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Improvements at the Belfry

The caravan has been stripped and is now brought down to the chassis which is being given to Walt Foxwell.

An attempt is being made to clear the ‘cowsh’ from the Belfry track by the farm method of brushing muck off the hardcore surface.  So far it seems to be working well.  The old stove in the Belfry (only two years old!) has been replaced with a fairly new plush enamel surfaced type – it is said to be much more economical with the choke – about three hoppers full per day instead of over double that number.

Regarding the new Belfry a meeting is being called with the Somerset Playing Fields Association and representatives of the Club.  More details later.

Walt Foxwell has fenced both his side and the clubs edge of the new track with the required style and fencing posts.  The club has supplied posts and barbed wire for this purpose.  As soon as the modifications have been made within Walt’s yard his wall can be breached and the cattle grid at the entrance to the Belfry car-park can be laid.  When the new track comes into operation members are asked to bear in mind that they are not able to use this track and that they must park their vehicles in the Belfry car-park.

Arrangements are being finalised with the Wookey Paper mills regarding the lease of their land that will make the shape of the Belfry site ‘square’ and the later we can extends the car park to the other side of the new track.






They cost you nothing!!


Club Headquarters: - The Belfry, Wells Road Priddy, WELLS, Somerset, BA5 3AU
Hon. Sec: -  A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Hut Warden: - P.T. Townsend, 154, Sylvia Ave., Bristol. 3.
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, Bristol. 3. BS3 1QA


Report on the 1968 Annual General Meeting

By ‘Alfie’

Whether it was the effect of holding an A.G.M. for the first time on licensed premises or just a fluke, the exact quorum needed for the meeting to start was obtained at the exact time advertised, an the meeting thus got away to a good start.

“Sett” was immediately elected chairman, in accordance with the tradition of the last few years. Immediate business such as calling tellers and collecting ballot papers and resolutions was soon over, and the first report presented by the Hon. Sec.

In a brief and factual report, he listed the work which he has got through during the year, but he said he had been held up on one or two points by not having the address of one of the club’s trustees.  This was immediately produced for hum and after some discussion on the trustees in general, it was decided not to ask for any changes.

This report was followed by that from the Hon. Treas.  He said that the effect of raising the membership fee had not adversely affected the membership.  The Hut Fund was doing well, but more members should contribute.  It was agreed that Jock Orr should try and get some money for the fund during the dinner.  (£10 was raised Ed.)  Some £751 had been raised since the last A.G.M.  A query about the Ina Dear Memorial Fund led to some discussion, and it was agreed that Bob Bagshaw could reinvest this fund together with the interest to date, in whatever he thought best.  More publicity should be given to the fund, as there had not been a single applicant yet.

The Caving Secretary’s report followed.  The year started badly due to the foot and mouth epidemic, but activities had increased, in particular digging at St. Cuthbert’s.  The Guest Leader system had produced two guest leaders.  There was no discussion on this report.

To the surprise of those present, the Tacklemaster produced a written report.  We now had 960ft. of ladder and 1,418ft. of rope.  In reply to a question from the chair, he said that the recommendations of last year’s A.G.M. had resulted in nylon being used throughout for rope.

Due to a sudden attack of appendicitis, the Hut Warden was not able to be present or to give his report, and this was agreed to be left out and supplied later for records.

The B.B. Editor then gave his report.  Many changes had been made since the new Editor took over, and more were contemplated. However, the policy was to keep the unique features of the B.B. as built up by past editors.  The Caving Publications were now (once again) in the same hands as the B.B.  This report was greeted with acclaim.

The Caving Publications report followed.  The Editor, Bryan Ellis, announced his retirement as part of his ‘master plan to remove all his caving responsibilities’.  He said that he was still prepared to act as distributor for these and other publications.  During the discussion on the report, Dave Irwin said that Bryan had edited the caving reports for ten years, and had built up a series of serious reports of which the club could be proud.  A vote of thanks to Bryan was recorded.

The Librarian’s report came next.  He said that more use has been made of the library, but he was somewhat concerned about the number of books outstanding, in some cases by as much as three years. A discussion followed, at which it was agreed to leave the disciplinary action to the new committee.  A suggestion was made that the offender’s names should be printed in the B.B. – so if you have a library book out, you have been warned!

After an interval for tea no actual tea to drink, as members had been drinking beer pretty steadily since the meeting opened (another advantage for the venue!)  The Belfry Engineer gave his report.  He said that owing to imminence (?) of the new Belfry, only a minimum of work had been done on the present structure.  During the discussion, it was asked why Walt did not use the new track.  The Hon. Sec. explained the position, and it appeared that all was well and that Walt well be using it soon.

The final report was on the Long Term Plan by Alfie.  As time was beginning to be short, he gave a brief synopsis of the report, but said that after many delays in the negotiations, it would appear that we would definitely get a grant and it would definitely be 50%.  However, it was still a year away, and he expected that the actual cheque would arrive so that building would occur in 1970.  He had one more meting to organise and then one with the representative of the National Playing Fields Association at the Belfry site. After this, there would be nothing to do for a year and, knowing this, he had not put his name forward for the 1969 committee since there was no more to do.  There would, however, be a lot to do in 1970 and he would be available then if required.  A vote of thanks was given to Alfie.

The first members’ resolution was that proposed by ‘Sett’ and Mike Palmer advocating a two tier committee structure and which was circulated to all members before the meeting. This provoked a long discussion. The Chairman said that he intended to stimulate a discussion on this point.  He had seconded the resolution so that the point could be debated.  A further issue was brought into the debate – that of the method by which we elect the committee members and whether we should elect people to individual offices rather than to the committee generally. Many points if view, representing a wide selection, were made by various speakers.

Eventually, both the resolution and a proposal to elect by individual office were defeated (2 in 8 in favour respectively).  The general opinion was summed up by Bob Bagshaw who said that he felt that the present system was the most workable.

A resolution that the A.G.M. starting the morning in future, proposed by Andy MacGregor and seconded by Mike Palmer was passed (20-3).

A resolution that the Cuthbert’s Guest leader System be made permanent, proposed by Dave Irwin and seconded by Roy Bennett was passed (24-1).

A resolution that the articles of association produced for the Long Term Planning Committee be used to form the basis of a more formal constitution, proposed by Alfie and seconded by Phil Townsend, was passed (20-0) nem. Con.  This will be submitted by Alfie to the 1969 Committee.

The chairman declared the meeting closed at 5.45pm.

Ed. Note: -        This report, will compiled by the same person as the Official Minutes, differs from these by being condensed to some extent – and by being presented in a rather more ‘chatty’ form.


Letter To The Editor

To the Editor, B.B.

Bishop Sutton

Dear Sir

At the recent A.G.M., a number of questions arose on which discussion had to be curtailed owing to lack of time.  In particular, the idea of a second committee, and the whole question of how we elect club officers saw a number of strong views expressed without time for these to be fully developed by their protagonists.  Many members would, I think, agree that there is not sufficient time at formal meetings for these ideas to be given a good kicking around.

What happens, of course, is that anyone who has an idea of this type does his best to sound out club opinion by suitable nattering at the Wagon, the Hunters and the Belfry – even, perhaps, down a cave.  I understand that a suggestion has been made that a certain day in the month is going to be advertised as one on which older members could well forgather.  Might it not be a good idea to advertise a time and a place at which everyone who held any views on club matters could turn up and give those views an airing?  With any luck, this might not only clear the air before the A.G.M.’s and Committee Meetings and provide committee members with a ‘sounding board’ to get the feel of club opinion, but it could provide a useful training ground for future committee members.  Members who live in the district would get a good idea of how any particular bloke would behave if he were elected to the committee; what he proposed to do, and how well he was likely to do it.

The idea of an ‘Upper House’ has been decisively rejected by the club and the legislation might well have been complicated, but a ‘Lower House’ needs no legislation at all, and might provided the ordinary member of the club (of which I am example) with a chance to keep abreast with current thought and to contribute any ideas we might have.  It would be interesting to see what your readers think of the idea of such an informal get together from time to time.

S.J. Collins, 7-10-68.


Speech Communication Underground


During the last decade several people have attempted to communicate from the surface to underground by various methods.  The most reliable of these, at present, is probably the compact “Stenophone” using a single insulated wire and earth return system.  Communications up to 20 miles may be had with a pair of these units. However, underground they suffer from two disadvantages.

1)                  Difficult to maintain continuous communication with the surface whilst moving due to having to wind or unwind the wire onto a reel and repositioning the earth connection.

2)                  The wire itself is a nuisance and must be laid with care away from routes where cavers may inadvertently cause damage to it.  This is difficult in many cases, particularly on a rescue where speed is essential.

Despite these disadvantages and hand held telephone is easy to use and reasonably robust.  With the above disadvantages in mind it was decided to attempt underground communication by one of other two methods.

1)                  Radio Frequency Transmission or

2)                  Magnetic Induction system.

Unfortunately R.F. transmissions suffer from high losses when passed though solid media such as rock or water.  These losses occur at all frequencies except low ones in the region of the Long Wave Band and lower.  A small transmitter was built and used with a conventional transistor portable but the range of the system was far too small.  An increase in transmitter power would be possible but then one would fall foul of the G.P.O. and it is very doubtful whether a licence would be granted for rescue purposes.  The reason being that Long Wave is usually reserved for world wide submarine communications.

With the above problems in mind the second system was attempted.  The principle of Magnetic Induction System is simple to understand. A magnetic field shows little or no loss when it passes through a medium such as limestone.  It can be shown that if a point (e.g. the receiver) moves away from the centre of a coil of wire that is generating a magnetic field then the field at the point decreases as the inverse cube (i.e. if the distance is doubled the field will be reduced by eight times).  This means that if any great distance is to be used a high magnetic field will be needed.

Assuming that a high magnetic field can be produced it now has to be varied in amplitude and frequency on order to convey speech.  This may be done by the use transistor amplifiers (Ref.1).  Thus the transmitter consists of a powerful amplifier, a telephone battery and a coil of wire capable of producing the magnetic field. The receiver will consist of a similar coil of wire followed by an amplifier that can magnify the small signals that will be picked up by the coil.  This amplified signal will be passed on to a pair of earphones.

It is interesting at this stage, to note that before the advent of high power transistors this apparatus would have not been practical in a portable form.  Had it been constructed using thermonic valves, the power supplies (in battery form) would have been enormous.  However, transistors have come to the rescue and the whole transmitter/receiver (for 2 way communication) and batteries can be contained in two small ammunition boxes.  The aerial coils alone remain the problem.  By necessary, for communication over a reasonable distance, say 500ft., the aerial coils must occupy the largest area practical and contain as many turns of wire as possible.  If these two conditions are upheld then the aerial will become somewhat bulky and difficult to move.

However there is some consolation in that the shape of the aerial coil is relatively unimportant (not so if the device is to be used for surveying or direction finding) and it may be unwound from a small drum onto the floor of some convenient chamber. The problem of moving still exists!

Enough has been said about the advantages and disadvantages of the Magnetic Induction System, practical results are what really count.

A simple transmitter and receiver were built using, not speech, but a continuous tone.  The aerial coil was only 18” diameter and the transmitter was only capable of supplying a few watts of power into the aerial coil. This apparatus was used to transmit the tone from Goatchurch Cavern to the hill directly above.  The equipment was moderately successful and the tone was picked up though some 50 or so feet of rock.  It was obvious a more powerful transmitter and a more sensitive receiver were needed.  This modified apparatus was eventually built and was capable of supplying nearly 100 watts of power into the aerial coil, it also had an improved receiver.  The first snag was that 50 cycles mains hum caused by earth currents associated with the electricity grid system being picked up by the sensitive receiver.  This has now been overcome by filtering similar to that used on the G.P.O. telephone system.

This new equipment was tried out in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet from High Chamber to the surface.  The transmitter was taken underground and set up with an aerial coil 1 metre in diameter.  The receiver was placed on the surface as near vertical above the transmitter as could be ascertained from the survey.  The receiver aerial was also 1 metre in diameter.  Due to our unfailing confidence in the system a single wire telephone was laid to High Chamber so that communication could be obtained in the unlikely event of the Magnetic Induction System not working!  The first results were disappointing as no signals were received.  The transmitter coil was then unwound on the floor of High Chamber to form a coil of about 4 metres in diameter.  The receiver aerial coil remained at 1 metre.  Immediately a signal was received on the surface, firstly a tone was transmitted followed by speech.  When used with a continuous tone it was possible to locate the approximate position of High Chamber on the surface.  This was made possible by the directional properties of the aerials. This experiment would appear to give approximately to same position as indicated by the survey.

The conclusions of these experiments are simply these: - Firstly, a large aerial coil at least 4 metres in diameter is needed if a reasonable range of operation is to be had, this means that the equipment can only be used in certain parts of a cave and difficulty would be experienced in moving the apparatus quickly from one point to another.  Secondly, more power is needed from the transmitter involving bigger and heavier batteries and the difficulty in obtaining larger transmitter.  At present the transmitter will last for about 45 minutes on a battery that cab be housed in a .303 ammunition box.

Ref: - Proceedings of the British Speleological Association Papers presented to the Annual Conference. No.1. August 1963 -  “A Device for Surveying and Speech Communication Underground” - H. Lord, B.Sc., Ph.D. p.25.


The Belfry

The role of Hut Warden is at best an unwelcome task.  In the coming year it is hoped that the load could be shared between the users of the Belfry.  As Hut Warden I cannot be present as often as is necessary.  As far as possible, when necessary, a deputy will be appointed for the weekend whose task will be merely to collect the dues and look after the keys. Also he will ensure that the Belfry is left tidy.  The ‘Temporary Bed Sheet’ will be returned to me during the following weekend together, of course, with the money.  I ask for the co-operation of all members using the Belfry to make this scheme work.

                        Phil Townsend
                                    Hut Warden.

Monthly Notes No.19

By ‘Wig’

About mid-October an eight foot deep hole appeared in the field opposite the garage near the ‘Belfry’. It was immediately fenced by the tenant farmer – Walt Foxwell. Walt was approached by Roger Dors, who incidentally has been been caving for a couple of years now who asked him if he could dig there with helpers but was refused.  The reason being that the lead in the sub-soil would cause harm to his cows who graze there.

Its interest lies in fact that St. Cuthbert’s lies about 100yds. to the S.W. and should a system lie in this area and possible connect with the Cuthbert’s system then it could have proved to be worth while a dig.  Various holes have been reported to exist under the garage but they have always been quickly filled in.  Another site if interest is opposite the entrance to the ‘Belfry’ drive.  Two sinks exist about 10 and 30ft. respectively from the road.  Permission was sought form the Farmer earlier in the year by ‘Wig’, ‘Prew’ and Bob Craig but were refused because the farmer had seen three cavers hoping over the wall to ‘inspect’ the site.  The gated entrance to the field was only 50yds. away!  Perhaps it might be the time to remind members to use the gateway to any field.

HUNTERS HOLE – Dear’s Ideal

This has been dug on several occasions in the past and is now currently being dug by the Emborough team – Keith Franklin and Phil Coles.  The latest report is that there are two dangerously poised boulders at the entrance to the dig that have to be cleared out of the way before digging can commence.  Cavers inspecting the site should be warned of this potential danger.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Report Part ‘A’ Discovery and Exploration.  36 pp Price 6/-.

The second part of the planned 15 part report on the cave was published on the 5th October at the Annual Dinner and within the first week on sale was out of print – such was the demand! A further printing is taking place and more copies should be ready for sale by earlier December and those of you requiring a copy should contact Dave Irwin or Gordon Tilly at the Belfry or through the post to Bryan Ellis.  The ‘reserve copy’ list of people is growing and it seems that the second 100 copies will sell out pretty quickly – so again get your name on the list now.  The advantage of having your name on the reserve list is that you get all parts of the report a week before publication date and you can be sure of getting a copy before it goes out of print; this applies to both members and non-members.

The third part of the report ‘Gour Hall Area’ will be available in January.  This will include a detailed survey of the area (totalling 968ft. of surveyed passage) description, Route Severity Diagram and photographs.  The Rabbit warren and Rabbit Warren Extension and Catgut will be ready for sale about Feb-march time – price about 3/- each.

St. Cuthbert’s – Dining Room Dig.  A 30ft. extension was broken into during mid-October.


In the 18th century, Dr. Calcott of the Temple Church, Bristol was studying the great flood at the time of Noah when he visited Hutton Cave (now lost). And wrote about the bones that had been found in the cave – they confirmed that the flood had completely covered the earth and that the water had poured away down swallets and holes in the ground.  He added “How else could we account for bones discovered in caves fathoms deep beneath the earth?”

‘The Times’ carried an article on Mendip Caverns on the 10-8-1882.

Overhear in the Waggon and Horses…

“Wow…I was just wondering if I knew her sister – then I realised it was probably her mother”.

- Bxxby Bxshxw

Overheard at the Belfry….

“If the Hut Warden has difficulty in keeping the Belfry clean why don’t we have a paper ‘Belfry’ and burn it each week”

Pxxl Kxxgstxn


St. Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue

By Keith Franklin

As is now custom, a full scale mock rescue was held this year in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet on September 15th.  The main object of this years exercise was to try and acquaint other club’s rescue teams with routes and difficulties involved in a rescue from St. Cuthbert’s. To this end the B.E.C. team was augmented by Shepton Mallet C.C., Wessex and Westminster members.  The rescue may best be summarised by abstracts from the log and various comments made at the time.

11.30hrs.           Victim and party (1) into cave.

12.30hrs.           Carry started from just below Plantation Junction

13.15hrs.           Carry at point just upstream of Dining Room.  Telephone laid to top of Everest.

13.45hrs            Change over to party (2) at top of Boulder Chamber.

The time for the first section was 1½ hours.  The carry was fairly simple with little difficulty.  Party (1) were very tired and perhaps the changeover point could be re-sited at the bottom of Boulder Chamber.

14.10hrs.           Carry in Maud Hall.

14.30hrs.           Carry at start of the Wire Rift.

14.40hrs.           Near serious accident, when foot square of false stal. flooring collapsed under weight of member of carrying party causing him to fall 10ft.  He was unhurst.

15.10hrs.           Difficulty in Wire Rift.

15.25hrs.           Changeover to Party (3) at bottom of Ledge Pitches.

The second section took 1hr. 35mins.  The Wire Rift proved difficult in spite of the lessons learned in the previous practice held there.  There were no other problems found on route.  Again, perhaps, the changeover should be made earlier, say in the middle of the Wire Rift to help solve some of the problems there.  There was also insufficient care in the handling of the victim during this carry.  (Ed. Note: - Yes, I agree.  After passing the ladder at the bottom of the Wire Rift poor positioning of the carrying team resulted in about 3 out of the 7 doing any effective work).

15.40hrs.           Carry at top of Ledge Pitches.

16.10hrs.           Carry at top of Arête.

16.20hrs.           Changeover to Party (4)

The time taken for the third part of the rescue was 55mins.  No difficulties were found in the actual carry although some confusion existed in who was in command of this party.  It is essential that only one person controls the rescue at any ONE time. The pulling up the Arête was unsatisfactory in that there was too much jerking on the hauling rope.

16.35hrs.           Pull started up Entrance Pitch

16.37hrs.           Carry at top of Entrance Rift

16.50hrs.           Victim out of cave.

With the final section taking 30mins. the total time of the rescue was 4½ hrs. which was a distinct improvement on the last full scale attempt.  The Old Route offers considerable advantages over the New Route for certain types of rescue and now some definite policy will be needed as to which route shall be used.  The exercise was a complete success in its intention of introducing other clubs to the rescue problems found in St. Cuthbert’s and indeed of giving rescue experience in general.  It is very interesting to note that both Parties (1) and (2) were very tired at the end of their carry of approx 1½hrs.  Yet in Swildons carries of up to 6 hours are common.  Perhaps this is why rescues are so long in Swildons. Maybe next year the B.E.C. should hold its full scale rescue in Swildons using an exchange party system.

In all 32 people took part inn the rescue with only 10 from the B.E.C.

Personnel involved in the practice Rescue were: -

P. Franklin – Victim
S. Tuck     Telephones
K. Franklin – Surface Organisation R. Cross

Carrying Teams: -

R. Craig


R. Bennett


D. Gillespie


D. Herbert


M. Mills


M. Webster


D. Harding

Shepton Mallet C.C.

P. Townsend


A. Butcher


A. Meaden


M. Pryor


D. Irwin


B. Ellis


D. Turner






A. Phillpott


W. Ball


D. Godden


K. Barber


D. Tombs

Wessex C.C.

G. Bull


S. Potler


D. Kelly


R. Witcombe


R. Ausell


D. Everett


P. Sievert


A. Tricky








O.C. Lloyd




M. Morley




K. Franklin.


The Simpson-Swinsto Non-Exchange

By John Riley

The 12th October was quite a wet Saturday following a rather wet week.  We were told that the Simpson-Swinsto link would not be impossible under the conditions but ‘rather interesting’.  This remark did not help us to overcome the festering instinct but the trip did not turn out to be so desperate as thought: although is was quite sporting.

Phil Kinston, Colin Priddle and John Riley intended joining Bill Ball and others of the Westminster S.G. in an exchange trip.

Eventually the tackle was sorted out and two parties decided on.  Bill Ball, 2 others of the W.S.G. and the B.E.C. contingent set off to tackle Simpsons.  The other party after a much later start (it was learned late) tackled Swinsto.

The first 500ft. of Simpsons are not too strenuous crawl, after which the streamway falls rapidly in a series of pitches, some quite wet but not greater that 35 feet until the final pitch (Slit Pot) of 80 feet.

The entrance to Slit Pot involves squeezing through a very tight slit and sliding down carefully on to the ladder which hangs in the water for the full 80ft.  The bottom of Slit Pot is just before the final pitch in Swinsto.

On reaching the bottom of the pitch no sign could be seen of the other party and the Swinsto streamway was followed to the next pitch where 45 minutes ‘kip’ was had to the deafening roar of the waterfall.  A trip back to Slit Pot; another 30 minutes wait and still no sign of the other party. It was decided to visit the pitch again before returning through Simpsons in order to make utterances up the pot – but I doubt if anyone heard above the roar of the water!

The return through the slit did not prove to be as difficult as feared and we were soon sitting in the New Inn where Kingston and Pope couldn’t keep their eyes off the barmaid.

The other party had reached Slit Pot about an hour after we had left after having a very late start and an extremely wet trip.  However, in spite of not making the exchange it was a very worthwhile trip.

Unfortunately little has been heard from the more active climbers, especially the ‘Hard men’. Perhaps they are too busy pushing up their standards to bother – come on, let’s have a write up of some desperate route.

Llanberis Pass camping under the Grochan, seems to have been as popular as ever this year.  One just never seems to be able to exhaust the supply of climbs.  However, I think, a change is needed – perhaps a visit to the Lakes, Cornwall or the Gritstone country.


Climbing News

By Malcolm Holt

A particularly interesting climb proved to be ‘Meshack’ (HVS) at Tremadoc.  Accompanied by Pete Sutton and Bob Sell we manage to muster up enough courage to have an attempt despite the very wet and saturated rock. The first pitch, a delicate slab, resembled a waterfall and so we decided to ‘borrow’ the first pitch from another climb.  This proved reasonably straight forward except for patches of mud.  We were soon on the first stance where we joined several others. Fortunately, there was ample room and we made ourselves fairly comfortable whilst waiting for another party to finish off our climb.  At length we saw the last man disappear from view and Pete led off in brilliant form negotiating a series of difficult crux moves, consisting of awkward mantelshelves, laybacks and a hand traverse made even more difficult by cascading streams pouring over the rock.  Protection for the leader proved fairly good, there being several good jam nut runners and also a well placed peg which could be used for aid but probably made the move more difficult (as I found out).

Clogy Moss was visited by Dave Stele and accomplice.  An attempt was made at ‘Narrow Crack’.  They were forced to retreat from the third pitch due to wet rock, and after abseiling down were unable to retrieve their rope.  Upon returning the following day, after quite a struggle, they finally managed to retrieve the rope.  The rope, after being out through the night in heavy wind and rain would make a better caving rope than climbing rope – any offers? (any comments – Ed!).

Ever thought of doing the north face of the Eiger?  Ian Clough, who accompanied Chris Bonnington in the first successful British attempt, gave an entertaining lecture at Reading University the other week.  Apparently the two Swiss who were climbing at the same time as them with virtually no climbing experience managed to make it to the summit.  Whilst a fairly competent English and German team fell to their deaths, which goes to show there is a fair amount of luck involved.  An excellent book on the subject is ‘The White Spider’ by Heirich Heller which gives fairly detailed accounts of all ascents plus a route guide.

Address Changes

S. Grime, Flat 8, 27 Hope Street, Inverkiething, Fife.
A. Meaden, 127 Mudford Road, Yeovil, Somerset.
M. Webster, 43 Stroud Road, Patchway, Bristol.
R. Richards, 6 Spring Street, Paddington, London.
C. Hall,     ?
J. Butler, 10 Homesdale Road, Bromley, Kent.
J. Bugler,     ?
Phil Kingston – Postal Code BS5 6HF.
Mr. & Mrs. D. Glover, ‘Longwood’, 30 Forest Lane, Tadley, Basingstoke, Hants.
J. Orr, ‘Hen Carrog’, Rhosgoch, Amlwch, Anglesey, N. Wales.
A. Coase, 4 Sutton Close, Oadby, Leicester.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

Why didn’t we have a competition for the new Bat design on the cover?  I’m sure mine would have won first prize!


Talking Point

Discussion, lately, has been dominated by the new Belfry.  It has been suggested that whether we get the Grant or not we go should go ahead and build the new Belfry this year.  It has been said that the new building as proposed,, might be priced as low as £2,000, and as Bob, our Honourable Treasurer, thinks that the money could be raised by May this year, the followers of this idea now say “Let’s get the building up ourselves this without the Grant we may not get”.

On the other hand the opposite view is taken.  That is to wait and see what the Official answer brings.  If it is ‘Yes’ then the club will have saved something up to 50% of the cost of the new Belfry – in the case of a £2,000 building - £1,000 saved! The rest of the money would then be available for other essentials such as car-park, interior fittings of the building etc.

If the former idea is accepted, then an E.G.M. will have to be called as directed by the 1967 A.G.M.




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


Further Caving In Switzerland

The first three issues have included details of the new discoveries and this number continues on the same theme – this time exploration in north-east Switzerland.

by Mo Marriott.

Despite the rather general title of this article it is more or less devoted to the exploration of one system.  But first a brief picture of our caving activities here in the north-east of Switzerland.  Caving here is divided into two distinct seasons; from spring until the end of summer we amuse ourselves by exploring caves situated in the lowlands, some of these are found in small outliers of limestone and are partially solution in origin, while many others are formed in glacial deposits and are almost entirely erosional in nature.  In addition there are a number of abandoned lignite mines and stone workings, some of which are of considerable antiquity.  At all events none of these caves or mines are extensive – they are small, or very small by Mendip standards.

The second season starts at the end of August – weather and the previous winters snow conditions permitting – and ends with the general rise in temperature at the end of February. During this period we are able to get up into the mountainous Karst areas, where by far are the most interesting systems found.  At first we are restricted to the shallower pots and the meandering stream passages found in the Karst areas.  These meander passages are quite interesting, they run more or less parallel to the surface seem to form a pattern of drainage largely independent of the major vertical systems which pierce the limestone.  Stream capture between meander passages and shafts can be seen in a number of places, and collapsing of these shallow passages has produced extensive trench-like depressions which are characteristic feature of this Karst area.

By the middle or end of September the remnants of the winter snow have either vanished or the nightly sub-zero temperatures have reduced the melt streams to a minimum.  It is only then that the ‘serious’ caving begins, and that means the deep shafts.  Over the last two tears our attention has been centred on one system called “Kobelishohle” (literally Jacobs Cave).  This cave has been known to the local Senner (alpine herdsman) for many years as a steep sided depression at the bottom of a high rift entrance leads down into a high but narrow rift chamber – an extension of the entrance chamber.  After a further 40ft. the rift petered out in a horizontal direction but extended vertically downwards, forming the mouth of a very large shaft.  This shaft was plumbed and founds to be 530ft. deep and apparently quite vertical.

The first descent took place a few weeks later.  After many hours of transporting material; ladders, ropes, a winch, we were finally ready to tackle this very deep shaft (See B.B. No.217).  The shaft was truly vast, 30 to 40ft. in diameter, and tending to a double shaft profile with a figure of eight cross section near the bottom. The massive beds of cretaceous limestone were everywhere gentle fluted and scalloped and polished to a finish like marble.  Several promising ways on were seen at or near the bottom of the shaft, but in view of the lack of time, the small size of our party (five, including the people manning the winch) and the fact that the three of us in the shaft were now soaked from the constant spray, we were obliged to return to the surface.

In the few weeks of 1965 that remained we were prevented from making another descent, as the result of bad weather, and this situation continued in the early part of the year, so that the second trip did not come until September 1966.  We had benefited much from the experience of the first descent, so that the rigging of the shaft went very smoothly, although we were still plagued with lack of people, on this occasion – six instead of five!  Three of us were soon at the bottom of the shaft and we immediately set about the task of surveying the large hall which formed the bottom of the shaft.  On completion of this we turned our attention to the two obvious ways on from the bottom. We decided to tackle a “window” in the wall of the shaft first.  This hole was very conspicuous and about thirty feet from the floor.  We were quite easily able to enter the hole by climbing a little way up the ladder and swinging across.  We found ourselves at the head of a steeply descending rift, from ten to twenty feet wide, and in places more than sixty feet high, with some very nice stal. decorations on the walls.  The rift was quite tricky to negotiate, in some places we could climb, while in others we had to hang ladders, and our progress was steady but slow. At a point about 130ft. below the window we were disappointed to find that the rift closed down to an impenetrable slot, and no way on could be found.  We returned to the shaft and examined the second passage.  This was a very high rift breaching the south wall of the shaft but only two or three feet wide.  We followed the floor of this narrow meandering rift, which descended quite rapidly in a series of potholes of up to a depth of twenty feet.  The narrowness of the rift enabled us to climb down these pots by bridging against the walls, so we did not have to use ladders. 

Here we were able to make rapid progress, surveying as we went, and we were soon around 120ft. below the floor of the big shaft.  Then we came to the second disappointment of the day, but a rather different barrier than the first.  The rift widened suddenly to around eight feet and appeared to ascend slightly or at least the floor of the rift.  On closer inspection we found that this was only a local widening of the rift, and a narrow slot continued steeply downward.  One of us squeezed into the slit whilst another climbed up into the widening which formed a sort of gallery along the rift axis.  About one minute later the discovery of the second shaft was announced, by the man in the narrow slit who had found himself peering out a little way down one wall, and by me when I found myself looking straight down into the mouth of the shaft.  It was a big one, and we were not sure that our ladder would reach.  The plumbing settled the matter, the shaft was 200ft. deep to the first landing, and we had only 160ft. of ladder with us.  We made the long grind back to the head of the big shaft, and began the equally long task of de-tackling the cave and transferring the material over the mountain.  In the ensuing months the weather was again against us and three attempts at descending the hole were frustrated by excessive water.  It was to be almost exactly a year before another trip could be made.

In the beginning of October last year we were able to get a reasonable party together for a further attempt at pushing Kobleishohle.  On this occasion five people descended the shaft equipped with an extra 250ft. of ladder, which with the ladder on the big pitch comprised our entire stock – some 800ft. The rigging of the 200ft. shaft proved quite a problem since the polished rock in the rift at the head of the shaft offered nothing in the way of natural belays, and cracks scarcely wide enough to fit a razor blade – let alone a piton.  Eventually we installed two somewhat doubtful pitons and the first man descended.  The plan was for three people to scout ahead and see what lay in store for us, the other two people descending using a double lifeline when they were required. The 200ft. shaft, although somewhat smaller in diameter than the big shaft was equally impressive.  Almost circular in section and some twenty feet in diameter, the rock was quite black in contrast to the deep browns and yellows of the big shaft.  Our hopes were very soon shattered, when, only a very few feet below the floor of this shaft, a further pitch was found.  We were praying that that our fifty feet of ladder would be long enough, but the time for stones to fall down the shaft was ominously long.  The shaft was not quite vertical, a smooth ledge at thirty feet obscured our view of the bottom.  We lowered our last ladders into the shaft and one of us descended.  The ledge was very round and smooth, and did not offer a very good footing, certainly not good enough for a second belay point.  By clinging to the ladder and leaning out one could see the end of our last ladder swinging in space a long way from the bottom.  Once again the plumb line was brought into use – the pitch was 90ft. total. It was decided to leave all the tackle in the cave, with the intention of returning within a week or two.  This at least made the return to the surface less of a slog.

It was six weeks before another trip could be made, but the weather at the end of November seemed to becoming more stable, and we had high hopes.  However, an unseasonal snow storm occurred 24hrs. before the trip and we were faced with a long climb up into the mountains through five feet of very soft snow. In fact we started the climb but gave up almost exhausted after three hours, and after the prospect of at four more to reach the cave.  The end of the year approached and the weather remained atrocious.  By now we were getting a little worried about the condition of the equipment in the cave, since most of the ladders were hanging in very damp conditions.  A further attempt was made at the beginning of January, this time the cave was reached on ski, but even so, it required five hours of climbing.  When we reached the cave we were horrified to find the depression almost filled with drifted snow, we were faced with the prospect of having to dig more than twenty feet to reach the floor of the entrance chamber. It took us the entire weekend to ‘open up’ the hole, the snow in the lower part of the entrance (probably the November snowfall) had compacted almost to ice and we had to chop it out with an axe.  On top of that the snow had drifted into the crawl for some distance, almost filling it. We covered the ‘snow shaft’ with some wooden planks to prevent the snow from drifting further into the cave and returned to the valley.  Three weeks later we made a ski trip into the mountains again, this time with a strong party reinforced by some colleagues from the French speaking part of Switzerland.  This was to be something of a do-or-die attempt, not so much to push the exploration but rather to recover the equipment from the cave before the Spring melt began – to have left the tackle in the cave during this period would have meant writing it off, what isn’t hopelessly corroded by the water would have swept away.  This time we and a further 150 feet of ladder with us, and an extra 650 feet of lifeline. We made record time on the big shaft and just under two hours we had five people on the bottom.  The 200ft.

shaft was also quickly descended and the 90ft. pitch was rigged.  The bottom this pitch proved to be very roomy, with a very large rift passage leading off to the north.  At least, it seemed, the cave was starting to level out. But not for long!  After 50 feet of gently descending passage we were again staring forlornly down into the mouth of yet another shaft – another big one! 200ft. to the first landing the plumb line told us, and at the same time told us that we were about 100ft. short of ladder.  Time was very much against us and after toying with the idea of lowering ladders from some of the higher pitches we decided to call it a day and shift all the tackle out of the cave.

So this is the situation up to date.  We now have face the long wait until the autumn and colder weather.  During this wait we will all be wondering about what waits in store for us at the bottom of the latest shaft.  A chamber?  Another big pitch – another five hundred footer would be by no means improbable. A big passage?  This time next year we will know the answer, I’ll let you know then.

 “Mo” Marriott.

P.S.  According to the survey the bottom of the latest shaft, or at least the landing struck by the plumb line, is about 1,250ft. down.


B.E.C. Caving Expedition 1985

                        - Start planning NOW!

Recent theories on the structure of the Moon suggest a highly porous surface layer ‘honeycombed with caves of all sizes, by comparison the greatest grottoes of the Earth are mere pinholes!

…from a recent issue of The New scientist.


Have you paid you Sub yet?.................send it to Bob NOW!

Monthly Notes No.12

by ‘WIG’

Council Of Northern Caving Clubs:-

Address changes –

ASS. SEC. responsible for meets on Leck, Casterton and Fountains Fell:-
                        J. Morgan, 23 Runnington Ave., Colne, Lancs.

ASS. SEC. for Penyghent, Fountains Fell (except Mr Coates’ land) and Mongo Gill:-
                        J. Rasdell, 6 Monkroyd Ave., Barnoldswick, Colne, Lancs.

C.R.G. Library.

All British periodicals are being transferred to Mr. P.A. Haigh of Halifax.  Enquiries should still be address to Brig. E.A. Glennie.

New Digging Spades.

The Committee have purchased 2 lightweight spades that should take the backache out of constricted digging.  Being much shorter and smaller it is easier to manoeuvre.  If these are found to be satisfactory by the digging teams then more will be purchased.

Austria – The Ahnenschacht 1968

Members interested in going to Austria to have a bash at bottoming this great shaft should contact Alan Thomas as soon as possible.  The trip is planned for sometime in August.  Also, if anyone is interested in another trip to Greece Alan is prepared to organise a trip to the very deep shaft – about 2,000ft. –Proventina. Again get in contact with Alan as soon as possible.

Cuthbert’s Report – the position.

Exploration of S. Cuthbert’s. – Is in for its final re-write.
COMPLETE SURVEY & SECTIONS – Will not be complete until 1969.
NEW & OLD ROUTES – Survey nearing completion.
MAIN CHAMBERS – Line survey only.
RABBIT WARREN – All survey lines complete. 50% detailed.
GOUR HALL – Final drawing completed.
CERBERUS & MAYPOLE SERIES – Both surveys complete except for minor passages.  Drawings not started.
RABBIT WARREN EXT. & CATGUT – Line survey only.
SEPTEMBER SERIES – Line survey only.
LONG CHAMBER AREA – Line survey through the main route only.
CORAL AND ROCKY BOULDER SERIES – Only partially surveyed.

Other parts of the report in various stages of preparation.

Length of passage so far surveyed nearly 11,500ft.

The depth of the cave to the sump = 411.9ft.

Cuthbert’s Tourist Trips.

Leaders are reminded that all visitors to the cave are charged 1/- tackle fees – except when they are on working trips.  Since the cave was re-opened in January it has been a regular event to hear of someone being pulled up the Entrance Rift.  Recently two parties from a University Club had nearly 50% of their number pulled or assisted up the rift.  It must be pointed out once again that Cuthbert’s is definitely not a novice cave and club secs. planning visits to the cave should make sure that all their members have sufficient experience.

Happenings At The Belfry

March at the Belfry has been a month of gradual recovery from two months fester.  Not only has climbing and caving been on the increase – several members have lent a hand and preliminary work for the new Belfry got underway.  The first job was the re-piping of the Drinking pool stream way.  The old pipes were replaced with larger, and stronger, concrete pipes.  Alongside the pipes was laid a telephone cable for communication between the Belfry and the cave below in times of emergency etc.  It also is now in a much safe position – before it was slung ‘high’ over the Belfry track and attached to the clothes line post.  Unfortunately it wasn’t high enough because it almost threw Walt Foxwell from his tractor!  What did I hear you say?......

On 16th March, Fred Owen and his bulldozer cut a track along the inside of the Belfry site south boundary. This will provide a separate approach to Walt Foxwell’s small holding at the rear of the Belfry resulting in a cleaner car parking area.  The total cost of this exercise is reported to be in the region of nearly £60.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (Mendip!)

The water from the Main Stream that flows into the pool under Cerberus Hall has now been proved to flow on into the Lake.  Although not proven presumably on back-up cave to the static sump that lies under Curtain Chamber.  After all the arguments that took place before the final test Roger Stenner must be pleased with himself in proving his ideas to be correct.


Trips from the Caving Log

Edited by Phil Coles.

Caving is finally finding its feet again as the F & M restrictions are lifted.  First trip of the New Year was on 20th January – a photographic trip in Hunters Hole, coupled with a look at digs.  Dears’ Ideal would appear to be most promising, a boulder floor rising to a few inches of the roof at the constricted point.  A few weekends work, and maybe a bit of bang, is all (ALL? Ed.) that seemed to be needed.

St. Cuthbert’s was officially reopened on the 21st January with a successful practice rescue in the Wire Rift (see B.B. Feb. 1968).  Subsequent trips have been two water sampling trips by Roger Stenner on 26/1 and 10/2, return to Sump Dig on 4/2 by Phil Kingston and Barry and sherpas.  Phil was pleased to find that despite a prolonged absence from the sump, it hadn’t silted up.  Thoughts have also turned to digs again after a prospecting trip on 3/2 by Dave Irwin, Alan Thomas and others to the end of Gour Rift.  The Dining Room Dig has been dug on one occasion – 28/2.  On the 4/2 a party comprising Keith Franklin, Dave Irwin, Howard Kenny and Oliver Lloyd inspected the possibilities of carrying out a practice rescue from Coral Chamber.  They did not state their conclusions (the rescue will take place as planned on the 21st April.  A simple route was found – Ed).  They say that the average age of the party was 40!  (Heavens only knows what it would have been if ‘Old Man’ Meaden and Alan Thomas had been on the trip.  (38 – Ed). There have been twelve other trips into Cuthbert’s including a photographic.  One such trip in Long Chamber Tim Hodgson slipped and dislocated his knee.  Fortunately it righted itself before Tim came to rest.  After a ‘ciggy’ he was able to get out under his own steam.

Hunters was visited for the 2nd time on the 28/1 but no digging.  On the 3/2 ‘Fred’ Atwell explored Cuckoo Cleeves and found the cave very loose!  On the 7/2 bods had a look around Redcliffe Caves. Other caves visited have been New Balch & G.B. (photographic) Burrington and Nine Barrows, all one each.

The main event so far has been the opening of the mineshaft in Rookham Wood by Bob Sell & Co. Little need be said here as Bob is writing an article on it.  (see letters - Ed).


On Monday 18th March it was announced that Mendip was now regarded as an area of outstanding natural beauty.  (From B.E.C. and Press reports).

Buckfastleigh Area – Devon.

On the 11-3-68 the Guardian reported that over the previous weekend that 200,000 (yes 2 hundred thousand) feet of new passage had been discovered!  Minor checking found the Express and Telegraph with the correct length – a mere 2,000ft.  Apparently the cave concerned is Bakers Pit.  The extensions have deepened the cave quite considerably.  Finally, the Shepton got hold of the news and published it in their Newssheet before it appeared in the D.D.D. Journal – weren’t they mad!



The cave was re-opened to cavers on Thursday 14th March.  At first it was only to cavers known to Mr. Maine but by Sunday it was business as usual! 35 cars were counted on the Green outside the farm.


That Bat!



We have had so many letters congratulating us on the new Belfry bulletins that it is quite impossible to print them all.  Quite a lot of comments have been made about the new cover design; in particular about the BAT.  For instance:-


Dear Editor,

I don’t think much of your new bat.  It looks as if it has just received a charge of buckshot up the backside!



I’m a keen student of bats, and I must say that this looks as if you have discovered a new species.


Dear Sir,

I think a more energetic looking bat would have been in keeping with the spirit of the B.E.C. Why not a Bat – Rampant showing its teeth instead of the timid mouse-like decoration on the cover?


Long Term Planning

In response to many members request Alfie and Bob give the up to date position regarding the New Belfry.


The paperwork has been transferred from the Department of Education and Science to Somerset Playing Fields Committee.  The normal time which elapses before the receipt of paperwork and the provision of a grant is about a year but we have been told that we shall probably receive a grant in about nine months.  Confirmation of this is expected in April.


Plans of the proposed building have been submitted to a number of builders for estimating purposes. At present it looks as if the price will be somewhat less that our original guess.



Dear Members,

To give you some idea of the present position regarding finance of the proposed New Belfry I have set out below some of the pertinent details.







In hand 31-8-67





Bankers Orders to 12-3-68





Other Donations.





Jumble Sale





Interest to 31-12-67





½ Annual Subs. Since 31-1-68









                        Outstanding on Bankers Orders   £472
                        Other anticipations:-       Donations   £200
                                                ½ Annual Subs £50 per annum.
                                                ½ Belfry Dues  £75 per annum.

Including the balance of £446-2-6 on the Hut Fund the Clubs position is as follows:-

Lloyds Bank Deposit A/C 12/3/68                        £336-15-4
Post Office Savings Bank A/C 18/3/68     £340-14-11
Cash 18/3/68                                         £  32-10-10
                                                                        £710-  1- 1

If you have not already done so, would you please let me know immediately if you are willing to contribute by Bankers Standing Order or in any other way.

Yours hopefully,
R. Bagshaw.  Hon. Treasurer.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Irwin,

In the north corner of Rookham Wood, in 1933, there is a nice little climbing shaft which I descended (Back and Knee).  It is surrounded by 4 trees – at its base there is a right hand turn to another steeply descending sledge-way, boxed with wood, leading down some 40ft. or more; as far as I went being on my own.

Mr. Balch told me ‘that there were several deep shafts lower down the valley towards the Rookham Spring.’ But I did not find them.

Yours sincerely,
Gerald Platten.  16/3/68


Dear Sir,

During recent weeks conversation in certain quarters of the club has turned to the purchase of a barn on the opposite of the Cuthbert’s depression from the Belfry site (some people have expresses themselves very forcefully).

I do not at this stage propose to go into the Why’s and Wherefores concerning the Committees decision to purchase the Barn except to say that at the time I thought it was the right thing to do.  The reasons were: - a) it would giver us extra accommodation and b) and investment.

Since then however, the Long Term Planning Committee have produced their excellent report and had their plans approved for the New Belfry at the last A.G.M.

The questions now remain: - What are we going to do with the barn?  Is it worth spending money on?  Now that we have purchased the barn should we demolish it and use the stone work and wood for our own purposes and try to sell the land to someone prepared to obtain the necessary planning permission to erect a building of some sort?

My own view is that we must take the cheapest way out by demolishing the building and using the materials for the New Belfry.  Whether we keep the land or not is immaterial at this stage.  What is important is that we should not waste money which could otherwise be used for the New Belfry.

G.D. Tilly  16/3/68

Wedding Bells

From B.E.C. members everywhere “Very best wishes” to Joyce and Pete Franklin who were married in Bristol on Saturday 30th March.

Members may be interested to know that at long last the B.E.C. contingent north of the Border has contacted the B.B. with news of their most recent activities – well part of them at any rate!  Most will remember that we lost some of the regular visitors to Mendip last year when John Manchip, Steve Grime, Pete McNab (Snab to most) and Derm. Statham went north to Edinburgh in search of their fortunes.  Here is what they have been doing.


The B.E.C. North of the Border

By Steve Grime

Since leaving the ‘sunny’ south the activities of the ex-Mendip population have been limited mainly to consuming vast quantities of Ale (after dole day!) talking about last summer and planning for the coming summer.

However, some of the less slothful members of the fraternity have managed to get away ‘on the hill’ every weekend since September.  Caving first – although there is not much to report in this field owing to Foot and Mouth etc., in November we made two trips to Yorkshire to do Kingsdale Master Cave – a really superb cave.  Also we had a go at several other pots.  On the first weekend I got clobbered for the tragic Sunset Hole rescue (see below – Ed) which was a classic at underestimating the difficulties in bringing a body out of a ‘moderate’ pot.  The next trip on the following weekend featured Jefferies (of the Grampians S.S. – Ed) with new wife and McNab.  We were a potential aven climbing party, but on inspection the ‘old Cuthbert’s snag of dissolving stal. to quite a depth showed that golos were the only way up. In a water fight in the beck McNab got a pegging hammer embedded in his skull and spent the next few weeks wailing about chronic headaches. After this trip Foot and Mouth took and all meets were cancelled. Biddle (HE’S not in the the B.E.C. – Ed) went north for a week with his new wife and a new bang licence but to no avail!  A practice rescue was held in one of the Fife Mines and went very well to our amazement and the awe of the visiting club.

On to juicier stuff – climbing.  This started with a bang.  On the weekend of September 16th (1967) Derm Statham, Lynn and myself managed to smash off 9 Munroe’s in 28 hours.  After that things slowed down a bit but every weekend, except when caving, at least one Munroe or classic has ‘gone’.  Standing out are Tower Ridge in filthy conditions, wet, heavy snow, cloud and half a gale; also Aonach Eagach in a blizzard with soft snow over-lying verglas.  Result – crampons points now ¼” shorter.

Four weeks ago S.C. Gully was really good but the snow didn’t start until half-way up.  All in winter conditions have been terrible although Manchip and I took advantage of some peerless weather in November to climb Carn Toul (4,000ft. – I think) and then walked back to Braer through the night on an iced up path where Biddle picked us up the next day.


At present Steve is back in hospital again but not for long as he intends to be on Mendip for Easter – the club meet is in South Wales – just in case you are interested!  He carries on in the letter to suggest a B.E.C. climbing meet at one of the Bank holidays in Scotland to climb faces such as the Ben Nevis North East Wall and adds “…We do have two and three lane roads in Scotland and one could always fly up and then hire a car from Inverness, it’s only 60 miles from there.

Sunset Hole Rescue.

On October 7th Eric Lockhurst died after falling off a 40ft. pitch.  Said to have started up the climb without the lifeliner knowing what he intended to do.  He died from fractured ribs puncturing the lungs.

Late As Usual!

Some of you are no doubt wondering why the B.B. is arriving late ‘as usual’.  The fact is that it is not being published late – the Feb. B.B. appeared during the second week of Feb and March was published 7th March! – it’s because YOU probably have not returned the wrappers that were enclosed with the Christmas B.B.  To ensure that your B.B. arrives on time send the wrappers to Phil. Townsend, 154 Sylvia Ave., Bristol 3 – pick your pen and send then NOW.

Caving and Climbing Meets

Caving Meets: -


21st. Apr. ST. CUTHBERT’S Practice Rescue – Coral Chamber.

12th May.  G.B. Committee Members must attend – come along and watch the fiasco!


Climbing Meets

Apr. 28th  WYE VALLEY




Anyone interested giving a hand on any of these digs should contact the people concerned at the Waggon on Thursday evenings.

ST. CUTHBERT’S          Gour Rift Dig – Dave Irwin or Keith Franklin.
                                    Dining Room Dig – Dave Irwin.

HUNTER’S HOLE          Dear’s Ideal – Phil Coles or Keith Franklin.


EMBOROUGH SWALLET – Phil Coles or Keith Franklin.

Cavers Bookshelf

by B.M. Ellis & D.J. Irwin

EXPEDITION ’67 TO THE GOUFFRE BERGER:  Report by R. Watkinson and others.  Published by the Pegasus Club, Nottingham.  10/-

At the start it should be pointed out that this is a report on the expedition by the Pegasus Club and not the more publicised expedition led by Ken Pearce; the latter suffered from’ moral trouble’ and many of the team left the cave and refused to re-enter it. Pegasus Club, assisted by a few from Pearce’s party, did manage to reach the bottom of the cave.  The report is divided into sections on the Preparation, the Expedition itself, Medical, Communications, Food and Photographic reports. One aspect which I, for one, was pleased to see was that part from the list of expedition members, the text does not mention a single person’s name and this made a pleasant change when reading the report.  The exception for me was the communications report which fell between two stools in that it gave no technical details but was still too technical for me to follow it easily.  This is a small criticism on a very well produced report that contains some 29 photographs, most of them excellent.  It is hoped that other expeditions will follow this lead in producing an easily obtainable report of their exploits.


Some Preliminary Observations on the Geomorphology of the Dan-yr-Ogof System by A.C. Coase.  (Reprinted from Proceedings of B.S.A. No.5. 1967).  14pp. + photographs and line drawing.  Separate survey (plan) at scale approx 1” = 166ft.

The whole work is printed by offset litho.  The contents are divided into three sections: a) Location b) Description and c) Formation. The distance to the farthest part is 2½ miles and is said to be rather strenuous.  The survey seems to have been reduced from a much larger scale drawing, though quite clear a magnifying glass would help to read the very small print. In the time available since the discoveries Coase and Judson are to be congratulated in producing the survey so quickly.  The text is very readable and the photographs appear to be taken from colour transparencies – hence their flatness and lack of detail.


CAVES AND CAVING – A guide to the Exploration, geology and Biology of caves by Marc Jasinski, with English adaptation by Bill Maxwell. Published by Paul Hamlyn. 1968. 5/-. 160 pages (Not available from BME)

It is easy to criticise a book of this nature but examination of the criticisms that come to mind shows that they are only of a minor character and very often only differences of opinion.  The sub-title very aptly describes the nature of the book and its contents – it is an introduction to caving is all about.  There are five sections to the book.  The first, of forty pages, deals with equipment (individual and club), exploration technique and dangers.  The second section, thirty three pages, describes the geology of cave formation and formations.  A brief introduction to biospeleology makes up the third section of fifteen pages, and the fourth (twenty five pages) covers caving activities.  This is mainly concerned with cave photography but there are shorter sections on water tracing, archaeological digging, surveying and looking for caves.  The last section, ten pages, is a very brief summary of the caving areas in Britain and extremely short notes on the rest of the world.     Finally there is the bibliography of 29 books; an apparently very arbitrary list of 12 caving clubs; a list of the “major caves and potholes in Britain” (the only one for North Wales is, in fact, a mine); lists of the longest and deepest caves in the world; and a glossary of caving terms.

This book has only one rival in its field.  “Know the Game – Potholing and Caving” by D. Robinson which gives greater detail of caving techniques.  It is thought that Caves & Caving is better value for money.



From Other Clubs

by Gordon Tilly

Mendip Caver Vol. 3 No.12.  March 1968.

A 14 page edition, presumably to celebrate to celebrate the completion of the third volume.  It contains reports on digging in St. Cuthbert’s Sump and Dining Room and Hunters Hole, (both these reports have been extracted and adapted from the original B.B. reports).  A survey of recent work carried out by the C.S.S. in Holwell follows. Also included are descriptions of some East Devon caves with six pages of surveys.  The January edition of the B.B. is one of the Club Journals features in the review section on Page 150.

WESSEX CAVE CLUB JOURNAL VOL. 10.  No.115. Feb. 1968.

The main features of this edition are: - the report of the clubs A.G.M., “The New Survey of Read’s Cavern” by W.I. Stanton, “Early Days in Read’s Cavern” by Dr. E.K. Tratman, “Discovery of Browne-Stewart Series – Read’s cavern” by C.H. Kenny, and finally “A Caving Holiday in Rumania” by Tony Aldham.


Continuing the saga of the discovery of Contour Cavern.  This newsletter contains a reprint of Clive North’s article that appeared in the January B.B.

N.P.C. Newsletter No.24.  February 1968.

Contains the usual club news, a report on the C.R.G. Symposium on cave Hydrology and water Tracing, a list of members, etc.

EXETER U.S.S. Newsletter Vol.4.  No.4  March 1968.

If you like reading letters to Harold Bear, A Girls Guide to Mendip, The Dirty Dozen and their experiences sleeping in the Eastwater Hut with a slight caving interest by the mention of Longwood, wetsuits and Christmas Crawl followed by the words of the song ‘Down Below’, then this is the paper for you.  Nuf said.


Towards Wookey Part 2

by D.J. Irwin

4. Beehive Chamber

Another good point for a good muddy dig is just off the stream way under Beehive Chamber.  This has been dug on a number of occasions. It is a choked phreatic arch of quite large proportions.  One of the disadvantages of this site is that bit is on the same level as the stream way and so has quite a drainage problem.  This passages seems to have been draining down from Pyrolusite Series before the formation of Beehive Chamber – which is a collapsed feature now heavily stal’ed over.  Before the water drained across this route it appears to have flowed upstream.  At the top of Pyrolusite chain the vertical wall above the roof of Beehive Chamber is markedly vadose.  The old stream bed is well marked at the point where one climbs to the top entry of Beehive Chamber and itself lies some 10 to 12 feet above the present stream way.  The level is the same as the point where struggle Passage makes its entry at Plantation Junction.  Is there a way out at Plantation?

5. Plantation Junction

There are several side passages at the top right of the Junction – just above the point where the Plantation Stream makes its appearance.  All are choked with coarse infill but in the short distance that they can be followed they appear to run along the strike; although the lowest of the group turns a corner as if it were spiralling downwards.

6. ‘100ft. a day’ Passage

Just below the Choke and opposite Bypass Passage is this dig.  Dug in recent years by Petty.  It is low, wide phreatic tube that is well choked except for a couple of inches of airspace.  Its interest lies in the fact that it is running along the strike, and being well below the Rabbit warren, could well lead to an abandoned stream way.  It well may have been the original route of the Rocky boulder stream that drained down bypass Passage.  The infilling has a considerable quantity of charcoal in it. Just an idea – will the passage take the full flow of stream if diverted into it?

What Lies Below?

Several areas have many things in common, but when all the points have been related to one another it would appear that there is a level at about -350ft. from the Entrances.  The Cerberus series lie at this level and does not appear to be directly related to the Rabbit Warren.  The water opening up these passages must have come from elsewhere. Derek Ford suggests a flow from Everest passage.  Is it possible that a large flow from Everest could have formed the Cerberus Series?

Just off Lake Chamber a passage has been forced and followed for about 150ft. last year.  It terminates in a static sump.  The general direction is along the fault line.  Recently the water from the Main Stream was found to connect with the Lake via the pool under Cerberus Hall.  Does this water, in turn, flow from the Lake to the static sump?  Of it does it must mean that a large volume of water is flowing slowly ‘up cave’ along the fault.

In 1964 Marble Hall and Marble Pot were discovered.  Below Marble Hall a series of phreatic tubes were found though they were mostly choked with coarse infilling they lay at about a depth of about -350ft. from the entrance.  The depth was established by the use of a altimeter which read -300ft. on the floor of Marble Hall.  Marble Pot ends at a similar depth but stones have been heard to fall a fair distance below the choke level.  The pot, about 25-30ft. deep shows signs of having been choked to the roof.  The infilling has now slumped the depth of the pothole.  Although it cannot be proved until a survey of the area has been made, but Marble Pot and Coral Pot appear to be on the same drainage line.  An energetic, more important, a strong party, could well commence a dig at the bottom of the pot with a good chance of finding a continuation of the development along the fault line.  A strong party is required because of the difficulty of returning through the squeeze at the top of the pot at the end of a digging session.  It may be that another way across the fault line lies in this area.

An Open Hole

A high level hole has been known for some years to a small number of leaders and is going to be attacked in a few weeks – the details will be reported in the B.B. when available.

It lies about 80 – 100ft. above the stream way by the Great Gour.  It has so far only been viewed from a distance – some 25 – 30ft – but is described a sizeable and appears to be running along the line of the fault. It is an inlet or the way over the sump?


Other Digging Sites and Holes.

All of the following sites will be most likely to lead to new cave but all within the present boundary.

1.                  Octopus Chamber – high level holes.

2.                  North end of Illusion Chamber.

3.                  South end of Continuation Chamber.

4.                  Aven above Hanging Chamber.

5.                  Rift in roof of upper traverse Chamber near Upper Travers Pitch.

6.                  Hole in roof of terminal chamber in Canyon Series.

7.                  Floor of far side of Extension Chamber.

8.                  Aven on the far side of Lake Chamber – entrance sumped most of the time.

9.                  Aven in rift off chambers in Pillar Chamber Extension.

10.              Tight squeeze leading to chamber on roof of Long Chamber Extension.

11.              Passage in large chamber in roof of Long Chamber Extension not pushed beyond crystal pool.



with Hedera

February/March is usually a Good Time for Outdoors and this year its been splendid.  Three or four consecutive weekends with snow sports.  North Wales being in particularly good condition with the cognoscenti climbing pretty well every major gully.  Imagine cramponing from the bottom to the top of Great Gully on Craig-yr-Isfs or even snow enough to enable Slanting Gully on Llewedd, climbed for the first time in 1897, to suffer its first recorded winter ascent.  Even Cloggy was attempted.

Brecon, our local Alp, was beautiful.  The Bennetts came back on 25th February with enthusiastic reports and an impromptu meet was organised for 3rd March.  Quite a large party (including Ifold and Attwood who would seem to have a nose for the best meets) climbed a steep, shallow face gully from Bry-teg and then traversed the Beacons taking in odd gullies on route.  Ifold insisted on including a sensational traverse below the crest of Corn Du.  “How Brave” we thought as we waited basking in the sun, until, looking back, we could see Ifold and Bennett striking magnificent photographic poses for each other. Perfect weather.  The descent was made slowly, with late sunshine suffusing rock and bracken with golden colours.

The continuing sun tempts the rock men and Avon Gorge activity seems to be back to normal, though it’s cold enough when the sun vanishes.  Winter frosts have considerably loosened your favourite handholds – so watch it.

Hard Man, swinging vigorously all over The Turn of the Screw with an impressive array of technique and equipment, was heard to complain bitterly about the piercing wind.  The Hard Man Image prevented him from rolling down his sleeves apparently.  A little later we heard a resounding “XXXX the Image”, and down the sleeves came!

Roger Boston, of whom you have not heard, made his debut with the club on Brecon W/E and later made his first rock climb with Pete Sutton and Roy Marshall.  Another one indoctrinated.  This pair, with Malcolm Holt and two newcomers raked Eddy Welch out on the afternoon of Sunday 17th March and got him to show them the Frome Valley routes.  No second ascent of Derek Targett’s “Middle Slip” but Pete Sutton has established another line on Ivy wall.  Kangy, out for a walk in that area found another outcrop of promise.

For those hardened in the game there is a party off to the Oertzal and Bernina this year.  Details from Edward but briefly – 22 June to 6 July ’68, leader Terry Taylor.  Transport by car to Dover – Ostend, then motorways, turning right at Munich and returning via Luxemburg and Ardennes.

Terry Taylor of course is guiding professionally at very reasonable rates and can be contacted at the Waggon.

“If you’re lost and off the route
With a left foot in each boot
Don’t go to sea and be a sailor
Put in a peg and call for Taylor”


BEC Sales

Car Badges and Ties available from Bob Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.

The voting form which is included in this B.B. is for the election of nine members to form the club committee for next year.  There are upwards of a hundred and thirty members in the club, which gives a ratio of one committee member to some fifteen or so members.  Nevertheless, all nine members who form the committee are usually voted on to it by some thirty to forty members who feel public spirited enough to actually vote.

We realise that many members live a long way from Bristol or Mendip and thus hardly know some of the people who put up for the committee, but this still leaves many members who have no such reason for not voting.  Let's try to have a record number of votes this year.

The closing dates for the dinner competitions are now drawing very close indeed.  There is still time to send your entries for the PHOTOGRAPHIC competition to M.J. BAKER, "Morello" Ash Lane, Wells, Somerset before the closing date of FRIDAY 21 of SEPTEMBER and entries for the SONG competition to S.J. COLLINS, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8 before the 22 of SEPTEMBER.  You may yet win a prize if you hurry!

Finally, the A.G.M. and dinner will be on Saturday, OCTOBER 6th.  The Dinner is at the Cliff Hotel, Cheddar.


To the Editor, B.B.

Dear Sir,

Cairns in St. Cuthbert’s

In the august 1962 issue of the B.B. a query was raised regarding certain cairns in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.

Several cairns were built in this cave by human agencies some eight or nine years ago.  Most are situated several yards downstream of the Dining Room.  During some of the lengthier of the early exploration trips, it often happened that one or other of the party had to retire to a quiet corner for a certain purpose. Since the decomposition of organic matter is highly attenuated in the anaerobic conditions prevalent in argillaceous cave deposits, it became customary to mark the spot by building a small cairn with a few stones as a precaution against subsequent disturbance during future defecatory operations.

Although the cairn in question might have an entirely different origin, may I, Sir, humbly suggest that it be treated with the respect due to all such tumuli, and scheduled as a site not to be excavated?


Editor's Note:     The above erudite letter was sent in by Jack Waddon.  The practice he refers to was certainly prevalent during the similar early discovery phase of Stoke Lane Swallet.  The Crypt - off the Pebble Crawl - had one such cairn, and got its name from the occasion when Don Coase crept into the crypt etc.

The Bradford Pit

An account of a recent visit by B.E.C. members to investigate an underground rift at Bradford-on-Avon.   (Grid Ref: ST 823613) by S.J.D. Tuck.

A gathering of B.E.C. members occurred at Wine Street, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts on Sunday, 15th July at 3.15 pm (the fact that they arrived nearly simultaneously, at the same place, three quarters of an hour later than the appointed time indicates consistency if not punctuality).  The object of the gathering was to investigate a "150 foot" rift at the request of Mr. Gorton, in whose garden it existed.  Much speculation regarding the nature of this rift had been aroused mainly along the lines of a gigantic crack across the lawn, or a rather exaggerated trench for the celery.

However, this illusion was dispelled as soon as the help of a neighbour who "knew where the cave was, all right" had been enlisted.  Mr. Gorton being out with his family when we arrived.  The garden consisted partially of a disused quarry of which a number of workings ran quite extensively underground, the former owner - a stone mason - had built delicate arches and gateways at the entrances (one could not help imagining that at least one of them would have taken a turnstile and a ticket window without much modification).

A preliminary shufti around the two mine workings with the most prominent entrances resulted in the discovery of a small passage behind a heap of old bed's (empty) etc, leading downwards at a fairly steep angle, terminating after about 20' or so, and consequently not of much interest.

Owing to the speculation mentioned above, and to the fact that the cave was in inferior Oolite and hence would be 'cleaner' than the Mendip variety, many of the 'gathered' were ill equipped for what eventually revealed itself.

Another reconnaissance revealed, behind what appeared to be a well strawed but roofless stable, a working of considerable dimensions, being between 15 and 20 feet in height and between 20 and thirty feet in width, with a firm floor composed most probably of small chippings and quarry dust, pressed down by the passing of many feet and cemented by the action of sufficient water to keep it moist.

At the far end of the working, which was mainly in the form of an ‘L’ and sloped gently downwards, was THE RIFT!

A considerable quantity of tackle had been brought, which included all the ladder which the B.E.C. could muster at the Belfry, plus a couple of thirty foot lengths of lightweight ladder borrowed from the S.M.C.C. together with a hundred and twenty feet of full weight nylon lifeline belonging to the B.E.C. and Roy Bennett's '120' half weight climbing rope - all of this was assembled at the entrance to the rift, which appeared as a vertical gash in the end wall of the main tunnel.

On a level with the floor of the main cavern, and running more or less horizontally into the rift, were a number of large boulders to form a serviceable platform from which the tackle could be lowered.  Initial inspection of the rift revealed that it went "up", "down" and "on".  In the "up" direction it was blocked after a few feet by loose looking boulders.  The "on" direction was limited by a wall after about fifteen feet due to some form of internal faulting which had caused the line of the rift to have been shifted some three feet to the left.  This piece of information was obtained painfully by Roy Bennett, who, having got his head and chest through a vertical slot at the fault plane, became stuck lower down and had to be relieved of his sufferings by means of a sharp kitchen knife, causing a mixture of consternation and amusement amongst the "gathered" still assembled in the cavern above.

The “down" direction was, of course, the one which we had come to sort out, and after a tether of rope had been secured to a large rock at the entrance of the rift, we lowered the ladder into the pit, relying more on hearsay than on common sense; this being done from a small ledge about six feet below the platform - a point where the rift was about four feet wide, descending for about ten feet at an angle of about ten to fifteen degrees from the vertical to a point where it appeared to get somewhat narrower and to continue along a more vertical line.

Each undulation on the wall, being matched by an impression of complimentary dimensions on the other, the general view was that the most promising track for the ladder would be vertically downwards rather than running over any of the chocked boulders which occurred from place to place in the rift, whose lateral extent appeared to be about thirty feet, running some ten feet or so under the floor of the main cavern.

The ladder having been installed, and with the Franklyn Fraternity deftly plying the lifeline, Roy Bennett descended the hole.  He soon reported that the ladder was all on a heap oh a ledge and that there was enough room at that point for more people.  Garth followed him down, and after a period of apparent loss of contact, a request that some of the ladder be pulled up was made "some" turned out to be an understatement.  I have no idea of the total footage of ladder which had been lowered, but it nearly all came up again, leaving, however, some fifty feet of S.M.C.C ladder in position - which just reached the ledge.

After another brief silence below, I descended the ladder, to find that, as the depth progressed, the rift tended, to get narrower.  The two who were already down were on a ledge of small stones bounded on either side (laterally) by steeply sloping banks of earth and stones.  Along the rift in one direction, was a well defined hole into which one could crawl which had a steeply sloping earthy floor and apparently petered out after a short distance.  The other side of the ledge looked more promising, as the rift, although very narrow from here onwards, appeared to go on.  The way in looked a bit hair raising, as there was a Bennett sized gap full of Bennett who was busy gardening, but from where I was situated he appeared to be removing the support from an otherwise unsupported section of wall which might easily have sealed his doom.

However, after removing a few more chunks of rock, it became obvious that it would only go on as far as chunks could be lifted out - and then we would have to get him out, so we surmised that this represented the limit of rational human penetration and must for all intents and purposes be regarded as the bottom of the rift.  On the way up, we had a good look at the rift and it appeared to be bounded at either end by a ‘T’ junction.  The end rifts were neither as deep nor as wide as the main one.  No sign of water activity was apparent anywhere.

We were met about fifteen feet from the top by the owner of the property, equipped with a rather fine bat wing flamed acetylene lamp and a recently quite immaculate pair of trousers. He declared on ascending after having been about half way to the choke that the ladder was considerably easier than the muddy rope which he had used on a previous occasion, which must have been conducted practically in darkness, his torch having spent a large part of the trip in his pocket.

On finally emerging, and having rolled up the tackle, we were very grateful for being provided with buckets of hot water with which to wash, and for the tea and biscuits with which Mrs. Gorton regaled us.


B.E.C. Caving Reports.

Our other series of Club Publications - the Caving Reports - have recently taken on a wider scope with the publication of a report in the series written by a non member of the club. For these who wish to collect these reports, their Editor, Bryan Ellis, has sent in a complete list of available reports.

Report Number Nine “Some Smaller Mendip Caves - Volume Two" is now available, price 2/6 or 3/3 including postage.  It contains descriptions and surveys of several Eastern Mendip caves, including Loxton; Ludwell; Coral and Denny's Hole.

The following earlier reports are also available: -

No 4.   "The Shoring of Swallet Cave Entrances"
No 5.   "A survey of helmets & lighting available for Caving"
No 6.   "Some Smaller Mendip Caves - Volume One"

All the above at 2/6 or 3/3 inc. postage.

No 7.   "A second Report on St. Cuthbert’s Swallet" at 3/-
No 8.   "A preliminary Survey of St. Cuthbert's Swallet” at 3/6.

Caving Report No 3, "The Manufacture of Lightweight Caving Ladders” is being rewritten and should be available in a revised form shortly.  Bryan has publications of several other caving clubs for sale, including surveys of several Mendip caves, and will gladly send anyone a list.  Material for future Reports in this series should be sent to him direct.  His address is:-

B,M. Ellis, 41 Fore Street, North Petherton, BRIDGWATER.


The Axbridge Caving Group & Archaeological Society would like to invite any members of the B.E.C. who may be interested to a lecture on IRISH CAVES by Mr. B.R. Collingridge at the town hall, Axbridge on Saturday, 22nd September at 7.30 pm.


DON'T FORGET the A.G.M. and Dinner!  6th October at the Cliff Hotel, Cheddar.  Apply to Bob Bagshaw for reservations for the dinner. 

Dinner Preview

Being a bit short of material for this month 's. B.B. (Yes, I know there's always the Caving Log to fill up spaces with, but I have also been on holiday and that takes much longer to type) I thought it might be a good idea to let some of the B.B. readers who are a little out of touch with club goings on have an idea of what to expect if they decide to come to the dinner this year.

It is. never possible to guarantee that an amazing time will be had by all at a club dinner, but the indications are that this year's dinner should rank with last year's as being amongst the best that the club has held.  The photographs; to my mind a great attraction, should be even better than last year and may even include some not taken in Balch's Hole or the Ladder Dig in G.B.

Rumour has it that at least one of the speeches should be rather unusual, and no doubt the usual presentations, will occur.  A rather vaguer rumour hints that perhaps we shall also have a repetition of the very successful mannequin parade which we had a few years ago.

Later, for any musical masochists present, the song competition will be held, while boozing and nattery continue in the other bar.  Three songs have already been received and we are still hopeful of entries from the Giles, Holland and Hallet stables, a reasonable quantity of free ale will be provided by Sett and Alfie - who may be joined by others similarly qualified - to mark their Twenty years on Mendip.

With luck then, the dinner this year should have something for everyone, and should be very worth attending.  See you there!


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

Annual General Meeting

The AGM will be held at the ‘OLD DUKE’ (in the upstairs room) October 5th. 1968 at 2.30 p.m.. The Old Duke is opposite the Landogger Trow.

Nominations for next years Committee must be sent to Bob Bagshaw ( 699 Wells Road, Bristol 4) by September 7th at the latest.  As far as it is known at the moment only Alfie Collins is retiring from the Committee – all the others (Bagshaw, Tilly, Thomas, Welch, MacGregor, Townsend, Petty and Irwin) are automatically nominated as per the club constitution.

Annual Dinner

At the Caveman Restaurant October 5th at 7.30pm. PRICE 22/6 each.


a) Roast turkey etc.
b) Braised Hare, half Pigeon and chopped Ham etc.
Cheese & Biscuits

There is a choice of the main dish.  IF YOU WANT Braised Hare etc. don’t wait until the evening itself get in contact with Bob Bagshaw and let him know how many tickets you require – send the money with your order.  If you don’t tell Bob which meal you want you will find yourself eating Turkey!

Transport To Cheddar.

Bob is prepared to organise a coach from Bristol to the Caveman calling at the Belfry on the way.  Members and their guests wishing to travel on the coach should let Bob know as soon as possible so that the booking can be made.


Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, BRISTOL. 3. BS3 1QA
Club Headquarters: - The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, WELLS, Somerset, BA5 3AU


Notes on the Structure of Mendip – Part 2

by Keith Murray


Welch has aptly described this structure as resembling a molar tooth on its side, the root pointing to the west.  Over folding on the northern limb has produce vertical and even inverted strata, the latter accounting for the limestone outlier at Churchill.  The western end of the core is overlain by post-Carboniferous rocks in orange-red (f6) when the area was presumably a bay bounded by the limestone outcrop.  Where the orange-red is blue-dotted it indicates the beach deposit conglomerate which often contains such large boulders of Carboniferous Limestone that it can be mistaken for that rock in small exposures.  Where the Shale/Black Rock Limestone boundary is exposed narrowly on the steeply dipping northern limb, it crosses the Twin Streams above Burrington. The shales swing round the nose of the feature to Charterhouse where the outcrop broadens owing to the more gradual dip of the strata and forms the low marshy ground just north of the Lower Farm.

Its junction with Limestones gives rise to the well-know swallets of the area.  Further west, a swallet is mentioned in the literature as being within the limestones of the Shales succession to the north of Tynnings Farm.  The Shales form the lowest part of the Hale Coombe and the boundary is mapped as far west at Crook Peak.

Off the nose of the pericline, and in limestones much higher in the succession, the Lamb Leer Fault shows a displacement of strata of 200ft. in the cavern.

North Hill

Overfolding here has produced the Harptree outlier in the same manner as the Churchill outlier off Blackdown.  In addition, it seems as though the western end of this pericline was held up by the nose of Blackdown while continued pressure from the south-west split North Hill along the Stock Hill and Biddle faults, the rocks between the two having been displaced upwards.  East of the road from Mineries Pool to the Miners Arms deposits of conglomerate overlie the Carboniferous and older rocks.  However, the Shale/Limestone boundary swings round from the Stock Hill Fault just west of the Miners Arms in a rough semi-circle interrupted by the Priddy Fault(s) to rejoin the Stock hill to the east of the Mineries Pool.  The faulted junction to the north-east of Priddy takes in Swildons and Nine Barrows cave systems, while both Eastwater and St. Cuthbert’s enter at the unfaulted junction, each under a low cliff of Black Rock Limestone.  Between Stock Hill and Biddle Faults the junction runs close to Cuckoo Cleeves and ends on Tower Hill in which area it is reported to be marked by a line of swallets.

Waldegrave Swallet, in the beach conglomerate, is cunningly contrived to deceive as the section of bedded limestone at its head is a displaced limestone boulder(s).  Just east of the Stock Hill Fault, it is almost in the centre of the uplifted sandstone core encroached upon by Conglomerate and a good half mile from the nearest limestone outcrop.  All the same in 1950, a depth of 28ft. of water worn limestone was reported although no water was seen in the swallet at the time.

Pen Hill

This structure was likewise split – by both Biddle and Slab House Faults – and at least the portion to the east of the Biddle Fault forced so hard against the eastern flanks of North Hill pericline that limstones were fractured and driven over each other along the Emborough Thrust and the Lower Limestone Shales appear to have been squeezed out altogether east of Hillgrove.  Only a patch of the Shales survive to the south-west of Whitnell Farm. West of Hill Grove a very narrow band of steeply dipping if not inverted Shales extends to Rookham.  The south-western edge of Pen Hill pericline has more recent rocks banked up against it, the Shales only appear to the West of Horrington.  Across the Biddle Fault they occupy a wide band of marshy ground to Nab House, dipping under Black Rock Limestone all the way.

Beacon Hill

Only the western end of this pericline appears on sheet 280, and plenty of displacements are shown. Further east, in the Heale area, the fold is split along north-south lines, the eastern section of the southern limb being thrust forward and overfolded on top of the northern limb to form the famous inverted Coal Measures klippe at Vobster.

Of Lower Limestone Shales, the railway cutting north of Maesbury Station contains the classic section described by Sibly (1906, p338) comprising the top two-thirds of the series.. (It is interesting to note that he comments ‘Maesbury, mis-spelt Masbury by the Railway Authorities’).  Some 600 yards west of the station the Shales/Limestone boundary is terminated by a fault.  To the east, the boundary, sometimes faulted, sometimes obscured by superficial deposits, runs through Stoke Lane to end just west of Whatley.  (Details of these eastern outcrops are described from a map published by Welsh in his paper of 1933).  The southern limb has a few stream exposures of the Shales in the Thrupe area and the Shale/Limestone boundary has been mapped north of Waterlip and south of Heale.  Along the Heale fault, to the west of the Heale-Downhead road, small exposures of the junction have been mapped and the swallets have been indicated (Welsh, 1933, p22).  East from Downhead the junction is displaced to the south in Asham Wood and its finally obscured some 400yds. S.E. of Dead Woman’s Bottom.  A minute area showing the junction has been mapped in Whatley Coombe just easy of Coombe Farm.

A mention of the spectacular Mendip gorges is appropriate – were they formed by collapse of underground caverns or by normal stream downcutting? Or by both?  An ingenious theory put forward by Reynolds (1927, p3) on account of late Ice Age deposits found within caves in the lower parts of the gorges and streaming from the mouths of these gorges is that melt waters cut the ravine before the ground water was sufficiently thawed to permit underground drainage.

It will be noticed that no mention of Vaughan’s zonal classification used as the basis of Welch’s mapping appear in contemporary descriptions or on maps, although it was used in the Regional Guide (Kellaway and Welch) of 1948.  In Kellaway and Welch (1955) a comparison of the Lower Carboniferous rocks of Mendip, Bristol, Chepstow and the Forest of Dean was made.  Unfortunately, it was found that the rocks of the Bristol area could not be described satisfactorily in terms of the zonal classification, moreover, the required fossil assemblages were not everywhere present, hence it was necessary to re-classify on a different basis.  This was done largely on the physical nature of the rocks themselves, and as the result was in good agreement with the zones where they could be identified, the alternative and more universal classification was adopted.

A similar, but farther reaching, problem arose with regard to the Lower Limestone Shales.  In the Bristol area there are passage beds between the Old Red Sandstone and the Lower Limestone Shales which do not occur on Mendip or in the Forest of Dean. In the Avon Gorge section these passage beds were included within the Lower Limestone Shales in the Carboniferous System, the base of which had originally been ascribed by Buckland and Conybeare (1824) to the base of the Shales.  Hence the passage beds are Carboniferous.  Where they appear in the Portishead area, however, they are inseparable from the Old Red Sandstone by the nature of their deposition with the O.R.S. beds.  Moreover both the passage beds and the Shales where they occur in North Devon and Belgium show affinities with the Old Red Sandstone.  Quite apart from this, the top of the Old Red Sandstone in the Forest of Dean, where there are no passage beds, contains fossils which are found in the Lower Carboniferous rocks to the south.

There is, therefore, a considerable argument for the transfer of the local Old Red Sandstone – Carboniferous boundary to the base of the Black Rock Limestone.

As there is already evidence (Green and Welch, 1965, p.171) that the Old Red sandstone and Lower Limestone Shales may be in hydraulic continuity in two localities on Mendip, it is perhaps fitting to conclude by lending speleological support to the argument for altering the established but debated boundary between the Devonian and the Carboniferous Systems in the area.


BLACKDOWN – N. Limb outcrop narrower because of steeper dip

NORTH HILL – N. Limb out outcrop inverted.

PEN HILL – N. Limb without shales in region south of thrust

Sketch Sections To Account For Variations In Northern Limbs Of Periclines


Buckland, W. and Conybeare, W.D. 1824.  Observations on the south-western coal district of England. Trans. Geol. Soc. (2) 1, 210-316.

De La Beche, H.T. 1846.  On the Formation of the Rocks of South Wales and South-western England. Mem. Geol. Surv.1

Green, G.W. and Welch, F.B.A. 1965.  Geology of the Country around Wells and Cheddar. Mem. Geol. Surv. 1 – inch sheet 280.  +=

Kellaway, G.A. and Welch, F.B.A. 1948. Bristol and Gloucester District, 2nd edition, British Regional Geology, Geol. Surv.  +=

Kellaway, G.A. and Welch, F.B.A. 1955.  The Upper Old Red Sandstone and Lower Carboniferous Rocks of Bristol and the Mendips compared with those of Chepstow and the Forest of Dean.  Bull. Geol. Surv. Gt. Britain., No.9.  1- 21.

Kellaway, G.A. and Welch, F.B.A. (Reynolds, S.H.) 1927. The Mendips. Geography, 13, 169-76.

Reynolds, S.H. and Vaughan, A. 1911.  Faunal and Lithological Sequence in the Carboniferous Limestone Series (Avonian) of Burrington Coombe, ( Somerset).  Quart. J. Geol. Soc. 67, 342-92.

Sibly, T.F.  1906.  On the Carboniferous Limestone (Avonian) of the Mendip area ( Somerset) with especial reference to the Palaeontological Sequence.  Quart. J. Geol. Soc., 62, 324-80.

Vaughan, A. 1905.  The Palaeontological Sequence in the Carboniferous Limestone of the Bristol Area.  Quart.  J. Geol. Soc. 61, 181-305.

Welch, F.B.A.  1929. The Geological Structure of the Central Mendips.  Quart. J. Geol. Soc., 85, 45-76.

Welch, F.B.A. 1932. The Geological Structure of the Blackdown Pericline.  Proc. Bristol Nat. Soc. (4), 7, 388-96.

Welch, F.B.A. 1933. The Geological Structure of the Eastern Mendips.  Quart. J. Geol. Soc., 89, 14-52.

Geological Map – I inch Sheet 280 (Wells), 1963.  +=


Ed. Note: - The publications marked thus + are in the BEC Library.

Those marked = are currently available.


Swildons - Duck Two

by Phil Kingston

As is well known, Duck two is now a sump of length 15ft., with an airspace some 8ft. in.  It can be free dived providing the following instructions are carried out.  Going downstream: - hold the guide wire in your RIGHT HAND and dive for 8ft.  At this point you should reach a fair sized airspace.  Transfer the line to your LEFT HAND and a dive of 6ft. will bring to the other side. These instructions should be reversed on the return journey.  If the airspace is missed on the return journey it is best to continue, feeling for the widest part.

I do NOT RECOMMEND the sump unless the person has attempted a similar sump (i.e. Swildons 4).

The grey areas are tight sections

Caving Log

Edited by Keith Franklin

This period saw the commencement of the “St. Cuthbert’s Caving Log”, which is intended should be used exclusively for trips down St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Will all leaders note that they have to sign, as well as all members of their party, before descending the cave, the trip is to be written up afterwards.  In this way all information will be in one place and should make the job of collating and abstracting it easier – I think!  So let’s deal with St. Cuthbert’s First.  There were 24 trips down the cave, of which 17 were working trips – mainly on the dining Room Dig, which has changed out of all recognition (rumours that Wig has shares in the London Underground or the Channel tunnel are completely unfounded!).

Other work trips include surveying and sporadic digging in various sites in the cave.  M. Calvert made a preliminary study of ‘bugs’ in the maypole Series and reports evidence of ‘recent visitations’ – so leaders, who believe in the supernatural, beware.    The cave shows little change from the flooding in July, except for the Sump silting up (work will be commenced there again shortly) and some differences in Continuation Chamber and Tin Mine which may produce some positive results.  There were only 4 tourist trips with one guest leader trip and these, together with 11 general interest trips make up the total of 24.

Going on to other caving activities of the BEC we find Swildons has attracted the usual quota of attention with a total of 18 trips.  Nearly half of these were concerned with Upper Swildons, the others been equally distributed around the rest of the cave.  Probably everyone knows about the 40ft. and other changes in top Swildons but perhaps it is worth noting here that Duck Two is now a 15ft. sump and it is not considered a safe dive, although there is a line through it.

G.B., after suffering from the visit of the BEC Committee, is now subject to water sampling and tracing by R. Stenner – there are no results yet!  Roger has also taken beginners down various Burrington caves – and, I must hasten to add – brought them back again.  Hunters, Stoke Lane, Pinetree Pot, Little Neath and Dan-yr-Ogof each had one visit from BEC members during the past two months.

Digging news show the closing down of two digs for the time being anyway; namely the Bennett site and Emborough (another victim of the flood).  One new dig has been started, for the BEC at any rate, in East Twin. This has been dug by various other people in the past so perhaps it is time the BEC had a go!



Monthly Notes No. 16

By ‘WIG’

Notes from Ireland: -

St. Catherine-Doolin System – several hundred feet of passage discovered by the UBSS.  St. Catherines II – first descended by members of S.M.C.C. has been surveyed by Bob Craig (SMCC) and members of Sheffield University.

AILLE RIVER CAVE ( Co. MAYO).  The cave is currently being explored by the Craven P.C. The length is about 1½ miles of deep water passages.  One caver commented that the swim of about 1000ft. made the Green Canal in Dan-yr-Ogof look pretty feeble! Continuation beyond the present network of passages looks almost impossible.  The vertical change between sink and resurgence is only 17ft.

FERGUS RIVER SINK This was again inspected by ‘Wig’ and Bob Craig plus other SMCC and WCC.  After close examination of the sides of the depression a small dig was started in a rift in the field above.  A side rift was found having a depth of 20ft. but with little possibility of continuation.


Axebridge Caving Group has published a Grade 3 survey of their latest discovery – believe it or not- called FOOT AND CRUTCH SWALLET.  Its length is approx. 150ft.  I personally thought the alternative name for Contour Cave (i.e. Sludge Pit) bad enough but Foot and Crutch……!

MINESHAFT at CHARTERHOUSE.  A new mineshaft has opened up midway between Tynings Sink and Reed’s Grotto.  Although is has slumped about three feet on a previous occasion the recent storms caused the shaft blockage to collapse.  The shaft is about 15ft. deep.  At the bottom a passage runs in a N.E. direction for about 200ft. and then N.W. along a fault for some 25ft.  Apart from a few sheep bones there is little of interest to the caver.

The ‘new’ cave (see July BB) in Velvet Bottom is thought to be a mine.

OVERHEARD IN BRISTOL:  Little girl playing with well known BEC caver’s son.

Little girl:  Let’s play mummies and daddies.

Caver’s son:  O.K. I’ll be daddy and I’m going caving.


Multiple Flash

By Jock Orr.

The first part of this article appeared in the March issue of the Belfry Bulletin where it described the assembly of the flash control box, with flash units, cables, etc.

To continue refer back to p.26 (and circuit diagram) of March B.B. Assuming that somebody has now completed the assembly and wants to know how the contraption works.

Testing The Control Box

ONE FLASH:  Move switches A. B. & C. to UP position.  Plug in cable to socket No.1 and the other end into flash unit. Insert plug to bridge socket 2 & 3. Plug in camera contact cable OR manual firing cable to firing socket.  Press SW.1 to check the circuit and L.1 should light up to indicate circuit is O.K.  Fire PF.1 bulb from (camera or manually).

TWO FLASH:  Follow the above procedure, but this time plug in cables to sockets 1 & 2. Bridge socket 3.  For THREE FLASH – plug in cables to sockets 1. 2. & 3.

FOUR FLASH:  Move switches A. B. & C. to DOWN position.  Plug in cables to any four sockets.  Bridge remaining sockets.  Press SW.2 to check circuits and L. 2 should light up to indicate circuit is O.K. Test fire four more bulbs.

FIVE – SIX FLASH:  Follow the above procedure.  Plug in cables as required.  Bridge remaining socket if using five flash.  Fire off another or six flashes and hang the expense because you know the thing actually works.  If it doesn’t work then something is wrong!  Check everything and start all over again.

WARNING:  Six flash bulbs fired simultaneously in a confined space generates a fair amount of light – take care of your eyes.

NOTE: You can fire any number of flash bulbs from one to six with the switches in the down position.  Remember to bridge the empty sockets.  BUT! When firing only one or two flashes on the switches in the down position your camera contacts will be carrying a heavy jolt of current from the large capacitor at a pressure of 45 volts.  So use the down position for one to three flashes on extended cable runs only, where you need the extra voltage to push the current through the cable resistance.

Suitable cable is ordinary twin domestic flex in a pliable plastic outer covering as used for table lights and such like small appliances.  Anything thinner than this becomes difficult to untangle.

Use the small layer-type battery to power the Control Box.  They are compact, high voltage batteries with a mere trickle of current output.  The capacitor stores the trickle of current and releases it in a pulse of energy which is pushed through the cable by the voltage pressure.

A point of interest is that the ordinary battery – capacitor flash gun requires a pulse of 2 amps of current and a minimum of 4½ volts to fire a PF.1 bulb.  A parallel-wired device to fire six flash bulbs would consume approximately 12 amps of current, still at 4½ volts, resulting in a very rapid discharge of the battery.

The advantages of series wiring, which is what we are concerned with in this multi flash outfit, is that the current required for six flash bulbs is no greater than for a single bulb, although the voltage increases proportionally to the number of bulbs used.  The voltage of the batteries used in this particular circuit is adequate even when part discharged and the small demand on current will allow the batteries quite a long time of usage before they are due for renewal.

Using The Multi Flash

Harkening back to page 26 of the March B.B. again, lets take another look at the illustrations.  So far the 6 cables 7yds. long have been plugged in with the flash units and tested.  The “wire 3 off plugs as shown” are of course the bridging plugs.  This leaves the mysterious “wire 5 off each socket as shown” and the “3 cables 14yds. long” to explain away.

The 14yd. cables are simple extension cables for long runs where required, and the sockets are used to make up the joins in cable layouts for any particular lighting arrangement.

A look at the illustrations accompanying this issue of the B.B. will reveal five fearsome – type cable joins. But when you have it all figured out they only take a matter of seconds to connect up.  They are in fact a simple system which enables the photographer’s assistant to adapt the cable runs to suit any situation.  After hours of practice on the surface, that is.

Anyway, to get on with it. Have a look at figure ‘F’.  It represents the Control Box with four cables plugged in and two bridges.  The heavy lines denote the circuit inside the Control Box feeding the cable sockets. The point of the illustration is to show that the circuit is a CONTINUOUS LOOP, and this is the point to bear in mind every time you make a join with the patent sockets.  Figures’ A’ & ‘B’ are straight-through cable connections.


Fig. C

Figure ‘C’ is a cable join with a flash unit directly off it.  Figure ‘D’ can be used in two ways: - a cable join with two spurs, or a cable termination in three spurs to take three flash units.  Figure ‘E’ can either be a cable join with spur to one flash, or a cable termination in two spurs.  This by no means completes the combinations.  The rest you can work out for yourselves.

The sketch (Fig ‘F’) shows a typical lighting arrangement using six flashes.  Naturally cables should be hidden from view.

                                                                                                                                       Spur to Two flash

Fig. E                                                               Fig. D



The sketch (Fig ‘G’) is somewhat compressed to scale, but this is the sort of layout for photographing a long way into a cave passage of some similar situation.  Caverns and pots can get the same lit-up treatment. Obviously, in place of the usual flat effect, you are now going to get a sense of modelling and perspective which will enhance your pictures no end and please you enormously.  Apply standard indoor flash techniques and guide numbers as recommended in booklets on the subject and you won’t go far wrong.  Good Luck.  Especially with the action shots.


The hut warden has decided that all crockery and cooking utensils will be removed from the belfry on week ending 10th. August 1968 until further notice…………………bring your own!


Edison and Oldham Lamp Spares.

Most parts of the Edison cell can be obtained from

CASEY BROTHERS, 72 Eccleston Street, Preston, Lancs.

Also in stock limited Oldham parts. – complete list in BEC Library.

West Kingsdale Master Cave.

A new survey has been produced of the Kingsdale Master Cave and can be obtained from Tim Reynolds, 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.  Price 5/6 including postage.  The survey is printed offset litho and is to CRG. Grade 4.

Late News

Nine Barrows Swallet.  John Cornwell and diggers have re-opened Nine Barrows Swallet.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  (Continuation Chamber): - Phil Kingston and John Riley have inspected a new pool at the upper end of the chamber.  Previously the water could be heard but not seen below the pebbly floor deposits.  After the recent flooding the infilling was so disturbed that a deep pool resulted. After a short time digging away a gravel bank it was found that there was no continuation.

Annual Dinner – Draught beer will be available.

Although it is perhaps a little early to say it, it looks very much as though our plans for a large spring number are doomed.  It is true that we have received some interesting long articles, and that the general standard of contributions seems to be rising, but the fact remains that a large and impressive stack of manuscript reduces to a very small amount of print.

Nevertheless, some attempt will be made this year to try to increase the general size of the B.B. by 'normal' means.  This, of course, imposes a greater strain on the mechanism and no rash promises will thus be given.  Readers will have noticed that the January number consisted of twelve pages and it is hoped that this one will do the same.  This does enable the inclusion of one long article without leaving out other material which might interest those who are not particularly 'keen on the subject of the long one.

Finally, the B.B. uses smaller print than some other and otherwise comparable journals, so the amount of matter in the B.B. is not as small as a comparison of numbers of pages would suggest.




It is planned to close both the 1962 competitions some time before the Annual Dinner this year so that judging and presentation of the results may be sorted out in a less hectic atmosphere.  If YOU have any ideas regarding these competitions PLEASE get in touch with the organizers.  Mike Baker for the photographs and Alfie for the songs.

MIKE BAKER could do with any old picture frames for putting photographs in for hanging in the Belfry and Hunters.

G.B. Cave

The U.B.S.S.  have recently sent  us the  following notice.

Any member of any party visiting this cave who wishes to make use of LONG HOUSE BARN must obtain the permission of Mr F. Young of Manor Farm, Charterhouse.  Mr. Young is entitled, if he so wishes, to make a charge for any use made of the barn.


There is no truth in the rumour that G.B. Cave is a shortened form of the title Giles and Baker Cave.


The Committee have accepted the resignation of “Spike" Rees from his post on the committee and his job as Belfry Engineer.  "Spike" had had to retire owing to pressure of work.  P.M. Giles and G. Dell have been co-opted on to the committee to act as joint Belfry Engineers owing to the large amount of work which needs doing around the Belfry.



Christmas Hole

by P.M. Giles.

New caves on Mendip are, to say the least, something of a rarity and as a rule, result from months and sometimes years of hard work.  G.B. is a typical example of "Labours Lost' with over a decade of disappointments in the history of its discovery.  Nearer ‘home’, St. Cuthbert’s too enjoyed relative immunity from the echoing ring and scrape of the tread of cavers boots for many years.

Probably one of the most picturesque caves coming to light in recent years was Balch's Hole, which was discovered - to the eternal joy of armchair cavers - by blasting in a quarry.  Fairy Cave Quarry, on Eastern Mendip, has in fact been responsible for a number of fine caves and Balch's Hole is no exception.  It will, therefore, be no great surprise to those who know Mendip well to hear of another discovery in this quarry, bringing the total now to about eight.

Christmas Hole, as this new cave is called, was found, again, by the quarry staff on December 19th 1961 in the floor of the quarry.  At the request of Mr. Garlic, the quarry manager, the cave was explored during the evening of the following day by a combined B.E.C. - Cerberus team in order to ascertain its parameters.  Consequently the cave was fully explored with the exception of three very small passages and a grade 1 survey made.

The following, in conjunction with the included surveys, describes the cave.

In the floor of the quarry, and surrounded by several large boulders (at the time of writing) nestles the entrance to Christmas Hole, at the foot of the climb to Balch's Hole. The entrance, an almost rectangular slot about two feet long, gives access to a forty foot deep rift, one side of which is made up of extremely shattered rock, possibly the result of normal quarry working.  Fortunately, the near side of the rift is of rough and dusty stalagmite flow, similar to the entrance to Fernhill Cave on the far side of the quarry, and so the required ladder can be climbed in safety.

Halfway down the pitch, a ledge made up partly of flow stone and partly of jammed boulders and debris presents the major junction of the cave.  If the ladder is continued down to the bottom of the rift, a small chamber is entered which has a low passage leading off under the ladder.  This is the ' Hundred Foot Way' and contains a few not very spectacular formations and except for a short band of helictites near the end, draws no comparison with nearby Balch's Hole.  The floor of this passage, however, is made up of a very fine rimstone, which in places is coloured a deep rust red and forms a marked contrast to the rest of the cave.

The Hundred Foot Way is in fact a solution tube with a well moulded recess running parallel to the floor on one side for most of its length, and terminating in a mud, choked chamber with little promise of progressing further.

Returning to the ledge in the rift, if a ladder is slung down the passage leading to the south and used as a hand line, a large chamber some thirty foot high is entered, the floor and ceiling being made up of jammed boulders.  A small grotto in the side of this chamber provides the perfect haven from stones knocked down from the entrance by cavers using the ladder.  In the far right hand corner of this small grotto, the 'Rock Shelter', a small, steeply descending solutional passage, leads off past a very dangerous boulder.  This has yet to be explored but could be well worth pushing.

At the far side of the main chamber, a twelve foot drop between the boulders and the southeast corner gives way to a small boulder chamber.  A handline is required for this drop.  To the right, a fifteen foot aven, joining, up with the main chamber and a thought inspiring boulder ruckle present themselves.  With due care and diligence, navigation through this ruckle is possible, and, after climbing about fifteen feet, a large boulder strewn passage is reached.

On the right (north) a mud carpeted solution tunnel about six feet high with a group of broken formations can be followed for about twenty feet, whereupon the roof dips down to within inches of the floor.  It would appear from shining a light through this sump like aperture and observing the reflections caused that the tunnel opens up again a few feet beyond.  In spite of the tenacious nature of the mud, this spot would make a worthwhile dig.

Climbing uphill (south) from the top of the boulder ruckle the passage becomes a cavern of similar dimensions to the Main Chamber with a great flow of rocks, earth and of all things, grass coming from a choked chimney on the North West side.  Apart from a small slot amongst the boulders on the east side, giving a view of a drop of ten feet or more, this chamber concludes the extent of the cave.

Owing to the dangerous nature of this cave, great caution should be observed at all times.  For those readers acquainted with the entrance to Balch's Hole, the accompanying survey includes a section through Balch's Hole showing a possible connection.  As regards the future of the cave, this rests entirely with the company owning the quarry, and nothing further has been heard from that source to date.

Tackle Required:           Entrance. Pitch:          40' ladder.
                                                                                40' lifeline or 80’ line & pulley.
                                                                                20' tether.
                                                                                Ladder belayed to nearby boulder
                                         Main Chamber:           20' handline.

Care must be taken when laddering the entrance rift to avoid the shattered side of the rift and movement of boulders wedged in the entrance and on the ledge.

A plan of Christmas Hole follows on this page, and an elevation showing the relationship of Christmas Hole to Balch's Hole will be found on the next page.


by Ray Winch.

Last summer I was invited to take part in the Oxford University expedition to western Spain.  As this occupied most of the summer vacation and I could not leave until early August, I missed the lorry transport and set off with "Fushy” and a pre¬arranged hitch took us to Barcelona, unwillingly by way of the alps!  After this there came a fabulous four day journey across Spain by third class train.  It involved two nights kipping by the track.  It was ridiculously cheap; incredibly slow; excruciatingly uncomfortable and altogether delightful in retrospect, the best memories were of the gay, courteous, song loving working class men we travelled with and of the sturdy insistence that every night was a Hunter's night (not to speak of the priest who believed in Hunter’s mornings as well'.)

The expedition was operating in the western massif of the Picos de Europas - a range of rugged mountains, which rise to a height of 2,600 metres.  The peaks are dolomitic in appearance and have constant snow.  The rainfall in the area is very high and there are few water courses and these were dry.  The area had not previously been explored from the spelaeological angle and even the surface surveying has obviously been of the most cursory sort. The expedition had its headquarters in an enlarged shepherd’s hut by the lakes Enol and Encia, some three hours journey up from the famous cave shrine of our Lady of Coradonga.  A large number of Bristol firms had assisted the expedition with presents of equipment and these made such a   show that shepherds made immense journeys just to stand and wonder at it. Certainly I myself was greatly impressed and felt that in the way of ropes and ladders seen the Shepton Mallet's mighty hoard might look feeble by comparison.

Before I arrived some thirteen caves and eight potholes had been discovered, but most of them were disappointingly small.  The difference between pots and caves is that the former are used by goats as cemeteries and the latter by cows as lavatories.  The biggest pot so far, P.1, had a sheep in the entrance shaft of 150’ (quite a large sheep. - Ed.)  At the bottom it resembled Swildons Four except that it was very much colder.  My first descent was for surveying P.1 but when we had to wait for the pool in which we had dropped the compass to clear I decided to press the exploration, and had the gloomy honour of discovering the final choke at no great  distance. P.1 is only a little more than 2,000 feet long.

The scope of the Expedition included archaeology, geomorphology, hydrology and meteorology and it was a constant problem to decide how manpower could best be used. Even with the limited field of caving, there were the rival thrills of discovering new caves; pressing exploration; surveying, etc.  On the whole, the systematic approach tended to win.  This was the correct policy but it led to disappointing speleological results. A magnetometric survey of the whole area had been suggested but the nature of the terrain, made the completion of only a minute amount of this programme, a formidable task.  Again, in order to make the magnetometric survey of use to others we had to link it with a plane table survey.

The score of new caves steadily mounted, but in terms of size, most were disappointing.  This is astonishing because all the evidence suggested the presence of large systems.  Enormous quantities of melted snow from above must go somewhere and that somewhere must be underground.  My own view is that we   were working at too low an altitude.  The programme provided little time for trips to the peaks, but one of the biggest, caves was found on one of these 'holiday' jaunts.  On the way home and after I had left, the canons of Coradonga invited the expedition to investigate the sink where the water goes down to come out at the  shrine some 1,000 feet below.  This was a different proposition and 450' of ladder were quickly used up and huge chambers and underground lakes encountered.  Unfortunately this exploration had to be left far from complete.

On the whole the speleological results - only one facet of the expedition - were disappointing. However, there had been no preliminary reconnaissance and this was a great disadvantage.  I am certain that, one day, the Picas de Europas will come into their own as outstanding caving country.  Very hearty congratulations are due to the Oxford University Cave Club and their colleagues for staging such a good expedition and for welcoming me to it.

Caving Log

3rd November.  Bottlehead.  Mike Thompson and Alfie.  Quick trip to lay bang in Bottleneck.

4th November.  Bottlehead.  Mike & Liz Thompson, Alfie, Jill, Bob Pike.  Unsuccessful trip to remove blockage after bang.

4th November.   Newman Street.  Mike Baker, P.M. Giles Esq, Mo Marriott.  Excavation continued.

11th November.  Fernhill.  B. Prewer, Alfie, Jill, Jim Giles, G. Selby, B. Johnson, J. Strickland plus one  other.  Photographic trip.

11h November.  Balch’s Hole.  B. Prewer, M. Thompson, S. Collins, J. Rollason, P.M. Giles, B. Johnson, G. Selby and 2 Cerberus.  Many cavers, dangerous boulders at entrance, gardening, despondency, retreat, Fernhill trip (see above).

12th November.  Heale Slocker.  M. Baker, P.M. Giles Esq.  Digging commenced.  No cave yet, but water rapidly disappearing through holes.

18th November.  Heale  Slocker.  P.M. Giles.  Digging continued with Mike Baker

19th November.  Balch's Hole.  B. Prewer, M. Thompson, G.Selby, S.Collins, J. Rollason, P.M. Giles.  Help from quarry manager (chemical) enabled us to get down the entrance pitch.  Alfie and Jim spent several hours photographing in passage containing some excellent formations.  Mike and “Prew” continued through pool passage and Chamber to the Stream Series.  About 50’ downstream a sump is encountered (to be more accurate a duck since there is one inch of airspace).  After a little probing, Mike went through.  He reported “sump" only nine inches long. Within another ten feet another sump bars the way.  This has yet to be tackled.

19th November.  Swildons.  B. Pyke, M. Luckwill.  Short trip to look at an aven in Keith's Chamber.  Walk at the bottom of Willy Stanton's climb and Derek Ford's dig is extremely dangerous.

26th November.  St. Cuthbert's.  A party of Sandhurst people led by Mo Marriott and John Eatough down to Cascade - Rabbit Warren - Duck then to the Dining Room and Cerberus Series.  The lake was full (Mike Baker please note).

26th November.  St. Cuthbert's.  Leader R. Roberts (with 3 W.C.C.)  Trip down to Dining Room.  Confirmed existence of Lake.

26th November.  Balch's Hole.  B. Prewer, M. Thompson, S. Collins, P.M. Giles, M. Baker, A. Sandall, P. Davies and K. Dawe (S.M.C.C.) B. Johnson, J. Strickland and two other Cerberus cavers. Line survey of system carried out by A. Sandall and the Cerberus types.  Photography continued by Messrs Collins, Giles and Baker.  Second sump passed and third, discovered some ten feet further on. Digging carried on at upstream end of stream passage (no results as yet).  Air circulation in lower reaches of the cave, in spite of the running water, is rather poor, similar to some parts of the Paradise Regained system in Swildons Hole.

25th November.  Ffynnon Ddu.  R.Stenner, 4 Lockleaze boys and two lockleaze girls.  Leader, Brian de Graaf.  Tourist trip with a good photographic session in the main stream passage, which was most impressively wet (accidental baptism for three of the party).  This succeeded in dampening the spirits of those concerned so effectively that the party split at Rawl’s Chain, and only half of the party went round the Rawl Series.  Bothered by Lamp Pox, var, Nife Cell.

3rd December. Gough's Cave (Rear Series).  J. Cornwall, P.M. Giles, A. Sandall, S. Collins, C.A. Marriott, J. Rollason, J .Lamb J. Eatough, K. Franklyn, P. Franklyn, J. Ransom, G. Tilley, and J. Watham.   Rediscovered pit and poached photographs.  Only one member lost his way going back through the show' cave, but still he's only been caving for twenty years.        A. Spoon.

3rd December.  St. Cuthbert's.  B. Ellis, M. Luckwill.  Survey trip from Drinking Fountain to Upper Traverse Chamber and line survey from top of chain to Upper Mud Hall.

10th December.  Balch's Hole.  B. Prewer, F. Darbon, M. Baker, P.M. Giles, S. Wynn-Roberts, R. Pyke.  Photographs by Jim and Mike.  They had the Flashgun Pox.  The rest had an enjoyable trip.

16th December.  G.B.  C.A. Marriott, P. Franklyn, K. Franklyn, M. Baker, J. Eatough, P.M. Giles, M. Luckwill, J. Cornwall, J. Ransom and G. Tilley.  Photographic trip in main chamber, white passage and ladder dig.

19th December. Christmas Hole.  See article.

27th December.  St. Cuthbert's Swallet.  Survey of September Series by R. Roberts and P.M. Giles.  Completed High Chamber to Trafalgar via Paperweight Chamber.  Also think we’ve found some “Palettes".


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle ,
Bristol Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept. C.A. Marriott, 78, Muller Rd, Eastville, Bristol.