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Taking advantage of a recent overhaul of the typewriter on which the B.B. is typed, we have had some cryptic characters added to the keyboard so that it is now possible, amongst other things, to type phrases like 'speleological manoeuvres' and similar gems of the English language.  It also opens up a whole new field for original spelling mistakes, a subject for which the B.B. is noted.

Once again, we have twelve pages.  At one time, there was a ‘queue’ to join before stuff could be considered for publication.  This has now vanished, and so the odd article would not come amiss.

Whitsun Trip to Cornwall.

Owing to the fantastic success of the Easter trip to this foreign land, and in spite of the damage done to vehicles, the trip is to be repeated at Whitsun.  Anyone who is interested should get in touch with any of the Belfry Regulars.


Cuthbert’s Geology

(Extracted from a letter to B.M. Ellis from D.C. Ford )

When I wrote up the geology of St. Cuthbert's Swallet for Caving Report No. 7, I’d not finished work on it and so have a certain amount of revision of the ideas you've published. The controlling fault - Lake -Chamber to the Duck - is not the Stock Hill Fault mentioned in the geological survey, but one sub-parallel to it to the west. It is probably in the same system. If this St. Cuthbert's fault be extended south east of the duck (bearing in mind that it might not, in fact, extend any further) it passes through Hunters Hole more or less parallel to the principal alignment of the lower cave, and about fifty feet south of it. Interesting.

The controlling bedding planes in Catgut (above T-Junction) are not within the twenty foot plane of the Rabbit Warren as I wrote, but lie ten and thirty feet below (two different bedding planes).  The extension then runs through higher beds to get on to the main line, so to speak, at the Sewer bedding plane.  This performance is not typical of Mendip phreatic behaviour and is almost non-union activity.

The main water supply during stages 1 and 2 of my sequence of development came; it emerges, from the Rocky Boulder area.  This should “go” much more than it has done, back up to the surface.  However, I won’t guarantee that it is not (a) solidly choked, (b) collapsed anyway.

At present I am working on the south eastern parts of the cave and wondering about possible ways on, barring the sump.  It doesn't look very good because every bit of passage plays a part in feeding into the Lake-Gour rift.  Nothing seems to bypass it higher up and the best bets are in the rift itself.  One never sees the floor of the rift.  This is buried to a depth that could run into many tens of feet locally and the way on could be down it somewhere.    So get digging!


by M.J. Baker.

Recently it has been demonstrated that stalagmites and stalactites give off a green glow after being subjected to the light from flashbulbs.

This was first noticed when photographing formations, and a flashgun had been placed behind a stalagmite pillar and fired.  For a second or two, the pillar gave off a green glow.  This 'afterglow' has since been photographed successfully, although first attempts produced a pink glow due to incorrect exposure.

Since then, observations have been made on other specimens using ultra violet light.  Stalagmite consists of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) usually in the form of calcite, or more rarely, aragonite.

The first fact that we note, was that, although calcite in the form of stalagmite from Balch’s Hole and Pen Park Hole gave a strong glow, a perfect calcite crystal (Iceland Spar) gave a negative result.  Also calcite crystals in Carboniferous limestone that had not come from a cave did not produce any, ‘afterglow’.  This suggests that the afterglow was not due to the calcite, but to some other element that had been carried in solution by percolating water from the surface and precipitated at the same time.

This was supported when it was found that ‘fur’ coating the inside of a kettle or hot water pipe also produced an afterglow.  Most pure salts are not phosphorescent but salts of Calcium, Strontium, Barium and Zinc gave positive results and it seems that it must be due to the traces of heavy metals such as Manganese, Lead or Copper or Silver.

Note.  Phosphorescence of Calcium Nitrate was recorded as far back as 1674 by Baldwin.

Substances examined


Calcite crystals in carb. limestone


Iceland Spar  (CaCO3)


Carb. Limestone not from cave.


Aragonite  ( CaCO3)


Gypsum from Lake District  (CaSO4 )


Alabaster - Minehead  (CaSO4)


Celestine  (SrSO4)

Very Faint.

Galena - Pen Park Hole  (PbS)


Calcite - Pen Park Hole  (CaCO3)


Stalagmite – Balch’s Hole

Very Strong.

Stalactite - Cuthbert’s

Very Strong.

Fur from Hot water pipe - Midlands

Very Strong.

Fur from Hot water pipe - Bath

Very Strong.

Editor’s Note;    I personally find Mike's article very interesting as I had noticed this phenomena shortly after flashbulbs came onto the market, but thought it only worked if you had extremely clean stal.     This was what led me to try a flashbulb against the ‘bank’ at the top of the second pitch in Balch's Hole  (when it was still clean!) and later to expend a few unwanted white flashbulbs showing this to other photographers on the stal pillar in erratic Passage.  I believe that John Eatough subjected some stal to U.V. radiation and got negative results, thus suggesting that the afterglow was due to phosphorescence rather than fluorescence.  I was wondering how Mike's observations were made with U.V. light.  If he obtained ‘afterglow’ only or if he obtained a visible glow while the U.V. source was illuminating the specimen.  Possibly both phenomena play a part here.  Perhaps we shall hear further in a later B.B.


Have you paid your sub yet? You may not get the B.B. in future if you haven’t!

Notes on the possibility of Cave Art in Britain

by K.S. Gardner.

In any subject such as this, one must first accept or tabulate certain points which are, in the considered opinion of science, regarded as facts.  The facts in this case are that on the walls of the great caverns of south western Europe can be seen frescoes of engraved and painted scenes of animal life which are accepted as being of Aurignacian and Magdalenian origin; that is, of cultural phases during the Wurm glaciation.  It is agreed that the purpose of this art was of a magico-religious rather than of a decorative nature, and was based on the theory that, if one possessed the reproduction of a certain creature, one also possessed the power of life and death over it in the chase.  This idea has survived among more primitive tribes today, and indeed was very popular among the practisers of black magic in the European communities of several centuries ago.

In company with the static murals, we sometimes find large models of animals in clay, sometimes models which had borne real heads and possibly been draped in skins to simulate the real creature at some ritual performance.  With the later, Magdalenian culture, we get many fine examples of "mobile art", carvings or engravings on bone, ivory or stone.

A fairly common reproduction which has a great significance with regard to the purpose of this art is that of a human figure masked and draped in skins and interpreted as le sorcereur or the officiating witch doctor.

As already stated, these great prehistoric academies are centred in S.W. France and Spain at such places as Les Eyzies in the Dordogne where there must have been a comparatively considerable population during the period in question.  The people who carried out these works were those whose different methods of working flint have enabled archaeologists to classify them into the two different groups or cultures of the Aurignacian and the Magdalenian.

How then does Great Britain fit into the picture?  France and England were one land in those days so why should there be art in one country and not in the other?  It is only fair to say at this point that the North of France appears to be as barren of cave art as is England, but that the writer knows of no caves personally north of the Fontainbleu Forest.  Art has been found almost as far north as this at Ancy-sur-Cure in Avallon.

The local British flint cultures, whilst they are different from the Aurignacian, Gravettian and Magdalenian of Central France, would appear to be paronymous with them and there is nothing to suggest why, if an apparently conservative, people retained the backbone of their material cultures, they should forsake the religious cultures which one might expect to be the last thing to change.

Ossiferous objects such as harpoons, tallies and batons-de-commandment from Cheddar or Burrington in the Mendip show very strong links with the Magdalenian and are again suggestive of at least contact with the art conscious southern civilization. Articles from Cresswell Crags near the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire border go even, further and show definite signs of magico-religious activities.  This latter site is typical of the British local adaptation of the southern flint cultures and the name Cresswellian has been applied to similar flint assemblages throughout the country.  Several fragments of bone have been discovered there bearing engravings of reindeer, horse, bison and rhino (?) but the most significant is the rib of a reindeer with a masked human figure on it closely resembling the sorcerers of cave paintings.  These bones admittedly are not typical of British cave sites, having come from the lower level of the cave, but they do strongly suggest the presence of believers in the hunting rites.

Supposing that art existed once here if of course no proof that it exists now.  Deterioration takes place through the centuries due to the action of air currents; flaking of stone etc and even Lascaux with its magnificent colour can show us indistinguishable blurs of long faded frescoes.  The greater rate of deposition of French stalagmite may give a protective cover to the works before they have a chance to fade whereas anything here may have disappeared before such a protective layer could form.  Let us also remember that for hundreds of years, antiquarians, students and the public hordes viewed Stonehenge in full daylight and it was only a chance that enabled Richard Atkinson to recognize carvings on some of the stones in 1952.  How many miles of underground walls will have to be searched by so few cavers in nigh on complete darkness before the blurred remains of an engraving or a faded painting would show up on the dark, rough rock?

Where then would it be likely to be?  Supposing the Cresswellians were believers or the Aurignacian few practised it here? To judge by continental sites - deep underground far from the entrance or in some almost inaccessible chamber! It is unlikely to be in a cave used as an occupation site but rather in a nearby unoccupied one.  At Cheddar, one might be tempted to suggest Great Cone's Hole as the temple for the Gough's hunter inhabitants.

It has been suggested that, as the estimated population of this tundra country was then about two hundred, there could not have been the organised religion of the French forests. True, one should not expect the dozens of sites which the French and Spanish have - perhaps only one in Derbyshire and one on Mendip but if today a dozen Christians went to the North Pole, would they leave their belief in God behind them?  A small population is not the reason for the absence of art.

It has been stated that in the barren tundra of this peninsular, wild game would be scarce and life too much of a struggle to bother with art.  If it was considered essential in the well stocked regions of S.W. France to cast spells in order to catch the elusive and required beast, how much more important must it have been here to employ magic to ensure victory over the same creature even more elusive and even more essentially required!  It is always in man's darkest hour that he turns most to his religion.

Whilst a great deal of the French art is of a hunting nature, there is a certain amount apparently devoted to the preservation of life - pictures of pregnant cows etc - and it might well be that the French had some control over herds and thought they ensured productivity by this method.  It may be safe to assume that this type of art would not be practised here as the presumably less pleasant conditions towards the close of the last Ice Age enforced a more nomadic hunting life upon the occupants.

Well then, will art ever be found in the British Isles or has it been found already and forgotten?  Were the red marks found in Bacon Hole, Gower really natural or were they the fading vestiges of a forgotten age?  This site certainly has a strong similarity with the Grotte-Temples.  It was not, as far as we know, occupied as early as the upper Palaeolithic, though an ideal site.  If Aurignacian man lived and died on Gower and the markings are hidden in the innermost recess, then the fact that the red bands vary from period to period in size and position may conceivably be due to the action of damp or some other phenomenon, as similar movement is not unknown in ecclesiastical murals.  It is a pity either way that the chamber housing them was not effectively protected as the walls are certainly covered with "art" now, and any scientific study will be seriously impaired by the collection of candle smoke drawings and engravings left by modern vandals.

Perhaps the Cave Preservation Society would like to take a scrubbing brush along there one day.

A New Way off Yr Elen

by "Kangy"

One of the troubles with Yr Elen in the Carneddau in North Wales is that it is stated to be 3,152 ft. which means that it is one of the Welsh Three Thousands and therefore has to be done.  Another trouble is that it is the highest point of a spur which inconveniently branches normal to the line of the great Carneddau summits.  Tiresome, very!

Routes worked out for a traverse of the Welsh Three Thousands are concerned with the least loss of height and it is found best to retrace the route back to Carnedd Llewellyn once Yr Slen summit has been attained.  This is all very well if a straight thrash around the Fourteen Peaks is under way, but it has always irked me to have to walk back towards Llewellyn and not go on.  A mate and I were camping by Craig Yr Isfa and it was the sort of day and time of year that combined to give bright but cold and blustery weather.  A fine excuse for a walk!  Eventually we found ourselves heads down and panting on Yr Elen.  We ate chocolate and regretted that the wind would fight against us all the way back to Llewellyn.  The view from the summit was extensive and included Ysgolion Duon (the Black Ladders) with the summit of Carnedd Dafydd to the right and above.  We were interested in the Black Ladders because of the climbs on it and made for a lower point to get a better view of it.  It occurred to us here that an interesting variation would be to descend into Cwm Llafar and make our way on to Carnedd Dafydd somehow. We were not equipped for rock climbing and so a requirement of any route was to be a certain lack of excitement. It was obvious that we could easily climb out of the cwm onto Dafydd by saddles at the head of the cwm or to the west of Dafydd, and so we started down.

As often happens, the closer we came to Dafydd, the clearer became the topography.  The Black Ladders remained black and un-ladderish, but the unpromising slag heap that formed the North East face sorted itself out and a possible route appeared as a ridge running directly up to the summit of Dafydd. The doubtful things about it were that it started above a steep rock face, and where it joined the final slopes of the summit it became steep and narrow.  A way around the rock face was up a steep scree slope on its felt flank. This was not as bad as it looked, as it was large scree and twenty minutes or so of scrambling was all that was necessary to get us on to the satisfyingly sharp crest of the ridge. Easy going and even a pinnacle led to the steeper rocks.  These proved to be no more than a scramble.  The particular pleasure we got from the route is that there is nothing artificial about it end the ridge finishes on the summit.  A proper route.

We saw from the 2.5" O.S. map later that the ridge is called Crib Lem and that the rock face is Llech Ddu.  They lie approximately S.S.W. from Yr Hen.  The lowest point reached in Cwm Llafar is about 2,000 ft, so the loss in height is not great and a small price to pay for a good walk.

Map References:
            Sheet 107 (1953)   
            Yr Elen                673652
            Carnedd Dafydd  663631

Some Comments on the Recent Surveying Articles

by R.D.Stenner.

Bryan's suggested new system of grading surveys is good in many ways, but there is a point I am not happy about.

Errors in measuring vertical angles may not make much difference on a plan, but they will make a big difference to a section and to the altitude of a station, I think that the care in measurement of vertical angles needs much more emphasis and would like to elaborate.

A cave survey should be a representation of the cave in three dimensions, and the vertical dimension should be measured with the same degree of accuracy as the two horizontal dimensions.  To measure vertical angles with a clinometer to the same degree of accuracy as is possible with a hand held oil-filled prismatic compass, the clinometer should be tripod mounted.  The prismatic compass does not have to be tripod mounted to be read to * or - 0.5°, but clinometers do.

Turning now to Alfie's article, the ideal survey should try to show a caver exactly what the cave is like. Surveys of caves should be parallel with surface maps.  The basis is an outline, with cave height, floor gradients and changes of altitude and on this foundation should be shown the nature of the floor, exact position and nature of formations, water (still or running) dumps of food, carbide and spent carbide (if any) position of rawlbolts and fixed wires (with date of installation and details of maintenance) actual route taken where not obvious, parts of cave taped off, details of entrance and access, and perhaps a lot more things which I can't bring to mind.

On this basic foundation, specialist surveys can be overprinted - a parallel with specialist surface maps. Geological and Biological overprints come to mind here.

The basic survey, as detailed as I would hope, would be as interesting to explore as the cave itself (and much less effort!) but there is a real use which Alfie overlooked - that is photography.

Photography in large chambers and in particular the photography of large, remote formations is often hazardous because of the impossibility of measuring the distance between the flashgun and the subject.  The usual rangefinders are useless, so the only answers are a bit of surveying or to make a guess.  A good survey should give the information needed.


Time is now getting on! Over half a year has gone by since the last Annual Dinner and the time left for taking that prize winning picture is getting shorter all the time.  We hope to be publishing a complete set of rules for both competitions in the next B.B.


Club members are welcome at the Archaeological site at Cheddar – contact Sett for details or just turn up.

Book Review

by Jim Giles.

Some Smaller Mendip Caves, Volume 1 - R.D. Stenner and others.  B.E.C. Caving Report No 6.  Edited by B.M. Ellis.  Price 2/6.

In this report, several club members have pooled their resources to produce a report dealing with caves which, due to their apparent insignificance, have not been rewarded with the close attention and glamour of the larger Mendip systems.  Information pertaining to several semi-successful digs is also included in the report both for record purposes and in the hope that it will be of some assistance to future 'cave hunters'.

Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal - Series 3 Number 2. Edited by F.J. Davies.  Price  1/3.

Once again the Shepton have produced a journal devoted to reports of original work in the caving world.

In this edition, K.R. Dawe gives a full account of the diving operation in Swildons Hole which is well backed up by a description by J.M. Boone of his air breathing diving set 'Nyphargus' which was used to great effect at the same time.

Other articles in this journal give more details of the Trouble Series of Swildons and the Carricknacoppan caves of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Subterranean Climbers.  Twelve Years in the world's deepest chasm. - Pierre Chevalier. Faber & Faber.       Price   16/-.

A superb and unforgettable book telling of Pierre Chevalier’s twelve year battle with nature in linking the Trou de Glaz and the Guiers Morts grotto. No description could possibly do this book justice.


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Bristol Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.

Keeping a balance.

Every now and then, we get a little worried about the contents of the B.B.  Sometimes it is because nobody seems to be writing any articles of a serious nature: at other times it may be because there has been no climbing or archaeological news for some time, and so on.

The B.B. should, ideally, have something in it to interest every club member.  Obviously, this cannot occur in every issue as there is not enough space for a diversity of articles, even if the Editor had a supply of them to use - which he certainly hasn't!

However, if such a supply of articles was possessed by the editor, some attempt would be made to avoid a preponderance of any one type, unless a definite preference was expressed by a sufficient number of readers.

All of which is leading up to the fact that a lot more articles of a scientific nature type are on the way.  This, we think, will please most members.  Others, whose tastes do not run in his direction, are invited to rectify the situation by sending in other types of article.  If this occurs, we may even reach a stage of being able to select the best of what is submitted for publication.



If you haven't paid your sub this year, and have been sent this B.B., it is only because your name has not yet been removed from the list.  DON' T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!!!!

Book Review

By Jim Giles,

Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal Series 1 Number 3

In this third journal of the present series, the Rhodamine ‘B’ water tracing technique devised by members of the Bradford Pothole Club is discussed by B.M. Ellis.  He explains the intricacies of using this revolutionary spelaeo - aid and describes at length the results of experiments in St, Cuthbert's Swallet and Swildons Hole. The author makes an interesting comparison between this and other water tracing methods and concludes with an outline of further applications on Mendip.

Archaeological Note

As most members will be aware, the field north of the Belfry is the site of a Roman settlement, presumably connected with lead mining.  Excavations were carried out there some years ago under the direction of Ted Mason and work is now in progress on the preparation of a report which will be published as a B.E.C. paper.  Much pottery has been recovered from this field since the excavation from ploughed soil and from the drainage trenches which from time to time are cut across the lower slopes.  If any member gets a chance to check the field again, and finds any pottery or other small find, I would be interested to see it.

Keith S. Gardner - Archaeological Secretary


by M. Luckwill

A recent article in the B.B. No. 170, noted the fact that the stal in Balch's Hole was phosphorescent. This article is intended to provide a simple explanation of the physics of the phenomenon in order that the reader will be familiar with the terms used in future articles which will doubtless appear.

For those who have never seen phosphorescence, a short description of what happens will not be out of place. A flash bulb is fired close to the stal and when the light from the bulb has died down, the stal can be seen to glow a bright apple green for a few seconds.  Several people are investigating substances which show this phenomenon, using ultra violet light as a means of illumination.  The process of light emission during and after illumination is known as Luminescence.

For practical considerations, Luminescence is divided into fluorescence and phosphorescence.  Figure 1 shows the amount of light emitted in relation to time......

Figure 1.

The portion AB represents light emitted during the illumination and together with any light emitted for 10 seconds after illumination is called fluorescence.  The portion BC is the light emitted after illumination and is called phosphorescence.

Phosphorescence may last only for a period of 10-7 seconds, or for several hours.  We are mostly interested in periods of from 1 to 5 seconds.

There are three aspects of luminescence: -

(1)                Absorption of energy of primary bombarding photons - due to the incident light.

(2)                Transfer and storage of this energy.

(3)                Conversion of this stored energy into light.

A crystal consists of a regular array of ions.  (You can imagine a large box filled with billiard balls which have been packed in a regular and tidy fashion).  In the case of calcite; these balls represent calcium and carbonate ions.

Naturally occurring crystals are rarely pure, however, and an impurity will cause a local disturbance in the array (you can imagine this time a larger ball such as a tennis ball in the middle of your box of billiard balls).  Such an ion is called an interstitial ion and plays an important part in luminescence.

Now let us look a little further into the structure of these ions.  For our purposes, the ion can be considered to be a nucleus surrounded by a number of mobile electrons.  If an electron gains some energy, it will tend to move away from the nucleus and become less stable.  In general, if an electron gets the chance, it likes to lose energy and become more stable. The electrons, however, cannot be at any distance they like from the nucleus, but must go round it at one of a number of fixed radii which thus divide the electrons into a number of shells representing different energy levels.  We shall consider two of these outer shells or bands which are….

(1)                The Valency band, which is the highest normally filled band, and...

(2)                The conduction band, which is the lowest normally empty band.

The difference in energy between these two bands is called the gap energy and is written Eg.  Now, if a photon with energy hv, being greater than Eg is incident upon the valency band, it can transfer its energy to an electron, which can then jump into the conduction band, leaving behind a hole in the valency band, as in figure 2.


Figure 2.

Remembering that an electron likes to be stable, we should not be surprised to find that the hole rises to the top of the valency band, as it is displaced by electrons above it - rather like an air bubble rising to the top of your beer (not if you drink draught: -Ed).  The electron-hole pair is called an Exciton.  The exciton cannot conduct energy, but it can transfer energy because it is mobile.  This excitation is therefore different from the excited state of an impurity ion which is fixed.

Figure, 3 shows the life of an exciton as it wanders about the crystal…….


Figure 3.

Now and again the electron will fall into a trap.  This is an interstitial ion which, you will remember, has produced a local disturbance in the energy levels present.  Then, by chance, the electron will gain enough energy to jump back into the conduction band and continue its wandering.  Eventually, it will be trapped in the excited state of an interstitial ion, which acts as an activator, or luminescent centre.

Recombination now takes place.  The electron is first trapped and then the hole is trapped (an electron from the impurity fills up the hole) and the interstitial ion regains its ground state. In the process, a photon is emitted.

The nature of the impurity affects the time for which the exciton remains trapped and also the colour of the emitted light, which is always of a greater wavelength than the incident light.  It is known that Strontiamite, SrCO3; Magnesite; MgCO3; Dolomite CaMg(CO3) and some forms of calcite luminesce  under ultra violet light.  Further work may discover the impurities which produce this phenomenon and hence throw some light on the formation of these crystals.

Caving Log

13.1.62.    Swildons.            Mike Luckwill + 3 from Cardiff.  Long Dry to sump.

14.1.62.    Eastwater.           Mike Luckwill, G.Dell, J. Cornwell + 3 from Cardiff. Camera descended second vertical under its own initiative.

14.1.62.    Eastwater.           Mike Palmer, Mike Weadon.  Followed 'clothes line' all the way.  Fings definitely ain't wot they used t'be!

15.1.62.    Eastwater.           M. Luckwill, J. Giles.  Trip to retrieve camera.

3.2.62.     Eastwater.           Dell and J. Cornwill.

3.2.63.    Swildons.             Mike Boone, Ron Wyncoll.

3.2.62.    Cuthbert’s.            P.M. Giles + 11 Cambridge Spelaeos.  Tourist.

3.2.62.    Cuthbert’s.            Mo Marriott, John Eatough and John Attwood.  11 Derbyshire types.  Tourist trip.

4.2.62.    Cuthbert’s             Mikes Wheadon and Palmer, Albert and. 4 Exeter University bods.  Tourist trip, attention Mr. M. Baker.  There is water in Lake Chamber!

4.2.62.    Balch’s Hole.        B. Prewer, P.M. Giles, M. Baker, G. Pointing, D. Berry, M. Boone, G. Selby and several M.N.R.C., and Cerberus types.  Photographic.

10.2.62.    Cuthbert’s.          Bryan Ellis and Chris Falshaw + 9 from Nottingham.  Tourist trip.

11.2.62.    Balch’s Hole.      Mike Baker, Alfie Collins and Jill. Photography in Maypole and Pool Passages. Mem.  Collins must take alternative means of illumination.

11.2.62.    Cuthbert’s           Survey trip in Cerberus Series, closed traverse almost completed.  Damaged tripod stopped further surveying. Keith Franklyn, J. Eatough, N. Petty and Mo.

11.2.62.  Cuthbert’s.            John Attwood and Eatough started to take the latter's maypole down, but two lengths were, too long.  Photographic trip instead.  Taped the drip pockets in Curtain Chamber.

17.2.62.    Cuthbert’s           P.M. Giles, Mike Holland, L. Holland and 5 Swansea types.  Transported two lengths of maypole from Upper Traverse to September Chamber.   Same party toured Cerberus Series and found Lake Chamber very full   (Mike Baker please note).

18.2.62.    Lamb Leer.         J.M. Calvert, J.Ransome, G. Tilley, G. Owen, R. Roberts, A. Leysham, C. Peters, H. Rowley.

18.2.62.    Balch’s Hole.      B. Prewer, P.M. Giles, G. Pointing, D. Berry, J. Eastough, J. Cornwill.  Maypole removed and replaced by chain and fixed ladder.

24.2.62.    Heale Slocker.    Coffee and occasional digging, very nearly in:  M. Baker, M. Luckwill, P.M. Giles.

25.2.62.    Cuthbert’s           P.M. Giles, M. Luckwill, R. Pyke, P. Badcock.   24' of maypole transported to Upper Traverse Chamber and left at top of the pitch for use in Hanging Chamber.  This was followed up by a quick trip into September Series where a small hole at the lower end of the bedding plane which runs down the side of September Chamber was entered and found to join up via a large and rather well decorated fifth with the main chamber again at floor level.

25.2.62.    G.B.                    Photographic trip to  Gorge  and Helictite Chamber by J. Attwood, J. Eatough, H. Phillpot, J. Cornwill.  Noted with DISGUST the considerable deterioration in Helictite Chamber.

25.2.62.    Heale Slocker.    M. Baker, M. Luckwill, P.M. Giles, P. Scott, J. Hill.  We are in! About thirty feet of passage ending in a choke, the floor of which is composed of large boulders and mud infill. Passage appears to be going steadily down the dip.

3.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             Bryan Ellis took a party of M.C.G. on a "Grand Traverse" down Pulpit Pitch and Main Stream to duck, out via Cerberus Series and Wire Rift.

3.3.62.    Swildons.             Mike Luckwill, Bob Pyke.  Surveying extension past Keith's Chamber.

4.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             Mike Baker, Bruce and 4 Redland Tourist trip which included LAKE CHAMBER (I have seen and I believe!) M. Baker.

4.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             N. Petty, B. Wilson, J. Williams, M. Rogers, S. Godwin, B. Hargill, B. Parrell.  Both Tourist trips.

4.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             M. Luckwill, Pat Irwin, plus 4 ' Enterprise' bods

4.3.62.    Goatchurch & Sidcot            G. Tilley, J. Ransome.  Quick trip to get rid of the Camera Pox.

4.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             R. Roberts, R. Croft, C. Peters, H. Rowley.  Finished the survey of September Series.

7.3.62.  Eastwater.              M. Baker, R. Roberts plus six.  “While on the above trip, I noticed a peculiar formation.  It was about half an inch high and formed by spent carbide. Condensation had caused a water drip to form on the carbide which had produced a "stalagmite".  The formation was very delicate and the walls were almost transparent.”  M. Baker.

17.3.62.  Cuthbert’s             J. Hill, Peter Scott and 8 U.B.S.S. Tourist.

18.3.62.  Balch’s Hole         Garth, Gordon and Roger.

18.3.62.  Cuthbert’s             P.M. Giles, M. Holland, M. Luckwill, J. Cornwell, J. Ransom, J. Williams, M. Calvert.  Thirty six feet of maypole was assembled below the Maypole Pitch with a view to re-entering Hanging Chamber to recover the 20' of maypole therein, a lifeline was then run from the top of the Maypole pitch to a large boulder in Upper Traverse Chamber.  The maypole was erected, but after three changes of position the attempt was abandoned and the may be disconnected and left at the bottom of Maypole Pitch.  In order to retrieve the maypole in Hanging Chamber, the original method of maypoling seems to be the only solution, unless a less flexible method of joining maypole sections is devised which may just permit the direct route.

19.3.62.  Nine Barrows        Jim Giles and Mike Boone took a brief look at this dig and found that a partial collapse had occurred but that the shoring was still intact.

42.3.62.  Swildons.              R. Stenner plus 2 boys to sump I.

Song Competition

1.                  Competitors may submit any number of songs, the words of which must be the original work of the competitor.

2.                  Any songs submitted must, in the opinion of the organizer, be suitable for performing at the club dinner and must be connected with club activities.

3.                  Competitors should indicate how they wish their songs to be presented.  If they do not wish to sing themselves, a suitable "choir" will be laid on, and various members of club who can perform on musical instruments will be available to act as accompanists if desired by the competitor.

4.                  There will be two closing dates.  The earlier, for those who wish their songs to be sung and/or accompanied for them, will be SATURDAY, AUGUST 25TH to allow time for rehearsals.  For those who wish to perform entirely by themselves, the closing date will be SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22ND to allow for elimination if this should become necessary.

5.                  If more than about half a dozen songs are received, it may be necessary to weed out some of the songs, so that people will not become, bored at the dinner by a long session.  In that case, the organizer will arrange for an impartial judge to pick out the best songs. If this occurs, competitors who may have written their own tunes must arrange an audition with the judge between the last closing date and the dinner.

6.                  Judging of the final selection of songs will be by popular acclaim at the dinner.

7.                  A suitable trophy will be awarded to the winner and runner-up.  All competitors whose songs were presented at the dinner will receive a consolation prize - probably in the form of a drink.

The rules for the PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION will be printed in next month’s B.B. the dinner is on Saturday, October 6th.

Climbing in Cornwall - Easter 1962

A large crowd of about thirty assorted members assembled on the Thursday evening after motoring down under incredible difficulties (cars travelling in the opposite direction on their correct side, etc.)  The venue was Trevalgan farm near St, Ives where a choice was to be had between camping and staying in the excellent barn provided.

Good Friday dawned cold and clear and the entire expedition repaired to Porthmorna Cove on the North Coast, where the climbing members attacked Basigran Pinnacle.  This is a long steep sided ridge jutting into the sea and almost cut off from the mainland at high tide.  It may be traversed by first of all scrambling up to the foot of a gendorme, from whence an interesting crack and a long traverse descends to a small platform near sea level.  The climb is not difficult and is rather more satisfying than the usual outcrop type of climb as it has a definite object, to reach the final platform - accessible only by rock climbing.  Three parties did the climb, returning by one of the lower West Pace traverse variations.  Mossman and Sandall kept near the sea and found some wet, slimy rock; whilst Bennett and Miles, Tuck and Marriott climbed a chimney encrusted with the usual odiferous bird lime.

After this effort, Marriott, Bennett and Tuck ventured up Black Slab Climb on Bosigran face.  The slab, which is a conspicuous feature of the face, looks F.N.I. from a distance, but on closer inspection is found to be liberally sprinkled with holds.  According to the guide book, its colour (black) is due to a coating of 'schorl', a piece of information which appeared to produce no intelligent response from the climbing party.  It was decided by a two to one vote that Mr. Marriott should lead the slab, which he did after surmounting an awkward pinnacle.

On Saturday morning, the intrepid explorers 'did' St. Ives and returned to Bosigran in the afternoon. This time, attention was directed to the Bosigran Ridges on the West side of the cove.  These run down at a steep angle to the sea and were used for commando training during the war.  When the climbers arrived at the seaward end, ready to do great things, a major setback was encountered.  The climb - carefully selected from the guide book - could not be found.  After some argument agreement was reached as to where the climb ought to have started.  Unfortunately, the rock at this point was in the form of a smooth vertical wall up which no climb of a reasonable standard could be found. After several unsuccessful attempts, the climbers retreated muttering darkly that 'it must have fallen into the sea' etc.  Messrs Dunn, Turner and Malcolm departed up the ridge from a higher start while Marriott, Tuck and Bennett followed after roping a severe which proved much harder than it looked.  By this time the weather had become warm and sunny and the climbers slowly meandered up the ridge, talking photographs and making private variations to the pitches. Further on, things became more serious and the final climb caused some misgivings.  This was in the form of an almost horizontal knife edge, which is climbed to the detriment of certain parts of the climber's anatomy.  The end of the ridge was so thin that it looked likely to cut the hands, and the whole thing was quite unlike anything that anybody present had previously climbed.

The next day was spent on the West Coast, starting with climbs on Chain Ladder.  This is reckoned to be the finest of the Cornish sea cliffs, and the four climbers were quite anxious to visit it.  It is best approached from the north, where a steep scramble leads to a deep inlet, bridged by a large boulder.  This looks insecure and was crossed rapidly.  As it was the first visit, two fairly easy chimneys were selected.  Initial pitches proved quite straightforward but some confusion with route finding occurred higher up due to not reading the guide book properly.  Several sea birds nests with eggs were found and Steve Tuck was nearly attacked by a bird which we think from its size must have been one of the last surviving Cornish ostriches.


Cave preservation in a nutshell from the N.S.S. magazine..... "Take nothing but photographs - Leave nothing but footprints"



Containing reports and references to operations in Northern Pennines; Mendips; Derbyshire; South Wales; Ireland and Gibraltar. This is well worth having and, whether you are personally interested in diving or not, makes a worthwhile addition to any caving library.  It is obtainable at 2/9 plus 6d postage from the Editor; - E-J. Waddon, 65 Raleigh Hall, Eccleshall, STAFFORD.  It is issued free to C.D.G. members.  Enquiries regarding membership of the C.D.G. should be made to J.S. Buxton, 38 Maulden Road, Flitwick, Bedfordshire.


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw.  Editor, S.J. Collins.


With this B.B., you will find the usual nomination form for the 1963 committee.  The names of any members put on these forms and sent in to Bob Bagshaw, will go forward for voting on at the annual committee election.

As usual, most of the retiring committee have expressed themselves ready to serve, if elected, on next year's committee with the exception of ‘Prew’.  We don't think he will mind if we say that he is voluntarily standing down this year, in order to leave the field more open in the hope that the vacant place will be filled by one of the clubs younger members.

The suggestion has been made that we deliberately make some places on the committee for younger members, while others feel that the method of election is sufficiently democratic to ensure that any keen member stands a good chance of being elected.  We hope that any member who feels that he is prepared to work on the clubs behalf will come forward and let it be generally known that he is prepared to work.  We feel sure that he will receive a decent number of voted if he does.  Some people, we are told, think that they stand little chance of being elected at a committee election.  Let us hope that these people will at least make   sure they are nominated.


The Grottes de Han

by P.F. Bird.

Ever since reading, years ago, E.A. Martel's account of some of the caves of Belgium, I have wanted to see the celebrated show caves called the Grottes de Han.  Being in Belgium for a conference at the end of June, I seized the opportunity and left Brussels by train early one morning.  The train takes one from the faintly undulating, almost flat, country of Brabant to the forested hills and limestone gorges of the Ardennes.  At Jemelle, one takes a bus to Han-sur-Lease.  There are nice sections of shales and limestone on the way.  From the village of Han, one travels on an antiquated scenic railway to the top of the limestone hill inside which lie the Grottes- de Han.  Then one follows a zig-zag path down to the entrance of the caves.  Not far away is the Gouffre de Belvaux, the point of engulfment of the subterranean river Lesse.

The entrance leads to a dry series.  The earlier chambers contain only dark stalagmites and -tites, which were blackened by the torches and lamps of visitors before electric lighting was installed.  Further on, one comes to many vast chambers, some of which make G.B. and Lamb Leer seem mere trifles.  The formations are proportionally huge.  They are mostly white, but some are a pleasing pale yellow.  There are none of the orange or reddish tints which one finds in many of our Mendip caves.

Eventually, one reaches the 'Merveilleuses' - aptly named the marvellous chamber because of its formations, which include many stalagmites noteworthy for their slenderness. Hence the party retraces its  steps for a while and then one continues ones traverse of the hill in a series which leads to the Place d'Armes.  This is an immense chamber containing a cafe set out on a concrete terrace.  Here, one can get a drink and a chance to rest ones feet after an hours fairly rapid walking.  At the bottom of the chamber flows the Lesse, and above hang; great clusters of stalactites.

On again through more great chambers till one reaches a landing stage beside the river.  Here one is shepherded into an outsize punt, about twenty two feet long and wide enough for five people to sit abreast.   Then in a leisurely way one travels down the river to emerge from the hill at the rising.  Here one meets with a touch of touristic vulgarity for, as the boat reaches the exit, some idiot fires a cannon across the opening.  This is supposed to cause remarkable echoes, but it doesn't!  It just makes a B.B. Bang.  Outside the exit, there is a speleological museum.  It contains models and plans of the cave system, bats and other biological specimens and the usual formations, some of which have been sectioned.  It also shows a few good archeologically specimens from excavations in the cave, including a very rare Bronze Age knife which is socketed, not hafted as one might expect.  I was lucky in being shown round the museum by the man who recently arranged it, having found him in the local cavers H.Q. nearby.  The rest of the day I spent in delightful scenery and perfect weather, but it was rather an anticlimax after the magnificent subterranean landscapes of the Grottes de Han.

Footnote:  The reference for Martle's account is Martel E.A, Van d'e Broeck, E. and Rakir, E. 1910.  "Les Cavernes et les Rivieres Souterraines de la Belgique"

A general statement of the current state of affairs of caving in Belgium is given by Lambert, F. 1959 Un Aventure dans les Grottes Beiges.


A general meeting of the Mendip Cave Registry will be held in Wells Museum late in October.  All interested in this are invited along.  The exact date will be published later.

Caving Log

8th April.  St. Cuthbert's.  Leader, Pat with Ray, Chris, John & Phil from M.A.M.  Rapid trip to Dining Room via Rat Run.   Out upstream and joined Jim Giles's party as below.

St. Cuthbert's.  Maypole Series.  P.M. Giles, Mike Calvert + 2.  King's Viewpoint reached and pitons found.  Observed the object of our labours (the maypole in Hanging Chamber) lying on the lip of Hanging Chamber.

13th April. Swildons.  Upper Series. P.M. Giles, R.J. Williams, G. Bell.

15th April. Swildons.  White way and return.  Small party of tourists - Mikes Palmer and Wheadon, John and Cynthia.  Rather wet.

18th April.  St. Cuthbert's.  P.M. Giles, K.J. Williams.  Tourist trip to Dining Room.

18th April. Eastwater.  R. Roberts, R. Boakes, B.Lynn, M. Williams, J. Cogswell, S. Smith, A. Sawyer,  A. Sweetman, P. Telford.  Lengthy trip round Upper Series.  Party hampered by bulk and small passage   size.

19th April. Swildons.  Party as before.  Pleasant trip down to sump I.  Fair amount of water about.  Trouble with ladders and removing thereof, a further descent to the 20 was necessitated

19th April.  Swildons.  A. Fincham, D. Smith, R.J.L. Young, B. Siddall.  Tourist trip to Sump II.

22nd April. Stoke Lane.  A. Fincham, R.L. J. Young, B. Sidall.  Tourist trip to Stoke II.

23rd April.  St. Cuthbert's.  Same party. To sump via Stal Pitch.

22nd April.  Land's End Cavern.   Sett, Mike Luckwill.  Quick trip to end and hurried exit as a result of incoming tide.

25th April. Swildons.  Mike Baker + 4.  Upper series oxbow getting tighter.

23rd April.  St. Cuthbert's.  Surveying in Wet and waterfall Pitches.  They are well named!  R. Stenner, J. Hutton, R. Howell, B. Conlin.  A thoroughly  miserable-session!

26th April. Lamb Leer.  Party led by M. Calvert with umpteen bods

28th April.  St. Cuthbert's.  7 Royal Fusiliers led by R. Stenner.  To sump via Rabbit Warren & Railway Tunnel and out via Cerberus Series.

29th April. Swildons.  Novices trip with B. Lane, R. Shepard, A. Chesterman, P. Balch & R. Bagshaw.

2nd May. Swildons.  4 Lockleaze boys and 2 girls.  Leader R. Stenner.  Taking diving weights down to the sump.  Water just right.

Easter Saturday.  Swinsto Cave - Kingsdale. P. Davies, D. Warburton, R. Pyke, M. Holland, G. Pointing, R. Ranks, P.M. Giles.  Laddering trip to top of last pitch.  Connecting aven to Simpson’s Pot not found - probably due to fiction. 

Easter Sunday. Simpson's Pot - Kingsdale.  P.M.Giles, C. Hawkes, K. Kanks.  De-laddering trip.  Slit Pot inspected but not descended.

3rd May. Nine Barrows Swallet.  P.M. Giles.  New shaft started.

3rd May.  St. Cuthbert's.  Leader R. Stenner + 3 Lockleaze boys.

4th May.  Nine Barrows Swallet.  P.M. Giles. Digging.

5th May.  Bone Hole and one other small cave.  Jon and Gordon down to try and take photos of some cave peal pearls.  Could not make squeeze at end.

6th May.  St. Cuthbert's.  R.Bennett, M. Baker, J. Eatough, K. Franklyn, P. Franklyn, K. Grimes.  Old Route via Mud Hall, Rocky Boulders into Coral Series. Pitch discovered on first of April by Mike Baker was descended.  This is a fine twenty foot pitch with nothing leading off at the bottom, though digging is possible.  It is proposed to call this CORAL POT.  Upper southern end of Coral Chamber entered.  This was not known to leader but had obviously been entered before. Steeply descending rift discovered partly choked by boulders which could probably be shifted by hammer and chisel work. This part of the cave is rather loose and care is required.  Returned to Boulder Chamber where all except R. Bennett and J. Eatough went out. These returned to Long Chamber where a major, well decorated chamber was entered.  This appeared not to have been entered before except in one place where what appeared to be a cairn was noticed.  Two theories were considered - one that the 'cairn' was natural - which appeared unlikely.  The other was that somebody had previously entered the chamber from another part of the cave, but did not explore it.  Any further information would be gratefully received.  Two explorers (?) returned after a seven hour trip.

12th May. Swildons II.   Trip led by Derek Stenner and Roger Stenner with several Weston Technical College types.

12th May.  G.B.  J. Cornwell + 2.

13th May.  G.B.  J. Cornwell, G. Tilley, M. Luckwell A. Sandall, Jon "rotten" Ransom.

13th May.  St. Cuthbert's.  Maypole Series.  P.M. Giles, M. Holland, D. Willis.  Hanging Chamber re-entered using three maypole sections from the ledges above the first Maypole Pitch.  All Maypole, including that which was in Hanging Chamber, now in Bridge Chamber.

13th May. Cuthbert’s.  Pat, Ray and Chris to September Series.  Five hour trip to see formations.  After the Boulder Ruckle, continued through Paperweight Chamber to sump and then into the main September Chamber.

13th May. Cuthbert’s.  P.M. Giles, R. Williams, R. Towns.  A hundred feet of galvanized wire taken to Hanging Chamber to be used with a pulley. All maypoles moved from Bridge Chamber to Upper Traverse Chamber and left at the top of the pitch with the maypole retrieved from Hanging Chamber in a separate   pile.  (N.B. there are still 2 sections of maypole; the base plate and the remainder of the split joiners in Cerberus Hall).

19th May. Batch's Hole.  Leaders G. Pointing and D. Berry with Roger Stenner and party from Lockleaze.

20th May. Cuthbert’s.  Mike Luckwill, Bruce.  Experimental photographic survey from Dining Room through Cerberus.  Large amount of water in Main Stream, but bridge is uncovered in Lake Chamber.

20th May. Swildons.  Garth, John Cornwell + 8 round Upper Series.  Garth started his photographic career and has got prize winning pictures for the competition.

20th May. Alfie's Hole.  Alfie, Jon Ransom, Gordon Tilley, Jim Hill.  Shaft capped.

20th May. August/Longwood.  Roy Bennett, three schoolboys, Bob Bagshaw.  New connection between Longwood and August Hole used.  Bagshaw defeated by the Longwood bedding plane.


Christmas Dinner at the Star Hotel, Wells.  If interested contact C. Rees, 10 Clarence Road, Bristol 2.

Why I Am A Caver

a personal interview by our own reporter, Anthony T. Sludge-Gutte.

"Caving is the new sport which is becoming increasingly popular with the top people.  Why are these young men and women prepared to risk serious injury or even death in order to explore these vast underground labyrinths?  What do they get out of it?  To try to answer these important questions, I interviewed Mr. Jim Crud, the well known expert caver, or 'speleologist' from the Kerebos Cave Club, Mendip, Gloucestershire.

Q:         Mr. Crud, why are you prepared to risk serious injury or even death in order to explore these vast underground labyrinths?

A:         I dunno really - I suppose it's because I like it.

Q:         What do you get out of it?

A:         I dunno really - I suppose it's because it's so nice when I leave off.

Q:         How did you come to start caving?

A:         Well, I was walking across this field, see; not looking where I was going, and there I was.

Q:         What happened exactly?

A:         I spent six months in hospital.

Q:         But in spite of this, you still carried on with this new sport?

A:         Yes,

Q:         Mr. Crud, Caves are, of course, underground and are therefore usually dark. "How dark are they in fact?

A:         Very dark.

Q:         As we have already said, caving is a dangerous pastime. Now have there been any occasions when you have felt really up against it?

A:         Well, on several occasions I've" had trouble with the water.

Q:         You mean the water in the cave rising and cutting you off?

A:         Well, not exactly, see.  I suffer from water on the knee.  It's a family complaint.                  

Q:         I see. Can this be dangerous underground?

A:         Oh, yes.  I remember one occasion - during the final assault on Belch's Hole   - when it seized up altogether.

Q:         What did you do?

A:         Well, fortunately I had a pint bottle of rum with me - it's an old country remedy - and with the aid of this, I managed to stagger out of the cave uninjured. It was a close thing, though.

Q:         How old are these caves you visit?

A:         Recent researches have put them roughly at 186,276,357 years old.

Q:         That is quite an age.  How would you put it into terms understandable to the average reader?

A:         It was a long time ago.

Q:         If we may now press on to another scientific point, Mr. Crud, what causes these caves to be  formed so deep within the earth's crust?

A:         It’s the rock.

Q:         This plays a vital part in the process, then?

A:         Of course.  You must have the rock to hold the cave together.

Q:         On this point of high-minded scientific inquiry, the interview ended.  I hope it has done as much for you as it did for me to open one's eyes to the beauty and mystery that exists so many miles under our feet.


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.

The annual season for form filling is now upon us!  In this issue of the B.B., you will find the entry form for the 1962 photographic competition.  Next month will come the usual nomination form for the 1963 committee and in September's B.B. will be the voting form.

All of which goes to show that the A.G.M. and dinner is not as far away as you might think.  Most people reckoned that last year’s dinner was a good one.  We all hope to make this year's an even better one.  It's at the Cliff Hotel, Cheddar on Saturday, October 6th.

Although it is hoped that the general standard of the entries for tie photographic competition will be even higher than last years, don't be kept from entering because you think that your slide or print is not good enough.  It may be that your entry has that something which catches the eye of the judges; but even if it hasn't, you may like to have the chance to have it compared with the best the club can do.  Have a bash!

The song competition does not appeal to as large a section of the club as the photographic competition. This year, we are going, to rehearse it beforehand and also arrange it so that you don’t have to be afflicted with it if you don't want to.  For those who like this sort of thing, we hope that somewhere - in some sordid garret maybe - the winning song is even now being written.


Caving Log

1st April. St. Cuthbert's.  Mikes Palmer & Wheadon, and Albert to Cerberus Series & thence to Pyrolusite.

1st April.  St. Cuthbert's. J. Eatough, M.Baker, R. Bennett, K. Franklyn, C.A. Marriott.  Collected the Eatough maypole from Upper Traverse Chamber and took it into Cerberus.  Both high level passages in Mud Ball Chamber maypoled.  One on right proved to lead to Lake Chamber. Signs of a previous visit.  Rift continues on far side of Lake Chamber and will be maypoled at a later date.  Exploration continued in Coral Series.  Passages above the rift near Annexe Chamber were pushed without success.  Attention was switched to Coral Chamber and a new pitch discovered by Mike.  This was not descended as no ladder had been taken. A further hole was looked at but found to connect back to Coral Chamber.  It is proposed to call the rift “Fracture Rift” and the leaders will be informed of this proposal.

Coombe Down Freestone Quarries.  2nd April (1 am).  M.R.O. Rescue.  M. Baker, M. Palmer, P. Buck, M. Wheadon, H. Kenney, J. Hanwall.  A two hour search for missing schoolboys.  An interesting trip (if possible at 1 am) in a maze of mine workings that are in a rather dangerous condition.  First time the B.E.C. has gone caving with a bitch (police dog).  We never did see the boys!

7th April.  Goatchurch.  Ray Chris, Phil and John from the Midland association of Mountaineers, Pat Irwin, Gordon Tilley and Jon "Rotten" Ransom. Full trip + drainpipe.

7th April.  Swildons.  Four from M.A.M. as above and Pat.  The M.A.M. party cherishing the hope that they could keep their feet dry.  This was shattered at an early stage by one member getting his wet by water that entered down his neck.  The 40 was found to be laddered and the whole patty descended. The first man down was misguided enough to swing under the waterfall.  The 20 was then encountered and passed and a considerable length of passages traversed before a return was decided upon.  A very damp but contented party emerged from the hole only to find that it was raining.  Loud complaints.

Heale Slocker 8th April.  M. Baker & Alfie.  Digging continued at Alfie Speed (what does this mean?)


by M. Luckwill.

In the last article (1) we looked at the mechanism of photo-luminescence.  Two other forms of luminescence might with convenience be noted here.  They are Thermoluminescence - light emission caused by heat and Triboluminescence - light emission caused by crushing, rubbing or scratching.

Table 1 shows the occurrence of luminescence noted by several authors (2,3,4) and + indicates that some forms of the mineral luminesce.  In the Mendip area, we are mostly concerned with Calcite, Limestone, Arragonite and their various forms.

We remember that luminescence is caused by an impurity.  Very little of this impurity is necessary however, and if too much is present, the energy is dissipated as heat rather than, light.  The amount of impurity we are concerned with will defy spectrographic analysis and requires neutron diffraction techniques for tracing and identification.  I believe that stal from Balch's Hole has been analysed spectrographically and found to be free from trace elements within these limits of accuracy.

Difficulties occur, therefore, when we wish to discover the nature of the impurity.  Most research has been stimulated by the recent advances in semiconductors and consequently, although quite a lot is known about transition elements in host crystals - such as germanium - little work has been done using limestone as a host crystal.  However, of interest to us, is a method of dating limestone by thermoluminescence.

The method is not reliable because of a variety of variable factors, but briefly, the theory is as follows:-

Activation centres are caused by cosmic radiation. The number of activation centres is related to the amount of radiation received, which in turn is related to the age of the limestone.  When limestone is heated, luminescence occurs and the light intensity is related to the number of luminescent centres (5).  Hence the age of the limestone can be found.  It has been found that magnesium and strontium act as activators and that iron acts as an inhibitor.

From Mike Baker's article we might draw the conclusion that CaCO3 which has been dissolved and re-deposited luminesces more than the original carbonate deposit.  This could be due to trace elements being held in solution due to their small concentration, thus deducing their concentration in the stal and enabling luminescence to occur.

These trace elements play an important part in the crystal formation, and a knowledge of their identity will give further insight into the formation of cave deposits.  This knowledge might well be gained by further analysis of luminescent materials.

Table I.

Mineral & Composition







1. Luminescence. B.B. 1962, 172.

2. DANA's Manual of Mineralogy - 17th Edition.

3. Wade & Mattox. "Elements of Crystallography and Mineralogy."

4. Harper. "Geoscienoe" Series.

5. Edward J. Zeller “Thermoluminescence of Carbonate Sediments” Nuclear Geology.

6. M.J. Baker. Afterglow. B.B. 1962, 171.
































































































































Photographic Competition.

There will be SIX classes this year.  Prizes will be awarded to the winner and runner-up in every class EXCEPT class 6.

CLASS 1           CAVING            2" x 2"  Colour Slide
CLASS 2           CLIMBING         2" x 2"  Colour Slide
CLASS 3           CAVING/CLIMBING        "Two and a quarter square" Colour slides.
CLASS 4           CAVING            Black & White print.
CLASS 5           CLIMBING         Black & White print.
CLASS 6           Best Special      Slide or print.


1.                  All entries must have been taken by the competitor.

2.                  All competitors must be PAID UP members of the B.E.C.

3.                  No professional photographers may take part.

4.                  No entry must have been previously entered in any competition.

5.                  No more than TWO entries may be submitted in any one class.

6.                  No competitor may win more than one FIRST prize.

7.                  A picture entered in one class may not be entered as a print or slide in another.

8.                  Monochrome prints must be POSTCARD size or larger.

9.                  The judges may not compete.

10.              No responsibility for loss or damage is to be borne by the organiser or by the B.E.C.

11.              In any interpretation of these rules, the decision of the organiser is final.


Readers will find an entry form with this B.B.  In any case of doubt, please get in touch with the organiser    M.J. Baker, "Morello", Ash Lane, Wells, Somerset.

Competitors who will not be at the dinner should make some suitable arrangement with the organiser for having their entries returned.  If postage is necessary, please include cost of return.


Apologies for the shortness of this B.B. - the first one of only two thirds the number pages this year - and also for its lateness.  The editor has been afflicted with "finger trouble" (literally) by getting his hand mixed up with an empty beer glass - that'll teach him to muck around with EMPTY beer glasses in future.



Kent’s Cavern

by Jon Ransom.

On my way through Torquay, I saw a large sign reading ' KENT'S CAVERN'.  Following various arrows I arrived at a small car park with an imposing modern building facing it.  I paid my 2/- and went into the waiting room, all excited to think that I was going underground with about thirty other weegees.

While waiting, I compared the general layout with the fronts of Gough's and Cox's.  Kent's seemed to be cleaner and more informative about the caves.  At this stage the guide arrived, took our little tickets (or tallies) swung open a massive oak door, and led us into the unknown.

The cave is located on the side of a hill, which it penetrates for about half a mile.  The rock consists of the Devonian limestone and sandstone which, with the mineral deposits from the soil above, give some very striking and colourful effects in the cave.

Just inside the entrance and down to the left are the remains of a hyena den, and the abode of prehistoric man.  The remains of mammals of that era have been found in great number and include mammoth teeth and remains of fox, badger, hyena etc.  There are also several remains of bear, including an excellent skull and leg bone which may be seen embedded in a false floor, which the guide then takes you underneath.

The main tourist section has been excavated in some places to a depth of twenty feet and you can see, as you walk through, the line of the original floor level high above your head.

Several of the formations are very good, and there are also quite a few straws and helictites which can be seen in odd corners on the tour.  These do not occur very frequently however.  Most of the passages and chambers show good signs of the water which formed them and mud in the numerous side passages is fairly thick and sticky. These passages shoot off in all directions and, when asked about them, the guide said that a lot of them were unexplored.  He went on to relate how school kids often went up these passages, to reappear with hundreds of bones.  I think that the guides of Kent's are in strong competition with those of Gough's and Cox's and that all guides go to a special course in tall caving stories.

Apart from housing prehistoric man (and woman!) many inscriptions found on the walls of the cave go back as far as the fifteenth century.  One of these inscriptions is a woman's but many are difficult to decipher as they are covered with a thin layer of calcite.

Although Kent's Cavern is a show cave, and has an imposing entrance and the guide builds up the place as much as he can, it is worth a visit from any caver who finds himself in the district even if you only go in to hear the guide’s tall stories!


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.

Long Service

The B.B. is 21 years old this month.  A caving publication to have reached this age is surely a great event and there are few Mendip Journals that date from the immediate post war years.

The B.E.C. formed in 1935 (according to the OFFICIAL records!) had 80 or so members in 1947 the year in which Harry Stanbury – a founder member – launched the B.B.

Quite a span of time and it’s really brought home when one thinks that Alan Thomas was taking his School Cert., beer was 1/- a pint, no wet suits, Sett, Pongo Wallis, Alfie, Harry Stanbury and Don Coase were among the leading lights, Stoke Lane II discovered some 7 months later, St. Cuthbert’s dig open 7 years later, Roy Bennett at school and Phil Kingston born in November!

Over the years the B.B. has served members well, particularly those away from Mendip for long periods, by keeping them in regular contact with the Belfry and I’m sure it is the wish of all B.E.C. members that this will continue long into the future. Whatever may be said of the B.B. it is gratifying to hear the oft quoted phrase “Where’s the next B.B.”



If you look through any twelve months of Belfry Bulletins you will find that you have a pretty good Club Journal.  Comparisons are odious but the B.B. is something no other club has.  Don’t imagine that its unfailing production is an easy task.  Ask the average B.E.C. member to write an article and you will find a variety of excuses that you could use them for a basis of an article written by yourself.

 ‘Alfie’ has done this thankless task for eleven year.  This is longer than all the other editors put together. He began before there was electric light or mains water at the Belfry; before the Stone Belfry was built and at the time that St. Cuthbert’s was first being explored.  Alfie has edited 120 issues of the B.B; he has printed over 20,000 copies and used half a ton of paper.  If all the pages of all the B.B.’s Alfie has printed were laid end to end they would reach from Brean Down to Frome, much to the annoyance of the Mendip Preservation Society! 

Young cavers are like butterflies: they escape from the parental crèche, spend a brief span fancy free and then are finished (in the case of the butterfly – dead; in the case of the caver – married).  How can then a caving club last for more than a few years?  The B.E.C. has stood the test of time because there are always people like Alfie in it to provide continuity between one generation and the next.

Fank’s from hte Publicans Departmunt!

In wieu of the remarks made in the Christmus B.b. vith regards to the use of the B.B. typevriter, the Cawing Publications Dept. voul like it to be knovn hov wery grateful they are for the opportunity of being able to vrite this ‘Thank you’ note in type type vriting instead if vriting type vriting.

Gord. Tilly


B.B. Changes

It was hoped that 1968 would be a year of small changes to the B.B. but due to circumstances beyond my control most, if not all, have come at once.  Firstly I had hoped to have printed the B.B. on the morning of the Committee Meeting so that Phil Townsend could have them addressed and in the post by the second week of the month.  As you can see the B.B. is living up to its usual stunt by being issued in the following month!  Seriously though, I hope to have the issues to programme by March.

The Editorial Staff were under the impression that there was ten months supply of covers left but on inspection found only about 1,000 covers left!  This meant that we had only some 3-4 months supply.  As I had hoped to change the format to quarto in January 1969 some quick thinking had to take place – the final result was that the quarto size would be introduced with the January 1968 issue.  With changes comes a new design of cover.  Without drastic modifications to the current design it could not have been on the larger size of paper without the appearance of being lost. I apologise at not being able to show the original artwork to many members but the designs were prepared and delivered to the printers in just over a week.  Professional advice was taken on the design and the final artwork completed by Robin Richards.  I’ve no doubt that there will be some strong views sent to me but if you feel strongly against this type of design please let me have your ideas for future reference. Thos of you who liked the smaller format and cover design should make a point in coming to the A.G.M. in October and you will be able to look at it after reading Bob’s swindle sheet which will be printed inside.

Some Useful Addresses

Hon. Treas. – R. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Bristol 4.
Hon. Librarian – D. Searle, ‘Dolphin Cottage’, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.
Hut Warden = G. Tilley, ‘Gable’, Digby Road, Sherborne, Dorset.
Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 9 Campden Hill Gdns,. London W.8. Tele. No. PARK 6127 (evenings only)

Address Changes as at 4th December, 1967


M.H. Fricker, 36 Summerhill Rd., St. George, Bristol 5.
A.S. Parker, Ham Green Hospital, Pill, Bristol.
P.A.E. Stewart, 11 Fairhaven Rd., Redland, Bristol 6.


B. Crewe, 20 Riverside Gdns., Midsomer Norton, Bath, Somerset.
K. Gladman, 95 Broad Walk, Kidbrooke, London S.E.3.
T.H. Hodgoon – read T.H. Hodgson
Capt. & Mrs. Littlewood, 10 Hillside Crescent, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth, Hants.

For Full membership list see B.B. No.236, November 1967.


December Committee Meeting

Alan Thomas was elected member of the club.  Despite the fact that we thought one was enough we elected A. Roberts (as opposed to Roy) Thomas as it was decided he couldn’t be so bad as his namesake.  The closing of the Belfry was discussed at some length the final outcome being published with the November B.B.

On the recommendation of the Cuthbert’s leaders the proposed Guest Leader System was accepted by the Committee and steps are being taken to set it in motion as per the instructions of the 1967 A.G.M.  Other clubs are being contacted by the Club Secretary for names of their members who are interested in becoming a Cuthbert’s Leader.  The latest news on the New Belfry is that at the time of writing, negotiations for a grant had not hit any snags but it seems that if we are granted one it is unlikely to manifest itself in less than nine months thus postponing the building of the Belfry until Autumn ’68 or Spring 1969, nevertheless this remains to be seen.

Phil Townsend
Minutes Sec.

NOTICE for St. Cuthbert’s Leaders

Will all leaders note that in future all spent carbide is to be brought out of the cave.  The carbide dumps (Dining Room, Kanchenjunga and Illusion Chamber) will be cleaned and the carbide removed.  It is hoped that all leaders will make his new rule known to their parties before entering the cave.


The BELFRY BULLETIN is available to non-members from Bryan Ells, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset or from the Hut Warden at the Belfry. PRICE 1/6 each.  Post extra.


The Year’s Digging – 1967

Phil Coles and Dave Irwin

Now that the formalities are over the reader can get on to the first if the articles which will prove useful to anyone wanting to help dig next ‘season’.

1967 has proved a reasonably successful digging year for the B.E.C.  Surface digs took place at Emborough, Maesbury and, in conjunction with the Wessex Cave Club, at Nine Barrows and Sandpit.  Only Nine Barrows actually ‘went’ but as the history of this dig has already been the subject of an article in the B.B. of No.232 (July, 1967) by Keith Franklin little need be said.  Of the other three, Emborough and Maesbury have been abandoned for the winter but Sandpit, which was a late starter, still receives spasmodic visits. None of the underground digs – Sanctimonious Passage in Hunters Hole and the various parts of St. Cuthbert’s – bore fruit.  The St. Cuthbert’s sump is still being dug by B.E.C. members of the C.R.G.

It is almost certain that a resistivity device will be used for cave prospecting in 1968.  The device has been highly successful in locating archaeological sites on Lundy Island and should prove a boon to diggers. Another interesting feature for the New Year is the proposed formation of the Mendip Digging Group.  This will be an informal group comprising active diggers form all clubs who meet occasionally in the Hunters to exchange ideas such as ‘chemical persuasion’ techniques, hire of specialist equipment etc. For those tired of digging on Mendip and in need of a change of scene – how about a Welsh dig?  R. (Taff) Bennett will be organising one and anyone interested should get in touch with him.  He is still sometimes seen in the Hunters on a Sunday evening recovering from a hard weekend of Welsh caving.


An official club dig. It is situated in a large depression and takes stream that is active all year round.  The stream sinks near a rock outcrop at one end of the depression.  In view of the size of the team (2) it was decided to dig straight down in front of the rock face instead of pushing it under the overhang as the previous diggers had.  With a team of two it was impossible to install proper shoring and a large corrugated iron rainwater butt was used as a substitute.  This was fine until the shaft became deeper than the butt and the earth began running in underneath.  As fast as the earth was removed more ran in and the dig ‘ground’ to a halt.  To combat the vicious circle that ensued a smaller butt was inserted at the bottom of the first and all well went until the bottom of the second butt was reached. (Shades of Hoffnung? Ed).  Planks were wedged between the two butts in an effort to hold back the earth and progress was contined until the shaft was 17ft. deep.  A passage could be seen going off to one side but a boulder blocked the way.  The team (Phil Coles and Keith Franklin) had been strengthened by the arrival of the Searles and ‘Alfie’.  Their combined efforts failing to remove the boulder so Dave Searle banged it.  As a result the shaft partially collapsed but from then on the diggers began to win back lost territory until by the time the dig was abandoned in October it was some 11ft. deep – a lose of 6ft. on the July depth.  It is hoped to restart Emborough in the Spring.


The B.E.C.’s other cast Mendip dig.  Like Emborough, it is situated in a large weeded depression and takes an active stream. Due to Alan Thomas’ foreign commitments Maesbury was dug on less than half a dozen occasions. An interesting feature of this dig is that in November, 1966 the 7ft. deep shaft was completely filled in by the diggers, but the winter floods had completely re-opened the dig.


Started in September, 1967 by John Cornwell and other B.E.C. and Wessex members as a joint club dig.  Several passages around the depression have now been dug and a passage of over 40ft. in length opened up.  Work has been temporarily halted until the results of a resistivity check is known.


Explored in June, 1967 by joint BEC/Wessex party.


a)                  Terminal Sump: The underwater dig has continued throughout the year since the Sump digging weekend in February, 1967 (See B.B. N.228).  It is being dug mainly by BEC members of the CDG (Phil Kingston and Barry Lane).  The latest details at the time of writing (1.12.67) is that the length of the dig is about 21ft.  At about the 12ft. mark the passage turns at right angle to the left and is now running roughly parallel with the Gour-Lake fault.  A constriction has been met at the end of the dig but according to Phil it is now passable with a small hand held air set.  Cuthbert’s 2 in 1968?

b)                  Dinning Room Dig:  The dig, located above Cerberus Hall and the Dining Room, was started by Mo Marriott and others in 1963 and has been continued by Dave Irwin and Phil Kingston at infrequent intervals.  The current surveying programme and the sump dig has left it temporarily abandoned although plans are going ahead to get it dug regularly.  The length of the dig is about 50ft. and is extremely interesting; it has crossed the Gour-Lake fault and the general direction is parallel with the Sump Passage.  According to Derek Ford this should prove to be an interesting site as it is above the choked levels of the lower section of the cave – time will tell!


Sanctimonious passage was dug in Feb/Mar by Alan Thomas, Collin Priddle, Keith Franklin and Phil Coles.

Keith found a small hole at the end of the passage through which a stone could be dropped. Enthusiasm mounted and the passage was ‘banged’ for several weekends until the hole was large enough to see into. A rift could be seen leading on for over 20ft but it was unfortunately 4ins. wide.  The end of S.P. is not the only place in Hunter’s to interest the potential digger however.  The choked passages above Rover pot warrant some attention and a strong draught blows form Dear’s Ideal.  It is hoped to make Hunter’s the B.E.C. winter dig.

From Other Clubs

By Gordon Tilly

The Axbridge Caving Group and Archaeological Soc. Monthly Newsletter for October, 1967

For people interested in archaeology this newsletter contains an article on the production of a television educational programme entitled’ Ground Level’.  The programme is being divided into five parts, each dealing with a different aspect of archaeology, and will be shown on BBC 2 in January 1968.

MNRC Newsletter No. 47 (Autumn 1967).  This edition is devoted to the official opening of the Mendip Nature Research Station on September 23rd, 1967 and details of the MNRC Management Committee for 1967

W.S.G. Bulletin Vol. 5 No. 5 Sept/Oct, 1967.  This issue of the Bulletin contains two reports.  The first is a report on the WSG 1967 Irish trip.  The second is an article on the WSG method of ladder construction by C. Green stating detailed specifications and is accompanied by several illustrations.  (ed. Note: - all the above publications can be seen in the BEC Library at Dolphin Cottage).


Wrappers Not For Crappers

To our surprise some members thought that the additional roll of paper with the Christmas B.B. was a retiring present from the last Editor.  In fact the idea is that if you want to continue to receive the B.B. you should write your name on each of them and return them to:

P. Townsend,
154, Sylvia Avenue,
Lower Knowle,
Bristol. 3.

Cuthbert’s Leaders’ Meeting

The Annual Cuthbert’s Leaders meeting was held at the Hunters on 19th November 1967.  The meeting opened at 2.30pm with 13 leaders present.

The first item on the agenda was the subject of extending the Leader System to other clubs.  A letter received by Adny MacGregor from John Stafford, regarding the interpretation of the relevant clauses in the Club Insurance Policy and the Cunane Agreement (1954) was discussed. Based on the letter it was felt that a system could be devised allowing members of other clubs than the B.E.C. to be Cuthbert’s leaders.  The meeting discussed at length the details of the scheme that has now been placed before the Club committee for its approval.  Details of the scheme will be published in either the February or March issue.

Bearing in mind the previous item the Leaders felt that the present prospective Leaders form was adequate except for one trip which was split down into two parts.  This makes the total of test trips five instead of the previous four.

Dave Irwin reported that the Maypole Series had been closed for just over 10 months and that biological work would be commencing shortly.  The position of re-opening the series would be discussed at the 1968 meeting.

Discussion then followed on the closure of the cave during the foot-and-mouth epidemic.  It was greed to carry out any requests that Mr. Walt Foxwell felt necessary to make.

Two practice rescues were arranged for the near future: - 1. Wire Rift – Jan. 21st, 1968; 2. Coral Chamber – 21st. April.  All local leaders are asked to keep this date clear.  Pete Franklin volunteered to be the ‘victim’.

P. Kingston and D. Irwin gave brief details regarding the Sump Dig and the new Survey respectively.

It was stated by ‘Prew’ that the telephone line in the New Route was not suitable for a permanent line.  This was agreed and it was stated that this line was left in the cave to act as a measure for the ‘permanent line’.

Phil Kingston said that he would install a chain on the Stal Pitch climb.  To assist the MRO a list of leaders would be sent to Howard Kenny to ensure early call of the local leaders.


Gilbert Weeks

The funeral of Gilbert Weeks, a fine friend of the B.E.C. Took place on the 29th December, 1967, at Priddy Church.  The funeral was attended by cavers, villagers and relatives alike


The Discovery of Contour Cavern – Priddy

The latest discovery on Mendip is the subject of the next article and it will certainly be of interest to members when they read of the techniques used that gave clue to the possible existence of a cave system.  The Editor would like to apologise for the long delay in publishing this fine account.

By Clive North

The entrance to Contour Cavern is situated in a large swallet depression, about 200yds. west of Nine Barrows Swallet, Eastwater, Priddy.

I first came across the site on a Sunday afternoon late in June while I was with a small group of caving friends.  We had an enjoyable trip down Hunters Hole and were whiling away the restless hours until Hunters opened by searching for Nine Barrows Swallet which had been opened a few weeks before.

Missing Nine Barrows completely we went to the largest depression we could see only to find it ‘caveless’.  A short inspection of the ‘steep’ end of the depression revealed a small limestone slab sticking out of the grass.  On this, plainly exhibited for all to see, were some excellent scallops (not the bivalve variety but those produced by water action).  Greatly excited we scrabbled in the earth with bits of stick hoping to break into a giant cave system.  After half an hour no new cave had been found so we marched dejectedly away to drown our sorrows at the Hunters, vowing to return with more sophisticated methods of earth removal later in the summer.

A couple of weeks later I was on Mendip and I met Mr. John Cornwell emerging from Nine Barrows swallet, mud spattered and trouserless.  When I told him of our intended dig he said that he did not want to disillusion us but he expected our cave at best, to be no more than a feeder for Nine Barrows since some of the water enters the latter from that direction.

Undeterred, I took some aerial photographs a week later of the Eastwater area.  These revealed a large area of marshy ground that seemed to ‘funnel in’ on the depression proving some sub-surface movement of water at the site.  (During a recent wet spell I visited the cave and found a fair sized stream entering the depression and building up into a pond in front of the entrance.  This was later found to be pouring down just inside the cave).

However, the second week in August saw four cavers from the Bridgwater Technical College Exploration Club setting up a large tent (some likened it to a marquee) in the depression.  Here we stayed for a week.  The team consisted of myself of Totterdown, Weston-S-Mare; Bernard Evered of Old Orchards, Coathurst near Bridgwater; Colin Rogers of Kinsway Road, Burnham-n-Sea; and Chris Richards of Byron Road, locking near W-S-M.  As soon as the camp had been organised and the heifers had been shooed away, digging began in earnest.

It happened, luckily for us, that the week we had chosen to dig was also the one in which John Cornwell was on holiday and he duly arrived at the dig on the Monday afternoon with Mike ’Fish’ Jeanmaire.  John’s kind offer of some ‘chemical persuasion’ was gratefully accepted and later in the afternoon the hazy serenity that is sometimes Mendip was shattered by several ounces of best ‘bang’.  This loosened the ground considerably and the system of hang-dig, bang-dig worked very well especially when there were large boulders to move.

On Tuesday, while probing with a crow-bar we felt airspace below and we dug frantically until a razor-rock lined rift was opened.  This extended for about 15ft, in a north-south direction, but was only a few inches wide.  It did seem however, slightly wider at the southern end so we backfilled the rift and sank a new shaft.

After digging down a few feet on Wednesday a slight draught was found to be blowing out between some large boulders.  All day Thursday sounds not unlike a busy quarry rent the Priddy air with numerous bangs, whistles from flying rock, hammering and colourful language from the ‘moles down the ‘ole’.  By Thursday night a small, cave passage, emitting a strong cold draught, had been opened at the bottom of the shaft and it was at this point where, before a small crowd amid much cheering and merriment, I lowered myself head first down the shaft, armed with a Nife cell and thrust my head into the opening.  Before my eyes spread a scene of outstanding beauty, for the floor of the passage was composed of wet, dung-coloured mud and rocks rising in graceful piles to the roof, from which hung myriads of glistening brown boulders held together by a soft, brown, mud like substance.

At my frantic call, eager hands pulled my feet and hauled me red-faced and gasping to the surface. After I reported that the passage was about 15ft. long and 1ft. high and would need clearing we set to work again. Later that night it was possible to get into the passage and throw stones, some of which would rattle through the cleft and down for some distance.  This was most exciting and we worked hard to make the roof safe and remove the extremely sticky mud that blocked the passage.  Some large boulders were also removed from the mud.

It was Friday afternoon by the time we had excavated as far as the cleft which was about 4” high.  I found that if you pressed your face into the mud and somehow directed a light through the cleft you could see what appeared to be the roof and far wall of  a chamber about 15ft. across.  It is an interesting phenomena when one looks through a hole of this sort for one seems to loose the 3D effect of the yes.  Our ‘15ft.’ chamber when we broke into it turned out to be only 2ft. across!

Excitement was high that night for we were expecting to break through and we toiled until 2 o’clock on Saturday morning but without any success for the squeeze resisted all attempt to pass it, mainly because of the obstinate projections of rock which we had to blast later that day.

Our last charge was set and fired in the afternoon smashing the projecting rocks completely.  By evening the squeeze was cleared and, life-lined by John, I slipped through the squeeze into a small chamber containing a foxes jaw – the Foxes Den.  In the floor was a small pot which had been filed with the debris we had pushed down. To the left was a squeeze though a rift line with loose rocks and blackness.

John then joined me and went through the squeeze onto the top of a pot.  He directed a feeble carbide flame down the pitch and then threw stones down and announced in no uncertain manner that “It’s as big as bloody Lamb Leer!”

After some clearing work in the squeeze (one can walk through it now) Tim Reynolds and I jammed a cross-bar across the top of the rift, fixed a ladder to it (20ft.) and I descended.  This pitch is a lovely little free-swing ending on a boulder pile.  To one side is a curious rock spire (not stal.) about 18”” high – the Needle.  This was later broken in two by some unknown cavers who got in before the entrance was properly gated.

Contour Cavern is much too complicated for a full description here but a very simplified description is as follows.

From the pitch lies the Big Rift, estimated as 600ft, long and as much as 70ft. high in a few places. Three-quarters of the way down the rift is North Grotto which contains some small but very beautiful stalactite curtains and cascades.  At the end of the rift is a very muddy sump which is being dug.  Leading off from the rift a short way down is a roomy passage which leads to the Upper Series.  This is a network of dry tunnels and tributary rifts. The dry tunnels have hard mud floors which makes crawling, squeezing and digging a pleasure.

There are a few rift-type ox-bow routes from the Upper Series to the top of the Big Rift. Behind the 20ft. pitch a squeeze leads to a boulder chamber (small) and then to a large chamber which has 14 passages leading off.  Most of these are short and end in possible digs while 3 lead into a high extension of the Big Rift.

There are many promising sites for digs in the cave, the most promising being the sump itself. The present sump dig has had to be abandoned for a while owing to a very large concentration of Carbon Dioxide gas which was released during digging.

The job of surveying the cave has been kindly undertaken by Dennis Warburton who estimated the present length of the cave as 2,900ft.

Odd facts – The name Contour Cave was chosen because the entrance is almost on the 500ft. contour (Altitude 880ft. approx.) therefore it is about the highest cave on Mendip.  The N.G.R. of the cave is O.S. 533517.

Access – At present the cave is not open to the general caving public and the entrance is gated. Keys to the cave are held by John Cornwell and myself.  The cave will not be open until research work of several varieties has been completed. When this is so, a system of restricted access will probably come into force, the technicalities of which have not yet been arranged.  The main purpose of this is to keep out the type of caver that smashes formations on sight, scrawls on walls, tips carbide, food and all sorts of rubbish throughout the cave he visits and is more often than not a member of no caving club at all, and to absolve the discoverers and owners of the cave of any responsibility in the case of accidents.  However, responsible members of caving clubs and their guests should not have any difficulty in gaining access to the cave.  When the cave is opened, full details of any arrangements will be sent to all the main clubs and to journals like the Speleologist and Mendip Caver.

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  The entrance is reported to be unstable).

Caving and Climbing Meets

Please note that all arranged meets will only take place in the Foot and Mouth Restrictions have been lifted.


R.A. MacGregor,
The Railway Arms
Station Road


E.G. Welch,
Frencahy Lodge Bungalow,
Malmains Drive,

Caving Meets: -

*February 11th, Sunday.  Banwell Bone and Stalactie Caves
#March 10th, Sunday.  Burrington Caves
EASTER.  South Wales: - Bridge Cave and O.F.D. I and II.  For this meet contact Andy if you are going.
     Camping at Penwyllt.

*Meet 11am outside the farm.
#Meet outside Burrington Café

Climbing Meets:-

February 17/18th.  North Wales.  Contact Eddy if accommodation is required for this meet.
March 24th. Sunday.  Frome Valley
April 28th. Sunday.  Wye Valley


Monthly Notes No. 9

by “WIG”

News In Brief: -

The recent Jumble Sale at Redcliffe Rooms raised £17 for the Hut Fund.  Many thanks to all who helped and arranged the event.

The MCG added 42 metres to the end of LOCATEC SYSTEM in Yugoslavia.

Hillier’s Cave (Mendip) is now blocked about 20ft. from the entrance.

1964-66 Mendip Bibliography has been compiled by Ray Mansfield and published in the November 1967 Caver (In B.E.C. Library).

Christmas at The Belfry

Some 15 members spent Christmas at the Belfry and without exception all will long remember the occasion. This year instead of going to Wells arrangements wee made by Joyce Rowlands and Pete Franklin to have Christmas Dinner at the Belfry.  For £1 a head a better meal could not have been wished for.  The menu consisted of Fruits Juice, Roast Turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas Pud, Coffee and Brandy – not forgetting the bottle of wine a piece!

During ‘closing times’ the Belfry became its old self with bottle walking and various feats of strength being displayed.  One of the many incidents of the weekend was when the B.E.C. found that George Pointing did not enjoy the sight of cream – he disappeared for quire a few minutes! Later however, he had obviously forgiven the club as both he and Dave Berry sang, “We are the BEC” at the Wessex H.Q.!  The following day Dave Berry was seen leading the community singing at the Hunters, aided of course by Mike Baker.  Slide shows were in favour including a mammoth one of 500 slides.  A very fine weekend indeed and our thanks to again Joyce and Pete for the exceptional meal.


It is reported that the U.B.S.S. attempts to re-enter their new discovery is proving harder than expected. Members will remember that they broke into a fair size passage with a promising way on down under Velvet Bottom Valley when after two days the entrance collapsed. No survey had been made of the discovery so the diggers were at loss to the exact location of the chamber-cum-passage. They resorted to an intensive banging operation hoping that at the depth of 50ft. to intercept the passage.  Up till now they seem to have been without luck except for the opening of a few side rifts that are so tight that they cannot be followed.  The next move is believed to be to blast a way in lower down the valley and get in just beyond the collapsed entrance.  The old dig entrance is thought to be too dangerous to re-open.

Cavers Bookshelf No.12

by B.M. Ellis

CAVES IN WALES AND THE MARCHES by D.W. Jenkins and A.M. Williams.  Dalesman. 2nd Edition, 1967.  Price 10/6.*

Quite apart from the contents, this edition is a considerable improvement on the first, although the price has been increased by 3/-, the format is now the same as that used for ‘Pennine Underground’, making it much more convenient for use as a field book.  At the same time a much thinner and batter quality paper is used and the binding should not fall part after being used a couple of times like before.

Looking at the contents, fourteen caves have been added to the South Wales section and the entry for Dan-yr-Ogof has been re-written to include recent developments.  There is also an additional paragraph describing Ogof Ffynnon Ddu II but as is bound to happen this is already out of date.  The entry for Cwm Dwr Quarry Cave has not been altered although in the OFD entry the connection between these two caves is mentioned.  For Agen Allwedd only the access regulations have been altered. The lists for the Forest of Dean caves is almost doubled by fourteen additions.  There is only one addition for the north and mid-Wales section, Ogof Dydd Byraf, the remainder is an exact re-print, errors and all, of the earlier edition.

In reviewing a new edition of a book the emphasis is almost always a comparison.  Generally, this edition is a considerable improvement on the first but could have been better if the authors did not insist of covering such a large area – they cannot be expected to know the whole area intimately and the North Wales section is still very disappointing.  Major caves (for that area) such as Plas Heaton are still omitted and recent developments by clubs such as the Shropshire Mining Club ignored.  (This is partly the fault of these clubs for being so tardy in publishing their results). I do not consider myself to be sufficiently knowledgeable to be critical of the other sections but I expect that they are better.

THE SMCC HUT LOG BOOKS.  Part 1: 1955-1958.  Shepton Mallet Caving Club, Occasional Paper No.4.  Price 3/-.

Following the example set by the Wessex Cave Club a few years ago, The Shepton have now started publishing extract from their caving logs.  The choice is principally scientific and historically interesting entries but a few of general interest are included and a couple of humorous entries also appear.  The period covered by this first is April 1955 to May 1958 and new and old cavers alike will find it interesting.  You can read about sumping without wets suit, of work in places like Hansdown Swallet, of getting into Swildons IV, and so on.  Being quotations from the log book it is written such less formally than meet accounts.

*Not available from Bryan Ellis.


As it’s the 21st birthday of the B.B. the Editor might be forgiven for publishing the Caving Log account of the passing of Stoke Lane sump by Don Coase in June, 1947.

Sun. 22 June ’47. Stoke Lane.  This was an historic trip for the club.  The party consisted of Stanbury, Coase, Balcombe, F. Huchinson and Woodbridge. The primary object was to a) investigate the sump and b) investigate the possibility of getting diving kit into it.

As Coase was the only ‘Stoke Laner’ he was highly delighted at the profanity and acclamations of Disgust emitting from the others.

Squeeze followed squeeze and filth was piled on filth and a feeling of “???S.L.” was very apparent before ever the terminal pool was reached.

Upon reaching the sump Balcombe was heard to remark “and you’ve got the cheek to call this a sump”. However Coase crawled, with much noise into the horrid pool and with much cursing disappeared under the projecting pendants of rock into the pool.  Balcombe followed until he could see Coase and then stopped.  Coase festered around and then shouted, “I can feel airspace the other side”.  Great excitement ensued, Balcombe crawled in the water and joined Coase.  Stanbury took his place at the entrance to the water.

After lots of nattering, there was a gentle gurgle and a splash and Coase had gone through leaving 4 very shaken bods behind.  In a matter of seconds he had returned to say that he had regained the main stream that sinks away before the start of Browne’s Passage.  Balcombe and Stanbury followed him through the trap and followed the river for 400ft. until it passed into a boulder choke.  The party then returned to the two left at the sump and made haste to daylight with the good news.

(Harry Stanbury) Ed.)


LAST BUT NOT LEAST. Elderly gent who happened to drive into the Belfry Car Park recently:  “It’s nice to see you flourishing still; I went caving with the B.E.C. when you first got into Stoke Lane - the leader was Don Coase and there was another chap who had a very good vocabulary of the swear language.”

Roger:  “Sett?”

Elderly gent:  “That’s right”.

(For the benefit of older members it was Mr. Sam Treasure).