first sight showed great promise was found to be blocked some 20ft. down.  It consisted of a large hole on a ledge near the top of the quarry. Unfortunately due to blasting, about 300 tons of rubble has fallen into the hole and completely blocked it.

 

The day after its discovery many tons of rock had slipped into the hole.  This hole was probably one of the largest that had ever appeared in the quarry.

 

As to the future, well the few lines of a well known hunters “ballad” sums up the situation:  “Caves are discovered for us, from digging we can shirk”.


 

Caving & Climbing Meets June to September

June 9th Sun.    STOKE LANE AND BROWNE’S HOLE

JULY 14th  Sun.            G.B. Including Ladder Dig series

AUTUMN HOLIDAY.       SOUTH WALES – Dan-yr-Ogof and Tunnel Cave

Date to note: -   St. Cuthbert’s Full Scale Practice Rescue – Sunday September 15th 1968

For local caving meets 11 a.m. at cave entrance.

The Autumn Holiday will be camping at Penwylt.

For further information contact Andy MacGregor, The Railway Arms, Station Road, Theale, Reading, Berks.

Climbing Meets: -

June 22/23 North Wales or Lake District.

July 27/28 North Wales or Lake District.

For further information contact Eddy Welch, Frenchay Lodge Bungallow, Malmains Drive, Frenchay, Bristol.

Monthly Notes No. 14

by ‘WIG’

THE COMMITTEE GO UNDER………

                                                            ….ground!!!!!!

May 12th was quite an event for the B.E.C. Committee – it  - wait – it WENT CAVING!  Wonders will never cease.  The cave – G.B., meeting place – the Stal. Bridge.  When Chairman ‘WIG’ called the meeting to order, watched by several club members, the Minutes Secretary – Phil Townsend regretted that he had forgotten the book and so with the Minutes 15 miles away in Bristol the Committee 200 feet underground the meeting was closed.  The party of 14 split several ways – a group led by ‘Wig’ went to the Ladder Dig Series where it was intended to show Bob Bagshaw the new chamber and Bat Passage.  To Bob’s disgust Wig failed to find the Great Chamber – though one could hear him muttering something about ‘Didn’t have this flaming trouble before’  and the Climbing Secretary sabotaged the route finding to Bat Passage for nearly half an hour by continually asserting that ‘this hole doesn’t go’ – it did.

The remainder of the party toured the ‘old’ cave and on the way out ‘Alfie’ managed to squeeze through and at the same time empty the pools at the Devil’s Elbow even though he was wearing a label on his jacket marked’ ‘sub-standard’.

WOOKEY HOLE

Recent dive by Savage. He reports that the system beyond Chamber 19 degenerates into a 100ft. long bedding plane only a few inches high. Is this the end?

From The Caving Log

Edited by Phil Coles

10th March –15th May 1968

Over the past two months St. Cuthbert’s has, as usual, proved the most popular cave with 24 trips encompassing a variety of activities including surveying, digging in addition to the many tourist trips.  Swildons came second in popularity with 17 trips; although they were all tourist.

A big push was made by Alan Thomas and Co. on Masebury but mow seems to have petered out, probably due to Alan’s sceptic hand (the result of a trip into Stoke Lane).  Also on the digging scene permission has been granted for work to start again at Emborough Swallet and a dig in Wales is in progress.  The dig is in an area where no cave systems are known.  Geologically the site is very promising (say Roy Bennett and Dave Irwin, whose dig it is) and there is certainly a large stream sinking nearby (it’s 200-300 times the size of Emborough Stream! Ed.)

Other caves visited have been Cuckoo Cleeves, Hunters, G.B., Nine Barrows, Sidcot, Goatchurch and Stoke Lane.  On foreign soil there have been trips to OFD. Long Kin West and Simpsons.  One of the G.B. trips was attended by most of the Committee (minus Caving Sec who was working and Hon. Sec who was caving in Derbyshire) and the highlight of the visit was ‘Wigs’ failure to find Great Chamber in the Ladder Dig Series!

The past two months has seen two rescues.  The first in Sidcot was relatively a minor affair – some bod became stuck in the 30ft. rift but was extracted by a BEC party led by Robin Richards.  The second in Nine Barrows was a more serious incident. A member of the East Somerset Caving Club was climbing in Crystal Chamber when he slipped, fell and broke his ankle.  His fall was broken by his cousin standing below him and prevented him falling on down into the 10ft. pot in the floor of the chamber.  The MRO were called out and Luke Devenish directed surface operations. Don Thomson went down and set the ankle in plaster.  The subject was able to help himself with his arms enabling the rescue to go smoothly apart from the fact that the squeeze approaching Crystal Chamber needed widening. He was out of the cave in about 2 hours.


 

Magpie Mine, Sheldon, Derbyshire.

by John G. Riley.

The mine is situated three miles S.W. of Bakewell, standing on a limestone plateau 1025 – 1050 feet above sea level.  It is said, locally, to be over 300 tears old, but its history can only be traced for half that time.  Galena was the chief ore extracted although some brown ore, zinc blend, calcspar and barites were removed during some periods.

During its history the mine changed hands several times, there was always a problem of flooding and the cost of removing the water from the shaft caused the return of lead to be minimal at times and as the price of lead fell the mine closed.

It was not until 1882 that things began to ‘look up’ for the mine when a sough was driven through at a depth of 579 feet to drain the water away into the River Wye.  In this year a record amount of ore was produced. Pumps, however, were still required to drain away the water standing below the level of the sough.  Some idea of the extent of the flooding is indicated by the flow rates of 8,000 gallons/minute from the sough in 1913.

During the period 1907 – 1951 the mine was closed and reopened twice and at one period remained closed for 25 years.  In 1951 a London firm commenced to drain the shaft using electric pumps and by 1953 had succeeded in draining it to a depth of 620 feet where two large, partly natural caverns, Chatsworth Cavern and Devils Hole became accessible but proved to be disappointing.  By 1958 the price of lead had fallen drastically and it became no longer economical to work the mine and it lay in peace once more (that is until the B.E.C. arrived!).

On 11th and 12th May, party from the B.E.C. (including two Alan Thomas’) visited Debyshire with the intention of descending the shaft by ladder.  On the Saturday afternoon Eldon Hole was visited as a ‘warm up’ and the night was spent in Magpie Cottage after being fortified in Buxton’s answer to ‘The Hunters’.  The tenancy of Magpie Cottage was taken over by the Peak District Mines Historical Society who use it as their base for study on mining antiquities.  A certain young member of the society was somewhat apprehensive of our venture, after being convinced in the pub by Alan that we had no knowledge of such sophisticated equipment such as lifelines, caving helmets, wet suits etc!

The shaft was laddered on Sunday morning and descended first by Alan Thomas (the somersaulting – window smashing one) who descended the shaft to water level (i.e. the flood level of the sough at -579 feet).  There was obviously no question of leaving the ladder but it was possible to rest adequately (or even sleep if required!) using an excellent harness loaned by Ken Kelly. After Alan had slogged up 500 feet of ladder the word was passed down that according to the lifeline there was another 400 feet to go.  After a few oaths and curses (the joke was not appreciated!) and rapid calculations the climber realised this to be untrue and on reaching the top the classic remark was “Funny how your sense of humour goes after climbing 400ft. of ladder!”

Successive valiant attempts at reaching the bottom were made by Martin, Alan Thomas (the one who doesn’t somersault and smash windows) and the writer to no avail and finally by Mike Luckwill who was privileged enough to gaze on the stagnant water at the bottom!

Dr. D.T. Ford of the Department of Geology, University of Leicester wrote this of the mine which is not without interest:  “Both the blende vein and the shaft show natural solution features indicating the passage of underground water in the geological past.  In both cases the water table was above these until the sough was driven, so they are examples of phreatic solution by slow-moving waters beneath the water table.  The sources and outflow points of such water before the driving of the sough would form an interesting study, which might lead to the discovery of other caverns and water courses.  One such water course is apparently still active and is responsible for the main feeder of water (or ‘boil-up’) into the sough beneath Sheldon village.  In forming such deep-seated water-courses it may be that surface water has utilised a series of interconnected, incompletely filled mineralised fissures, as the route from the surface catchment well to the west of Magpie with the water subsequently rising to feed springs at a lower altitude near Bakewell.  The position of toadstones would at least partly control such a flow and solution under such circumstances may have been partly responsible for the caverns such as the Chatsworth Cavern found beneath the present flooded deep levels.”

From Other Clubs

By G. Tilly.

Speleo. Vol. 6 No.2  Spring 1968

This edition of the S.W.E.T.C.C.C. newsletter is a 72 page octavo publication containing reports on “Cave Hydrology and Water Tracing” and “Karst Relief and Caves”.  Articles range from “Cave Surveying including the use of a simple Water Level.” To “The Dangers of using dissimilar materials.”

Wessex Journal No.116  Vol.10.  April 1968

The Wessex seem to have another pursuit (other than caving!) namely the scrap metal business if you don’t believe it read it for yourself.  The Journal itself, however, again contains some very interesting articles.  One in particular is a factual account of the Mossdale Caverns Disaster by Alan Fincham.  This report includes the history of the survey attempts and the events up to and following the disaster.

Other publications were received from Axebridge.


 

Coruisk

The following articles triggered off a series of letters on behalf of the Club.  The story is reproduced for your information.

Letter from the Guardian: -

Sir, I thank you from your leading article (May 10) discouraging Inverness County Council from “opening up” Lock Coruisk next month by bridging the Scavaig and Camasunary Rivers, blasting the Bad Step and building a Land-Rover track to Camasunary. This first test given to unwitting army engineers has untied all outdoor organisations in the United Kingdom, whether climbers, hill walkers, or ramblers in hostility to a legitimised vandalism.

Most ironically the plan was first mooted by the police in a well-intentioned notion of aiding mountain rescue.  The effect would be the reverse of what they desire.  The un-bridged burns, rough track, and rocky ground, have hitherto acted as a filter ensuring that unfit walkers think twice of going into hills that for them are dangerous.  Remove the natural obstacles and the accident rate will leap up.  Accidents are meantime rarer on this side of the Cullin and injured men are evacuated by motor-boat to Elgol.

Lock Coruisk, ringed by the Cullin Horseback of 20 sharp peaks, is in of the outstanding landscapes of Britain.  Its peculiar quality is a wild loneliness, refreshing to the mind of all who come even if only to look – even by steamer from Mallaig.  Such rare places are fast becoming too few in this small island. We need every one we can save, both for our own delight and health and for future generations.  If any man can help influence Inverness to prevent an unnecessary disfigurement of Coruisk and its ancient footpath let him do so all at once.

I am etc.  W.H. Murray, Loch Goil, Argyll

The next day appeared: -

PLAN FOR SKYE JEEP PATH TO STAY.

Inverness County council is to adhere to its proposal for making rescues in the Cullins in Skye easier by improving the footpaths into the hills. It also said that the work had to start in a fortnight or the Army would all go on holiday.

A telegram was immediately sent to Inverness county council asking them to reconsider and was followed by this letter: -

Dear Sir,

While it is well intentioned of you to clear a track vehicle route into Coruisk for the purpose of rescue, with our experience as a rescue organisation we beg you not to act in haste. Other ways can be found.

We would council against altering natural features in any way that would prevent new generations gaining our experiences.  For example we understand that the Bad Step is to be blasted.  This is a feature of renown in mountaineering and is to the mountaineer a place of great interest and importance and its loss would make us much poorer.

The men of the crowded areas have a deep need of rare places such Coruisk and its unnecessary disfigurement would cause spiritual hardship.

Please delay the approval for at least another year so that your proposals can be given mature consideration.  You have control of our heritage.  We are sure that as responsible people you will want to do right.

                        Yours etc.

Letters were also sent to an M.P., to a Bristol City Councillor and to Bill Murray offering help.  Inverness replied as follows: -

Dear Sir or Madam,

Mountain Rescue
Cuillins – Lock Coruisk

I refer to your recent letter making representations against proposals for certain improvements to the access from Camusunary and thereafter to the Mountaineering Hut at Lock Coruisk.

The many representations received against the proposals were duly considered by the Planning Committee of the Council.

That part of the scheme which envisaged the making of the steps across the face of the “Bad Step” has been discarded and been replaced by a proposed improvement of a path which goes round the “Bad Step”.

It appeared to the Planning Committee that the proposals particularly as amended, did not offer any threat either to the amenity of the area or to its quality or satisfactions as a mountain sanctuary.  As to whether the works will encourage people to go into the area who would not at present do so the Committee feel that is not so; the track which is to be improved for the use by police Land-Rover vehicles will not be available to private cars because (firstly) it will be unfit for private cars and (secondly) it will be made available by the estate owner only to his estate vehicles and police and rescue vehicles; as to people on foot it does not seem to the Committee that more people will walk along the altered track than do so on the present track.

The Council as police authority have inescapable responsibilities in the matter of mountain rescue (and of search until it is established that a feared mishap has not in fact occurred) and they therefore owe to the police and others who assist them the fullest practicable assistance.

Only a brief reply to your letter is practicable.  The views of the Committee have been set out in detail in a letter to the Countryside Commission for Scotland and copies of that letter have been sent to what appeared to be the nine principal organisations who had made representations. The matter is now being considered by the Countryside Commission.

Yours faithfully

An encouraging number of letters have appeared in the press, all anti.  The essence of the matter is neatly summed up by this letter: -

Sir,

My brother and I visited Elgol by motor-cycle in 1932, and, seeing the track marked on our ¼in. Ordnance map, had intended to ride to Coruisk.  But, of course, we had to walk it; and the memory of that day, and of the “Bad Step” in particular, has refreshed me at frequent intervals over the past 35 years.  Please leave this path ‘unimproved’.

Yours faithfully

(The Rev.) George Jager.
Sutton Courtney Vicarage.
Abingdon.

The crunch comes on 1st June ’68, the original date for the work to commence.  Let us hope that it doesn’t.

Kangy.


 

Letters To The Editor

Dear Sir,

There can be no real argument against the gating of caves.  Quite apart from the preservation angle, one must also consider the safety factor.     It has been suggested many times over that if Swildons, for instance was properly gated there would be a great reduction in the M.R.O. callout figures.  “Ah but”, you may say, “This does not prevent accidents!!”  This I agree, but is does reduce the risk of people entering caves against the advice of the local landowner when the weather is very unsettled and the risk of flash floods is greater.  Another point to remember is if that all caves were gated and application for the key had to be made to either the farmer or an appointed club, at least the farmer would be able to receive his ‘bobs’ more regularly and more important the owner would know how many parties were in the cave at any time.

Gordon Tilly
1st June 1968

Dear members,

With the sudden change of weekend weather it was necessary for the M.R.O. to be in action, yet again, on two successive days.

In both cases, the cause was due to inexperience of caving under conditions that exist in Swildons during wet weather, but in particular it was a complete underestimation of the severity of the system.  Coupled with this, it was necessary for one of the parties, having missed their way on the trip through “Double Troubles” and had to return by the same route.

Whereas this situation is easily summed up by the general caving society with word like, “so what!” it is time that more serious thought was given to the obvious need for control of access to Swildons Hole.

There are undoubtedly many arguments that support and reject this proposal, but at the moment Swildons has the highest (and almost the only) accident history in any Mendip Cave.

I believe it is true to say that Swildons is the only major system on Mendip that is not controlled.

It would seem that with the ever increasing popularity of caving, there is certain to be a high density of novices, so it is time for the major, responsible, caving clubs on Mendip formulated a simple system of control; I see no reason why the B.E.C. should not start the motion in this respect.

The control need not in fact be any different to several systems that already exist for caves such as G.B., Lamb Leer, St. Cuthbert’s etc.

This may sound, at first, to be rather “Northern” in attitude, but why wait until another fatality is added to what at present is a short list in the history of Swildons, but one which is very likely to increase because “WE” have done nothing about it.

Michael A. Palmer
30th May 1968

Well there you are. Do you want a gated Swildons? Perhaps there are among you wishing for a fixed steel ladder on the 40’ – lets have your views – there must be several who disagree with this month’s letters.


 

Outdoors

The Climbing Meet for May was scheduled for Cornwall and held in Llanberis by popular request. Present were Pete Sutton, Roy Marshall, Malcolm Holt and Eddy Welch.  A branch meet (Tony Dunn, a previous sec. once defined a meet as two or more members together) happened when Kangy and Mark James didn’t get to North Wales.

With Hedera

The Llanberis party had good weather were able to carry out their planned programme of objectives in accordance with the weekly socialized co-operative meetings of members, nearly. Base camp at the Camp at the Grochan. Phantom Rib, thin and exposed on the Grochan and Yellow Groove on Craig Ddu are both recommended while Nea was followed to a logical conclusion which happened to be the Glyders. Crib-y-Ddysgl was approached from Clogwyn and the ridge followed to Yr Wyddfa then down by the Rwlwal track.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Kangy and Mark awoke in the heart of the Black Mountains, having turned left instead of thundering on to Llanberis. Breakfast was only retrieved by driving back out of the hills to buy baking tins and knives and forks wherewith to cook.  It was obviously to be a non-event of a weekend.  This is where it was not going to happen.  So, strolls  down the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal, lunch in a boozer, climbing on the Llangattock Quarries (frantic top roping enthusiastically indulged – well it’s loose) caving with a single torch then an enormous P.U. lying underneath the stars, with the lights of Crickhowell below.  A more disciplined Sunday allowed a circuit of Lord Herefords Knob from Capel-y-Ffn.  An easy longish walk with occasional vista.

Crew’s lecture on the Cella Terro in Patagonia was about a non-event.  Interesting only because it was Crew.  It became obvious as the lecture progressed that they weren’t really trying.  You may remember that this was the expedition that was forced by bad conditions to lay siege for months and months and become so unfit that when the weather became fair they were unable to take full advantage of it.  Happily sponsored by the Sunday Times they festered it seems. If you are thrilled by close-ups of sheep’s entrails or lascivious, naked, bearded men, then this is your scene.

Nothing wrong with Uphill, no sheep etc., but a nice little cliff.  A meet, spontaneous and unrehearsed, occurred here on 5th May, when Kangy and Mark James saw Derek Targett and Arthur Cullen and families. Derek and Arthur led off on the smooth Main Face while Kangy and Mark went to the beach for lunch.  It poured with rain during lunch but abated to enable Mark and Kangy to follow an unlisted rib to the right of Apes Ascent. About H.S. or “horrifyingly severe” particularly the bit where you use limestone in compression.  Meanwhile the first party hung out to dry!

Eddy Welch has a message. I must pass it on.  He was going to write a book review, but you know how it is. Anyway, get and read ‘Rock Climbers in Action in Snowdonia’ by John Clare and Tony Smythe.  It’s marvellous.  Eddy sez.

HEDERA

New Access Route to August Longwood System

 


 

Hillgrove Swallet

Latest news is that it is abandoned until the winter.  150ft. of passage discovered.  EMBOROUGH being worked again by Keith Franklin and Phil Coles.

The BEC in Yorkshire

By G.E. Atwell (Fred to some!)

Saturday June 1st 1968, seven members went to Alum Pot.  We did exchange journeys through long Churn – Alan Thomas, though, thought it was far too much like hard work to go through and so went up and down the Main Pitch twice.

On Sunday, we went back to Alum Pot again for ladder practice.  After going up and down the pitch twice I decided to take ‘Buster’ caving. We had a go at Long Churn but did not get far as he (Buster or Fred? Ed) didn’t like the water.

Monday saw us at Long Kin (West) Pot.  Eight people went down.  As matter of interest Pennine Underground is incorrect – for the 1st pitch you need forty feet of ladder instead of twenty.

Wednesday – G.G. Main Shaft. We tethered the ladder in the south east corner.  Alan Thomas (junior) climbed from the bottom to the top in six and a half minutes. There was no trouble with getting the ladder out of the shaft.  Damming was easy as there wasn’t much water going down.  (Phew! Ed).

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

Well that’s yer lot for this month and so it would be a good idea if your Editor reminded you to send an account of your holidays to him as soon as you are able.  I know that there are three parties going on either caving or climbing holidays and a fourth weegeeing somewhere in Norway and Sweden – so don’t forget – the B.B. readers will be interested in hearing (or rather reading) about your exploits (some at least!)

Next months issue of the B.B. will see the first of a two part article on the Structure of Mendip and the second of Jock Orr’s photographic articles.  In addition will be ‘Sumping by Numbers’, Poem, and the usual items of general interest.

The B.B. is available to non-members at about 1/6d (the price will vary from time to time) and so if you know anybody that isn’t lucky enough to be a member of the BEC and would like to purchase a copy they can get it from Bryan Ellis or the price stated for the month or at a standard rate of 18/- p.p. when they will be added to our mailing list.

KEEPBOBHAPPYBY PAYINGYOUSUBKEEPBOBHAPPYBYPAYINGYOURSUBNOW

Cave Gates

The gating of caves has been a subject of argument for quite some time.  Below a member states his views on the topic –

Lets have your opinion for the next B.B. –

“The ‘Anti Gaters’ are not going to like the latest news.  OFD I is being gated.  (The reason why is given on page 52 Ed).

When one hears their arguments it appears they have little to say when considered against the argument for cave preservation alone.  Of all the Mendip caves St. Cuthbert’s is the best preserved – even this is slowly being spoiled.  Can we not instil in cavers that a cave is a place of beauty; a place that ought to be treated as a piece of rare art.  Once formations are damaged there is little we can do to replace them – except perhaps to install a plastic replica.  The caves that are open are usually so filthy that a couple of sacks would not clear the places out.  If gating helps preservation; to end ‘Kilroy was here’ scrawled on the walls; broken formations and general litter then this is the only solution.  It takes time to educate the cavers during which the caves are open and being spoiled for future generations.  It’s our moral responsibility to safeguard our caves today – LOCK THEM TO SAVE THEM.

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

Many thanks to John Churchward for his generous gift of books and publications to the club library.

All the publications mentioned in ‘From other clubs’ are additions to the library.

Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, Bristol. 3.

Easter Caving in S. Wales

by Roy Bennett

The meet started in the Ystradfellte area where it was intended to visit Little Neath River Cave. The day was fine and sunny and subvasive suggestions made that the caving be done in the evening.  This arrangement was quite successful, and after some hill walking and looking at the local possibilities, the cave was descended.

A very enjoyable 2½ hour trip was had as there are both good formations and sporty bits.  The small entrance at river level and the low crawl which followed emphasised that this cave is for settled weather only.

The crawl led into a pleasing stream passage (Tributary Passage) which led eventually to a large chamber (Sand Chamber) where the main river was met.  After a quick look at the upstream sump into Bridge Cave we back-tracked along Tributary Passage to find the bypass to the Canal, a 400ft. long duck on the river.  This was were a small stream entered over a brown stalagmite flow, and led, via a rough crawl over some rather nice gours, back to the river at Junction Chamber.  Downstream the passage was mainly large and impressive with interesting collection of boulders in places, and soon sump 2 was reached, the end for non-divers.  The joys of the Canal were sampled on the return journey and further observations made of white fish that inhabit the river. One of these was seen in a small pool in Tributary Passage.  It was about 15 inches long with a trace of skin pigmentation, and showed little reaction to light or movement.  These fish were presumably washed in from the river outside and live on food from the same source.

The Saturday was spent on the surface, and the day after in Ffynnon Ddu II.  The top entrance was explored using a very rough line survey, and with the aid of this the party proceeded to go round in circles in various directions and visit interesting places.  It failed in its objective of finding the Main stream way however and the trip ended after 4 hours when the party returned to the surface rather hot and bothered.  (Wet suits not recommended!!!)  There are some good formations in this part of the cave including many stalagmites. Much of this unfortunately is rather vulnerable and it is hoped that the S.W.C.C. will be able to avoid damage with their present fairly easy access arrangements.

On the last day parties looked at Porth-yr-Ogof, the Taff Fechan and the Sychryd Gorge near Pontyneddfechan.  This last place is well worth a visit in spite of spoliation by mining and quarrying. The actual gorge is most spectacular, and there are several caves, mainly small.  The river appears to have once sunk before diverting by the industrial activities and there should be more caves to find here.


 

Monthly Notes No.13

By “Wig”

WATER TRACING – Phase 3 Results

The latest tests were carried out in the streams that flow into the BURRINGTON area:  Ubley Pot was also traced.  The lycopodium spores were put into the sinks in the first week of April by Dave Drew and the results are as follows: -

SINK

RISING

 

LANGFORD

RICKFORD

UBLEY HILL POT (1)

--

4 hrs. (100%)

ELLICK FARM (2)

4 hrs. (30%)

4 hrs. (70%)

EAST TWIN SWALLET (3)

15-19 hrs. (30%)

4-8 hrs. (70%)

WEST TWIN SWALLET (4)

15-19 hrs. (60%)

17-20 hrs. (40%)

READS CAVERN (5)

43-47 hrs. (40%)

4 hrs. (60%)

The percentage figures represent the proportion of the stream flowing out of the resurgence. All other risings in the area gave negative results.

 

SOUTH WALES. – O.F.D. I

During Easter weekend vandals entered the cave and smashed most of the stal. formations within easy reach. They continued as far as Crystal Pool chamber.  S.W.C.C. are gating all the entrances to the system.

Access to O.F.D. II is to remain controlled.  A limited number of keys will be for visiting clubs.  Write to the Hon. Sec. – John Osbourne – giving at least 14 days notice. 

The connection between O.F.D. I and O.F.D. II just beyond Coronation Aven is still open but very unsafe.

B.E.C. LEADERS for O.F.D. I

The S.W.C.C. have accepted the following members to act as guides for B.E.C. trips to O.F.D. I: -

Roy Bennett, Dave Irwin and Tony Meaden.

N.B.  Leaders are not required for O.F.D. II and O.F.D. III.

DAN-YR-OGOF

During the week after Easter Alan Coase and Dave Judson spent four days underground completing the CRG Grade 6D survey line.  A considerable amount of water tracing was also carried out.  The survey of the Far north (the farthest know point) appears to be far more east than was shown by their earlier survey published by the B.S.A.  The passages seem to end under PWLL DWFN.  Certain parts of the cave rise to within 100ft. of the surface.  It is hoped that a top entrance can be made.

B.E.C. LEADERS for DAN-YR-OGOF.

The S.W.C.C. Committee and the show cave management have accepted the following as leaders for B.E.C. trips to Dan-yr-Ogof: -

Andy MacGregor, Phil Kingston, Kangy King and Colin Priddle.

TUNNEL CAVE

The management of the Dan-yr-Ogof show cave are considering opening up tunnel cave as a second show cave. This presumably means the Davy Price Hall – a 400ft. long passage rarely falling below 25ft. in width and quite well decorated with stal. flows.

STOKE LANE SLOCKER and BROWNES HOLE - new access details.

All cavers visiting these caves should first call at Mr. MARKS at STOKE BOTTOM FARM.

 

EMBOROUGH SWALLET

During the Easter weekend Dave Drew placed a tracer agent in the stream sinking at Emborough Swallet. The result is that the water resurges at Guerney Slade.  The time to reach the resurgence is something in excess of 48 hours.  Whether Keith Franklin and Phil Coles will continue to dig remains to be seen.

Members interested in this subject will find full details of the Eastern Mendip and western Mendip water tracing results by Dave Drew in the club library.  The library is kept at Dave Searle’s at Dolphin Cottage.

G.B.

Those wanting a regular trip into G.B. should contact Roger Stenner as he is collecting water samples once a week, usually on Sunday or Monday, for analysis and measuring temperatures.  The trip takes about 2½ - 3 hours.  Roger is prepared to arrange the trip to suit the rest of the party.

Two people have already asked to come along but anyone else interested should contact Roger as soon as possible.

The purpose of the work is to measure the ability of a stream to dissolve CaCO2 – measuring this on the surface and at several points in the cave to establish changes in this, correlation with discharge, temperature, time of year, etc.

MAESBURY SWALLET

During the Easter Holiday Alan Thomas, ‘Fred’ Atwell and others have been working at the dig.  The latest news is that it’s reached a depth of 20ft.  Still on digs it seems that HILLGROVE SWALLET is on the verge of going!  On Sunday 28th April a sizable rift was opened up in the well known Cornwell manner – bang, bang and more bang!  It looks as if John is near making his triple.


 

From Other Clubs

by Gordon Tilly

W.S.G. BULLETIN Vol. 5  No.8 

The main feature of this issue is Part 1 dealing with the caves of the Shepton Mallet District by K.E. Barber.  The remainder of the contents is the usual club news.

C.R.G. NEWSLETTER No. 110 (March ’68). 

32 pages ranging from C.R.G. News, publication reviews, a report on the Symposium on Cave Hydrology and a list of some 142 caves located in the Rana District of Nordland, Norway.

GLOUCESTER SPEL. SOC. NEWSLETTER.  (March ’68) 

Makes good light reading and give one the impression that the G.S.S. is quite an active club with reports of their activities in the Forest of Dean, South Wales and Mendip.  There is also an interesting article entitled “Inside the Skycraper Rock” by John Acock in which he describes some 10 caves he visited in Gibraltar.

M.C.G. Newsletter No. 64 (Feb. ’68) and M.N.R.C. Newsletter No. 49 (Spring 1968). 

Both contain the usual club news.  The M.C.G. Newsletter contains a short article on Belgian caves.

A Return to Climbing

Mike Luckwill spent Easter climbing with some of the B.E.C. now in Edinburgh.

Good Friday found us hanging about Jericho Wall.  The previous day we had driven from Edinburgh and by lunch time camp had been set up on the bank of the River Coe, just below the bridge where the new road joins the old.  With not a cloud in the sky and at least six hours before darkness, we picked out a gully on the west face of Aonoach Dubh which appeared to still to contain plenty of ice, and quickly set off in order to make most of our four days.

On closer inspection however, the ice turned out to be mainly water and so we crossed over into Stob Coire nam Beith and plodded up a snow field onto Ant Sron.  Making ourselves comfortable on top we ate chocolate, admired the scenery and discussed plans for the weekend.  I had persuaded my companion, a well known climbing gentleman, to take charge of the more foolhardy end of a hundred foot rope in order that I might ascend some of the classic routes --- nothing too difficult, mind you, but classics nevertheless.  And in Glencoe we had plenty to choose from.

So it was that having risen at a reasonable hour, breakfasted well, and wandered up to the foot of the Clachaig Gully, we managed coincide our arrival with that of the sun, which was beginning to illuminate the east walls.  Shaded from the wind as we were, we could look forward to several hours of delectable conditions.  The first pitch is a waterfall and the green and black slime undoubtedly made its standard about XS.  However it offered us no difficulty at all, and as we refreshed ourselves with some sweet water at the top we remarked that the state of the route surely indicated that everyone has also followed the path that meandered through the saplings on the west wall!  A couple of short pitches showed us why the water had seemed so sweet – the inevitable dead sheep.  Further upstream we had another little drink and roped up for a rather grotty series of slabs.  This led us to the foot of the Great Cave Pitch.  We were very interested to note later on what is in effect a series of awkward, but not too steep slabs, appears from the vantage of the west bank of the gully to be a plane, vertical wall; this would perhaps make for some spectacular cine-photography.  So we came to the Jericho wall.

I should explain at this point that my companion was of much smaller stature than myself and an awkward move some ten feet up the pitch, combined with the black slime which coated the lower parts of the wall led him to believe that I would enjoy the day much better if at that particular point I took the opportunity of leading what, after all, was “only a v. diff and the conditions are superb”.  Having received such a challenge what could I do?  There was no choice – I tied the rope on firmly and said, “No, you have another go”.  However in the end it was my length that proved the necessary and after basking in the sun for half-an-hour at the top my nerves were more-or-less back to normal.

The next obstacle, a short cave pitch was to turn the tables however.  Without bothering to rope up my companion was quickly sitting at the top waiting for me to come up.  But here my length and the sack in my back forced me further up into the roof of the cave as I attempted to get out of it.  After three attempts my arms were beginning to weaken and I requested the moral support of the rope and was then able to extricate myself at the next try. Looking at the next pitch we realised that this was a caver’s climb; straight up a waterfall.  Similarly with the one that followed.    And so we came to the Red Chimney.  Here the waterfall was nearly the route not to take.  The left hand wall offered a path of sorts over very loose rubble but the right hand wall had a clearly marked route for two thirds of the way.  My companion set off on the latter route and was soon surveying the last third of the climb; straight up was impossible, to the right the holds were too sloping and greasy, he must go to the left, into the water!  At first he managed to straddle the water but finally he disappeared form sight, right under the water and emerged a short time later on top. Needless to say, he was very wet. Meanwhile at my leisure, I had been able to spot all the holds he should have used and it was quite clear that I would be able to ascend, straddling the main jet of water and so remain comfortably dry.  With great confidence I ascended to the critical point.  To my great disappointment, but I must say, not to my very great amazement, I saw that my carefully planned holds were all in fact steeply sloping downwards, a fact concealed by the unwary observer below. Still, I thought, I must use the advantage of my height again and entered the water.  Each step took me into the water more and more and in the end I was forced to give up the struggle and entering the water I ascended as quickly as possible.  Drying ourselves in the sun at the top, we reflected what a superb pitch this would make underground – rather like an eighty foot version of the Swildon’s Forty. So we neared the end of a very fine day.

The next day in search of somewhere quieter that Glencoe, we drove round into Ardgour with the intention of climbing the Great Ridge on Garbh Bheinn.  Following the main road alongside the River Tarbert we left the car by Lochan a’Chothruim and walked up over the col to the ridge which is on the east side of the mountain.  To our surprise there were two other parties waiting to make the ascent, but having somne trouble in locating the start of the climb.  With an air of condescension we started them off on the rote and watched their labours in the initial stages which did seem to be a little out of keeping with the grading.

After they disappeared from view we consulted the guide book again and found the correct start was some way round the corner!  Our misdemeanour was justly rewarded a little later however.  Although we located the correct start and chose not the mossy chimney to the left but the slabs to the right.  I suppose a succession of slings, pegs and nuts left behind by others might have warned us, but as it was we soon reached a bulging boulder which turned out to be last possible point of return.  Above this there were no belays of any value and the festoon of slings carefully arranged on the odd pinheads of rock came off when I decided to belay sitting down rather than standing up!  However the lack of belaying points precluded abseiling off and so we, or rather my companion, had to go on.  The crux was difficult to say the least and as the second the only protection I could offer was a series of prayers to all the gods I could think of.

Living to tell the tale, we soon regained the correct route, which is, as the guide book says, not difficult, but full of interesting situations.  At the top we met up with many others and we were very pleased that our forethought had provided us with the shortest route back to the car, and a bottle of lemonade that was cooling in the stream near the road.  Next morning we moved to Glen Nevis. Unfortunately the weather broke on Monday and although we went up to Allt a’Mhuilim with the intention of climbing it, it was quite clear that the wind alone would have made the ridge impossible.  Despite this upset in our plans the weekend was an excellent return top climbing.

Mike Luckwill


 

Cavers Bookshelf

By B.M. Ellis

SHROPSHIRE MINING CLUB YEARBOOK, 1965/6.  Obtainable from D.R. Adams, New Era, Princess Gardens, Newport, Salop.  7/6 (+8d postage).  58 quarto pages.

This is the fifth yearbook published by the S.M.C. and continues in their unusual but interesting form of being a printing of their trip reports.  The S.M.C. has a relative small membership but the amount of ‘caving’ carried out would be the envy of some larger organisations, especially as they are based away from all the caving areas.  This type of publication might be unusual but is has much to commend it; all of their members are informed of everything that has been going on in the club and all the working trips are published even if very little or no progress has been made.  Each issue so far has also contained two of three articles in addition to the log entries.

The year covered by this issue deals with a wide range of trips.  There are accounts of more than forty caving trips expeditions to North Wales (almost all of them working trips over thirty visits to mines, ten caving trips to Yorkshire and nine elsewhere, and reports on more that twenty meetings. Although the price is a little high when compared with most caving publications, it is interesting reading, is worth in place in any club library and is a must for anyone interested in the caves of North Wales or the mines around Shropshire.

The S.M.C. carry out most of the work on the Derbyshire caves and with the exception of the Shepton are the only club who bother to publish what they have done there.

Outdoors

with HEDERA

A late night reading of “The Hard Years” showed that Joe Brown’s uniqueness can survive even ghosted writing, tape recording and spine cringing doggerel.  From the early years of questing experiment, through hair raising adolescent escapades, with apparent inevitability there emerges the ultimate climber.  Since Brown began his big climbs we can no longer believe that anything is invulnerable.

Brown has become a legend in his own lifetime and one examines the legend more closely, the more clear it becomes that he has every right to be so.  There is scarcely a development in almost two decades in which he has not been in the forefront.  Excess on Gritstone, the New Cloggy, Himalayan rock climbing, British grade sixes, steeple jacking and currently Anglesey Cliffs.

Not only in technique but also in attitude is he there.  The informal group if friends rather than the formal club.  The more thrusting drive of group motivation rather than the individual idealism of Classic Times.  The single minded week by week erosion of the climbing problem.  All have added up to this ultimate professional.

I suppose, as with “The History of Mendip Caving”, that a proper appreciation will eventually be written. Until then read “The Hard Years” and wonder.

“But we live in the most regimented society even in this country.  You practically have to have a licence to breathe.  You cannot move without people asking what you are doing.” I read that in a newspaper, the Duke of Edinburgh was carrying on about something or other.  It rang true and reminded me that walking back to Ogwen after a benighted incident and a very pleasant chap with “INSTRUCTOR” across his jersey asked us if anyone in the club had a Mountain Leaders Certificate. Well what do you say?  At the time we muttered about “years of inexperience” and “it’s a nice night” and “did he come here often” and thank goodness it was dark – it hid our blushes.  I suppose a better answer would be to ask how Joe Brown managed without one or, could you abseil from it?  Yes, of course, intensive instruction can help but who would you rather be with on the Coollin in a storm, a well balanced, fit mate who had worked it all out or someone who had been to all the lectures but hadn’t actually done any climbing this year?

Another thought provoking snippet from the press – “Four naval apprentices, on a weekend training exercise en route from Aviemore to Blair Atholl via Larig Ghui, became exhausted by evening in artic conditions and could not go on.  They stayed together and got into sleeping bags. Rescue teams alerted by other apprentices found and carried them to Braemar.  The victims were praised for sticking to the rules”.  Presumably the organiser was praised for exposing the apprentices to such conditions in the first place.

MORAL, don’t be organised. If you can’t avoid it, join the B.E.C. We individuals must stick together.

 “Hedera”


 

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

LAKE CHAMBER: problems solved and unsolved

a)         Problems solved

Water leaves the main Stream at the site of a dig a short distance upstream of the Dining Room.  In low water conditions the dig can swallow the whole of the Main Stream.  Underneath Cerberus Hall is a pool of variable dimensions, usually about twelve feet long, one to three feet wide and three feet deep.  Water enters the pool through an impenetrable crack about two feet above the water level at the eastern end of the pool and leaves through a mud choked sump at the north-west end of the pool.  It was thought by many leaders that water in the pool came from the mainstream and went to the lake, but this view had its opponents.

Water temperature and hardness measurements by the author showed that the Cerberus Pool must certainly have come from the Main Stream, and the Lake was thought by the author to be made of water from the Main Stream mixed with percolation water from another source.  This was proved to be true when Pyranine was added to the sink at the Main Stream on January 26th 1968.  The connection with Cerberus Pool was proved visually, and a fortnight later the water in the Lake was seen to be coloured with Pyranine, to the surprise of the author who had expected the dilution to be too great for visual detection.  Thus it was proved that water from the Main Stream flows via the Cerberus Pool to the Lake – to the North, flowing in the opposite way to the Main Stream.

b)         Problems unsolved

No pattern has yet been found to explain the variation of the water level in the Lake, and the possible connected variation of the water level of the Cerberus Pool.  The Lake would appear to be fed from below, although it does receive water from a heavy drip.

It would be extremely difficult to prove conclusively that water from the Lake does not resurge into the bed of the Main Stream somewhere downstream of Plantation junction, but the probability is that the water from the Lake does not re-enter the known system.

It is not known whether the pools discovered last year to the north of the Lake are part of the drainage from the Lake, or part of another inlet to the Lake.

A passage in Lake Chamber remains unexplored; the entrance is usually submerged. It should not be neglected because of the possibility that the Gour-Lake Fault is breached here.  When the Lake has been completely empty a gravel floored passage has been seen at the bottom.

c)         The possibility of an undiscovered breach of the Gour-Lake Fault.

The intermittent streams draining the area west of Rocky Boulder Passage and north of Curtain Chamber are not thought to enter the known Main Stream, and water from the Lake would seem likely to breach the Gour Lake Fault.

The diagram published by D. Irwin (B.B. No. 241 p 47) also raises the possibility of two separate drainage systems being developed along the same fault, with an exit at the Duck and an exit somewhere between marble Hall and the Lake.

The unknown breach at Lake Chamber, with drainage from the areas mentioned above also feeding the Lake, or it may be that water from the Lake has to flow further north along the fault until the breached is reached.  The author favours the later possibility because the hardness is so close to that of the Main Stream, indicating a mixture with relatively little percolation water.  Another possibility is that yet another breach for the drainage not accounted for. The answer may not be known for sure until the Sump or the (dry) breach of the fault at the Dining room Dig is passed. It will be ironic of an open hole into known cave is discovered from the other side of the fault.

R.D. Stenner
18th April ‘68

APPENDIX – Results 10-2-68.

 

Concn. X 105(M) (M= ppm CaCO3)

 

Bi-carbonate

Calcium

Permanent Hardness

Temp oC

Main Stream Dining Room

117.4

130.4

24.6

7.83

Pool, Cerberus Hall

117.8

130.4

24.2

7.90

Lake

124.9

138.0

26.7

8.65

Pyrolusite Stream, Gour Hall

210.2

238.4

54.6

9.55

 

Precision of results:

Bicarbonate ± 1.5 ppm Permanent Hardness ± 2 ppm Calcium ± 1 ppm Temperature ± 0.03oC

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Latest Discovery

On Saturday th April 1968 Mike Luckwill discovered a new chamber in the CANYON SERIES.  He suggested that the new chamber be called FORBIDDEN CHAMBR as to reach it means passing a nicely decorated passage which would soon be ruined.  The chamber is said to be quite big.


 

Letter to The Editor

Dear Irwin,

I have read with great interest your article ‘Towards Wookey Hole’ (first part).  I think the Dining Room Dig is a good bet.

If this passage goes up and down again beyond the sump it will confirm to the Swildons Hole by-passes and be what the Poles called a ‘corkscrew’ passage working up from a clay choked stream way to rejoin it later. (Thousands of years in the process). Once completed and rejoined to the stream beyond the sump, there will be a strong flow along the corkscrew passage until a sucking action by the sump it is cleared.  So don’t be dismayed if you find that the passage jinks about a lot with right-angle bends according to the jointing.  There should be flow markings on the walls and the directions of your digs should follow the indicated current direction all the way, and if necessary dig a window to the wall at intervals to see the marking.

The ‘rock pendants’ near the roof are probably due to seepage water working down at the top of the clay fill after the passage was choked.  This may indicate an aven or open joint etc. opening to the top of the passage.

I find the best way to test current markings which are faint is with the fingertips.  Rubbing gently in direction of flow gives the feel  of a slight edge down, then a smooth section and another edge down, and the opposite of course against the flow direction. With a torch, with a narrow beam, shine it against the current direction to get narrow brighter lines, but none if you shine it in the other direction.

Use candles to detect bad air, one placed ahead of the dig i.e. in the air space above the clay and others further along the passage.  NO ACETYLENE LAMPS.  Electric torches for good viewing.   If you are digging in a rising and there is a ‘pool’ of CO2 further on the routine of digging and passing clay down the open part may act like a pump and drag bad air down the excavated passage.  I found this in a dig in India – working up a clay filled passage from draughty, well ventilated passage below.  After about 45 feet, the dig sloping up the passage levelled off and then dipped gently into a wider area.  It was quite sinister to see the candles ahead go out, then 10 seconds later the one just behind me and 20 seconds later another at a bend would go out!  Then, the digging party would go out and return in ten minutes or so.  After a couple of more digs like that the dig was abandoned.  The floor beyond was a circular basin of clay evidently full of CO2 and no continuing passages.  I have met with pools of CO2 on many occasions and great care is need in any dig.

Yours sincerely
E.A. Glennie (C.R.G.)


 

Cave Rescues and Incidents.

The following is a shortened version of Dr. Oliver Lloyd’s Annual Hon. Secretary’s report to the M.R.O.

SWILDON’S HOLE (26-3-67)

Two Derbyshire cavers descended the 40’ on a knotted rope – on return one too tired to climb back up. Ordnance Survey C.G. obtained help. Both were brought out safely up the pitch without the MRO.  Corner (Surrey Y.C.) says “Nothing more was heard from him or even a word of thanks. How anyone can be so stupid as he I just don’t know…”

EASTWATER SWALLET (5-5-67)

Member of party became stuck when moving through from Traverse Passage into the Upper Traverse Passage.  He had entered the smaller of the two passages.  MRO called.  Slight adjustment of his clothes soon had him free.

SWILDON’S HOLE (11-6-67)

Three Londoners – Hawkins (24), Eswin (23) and Hammond (23) descended about 10am.  Caving not too frequent for 1 year.  Had good equipment except no ladders.  They were rather good at climbing and used a single rope on the 40’.

Whilst climbing the 20’ Hawkins fell and fractured his left femur.  His handhold broke.  MRO alerted 12.20pm.  Hanwell took charge on the surface.  Craig (SMCC) organised the rigging of the 40’.  At 2.00pm Kenny and Thomson went down with medical supplies.  Additional help required.  O.C.L. notes.  “Sunday afternoon is the worst time in the week for finding cavers”…  By 4pm Hawkins was at the top of the 40’.  Progress was slow because he was suffering much pain. He reached the surface at 6.15pm.

SWILDON’S HOLE (14-10-67)

At 5pm the 40’ flooded due to heavy rain.  Member of a team of bath students was unable to climb the ladder.  UBSS party rigged the 40’.  Hauling was done from the bottom of the pitch.  The subject was able to get out under his own steam.

SWILDON’S HOLE (28-10-67)

Flooding.  Parties were known to be below 40’.  MRO on standby.  At 3pm half of Harrow Moles party came out of the cave leaving other half down there.  At 5pm party of 7 descended the cave to 40’ Kingston and Lewis descended 40’ and made contact with Moles. It was difficult to determine the number of parties in the cave – in fact there was only one.  Bristol waterworks started the pumps at 5pm at a rate of 22,000 gal/hr.  Operation complete 10.30pm.  OCL notes, “It is difficult to know who is down Swildon’s since many parties do not let Mr. Main know beforehand.  If no party could get down without first obtaining a key from Mr. Main, then the problem would be easier”.

LAMB LEER (29-10-67)

Univer. of Surrey P.C.  Girl (19) descending main pitch when, owing to a misunderstanding with her lifeline, fell about 20ft. and hurt herself.  Time about 3pm.  MRO called. Hanwell took charge on surface and Thomson underground.  Subject was suspected of having a fractured pelvis though not the case.  OCL notes, “Life lining is no mere formality.  It should occupy the full attention of the life-liner”.

SWILDON’S HOLE (8-11-67)

 Party of 4 went to Mud Sump.  On return one man (21) cold, wet and tired, unable to climb 40’.  “The party had split into two, and it is agreed that had they remained as one party, enough help on the lifeline could have been given in the first place to help subject climb it”.  Davies and Thomson went down and rigged 40’ and hauled him up via ledge on the other side.


 

CAVE RESCUE COUNCIL

This council was established at a meeting held at Settle on 24.6.67, under the chairmanship of Mr. John Plowes, at which representatives were present from the C.R.O., M.R.O., Gloucester C.R.G., South Wales C.R., Durham C.R.O., Derbyshire C.R.O., together with Mr. Norman Thornber.  Not present, but supporting the principles were the Upper Wharfedale F.R.A. and the North Wales C.R.

The Council is to be the representative body for cave Rescue Organisations for the purpose of: -

a.                  Obtaining national recognition for cave rescuers.

b.                  Allocating coverage for areas as yet without effective means of performing cave rescues.

c.                  Helping to establish rescue facilities in those areas needing help.

d.                  Providing the liaison desirable to supply additional strength to areas, or even countries, in the event of major incidents and where the areas or countries concerned request it.

TERMS OF REFERENCE

a.                  The Council shall never become a rescue Organisation in itself.

b.                  It shall have no powers to interfere in the affairs of its constituent members.

c.                  It shall only act unanimously.

d.                  Its members shall only be appointed by the organisations they represent. 

No co-option is permissible but any relevant adviser may be invited to assist.

The Hon. Sec. was requested to contact the Irish C.R.O.  Also to make representations to the Home Secretary for the purposes of furthering the objectives.

The second meeting of the cave Rescue Council was held in Bristol on 30.9.67.  Dr. Oliver Lloyd was elected to the chair.  Eight C.R.O.’s were represented, together with Supt. Glenning of the West Riding Constabulary.

The Hon. Sec. (John Plowes) reported that the Home Secretary had referred him to Mr. J.A. Willison, the Hon. Se. of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales, whom he visited on 9.9.67.  The discussions resulted in the following procedure:

A.

1.                  The Cave Rescue Council to confirm base central base or central points of Police contact for each Area Rescue Organisation in its membership.

2.                  Agree allocated coverage of less frequented areas.

3.                  Establish an inter-area call out system for additional help if requested by the “Local” area concerned.  This would be via the “Central Police Points”.

B.        

The Association of Chief Police Officers to deal with the conveying of the information throughout the Police Service with the authority for its inclusion in the “Emergency Instructions” for the guidance of all Police personnel.

Mr. Plowes had summarized the two main concerns of the Cave Rescue Council as:

1.                  Risk that cave rescue services might not be requested by Police in areas which knew nothing about them.

2.                  Financial stringency.

Discussion of this report resulted in the following recommendations being made by the Council:

1.                  That the information to chief constables should remind them of their authority to reimburse “out of pocket expenses” of the people called to assist them.

2.                  The Hon. Sec. should ascertain the Scottish system of cave Rescue operation.

3.                  Overlapping areas should consult and devise the coverage required.  It was estimated that out of the 45 Police Districts would be concerned.

4.                  Co-operate with International Commission.

It was agreed that the Irish C.R.O. was a full member of the council, but of course it was necessary for them to make their own arrangements with their police.


 

Don Coase’s Log for 1945

Continuing reprints from the Coase log the following gives some idea of how the BEC weekends were spent on Mendip in Victory year – 1945….

Fri. 9th Mar. – Caught train from Paddington to Wells.  Started to cycle to Priddy via Wookey hole.  Arrived at barn approx. 1 o’clock a.m.  Mr.Maine had left milk, wood, bread and eggs.

Sat. 10th Mar.  Was woke at 9 by ‘Shorty’ informing me that tea was ready.  Had breakfast.  Then a general clear up.  Visited Vic. And cycled to G.B. arriving at about 12.30.  Found G.B. locked so Shorty and I went into Read’s Grotto and took a couple of photos.

Came out, found gang had arrived from Bridgwater by car.  They tackled lock on G.B. meanwhile I took Ron and Charles down Read’s Grotto.

Rest had opened G.B. so they went on, Betty, Shorty, Charles and I ate our sandwiches and then didn’t feel energetic enough to do G.B.  However once we were inside the cave we felt better.  Took several photos.  Devils Elbow comparatively dry, 2” or 3” water at the far end.  Met rest of party in Gorge just above Bridge.  So all went to Stalagmite Bridge and sat on it while Shorty and I took a photo of them.  As we were using some flash powder fired by safety fuse that went off with an almighty bang.  Expected someone to fall off the bridge but although, they jumped they didn’t come off.

Then the four of us parted from rest and proceeded to the sump.  Bristol Speleo.  Have done quite a bit of digging there recently.     Then went back to bottom of the Oxbow,  back through the oxbow,  Loop and so to

Rumba alley.  Then we returned to the surface which we reached about 8.15.  It being a pitch dark night.  We cycled back to Priddy in our damp things, feeling rather chilly and went straight to the Vic. Till 10.  Then went back to the barn and started cooking a stew, which we eventually consumed – about 1 am.

Sun 11th Mar.  Got up about 9.  Cooked breakfast, visited Vic. about 12.  Went to Cross Swallet with 2lb. P.E.  Put 1lb. in fissure at bottom alongside some P.E. that didn’t detonate when fired on Sun. 4th Feb.  Whole lot detonated nicely.  The fumes seemed to clear quicker than usual and when I inspected the damage I found an open fissure about 3” high and 2” wide with a fair drought blowing out.

I placed the other 1lb. P.E. in the fissure and fired it.  The fumes again cleared quickly.  I went down again and had a look around and removed one of the two boulders the P.E. had blown out.  Suddenly I heard a boulder crash down several feet and looked around to get out of the way, but nothing in the hole had moved.

Shorty was halfway down and he heard it as well.  It must have been inside the cave again.  Judging by the noise I estimate is was only 2/3ft. away and only about ½ cubic foot. It seemed to roll down a slope for about 3 of 4 ft.

Then I returned to the barn and demolished the rest of the stew and other vittles.  Washed up and put the barn tidy and then it was time for the others to leave for Bridgwater.  I cut myself some sandwiches for the train and packed up my stuff up. My caving clobber I arranged to leave with Mr Maine so I was fairly light loaded to cycle back.

It was then about 8 so retired to the ‘Vic’ where I spent a very congenial evening.  One of the locals told me that in connection with boring in the spring above Swildon’s they put fluorescent in the water and it appeared at Draycott also that some time before the war, the road near green Ore sunk away and he put a concrete slab about 7ft.thickm over the hole which seemed to be 100ft. or more deep.

He also told me the same thing happened in ’41 at the top of Rookham hill on the verge of the road. They dropped stones down which down for some seconds before hitting anything.  They had sent to Wells for some people to explore it (I presume Mr. Balch’s crowd) but nobody came so they covered it with 2 or 3 feet of concrete.

At 10 went back to the barn, settled up with Mr. Maine and set off for Bath. Dry, slight tail wind and dark. Arrived Bath 12.20.  Took 1¾ hours – a record for night time.  Train didn’t arrive till 2.00a.m.  Bloody cold waiting on platform as had no mac. Or coat.  Train packed.  Couldn’t lie down in the corridor as too wet with condensation off windows.  Arrived Paddington 5.30 am and cycled home.


 

St. Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue: -

Coral Chamber – Boulder chamber – April 21st 1968.

The second of three practice rescues planned for this year took place on April 21st.

Coral chamber – often visited by tourist parties has seven entrances; all are constricted or menaced by dangerous boulders.  The route for the practice was from the ‘Hole in the Roof’ area in Coral Chamber to the boulders leading to rocky Boulder Chamber.  From rocky Boulder Chamber a rift to the east off the chamber was rigged for hauling to a small boulder chamber below the northwest corner of Boulder Chamber.  A 15ft.pitch was rigged to allow the subject (Keith Franklin) to be hauled up into the Boulder Chamber.

The carry went well until a bank of brittle stalagmites gave way as the team was lowering the ‘subject’ down to the lower part of the chamber.  The remainder of the party remained at the head of the first pitch. A little difficulty was experienced in the boulders near Rocky Boulder Chamber.  Further snags were met when

feeding the ‘subject’ into the small hole at the top of the first pitch.  The haul up the second pitch to the Boulder Chamber presented no problems except a watchful eye was kept on the boulders at the top of this pitch. A few minutes before there had been a small collapse of boulders from the top of the pitch.  The time to carry from Coral Chamber to Boulder Chamber was just over 1½ hours – more experienced party would reduce this time considerably.

Several observations should be mentioned: m-

1.                  Most of the people taking part had not been on either a real or practice rescue before – this is extremely  useful. At some time in the future most if not all will be involved in a rescue of some form.

2.                  Slight modification of the rigging of the first pitch will help reduce the difficulty in feeding the subject through the hole at the top.  A rawlbolt and a pulley would be very useful at this point.

3.                  The top pitch needs ‘gardening’ before hauling.

4.                  The rawlbolts are not a permanent feature of the head of the second pitch.  The bolts will be found in the MRO locker at the Belfry should the occasion arise when they are required.

Dave Irwin

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

Quote: -

“You should take up caving professionally Dave.  I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d pay you to stay underground”

(from MCG Nlt. No.54)


 

Caving and Climbing Meets - May - June 1968

CAVING MEETS

SPRING HOLIDAY         Yorkshire – Disappointment Pot and other Gaping Gill entrances, Alum-Diccan.  Camping at Skirwith Farm, Nr. Ingleton.

June 9th – Sun.             Stoke Lane and Browne’s Hole.  Meet at cave entrance.

CLIMBING MEETS

June 22/23        NORTH WALES

Caving Sec.       A. MacGregor, Railway Arms, Station Road, Theale, Reading, Berks.
Climbing Sec.    E. Welch, Frenchay Lodge Bungalow, Malmains Drive, Frenchay, Bristol.

ICE AXES

You all know what they look like –

Have you seen the club ICE AXES?

HAVE YOU GOT THE CLUB ICE AXES?

If you have please contact Eddy Welch as soon as possible.

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

C.R.G. 29 JUNE            Southern Meeting – Llangattock/Crickhowell.  St. Edmuund’s Hall – programme –

Dr. G. Black – “Caves and the Nature Conservancy.”

Dr. H. Lord – “Making Cave Movies.”

INCIDENT from Langdale Mountain Rescue Team Report 1967.

A soldier on an initiative exercise, phoned Sid Cross in a panic.  He did not know where he was; he had been going from Langdale to Borrowdale and the mist had come down and the sun was in the wrong place and he was starving and he was cold and wet and could Sid tell him where he was.  Sid let him ramble on – he was in a narrow valley, a tree was on his left, a big wall on his right, etc.,  Sid got tired of all this.  “Look man,” he quietly told the sergeant, “Will you what I tell you – are you ready?”  “Yes” came the quiet weak reply, then said Sid, “Look above the telephone, let your eyes drop slowly down to the phone, do you see the white disc on the phone – what does it say?”  “Oh, I’ve got it,” cried the boy soldier, “I’m in Wasdale”.

Spike Rees

It is with deep regret that we announce the death of SPIKE REES after a long illness. Our deepest sympathy go to Pam and the two children.

Apologies Dept.

Several apologies are due after the Christmas B.B. last month.  Firstly, we omitted the addresses of Alan Thomas and George Pointing. Secondly, the B.B. was, as usual, rather late in getting to most members.  It has been suggested that the list of addresses be put in the November B.B. next year.  This will be done to enable members to have plenty of time to send out their Christmas cards.  Lastly, we stated that the Christmas B.B. was a record number of pages.  It was rapidly pointed out to us that last year's Christmas B.B. was bigger!  That’ll teach us not to boast in future.

We hope that it may be possible to get a better service going this year, but it would be rash to make promises.  Anyway, we should like to wish all readers a very happy New Year and keep sending in articles.

" Alfie."

Notices

Knives.

The Hut Warden would like to appeal for donations of knives for the Belfry. Any type of table knives will come in handy.

For Sale.

Bond Minicar 1955 for sale.  In good condition, has not been through seven year test but should pass easily. Villiers 197cc engine.  £40.  Apply to Mr. P. Rollason (Jill's dad) at 157 Pen Park Road, Southmead, Bristol.

Photographic and Song Competitions.

We know it's early yet, but it’s surprising how the time goes!  The song competition will be closing some time before the dinner this year, so start thinking, blokes!

Plantation Stream

a further letter from Bryan Ellis.

In the Christmas B.B., an article described the proving of the connection between Plantation Swallet and the Plantation Stream in St. Cuthbert's Swallet.  This experiment did not solve all the other old problems of water tracing in the cave; whether or not the stream in Continuation Chamber is the upstream continuation of the Plantation Stream.  To this problem, more recent exploration has added the question "Are the streams met in Cone Chamber and the Tin Mine also part of the same stream?'"

In an attempt to try to prove a connection between all these streams, a further experiment was carried out shortly after writing the previous article.  On the 12th of November, cotton detectors were placed in the stream in Cone Chamber; September Series; in the major and subsidiary streams in continuation Chamber and also in the major and subsidiary streams in the Tin Mine.  The intention had been to place; a further detector in the Plantation Stream as a check but unfortunately the hanks were lost somewhere in the cave.  On leaving the cave, thirty grams of dye were added to Plantation Swallet Stream (for nomenclature of streams, see the introductory paragraph in the article in the December B.B.)  This time, the detector had to be left in the cave for two weeks before being collected.  Looking at my notes on the July experiment, I saw that not only had the hanks been only left for a week on that occasion, but I also had a note that a larger quantity of dye would be desirable.  Therefore, on November 25th a further 25 grams of dye were added to plantation Swallet Stream.  Due to an unfortunate accident involving a polythene bottle full of the dye solution and a stone floor, the additional dye had to be introduced in the form of crystals and not as a solution.

The following day the detectors were removed from the cave and all of them were found to be dyed. Therefore it can be stated that a connection occurs between all these points.

In conclusion, I should like to congratulate those members of the Bradford Pothole Club who devised this method, thus making it possible to solve these problems.

Digging 1961

by Jim Giles..

Priddy Green Swallet - Priddy.

The excavations at Shatter Pot, coupled with the more recent activities in the downstream sections of Swildons have put the dampers on the green and robbed it of its former popularity. Although there have   been, this year, several attempts to clear away the terminating obstacle - an oozy mud and gravel choke - most have been rather abortive and so the depth remains, we hope, at 100 feet.

Without a doubt the Green is one of the most important digs on Mendip and to admit defeat now would, to say the least, be most unfortunate.  In spite of the great advances already made using the conventional route, the advantages of a backdoor to Swildons cannot be too clearly emphasised, bearing in mind the almost terrifying result of the rescue practice in Blue Pencil Passage.  Not only does the grim prospect of an accident in Series Four grow with the ever increasing population of the caving world, but the journey to the  'coalface' of exploration gets even longer.

It could be argued that with the advent of the Green as a practicable means of entry to the lower reaches of Swildons, it might be abused and result in a source of trouble.  Two factors about the Green should be   sufficient to put off all but the most experienced type of caver viz (a) the 'dampness' and (b) the large amount of tackle required to surmount the final pitch - Cowsh Aven.  As a further deterrent - to quote a popular word, an efficient trapdoor could be fitted to the entrance with keys held by various clubs and the M.R.O.

Perhaps 1962 will bring new enthusiasm.

Bottlehead Slocker - Downhead.

Once again Eastern Mendip proves itself to be a rewarding hunting ground for the enterprising caver with this notable addition to the caving scene. Miss J. Rollason has written more fully on this interesting cave in the Christmas B.B.

Nine Barrows Swallet - Priddy.

Much has been said about Nine Barrows Swallet of late and the general opinion is that "It won’t go".  Time will, no doubt, tell.  The situation at the moment is not altogether unpromising.

The swallet lies in a small depression surrounded by trees about 300 yards E.N.E. of the farm on the Eastwater side of Nine Barrows Lane.  In its favour for developing into a reasonable cave are two small points (1) The East Priddy Fault which is very close and (2) the large volume of water taken without sign of flooding during the Mendip 'monsoon' season.

Permission for work to proceed was granted by both the farmer and the last generation of diggers and thus  it was that, early in August, great  efforts were made to enlarge the entrance to provide easier access to  the  point of excavation.  This exercise being accomplished two possible points of attack presented, themselves. A small low chamber on the right with an extremely tight rift passage leading off at right angles, and, on the left a narrow passage, blocked by small rocks and earth.  Since the chamber had been the result of work carried out by Messrs Holland and Causer last year, it was discarded in favour of a passage on the left and a small hole rapidly developed into a large trench six feet deep. The digging of this trench was, at times,   handicapped by the size of some of the boulders in our path and the abundance of almost razor sharp fossils in them.  For the price of a sledge hammer shaft and a drop of elbow grease here and there, the work went on very smoothly though.  As the bottom of the trench approached its present depth, a bedding plane appeared down which a fair quantity of infill disappeared before it could be hauled out.  In spite of this, the bedding plane, which measures two feet wide by six to eight inches high, could be observed for at least six feet whereupon it veered out of sight to the right.

At this juncture, thoughts ascended to the ceiling and walls and, with good reason, digging was postponed in order to effect a little necessary shoring.  Due to the odd shape of the hole and the limited firm points against which to brace the required timbers, plans for this little engineering project became rather complicated.  The result was that at the end of September when the main part of the woodwork was in place, the dig came to a standstill.  Nevertheless, confidence in the shoring is returning and we hope to resume work in the near future.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet - Priddy. 

A New Entrance Shaft.

During the summer of this year many clubs have visited St. Cuthbert’s Swallet and among other things, were informed of the dangerous nature of the Arête Pitch boulders, Quarry Corner etc.  Most of them returned to their respective homes, huts, Belfries etc, content that their money had been well spent, if only to  return to daylight in one piece.  One club though - no names, no reprisals from George - obviously not satisfied with the potential thrills of the Boulder Chamber, Quarry Corner etc, played a masterly bit of one-upmanship by bringing out for our inspection a rather rotten piece of 2 by 3 'wot come off in our 'and' from the entrance shaft.  Our tame shoring expert was called in and in one quick glance summed up the situation in a well known phrase which, being roughly translated meant that the shaft was rather dicey.

The resulting committee meeting left us in no doubt of the fact that not only was the shaft unsafe, but something must be done about it.  A notice was, therefore, chalked up in the Belfry to the effect that caution must be used when going down and coming up the shaft.

During the period occupied by the above drama, most of the regular members were engaged on a non-caving dig near the Belfry which was rather urgent at the time and labour could, not be spared to do extensive repairs in St. Cuthbert’s.  Incidentally, another club started a non-caving dig near their hut just before us.  Ours has been in use now for nearly six months - we understand the other club is still digging.

On the completion of this extra curricular activity, our divided attention was turned to the St. Cuthbert’s entrance and a typical decision made.  We would dig another entrance shaft.  Silence descended as the full impact of this solution to the problem sunk in.  The inevitable question came - where?  Places such as High Chamber, Maypole Series and Arête Pitch were suggested which, except from one small point, were quite reasonable suggestions.  We were not even 50% sure of where they were in relation to the surface.  We’ll, we know we are pretty good, and given to doing things to excess, but there comes a time when even the best of us prefer jokes to pantomimes.  Cunning schemes to dig shafts into the top of hundred foot pitches in High Chamber and Maypole Series were given up until an electromagnetic survey had been carried out.  Two alternatives remained (a) to dig a shaft into the passage leading off on the far side, of the chamber at the top of the entrance rift pitch and (b) fill the cave in.

The latter was reluctantly dropped in favour of a new shaft and work started in earnest.  The passage was surveyed almost to grade 3 standard and the results plotted on the surface.  The best possible site for the shaft was chosen bearing in mind the tree, the bank and. the length of cave passage.  Cavers were brainwashed, beaten and finally thrown at the formidable task of digging a hole 12 feet deep and 6 feet square in the most stubborn of Mendip clay under threat of alternative (b).

By August Bank Holiday, bedrock was reached and a small slot uncovered. Shortly afterwards, the surveyors were untied and set free and contact was made between the slot and the cave passage some three feet distant in the form of pitiful cries from below and torches tied on pieces of string from the top.

Next followed specialised session of rock breaking by means of solo picks, crowbar's etc.  Yes, the final stage went a bang and the passage was soon cleared out sufficiently to all fairly free movement.

Since the bank into which we had dug was of man made origin and hence subject to collapse, temporary wooden scoring was installed.  The next item on the agenda was to provide this spectacular hole with a concrete pipe. We intend to connect this with a drainage system in order to keep the cave entrance dry for cavers during excess rainfall.  The perfect entrance?

Alfie's Hole - Priddy.

No Work has been carried out this year.

Emborough Swallet  - Emborough.

One or two trips were made in the spring to the site of the dig and great plans made, but the farmer stepped in and decreed that nothing would be done until the "fine weather" came.  His reason was that he   did not want anyone to injure themselves and causing unwanted publicity.  When the "fine weather” did come, so did a little work on the Cuthbert’s entrance and now the weather is back to normal.

Balch's Hole - Fairy Cave Quarry - Oakhill.

Although not a dig in the accepted sense, Balch’s Hole deserves a mention here since it is a recent addition to the Fairy Cave Quarry complex.  Opened by quarrying early in November it became the seventh cave to be opened here and initial exploration was undertaken on behalf of the quarry owners by Cerberus; B.&.C. and Shepton.

Miss Rollason again has written an account of this fine cave in the Christmas B.B., but it may be worthwhile to under line the following details here and now.

Since the cave is situated in Fairy Cave Quarry, rights of access to the cave is vested in the Cerberus Cave Club.  Failure to comply with this condition would result in the cave being closed &c all by the quarry company.

The entrance to the cave at the moment is not a good insurance risk and should be treated with extreme caution particularly during, or immediately after frost conditions. The formations in this cave are unusually delicate, as I have found to my cost, and should be avoided wherever possible.

Newman Street Slocker - Nowman Street.

One of three new B.E.C. digs on Eastern Mendip started in November by Baker and Giles.  To date, the dig is in its early stages and little can be said except that bedrock has been reached and two small, partially blocked passages lead off.

Heale Slocker - Heale, Near Downhead.

Once an open swallet but filled in by the farmer, Mr. Hobbs several years ago to prevent further loss of his chickens.  Heale Slocker looks good.  Much loose infill has been removed and a low bedding plane uncovered.

Heale Cave - Heale, Near Downhead.

About a hundred yards North of Heale Slocker at the base of a small outcrop, a fifteen foot wide bedding plane, filled with soft dry earth, forms more or less the total extent of the cave.  Digging is in progress and prospects are good.

Brimble Pit - Westbury.

No work has been carried out this year, but plans for shoring are in hand.

Jim's Pot - Hunters Lodge Area.

Interesting swallet with a convenient jug handle near entrance which although not necessary is quite useful.  System siphons at intervals of a few minutes with odd noises and known to take large quantities without flooding.  During warm weather volume swallowed increases, often with staggering results.

In Praise of Naked Lights

by Jack Waddon

On December 9th, 1961, I revisited Carlswark cave, accompanied by Gerry Wright to examine the sump at the lower end of the recently discovered New Series, to assess whether it might repay diving.  Being Mendippers, we were of course using carbide lights and so, when some way in, we met a party of electric lights approaching, we knew at once that they were not from the West Country, but natives.  But what was this?  A naked light from a carbide lamp?  Obviously a Mendipper must be amongst those coming our way.'  And so it was.  Chris Falshaw, new resident in Nottingham, was sporting a lonely carbide lamp with four members of the Four Ways Club.  While the others were negotiating the tight squeeze that I had just passed, Chris and I lay facing each other on the comfortable soft mud, and reminisced on the man hours we had spent together in the early days of St. Cuthbert's, some eight years ago.  Now it was Chris's turn to move, so we bade each other adieu and went on our way. As he went, someone asked him what he did for emergency lighting if his carbide lamp should fail.  "I've got my beady eye in my pocket" said he. Assuming that he was making a jocular reference to one of those very small torches sometimes carried as an emergency light, I thought nothing more about it until further along the crawl the stub of a candle lay on the surface of the mud.  "A B.D.I ." said Jerry Wright.  A Batch's Dependable Illuminant! said I, and we both agreed that, candles or carbide, naked flames are far superior to all other forms of illumination.

Final thought. - How long is it since you last read the words of H.E. Balch concerning lighting in caves?

Book Review

Death of an Owl by Glyn Carr.

This book is a fairly light detective novel centred around the Devil’s Kitchen and Cwm Idwal.  The story is about the apparently accidental death of a boy scout.  Sir Abercrombie Hawker (otherwise known as 'filthy') is the central character who, of course, solves the mystery.

The descriptions of the area are first-class, and the denouement which revolves round times and distances over the country is very intriguing.  Knowing the area fairly well, it shows a carefully thought out plot, and is quite interesting to follow.

From the list of titles given in the book, I assume that Mr. Carr has written several other books on similar lines e.g. "Death on Milestone Buttress".  As far as I can see, a very grave error has been made in the book, however.  In one place Sir Abercrombie remarks about the Pen-y-gwryd Hotel   "They keep the best draught beer in North Wales."  I am not an authority on beer by any means but I feel that there may be considerable protest at this remark, especially from the members of the B.E.C. who once arrived at the P.Y.G. on a Saturday evening only to find that they had no beer at all.

Despite this, however, I found this an enjoyable book for some light entertainment.

Joan Bennett.

Notices

Whitsun Trip to Yorkshire.

It may be possible to organize another Whitsun trip to Yorkshire, to do Lancaster Hole and Ease Gill.  Please get in touch with Brian Prewer.

Trip to the Continent.

A trip is suggested for the 20th August onwards.  Total cost will be about £30.  Please contact Sett.

Old B.B.'s.

Donations of old B.B.’s for the club library will be very welcome. Please get in touch with the librarian - Sybil.

Picture Frames and Photographs.

In spite of an earlier appeal, we still have not had any old picture frames sent in.  These are wanted for mounting photos for cutting up in the Belfry and the Hunters. Also, Mike Baker would like to receive any old photos of historical club interest for a club album he is compiling.

Caving Float for Wells Carnival.

It has been suggested by the W.C.C. that all caving clubs combine to provide a float for the next Wells Carnival.  Any members who are interested please get in touch with any committee member.

Member's Addresses.

The   following should be added to the Christmas list.

397       Mike Wheadon.2 Hubert Place, St. Thomas Street, Wells, Som.
450       George Pointing.10 Green Lane, Avonmouth, Bristol.
284       Alan Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-Super-Mare
272       Dave Hunt.   (Address to follow)

Item of interest

The Hut Warden has been seen to connect up an electric blanket to his bunk before retiring for the night.  We thought this was the end until the Hon. Sec came up and brought the Belfry an electric toaster.

Readers will probably have noticed that the Caving Log has not been printed in the B.B. for some time. This has, until now, been only due to the amount of other articles which have been sent in.  Unfortunately, his month, the new caving log, which luckily has only a few entries in it, cannot be found at present.  We are filling this space with another of John Ransome's series of useful knots.

Knots No. 3 The Rolling Hitch.

This is a knot, or hitch which can be most useful and can be used underground for tightening up a rope run when digging out a cave.  It can also be used as a belay.  The Hitch is started by laying the rope over the end as though starting a clove hitch. After this, bring the end up and over the same way again finishing up with a half hitch.

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The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle , Bristol
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept. C.A. Marriott, 7'8, Muller Rd, Eastville, Bristol.