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This index covers only the main articles that have been produced in the Belfry Bulletin.  It does not cover any news snippets, regular features such as “On the Hill”, which was mainly news of people or progress in digs and caves.

The first sheet shows the main categories and on which page to find the main topics.  The biggest topic is of course, caving, which has several sub-indexes, which are shown in italics.  Climbing also has sub-indexes.

The list only shows the Belfry Bulletin Number, as to show the page would not bee very helpful, as there are three separate issues for each Bulletin.  The first issue is the original, which had a various number of different sizes and fonts; the second issue is a reformatted issue, which is all on A4 size pages and uses a common font, which is Times New Roman at point 11; the third edition is the one on the web site, which has been taken from the second issue.  The second issue is also available if anybody wishes a copy of them.

At the back of the index are a few statistics, relating mainly to issue two, but gives a very good indication as the size of each Bulletin.

The next page show how each issue relates to its volume and year of publication.  A few discrepancies will be noted: -

  • Issue 341 was never issued.  It was produced and printed on one side of each sheet, but the stencils were then destroyed by the printing machine, when it broke down, and they were never retyped.
  • Issues 263 to 269 were skipped when the editor found he couldn’t count, so they do not exist.
  • Issue 48 was never completed or issued, but a copy has been found, and what there is has been reproduced.



After the first year of the Bulletin, the magazine became a monthly issue, with a few hiccoughs.  Where an issue was produced to cover two months, they were sometimes given two numbers, such as can be seen in volume 5 and volume 10.

Most of the early issues were only 4 to six pages long, only rather quarto of foolscap size of paper.  In 1960, number 143 was produced on a foolscap paper, but printed sideways so that the number of pages could be doubled but still keep the same number of sheets of paper.  This continued until 1968, when it reverted back to quarto.  In 1975, the Belfry Bulletin was then produced on A5 size of paper, maintaining a fair number of pages.  In 1977, it was decided to print the Belfry bulletin on A4 size paper, where it has remained today. In 1980, it was found to be difficult to maintain a monthly magazine, using A4 size paper, and from then onwards, the monthly issue became approximately two monthly, with a volume covering each year, until 2002, when even this numbering system went out of the window.  Nowadays, issues only come as and when.





Volume 1



Volume 2



Volume 3



Volume 4



Volume 5



Volume 6



Volume 7



Volume 8



Volume 9



Volume 10



Volume 11



Volume 12



Volume 13



Volume 14



Volume 15



Volume 16



Volume 17


179,180,181,182,183,184,185,186,187,188,189, 190

Volume 18


191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199,200,201,202

Volume 19



Volume 20



Volume 21



Volume 22



Volume 23



Volume 24



Volume 25



Volume 26



Volume 27



Volume 28



Volume 29



Volume 30



Volume 31



Volume 32



Volume 33



Volume 34



Volume 35



Volume 36



Volume 37



Volume 38



Volume 39



Volume 40



Volume 41



Volume 42



Volume 43



Volume 44



Volume 45



Volume 46



Volume 47



Volume 48



Volume 49



Volume 50



Volume 51



Volume 52



Volume 53



Volume 54




Annual General Meetings





























300; 308; 309
































344; 350
















374*; 375*;375




















* = This was for an EGM

Belfry Matters

Belfry Improvements                                   417

Belfry News                                               1; 2; 3; 13; 17; 23; 24

Building a Belfry                                        62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 145; 149; 150

Building for the Belfry                                 408-409

Belfry Rules                                              74

Exodus                                                     14

Do we want a New Belfry?                          223

Long Term Planning                                   225; 226; 227; 228; 229; 319; 321

Proposed Alterations                                  347; 383


A Chicken’s Guide to Caving                      481

Above Ground                                           6

After Glow/Luminescence                          171; 172; 173

An Unusual Cave Rescue                           363

Artic Norway                                             355

Are You on a Safe Lifeline                          326

Camping Underground                               77

Carslbad Caverns                                      284

Cave Access and Control                           309

Cave Art                                                   171

Cave Diving                                               186

Cave Flora                                                15

Cave Grading Severity                                320

Cave Photography                                     See page 9

Cave Surveying                                         See page 9

Cavern of Ludchurch (Staffs)                       166

Caving and Diving in Oman                         470; 477; 480

Caving in Africa                                         22

Caving in Aruba                                         468

Caving in Australia                                     500; 507; 510;

Caving in Austria                                       See page 9

Caving in Belgium                                      174; 231; 383

Caving in Britain                                        See page 10

Caving in Central Kentucky                        464

Caving in China                                         450; 468

Caving in Crete                                          292; 512

Caving in Cuba                                          464; 466

Caving in Eastern USA                              448

Caving in France                                       See page 18

Caving in Germany                                    22; 226; 500

Caving in Gibraltar                                     364; 380

Caving in Greece                                       230; 326; 360

Caving in Hungary                                     501

Caving in India                                           See page 19

Caving in Ireland                                        See page 19

Caving in Italy                                           354; 359; 369; 376-377; 383

Caving in Jamaica                                     448; 462; 478

Caving in Lebanon                                     190

Caving in Malaya                                       111; 118

Caving in Malta                                         302

Caving in Mexico                                       418; 433; 460; 483

Caving in Morocco                                     215

Caving in New Mexico                                511

Caving in New Zealand                               391-392434; 435; 450

Caving in Pakistan                                     497

Caving in Palestine                                    8

Caving in Salawesi                                    477; 478; 482

Caving in Saudi Arabia                               434

Caving in Saurland                                     64; 488

Caving in South Africa                                360; 390; 391-392; 393-394; 452

Caving in Spain                                         See page 19

Caving in Sweden                                      307

Caving in Switzerland                                 210; 211; 217; 241; 290; 371

Caving in Tasmania                                   515

Caving in Thailand                                     443; 445; 500

Caving in the Falkland Islands                    476

Caving in The Philippines                           448; 449; 452; 455; 456; 479; 483; 490; 499

Caving in Vietman                                     464; 498; 515

Caving in Yugoslavia                                  282; 462

Caving in Zanzibar                                     521

Caving on Bonaire                                     466

Caving with Yogi and Spacemen (USA)       481

Communication/Radio                                210; 247; 305; 393-394

Deneholes of Hangman’s Wood                  321; 323

Fish Pot (Cotswolds)                                 395-396

Forest of Dean                                          187

Geyser Stalagmites                                   178

Going Solo                                               427

Have you got the Right Equipment              61

High Flying Caver Drops a Bollock              455

How to Avoid Caving Trips                          364

How to Increase Membership                     78

Ice Formations in Caves                             190

If its Caving You Do                                   721

In Praise of Naked Lights                           167

Lava Caves of Lanzarote                            455

Lifelining, A Safe Approach                        359

Mammoth Cave                                         479

Otter Hole                                                 326

Passages Named Pooh                             506

Past Exploits of a (Not Very Bold) Caver     505

Pate Hole                                                 366

Pumacocha (Andes)                                  513; 515; 516; 521

Romania 1989                                           471

Route Severity Diagrams                            250; 251; 253; 255; 256; 261

Safety                                                      13

Safety in Cave Diving                                 453

Secondary Lighting                                    158

Slit Sided Stalactites                                 208

Some Continental Show Caves                   434

Some Thoughts on the Leader system        150

Sussex Underground                                 471

Tailor Made                                               340

Them Muddy ‘Oles                                    470

This Caving                                               73

Try Anything Once                                    81

Weil’s Disease                                          360

What’s in a Name                                     454

Why I am a Caver                                      174

Yorkshire Pot (Canada)                              416


Cave Photography

Cave Photography                                    157; 160; 220; 221; 260

Colour Photography in Caves                    69

Early Photographers and Their Work         460-407

Equipment for Cave Photography               299; 302

Exploring by Camera                                124

Multiple Flash Unit                                   240; 245

Starting Cave Photography                       39

Cave Surveying

A Brief Review on the Theory Available to the Cave Surveyor          253

Drawing of Accurate Cave Surveys                        256; 258

Electromagnetic Surveying                                   132

Further Thoughts on Surveying                             170

Grading Must Go                                                 297

Notes on Cave Surveying                                     86; 89; 94; 100

On Describing the Accuracy of a Cave Survey        255

Photographic Cave Surveying                               327

Some Comments on the Recent Surveying Articles           171

Some Thoughts on Cave Surveying Grading           169

Sunto Instrument Bracket and Maintenance           363

Surveys Past and Future                                      316

The Logistics of Cave Surveying                            203

Barometers in Caves                                           142; 149; 161; 257

Traverse Closure in Cave Surveying                       303; 304


Caving in Austria

Ahnenschacht                                         237; 239; 246; 261

Austria 1965                                            214

Austria 1981/82                                       412-415

Austria 1983                                            417; 423

Austria 1986                                            436;439

Austria 1990                                            457

Austria 1993                                            474

Caves in Upper Austria                             249

Dachstein                                               201; 366; 370; 379; 388

Dachstein 1986                                       436

Dachstein 1991                                       464

Dachstein 1994                                       475

Dachstein 1999                                       506

Dachstein 2000                                       508; 512

Eislufthohle                                             378

Exploration in the Dachstein area 1992-1997        503

Jager Hohle                                             436

New Austrian Discovery                            259

Raucher Week                                        222

The Exploration of C33                             510

Totes Girbirger                                         354; 366


Caving in Britain

Caving in Derbyshire                                See below

Caving in South West England                  See below

Caving in the Isle of Wight                        141

Caving in the Mendip Area                        See page 11

Caving in Scotland                                   See page 15

Caving in Wales                                       See page 16

Caving in Wiltshire                                   327; 340; 517

Caving in Yorkshire                                  See page 17


Caving in Derbyshire

B.E.C. Visit to Derbyshire                        99

Caving in Derbyshire                                91; 93; 100; 101-103

Club Trip to Derbyshire (1952)                   57

Club Trip to Derbyshire (1964)                   197

Darfar Pot                                               422

Happy Birthday Stan (Peak Cavern)           368

Into the Devil’s Arse                                 363

Knotlow Caverns                                      504

Peak Cavern Again                                  374

Pot Bottomer’s Delight                             166


Caving in South West England

A Cave at Newton Abbot                           123

Bakers Pit                                               35

Brixham Bone Cave                                 189

Caves at Berry Head                                435; 439

Caves at Branscombe                              506

Caves of Cornwall                                    9; 12; 26; 313

Kents Cavern                                           173

Pipers Hole (Scilly Isles)                          384-385

Plymouth Caves                                      6

Portland Assaulted                                  391-392

Pridhamsleigh Cave                                 8; 24; 356

Raiders Rift                                             140

Reeds Cavern                                          19

Rocky Acres Cave                                   459

Sea Caves at Studland                             401

Smugglers Hole                                       4

The Caves of Buckfastleigh                       23

Wareham’s Cave                                     406-407

Whiting Hole                                           478


Caving in the Mendip Area


Attborough Swallet

Avelines Hole

Badger Hole

Balch’s Hole

Banwell Caves

Bildon’s Mole Project

Bleadon and Hutton Caverns

Blockhead Slocker

Bog Hole

Bowery Corner Swallet

Burrington Coombe

Burrington Master Cave

Castle Farm Swallet

Caves on Brean Down

Caves on Bristol Waterworks Land

Charterhouse Cave


Cheddar Caves




166; 169; 170

372-373; 376-377





442; 453; 457

64; 307; 505


188; 195





A Brief History of Gough’s Caves

A Lost Cave Site at Cheddar Caves

Bigger, Better, Enormous Extensions

Blood Chits for Cheddar Caves

Cheddar River Cave

Coopers Hole

Cox’s Cave; Souvenir China

The 150th Anniversary of Cox’s Cave

The Enigmas of Cheddar Caves

Thixotropia Blues





434; 444

388-389; 39-392





Christmas Hole

Contour Cavern

Cross Swallet

Crystal Pot

Diggers Corner

East Twin Swallet








Eastwater Cavern

A New System in Eastwater Cavern

Boulder Chamber and Ifold’s Series

Digging Burnished Passage

Eastwater Cavern

Flooding Incident

History of Terminal Rift Digging

History off Various Digs

Life, The Universe and Eastwater

Mellow Digs & Russian Womans Hands

Morton’s Pot Dig

Morton’s Pot – The Final Solution

Radio Location in Eastwater

Trial ands Tribulations of Eastwater

West End Series

White Elephant Breeding Grounds











475; 516




420; 438; 445


Elm Cave

Emborough swallet

Fairy Cave Area

Fernhill Cave

Five Buddles Sink



Halloween Rift

Hazelnut Swallet

Heale Farm Cave

Henry’s Hole

Hillgrove Water Tracing

Honeymeade Hole

Hunter’s Hole


Hunter’s Lodge Inn Sink


137; 238

143; 296; 503; 505; 506


481; 494; 495; 500; 501


19; 77; 226

416; 419






127; 240; 514


As Hunter’s Lodge Inn Sink articles are a story of continuing exploration, they are in date order.


Last Laugh

Dis Cam

Following the Stream

The Good and Bad News

Beyond the Drip Tray Sump

Broon Ale Boulevard

Dives and Climbs

Hair of the Dog Sump

Pushing the Streamway

Pushing the Barsteward & Filming

Hangover Hill and Stillage Sump

Summer Season at Stillage Sump

Digging Update

Below Pewter Pot
















Ife Hole

Jill’s Cave

Lamb Leer

Lionel’s Hole

Little Crapnell

Lodmore Hole


Lost Caves of Mendip, The

Loxton Cavern Rediscovered

Maesbury Swallet

Manor Farm

Nine Barrows Swallet

North Hill Swallet

On the Naming of Caves

Ore’s Close, Its cave and Mines

Peak’s Hole

Pen Park Hole

Priddy Green Sink

Redcliffe Caves

Reservoir Hole

Reynold’s Rift

Rhino Rift

Rocket Drop Cave

Rose Cottage Cave




194; 476

361; 390



53; 54; 484




312; 358; 388-389; 401

167; 232; 238






484; 195; 502; 503

24; 25; 31; 76



311; 482; 481; 502


522; 523

Saint Cuthbert’s Swallet

A Psychological Experiment

Account of Recent Activity (1958)

Annexe Chamber

Bug Hunting in Cuthbert’s

Carbon Dioxide Concentrations in the Air

Cuthbert’s Early Map

Cuthbert’s Geology

Cuthbert’s Rescue

Cuthbert’s Revisited

Cuthbert’s Two

Dig in Gour Rift, The


Diving Operation

Dragged from St. Cuthbert’s

Fixed Tackle in St. Cuthbert’s

Formations in Cuthbert’s

Further Thoughts on St. Cuthbert’s

Hanging Chamber

Highways and Byways if Cuthbert’s

Incident 24/1/1960

Laddering St. Cuthbert’s

Lake Chamber

Lead Sediments in St. Cuthbert’s

Long Chamber Extension

Marble Pot

Maypole Series

On a Trip on a Trip?

On Crossing the Gower Fault

Plantation Stream

Practice Rescues

Report of a New Discovery (1962)

Return of the Natives

September Series

Sequence of Development of Cuthbert’s

St. Cuthbert’s - Young or Old

St. Cuthbert’s III

St. Cuthbert’s Report

Stream Feeding into Cuthbert’s

Sump II.  Where do we go from here

Surveying in Cuthbert’s

Swimming in St. Cuthbert’s

Tourist Routes

Towards Wookey Hole

Uranium Dating of St. Cuthbert’s

Waster Temperatures

Water into Cuthbert’s

Water Tracing

Why I’m Glad I’m Thin









216; 226


261; 274; 275

296; 315

238; 254





346; 366

125; 410-411

190; 209










166; 167

184; 195; 197; 198; 207; 211; 242; 248; 404-405



135; 160

200; 20



114; 116

482; 496


145; 146; 227



241; 241


118; 119; 120; 226


29; 296


Saint George’s Cave


Sandford Gulf

Scramble Swallet

Second Tier Cave

Shatter Hole

Sidcot Swallet

Sludge Pit

Snake Pit

Some Caves near Bristol

Stewart’s Hole




Stock House Shaft






254; 261; 505

240; 305

481; 424







As Stock House Shaft articles are a story of continuing exploration, they are in date order.

Another Lost Cave Rediscovered

A Small Cave Becomes a Large  Mine

A Winter’s Tale

The Spring Offensive

Summer Madness

Winter Draws On

Towards the Hundredth Ton

Digging into History

The Breakthrough



504; 505








Stoke Lane Slocker


50 Years a 20

A Serious Warning

Beyond Cairn Chamber

Can You Find a Better Hole?

Chrococcus Turgidus



New Discoveries

Some Interesting Theories









182; 293


Swildons Hole


A Broadcast

Before the Flood


Diving to Excess

Exploration of the Nether Regions

Exploring Swildons Hole

Free Diving to Swildons 9

Long Round Trip

My First Caving Trip


Stereoscopic Survey

Sump 12

Swildons Four

Swildons goes to Wookey

Swildons in Flood

Swildons Revisited

Vicarage Passage










196; 210


393-394; 495

115; 131





Tankards Hole

Thrupe Lane Swallet

Twin Titty Hole

Tynings Barrow Swallet

Upper Flood Swallet

Viaduct Sink

Waldegrave Swallet

Waterlip Quarry Cave


120; 134; 135

199; 369; 458; 516; 517


347; 360; 416


377-378; 381



White Pit


The Waste of Thyme


St. Alactite’s Hall

Foul Air in Cave Digs

Welsh’s Green Swallet

Prophecy Pot Extensions

As White Pit articles are a story of continuing exploration, they are in date order.







Wigmore Swallet

As Wigmore Swallet articles are a story of continuing exploration, they are in date order.


Success to Bolde Myners

Christmas at Wigmore

End of Part One


Revisited Some Further Thoughts

Still More about Wigmore

Revisited Again

Excavation and Exploration

Digging News

Notes of Survey


Only Another 5.75 Miles to Cheddar

Death Throes

Upstream Sump 3 Extension
















Windsor Hill Swallet

Withybrook Swallet


Wookey Hole


7; 8; 318; 328

65 Years of Diving

Cam Valley Passage

Dye Tracing

Exploration 23 – 25

Free Diving to Nine

Recent Exploration (1996)

Rescue at Wookey

Stopped by Mud


Up the Wadi

Water Studies

Where to in Wookey

Wookey 1997











501; 504




Caving in Scotland

A couple of Small Caves in Scotland         465

A Fortean Experience in Assynt                492

Annual Dinner Rescue                              499

Assynt Again in August                            469

Assynt Antics                                         460

Assynt Descents                                     465

Assynt in October                                    500

Elphin Epics                                            468

Highland Fling                                         455

Just Another Swift Half                             481

Much Wittering on the Moors                    504

New Discoveries in Cnoc Nan Uamh          475

Rob Roy’s Cave                                       148

Scotland (1998)                                       497

Some Scottish Caves                               154

Surveying on Staffa                                  523

Sutherland (1978)                                    246

Ten go Caving in Sutherland                      466

Tree Hole                                                460

Uamha a’ Bhrisdedh – Duile & Tree Hole    468


Caving in Wales


A Caving meet in South Wales

A New Cave Near Brecon

Agen Allwedd

Beneath Llangattwg

Callan Pot

Caving in Mynydd Ddu

Caving in North Wales

Caving in South Wales

Caving on the Gower

Ceirog Caves



184; 219; 236; 443; 445




10; 32; 61; 153

117; 121; 242



Club Trip to South Wales

Cwm Dwr





219; 236; 282; 391-392; 517


Daren Cilau


Daren Cilau Extension – The Story so Far

Daren Cilau

Extension on Llangattock Mountain

Nine Days of Hard Rock Hospitality

Daren on the Move

Progress in the Far reaches of Daren Cilau

First Impressions

Unfinished Business in Daren Cilau

The B.E.C. in Daren Cilau in 2004

As Daren Cilau articles are a story of continuing exploration, they are in date order.


434; 435; 437; 440








Digging in the Clydach Gorge

Gower – Pays des Caverns

Llangattwg Caves Update (1988)

Little Neath River Cave

Llethrid Cave


New Caves at Ystradfeltte

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Ogof Hasp Alyn

Ogof Rhyd Sych

Pant Pawr Pothole


Rock and Fountain

South Pembrokeshire

Tunnel Cave

Twll Gwyn Oer

Whitsun in Pembroke




262; 397

28; 193



39; 120; 239; 247; 253; 257





356; 367






Caving in Yorkshire

A No Name Article                                   364

A Visit to North Pennine in Autumn           87

All to Pot                                                318

B.E.C. Expedition to Yorkshire (1978)       361

Back Door to White Scar                          393-394

Beginners (and Friends)                           335

Birks Fell                                                314

Black Shiver – Attempt                             255

Black Shiver – Success                           260

Car Pot                                                   273

Caving in the Raw                                    461

Connecting Pippikin to Lancaster              372-373

Diccan/Alum Through Trip                         328

Easter 1966                                            218

Gaping Gill                                              225; 314; 517; 523

Ireby Fell Cavern                                      207

Juniper Gulf                                             252; 356

Langstroth Pot                                         309; 314

Large Pot                                                417

Link Pot                                                  384-385

Lost Johns New Roof Traverse                  275

Meregill                                                   254

New Finds in Valley Entrance                   339

New Year, Caving in the Dales                  371

Northern Weekend                                   337

Notts Pot                                                261

Penyghent Pot                                        250; 278

Pippikin Pot                                            344; 358

Potholing in Yorkshire                              105

Providence Pot to Dow Cave                     401

Shafts and All That                                  274

Simpson to Swinsto Non-exchange           248

Some Lesser Yorkshire Caves                  295

Straws Two Metres Long                          517

Stream Passage Pot                                262

Swinsto at Last                                       499

Swinsto Hole                                           307

Swinsto/Kingsdale                                   275

Tatum Wife Hole                                      324

The Descent of King Pot                           364

The Mohole                                             333

The Northern Caving Scene                       274

The S.M.D.T. in Yorkshire                        304

There Smaller Caves of Wharfdale             300

Trip to Upper Easgill                                 64

Whitsun in Yorkshire (1962)                      161

Whitsun in Yorkshire (1966)                      221

Whitsun in Yorkshire (1976)                      343

Whitsun in Yorkshire (1978)                      365

Yorkshire                                                281; 294; 300; 328; 380


Caving in France

A Few Notes on French Caves                  88

Aven d’Orgnac                                         36

B.E.C. at P.S.M.                                     323

B.E.C. Summer Holidays in the Pyrenees  462

Bel Espoir – Dia Traverse                         404-405

Berger 1985                                            433

Berger 1985 – Getting There                     432

Buckets and Pails in the Ardeche             404-405

Causse du Gramat, Easter (1999)             503

Cave Diving in the Dordogne                      512

Cave Paintings of Le Portal                       281

Caves in the Pyrenees – Grotte de Gargas 31

Caves in the Pyrenees – Niaux                 30

Caving in France                                      254

Caving in the Lot                                      478

Completely Bergered?                              427

Diving Record in the Dordogne                  509

Dordogne (1989)                                      454

Dordogne (1990)                                      462

Dordogne Revisited                                  484

Expedition Ariege                                    261

France (1981)                                          402-403

France (1983)                                          440

French Caving Techniques                        22

From Vercours Plateau to Ardeche Gorge  406-407

Going to the Caves                                  512

Gouffre de Corbeaux                                157

Gouffre de la Pierre St. Martin                   249

Gouffre of Coume Ferrat                           276

Grotte de Moulin Maquis                          471

L’Aven Grotte de Marzell                          42

La Cave and Padirac                                288

Lascaux II, Montignac, Brive                     446

Le Grand Souce                                      504

Le Grotte de Favot                                   43

Le Grotte du Bournillon                             41

Maypole Dance                                       325

More French Show Caves                         442

Notes on a Caving Trip to France               17

P.S.M. (1975)                                          335

Pyrenees (1974)                                      330

Show Caving in the Ardeche                     437

Tanne de Bel Espoir - Diau                       511

The Fives Caves Show                             290

The Great Cave of Chevre-Eglise               290

The Mines of Le Saut, Mribel                    495

The Subterranean River of Brambiau          33

The Voyage of the “Calypso”, Dordogne     452

Trip to the Berger                                     291

Underground Laboratories of Moulis           190

Vercours, South West France                   388-389


Caving in India

Meghalaya (1994)                                    476

Meghalaya (1997)                                    494

Meghalaya (1998)                                    496

Meghalaya (1998)                                    467

Meghalaya (1998)                                    468

Meghalaya (1999)                                    501

Meghalaya (2000)                                    507

Meghalaya (2002)                                    514

Meghalaya (2003)                                    516

Meghalaya (2004)                                    519

India’s Third longest Cave                         513

Meghalaya (2005)                                    522


Caving in Ireland

Down The Thurlough                                 419

Ireland (1954)                                          85

Ireland (1967)                                          232

Ireland (1975)                                          239

Ireland (1986)                                          425

Ireland (1994)                                          474

Poll Na G Ceim                                       435

Pollaraftra                                               209

Sleepless in a Skoda                               499

Stretching Time in County Clare                410-412

Tales from County Cork                            459

The Lads in Ireland (1984-1986)                 451

Trip to Clare (1985)                                  432

Trip to Clare (1986)                                  434

Trip to County Clare (1995)                       479


Caving in Spain

A Visit to la Cueva de Nerja                      156

Badalona                                                474

BU56 (1991)                                            466

Casteret’s Ice Cave                                  463

Shrimpbones, Mongooses & Porcupines    509

Sima G.E.S.M.                                        463

Spain (1962)                                            168

Spanish for Beginners                              453

Systema Cueto – Coventoso- Cuvera         511

The Grand Tour – Caving Style                  365

Tito Bustillo – Northern Spain                    404-405



4,000's in Winter, The                              282

A Climb on Dartmoor                                109

A Day in Letterewe Forest                        290

A New Climb at Black Rock Quarry           301

A Rope Ladder for a Crevasse Rescue       154

A Trip to Spitsbergen                               100

Along the Cumbrian Way                          423

Analysis of an Accident                            240

Are Rock Climbers Lazy                           64

Austrian Tyrol                                          62

Balatious                                                501

Black Mountains, The                              65

Bluebell Quarry Climbs                             430

BMC Saga                                              355

British West Indies                                  19

Caerfai SW Face 1974                             329

Changabang                                            362

Cheddar                                                  31

Climbing???????                                     499

Climbing for the Over 40's                         468

Climbing Huts in Wales                            107

Climbing in 1971-1972                              295

Climbing in Cornwall                                 172; 298

Climbing in SE England                            22; 194

Dewar Stones                                          66

Don't Eat Yellow Snow                             362

Easter 1971 in Scotland                           289

Easter in Cornwall                                    147

Edward Whymper                                    498

Enchanted Mountain, the                          273

Fred Davies Forty?                                   313

In the Brecon Beacons                             292

In the Cuillins                                          281

Islands and Highlands                              108

Jane, Spain, Plane                                   458

Just Like Old Times                                 109

Lake District                                            See page 21

Living in Style                                          271

Loch Coruisle                                          243

Losing a Mountain                                   94

Mount Cameroon                                     38

Near Massacre at Glen Coe                      99

Neouvielle                                               311

North Wales                                            See page 21

On Climbing 'Victis'                                  262

On the Ice Factor                                     523

Open Air Caving                                       306

Otzatler Alpen and Bernina                       247

Peak District                                           3

Pembrokeshire                                        197

Personal reflections on Climbing               324

Rescue in Langdale                                 242

Scotland                                                 242

Search for Pant-y-Crac                             510

Simonds Yat                                           196

Skiing on Blackdown                                190

Ski Mountaineering                                  296

Skye                                                      91; 97; 209

Snow and Ice in Scotland                         114

Snowdon at Sunrise                                 106

Some Climbing Snippets                          458

Some Peaks in the NW Highlands            352

Static in the Cairngorms                           399

Swanage                                                 251

Switzerland 1975                                     338

Torridon '70                                             283

Utopia on Mendip                                     251

Weekend on the Dewerstone                    184

Why go to Iceland                                    76


Climbing in Lake District

A Dryish Easter in the Lakes                    352

A long Weekend in Langdale                    291

A Month in the Cumbrian Mountains          154

A Week in the Lakes (1953)                     73

A Week in the Lakes (1975)                     328

Another Menace Episode                         20

Buttermere Fells                                      326

Christmas (1950)                                     43

Christmas (1951)                                     53

Faith and Friction                                    16

Surrey North Independent Transport to the Lake District   398-399


Climbing in North Wales

A New Way Off Yr Elen                            152

Another Mighty Saga                               41

Blaenant Farm                                        44

Climbing in November                              201

Dicing in North Wales                              35

High Camp on Crib-y-Ddysgl                     83

In Search of Snow                                   123

Lliwedd                                                   42

Occasional Writings of the Climbing Section       283

Racing in North Wales                             129

Running an Instructional Course                98

Sell’s Baptism                                         237

Snow and Ice in North Wales                    251

Snow Ridge Climb                                   43

Snowdonia in January                              294

The Great Gully of Craig-yr-Isfa                 131

The Years Climbing (1965)                       214

Two Cliffs in Llanberis                              80

Weekend in North Wales                         110; 122; 152; 154; 178; 182; 189; 191; 192; 198; 199; 280; 281; 300; 326; 330

Whitsun (1950)                                        37

Yet Another North Wales Trip                   304

Geology and Archaeology

Archaeology                                            11; 128; 159; 161; 163; 165

Rocks in South America                          10

Bones in Stoke Lane                               40

Belfry Site                                               40; 42; 43

Cadbury Camp                                        139

Dating of Archaeological Specimens         64

Palaeolithic Art at Naiux                           270

Torridon Sandstone                                  135



A Night to Remember                              504

A statistical History of the B.E.C.             521

BB 300                                                   311

Belfry in 1949, The                                   502

Christmas 1962                                       302

Early days                                              429

From the Past                                         519

Goatchurch                                             340

Growth of the BEC                                   349; 350; 351; 352; 353; 354

History of the BB                                     290

History of the BEC                                   3; 27; 147; 237; 293

The Rise & fall of B.E.C. membership        522

True Tales from History                            343



A Season of Goodwill                               261

A tale of Two Caving Huts                         326

Alternate Glossary of Caving Terms           476

An Imaginary Tale                                    443

Annual Report of the B.B.L.H. & S.R.G.    280; 302; 314

Beer Quotes                                           494

Belfry Birds                                             61

Digging for Cheese                                  523

Excuses Reasons for not Going Caving     178

Fauna Around the Belfry                           450

Fish of Ffynnon Ddu                                 76

Funny Expressions                                  498

Ghost of Rookham Hill, The                      178

Gwyn & Hilary’s Grot Caving Menu            500

Historic Occasions                                  248

Isis                                                         470

Last Tour of Mendip                                 290

Letters to/from the Duke of Mendip            71; 72; 81; 84; 91

More Belfry Birds                                     63

Nicknames                                             504

Pandemonium on Seutra Hill                    280

Rest Assures                                          345

The Coming of the Mark III                        337

Trapped in a Chair                                   190

Weegee Goes West                                290

Words of Little Wisdom                            499

Wot I Did in mi Sumurr Holeesaz              486


List of Members

List of Members 1948                              10;11;12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18

List of Members 1949                              22;23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29

List of Members 1950                              34;35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 42

List of Members 1956                              108

List of Members 1957                              119

List of Members 1958                              131; 132

List of Members 1959                              142

List of Members 1960                              154

List of Members 1961                              16

List of Members 1962                              178

List of Members 1963                              190

List of Members 1964                              201

List of Members 1966                              225

List of Members 1967                              236

List of Members 1968                              247

List of Members 1969                              259

List of Members 1970                              279

List of Members 1971                              289

List of Members 1972                              301

List of Members 1973                              313

List of Members 1974                              325

List of Members 1975                              336

List of Members 1976                              344

List of Members 1977                              255

List of Members 1978                              367

List of Members 1979                              379

List of Members 1980                              382; 391-392

List of Members 1981                              395-396

List of Members 1982                              406-407; 412-415

List of Members 1983                              None

List of Members 1984                              None

List of Members 1985                              431

List of Members 1986                              437

List of Members 1987                              442

List of Members 1988                              447

List of Members 1989                              452

List of Members 1990                              457

List of Members 1991                              None

List of Members 1992                              463

List of Members 1993                              467

List of Members 1994                              476

List of Members 1995                              481

List of Members 1996                              None

List of Members 1997                              491

List of Members 1998                              495; 498

List of Members 1999                              493


Mendip Rescue Organisation Matters

Annual MRO Report                                 28; 55; 69; 220; 361; 372-373; 384-385; 408-409; 410-411; 423; 454; 459

Fatal Accident in Wookey                        21

Longwood Tragedy                                   433

Night we Heard the Wild Goose Cry          147

Practice Rescue in Stoke Lane                 301

Practice Rescue in Goatchurch                367

Rescue in Two Caves                               157

Watch That Stal                                      294



Alderley Edge Copper Mines                    404-405

Bathstone Mines                                     419

Box Mines                                              364

Chalk Mine (Herts)                                   11; 12

Chilham Stone Mine                                327

Coombe Martin Mines                              130

Coniston Copper Mines                            391-392

Cuthbert’s Leadworks                              250

Dan-y-Craig Quarry                                  426

Derelict Lead Mine in Swaledale               44

Desilverisation of Mendip Lead                  111; 112

Eastwood Manor Mines                            504

Finedon Iron Stone Mines                         465

Geever Mine                                            408-409

Holly Bush Shaft, Shipham                       518

Lead Mining Methods                               348

Lynford Mines, Sandford                           517

Magpie Mine                                           39; 243

Mendip Mining                                         15; 113; 114; 117; 272; 504; 505

Mersham’s Underground Stone Quarries    422

Mines of the Harptree Area                       107; 467; 506; 510

Mine Shafts and Dangers                         249

Mine Sites on Churchill Knowle                 520

Mining a Century Ago                              421

Ochre Mines at Wets Horrington               372-373

Risca Lead Mine                                     437

Roman Mine                                           206; 214

Romano-British Lead Smelting at Priddy    70

Rookham Wood Mine Shaft                      240

Sandstone Mines in West Sussex            454

Singing River Mine                                   484

Smitham Chimney                                   301

Star Mines                                              376-377

Stock Hill Mine                                        461; 467

Tales of Chiltern Chalk Mines                   360

Tales of Talking Trees                              427

Tin Mining in Cornwall                              121; 122

Virgin Islands Copper mines                     440



Stereoscopic  Photography                         115; 116

Summary of the Constitution                       255

Summer 1981 in the Alps                            402-403

Supping Tups Arse in Dentdale                    492

SW Africa and Fish River Canyon                421

Swiss Cave Congress                                 472

Synthetic Ropes for Caving                         249

Tackle Story                                              304

The Final Word on F and Bloody M              511

There's This Computer                                337

This or That?                                              146

Tinkering Around Perthshire                        279

Tourists Caving Abroad, A                           416

Towards a National Council?                       219

Trappiste as Newts                                     382

Travels in Africa                                          329; 330

Travels in America                                      506; 508; 510

Travels with a Test Tube                              298; 308

Under England's Mountains Green               459

Under the Ice                                             428

Up the Creek                                             320

Victoria Falls                                             214

Vimy Ridge                                                46

Voting Methods                                          190

Wansdyke                                                 100

Warehouse, Gloucester, The                       482

Waterfall                                                    253

Webbing Knot                                            305

Weak Karabiners                                       99

Weekend in the Chilterns                            349

Welsh Rarebit                                            75

West Virginia 1988                                     445

What Happened to the Mammoth?               178

What the Well Dressed Caver Should Wear  92

What to do With Your Oldhams                   357

Whimsey in Wales                                     119

Why Not Come Caving?                              107

Why Ski in the Pyrenees                            363

Wig in Caving. The                                     522

Wildlife Countryside Act 1982                      416

William Eggy-Belch                                    523

Winter Motoring in the Alps                         80

Wookey Hole Inscriptions                           504

Yellowstone to Florida                                406-407



Bryan Ellis                                              503

Dan and Stella Hassell                             490

Dave Yeandle                                          514

Don Coase                                              121

Graham Balcombe                                   507

H.E. Balch                                              125

Jock Orr                                                 518

John Stafford                                           513

Luke Devenish                                         473

Oliver Lloyd                                             431

Robert Davies                                          467; 498

Royston Bennett                                     451

Sago and Tich                                         508



A B.E.C. Type Cave Report                       190

A Letter of Lamentation                             64

A Little Too Keene!                                   190

A Pressing Point                                      309

A Son of Mendip                                       481

Bats of Bristol's Belfry                               150

Beerwulf                                                   131

Bender                                                     33

Biffo                                                         401

Butcombe Blues, The                                473; 502

Cangi                                                       122

Castle on the Hill                                      317

Caver, O Caver                                         163

Caving Formulae                                       230

Chaucer's Prologue                                   214

County Councils                                       313

Diving                                                      14

Down Swildons Hole                                 473

Dreadful Ditties                                         508

Dry Humour                                              38

Experimentation                                       125

Exploring Bravely Underground                   5

Gazzum's Brain Child                                90

Gentle Dizzie                                           41

Hill in Bat                                                 477

Hut Wardens Report 1994-95                     480

Immortal Statement, The                           67

In Olden Days                                          52

Irish Easter                                              419

Janet's Last Monroe                                  496

Memoirs of Mendip in the Forties               517

Motorbikes                                               19

Mystery, The                                            5

Nigel's Dirty Weekend                               456

O for a Skylark                                         64

Ode to a Digging Bat                                 46

On the Bog                                              329

Our Belfry on the Hill                                 4

Poem                                                      5; 146

Poem by William Browne (1590)                13

Poet's Corner                                           115

Pome                                                      44

Practice Rescue in St. Cuthbert's 1981       404-405

Pre Speleode                                           7

Priddy Green Song, The                            499

Rubaiyat of Omar 'Obbs, The                     119

Ruthless Rhymes for Callous Cavers          65

Saint Cuthbert and the Yorkies                  454

Shepton Mallet Caving Club                       118

Snaffle-plate Sonnet                                  35

Some People                                           71

Sonnets                                                   94; 131; 132; 133; 134; 136; 137

Speleode by Snab                                    462

Tale of the Wessex Cattle Grid                  416

Thoughts of a Claustrophobic Mum             181

Thoughts of Chairman Sid, The                  237

Triple Trouble in the Double Troubles          390

Waldegrave Swallet                                   509

Weathers                                                 42

Whatever is Worth Doing with Worthwords  395-396

Who?                                                      154

Words of Little Wisdom                             499

Wot No Cookies                                       462

You Have Had Your Wordsworth                66


Review Of Books

1967 Expedition to the Gouffre Berger            247

About Caves                                                261

British Caving                                               80

Cave Surveying                                             226

Caves and Cave Diving                                  113

Caves and Caving                                         241

Caves and Tunnels in SE England                  471

Caves of Mendip, The                                    114

Caves of NW Clare                                       255

Caves of South Wales                                   372-373

Caves of the Great Hunters, The                    119

Caves of Wales and the Marches                   238

Caving and Potholing                                    401

Caving Clubs of Mendip, The                          119

Darkness Under the Earth                             82

Death of an Owl                                            167

Doolin - St. Catherine's Caves                        214

Four Hundred Centuries of Cave Art                74

Great Storm and Floods of 1968, The             279

International Expedition to the Goufre Berger   119

Kent and East Sussex Underground               471

Limestone and Caves of NW England             316

Mendip Karts Hydrology Research Project      239

Mendip Underground                                     440

My Caves by Casteret                                   10

Northern Caves Vol. 5                                   358

One Thousand Metres Down                          119

Paeolithic Cave Art                                       261

Penguin Parade                                            33

Pennine Underground                                    7

Pioneer Under the Mendips                           262

Plume of Smoke, The                                   62

Potholing Under the Northern Pennines          198

Quarrying in Somerset                                  293

Rivers of London                                           192

Shropshire Mining Annual and Year Book       242

Speleological Yearbook & Diary, The              202

SWETC Expedition to Norway                       355

Underground Adventure                                 59; 164

Vertical Caving                                             378

Volcanoes in History                                     197

Walks in Limestone Country                          290



A Carbide Lamp Totally Failed                  77

A Local Bloke from Rodney Stoke             164

A Winter's Tale                                        503

Amalgamation Song, The                         498

At Our Belfry on the Hill                           501

BEC Song, The                                       150; 494; 495

BEC Thrutching Song, The                       76

Belfry Benaviora                                      8

Belfry Boy, The                                       358; 481

Beneath the Boozer                                 518

Bottom that Hole                                     485

Boulder Have a Crunch on Me                   498

Bowery Corner Song                                448

Boys of the Hill, The                                471; 518

Complete Caver, The                                461

Diggers Song, The                                   305; 410-411; 499

Diving                                                     14

Droves of Priddy, The                               469

Exploration Club Song, The                      493

Golden Jubilee of the BEC                        432

Goon's 40 Years                                      501

Heeland Cavers                                       500

If it's Caving you will Go                            68

John Riley                                               87

Mountaineer's Duet, the                           76

My Mate He is a Caver                             470

Novice Rap, The                                      472

Ode to a Beeza                                       12

Ode to Black Betty                                  500

Ode to Vince on his Geburstag                 500

Song of a Speleo-biologist                        18

Song of the CCPS                                   104; 471

Steigl                                                     474; 475

Tankard Hole Song                                  497

There is a Tavern in the Town                    99

We are the Exploration Club                     273

Wee Caver Wha' Carn Fae Fife, The          500

Wessex Cave Club Hymn                         496

Young Mendip Caver, The                         358; 508


Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston s Mare, Somerset.
Hut Warden: P.Townsend, 154 Syvlia Avenue, Bristol 3.
EDITOR:  D.J. Irwin. 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.

Important New Find At Fairy Cave - Shatter Hole or Balch III

A 1,200ft. long system has been found in Fairy Cave Quarry.  The entrance lies at the bottom of the southern face of the quarry, to the right of the short system found early last year known as Balch extension. The new cave has been called Shatter Hole because of the extensive blast damage to be seen in the first two hundred feet of the cave.

Entry is fairly restricted and is controlled by the Cerberus Spel. Society.  Indemnity forms have to be signed and returned to Brian Prewer before going into the cave system.  The forms are available from Alan Thomas.  Members wishing to visit the cave are invited to write or contact Dave Irwin, 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3, as soon as possible in order that arrangements can be made to get as many people down the cave before blasting in the quarry starts again.  At the moment Bob Whittaker, Hon. Sec. of the C.S.S. has held an injunction against further blasting until the cave has been surveyed for the Avon River Authority; this is thought to be only about three months.  The cave was found on the Tuesday after Easter.  The formations are magnificent and anyone interested in cave photography should have a heyday in there.  A more detailed article will appear in the June B.B.

Address Changes

Alan Williams, 34 Cross Ways, Roggiett, Newport, Mon.
Rowan Brown, 24 Cranleigh Gardens, Luton, Beds.
Stephan Miller, 27 Walnut Way, South Ruislip, Middx.  (new member).
A (Rusty) Rushton, Rectification Squadron, A.S.F., R.A.F. Coningsby, Lincs.
Mr & Mrs B.C. Tilbury, 256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks.
G. Watts, 23A Hampton Park, Redland, Bristol 6.
Miss S. Paul, 21 Lovelace Road, Surbiton, Surrey.


SOME SUBS ARE STILL OUTSTANDING – SEND IT TO Bob Bagshaw2, 699 Wells Road, Bristol 4.  Remember it’s 25/- and was due on 31st Jan. 1969.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund

There was one application for the Ian Dear Fund this year, in fact the first member to apply, and was granted a sum of £10 towards his costs to visit the Ahnenschacht this year. One of the requirements, under the rules drawn up at the 1965 Annual General Meeting, was that he should submit a report to the Club of his activities – so, Dave Yendle, get your pen ready for the September B.B.


Cuthbert’s Round Up

By Dave Irwin

Although not much seems to be going on in St. Cuthbert’s at the moment, a great deal of plodding work is being carried out.  It is hoped to summarise what in fact is taking place by those mid-week cavers.

Dining Room Dig

For nearly a year the Dining Room Dig has been continually worked by a team, of up to twelve people, from the B.E.C.; S.M.C.C. and Bath University C.C. resulting in the dig being pushed to a length of 150ft.; most of it having been dug out except for a short breakthrough into open passage last October of some 30 odd feet.


FIGURE 1.  Dining Room Dig relative to the adjoining parts of the cave.

based on MSC Accurate Outline Plan (C.R.G. Grade 6D) by D.J. Irwin.

Full details of Gour Hall area and Rabbit Warren published in B.E.C. Caving Report No. 13 parts E & F.

The dig was started by ‘Mo’ Marriott and others in 1962 and this digging continued at regular intervals during the 1962/63 winter when the passage was opened up as large as could be achieved with the size of the party.  Open air space was followed for nearly 20ft. until a small chamber was entered; a chamber just large enough to accommodate three people.  It had been hoped that the passage direction would have continued in the same direction as the start of the dig, that is at right angles to the Gour-Lake fault, so as to achieve the maximum distance away from the cave boundary.  At first sight this did not appear to happen at the ‘T’ Junction (the name commonly used for the chamber) as the direction appeared to be running parallel with the main fault.  Work stopped as a result around mid-1963 largely due to the work being carried out in the Long Chamber area.  The sort out of the most complicated area of the St. Cuthbert’s - Long Chamber and Coral area – tool several years to work out and the result was published in the B.E.C. Caving Report No.11 published in 1965.

Early in 1966 an arch was located by Andy MacGregor that led to Dave Irwin and Pete Hudson to start work again the following weekend.  A short spell of digging in a tight ‘rabbit burrow’ showed in fact that the arch was the roof of quite a large passage – although completely choked – running in the right direction that had been hoped for in the earlier series of digs.  The next weekend saw a large party in the cave, practising for the International Week at the Raucherkar System in Austria where it would be necessary to sleep in the cave during the big push. A team of B.E.C. members with their camping gear set up in Cerberus Hall split up to carry out various jobs.  One team continued digging at the Dining Room site and broke through into a 10ft. long, steeply ascending passage with a high 6” high air space continuing for at least another 20ft.  At the end the passage appeared to close down or turn to the right – until a trench had been dug to the end no-one could tell what happened. Compass readings were taken at the site and it appeared that the passage was continuing in the direction that it was hoped to go; though in the final survey carried out by the writer in 1969 there was a considerable swing back to the fault; this was due to the line of the small trench passing diagonally across the true direction of the passage. Digging continued at rather infrequent intervals over the next two years but during that time the diggers had reached the point at the end of the open section and found that the air space continued although the airspace fell from about 15” to 6”.  Thus encouraged digging began in earnest in May 1968 though one or two trips has taken place during the previous March and April.  Regular digging trips followed at weekend and on Tuesday evenings.  The Tuesday evening digs are still continuing and if the reader is free on this evening they are welcome to come along to meet at the Belfry at 6.45pm for a 7.00pm descent to the dig.

The 1968-69 digging evenings have open up the existing passage to an easy working size, though the passage is rather constricted in places where the passages ‘close-in’. When the passage has been opened as far as the ‘Arch’ the writer noticed that the rock pendants showed that the water had entered the ‘Arch’ area from all directions and a determined effort, lasting several weeks, drove the floor level down for some eight feet only to find the ‘way on’ trended back towards the line of the Gour-Lake fault.  At the same time ‘spare’ diggers were pushing forwards along the top section beyond the ‘Arch’.  During October a break through was made and a 30ft. extension made to the length of the dig in the upper passage.  The new length of passage gave the necessary incentive to ‘bash’ the upper level again particularly when the water markings showed that is had travelled away from the dig at this point!  The vadose scallops indicated that in the later stages of choking the passage that the water had entered from a small hole in the roof near the ‘breakthrough’ point and had in all probability flown in two directions; one away from the cave boundary and the other towards the cave and sinking in the ‘Arch’ area.  Since this time digging has pushed forward another 30ft. or so to a point where the passage has suddenly changed shape.  It has become much wider and higher with the left hand wall swinging round to the right.  If this indicates a sudden change from the strike to the dip and then this could be the real changing point of the dig and things will now begin to look even more promising than before.

The methods employed with the dig is worth mentioning.  Previously the ‘rabbit’ burrowing technique had worked out its usefulness in that it became almost impossible to transport the material out of the dig with a small team. When the dig recommenced last year the policy was changed and the passage that was already dug would be opened up to a size that made work much more easy and the new section of the dig would be treated the same way.  At first the digging was made by a team spaced out along the passage shovelling the gravel back out to the Dining Room and when approaches to the ‘Arch’ had been cleared a sledge was brought into use.  Regular digging on a Tuesday evening encouraged cavers to come up to Mendip with the knowledge that there would be someone up and a caving (albeit working) trip ensured .  The problem of passage length has produced a need for some simple mechanisation. Plans are now being made to install an overhead cable system that will enable ‘sausage’ shaped bags to be clipped to a pulley and thus easing the problems of moving the gravel back to the Dining Room.


Book Report

From Gerard Platten

Those interested in Lead Mines should apply to the Peak Park Planning Board, Aldon House, Baslow Road, Bakewell DE4 1AE., for a copy of their handbook.  It is entitled “Lead Mining in the Peak District” and is compiled by Dr. T.D. Ford and J.H. Rieuwerys.

B(ob) B(agshaw) Calling

Dear Members,

I should first like to express my sincere apologies for the delay in sending out the receipts due to my other commitments – mainly overtime.  I have recently sent out receipts to these who have paid their Annual Subs. but there are still many outstanding.  Would you please send your subs P.D.Q. and enclose your membership card and a S.A.E.  IF YOUR CONSCIENCE TROUBLES YOU (OR EVEN IF IT DOESN’T) HOW ABOUT INCLUDING A DONATION TO THE NEW HUT FUND WHICH HAS NOW PASSED THE £1,000 mar.

                        Bob Bagshaw, Hon. Treas.

Letter To The Editor

Thinking back to the C.R.G. meeting at Wells and the lecture on Cave Surveying, it occurred to me that some support for the production of an accurate survey was necessary.  The majority of people who aired their views on the subject suggested that, in general, a ‘map’ was all that was required, suitably cluttered with names, sections etc, so that the experts (?) could add their own scientific data.

Surely the once ‘mystic art’ of cave surveying has graduated to being a science, if not a technology (judging by Mike Luckwill’s efforts it must be approaching the latter) among the many followings of cavers today.

The object must be to produce the best and most accurate survey, barely detailed, so that there is room for the other experts to indicate the geology, hydrology and what have you, as they wish, thereby helping to complete an accurate account of the cave system concerned.  It is also important, from the point of view of further exploration, to know accurately the directions, position and lengths of passages, to avoid abortive digging to produce more cave passage (it would be very annoying (amusing? – Ed) if the Dining Room Dig came out at Eastwater because of inaccurate surveying – wouldn’t it?)

I feel that as long as there are cavers willing to devote their time to surveying and the raising of the standards of surveying to produce something more than ‘maps’, then they should receive every encouragement, especially from their own club.

                        Yours sincerely, Mike Palmer 15 – 5 – 69

Perhaps your Editor would be allowed a few words on Mike Palmer’s letter to put the letter into context as it were.  The Mendip surveyors have been advocating for several years the principal of producing accurate surveys without passage detail included within the passage outline (a survey rather like the St. Cuthbert’s or Swildons) and the argument that developed at the C.R.G. meeting was one of whether the passage detail should be included or not.  Further at the meeting questioned the validity of the C.R.G. Grading system as a C.R.G. Grade 6 survey only told cavers that the survey was made with certain types of instruments and not the accuracy or precision of the survey. There will be more on this subject in a later B.B. when the ‘guts’ of the C.R.G. lecture will be published. The June issue of the B.B. will include an article by Henry Oakley on what to do if your caving companion nears the ‘pearly gates’ of St. Peter……….and the usual other items.



By Martin Webster

Until recently Meregill was not one of Yorkshire’s most frequently visited caves, largely because of the lake at the bottom of the entrance rift which, if except in times of draught, kept the entrance passage under water and made the entry very difficult.

Recently however, it was announced that a bypass to the entrance had been blasted out so at the end of March some members of the Dining Room Digging Team (Derek Harding, Brian Woodward, Colin Clarke Bob Craig and myself) decided to have a go at bottoming this ‘classic’ of Yorkshire potholes.

We arrived at the camp site at about 1.00am and were pleased to find that the pub at the site was still ‘open’!  In the morning the clouds were hanging low over the moors when we arose.  Breakfast over and the tackle sorting over we started off across the fell in the direction of Black Shivers Moss.

After getting lost and looking at various sinks in the area we eventually found the Entrance Rift; it was not as impressive as I had thought it to be (although in Yorkshire I always seem to expect rather more than we find!)  The new entrance was in a small depression at one end of the shaft.  On inspection we were rather disturbed to find that the majority of the party were too fat to squeeze through an exceptionally light entrance passage.  After some discussion we decided to ladder up the shaft to see if the normal entrance was under water.  To our surprise we found that the lake was rather low, and the entrance was completely dry.  This was mainly because there had been a rescue a few weeks before and the main stream had been diverted away from the cave.

While the team was being lifelined down we took careful note of the shape of the entrance passage in case we were forced to dive back through.  It looked as if in very wet weather the sump would only become 12ft. long and the shape of the passage would have made diving moderately easy. So, feeling slightly more enthusiastic about the whole thing we raced off down the passage.

The first 70ft. pitch has a sturdy looking wooden beam across it, which provided a suitable belay point.  The pitch was in fact three quite easy 20ft. drops, the final one being quite wet as all the water channels into a trench and then fell directly onto the climbers head! The second pitch followed after a short section of meandering passageway.  This was easily tackled, being a drop of 20ft. followed by a slope and then a vertical drop of 65ft. into a high rift passage.  P.U. advises a 75ft.ladder at the Second Pitch, although we found at least 90ft. was necessary.  Unfortunately the rope wasn’t long enough for a double lifeline and so that last man down and the first man up had to do without.  No chances were taken however, as the sad fate of the caver who had to be rescued three weeks previous was still in our minds.  The way on was down quite some easy climbs (P.U. advises 20ft. ladder although we found it unnecessary) which soon brought us to the head of the 100ft. pitch.  This again was in two stages, a 40ft. to a sloping ledge, then a 60ft. down a round, rather water-worn shaft.  From here the whole character of the cave changes.  The passages get smaller, more horizontal, although there are one or two quite sporting 20ft. drops into deep pools.  After these had been passed the pace increased as we were now in a narrow passage which could, just, be walked along.  At one stage a very large stream entered from the left which increased the volume of water quite considerably.  Soon the rift diminished into a crawl and then degenerated into a very low bedding plane only just large enough to get along.  Finally we found it was just too small to get down so it was decided that either P.U. was inaccurate or the cave must have been built for the ‘little people’.

The return trip was completed very rapidly.  The pitches were very sporting as they all had quite large waterfalls coming down them – which added to the fun somewhat!  As it happened it was just as well we did return to the surface early in that it was raining quite hard, the dams were starting to fail, and our ‘dry’ entrance was rapidly becoming very damp!

The final shaft to the surface was quickly overcome (? – Ed) and we were soon off down the fell as fast as we could stumble after a hard, but on the whole very enjoyable trip.


On Climbing


It was interesting to read, in February’s B.B., that some of our younger members are enjoying themselves by pottering up and down the cliffs in Cheddar Gorge.  At the same time it was a little sad to see that they are under the impression that this is ‘real’ climbing; not that I have any wish to denigrate the activities of the ‘rock-apes’ into which these lads are in danger of turning themselves: merely to put the matter into its correct perspective. Rock climbing is one of the techniques required to get to the top of a mountain.  Mastery of this technique, together with the ability to ascend snow and ice, to trudge foothills and to ski, amongst other practices, enable the person to enjoy ‘the mountain grandeur’.  That mountaineering is enjoyable I have no need to argue: it has been argued eloquently, by far better than I, for the last hundred years.  Occasionally a mountain is constructed that it can be climbed from bottom to to top on rock alone; thus arises the ‘classic’ rock-climbing route and surely there is no greater joy for the rock-climber, having scaled their selected route, eschew the final hundred feet to the summit in favour of the quickest and easiest way back to the nearest inn!

Finding the classic route is easy; one merely looks at a mountain and pick out a line of weakness which runs the full height.  This maybe a buttress or a gully and in the case of higher peaks may be combination of several lines of weakness; nevertheless, this is the classic route and as such is without compare.  True, modern aids have enabled other lines of attack to be mounted and there is no need to reopen the futile arguments of the fifties, for and against artificial climbs. Let us admit, as a kind of modern ‘classic’ the routes which have been best described by, I believe, Bonatti who said ‘show me the path of a drop of water as it falls from the summit, and that is the route I will take’.

So that is the modern and that is the classic.  Practice rock-work on Cheddar Cliffs, in the Avon Gorge, on any outcrop or boulder you an find, even in practice in North Wales and other mountainous areas if you must, but please do not confuse it with climbing. And as for ‘real’ climbing; well…….

Just a Sec

With Alan Thomas

I have had a letter of thanks from D. Wallace of Wells Museum to those members who prepared and set up the exhibition recently.  He also commended the efficiency of the members who dismantled the exhibition afterwards.

At the April Committee meeting it was decided to co-opt Bob Cross onto the Committee as Assistant Hut Warden.  Phil Townsend is unable to spend as many weekends at the Belfry as he would like and so it will often fall to Bob to be Hut Warden.  

We wish him every success with this extremely difficult task and are sure that he will have the full co-operation of all Belfry users.  On the subject of the Belfry; there has been some falling off of late in the standard of cleanliness.  We hope this will; improve again – it is not difficult if every one does his fair share. In an ideal community people would do this without being told and the Hut Warden (or his assistant) would have little to do beyond collecting the money.  In practice, however, the decision of whoever is Hut warden at the moment is final in all matters affecting the Belfry and he will always have the full backing of the Committee.

Still of the subject of the Belfry, we have had a lot of difficulty with the dustbins.  I have at last managed to arrange for the dustmen to bring the lorry into the Belfry site so that there is not longer any need to carry them to the end of the drive.  This means that in future they will be emptied regularly.  It would be a good thing if people could still remember when it is dustbin week and top them up with any of the old rubbish lying about the place, old caving clothes, car springs etc.

Theft seems to be continuing on Mendip.  In your own interest do not leave anything of value about.  See that tackle is under lock and key – in your car if not in the tackle store.

Anyone wishing to visit the new cave (or indeed any cave) in Fairy Cave Quarry must first obtain a form from me.  When it is completed and signed over a 6d. stamp, it must be returned to B. (Prew) Prewer, East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset.  No permit will be issued but you must remember the serial number on your form as the quarry manager may wish to check this against the list of permitted names.

The Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club is holding yet another barbecue, this time on 17th. May, in British Mine near Coleford at 8.00pm.  If you want accommodation contact their Hon. Sec.


Cave Photography - Account of the C.R.G. Symposium

by Mike Luckwill

The Cave Photography Symposium, very ably organised by Alan Coase, and held at Leicester on the 8th. March was attended by many club members. Unfortunately, a late start made many of the talks short; this turned out to be a mixed blessing.  Dennis Kemp, in good form, started the day by talking about developing colour film in the field.  The major point he put over was, in fact, how to give a slide show; his combination of two projectors and tape recorder, used as usual to good effect, was an object lesson in this potentially very boring practice. Members of the B.E.C. soon recognised the voice (?) of a certain Scot ‘folk singing’ in South Wales.  Returning to the subject, Kemps main suggestion was don’t; unless you absolutely have to.

Alan Wicks then discussed the difficulties of photographing a Gouffre Berger expedition and Mr. Unwin, from Phillips, told how a flash bulb worked.   Alan Coase cut his own talk in order to make up time, and this was a pity as he had some interesting equipment to review; such as the ever-ready, water-proof, shock-proof Rollei case at a mere £27.

Dr. Wooley then previewed his slide show by explaining the theory behind close-up shots involving magnifications up to X20 and showed us how to make our own ‘Hasselblad’ from an old camera bought in junk shops: one point of interest was his use of cine-lenses in order to obtain, cheaply, the short focal lengths required.

H. Lods discussion of equipment, from the professionals’ point of view, made me lose a certain amount of interest: by the time he had shown us his tripod, he had already spent some £30, which I suspect is more than the average cave-photographer spends on all his equipment.  However, his review of lighting apparatus was of interest and with the development of quartz-halogen lamps there should be no shortage of light in caves in the future; I’m sure even thinking of getting one for my helmet!

The possibility of using aerial photography to interpret karst features was then discussed and illustrated by J.W. Norman in a paper written in conjunction with A.C. Waltham. So far as this unexplored branch of photogeology and it is just waiting to be developed.  Also equipped with some interesting illustrations was Trevor Ford who has been using a scanning electron microscope to take photographs of cave formations.  For the uninitiated I should explain that this instrument has a great depth of field at high magnification enabling an object to be viewed in its natural state and not as a section; another very promising field of research here and anyone with a suitable research project has been invited by Dr. Ford to use these facilities, which must work out about £5 an hour.

The best was yet to come, however, the films in the evening.  Professor Tratman’s superb vintage film of Lamb Leer must be seen by anyone calling themselves a caver; it is hoped that copies will be shortly available for hire.  G. Cox’s film of some Spanish Caves, shot on daylight Ansochrome, for the most part without a filter, was an interesting study in red.  Some strange effects were also apparent on some of Dr. Wooley’s slides, resulting from the use of two flashes; one red and one green! His close-ups of cave flora and fauna were undoubtedly superb, however.

One of the most fascinating films, spoilt by a faulty projector unfortunately, was The Journey. Made by Colin Fearn under some rather extreme conditions; it showed a party following disused and partly flooded soughs for some six miles: having entered them from one valley to emerge in the next.  A very good film by a considerable amount of hard work and devotion.

The day will be complete when the Transactions have been published and the papers can be studied in detail.

C.R.G. Southern Meeting

Mike Luckwill

The ‘Swan’ in Wales was the scene of the C.R.G. Southern Meeting on 19th April with the B.E.C. acting as host.  Four short papers were presented after tea and before dinner.  Jim Hanwell set the proceedings off with cause and frequency of severe storms on Mendip and suggested that they were not only a major factor of cave formation, but might also have messed up cave deposits so much as to render interpretations of these deposits in the normal manner invalid: food for thought.  Alan Thomas gave a brief resume of the exploration of the Ahnenschacht and ‘Alfie’ Collins introduced his route severity diagram to a very appreciative audience.  This new topic seems to have gained a considerable foothold as a result.  Dave Irwin created quite a stir amongst non-Mendip cavers in discussing his concept of processing survey data: there will undoubtedly be suitable repercussions.

The dinner which followed saw everyone in discussion: another important facet of such a gathering. All in all the evening seem to have been an important one, particularly from the aspect of surveying; one looks forward to reading the papers in the forthcoming Transactions with the knowledge that they will be a topic of discussion for some time to come.

It’s not often that we hear from our overseas members but here is a note from Kangy who seems to be on the verge of great things in France….

I’m glad to say that I seem to have made some good contacts in the caving line.  This is more essential for caving than climbing.  I can see the Pyrenean Mountains from here so climbing is no problem, drive about three hours and then start walking.  However, in the Ariege alone there about 1,200 known caves and enthusiastic though I am I simply haven’t the time to slide into each one, assuming I find any. So I’ve taken advice.  M. Jauzions (whose habits are strikingly similar to one Irwin) has taken me under his wing and shown me around.

I was a bit cautious about contacting a Club until I’d picked up enough of the lingo to communicate the essential things like “J’ai une pou bleue”; “Pas sur votre Nelly”, “Apres vous” etc.  Of course once I’d had a trip I learnt others like “Merde” which means “My goodness, look at the mud”, “Putain alors” meaning “What an utterly charming 100ft. pitch” or simply “Alors”.

Anyway my first sortie was to the Ariege to make surveys of a couple of caves, thus reducing the unsurveyed caves from 400 to 398 making a total of 802 surveyed (sounded daft to me). They turned out to be two very pleasant caves.  Prehistoric and historic in that there were artefacts and bear scratches fossilised in the calcite and also an inscription left by a French Prime Minister in 1923. Hurray!  The size of the largest approached that of G.B. only that the inclination was horizontal (if you see what I mean).  I was so taken with it as a spectacle that I went back two weeks later with Ann and my boys.  The youngest, Philip aged 4, clutching a candle in one hand and me in the other said, “I love this cave”, while Jonathan was quite uneasy at the thought of meeting Cave Bears face to face in a small passage, and secretly I sympathised with him. Good old Prehistoric Man!

Recently I spent the weekend caving.  We left Toulouse at 8.30 and at 10.00 met a team which had recently discovered a new pot.  The reason for Jauzion’s interest was that it occurred in an important position and promised to connect with another system.  The hole was reckoned to be an hour and a half’s trudge and we took with us about 200 metres of ladder.  I tried to look as though I was used to carrying all my gear plus two ladders when a native stopped with a great mucky cart pulled by two steaming oxen and offered to carry the gear part way.  The ladders and gear plopped into the manure in the cart.  I explained I needed to carry mine for exercise.  I suppose I’m too civilised.

At the pot, which looked like other pots, we ate lunch and started down about 13.00 hours.  There was quite a bit of twiddling around because the discoverers were obviously novices and during the pauses I demonstrated knots.  We didn’t like to interfere too much because it was their discovery but I found my patience running low later on when I realised that we were in for a 12 hour trip that need only have taken half the time!  The pot was finally bottomed at 160 metres (530ft.) where a way on seemed likely if persuaded.  Quite a successful trip in that surveying and geological observations confirmed a fault system on the required line.  We got to bed at 3.00 hours in the morning.

The next day was described as a potter round looking at possible sites.  So we climbed Trifan by the Heather Terrace (so to speak) and spent an hour before lunch in an enormous tunnel of a grotto boring straight into the mountain for 1,000ft. and ending in a lake..  Very scenic.  After lunch, taken under the huge arch of the entrance, and consisting of bags of fresh bread, pate, cheese, and more bottles of wine than blokes, we set off across the equivalent of the Glyder (though thoroughly wooded).  Lots and lots of possibilities which were marked with red bands for future investigation.

Incidentally. French picnics are dynamite.  I first learnt this on a skiing trip (no I didn’t break my leg Alfie). Before lunch I was skiing adequately but with great care.  After, I was brilliantly rushing up the lift and swishing down the slope feeling very good indeed.  But sort of sloshy inside!

                        Cheers, Kangy.


Monthly Notes No.23

By ‘Wig’


Twin Titty (Priddy).  The North Hill digging team dig has taken a set back.  Shaft slumped at bottom of 25ft. deep shaft.  New shaft being sunk in near future.

St. Cuthbert’s (Cerberus Rift).  The source of the Dining Room Steam was dug on 27th May ’69 by Messrs Irwin, Luckwill, Riley & Turner.  After four hours digging broke into high level chamber with passage heading up dip.  End tight – needs opening with a chisel.

Cheddar Caves.  M.N.R.C. offered agreement to C.S.C.C. but rejected.  Advised to hand agreement back to Cheddar Caves Management.  Cavers should show proof of third party insurance cover when asking permission to enter caves on SOUTH side of gorge.

East Twin-  Dave Yendle reports that B.E.C. dig open into rift by winter stream – impassable.

Photograph (facing page) of Gour Hall originally published in Cuthbert’s Report Part ‘F’ – members wishing to obtain a copy (including survey, description, photographs etc.)  should contact ‘Wig’ or Bryan Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Nr. Bridgwater, Som.

Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston s Mare, Somerset.
Hut Warden: P.Townsend, 154 Syvlia Avenue, Bristol 3.
EDITOR:  D.J. Irwin. 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

The recent article by ‘Prew’ (Speech Communication Underground, November B.B. No. 248) raises a point of some interest. A grade 6 survey of St. Cuthbert’s implies that the position of the end of the cave (Gour Rift) in relation to the entrance contains a possible error of ±40ft. in the easting and northing.  If, by means of magnetic induction method, the position could be located to an accuracy of say ±10ft. or even ±20ft., the survey could be closed onto this position thus gaining considerable accuracy throughout the surveyed network.  It would therefore be interesting to know the accuracy of this method and also the likely effects of local magnetic disturbances due to be buried bedsteads and the like.  Clearly any method of improving the results of the magnetic survey of the cave is of considerable importance.

Mike Luckwill
Sedgeley, 9-1-69.

‘Prew’ has sent in the following:

Dear Sir,

I have read with interest Mike Luckwill’s letter referring to the use of the Magnetic Induction System I described in the November B.B. No.248, for checking the accuracy of the St. Cuthbert’s survey.

Firstly, if anyone is interested in the use of magnetic induction as an instrument of surveying I could recommend they obtain the article by Dr. H. Lord in the Proceedings of the B.S.A.  No.1, August 1963.  Dr. Lord describes in his articles the “pros” and “cons” of using Inductive System for pinpointing parts of a cave system on the surface.

Secondly, my own feelings on the subject are as follows bearing in mind the limitations of the system that I have produced.  At present the maximum range of the device when used with speech is only 300ft., however, if a continuous tone were used this could possibly be increased to 400ft. In order to obtain the degree of accuracy suggested then the range must be considerable reduced, say halved, as it would be impossible to pinpoint the underground transmitter accurately if the received cone were only just detectable.  Unfortunately Gour Rift is, almost certainly, outside the range of the present equipment.  There is, however, an improved version being designed at present and it is hoped that this will give considerably greater range of operation.

A second snag with the Magnetic Induction System is the use of rather large aerial coils, at least 10ft. in diameter for a range of 300ft.  If an accurate position is to be obtained then it is essential that the aerial coils (underground and surface) be rigid and that all the wires in the coil lie in the same place.  This presents quite a problem underground.  It is also important that the underground aerial is positioned accurately in the horizontal plane.

I think from the above remarks you will realise that at present accurate pinpointing of the parts of the cave can only be done, at present, where the areas of interest lie within 200ft. of the surface.


Just a Sec

With Alan Thomas

DURING the Dining Room Dig Meet on Tuesday, 25th February some b.s.a.d. stole a total of about £21+ from the diggers clothes in the Belfry.  One member alone lost £8 in notes….

At the February Committee Meeting it was decided to plant a thousand Christmas trees on the Belfry site as a profit making crop.  (Alan is taking orders for Christmas 1972!!! Ed.).

THE MAIN business of the February Committee meeting was the New Club Constitution which will be put to the 1969 A.G.M. as a Committee proposal.  The draft done by ‘Alfie’ was amended in accordance with detailed advice given by ‘Digger’ Harris and discussion by the Committee.  It is not proposed to send full copies to all members unless they especially request one by writing to me.  A summary of the proposals will appear in the B.B. later.  Copies of the full constitution may be seen at the Belfry or Waggon as soon as they are prepared.

Can anybody tell us the present address of R. Kitchen?  Correspondence to the address given in the B.B. is returned by the P.O.

I am told that an interesting event took place recently when Ted Mason, Harry Ashworth, Gerald Platten, Lord Waldegrave and others took a party of Venture Scouts from South London down Lamb Leer.

Have you any books, publications or surveys belonging to the Club Library?  As you know the last A.G.M. directed the Hon. Librarian to institute a system of fines.  This does not apply at present to books that were taken out before the system came into force, so if YOU have any items from the library, get them to Dave Serle, Dolphin Cottage, Wells Road, Priddy as soon as possible.  If you cannot get out to Priddy then give them to myself or Dave Irwin at the Waggon on Thursday evenings.

The Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee will be meeting this month to discuss the first application it has ever received.

IT IS rather novel to be able to blame the lateness of the February B.B. on neither the postal department nor the Editor; in fact the ink froze in the Gestetner machine!

JOHN RILEY is looking for someone to share the furnished house he rents at Chew Stoke.  A half share of the rent is £2-12-6 per week.

HAVE YOU ordered your B.E.C. caving report No.13 (Parts A -O) yet?  Part A is already published and selling out fast.  The only way to be sure of getting the whole report is to place an order with Bryan Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Nr. Bridgwater, who will send you each part with an invoice as soon as it is published.


The Variability of Limestone Hydrology

By R.D. Stenner

In the past few years results obtained by various researchers into limestone hydrology have been of great interest to cavers.  Perhaps for the first time the cavers are seeing some point in the scientific work being carried out in their caves.  Because the caver has in general been only interested in the results, the finer points in the interpretation of results, the qualifications and the limitations have not worried him.  This is natural and to be expected, but as a result muddled thinking and faulty reasoning are fairly widespread, for example in discussions about the time of water flow from Cuthbert’s - Wookey (in connection with digs in the stream passage) or in the comparison of the two hydrological studies that have been carried out in the Burrington area, wildly incorrect conclusions have been made.  In this article the author aims to point out to cavers the dangers of relying on a single water tracing experiment, making conclusions that may well be incorrect under different conditions.

Figure 1:  The time taken for water in a simple stream to flow from one point to another.

Figure 2:  The time taken for the water to flow between the same two points in a simple stream in high and low water conditions.

First, consider times of flow.  The very idea of a time may be misleading.  If water at given point A in a single discrete stream at a given time, is timed to a second point B some distance downstream, the result shown in figure 1 will be obtained.  This graph itself is the most meaningful expression of the time of flow, but for the layman the most comprehensible will be the times t1 and t2 (the time at which the water first reaches the point, and the time at which the majority of the water reaches the point).  The caver will realise that in practice the curve may be ‘flattened’ with no easily discernible peak and that oxbows will cause multiple peaks to be formed.

The time of flow will vary with discharge.  Figure 2 show the type of variation to be expected in a simple case between high water and low water conditions.

Secondly, the distribution of water in a complex system of interconnected water courses is likely to vary considerably. This variation may occur in several ways, and three will be considered.

1.                  The distribution of water in a network of courses may vary with the discharge.  As a stream rises increasing proportions of the stream will take alternative routes.

An example of this is the distribution of the surface stream at G.B. between the inlet at the N.E. corner of the Gorge and the stream in the Devils Elbow route.  Until the great flood in July 1968, the ratio of the sizes of the Devils Elbow and the N.E. inlet stream varied, with the ratio being determined by the discharge value of the surface stream.  In high flood the stream overflows into two other large inlets into the Devils Elbow route. (The N.E. inlet also contains water from a large unknown source).  The full details of this result will be published later.

2.                  A stream may spontaneously change its distribution between routes.

An example is water sinking near the pipe taking water into St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Water from St. Cuthbert’s stream flows both into the E. inlet in Pulpit Passage and to the N.E. inlet in Arête Chamber.  Two years ago the majority of this water flowed into the E. inlet.  In July 1967 the majority of the water flowed into the N.E. inlet, and this was the case for about a year before reverting to the E. inlet.  The variation was not related to any possible variable, and was probably caused by changes within the boulder ruckle between the cave and the surface.

3.                  The distribution of a stream between routes may also change as a result of excavation or silting which can take place in a flood.

For example the pattern of distribution of the G.B. stream between the Devils Elbow route and the N.E. inlet changed considerably as a result of the 1968 flood.

In conclusion, the danger of relying on the results of a single tracing experiment can be seen in the following case.  In February 1968 water from St. Cuthbert’s stream was traced in the cave using Pyranine with activated charcoal detectors.  The dye was introduced 150ft. upstream of the dam, and very small streams with temperature and characteristics of percolation water gave positive results, but the Drinking Fountain stream gave a negative result.  In November 1968 chemical analysis showed with certainty that the Drinking Fountain stream was derived largely from St. Cuthbert’s stream, using a sink unknown in the St. Cuthbert’s Pool.  On this occasion the Pool was unusually deep because the top dam had been left in by accident.  The conclusion is that in high water conditions the Drinking Fountain stream comes largely from St. Cuthbert’s Pool, the source in low water is unknown.  Although when they are considered together the two sets of results give a reasonable picture of the hydrology of this part of St. Cuthbert’s could be misleading, the result of the variability of the hydrology of limestone areas.

February Committee Meeting

The February Committee Meeting was devoted to two subjects only: Alfie’s proposed constitution and Long Term Planning.  Regarding the Constitution: - this has been modified by the Committee and will be presented at the A.G.M. as a Committee resolution.  Copies will be available at the Belfry and the ‘Waggon’; for those who can’t get there to inspect it then spare copies will be sent to them.  LTP report will be appearing soon.


Cambrian Caving Council (Cyngor Ogofeydd Cymreig)

report by Dave Turner

The last meeting of the Cambrian Caving Conference was held on Saturday, January 25th 1969 at 10.30am at Penwyllt.  The purpose of the conference was to set up a Welsh Regional Council on the lines of similar organisations.  The B.E.C., although not invited, managed to have delegates appear at Penwyllt in close company with members of the Wessex and U.B.S.S. (also not invited) exactly at 10.30am. Paul Allen, Bob Lewis and others of the Severn Valley C.C. were found already installed and making their feelings known.

There were strong feelings amongst members of many Welsh based clubs that the new council should limit its members to those who are totally Welsh based or willing to forgo all interest on other regions.  It was this strong ‘closed-shop’ attitude which made the above Mendip clubs go to the Conference to ensure that all clubs who work in Wales should have some say on the newly formed Council.

After the customary reading of the minutes; election of the Chairman (John Osbourne, Hon. Sec. of the S.W.C.C.) etc., the next hour and a half was spent voting on who should be allowed to vote at the meeting.  (Ed. note: the first part of the meeting was the Cambrian Conference and after the discussion of the proposed constitution it would become the Cambrian Caving Council). Initially only the Welsh clubs who had been invited were allowed to vote and after some discussion it was decided that the Mendip Clubs should give reasons as to why they should be given the vote.  Valid reasons being a hut or headquarters in Wales or evidence of scientific work in Welsh caves in the recent past.  Paul Allen spoke first for the Severn Valley – they had just rented a hut in Wales and were doing work in the Hepste and Trefil areas – this was passed as O.K.

Pete Stanging spoke next for the U.B.S.S. – discovery, exploration and survey of Little Neath – this was queried by Mel Davis (I.C.I. Nylon Spinners) who considered that they had only found the cave by chance and weren’t really interested in it!! However other Welsh clubs were not swayed by this argument and so the U.B.S.S. could vote.

Next the B.E.C. – Dave Irwin spoke of the work (both discovery and exploration of Roman Mine) also of members work in the Chepstow area.  After Mel Davis claimed the discovery of Roman Mine for the I.C.I. Nylon Spinners, the B.E.C. were elected to vote.

Tim Reynolds justifying Wessex claims made reference to Warburton’s survey of Aggie (Agen Allwedd to the Welsh).  This news surprised Mel Davis and the other Aggie wardens as the Wessex had not applied for the key more than a couple of times in the last year.  It soon transpired that they were obtaining the key from the Chelsea cottage – ‘but this makes it a Chelsea survey!’ says David Leach (Hereford C.C.) With the other Mendip Clubs voting for them the Wessex were elected.

Now the business of the day could begin.  The motion to form a Cambrain Caving Council; was quickly passed and the tedious business of deciding on the constitution started.  A draft constitution based in general on that of the Southern council, had already been circulated and this was used as a basis.  First the name: - Cambrian Caving Council, Welsh Caving Council, Cyngor Ogoffydd Cymru – all combinations were proposed.  The Welsh members wanting the Welsh name first; the English wanting the English name first!  There being more English members present the English name comes first. Cambrian, we were told by experts is a bastard word and so no direct Welsh translation exists.  Cymru meaning Welsh.  Cymraig was suggested as the best translation and after ten minutes discussion as to the correct Cymreig won.

The objects and guiding principles were dealt with little more ease and then the meeting adjourned for lunch, The Gwyn for most and the Courage House half a mile down the road for the B.E.C.

The next clause to be discussed was considered by the Mendip Clubs to be the most offensive.  The draft constitution was worded “A club is eligible for membership of the Council if its major interests are in Wales and who wishes to be represented by the above Council only.”  The required changes were passed with far less opposition than had been expected. The amended clause reads “A club is eligible for membership of the Council if it has major interests in Wales and the Marches.”  This amended wording allows Mendip and others not based in Wales but who have interest there to have a say in the running of the regional council.

The clauses relating to the number of delegates, the officers of the Council and Council meetings were passed with few amendments.

Voting came again in clause 8.  The Southern Council have the right of veto but the chairman’s casting vote carried the motion not to have the veto.

Subscriptions took a while to be agreed upon, the final compromise was ten shillings a year and ten shillings entrance fee, but the Committee reserved the right to waive all or part of it at its discretion.

The arrangement of dissolution was then discussed at length - completely unnecessary as it was pointed out by Dr. Oliver Lloyd that the Southern Council only have the clause on dissolution to avoid a veto if persistently used.  Not having the veto the clause became redundant.

At this stage the B.E.C. & Wessex left the meeting leaving the U.B.S.S. and Severn Valley to protect our mutual interest.  It was felt that the journey was not wasted as the Mendip Clubs had helped in the formation of a more useful and workable council than would otherwise have been the case.

The B.E.C. delegates were Dave Irwin, Martin Webster and Dave Turner.

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

Before we know where we are it will be time to attend another A.G.M.   In common with other meetings of this type there are several faults as a result of following standing orders for procedure.    In the past these have only led to temporary feelings if disgruntlement, but at the present time, when the club is expanding in many ways, they could have more serious consequences.

Let us first consider the causes.  The problem is that there is a finite amount of time and apparently an infinite amount of business to be carried out.  Minutes and reports from the various club officers take up most of the time and when important business; motions and their discussion, has to be hurried and inevitable curtailed.

The remedy is simple and may I suggest that it is applied this year?  The reports of all club officers should be published and issued to every member, together with the financial statement.  They could be published in the B.B. (hmm – Ed.).  At the meeting the formality of reading the reports could be then be bypassed, discussion and voting on them would quickly be finished and ample time left for the more important business.

Improvement in the discussion of member’s resolutions would also occur if the example set by ‘Sett’ and Mike Palmer last year were followed, and members publish their thoughts on their proposals.  This would enable people who don’t get down to Mendip very often to go to the meeting with informed and up to-date opinions, where as at the moment they have to spend half the time at the meeting catching up with the thoughts of those who see each other frequently and can discuss these matters.

A case in point will be ‘Alfies’ constitution.  I am sure that I shall not be confronted with it at the A.G.M. and have to vote for or against, but I not only want to know what it is long before the meeting, I also want to hear other people’s views on it before the meeting.  Surely the B.B. is an excellent medium for propagating these views and if people just don’t write, may we have some ‘political journalism’?

                        Yours faithfully,
                                    Mike Luckwill

Ed. Note:          Thanks Mike for this interesting letter – I feel that there’s much in it for discussion.  I am prepared to keep aside a page or so a month for members letters on this subject so that your Committee can gather members feelings on this and associated subjects.


Monthly Notes No.21

By ‘Wig’


News from this popular caving area only seems to get into the columns of the B.B. on rare occasions although members of the Dining Room Digging team are arranging monthly trips to Yorkshire in the immediate future so something should be heard of their exploits up in the far north.  Until news is sent in from Martin Webster and Co., here are a few notes gathered from recent publications in the B.E.C. Library:-

FAWCETT MOOR: - W.R.P.C. have entered a wet bedding plane 4,000ft. long.

IREBY FELL CAVERN: N.C.C. have dug the boulder choke beyond the 1st sump and entered half a mile of winding passage.

PASTURE GILL POT: New pot explored.  340ft. deep including 130ft. pitch.  Above Yockenthwaite Farm, Wharfedale.

BIRKS FELL CAVE: Above Bucken; C.P.C. have entered 4,000ft. of stream passage.

RIGG POT - Langcliffe: Extended by 300ft.  Mainly low crawls.

SUNSET HOLE: High level series extended by 100ft.

SLAPE GILL – Coverdale: Y.U.R.T. have made two discoveries; one of 300ft. and another of 1,100ft.

EASEGILL: Small extensions made by Brook brothers near Nagasaki.

P2 (Newby Moss Pot): now 280ft. deep by 900ft. long.

Sheet’s Gill Cave: (Wharfedale) cave extended ¼ mile.

Growling Hole (Kingsdale) : New discovery including 250ft. pitch.

Langcliffe Pot: Now three miles long.

Hazel BUSH CAVE: (nr Arkengarthdale): 260ft. long.

Bradford Pothole Club Journal gives full description of Whitsun Series (including survey) found by them last year in the GG system.

On Mendip the M.C.G. have been working in the Longwood/August System and have made a small discovery in their dig in Sand Passage.  The length was just over 15ft. but ended in another boulder choke.  The January and February issue of the A.C.G. Newsletter contain an interesting article on the possibility of connecting Banwell Bone Cave and Banwell Stalactite Cave.

The sculptured head of William Beard on his gravestone at Banwell is in grave danger of disintegrating. Officials of the Weston Museum have offered to restore the work providing it is kept indoors. The argument that has arisen that if the head is removed then a replica will be required by the villagers – but who pays?  Perhaps the Mendip Preservation Society could help here.

PEMBROKESHIRE: new cave discovered at Saddle Head.  Over 400 feet long with many magnificent formations.  Called Ogof Govan.

SOUTH WALES: Dan-yr-Ogof – Divers have been exploring the Mazeways and have followed the submerged passage for over 950ft. from base.

MENDIP: Sludge Pit – Tony Jarrett of the Axbridge is planning a prolonged attack on the terminal sump.

MENDIP: St. Cuthbert’s – Dave Irwin and Martin Webster have found an interesting extension in the Rabbit Warren.  Though only 70-80ft. long there are many fine crystal groups and a group of ‘lipped’ gours covering the floor of an unexplored passage that heads into the blank area of the Rabbit Warren.  The entrance to this passage and the crystal formations are being taped off in the very near future.

The survey of the Rabbit Warren is now complete and the total passage length is about 2,800ft.

SWILDONS: Tim Reynolds (WCC) and Pete Standing have found an entrance to what appears to be a large passage above the streamway in Ten, but as time was short and they wanted to get on to Twelve they left it for another occasion – so further developments may prove very interesting.

Two collapses have occurred near Cuckoo Cleeves, one of which is going to be the WCC summer dig.

To ensure that the club records are kept in safe keeping Bob Bagshaw is arranging a box to be kept at the bank.  This will house club log books, title deeds and other important papers that have been given to the club including Jack Waddons manuscripts which contain useful information on the caves of Derbyshire and Devon. Anyone holding material of this kind are asked to give it to Bob as soon as possible.  The Committee are chasing the known ‘holders’ of this material. Once the material has been collected then a list will be available from Dave Serle and appointment may be made through Bob Bagshaw enabling members and other interested people to inspect the contents.  The material will not be taken from the bank.  Members wanting copies can make arrangements with Bob to have what they require Photostatted at their own cost.

Hillgrove Water Tracing Results

I recently received a note from Tim Atkinson (WCC & UBSS) giving the water tracing results. He says “The swallets traced were, from west to east, Hillgrove, Easter Hole, Whitsun Hole, Doubleback Swallet (Zoo Swallet), Rock Swallet.  Lycopodium spores were employed in all cases, 2kg. per sink.  An artificial stream had to be created at Hillgrove Swallet, using a fire pump to pump water from the pond into the sink.  The water was directed down Balch’s Shaft, which is known to connect with the shaft dug by Frank Frost and others.  Spores from all of the swallets were recovered, though in very small quantities from some.  The results, including the minimum time of arrival of the spores, are given in the table below. In a few cases, single spores were recovered from springs other than those mentioned, these are put down to chance contamination.

Because of the complexity of the flow pattern and the small numbers of spores recovered on this occasion (January 1969) it is by no means certain that the results would appear precisely the same if the tests were repeated.  Unfortunately, to repeat them using lycopodium spores would be too expensive, but it is hoped to repeat at least some of these tracings using dyes, and also to trace some of the other swallets in the area.

As seems to be usual in water tracing with lycopodium, the results raise several problems to do with the hydrology of limestone terrain, and it is proposed to discuss these at more length in the full report of the operation.



TIME hours


Wookey Hole

Biddlecombe West


2 – 3

Easter Hole

Wookey Hole

8 – 11

Whitsun hole

Wookey Hole

Biddelcome West

Biddlecombe East


2 – 3

8 – 10

Doubleback (Zoo)

Wookey Hole

72 –77


Wookey Hole

92 – 98

April issue contains articles of interest to all – Walking in the snow covered mountains in Wales; plans of the Cuthbert’s Sump Operation later this year; Caving log; Dining Room Dig report with survey and cartoon by Jock Orr.


Cavers Bookshelf

By Mike Luckwill

Many readers will be delighted to hear that the first edition, or Old Series of the Ordnance Survey, 1” to the mile, maps are being republished.  Prompted by the Napoleonic Wars it was decided that a reliable map of Great Britain was required and during the first half of the Nineteenth Century the survey was carried out.  Sheet 1 ( London, north of the Thames, about the same as sheets 160 and 161 of the Seventh Series) was published in 1805 and by 1869 all of England had been covered.    Although the original engraved copper plates were first made as early as 1805 in some cases, they remained in use until 1890 and were continually revised up to that time.  The present printing will contain these revisions, which are mainly railways and canals built during these years to transport coal; they will thus be of considerable interest to the student of archaeology in Somerset.

The climber and hill walker will no doubt be attracted towards sheets of North Wales and the Lake District, made so attractive by the fact that the maps are hachured and not contoured.  The reviewer is particularly looking forward to seeing some of the Scottish sheets; imagine being stranded somewhere in the Cairngorms or the Cullins with nothing to guide one but one of these maps.

As with many other publications of interest to cavers, and lovers of the West Country, we have the publishing house of David and Charles to thank for making these sheets available. They are being published throughout the next two years ( England and Wales; Scotland to follow) and cost the extremely reasonable sum of 15/- each (flat of folded).  The flat version includes notes by the editor, Dr. J.B. Harley of the University of Liverpool, and will arrive in the post on the day of publication to all those who place an order.  Details may be obtained from David and Charles, South Devon House, Newton Abbot, Devon.

Address Changes and Additions

R. Kitchen – address unknown.
B.G. Hewitt – delete from address list.
R. White, 33 St. Cuthbert’s Street, Wells Somerset.
R.S. King, (Kangy) letters can be sent through Eddy Welch, 18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol.
T. Hodgson, 26 Dorset Road, Henlease, Bristol.
J. Cornwell, 26 Russell Road, Fishponds, Bristol.
C.Clarke, 18 Churche Lane, Bedminster, Bristoil, BS3 4NE.


August/Longwood Key

The key to August Longwood Swallet is available from Dave Irwin.  Members wishing to obtain the key should drop a line to ‘Wig’ and arrangements can be made to let you have it either through the post of at the Waggon on Thursday evenings.

Charterhouse permits are available from Phil Townsend.

It Had To Happen - Blood Chits For Cheddar

The M.N.R.C. now controls access to all caves on the south side of Cheddar Gorge, except the show caves. To enter any of the caves and rock shelters you must first have a permit that has been issued to you by Colin Venus, the caving secretary of the M.N.R.C.

The caves affected by this scheme: -

Cooper’s Hole
Flint Jack’s Cave (R.S.)
Greta Oone’s Hole
Honey Hole (R.S.)
Long Hole
Pig’s Hole (R.S.)
Reservoir Hole
Say’s Hole
Soldiers’ Hole (R.S.)
Sow’s Hole (R.S.)
Totty Pot (R.S.)
White Spot Cave
Whitebeam Slitter Cave

Access to the caves is limited to the period November – March and the ‘Blood Chit’ only covers one for this period – if granted at all!  No digging or the use of explosives in any of the caves and all cavers visiting the caves are held liable for third party claims and the cost of any damage that they may do – in the cave or walking across the land to reach the cave is not clear. The charge levied for each cave that is visited is 1/- per person per cave! – quite an expensive day’s outing.  The real crunch, or nerve, is the statement at the bottom of the blood chit which reads:  this form must be submitted to Mr. Colin Venus…..whereupon consideration will be given to the issue of a permit.  How Venus can access your capabilities as a caver without having been caving with you I’ll never know – still that’s his problem as the restricting access to the caves without gating them.

Because of the loose way in which the ‘blood chit’ has been compiled and the fact that the Hon. Secretary of the M.N.R.C., when contacted recently, knew nothing of the scheme the best advice  that can be given at the moment is don’t sign any paperwork regarding access to the Cheddar Caves.  A meeting is being held in Bristol shortly by the Committee of the Council of Southern Cave Clubs who will no doubt have some advice to give cavers generally of this position.

CRG Meeting

Cave Research Group of Great Britain – SOUTHERN GENERAL MEETING in WELLS

SWAN HOTEL (Ballroom) 4.30pm    Saturday April 19th 1969


4.30      The frequency of Severe Storms over the Mendip Hills, Somerset – Jim Hanwell

4.50      The Ahnenschact – Alan Thomas

5.10      Route Severity Diagrams – ‘Alfie’ Collins

5.30      Aspects of the new St. Cuthbert’s Swallet survey

8.00pm a dinner to be held in the Parrot Room of the Swan.  Tickets from Alan Thomas at 21/- each.  Hurry along and get yours now, numbers are limited!

4.00pm Tea – cost 2/- per head.

B.E.C. Exhibition on Caves and Caving at the Wells Museum for a fortnight from April 14th.  Open daily 10.00am – 6.00pm.  admission 1/6d.


A.W.  +  J.G. =  S.S.D.

By Martin Webster

To some the name Juniper Gulf will mean nothing more than a rather deep pothole set in one of the more remote areas of the Allotment, on the flanks of Ingleborough Hill in Yorkshire; the sort of place one should steer clear of if you want to stay healthy.

The description in P.U. does little to encourage the inquisitive; dangerous traverses; long drops; vast amounts of tackle; the long walk across the moor and the very excessive grading all help to deter the would be explorers!  While looking through a certain caving magazine, some months ago, I came across an article by a well known Yorkshire caver which described the final 200ft. pitch as one of the finest in the country, so, spurred by this thought and rather ‘hoggy’ crew at the Hunter’s it was decided to book it up for the end of February.

At one time we were almost forced to call it off because of heavy falls of snow a few days before the fateful day.  By Friday night it was all melting rapidly and so the team of six, Brian Woodward, Brian Talbot and Derek Harding of Bath University, Bob Craig (S.M.C.C.), Colin Priddle and myself (B.E.C.) all piled into the Bath university ‘Transit’ and set off.

The camp site at Skirwith only had a thin layer of snow covering it when we arrived at 12.30am with a gale force wind sweeping across the hill resulting in our tent collapsing in the morning, rudely awakening all inside.

We had decided to get to the cave from a point on the Ribblehead – Horton road as this would be about a mile shorter than the walk from Clapham.  We soon sound a suitable parking spot, got changed and started to sort out the tackle.  It was of course pouring with rain by this time and the high wind also helped to make things even more pleasant!  Some time later, after ploughing our way through high level snowdrifts and crossing the tricky limestone pavements, the entrance shaft was reached.  There was found that the normally 100ft. long chasm was completely covered, except for a 5ft. round hole by a huge snow drift!!! Again there was much running about and sorting of tackle, but eventually, we laddered the 70ft. entrance pitch and started down it.  At the bottom was a 20ft. high snow pile which made the usually easy walk into a difficult ice climb!  The walls of the shaft were encrusted with enormous icicles and, on looking up, we noticed that what we had thought was solid ground at the top, and had been leaping about on, was in fact just part of the snow plug suspended above an 80ft. drop!

Suitably shaken we made our way down the ice climb, across a very fragile snow ‘bridge’, which had the nasty habit of starting to dissipate whenever anyone stepped on it, through a very cold 3ft. deep pool of water which had large iceberg floating on it and so on to what is described in P.U. as ‘dangerous traverse at high level’. This, as far as the end of the 40ft. pitch was probably the easiest part of the cave and although we looked around we failed to find the ‘dangerous traverse’ at ‘high level’ – if anyone has seen one lurking around would they please return it to: - Juniper Gulf, c/o The Allotment, Yorkshire!  What is described as an awkward 40ft. pitch in fact turned out to be two very easy 20ft. pitches both of which have a very convenient flake belays (perhaps it was the wrong pitch).  From the bottom the stream ran through a small chamber and then sank to the bottom of a 20 – 30ft. deep rift.  This was the first difficult traverse we had encountered and this was only because we were carrying over 300ft. of ladder, 400ft. of rope, belays, krabs, pulleys etc. The traverse was rather longer than we had expected, so, at the first reasonable looking 80ft. drop we came to we laddered up.  As it turned out the actual 80ft. pitch was some 60ft. further along the rift.  When Bob descended he found that the ladder was 10ft. off the ground.  Returning to the head of the pitch Bob and the rest of us re-laddered.  This time there was ample ladder for the pitch, unfortunately our lifeline was now too short to double lifeline and the last man down had to remove his lifeline while still 30ft. above the floor and the procedure was reversed for the return trip up the pitch.  This is not recommended.  The pitch was, in fact, quite well situated as it came down into a small chamber with quite a nice cascade falling to the left of the ladder.  Sixty feet on the down passage we came to where the pitch is normally laddered.  Positioning of climbs however do not really matter in this cave, unless it floods.

At the end of a short, wide traverse we came to a boulder blockage.  The easiest way pass was a climb over the top, although a very tricky traverse underneath can be done but is not recommended as two of us nearly peeled off.  On the far side we entered a large dome shaped chamber with a hole in the floor, which was obviously the head of the 200ft.pitch.  After a short rest the pitch was laddered and then the first lucky lad was thrust forward and forced over the edge.  No time was wasted on this drop for as soon as one person was down the previous one was brought back up.  In this way the ladder was always in use and there was a large hauling party at the top.

The climb was everything we had hoped it would be.  The ladder hung free for 195ft. of its length and the clean and beautiful coloured water worn walls gave the whole abyss a look of magnificent, wild beauty which I have yet to see in another shaft.  Half-way down a large waterfall could be seen across the gulf, cascading down and disappearing into the vault below. 

The bottom was a like huge spray swept vault, with the stream falling down another 10ft. drop into the final rift.  This proved to be 200ft. long and ended in a large sump.  A fitting end for such a superb pothole.  The ascent of the shaft was quickly completed.  The fastest ascent of the day was by Brian Woodward, who shot up the ladder in 3½ minutes – 20 seconds faster than his nearest rival! The return trip went very smoothly and by the time Brian and I, who had stayed behind to de-tackle the double 20’s, arrived at the entrance shaft, most of the party had reached the surface. They had decided to practice the age old art of ‘hauling’.  This consists of a hefty group of cavers racing across the moor with the rope when someone is tied on the end; any shrieks or howls which issue up the shaft are, of course, ignored.

Unfortunately they became a little carried away and I was dragged over the lip at very high speed. Brian was even more unfortunate as he was lifted bodily off the ground and hardly had time to touch the ladder!!

The equipment was soon packed away in the tackle bags and we set off across the fell, and soon became lost! After an hour of tripping over rocks and disappearing into snow drifts we found our way back, by a piece of brilliant navigation (pure luck) to the wagon, and was soon to be consuming vast quantities of liquid refreshment and convincing ourselves that our ‘super-severe-day’ had really been enjoyable.


Extracts from the Caving Log

By Dave Irwin

The Caving Log (from 20th September 1968 to 1st March 1969) gives an interesting breakdown.  Out of a total of 138 trips; 98 were in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet!  Looking back in the log it is the first time that Cuthbert’s has logged so many trips in a similar period.  But there is also a great difference this time – out of the 98 trips were working trips; surveying, digging, photographic, pushing various holes, dam building, replacing of tackle and laying of guide lines in Victory Passage.

The Dining Room Dig has been continually dug on Tuesday evenings (anyone interested in helping are welcome to come along – 6.45pm at the Belfry) and during the last four months the dig has been lengthened by over 60ft. to a total length of 120ft.  On 6th October, Dave Yendle and Colin Priddle (the day after the Annual Dinner as well!) tried unsuccessfully to push a very tight hole in the Sump Passage Oxbow.  A fortnight later ‘Pope’ and Tim Hodgson hammered their way into a small extension just off Upper Traverse Chamber opening up some 20ft. of new passage. The people that were also worried by the apparently poor fixings of the Beehive Chamber chain can now relax in their armchairs and take a pill from Norman Petty. Norman has replaced both of the chains in the Gour Hall area (10-11-68).  At the request of the leaders at their last meeting in November, Mike Palmer and ‘Prew’ have laid guide lines through the beautifully decorated Victory Passage. It will be hoped that leaders do not become too inquisitive when they see a passage they had noted and cross the stal. to see it more clearly.  Victory Passage has been thoroughly searched for any possible extension and the result is that all of the possible extension points have been blocked by stal. or solidly jammed boulders at the very end of tight passages.  Most of the work mentioned above can be read in more detail in the April B.B.

The variety of tourist trips has been expanded and although the nearest competitor to Cuthbert’s is Swildons (18 trips) the others have ranged between Yorkshire and South Wales.  Martin Webster, ‘Pope’ and others have been leading the spearhead into the Yorkshire potholes and slowly the SSP’s are crumbling before this formidable force!  Penyghent, Juniper and Gaping Ghyll have been the attractions.  Rumour has it that some mighty tough trips are being arranged for the immediate future which should make interesting reading in the B.B.  In South Wales, OFD and DYO have been visited; on one occasion the ‘leader’ of the party couldn’t find the top entrance to OFD II having only visited it two months before! In mid-Wales area the old favourite Aggy Summertime appears in the log again.  In ‘near’ Wales, Roy Bennett and Co. Ltd. have been active at the Chepstow dig – anyone wishing to give Roy a helping hand on Wednesday evenings should phone (after 2pm) no: OBR2/627813 and make the necessary arrangements.

At home on Mendip, members have been down Cheddar Caves, Longwood, Goatchurch, Cuckoo Cleeves (surveying) Stoke Lane and diving in Wookey Hole.  Roger Stenner has logged five more trips into G.B. on his marathon water tracing study of this cave.

Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston s Mare, Somerset.
Hut Warden: P.Townsend, 154 Syvlia Avenue, Bristol 3.
EDITOR:  D.J. Irwin. 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.

Have you paid you sub? If not the B.B. mailing list gets ‘slashed’ next month – so get your sub in to Bob NOW.


 “He’s not been the same since he read the note in the B.B. about the club that has both a Tackle Master and Tackle Mistress.”


Belfry Working Weekend

A working weekend has been arranged for the 10/11 May – will members prepared to help contact the Hut Engineer:  John Riley.

A series of thefts have taken place from several club huts here on Mendip recently including the Belfry. Will all members using the Belfry, help to prevent temptation, ensure that the hut is always locked when no one is left there and that all the club tackle is locked away in the store.


A Brief Review of the Theory Available to the Cave Surveyor

By Mike Luckwill


The theory upon which surveying calculations are based has been fully developed over the last hundred years and is adequately documented in a number of standard textbooks.  These books also detail the method of carrying out the calculations by hand, although frequently the mass of information to be processed is more suitable to computer processing; here again the techniques are standard and the software packages readily available.  However, the large amount of survey data now in existence; the complex systems to which much of it applies and the increase in the accuracy of this data which will be seen during the next few years; demands that full use of the resources be made, and so it seems relevant at this time to review the theory available.  Although at times use will be made of worked examples, this article is not to be intended to be one of intrusion, nor does it contain any theoretical justification of most of the formulae used: for this, the reader must turn to standard texts. Assuming the reader has some mathematical ability the following books may be used, although any library will have at least one reference book of a suitable standard:

Clarke “Plane and Geodetic Surveying for Engineers.”  London: Constable, 1963. 2 vols.

Allan, Hollway and Maynes.  “Practical field surveying and computations.”  London: Heinemann 1968.

Rainsford.  “Survey adjustment and least Squares.”  London.  Constable, 1957.

Many surveyors worship the tin-god called “the close traverse” by means of a ritual called “closing the traverse”.  Unfortunately they seem to have forgotten the basis of this dogma, and, sadly, seem unable to apply it in the more complex cases when it is of more value.  It does seem important the hours of hard, dedicated caving required to obtain survey data, the maximum amount of information is not always extracted; or, even worse, more then the maximum is magically produced from nowhere.

In order to put the procedures into some kind of context we shall imagine ourselves faced with surveying a complex cave to a high degree of accuracy (at least C.R.G. grade 6).  The resulting survey will be a complex network in three dimensions.  The surveyed line between two nodes on this network will be called a traverse and is fully defined by three numbers and a datum point, such as one node.  In order to simplify the rest of the paper, each of these three numbers will be loosely referred to as a distance, elevation or bearing.  Also the reader should remember that any calculation using distance will in practice be triplicated.  The aim of the field work is to measure all the traverses; this work is planned by means of theoretical calculations beforehand and is followed by computations based on more theory.


Wherever a measurement is made it is accompanied by an error.  Errors are of three types; gross, systematic and random.  Gross errors are mistakes on the part of the surveyor and they must not occur; although this is easy to say, it is not always easy to practise, but as it really a practical matter and not theoretical one shall leave it. Systematic errors are difficult to detect in the field; every precaution should be taken to either remove them by careful calibration or turn them into random errors.  Random errors cannot be avoided but are practicable and amenable to statistical analysis.  We shall assume that in every case random errors are normally distributed although this is not in fact the case for indirectly found quantities.


If a line AB is surveyed n times, the results will be distributed about a mean, as in Fig.1. If each result has an associated error ‘e’, the error associated with the mean will be e  hence the usefulness of making a measurement as many times as possible. The mean is called the most probable value (m.p.v.). The difference between the mean and the ‘true’ value is called the systematic error and one of the aims of the surveyor is to reduce this as much as possible.  Since the true value can never be found (if it were it would never be recognised as such) the object of the survey is to find the m.p.v.



From a knowledge of the mean, , the standard deviation,   , can be obtained: 

The standard deviation is a measure of the spread of the results about the mean and so represented the precision of the set of results.  It is very important to note that it is possible to have a precise set of results and a high systematic error, i.e. high precision and low accuracy.

The badly named ‘probable error’, E is related to by E=0.6745 . Less than 1 result in 1000 will lie outside the limits +3E and -3E.  any result lying outside the limits 5E and -5E can safely be rejected as being incorrect. An example is now worked.

Example 1.

Calculate the mean and standard deviation of the following set of results.  Should the value 101.1 be rejected?

Using an assumed mean of 100:




x - 
























































                          = 0.52                                                 standard deviation =  


mean,   = 100.52                                                                                                   =   0.15

                                                                                                                        E  =   0.1

In this case the 5E limits give 100.02 and 101.02. thus the result 101.1 should be rejected as containing a systematic or gross error.



The probable error may also be used in planning the survey: if, for example, co-ordinates are required to 1m, the survey should be designed to give a probable error of 0.3m, with the expectation that only one co-ordinated in 1000 will be outside the required precision.

The normal distribution curve also gives the probability of obtaining any result (Fig.2).  The probability that two results will differ by 3 is approximately 0.0045.  If two such results are obtained than a systematic error is suspected.  The maximum systematic error that can pass undetected is therefore related to the standard error, which must be known beforehand.  The standard error may either be found by analysing survey data obtained with the instruments, or may be calculated theoretically from a knowledge of the instruments.  In the latter case a check should be made to ensure that these theoretical predictions are being realised in practice.


Having performed the pre-survey calculations, we make the survey and calculate the internode distances. We now have a three dimensional network with all the internode distances known.  If we were to attempt to draw the survey at this stage we should quickly discover that the data is not self-consistent.

A reference to Fig.3 which shows the distances along 7 traverses in a hypothetical system, will show that, for example, each possible route from A to E results in a different value for the distance A to B.  The problem is to adjust each traverse distance do that we, must ensure that the new values lies within the limits of error of the old values.



In order to illustrate the process the system will now be adjusted: -

First we choose A as a datum point.  We then let the m.p.v.s. of B,C,D and E be w,x,y and z.  If we consider each individual traverse, there is a difference between the observed distances and those calculated from the m.p.v.s.  The difference is called a residual and we can set up 7 equations:









V1 = w – 30

V2 = x – w – 15

V3 = z – w – 25

V4 = z – x – 13

V5 = y – 40

V6 = x – y – 3

V7 = z – y – 18

Using the theory of least squares; the minimum amount of disturbance to each value is obtained by making the sum of the squares of the residuals a minimum.  The equation is obtained from one observation (the distance along a traverse).

There is another set of equations which we might use: if we call the m.v.p.s. of the distances AB, BC, BE, CE, AD, DC, DE; d1, d2, d3, d4, d5, d6, d7, then by taking the three circuits P, Q and R we have:

P = d1 + d2 – d6 – d5 = 0

Q = d3 - d4 – d2 = 0

R = d6 + d4– d7 = 0

These are called condition equations, since they refer to the condition that a closed traverse the distances add up to zero.  Putting d1 = V1 + 30, etc., we now have three equations:

    V1 + V2 – V6 – V5 – 2 = 0

             V3 – V4 – V2 + 3 = 0

             V6 + V4 – V7 – 2 = 0

It is possible to choose other circuits, but there are only three which are unique.

Once again the best adjustment is made by causing the sum of the squares of the residuals (v12 + v22 + V32 + V42 + V52 + V62 + v72) a minimum.  A choice must be made between using the observation equations and using the conditions. Whichever is chosen a set of simultaneous equations will arise and it is the solution of these equations which involves the labour (or preferable a computer).  The number of equations to be solved will be the same as the number of independent unknowns if we use observation equations, or the same as the number of conditions if we use condition equations.  Clearly in this example we shall use condition equations. When the three equations involved are set up and solved we find that the residuals are:

V1 = - 4/24,


V5 = 4/24,

V2 = 3/24,


V6 = -25/24,

V3 = -35/24,


V7 = 29/24.

V4 = 6/24,

The adjusted distances then become: AB = 29

BC = 16    BE = 23    AD = 40    DC = 1   DE = 19    CE = 13

The reader is left to check that the adjusted distances are self- evident.

Having obtained an adjusted traverse distance, the position of the individual stations along the traverse must now be adjusted.  There is no theoretical basis for either of the methods available do it, it is usual to use the simplest.  The two procedures are that of Bowditch and the Transit method.  As the Transit method does not adjust the bearings as much as Bowditch’s method it is to be preferred in the case of a magnetic survey; it involves an adjustment in, the easting of each leg, equal to the mis-closure in the easting multiplied by the easting of the leg and divided by the total eastings of the traverse.  The Bowditch method involves the easting, say, multiplied by the length of the leg and divided by the total length of the traverse.

Combination Of Errors

We have seen that we must predict the probable error of each traverse: this is obtained by combining the errors associated with each leg.

If n quantities are summed the standard error of the sum is  times the standard error of each quantity (assuming these to be all the same).

Example 11.

PQ is a traverse containing n legs of length and bearings a1.  An error da1 in a1 will result in a displacement of Q at right angles to the line of the traverse of an amount sda1.  If the standard error of these errors is e, then the standard error of the position n of Q will be given by:

E = ±se

Example 111

PQ is a traverse containing n legs of length s and clockwise included angles a1 with errors as above.  The displacement of Q at right angles to the line of the traverse will be (n – i)sda1, caused by an error in a1.  The standard error of the position of Q will be given by:

E = ±se

A quick comparison of these two results will show why the prismatic compass was considered superior to the astrocompass when accurate cave-surveying first started.  Since the prismatic compass is now being used to the limit of its precision by one or two surveyors, it will soon be replaced by a theodolite; the latter instrument will be more precise, however, than an astrocompass.

Knowing the error, E, produced by the angular errors, we can plan the precision of the taping; which should produce a standard error of not more than E/ in each of n legs.

If the traverse is in the form of a loop the easting and northing errors will be about 1/ of the error of a straight traverse of the same length.

Expressions Of Accuracy

A C.R.G. grade 7 covers a multitude of sins.  Only one of the many forms in which the accuracy of a survey may be expressed will be discusses: it has the advantage that it enables traverses of different lengths to be compared.  The factor Q is defined by:

Q = t/L½

where t is the total misclosure (true distance) and L is the total length of the traverse.  Note that the factor has units.  A misclosure of 1 metre in 1000 metres gives Q = 0.03. perhaps this is a suitable target for cave-surveying during the next view years!


No mention has been made so far of the ability of the surveyor to weight his data.  Every computation so far discussed can be readily modified to take account of weighted results: the problem is a practical one and of utmost importance.  Data of equal reliability have equal weights.  Rarely will surveyed data or calculated data have equal reliability and so the surveyor has to attach a weight to each piece of data.  For length measurements it is usual to assume that the weights are inversely proportional to the length of the line; however, the conditions involved in cave surveying are so different from surface work that this is no longer a satisfactory assumption.  Since the purpose of this article is not only to review established procedures, we shall not speculate upon the problem.  There is no doubt, however, that the problem must be solved, either by theoretical analysis of survey data, before cave-surveying can be considered an accurate metrology.


We have considered the complex case of high accuracy.  The surveyor is at liberty to simplify or omit the procedures available whenever the accuracy of the survey is too low to warrant them.  However, in some cases any attempt to simplify only results in confusion. For example, if a complex system has been surveyed to a low accuracy, it may be just as well to adjust the results using the principle of least squares, knowing that the result will at least appear at the end of the work, as to try to adjust the results by inspection of the drawing which may easily lead to difficult decisions having no theoretical procedures available.

Whatever procedures are used it is most important that as well as giving the results, in the form of co-ordinates perhaps the standard error, or probable error, is given and the size of the misclosure stated.  In this way the user of the survey will not only be able to interpret the data correctly, but will be assured that the surveyor is himself aware of the accuracy of the work.


Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

Would Mr. Taylor care to clarify his statement in the February BB (No.251) that his self appointed Holy Trinity of the B.E.C. (Messrs Taylor, Targett and Sell) are the only real climbers in the Club?  As an unreal climber I would like to attempt to defend the other followers of the faith

Basically, rock climbing is merely an integral part of mountaineering, skiing, orienteering, snow and ice climbing and straight forward daisy picking; ramblings are also part of this great pastime.

In conversation with the three concerned, never once have I heard an appreciation of the mountains mentioned.  Surely this is one of the prime reasons for climbing as many life-long participants would agree.  I have been led to believe that when one is ‘real’ climbing one starts at the foot of the mountain and climbs by one’s chosen route to the top.  Mike Luckwill wrote about ‘real’ climbing last year (BB No.242 May 1968 – Ed).  Two routes 3,000ft. in all and a total height of gain of some 6,000ft.  But I may be mistaken.

Here in Scotland we use our local crags merely as practice grounds, not ends in themselves.  Maybe our ‘real’ climbing friends should try a typical Scottish winter weekend: - Drive 200 miles, pack camp gear 4 to 5 miles, camp, plough through snow – sometimes waist deep, carrying bivvy and climbing gear.  The routes can be up to 2,000ft. of heavily iced rock – this means often cutting steps for long periods of time.  The end of the climb at 4,000ft. and then descend to camp.  Pack up next day and descend to car.  This in my estimation constitutes ‘real’ climbing.

Before I close this letter I would like to point out that I am not trying to minimise Mr. Taylor’s feat; I am trying to point out that to be a real climber one must do what one enjoys most in the hills or on the crags and not them try to belittle anyone who doesn’t particularly see any point in it.

                        Steve Grime. Fife, Scotland.

Just a Sec

With Alan Thomas

Congratulations to Tony Meaden and Phil Kingston on their forthcoming nuptials.

Kangy was home recently on a flying visit.  He was full of admiration for the French test pilot.

On a recent holiday to the skiing area of Scotland, ‘Alfie’ managed to break his right leg when a ski hit some soft snow.  He is hobbling about on one leg chasing the cat but hopes to be back in circulation shortly.

Perhaps it is time to remind members that all trips by club members should be written up in the club log, according to the rules of the club.  It does not matter that members, caving or climbing, do not return to the Belfry, where the log is kept, immediately after the trip; it does not matter if the dates are out of order.  Try to remember after a trip to write it up in the log as soon as possible after the event.

Could St. Cuthbert’s leaders also ensure that every member of their party signs the St. Cuthbert’s Log before going down the cave.  This, of course, is the book in which the leader should also write details of the trip.

It is hoped that the Club exhibition, which is on show in Wells Museum from 14th to 25th April, may go ‘on tour’ afterwards.  We should be glad to hear from anyone who can suggest a suitable venue for an exhibition of ‘Caves and Caving’ during May or June.  This could take the form of either 12’ x 6’ or 6’ x 6’ show case of exhibits.


Report of the Hon. Secretary of the M.R.O.

(abridged) - Dr. Oliver Lloyd

Cave Rescues and Incidents

There were six of these in the twelve months, (there were in fact 7 – this being added to this report as 4A – Ed) which is again an improvement on last year.  The most notable change has been an absence of Swildon’s Hole rescues, since the loss of the 40ft. pitch due to the floods of July 10th. It must, however, not be assumed that the present route taken by the stream and by cavers would be passable in the event of a real flood.  The bar and pulley over the 40’ in Suicide’s Leap were carried away by the flood. Arrangements will be made to replace them.

1. Cuckoo Cleeves, 10-3-68

Axbridge C.G. found a large party of juvenile novices led by Adventure Unlimited which had got into difficulties.  They were ill-equipped and were having difficulty re-ascending the 13ft. pot by their knotted rope.  A.C.G. helped them to the surface.  M.R.O. was not called out.

2. Sidcot Swallet, 13-4-68

Member of 1st Kingston Hill Venture Unit got stuck at head of final drop.  M.R.O. called at 1.55pm and by 2.20pm party from B.E.C. had reached the cave and brought caver to surface at 3pm.

3. Sump Rescue Turnout to Pontypool, Mon. 22-4-68

At 8.10pm Dr. Lloyd received a telephone call from Mel Davies in Pontypool to say that sump apparatus and divers were needed to explore flooded conduit, in which two children were believe to have been lost.  Lloyd and Savage reached Pontypool Police Station at 10.00pm and learnt that the incident had been concluded:  it was a false alarm.

4. Nine Barrows Swallet,  12-5-68

Benham, aged 34, caving with E.S.C.C. was climbing in Crystal Chamber when he fell and broke his tibia and fibula in one leg.  At 2.50pm Dr. Thompson was called out, arriving at cave 3.10pm.  He splinted both legs together and put him into the carrying sheet.  He was out of the cave in about one hour.

4a. Swildon’s Hole,  25-5-68

Party of three cavers became exhausted in the Double troubles.  Search party got together.  Returning party of divers escorted the party to the 40’ where rescue team met them.  16 people were put on standby.

5. Swildon’s Hole,  26-5-68

Martyn, a novice caver with more enterprise than resources, having had his first caving experience the previous day in Burrington, descended Swildon’s Hole in a party of three. He had no wet suit, but in spite of the delay at the 40’ he went down to end through sump 1, only to find on his return he was too cold to climb the 40’ ladder.  Entered cave at 12.30pm and the incident began at about 4pm.  4.40pm M.R.O. called and advance party entered cave at 5.10pm.  Meanwhile his party with the aid of the Clifton College cavers rigged up a double lifeline on the pulley in Suicide’s Leap and Martyn climbed without any difficulty.  The subject emerged at about 5.50pm.

Webb (leader of Martyn’s party, had been a member of CSS) but this was not one of the Club’s trips. A certain amount of ill-feeling resulted from inaccurate reporting of the incident.  Reference to the Warden’s log shows that inaccuracies did not stem from there.

6. Swildon’s Hole,  2-7-68

At 9.30pm Robin Main called at Belfry to say that two cavers, who had entered the cave at noon, had not returned the keys.  Turner and party, after checking local pubs went down and searched the upper series leaving the cave at 11.30pm.  (The 40’ wasn’t laddered).  They could not be found.

Practice rescues were carried out in the following caves during 1968: -

St. Cuthbert’s; Longwood; Swildon’s and G.B. Cavern.  Besides these, baths practices were held with the new neoprene bag and the Sump Rescue Apparatus Mk.2.

A Swildon’s practice held on the 40’ (after the flood) by S.M.C.C. brought the following comments by Bob Craig: …for the first 10ft. three people are necessary in the chamber below the 40’.  Two people on the ledge above the 10ft. drop and below the squeeze at the rift end are essential.  As there is no room to pass in the rift, 4 people should then take over and be prepared to carry up the new rift.  The waterfall pitch below the Water Chamber creates no problems but a person halfway up this 15ft. drop is useful to guide the “victim” and supply some pull.

On 14-8-68 a meeting of Wardens with Chief Inspector Reese of the Wells Police discussed various subjects including Walkie Talkies – Wells Police have to hire them from the Home Office and are kept at Keynsham so make time to obtain them during rescue; relations with press – during rescue reporters should be referred to Warden in charge on surface, who will have detailed off a member of M.R.O. to act as Press relations.  Afterwards refer them to the Warden in charge; NO COMFORT COULD BE OFFERED TO A RESCUER, IF HE WAS CONVICTED OF HAVING EXCESSIVE BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL WHILE DRIVING ON HIS WAY TO A RESCUE.


Monthly Notes No.22

by ‘Wig’

St. Cuthbert’s

GOUR HALL AREA (caving Report No.13, Part F) will be on sale on Saturday 19th April 1969.  price 3/-.  The contents include a detailed survey of the area; photographs; R.S.D.; description and survey notes.  The survey includes all known passages in the area.

G.B. Rescue

Many members living in the Bristol area will know already of the rescue from G.B. of a party that had been trapped in the cave overnight 23/24 march.  A team of St. Albans Caving Club entered the cave on Sunday and obeying the instructions locked the entrance gate behind them.  On their return they found that the key would not turn in the lock and while forcing the lock broke the key broke.  The following day one of the wives phoned Geoff Bayne of the ‘Old Vic’ at Priddy to find out what had happened.  Bayne went to the entrance and found the party.  Having determined the trouble, Baynes called the FIRE SERVICE, who after a little trouble managed to prize the door open

Two important questions must be raised regarding this incident that is not unknown on Mendip during the last few years.

  1. Why didn’t the party leave a note with someone to say what time they would be out of the cave?  Of the St. Albans party did they not know the elementary rule of leaving a note with the farmer or at the hut where they were staying, then how many other caving parties on Mendip are doing the same thing?  Have the local ‘pubs’ that ‘take-in’ cavers over the weekend any method of telling where the parties staying with them are at any time? – if they haven’t then it’s time they had.
  2. Why was the Fire Service called at all?  Why wasn’t the M.R.O. called to deal with this simple affair instead of calling an already overworked public service?

St. Cuthbert’s – Rabbit Warren

About 130ft. of new passage has been discovered in the Rabbit warren very near the Railway Tunnel. It consists of a very tight entrance passage leading to two small and very muddy chambers with fine stal. flows along one side.  A passage at one end of the second chamber continues for several feet before degenerating into a very tight bedding plane, the upper end of which ends in a boulder choke. The area has been taped in order to preserve the fine crystal clusters in the basins of some small gours.

Longwood/August Key

Members wishing to visit Longwood/August System can obtain the key from Dave Irwin, 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.  To ensure that the key arrives in good time for the trip will you contact Dave in good time, at least 14 days notice, so that the key can be sent to you.

O.F.D. III trip.

On the recent trip to O.F.D. III during the Easter weekend, the following tackle was used and should be put on record for other members who may wish to visit this fine system.

2 – 25ft. ladders

2 – 5ft. tethers

2 – 120ft. lifelines

1 – 10ft. ladder

The lifelines and 10ft. ladder are for ‘travelling’ purposes and will be found useful on the many climbs and traverses.


The Editor would like to offer his apologies to all members who have not yet received their B.B.’s for some of the issues of this year.  A number of pages have been running out of print before all of the BB’s could be assembled but the situation should be sorted out in the next few weeks when it is hoped that BB printing methods will be back onto an even footing.

Whitsun Meet In Yorkshire

Camping at Skirwith Farm. The programme of meets include Tatham Wife Hole; Alum Pot; Grange Rigg; in addition a private trip organised by the Dining Room Digging Team will be paying a visit to Black Shiver Pothole.  Kingsdale Master Cave can be visited without prior arrangement.


Several members have requested that the B.B. be sent to them unfolded.  If this is the case will members send addressed envelopes to Dave Smith, Flat 15, 193 Wensley Road, Coley Park, Reading. If you have not received your BB’s for any month then Dave’s the man to contact to find out whether it has been sent to you or not.

Subscription Reminders

This is the last B.B. you will receive unless you have paid your 1969 subscription – remember it was due on 31st January – send it to Bob now (699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4).


Route Severity Diagram

By S.J. Collins

PART 4.  Wetness

The basic sign for wetness is a wavy line.  This goes outside the passage or pitch, so that if we want to draw a passage that is both wet and constricted, the signs do not get in each other’s way.  Once again, it does not matter whether we draw the wetness sign outside one or the other side of the passage, and if the passage is wet and tight, we can draw the two signs on the same side of the passage or on opposite sides just as we please.


Everybody should now be able to draw a wet pitch.  It should not even be necessary to illustrate one, so we shan’t bother.

PART 5.  Exposure

By this, we mean exposure in the climbing sense.  In case there is someone who is not familiar with the term, you are in an exposed position in a cave if it is possible to fall from where you are to some lower place in the cave.

Constriction was indicated by putting a sign (like a sharp point) INSIDE the passage or pitch.  Wetness was indicated by putting a wavy line OUTSIDE the passage or pitch.  There is only one other place we can use, that is the actual side itself.  Exposure is thus indicated by BREAKING THE ACTUAL LINE IN THE PASSAGE OR PITCH. Thus, a ledge is shown like this: -




In the case of EXPOSURE of this sort, the actual side on which the exposure occurs is the one shown dashed.  Thus, in the passage below, of you were going from A to B you would expect to cross a ledge with a drop on your right……


If anyone has been doing some thinking, I can almost hear the objection coming up at this stage. Why is a pitch drawn with solid walls when you are in an exposed position al the time you are climbing it? The answer is that a pitch drawn with solid lines means that you would expect to use TACKLE on it (which should keep you from falling!)  This is distinct from a CLIMB which is drawn like a pitch but with exposure signs like this….


…….and means that you would normally be expected to climb it without tackle.

PART 6.  Boulders

The hazard represented by rocks was not originally part of the R.S.D. but has been added at the request of many cavers.  Again, we use the actual passage side and the inside.  In fact, our basic passage becomes very distorted – as it does in real when passing through a boulder ruckle!


We use the basic boulder sign (diamond symbol) in other ways, which we will show later.

The reader who has been doing some thinking may well have another objection at this stage.  He may think “old Collins told us that all these signs could be used together if necessary.  Now he has gone and introduced a sign for a boulder ruckle with the sign for tightness.  We can’t therefore show a tight boulder ruckle”.

THIS IS TRUE – and it was one of the reasons why this was not part of the original R.S.D.  Later, we shall be able to use a way round it.

PART 7.  Junctions and routes

We said that there were eight basic symbols.  We have dealt with the signs for PASSAGE, PITCH, CONSTRICTION, WETNESS, EXPOSURE, BOULDER and now we come to the last two.

Passage junctions are shown just as you would expect.  Like this…..


                                                                                                ………..and thus basic sign is the one by which we denote that two or more routes are in the same cave space.  This might be in a large chamber or along the floor and halfway up a high rift.  They are shown as separate routes within a dotted area.  This sign can be used to denote the route passing through a large chamber if desired.

To be continued.


British Speleological Association

National Speleological Conference and Exhibition

Manchester University September 12th – 15th 1969

PHOTO SALON…..open to all cave photographers.  Each entrant can submit up to three colour slides and up to three black and white prints. All entries are returned after the showing at the conference.

There will be three prizes of £3, £2 and £1 in each section.  All colour slides should bear the name of the photographer and should be spotted at the left hand corner (bottom) facing the viewer.  Entries should be submitted to the Photo Salon Secretary, Mr. Price, 28 Cherrytree Way, Southmoor, Nr. Abingdon, Berks, not later than September 3rd, 1969.

Application forms are available from Photo Salon Secretary or Ian Standing, Grove Cottage, Watledge, Nailsworth, Glos.

Library List No.1 Caving Books (a)


Texas, The Caves of

Nat. Spelio. Soc. U.S.A.


Jenolan Caves – Australia

B. Dunlop


Homes of Primeval Man – Czech

J. Kinsky


Wookey Hole:  It’s Caves and Dwellings

H.E. Balch


Cave Men, New and Old (2 cps)

N. Casteret


My Caves (2cps)

N. Casteret


Ten Years Under the Earth (2cps)

N. Casteret


The Cave Book

Earth Science Inst., U.S.A.


Mendip – It’s Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters (2cps)

H.E. Balch


Mendip – The Great Cave of Wookey Hole

H.E. Balch


Mendip – Cheddar, It’s Gorge and Caves

H.E. Balch


Mendip Caves, The

H.E. Balch


Derbyshire, The Caves of

T.D. Ford (1st Ed)


Cave Hunting

W. Boyd Dawkins


Caves and Caving No.2



Underground Adventure

Gemmel & Meyers


Caves of Adventure (2cps)

H. Taziefe


Rouffignac, The Cave of

L.R. Nougier and R. Robert


Adventures Underground

V.S. Wigmore & A.N.W.


British Caving

Ed. Cullingford, C.R.G. (1st Edition)


Darkness Under the Earth (2cps)

H.W. Franke


Caves and Caverns of Peakland

C. Porteous


Pennine Underground

N. Thornber (1st Edition)


Underground in Furness

E.G. Holland


Copper Mines of Alderney Edge

‘Jug’ Jones


Cyprus, Some Caves of

‘Jug’ Jones


Scotland, Some Caves and Mines

‘Jug’ Jones


Pre History

A. de Pradenne


Yorkshire Caves and Potholes, No.2 Under Ingleborough



Yorkshire Caves and Potholes, No.1 Under North Ribblesdale



Netherworld of Mendip

H.E. Balch


Exploring Caves



Hunters and Artists

Peake & Fleure


Subterranean Climbers



Lascaux – A Commentary

Houghton Brodrick


Lascaux Cave Paintings, The



Au Fond des Gouffres

N. Casteret

to be continued


A scout sent his sleeping bag to a dry cleaners and took it with him to camp.  He died from the cleaning fluid fumes.  If you send your sleeping bag to the cleaners ensure that it is well aired before using it by turning it inside out and hang it up for several hours before use.

It’s The Thought That Counts

It was reported that four boys has left O.D.G. for Pike of Blisco and had not returned.  It was misty as Sid and a few others took the land rover to the top of Wrynose and started to search the west slopes of Pike of Blisco.  There was a storm but fortunately the boys were soon found and taken down to the land rover and back to Langdale.  The following day the four called at the O.D.G. and asked to speak to the boss. Sid appeared and the largest of the four shyly told Sid, “We have had a whip around mister, and will you please accept the 13/4 we have collected?”

( Langdale Mountain Rescue Report)


The Waterfall

By ‘Jock’ Orr.

It was Monday and the sight of Alan Thomas crouched over his camera, in the act of photographing a freak horizontal icicle hanging under Ladywell aqueduct by Plantation Swallet reminded me of the waterfall I discovered on a hot summer day many years ago. It was up in the hills away on the far side of a valley at a place called Roman Bridge.

I daresay other people knew about the waterfall before I did.  It’s there if anybody takes the trouble to look for it.  There wasn’t anyone around on the day I, or rather we, found it.  And since that day happened to be arranged so that everything was just right, and as it should be, and because the surprise of finding this perfect waterfall put the finishing touch to a perfect day; she named it Enchanted Waterfall.

After this, we kept in touch fairly regularly for the next few weeks and then I had to go away for some time; there were no replies to the letters I wrote and I got to wondering about this and losing sleep over it I shrugged it off as one of those things. I never heard from her again.

Alan noticed my apparent lack of interest in the icicle and he remarked that it was a pretty good icicle and deserved a photograph.  I replied with some absent-minded comment, and still thinking about Roman Valley, which I hadn’t thought about for many years because I had forgotten all about the place long ago, delivered one of those seemingly disconnected remarks that tend to annoy people by saying that the appearance of the aqueduct would be enhanced if it was demolished and reconstructed in the form of a stone arch instead of just being a leaking pipe.

 “Oh! I don’t know,” say Alan, “The pipe is quite adequate for the purpose.” – and I suppose he was right.

We set off then along the path to the Mineries and inspected the ice which was giving off a sound not unlike a deep and mellow xylophone note, which we thought was quite unusual, and listened to it attentively.  We then proceeded on our way over towards Priddy Pool, where buster, the dog, who had been trailing us condescended to join the walk.

In the forest we found the peculiar shapes of ice formations on the underside of the ice lying in the track ruts quite interesting, and then decided it was time to retire to the Hunters. It was about then that I thought that since Roman Bridge was somewhere in North Wales and I happened to be living there, then it would be a good idea to find it on the map and go and see the waterfall again some day.

We finished our beer and then set off on tour of the ruins of what Alan described as the site of the Old Iron Masters of Mells, which felt held a fine dramatic echo, steel, and ringing hammers about it.

The walk finished in fine style with a pounding march along a mile of railway track, and back again, to see some non-existent antique railway engines which had evidently been stolen from the derelict engine shed and carted away by someone with a mania for collecting old steam locomotives.

During this perambulation my boots appeared to have spouted extensions which tripped and kicked against the concrete railway sleepers and caused my gammy ankle to buckle and jar agonisingly at every step.  I must admit I was a bit sick of watching Alan’s springy step ten yards ahead of me and by the time we reached the car I felt as if I was dragging along a bag of looses bones tied together with string inside my left boot and was glad of the chance to sit down.

In the evening Alan retired to his caravan to prepare for an appointment in Wells and I departed from Mendip and drove home through snow covered countryside to Anglesey and went to bed, dead beat!

On Tuesday I lit a fire and cooked a hefty mid-afternoon breakfast and out of curiosity had a look at the map whilst eating and spotted Roman Bridge almost straight away.  It was near enough to get there within three hours and having nothing else to do for the rest of the day I gathered outdoor clothes and rations and set off from the cottage in search of Roman Bridge.

Usually I do my driving at night to avoid the day time traffic, but there wasn’t much on the road this day.  The freezing east wind came rampaging down out of the snow-covered mountains and bellowed through the Francon Pass.  And Bethesda Town had put up the shutters.  On the way up the pass the wind gusted under the car and lifted it on its springs and then swooped up and belaboured the sides until it felt like a speed-boat bumping across choppy waves.  At the side of the road the telegraph wire snaked and whipped around on the ground where it had torn free from the leaning poles.  Road grit and small rocks and lumps of frozen snow flew along above the road surface as if the law of gravity had gone mad. Overhead, the sky was grey-black, and on the other side of the pass, as if guarding the entrance to some titanic lair up in the mountains.  Perfedd and Foelgoch and Y’Garn crouched and steamed in frost haze like might stone beasts covered with great black-rock scare stark against the snow on their backs. Their supper was cooking, a fine brew of boiling black cloud and writhing veils of sleet spouted around inside the Devil’s Kitchen.  Except for the reassuring presence of two R.A.F. Mountain Rescue Land Rovers standing on the car park at the Mountain Rescue Post there wasn’t a sign of humanity to be seen anywhere.

The whole place brooded and skulked under the lead coloured sky.  Llyn Ogwen was a solid sheet of ice and nearby Tryfan glared across the wilderness from under his black crags.  I looked over my shoulder, half expecting a troop of abominable snowmen to come marching down out of the murk, and got the car away off down the road as fast as I could.

Along the road, Betws-y-Coed was still digging itself out of the snowdrifts and I noticed ice flows on the River Conway as I drove over Waterloo Bridge. When I turned off the main road to Roman Bridge, where the headwaters of the Lledr have their source, I met the full force of the penetrating east wind blowing flat out across the wide snowbound expanse of open ground.  It looked as bleak and as bitter as deserted wastes of the Artic. I shivered in the warmth of the car, and if the track had not been clear of snow I would have turned round and got myself out of the place.

Evening was drawing near and light began to fade and it was a long way back to Anglesy.  Now I had arrived I decided to stay where I was for the night and drove the car in behind a stone wall which afforded a convenient wind break.  I left the engine and heater running while I settled down inside my sleeping bag for the night remembering to switch off the engine before going go sleep.  Outside, in the frozen night, the wind moaned and soughed through the branches of some nearby pine trees with an eerie persistence while I thought of food, bright fireplaces and comfortable armchairs and a book.

I awakened in the dark and struggled out of my sleeping bag, cursing the freezing cold, and switched on the interior light.  The car windows were covered with snow and the air inside was stuffy.  According to my wristwatch it was ten o’clock, but I wasn’t sure whether it was night or morning; whichever it was I needed some fresh air.  I dressed swiftly and covered up in nylon waterproofs.  There was probably a blizzard blowing and I would need protection when I got out in it.  The car doors would not open and I noticed that the inside of the car was festooned with small icicles from the condensation.  Eventually I succeeded in winding down one of the windows and started digging upwards thorough the snow by scooping it into the car!

It was Wednesday morning alright and I was relieved to see it was daylight and that it had stopped snowing.  My hands were frozen stiff and the gloves were wringing wet with the tunnelling but there was nothing else for it but to get down to the luggage boot for the spade and dig the car out of the drift which had accumulated in the shelter of the wall.  The effort soon warmed me up, and ravenously hungry with the keen air and cold I lit the primus stove and prepared a steaming bowl of porridge and raisins. Between mouthfuls I contorted my face to produce a most satisfying reflection of glowering disgust in the driving mirror, which despite the toiling and the traumas of the morning incarceration, put me in a good mood.

After breakfast I emerged from the fuggy warmth of the sopping-wet and steamed-up interior of the car glad to get out of it and after leaving a note stuck on the inside of the windscreen to say “gone for a walk, back soon” set off towards the hillside in the direction of where I remembered the waterfall to be, climbing the first two hundred feet or so at a steady pace.

It was all very different from the last time I had been there; the warm peaty-herby scents and the blue sky and the blazing summer day.  I stopped for a moment to ease the gasping of cold air to normal breathing and slow pounding heart to a steady beat, and then continued on upwards across the snow-covered side of the hill until the waterfall came into view.

And there it was.  I gazed in astonishment at the transformation. The waterfall had changed itself into a surprise of cascading ice crystal; a flow of gleaming glass; an intricate candelabra of glittering icicles and the water scintillated, chattered, chuckled, tinkled, hissed, splashed and sprayed like a shower of sparkling diamonds over and through the ice and on into the frozen pool.

I made my way cautiously down the side of the gorge, which wasn’t all that deep but nevertheless a trap with all the ice underfoot, and settled myself in a niche in the rocks at the edge of the stream and gazed at the spectacle, at the same time trying to make myself as unobtrusive as I could for fear of breaking the spell.

No doubt there were bigger frozen waterfalls than this.  There was, maybe, a waterfall turned to ice and stuck to the side of a mountain somewhere, too magnificent and lofty and wide to inspire anything except awe at the grandeur of it all; but this one was indeed a truly enchanted waterfall set in a secret place amongst the wilderness of black rock and frozen snow.

Although it was sheltered and out of the wind down in the gorge, the cold was beginning to gnaw at me and I shifted around carefully with a wary eye on the smooth ice at the edge of the frozen pool.  The last thing I wanted was a ducking in the chilled water.  I changed position, all the while muttering and marvelling to myself, and then, without warning, a huge white and brown bird floated out from a recess hidden behind a cluster of icicles high in the back of the gorge. Startled for a second by its sudden appearance, I nearly lost my footing and slipped into the freezing pool, before I recognised that the bird was a large owl.  It hovered for a moment and started at me intently out of its round eyes and then swooped over my head and glided away down the stream on sharp, thin wings, like a silent phantom.

I stood stock still for some minutes hoping that the owl would return but the cold began to creep in on me again and I to leave take my leave of the waterfall, reluctantly, pausing at the top of the gorge to look back at the scene.

Up on the high ground a real eye-stinger of a wind let fly across the frozen snow, sweeping scuds of drift snow through the air.  Dark clouds wracked across the whole sky and the hills glowered and hulked in their solitude.  Everything in sight was black and white with touches of grey.  Black rock and black laceries of walls and boulders across the white snow.  Black trees and black forests in the distance.

I took shelter from the wind in the lee of a rock and ate my rations of dry oatmeal and raisins and lit a roll-your-own cigarette and puffed away at it with great enjoyment, calculating how long it would be safe to say up here before the light faded.

Away to the west behind nearby hills, the clouds thinned to a murky yellow glow and revealed the triangular peak of Snowdon illuminated a lurid orange from the evening sun.  To the north, rearing in the foreground, the black ramparts on the flank of Moel Siabod; and further to the right, Moel Siabod himself towered, glowered and grim, in shredded cape of flying black cloud.

I stood up out of the shelter and took a hard long look at Moel Siabod.  A few moments ago the summit had been visible, and now Siabod had his head buried in the cloud and was sniffing the blizzard.  I felt an extraordinary compulsion to start climbing upward towards his slopes and into the streaming cloud, and it was an effort to look away from this remote and fearsome dominance.  Away to the east, the hills had vanished from sight under the advancing snow.  The first flurries of white granules swept in on the wind, hiding the valley below.  It was time to get off the hills and sown to the shelter of the car.  I made the descent with care, anxious to avoid any ankle trouble on the way down, but content with my walk in the hills and feeling fit and fresh from the cold clean air.

Back at the car I was in the middle of packing up when the farmer from Coed Mawr came, driving down the track on a tractor.  He stopped and I walked over to meet him.  “Did you enjoy your walk?” he bellowed through the wind.  “Yes thank you,” I shouted back. “Very much indeed! I’ve been up to the waterfall.” He looked at me with some concern. “Oh yes? nasty place that, very dangerous.  I remember there was a bad accident there a few years ago.”

“Can’t say it struck me as being dangerous,” I said.  “In fact I’ve always thought of it as a pleasant spot.  Accident did you say?”

“Aye!” he shouted above the wind.  “Young lass, it was.  She fell off the top of it and got drowned in the pool.”  He blew hot breath into his cupped hands.  “A mighty cold day to be out walking, I reckon.  Looks like more snow.”  I stared up at him. Stuck for a reply, and nodded my head.  He shrugged his shoulders and revved the tractor engine. “Well, I’m off.  Cheerio.”  I watched him lurch off up the track and then got into the car and drove away from Roman Bridge Valley, slowly, because I was thinking that it was a sad, bitter place.

That night, the weather report on the radio announced blizzards pouring into Kent, Dorset, Somerset and North Wales.  Down at the ‘Stag’ the talk was all about Anglesy being cut off from the mainland.  I gazed into my beer and said nothing, there are some people you can talk to and others you can’t

I drank my beer in a silent toast to the enchanted waterfall, and I thought about what the farmer had said up at Coed Mawr, and remembered about the letters that never got an answer, and I also thought too about the white and brown speckled owl and its staring eyes and sharp thin wings and wondered if it was sitting snug and warm in its roost amongst the icicles; then I imagined it slipping through the warm summer night air on its silent wings.

Maybe I’ll go back and look for the owl again someday.  But, thinking it over, maybe it would be better not to.


B.E.C. Trip to O.F.D. III

By Dave Yendle

In glorious sunshine a happy party of Roy Bennett, Dave Irwin, Dave Glover, ‘Bucket’ Tilbury, ‘Bert’ and myself wandered up the hill to the top entrance of the 15 mile long O.F.D. System – and above all things actually entered the cave!

Winding our way through the maze of entrance passages we soon reached Gnome Passage and so on to the Chasm – a fantastic rift of huge proportions.  The way lay along this enormous rift up and down interesting climbs until we reached the ‘dreaded’ rift traverse which is over 200ft. in length.

The atmosphere was tense as ‘The Wig’ edged his way across the tricky start of the traverse when, at the critical moment, a thunderous crash resounded through the galleries. Panic followed until we realised it was only Roy dropping a boulder down a huge hole!  At last we staggered across the traverse and after more climbs and a squeeze (quite out of place in such a large cave) reached the Three Streamway.  On the way, very near the streamway we saw some magnificent bunches of helictites - some nearly 1ft. long.

We by-passed the initial section of the streamway, by traversing over the streamway to a high level passage by means of a maypole placed in position by members of the SWCC and so on up to Smith’s Armoury – a pleasant end of the cave after over half-a-mile of fine streamway.  Smith’s Armoury is a large chamber thought to be very near the Byfre – the sinking point of the O.F.D. stream.  As a very strong draught was whistling though the chamber Roy, Bucket and myself set out to see if there was a way through the terminal boulder choke – there wasn’t!  The return journey was not without incident, dangerously poised boulders, interesting climbs, but after nine and half hours underground we emerged into the cold night air feeling quite pleased with our efforts.


BELFRY KEYS can be obtained form Bob Bagshaw – 2/6 each.


Committee Change  New Committee Post

Bob Cross has been co-opted onto the Committee as Assistant Hut Warden.



Caves in Upper Austria

A Chat – By Dr. Hans Seigal

This is not a scientific report, nor is it a complete list or description.  Such matters would have to be published elsewhere.

It’s hard to say how often I have been asked what we cavers are searching for underground.  Whenever people find out that I deal with caves and take part in expeditions, they ask me that question.  A comprehensive answer would fill a thick volume.  Let me try to say it in a few words:  we look, experience and explore.  We are servants of science, and in our community experts and laymen have equal rights.  He, who wants to become famous, is in the wrong place.  I must beg your pardon that I am going to talk about myself a little.

When I was a youngster studying at a secondary school (one of my teachers was a grand geologist and mineralogist) I visited the Dachstein Ice Cave.  The group was guided by the present manager, Herr Roman Pils.  I was much enthused and wanted to go there again and again, but I could not.  Only after World War II, being a patient of the military hospital at Obertraun, I met my cave guide again.  My friendship with this extraordinary man, gave me a great uplift, and though I am badly handicapped, I took up visiting that cave again and again.  I even worked there as a guide.  Encouraged by my friend, I underwent the examination for cave guides and joined the Landeverein fur Hohlenkunde (the Cave Research Group of Upper Austria).  In this way I became a caver.

Some years ago, I stated in an article written for some prominent periodical, that caves should be entered only in company with an expert.  But who is an expert?  He who is familiar with the matter is one.  In the case of caves this matter is rather extensive.  A caver must at least be familiar with all alpinistic techniques on rock and ice; he must know how to handle all the material a climber needs, including rope ladders, belaying material and an acetylene lamp (the best and most reliable source of light for the caver).

Before talking of the caves themselves, let me say: caving means teamwork.  It’s hazardous to go there alone, the danger being the same as with rock climbing – but in addition to that there is complete darkness in a cave (so have a good light with you).

But now let’s start talking business:

By January 1966, 866 caves were known in Upper Austria of which 277 were unexplored, 180 superficially explored, 110 almost, and 299 completely explored. We take it for granted that there are many more caves in our province.  Our cave Research Group together with the other provincial groups being united in the Verband Osterreichischer Hohlenforscher (Association of Austrian Speleologists) is eagerly working at a cadastral list of the caves in Upper Austria forming part of a cadastral register of all Austrian caves.  In this work are interested: our agricultural authorities, our army and, last not least, the administration of tourist traffic.

There is a lot of literature on our commercial caves.  In Upper Austria there are four: Dachstein Ice Cave, Dachstein Mommoth cave, Koppenbruller Cave (an active water cave) and the Gassl cave (near Ebensee, which – I am sorry to say – has been closed down for a few years for the lack of guides).

But here I want to talk of ‘wild caves’.  Most of them are reserved to speleologists and cavers as a layman would not be able to stand the strain.  It is not always the danger that keeps the layman off, but strain and endurance. There are not too many people who want to work in darkness and moisture, creeping on their bellies though tight passages in wet loam.

Let me begin with our Hierlatz Cave (1) extending a number of miles.  It has taken many years of hard work to explore and survey it.  Many brave men have done their share in it.  The entrance opens high in the northern face of the Heirlatz.  Formerly you had to climb up to that place and to creep in on your belly (now it’s a bit easier as the entrance has been widened by blasting).  In the entrance hall you put on your overall (which ought to be water-proof).   You fix your spikes as you have to ascend on ice. It takes a few hours to reach the main system.  Most of our tours took three days.  This cave is of great interest in many respects – geologically and morphologically. It’s hard for a layman to believe that there are many places spacious enough to build a large house in it.  A detailed description would fill a whole book. I am aware of the fact that even a week or more underground does not mean a record – we do our work for science.

A visit to Lettenmayr Cave near Kremsmunster is far less troublesome.  It is one of those caves are protected by our authorities (Authority for the Protection of Architectural and Natural Monuments) and you must ask permission so as to visit it.  Any kind of digging is forbidden, you mustn’t take away any samples of minerals or other things either.  It has been badly devastated when saltpetre was obtained, or rather extracted, from the cave after World War II.  Thousands of years ago it was populated by the cave bear (ursus spelaeus).  There are more caves of this type here in Austria the largest of them being the Dragon Hole (Drachenloch) in Styria from which wagon loads of phosphate were extracted after World War II.

To the mountaineer roaming our Dead Mountains (Totres Gebirge) (2), a cave entrance is not a rare view.  He often meets with such things.  Many a big hole has been a disappointment, while small ones have often opened up wonders. There is a dripstone cave near Hangender Kogel (you would possibly call it Slanting Peak). This is not a very high mountain but it’s an imposing one with respect to its shape.  Coming from Hochkogelhutte, you follow a narrow footpath that, quite abruptly, ends somewhere in the rocks.  But at last you reach the entrance near which (inside the cave) there is a jackdaw’s nest.  On you go climbing over big boulders.  Soon you are faced with wonderful dripstone formations (you Englishmen have a clearer expression in your language – you find both dripstone and flowstone). Deeper down you find terra rossa which proves that many millennia ago there was subterranean climate in this region. Words are too poor to describe all the wonderful things you will see there: among others there are clusters of calcite crystals resembling Christmas trees, although tiny ones only.

We cave people mostly avoid speaking of these things because such stories might attract people who are likely to devastate such places.  This has happened in the cave mentioned above, and that’s a great pity as such formations will not form any more – the climatic conditions have greatly changed. There are even eccentrics (you will also hear the word helictites being used for them) in this cave.  Far more of this type of calcite formation you will find in some other caves, especially in Excentrique Cave in Lower Austria where they prevail.  It would be a sin of omission not to mention a cave situated quite near the border of our province – the Raucherkar Cave (3) which is known to quite a number of you. Here you may find anything a caver’s heart may long for.  The start was not very promising (1961) but after the expedition of 1967 it has turned out to be a gigantic phenomenon.  Nobody can foretell what new things lie ahead of us in this cave.

There is one more range of mountains, the Hollengebirge (a misnomer as it ought to be “Hohlengebirge” – cave mountains).  In recent years quite a bit of work has been done here.  I must beg your pardon having told you so much that you have known already. Maybe you have not heard of the Kreidelucke (Chalk Hole) that is near a waterfall (called Stromboding) near Windischgarstein.  In dry weather it is quite a pleasurable trip, but when it is wet you might lose your boots in there.

Italienerloch (Italian’s Cave) is another interesting phenomenon.  It was given this name as Italians came here in former times to carry away large pieces of calcite sinter having colourful stripes (from a snowy white to a deep brown hue).  It was ground and polished and used for making tabletops, ashtrays, etc.  There are also Karst springs, the largest of which is Piebling Ursprung (Piebling Spring).  Divers have tried to find out its mystery.

I know I ought to say a few words about our hypogean fauna but this is so very much specialised an item that I do not dare to do so (I know some of your specialists to whom I want to bow most devotedly).  But there was some event that I want to mention.  In the late twenties one of our comrades found a tiny beetle - a trychophaenops angulipennis.  At first scientists were in doubt whether it had been found in places indicated by him. But he was proved the truth of his report and, in this way, geologists had to abandon a whole theory on the glacial period.

But let’s stop thinking about work, let’s go down into the caves and look for the wonders waiting for us down there.  Gluck tief or as you would possible say Good caving to everybody.

P.S.  I do hope you will not mind my English.

References numbered in the text above are the Editor’s additions.  Refs 1, 2 & 3 see B.B. No. 214 (Dachstein Massif, Hirlatzhohle, Raucherkar System, Kroppenbruller Hohle, Dachstein Ice Cave & Eisrienwelt. B.B. 222 Raucherkar System.  B.B. No. 237 & 239 – The Ahnenschascht.


“Historic Occasions”

by ‘Alfie’
‘Stills’ by Jock Orr

Editors may come, and editors may go, but that indefatigable body – the Belfry Bulletin; Scientific and Historical Research Unit – still presents its annual report, and once more creeps from its bat-infested garret to present yet another amazing piece of research to a bewildered public.

This year, by diligent search in old attics, rubbish dumps and the like, an enormous amount of old cine film has been unearthed and, by careful editing and splicing – and the consumption of vast quantities of ‘Sutton Red’, we proudly present a cinematic record of Historic Occasions in the childhood of various club members, for the edification of all.

The original intention was to provide each reader of the BB with a copy of the film; a projector and a screen.  This scheme has been vetoed on the flimsy grounds of expense.  In the face of this pinchpenny attitude, we must fall back on verbal description – although we confidently expect various cinema tycoons to vie with each other in securing the worldwide distribution rights.

On, to coin a phrase, on with the show: -

……..The camera reveals an outdoor scene.  A small, sturdy boy is standing by a table outside a pub on which a full pint glass has been left.  He looks around furtively.  Satisfied, he reaches up and grasps the glass in podgy little hands.  He raised it to his lips, a little unsteadily, and drinks – and drinks – and drinks.  With a sigh, he replaces the glass on the table above his little head.  He burps.  Suddenly, an expression of extreme anguish comes over his little infant face.  He bends double and is violently sick.  We have witnessed an Historic Occasion.  Alan Thomas has just drunk his first point of rough.

‘He looks around furtively’

……..Now we see a scene inside a pub.  A small group of serious faced young men are sitting around a table.  There is a single sheet of plain paper in front of them. They all stare at it.  “It’s no good”, says one of them.  “We have just got to think up a name for this club.  We can’t go on calling it ‘US’.  After all, the lot we have been calling ‘THEM’ for the last few years have just named themselves the Wessex Cave Club”.  There is a long pause.  One man finished his pint, looks in to the glass, and says, “How about the Beer Emptying Club?”  There is a sad shaking of heads.  “I like the initials,” says another.  There is general agreement on this, except for one member.  “What about the Westminster Speleological Society?” he suggests.  “Black mark,” replies the Chairman.  “They haven’t been invented yet.”  The offender collects all the glasses, and this makes it his round.

……..In a garden, a small boy is playing.  He has just taken his mother’s clothes airer to pieces and is tying all the round wooden rods together with strings.  He works away industriously.  At last he is finished.  He ties one end to the branch of a tree and begins to climb up the wooden rungs. Nearly at the top, the string breaks and he falls down.  “I shall never grow up to be a Tacklemaster at this rate,” sighs young Norman.

………Back to the pub again. The same group are sitting round the table on which is now a piece of paper with the initials B.E.C. written on it. All stare at it in silence.  “How about the Booze Education Club?” suggests a member at last.  “All our members already know how to drink,” replies the Chairman, “Which reminds me….” The offending member collects the glasses…..

………The scene is now a schoolroom in which a solitary boy sits writing lines.  The camera advances and we see what he is writing ‘I must not poke fun at Mr. Symes’ on each line.  He swears fluently under his breath as he writes.  Suddenly, he pushed the paper away, takes a clean sheet, and writes: -

This is the tale of Mr. Symes

Who made me write a thousand times

That fun I must not poke –

He stops; thinks, and mutters ‘Joke? Folk? Soak?’  The door opens, and a forbidding figure in cap and gown enters.  “What are you doing Collins” he says, “Nothing, Sir.” Replies the boy, crumpling the paper.  “I don’t think I’m old enough to write a speleode yet.”

………The camera now reveals a group of young choristers about to sing a hymn.  The face of one of the boys looks familiar.  The organ plays the first notes, and the boys start to sing, “when I survey….”  At this point, the boy we have seen noticing stops singing and, oblivious of the hymn being sung all around him, mutters, “That’ll be the day” and starts to doodle a Grade 1 survey of the North Transept in his hymnbook.  It is the Wig.

….The pub.  Now, someone has scrawled on the paper saying BEC the words ‘ Ban Easy Caves.’ The Chairman is speaking.  He is in a bad temper.  “Now that we had dealt suitably with the member who wrote that, has anyone any sensible suggestions to offer?”  One of the members is in a state of great excitement.  How about ‘Best Ever Club?’ he asks.  “It’s accurate, simple, and it conveys the feeling of the essential modesty for which we are noted.”  The Chairman scowls.  “Quite a little orator today – aren’t you?” he sneers.  “It won’t do”.  “Why not? “You should never state the obvious,” replies the Chairman, handing his empty glass to the member in question.

…..Now we see a children’s party.  A small girl has just recited her party piece, and an equally small boy is being pushed into the centre of the room.  He looks round; takes off his jacket, and starts in a clear, high voice: -

‘She was as beautiful as a butterfly
And as proud as a queen
Was pretty little Polly Perkins
Of Paddington Green.’

Yes, it is Norman again.

……Another schoolroom scene. The room is full of small boys at their desks, their heads bent over their work.  The master is walking between the rows of desks, glancing at the boy’s work.  He stops; frowns, and speaks.  “Bagshaw!” He says, “What was the problem I gave you to solve?”  Repeat it boy.”

Dutifully the boy answers – “A club has assets of £50.  It receives a donation of £20.  What are its assets now?”  The master pauses and collects the attention of the class.  “Why then, Bagshaw, is your answer £60?”  You have got it wrong.”  A cunning leer diffuses itself over the boy’s face.  “It’ll work, sir” he announces confidently, “It’ll work.”

…..Once more, the pub. All members are showing signs of extreme frustration.  The paper still contains only the letters B.E.C.  A member speaks.  “What about Bagshaw’s Exploration Club,” he suggests.

Very close replies the Chairman.  “Very good indeed, but not quite right.”  The member reaches for the Chairman’s glass.  “No need for that” replies the Chairman, actually smiling.  With a look of amazement, the member sits down again. Suitably emboldened, another member speaks.  “How about the Building Erecting Committee?

There is a silence. “Again ahead of time again!” sighs the Chairman.  There is a shout of “Usual penalty” as the member rises to collect all the glasses.

…..A boy sits in a very small room, regarding the clean, painted surface of the door.  He produces a grubby pencil and draws a head, then a body and legs.  He concentrates.  He draws one hand with the fingers outstretched form the nose, making a rude gesture.  He draws the other hand making an equally rude sign.  He writes underneath a completely unprintable word. You-know-who has just drawn his first cartoon.

…..The pub, for the last time.  It is Christmas time, as we can see from the sign behind the bar wishing all patrons a Merry Christmas.  The Committee do not look merry.  The Chairman speaks.

“Gentlemen.  It is Christmas Eve.  If we can’t find a name for this damned club tonight, I suggest we disband it.” There was shocked silence.  Then one member speaks, “Which town are we in?” he asks.  The secretary consults his notes.  After some time, he announces triumphantly, “ Bristol

“Good,” replies the member. “Now, what are we trying to do?” Patiently, the Chairman replies, “We are conducting an exploration to find a suitable name for our club.” “Then why not,” explains the member, “Call it the Bristol Exploration Club?”  There is a long, dramatic, broken at last by the Chairman who takes the member’s glass.

“I think we all owe this chap a pint.  Let us drink to the – what was it?”  The secretary hastily consults his notes.

“The Bristol Exploration Club.”  He says.  They drink.

(Copyright in all civilised counties and Hinton Blewitt.)

P.S.  If the reader likes this style, we suggest he reads the books by S.J. Simon and Caryl Brahms.  ‘No Bed Bacon’; ‘Don’t Mr. Disraeli’ etc.


St. Annals mineshaft

Forest Of Dean, St. Annals mineshaft, Little Dean Hill, has been recently capped by the local Water Board.

Cuthbert’s Leaders Please Note

A new lock has been fitted to the cave entrance.  New keys are obtainable from Phil Townsend on exchange for the old key.

Letter To The Editor

Dear Dave


What I have to say to you is mainly for the benefit of those younger members who may not know of the existence of the above fund.

For many years this Club had a very good bloke in it by the name of Ian dear.  When he died he left a sum of money to assist the younger members of the Club to visit caving and climbing areas abroad.  This money has been invested and is known as the Ian Dear Memorial fund.  It is administered by a sub-Committee set up by the General Committee of the B.E.C.

Any member of the B.E.C. who is under the age of eighteen, or in exceptional circumstances (such as still undergoing fulltime education) any member under the age of 21, may apply for a grant of up to ten pounds towards the cost of a caving or climbing trip abroad.  Application must be made by the first day of March in the year of the trip.  Brief details of what the applicant intends to do and what he expects it to cost him should be sent at the time of the application. Once the Committee has satisfied itself that the applicant wants the money for the purpose for which it was given.   The money is a gift to the member and does not have to be returned, but it is nice to think that the member might when he is older and in more affluent circumstances think of making a voluntary donation top the fund.

Some of the young members who are eligible for a grant under the terms of the Ian Dear memorial Fund might be interested to know that the 1969 Ahnenschacht Expedition has vacancies for keen hard cavers (ability to climb ladder essential).  It is hoped in 1969 to complete the exploration of the lateral development from Schachtgabel and descend the other deep shafts that were discovered this year.

Anyone interested can obtain further details from me at any time.

Yours sincerely
            Alan Thomas, Hon. Sec.


EDISON CELLS: - Dave Irwin has a few cells for sale at 30/-. Members wanting any of these cells should contact Dave quickly.  A few switching headlamps are available at 10/- ( Oldham type).  Profit from sale of these lamps will be given to the Hut Fund.  Don’t forget buy B.E.C.!


From R.S. King (Kangy)

The B.E.C. Toulouse Branch has arrived and set up base camp at: -

21 Rue Lionel Terray,
31 Blagnac,

This is estimated to be the optimum distance from the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees and the Southern French caves but a little too near work.

 (Note from Eddy Welch – Eddy is able to get documents, B.B.’s and various reports to him if anyone wants to use this channel).

C.R.G. Southern Meeting 1969

The C.R.G. Southern Meeting, 1969 to which the B.E.C. is acting as host club is to be held on19th April in the Ballroom of the Swan Hotel, Wells.  The lectures will be followed by a dinner in the same place.

For a fortnight to correspond with this meeting the B.E.C. is mounting an exhibition of Caves and Caving in the Lecture Theatre of Wells Museum.  Any offers of help with this or bright ideas should get in contact with Alan Thomas.


Synthetic Ropes for Caving

By Roy Bennett

Because of their greater strength and freedom from rot and mildew, synthetic fibre ropes have displaced those of natural fibres almost completely for general caving purposes. Ropes of four materials are generally available: -

Nylon, Terelene, polypropylene and polyethylene.,

These differ in many important respects, and it is convenient first to consider these differences with respect to general underground usage, and then to discuss special applications.  The report “Ropes made from man-made fibre” published by British Roles Ltd.  Gives an up to date coverage of the properties of interest to cavers and is the source of most of the information used in this article.

Strength And Size

For 1¼” circumference ropes, a size commonly used for caving, the minimum breaking loads are: -


(BG.S. 3977)

4590 lbs. (dry)

4270 lbs. (wet)


(B.S. 3758)

3500 lbs.

(dry or wet)



3020 lbs.

(dry or wet)


(B.S. 3912)

2400 lbs.

(dry or wet)

To obtain the same strength as Nylon in the other materials the following circumstances (to the nearest available size) would be required.








1⅝” - 1¾”

Thus, as regard bulk, Nylon is the best, while Terelene and perhaps polypropylene are acceptable, but polyethylene is getting rather large for ordinary caving purposes.


As well as the size of his ropes, the caver is also concerned with their weight.  For 100ft. lengths of the above sizes we have: -








5.7 – 6.5lbs.

Thus the effect of the lower strength of polypropylene as compared with Nylon is cancelled by its lower density, and both these ropes have an advantage over Terelene or polyethylene.  For the usual 100 to 120ft. of rope used on Mendip, this is perhaps not very important, but it is worth considering where the big Yorkshire pitches are concerned.

Knot Weight

This is similar for ropes of all materials.

Resistance To Shock Loads

Because of its greater elasticity Nylon is markedly better at absorbing shock loads than is either Terelene or polypropylene.  The performance of polyethylene ropes in respect is poor and they are not recommended for such applications where such loads are concerned.  Under normal caving practice, where ropes are used for ladder lifelining or for handlines, high shock loadings should not be encountered. On the other hand of ropes are made generally available to members, sooner or later someone will use one for rock climbing either above or below ground, and will expect a satisfactory performance if the leader falls off.  Thus polyethylene ropes present an unnecessary risk and as such should be rejected for general caving purposes.  By the same criterion, Nylon would be preferred to either Terelene or polypropylene.


Although ability to absorb shock is important, too much elasticity could be embarrassing on a long ladder pitch.  With no slack in the lifeline to begin with, a 200lb. caver at the end of a 300ft. rope will fall the following distances before coming on the rope: -


1¼” circ.



1⅜” circ.



1½” circ.



1⅝” - 1¾” circ.


Thus in Gaping Gill main shaft (345ft.) the caver will have to climb somewhere near these distances before the lifeline can afford complete protection.  In the case of Nylon, if he falls of say 30ft. up, he will certainly hit the bottom hard enough to sustain injuries.  Persons capable of climbing such pitches are unlikely to come off so near the bottom, but if this extra protection is considered worthwhile, or if any of the much larger overseas pitches are to be attempted, polypropylene or Terelene are to be preferred.  For Mendip caves, where the largest single pitch is some 90ft. there can be little disadvantage in this respect in using Nylon ropes.


Nylon and Terelene both have good performances when subjected to continued or to repeated high loads of up to 75% of the breaking load.  Polypropylene is less good and polyethylene is relatively poor.  Although general purpose caving ropes are likely to be fairly heavily stressed from time to time, they should only have to cope with such large loads very infrequently so that these differences are not so important as they might appear.  Nevertheless, the above three materials are definitely to be preferred to polyethylene in this respect.

Abrasion Resistance

This is an area in which data comparing all four ropes is rather limited.  Both Nylon and Terelene show fairly good resistance to coarse abrasion in a standard test in sand, markedly superior in this respect to polypropylene and polyethylene.  This is very relevant to caving usage and more comparative data would be useful. On the above evidence Nylon and Terelene are to be much preferred.

Effect Of Heat

Nylon and Terelene retain much of their strength up to temperatures well above the melting points of polypropylene and polyethylene.  These latter materials show a progressive strength loss with rise of temperature, so that at 100oC for example, Nylon and Terelene show no significant change, while polypropylene and polyethylene have lost 60% and 85% respectively of their strength.  Ropes can be heated by accidental contact with carbide lamp flames or during an arrest on a fairly long abseil.  The first hazard can be avoided by using a back position for the lifeline, a good idea with any rope.  The second can only be safely avoided by not doing long abseils on polypropylene or polyethylene ropes.  Thus these ropes, if in general use could be dangerous in this respect to someone unaware of their limitations.

The frictional heating caused by rubbing between a moving and a fixed rope can also cause damage, particularly with Nylon.  This situation should be avoided by, for example, the use of a karabiner.

Effect Of Chemicals

In general ropes should never be exposed to chemicals in any form.  Caving ropes are at risk however from accidental spillages of electrolyte from lead/acid or nickel/alkali accumulators used for lighting. Polypropylene and polyethylene are unaffected by either material.  Nylon can be seriously weakened by sulphuric acid electrolyte, but is only slightly affected by caustic potash, while Terelene the reverse is the case. Nickel/alkali lamp sets are more common than lead/acid ones so that while in this respect polypropylene and polyethylene are better than other fibres, Nylon is to be preferred to Terelene.


The retail prices per 100ft. of the four ropes (March 1968) are as follows: -


1¼” circ.



1⅜” circ.



1½” circ.



1⅝” - 1¾” circ.


thus showing a clear advantage to polyethylene, with Terelene being rather expensive.


As might be expected, no one rope has all the advantages.  For general purpose caving in areas where big pitches do not occur, Nylon is to be preferred.

Where longer pitches are to be done, the choice as between Nylon, Terelene and polypropylene is much more open.  In the writer’s opinion, the balance of advantage lies with Nylon for the Yorkshire potholes, and with polypropylene for the larger overseas pitches.  If abseiling is required in this latter case, then Terelene would have to be used in spite of increased weight.

For rescue work, there would appear to be no advantage to depart from Nylon for lifelines.  Hauling ropes tend to be quite large to afford a good grip, so that there is an ample strength margin with all fibres.  They are subject to quite severe abrasion however, but usage tends to be fairly low, so that polypropylene has been found satisfactory, at least in the short term.  Monofilament of fibre film polypropylene may be worth considering as they both have better abrasion resistance and are quite a bit cheaper. They may not afford as good a grip however.  Natural fibre or composite natural and synthetic fibre ropes have been used on Mendip. They do present problems of rot prevention however, particularly in the long term, and this tends to cancel the advantage of their increased abrasion resistance.


Address Changes

M. Baker, 22 Riverside Gardens, Midsomer Nortonm Som.
J.D. Statham, 22 Malleny Ave., Balerno, Midlothian, Scotland

Colour Coding of Caving Tackle used on Mendip

To enable cavers to recognise their club tackle, a colour code was agreed in 1960.  The colour code is still in use today.

Axbridge Caving Group


Bristol Exploration Club


Cerberus Speleo.Society


Mendip Caving Group


Mendip Nature Research Committee


Shepton Mallet Caving Club


University of Bristol Speleo. Society


Wessex Cave Club


Westminster Speleo.Group


Wessex have a colour coding for various lengths of rope in addition to the normal red sleeve.

Cuthberts Guest Leader System.

Since the setting up of Guest leader system for St. Cuthbert’s new log sheets are being prepared. This will enable the Guest Leader or any B.E.C. leader, for that matter without a Belfry key, to fill out the caving log form, which will be stored inn the changing room at any time mid-week. The form to be clipped into the Cuthbert’s log book as soon as possible.


Mine Shafts and their Dangers

By Pete Turner

When I read about Rookham Wood Mineshaft (Mar’ 68 B.B. p 28-29, sketch survey p30) the account of the attempts to dig the shaft bottom made me shudder, having had two narrow escapes at similar attempts.  This prompted me to write of my own experiences in Derbyshire and North Staffordshire.

The first incident is worth recounting.  Back in 1959 I was a member of a small group exploring three caves in Slitter Wood, near Matlock.  The first member had just started to descend a 25ft shaft when he dislodged a rock which started about two tons of rubble moving, leaving our club mate surrounded by rocks from the waist down and fighting for his life.  We got him back to the surface badly bruised but with no bones broken.  We went back to the shaft to find out if the passage was blocked.  To our surprise, where we expected to see the blockage was an open shaft which was later plumbed and found to be 100ft. deep.  This was our introduction to lead mines and their hidden dangers, and it should be noted that this shaft was in a natural cave.

Mine shafts and their cappings vary from one area to another.  A few typical types will now be described.

The most common mine is one consisting of a single shaft, the lead being worked on a small scale, following a joint.  The depth may be from 10ft. to 40ft. (Fig.1).


Fig. 1  Single shaft – very common

The second type of mine has a double shaft.  The lead was again worked on a small scale, but the mine was deeper.  The main shaft was used for haulage and the climbing shaft was driven fifteen to twenty feet away in a series if steps, breaking into the main shaft sometimes near the bottom and sometimes twenty to thirty above the bottom, giving the miners easy access to the workings. (Fig.2).

The triple headed shaft is the third type.  Nestor Mine at Matlock Bath is a good example of this uncommon type of mine.  This mine has a main shaft 90ft. deep and from the bottom of the shaft three more shafts radiate to different parts of the mine. To my knowledge the three shafts do not reconnect.  Fig. 3.

Five further types can be listed.  They are 1) Double Beehive (Fig. 4), 2) Single Beehive (Fig. 5), 3) Conical (Fig.6), 4) Stone Slab (Fig.7), 5) Timber (Fig.8).  The fifth type can be lethal as they are usually overgrown with grass and may give way when stepped on.  Cattle and sheep are the main victims of this type of shaft covering which is very difficult to locate in an open field.    


Fig. 2 Double Shaft - Common


Fig. 3  Triple headed shaft - rare


Fig. 4  Double Beehive


Fig 5-6  Single Beehive or Conical


Fig. 7  Stone (or wooden) slab.


Fig. 8  Timber.  Open top with wooden sleepers part way down the shaft.  Very common


Typical shaft ginging run-in and must be watched when descending

The last few years have seen a great deal of attention paid to the exploration of the Gouffre Berger in France.  But before the Berger came into prominence, another cave system in France could boast the legendary quality which surrounds the pothole nowadays.


The Gouffre de la Pierre St. Martin

Translated by Bob Bater

The Gouffre de la Pierre St. Martin, in the Basses Pyrenees, received a lot of attention in the early 1950’s.  The early explorations are well documented in books by Casteret and Tazieff and make exciting reading.  Since that time, however, Pierre St. Martin has again risen to attention.

Not long after the discovery of the cave system, in 1950, the importance of the exploration was extended beyond that of pure adventure.  The St. Engrace area, dominated by the rugged plateau where the cave is situated, was severely under developed through lack of electric power and lack of water for irrigation.  Not that water was scarce in the area, but that which abounded nearby had insufficient fall for hydroelectric purposes, and too low for use in irrigation.  The discovery of the large underground river of Pierre St. Martin brought hope to the area, and in 1959, the deficiencies were righted with the completion of a tunnel driven through the mountain into one of the large chambers of the cave system where it collected the water and channelled it to the power station.  In this way, not only has the exploration served speleological history, it has also served man.

Until 1954, the exploration of the system was concentrated mainly on the downstream side, i.e. roughly north into France.  The position of the entrance almost on the Franco-Spanish border meant that inevitably, as Spanish speleology advanced, the Spaniards would begin to take an interest in the system, and true to form, when the squabbles over whether the entrance was in fact in France or Spain died down, they participated in the expedition of 1953.  This culminated, in 1954, with the first significant advance upstream.

After 1959, access to the cave was greatly facilitated by the completion of the artificial tunnel, and the great entrance shaft fell into disuse.  Nevertheless, explorers were still faced with quite a trip to reach the Spanish part of the cave south of the entrance shaft, 2½ kilometres beyond where the tunnel joined the natural cave.  By 1965, the Salle Balandraux on the French side and the Sala Susse on the Spanish side had been reached.

As prospects in the cave seemed to diminish, although the explorers suspected that there was still quite a bit of cave to be discovered, they turned their attention, presumably through the influence of the Spanish cavers, to careful exploration of the surface to the south of the cave entrance, in Spain.

For many years previously, the Frenchman Max Cosyns and his group of helpers had been exploring the area around the cave.  They were seeking the mysteries of the Kakouette and Holcarte Gorges.  These narrow, winding chasms had fascinated many with their curious streams of water issuing from their sides.  Cosyns first tried to penetrate the outlets, but meeting impenetrable sumps, he was forced to give his attention to the high plateau 6km. away, which caught the rainfall which must form these streams.  It was on one of these reconnaissance trips by one of his parties that, in 1950, Georges Lepineux, accompanied by Giuseppe Occhialini discovered the entrance to the Gouffre.

The Spanish equivalent of our ‘Speleologist’ magazine, ‘Geo y Bio KARST’, of May 1968, prints extracts from the book ‘Jusqu’ au fond du Gouffre’ by Corentin Queffelec, in which it is described how an expedition, of which he was a member, snatched the World depth record from the Gouffre Berger.  The following account is based on these.

Seventeen years after the discovery of the entrance of Pierre St.Martin, in 1967, Cosyns’ teams had exhaustively examined the Arros region, on the Spanish side of the border. They had assigned a number to each of the entrance they had found and had noted some for special attention. Amongst those was a pothole referred to as the ‘Sima de la Tortuga’ ( Tortuga = Tortoise) also called, in Basque, ‘Bassaburuko’ which means ‘savage head’, hence the French name for the cave, ‘Tete Savage’.

The first descent of this pot was made by Roger Marcorelles, who, backed up by Jean Claude Alibert, made an all out effort to cover every corner of it.  He reached the bottom 234ft. down and immediately became intrigued by a weak current of air coming from a crack in the wall.  On the way up, another thing caught his attention; some distance away, on the wall of the shaft behind the ladder, he could make out something shaped like a huge tortoise shell.  Was it a fossil?  Was it a formation?  It is still not known what it is, but it helped stimulate Marcorelles’ interest, together with the draught and the fact that while in the pot, he has seen no sign of snow.  This was unusual for potholes at this height, but could be partly explained by the small entrance.  He suspected, however, that the draught had a lot to do with it.

After some rather uneventful visits to neighbouring pots, Marcorelles, with Alibert, and this time also with Gilles Reboul, returned to the attack on the Tortuga.  Reaching the bottom again and still finding no obvious way on, he began to re-ascend, dejected, and cursing freely (aswedo).  180ft. from the top he stopped abruptly.  He could see something on the wall.  It was a tight rift.  Swinging the ladder, he was able to set foot on the ledge, and he slid into the hole.

There were several small pots in the floor and pieces of the roof jutted down so he couldn’t see ahead, but after a little wriggling, he realised that his feet no longer rested on the floor.  Straining his neck, he could see the head of a pitch at his feet.  How deep was it?  Perhaps 60ft.?  He searched for a piece of rock to throw over, nearly losing his grip as he did so on the steeply sloping passage floor.  Recovering from his fright, he found an ample supply of bricks and threw one over. Four seconds.  One fifty to two hundred feet he reckoned.  Some tackle was needed.  But he and his colleagues soon unconsciously decided that the pitch had told them all it could, and none of them was to return for the time being.

Later, Noël Lichau, Pierre Rigau and Corentin Queffélec entered the cave, intent on exploring the pitch which Marcorelles had forgotten about through lack of faith.  Gilles Rebout and his team accompanied them. The latter soon laddered the pitch with 160ft. of ladder and went down.  Immediately ahead was another pitch of 50ft. between boulders, then another 100ft.  They had run out of ladders.  Returning to the surface, they set off for the Sima de Monique nearby.  Marcorelles had transferred his efforts here, but had had no success, and so they thought they would de-tackle it and use the ladder for the Tortuga.  Marcorelles, hearing the news, soon regained his faith in the Tortuga.

Gilles and his team. With the tackle from the Sima de Monique, went back down the pot while the others retired in the base came at Arros.  During the night, their rest was disturbed by several noisy cavers stumbling through the darkness towards them.  It was Gilles and the others.  They had got down a total of 1,050ft. and it was still going.

Sleep forgotten, they all stayed up talking till dawn.  A four man party was picked to make a major assault on the pot.  Seeing it was already laddered down to 1,050ft., each man was given 425ft. more of ladder.  This would make the depth attainable exactly equal to the depth at which they would expect to meet the impermeable strata.  Before setting off, however, Arcaute suggested what everyone had scarcely had dared to envisage.  What if they should make a connection with the Pierre St. Martin?  If they should, wouldn’t it be a good idea to draft some kind of inscription down there to commemorate the occasion?  Optimism got the better of them.  Arcaute dictated the text, which was written down in French and Spanish.

“This point was reached by an advance team from the Sima Bassaburuko, going underground in Arros by way of the Sima de la Tortuga or the Tete Savage.  These men, participating in a campaign organised by the A.R.S.I.P. are but the latest link in a long chain of men and effort, which began in 1950. The link alone is of little value. What matters is the chain.”

The four men, Marcorelles, Alibert, Douart and Reboul reached the head of the pitch beyond the narrow rift where Marcorelles had first found it.  It was then that he realised that, effectively, the Sima of Tortuga had ended, since the pitch ahead was only part of a large shaft which extended above them and which must reach almost to the surface.  He had consequently named it ‘Bassaburuko’, a name demanding vocal gymnastics for the Frenchmen.

From pitch to pitch, ledge to ledge, they went deeper until they got to the deepest point previously reached.  They re-calculated the depth on the way down and made it 980ft.  They hadn’t been hasty in working it out before.  Roger Marcorelles, who hadn’t been there before, saw that Gilles’ optimism was well justified.  They gained depth very rapidly.  First a pitch of 25 or 30ft., then another of 50, then a large one of 100ft.

From the -980ft. mark, Alibert descended first.  After a few minutes he shouted for more ladder.  325ft. was down now, making the pot a total of 1,300ft. deep, or round about the level of the black shales, the ones that outcrop in Pierre St. Martin perhaps? Alibert was shouting something. Neither Marcorelles nor Reboul could understand him, but Michel Douart had started down just before and he relayed the message.  He, Michel, was to carry on down to where Alibert was.

The two were left in silence.  Gilles shared Roger’s last cigarette.  Roger re-calculated their depth.  Allowing for all possible errors, he reckoned they must be down 900ft. at least, and the two must be getting on for 1200ft.

Suddenly two blasts of the whistle, almost inaudible.  Take in, he thought, and woke Gilles.  They began hauling in, but after a short while, the signal came to stop.  Then start again.  Then stop.  They realised that both men were coming up the ladder at the same time.  It must have been awkward to send the rope back all the way.

Jean Claude’s smile told them everything.  Babbling some fantastic story about Pierre St. Martin, Michel Douart was temporarily forgotten and was left to swing on the ladder, shouting for a lifeline.

The two advance explorers had set down beside a small stream.  Deciding to follow the water down, they had ducked beneath a low archway and entered a passage filled from side to side with a pool.  This proved no obstacle, and the passage continued, past the first signs of the black shales, into a gigantic passage containing a river. The black water meandered along in a series of rapids.  This must be Pierre St. Martin!  from the other side.  Setting their message on top of a large boulder out of the way of future floods, they pondered on the chain.  They had to get back to tell their colleagues.  They started back at a quick pace, calculating their depth as they went. But there wasn’t really any doubt in their minds.

By the joining up of the Sima de la Tortuga/Bassaburuko pothole with the Gouffrre Pierre St. Martin, the total depth of the system, from the Tortuga entrance to the deepest part of the Pierre St. Martin known up to now, the complex Olivier, is 1152 metres (3,744ft.).  Thus, in 1967, the Gouffre Pierre St. Martin claimed the world depth record.


Vital Statistics and New Surveys

Black Shiver Pot, Meregill: Length 2,000ft., depth 520ft.  Survey CRG Grade 5.  ( Leeds Univers. S.S.)

Shooting Place Pot, Yorkshire, Askrigg to Muker road, in same valley as Crackpot Cvae. Water from new pot joins cave. Length 1,000ft. and two pitches of 15ft. and 20ft.

Notts Pot – entrance collapsed.

Smeltmill Beck Cave, Yorkshire, new discovery, length 1 mile.  (Details in London Univ. C.C. Journal No. 6 – in B.E.C. Library).

Bunkers Hole, Devon: 400ft.  extension by D.S.S. & Exeter Fire Brigade Caving Club.

South Wales – O.F.D.1.
All entrances to OFD 1 are now locked. Keys available at S.W.C.C. Headquarters.

The B.E.C. Sees in The Millennium

The following report has been received a little early but as B.B. space will be short in future your Editor thought it better to be printed now than too late!

by Eddy Weyland - Social secretary

Whoever thought of charging £25 each for tickets for the millennium party in order to raise the rest of the money needed for the New Belfry deserves congratulations.  Some fifty members paid up and there were a few gate crashers.  The party was also a great success socially.

In addition to those Belfry regulars who bought tickets there was a large number of members we so seldom see now.  By far the oldest person present was Mr. A. Thomas, of the Gulf de Grochen fame, but he denied this.  Several regular members were accompanied by their fathers (and a few mothers) many of whom were lapsed members who rejoined, some paying £50 for life membership. These included Mr. Philip Kingston, father of Phil. Kingston and Mr. Colin Priddle, father of the Priddle brothers. One former member who was not accompanied by his son was Mr. Coles, whose main concern seemed to find out what young Phil got up to at weekends and seemed scarcely able to believe that he went caving!

Tim Hodgkinson showed some video tapes that he and Julian Sett. had taken in the Bagshaw Caverns on the Moon.  It was a pity that these video shows are always greeted with hoots of derision as some members would really like to see the tapes.

Some old tapes were played with interviews with one of the pioneers of the Cuthbert’s survey, Mr. Irving. Members were amazed at the accuracy of the early surveys when they heard from Mr. Irving of the crude methods and instruments that used to be employed – in fact those old chaps surveyed by instinct.

Members were equally impressed when Mr. Priddle described how they used to go into the water in St. Cuthbert’s clad in nothing but wet suits – they were tough in those days.

Ed. note –         Eddy Weyland tells me that he is planning a meet to the Bagshaw Caverns in 2002 to celebrate the 55 birthday of the Belfry Bulletin.  Also BEC Caving Report No. 469 will be published next June: the 45th revision of the St. Cuthbert’s survey.


The Romantic Outdoors

By Hedera


What’s the point of it all? You wander trudging up steep desperately loose moraine at an ungodly hour of the day.  Legs aching, breath rasping and shivering all in the same instant. You wish you could switch your mind off for these few hours and switch on again with the sunrise, but it’s no good. Wish we’d done more training at home.

Then the sun, warm and brilliant, the rock brown and rough, its colour accentuated in contrast with the gleaming snow fields arcing away up to the blue above.  Pitch follows pitch and now it’s almost too hot.  Time distends and it’s almost as if we’ve been groping upwards forever.  Sitting on stances, gazing into blinding space the earlier sense of urgency is lulled away; to be suddenly roused again by an angry bawl from above.

At the top we can at last drowse with an easy conscience but somehow we don’t want to, half an hour for photographs and an orange, too much scenery gazing seems to dilute the magic.

Memories of the descent are blurred by fatigue, but the highlights are a series of narrow escapes as we descend at a speed slightly less than that of the rock we dislodge in the process.  Off the rock onto the glacier; mushy now with the sun.  The quick gallop soon turns into a suicidal glissade but we’re too tired to care.  Off the glacier onto the path and it is over? The path describes a sort of sine wave down, down through bushes, forest and finally down to the valley.  My poor toes massacred once again.  The last few yards are the longest of all then collapse in the homely squalor that British climbers call home when abroad.

The impressions gained on this the first alpine route are somehow more vivid than those of subsequent days.  First the heartbreaking grind when you swear fervently that you’ll never complain about the Cromlech trog again.  Then the brilliance of the snows as the sun catches them, soon turning to an eye-aching glare; above warm granite and blue sky and the endless vista of white mountains. The effects of altitude are not obvious being cumulative, you put it down to you lack of fitness.  On the descent the fatigue is soon forgotten and yet on reflection the hut flogs seem inextricably connected with the actual climbing and even the easiest climb becomes an epic by previous standards.

Dave Steel.


You now need your 1 inch Bristol-Newport O.S. map number 155 to help with this recently contrived walk. 

The opening of the Severn Bridge has given ramblers a new area to explore. This walk gives some idea of the beautiful countryside around Chepstow.  The walk starts and finishes in Chepstow and could be done in an afternoon – distance is 10½ miles.

Turn left from the Chepstow bus station and go down hill to traffic lights.  Turn left along the main road for about 250 yards when a path between houses can be taken.  Follow path to road – cross over and follow farm track for 30 yards.  Then turn right over stile.  Fine views from this point.  Descend to valley.  Cross the B4235 and go through gates leading into wood.  Follow wide path.  On emerging from wood cross lane and keep straight on.  Lane leads past farmhouse and continues as footpath to farm - Rogerstone Grange.  Carry on up hill to Chepstow Park Woods.  Travel N.W. through wood for over a mile until one can look down on Devauden – nice pub here if open.  On leaving pub, turn left and almost immediately bear left down lane.  Follow sunken lane to road – stile opposite leads one up steep rise to lane that goes to small village ‘The Cot’.  Keep going past village and when lane turns sharp left – north – take gate into field shortly after bend.  Climb up through wood going east, over barbed wire fence, where one can get a fine view of the Black Mountains Penterry Church close to the road is worth a visit.  Turn right along road – view towards Severn Bridge. Just past sign to Windcliffe Court take stile on left and bear right at next stile – this leads to the main road A466. Bearing right – cross road and climb over gate that leads onto Chepstow Racecourse.  Walk SW over racecourse to the outskirts of Chepstow.

Ron Pepper.


At the crux the mist becomes a drizzle making the slab damp, slowing progress.  The Snowdon trains climbed slowly and as slowly descend. Still Tony considered.  Then, fascinated, I belayed him as he removed first one black rubber shoe and then the other.  He became dormant once more.  I eased my cramp, then concentrate as the stockinged feet slid out of sight. One Snowdon train later I heard the sweet sound of a belaying piton hammered in.



We moved on over snow and rock past an impressive lake bounded by snow and ice to a compact camping site on a rocky ledge in a valley at the foot of Pic d’Aneto which towered thousands of feet above.  We pitched camp about 6.30pm which was fairly early, but lucky, because no sooner had the tents been erected than a violet rain and hail storm broke and lasted for about an hour.  After the storm we had our meal and retired to bed with the wind buffeting the tent about our ears.  Although this wind continued well into the night, the tents were properly held down with large stones and withstood it.

Richard Greenway

Merry Christmas - ‘Hedera’


Drainage Development in the West Totes Gebirge ( Austria)

Preliminary observations

by Mike Luckwill

The Totes Gebirge are a complex of many kinds of limestone and dolomite situated east of Bad Ischl and north of the Dachstein massif, in Upper Austria. Bounded to the west by the Traun river, which takes most of the drainage from the Dachstein, the western third of the mountains is dominated by the Schönberg: a ridge attaining a height of more than 2,000 metres.  To the south of the Schönberg a gently sloping plateau is the site of the many entrances of the Raucherkar System, and to the north, the Schönberg drops steeply into the tributary valleys of the Traun (Fig.1).


Figure1.  North – South Section from the Schönberg

The area under particular consideration is that delineated by the northerly drainage of the Schönberg, and is mainly on the Dachstein Limestone (Fig. 2).


Figure 2.  Sketch map of the environs of the Schönberg.
Solid lines:  Contours at 1900, 1700, 1500 and 1100 metres.
Broken lines: geological boundaries: dL – Dachstein limestone: L – Lias:  L+ - Lias plus others: d- dolomite.
Fuzzy large dots indicate Peaks.   Dots indicate cave entrances.


Figure 3.  Joints in the north face of the Schönberg

The drainage of the limestone is joint controlled, except where superficial water from the soil is cutting channels in the rock which represent the initial stages of clint and gryke formation.  There are two types of joints in the limestone which for the purposes of this article will be called A – joints and B – joints.  They are both illustrated in Fig. 3.

The A – joints consist of three mutually perpendicular families of joints with separations of the order of a few feet.  Fig. 4 is an attempt to show alignments of these joints, which will be called A1, A2 and A3 joints.  In the locality of the Schönberg the A1 joints strike 030o – 210o and dip about 80o – 90o in a westerly direction.  The A2 joints dip 10o – 15o along 030o, that is along the strike of A1 (true dip is about NE).  The third set A3 are nearly vertical and strike 120o – 300o; they are poorly developed and are an aid to erosion rather than a controlling factor.  The B – joints are fault features although little movement has occurred along them in this area.  Their strikes tend to run about 020o and their angle of dip varies considerably from joint to joint and also down each joint.


Figure 4.  Spatial distribution of A joint families

Surface water is supplied from two sources: run-off from rain and snow, and melt water from permanent or semi-permanent snow patches.  Run-off water is quickly channelled into a drainage system which, under the influence of the A – joints, runs along the intersection of the A1 and A2 joints: it thus bears along 030o and at the same time sinks about 15o. The snow patches on the other hand, promote the development of pits.  The A1 aligned sides of these form smooth, vertical walls, frequently 30 metres deep; whereas, the other two sides, formed by lesser developed A3 joints, tend to be step like.  The result is a rectangular pit with cross section as shown in Fig. 5.  Formation of these pits and other dolines on the Schönberg plateau concentrates the run-off from the area into a number of focal points where it then develops a cave down the intersection of the A1 and A2 joints. As can be seen from Fig. 6, the cross-section of these caves is closely controlled by the jointing and some of these simple, A-caves appear to have developed lengths of as much as 1,500 metres.


Figure 5.  Vertical section of rectangular pits.

Unfortunately, the beautifully simple picture of surface pits at about 2,000 metres feeding water to long, simple A – cave has been complicated by glacial erosion.  The major effects of the multiple glaciations that occurred during the Pleistocene period were two in number.  Firstly the changing temperatures and the changing topography frequently altered the supply and nature of surface waters; and secondly the periodic lowering of valley floors and hence the base-levels altered the erosive power of these waters.  Unravelling the timetable of these events required the analysis of a considerable amount of data and is not helped by the fact that each glaciation frequently removed the evidence of previous glaciations!

The last glaciation, the Wurm IIc (Wurm III of some workers) was responsible for the erosion of the Fuertal and the Hinterglas, the two valleys immediately north of the Schönberg and running approximately NW – SE.  This resulted in the tri-section of the A – Caves (see Fig. 6) and left the entrance to the Ahnenschacht, the largest system in the area, stuck on top of a narrow ridge!


Figure 6.  Section through Schönberg and Ahnenschacht (not to scale).

Previously to this, the A – joint drainage had intersected a B – joint and erosion down the dip of this joint resulted in the formation of the Ahnenschacht.  For a depth of some 300 metres this superb cave follows the same joint, which is always visible in the cave.  Occasional shifts to the north along the B – joint indicate the influence of the A – joints on inlet waters.  Little deposition of calcium carbonate has occurred in the cave (except in one rift, See Thomas) and at the present time what little formations one can find are rotting.  A sequence of calcite deposition and consequential rotting, located at a depth of about 30 metres appears to correlate with Wurm glaciations.  Some indication of the conditions extent during these times may also be derived from the alterations of phreatic and vadose features as one proceeds down the cave.  Three distinct processes have occurred.  Phreatic conditions have produced tubes and half-tubes above the joint, leading eventually to anastomoses.  Vadose conditions involving little water have modified this development, frequently causing collapse; and vadose conditions involving large quantise of water (supplied for example by melting snow) have formed canyons and vertical pitches and have also caused the transport of collapsed material and other fill.

The existence of a steady base level for a considerable length of time allowed the development and enlargement of an A – cave below the Fuertal which bears about due north and dips about 15o.  The extension of this system would bring one to the intermittent-spring line in the Aibl-grube.  Luckily a minor joint, developed by percolating waters to form a sloping rift, has connected this A – cave with the B – cave at a height of about 1,500 mettes above sea level, thus facilitating its exploration.


Figure 7.  A- caves on north face of Schönberg.  Distance apart of A – joints may be as much as 6 metres but often is only 1 metre.

At the present time drainage is being modified by the annual weather cycle which, in Spring, introduces into a system the melt water from as much as 20 metres of snow.  Snow patches lasting throughout the summer in protected hollows and pits create vertical inlet features and ensure a constant supply of water to the lower parts of the cave, regardless of weather conditions. The resulting waters are at present creating a system, presumably A – joint controlled at a depth of 100 metres below the older system.  As yet nothing is known about this system, except that its extension northwards brings one top the Ursprung Brucke: the permanent spring in the Aibl-grube.

Further exploration and accurate surveying of the Ahnenschascht should lead to the correlation of many surface features with their subterranean counterparts and for this reason extremely fascinating.

REFERENCE: Thomas, A.R., ‘Ahnenschaschat 1968’. BB Vol.22 No.9 pages 103-114.


The July Floods Again

Members will already know that flood water in Velvet Bottom uncovered large quantities of Roman and iron Age pottery.  A few flints were also revealed.  Those who went collecting pieces and still have them are asked by the Bristol Arch. Research Group to send, or take the fragments to the Bristol Museum for identification.  You may have something quite important.  Please make this known to your friends who also went collecting there.

B.E.C. Caving Reports

Bryan Ellis now holds the reminder of the spare copies of the Caving Reports.  Members wishing to fill gaps in their collections are advised to get in contact with him quickly as they are selling out fast.  A recent meeting of the B.B. Editorial Sub-Committee have decided not to reprint many of the reports nos. 1-12 as they are containing much out of date material.

Members wishing to dispose of their old B.B.’s and caving Reports are asked to send them to Dave Irwin as there is a small, market for old issues.  Ant proceeds from sale of this material will go to the Belfry Fund.

WEE, THAT’S YER LOT – and a Very Happy New Year to yer!