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From time to time, changes occur in the Mendip scene and the retirement of farmers Stock and Young is certainly on of them.  There must be few cavers who have not – over the last twenty years or so – had dealings with at least one if not both of them.  Those of us who remember the discomforts of the early days in Stoke Lane will recall with particular gratitude the difference that the copious supply of hot water provided by Mr. Stock made on emerging from the cave.  When we hear of the difficulties which cavers in the north of England have in their relations with some of their local farmers, we can appreciate how lucky we have been on Mendip to find ourselves amongst friendly folk. We wish both Mr. Young and M. Stock long and happy retirements and would assure their successors that us cavers are not a bad as we look!



Charging bank.

The Belfry now has a charging bank for NiFe cells.  Owners of such cells are also charged.  Cost is sixpence a go.


So far, in response to our appeals, ONE club member has donated a saucepan which happens to be no use.  It has been decided not to buy any saucepans yet.  Even in war, members could be found to donate them, What about it?

Monthly Notes No 2

by Dave Irwin.

YORKSHIRE (EASTER).  B.E.C., W.C.C., Chelsea S.S., W.S.G. and other Southern clubs invaded the Dales. Lost Johns, Notts Pot and Old Ing Cave visited by B.E.C. party.

LAMPS.  Settle – Ingleton team of C.R.O. have purchased the contents of the lamp room of closed Scottish Colliery.  Good opportunities to buy reliable alkaline lamps at 25/- each.  Contact. Mr. M. WARREN, BURNSIDE, GIGGLESWICK, SETTLE, YORKS.  Tel SETTLE 2164.  All faulty lamps will be replaced.

CAVE FAUNA.  Miss Mary Hazelton (Hon. Recorder, C.R.G.) writes in the March C.R.G. Newsletter “….the most interesting collection during 1966 was the capture of two examples of CRANGONYX SUBTERRANEUS BATE, a male and juvenile, in Gough’s Cave.  This rare crustacean was first described by Bate from a well in the New Forest.  It was subsequently found in Pant Canol (Ogof Ffynnon Ddu) by E.A. Glennie and later by Mr. Spooner in the Thames Valley with a power driven pump.  Mr. Thomas (“Tommy” Thomas – Ed) of the Bristol Exploration Club is to be congratulated for obtaining the record.”

SWILDONS.  Pete MacNab (Snab) found decorated chamber and fifty feet of passage opposite the twenty Foot Pitch.  Way on is blocked by a curtain.  (Easter Monday 1967).

IRELAND.  Members visiting Ireland should contact Mr. J. Childs, 26 James Drive, Harrogate, Yorks. in case the C.R.O. is needed.  Give dates of visit and caving programme.

DEVON.  If C.R.O. required in the Devon Caving Areas contact Col. I. Fraser, Outward Bound School, Holme, Ashburton, Devon.

BRIDGE CAVE ( SOUTH WALES).  Survey to be published later this year by U.B.S.S.

WET SUITS.  Available from £8 each.  Cleveland Marine Products, Prospect Terrace, Marske-by-the-Sea, Red car, Yorks.

STOKE LANE SLOCKER.  Changing accommodation in shed at back of farm.  Charge 1/-.  Vehicles NOT to be parked on farm premises.  Ownership of cave entrance (and Browne’s’ Hole) retained by Mr. Stock.

St. CUTHBERT’S.  Sump dug to length of 16 feet.  Surveyed length of cave approaches 7,000 feet.  Boulders above ‘U’ tube (Cerberus Series) believed to have moved.  Take care.

Greece 1966

by Alan Thomas.

I am not sure how long it took us to drive from Ostend to Ioninna.  We camped at Karlsruche the first night, and the next time we slept was at Skopje.  As these towns are about a thousand miles apart, I think we must have missed a night’s sleep.  The next night saw us in Ioninna.  German and Austrian roads are of course, excellent.  The Gross Glockner pass is impressive.  Yugoslavia has a surfaced one-lane-in-each-direction Autoput which goes from one end of the country to the other.  The accident rate in Yugoslavia is very high, apparently mainly because they seem only to replace tyres when they burst!  You never go many miles without seeing either an accident or someone changing a wheel.  Many minor roads in Greece are un-surfaced and plenty are worse than the Belfry track.

Military permits were necessary before we could continue our journey from Ioninna.  The drive to Papingon afforded some fine views of Astraka which, at first sight, is reminiscent of the plateau in Conan Doyle’s “Lost World.”  Papingon has a population of about 200 and is a kind of Greek Orthodox heaven. Sanitation, television and electricity are totally lacking; so, too are dishonesty, discourtesy and squalor.  We cooked in the middle of the churchyard and slept in the cloisters.  I noticed little things, such as that every time we sat down to eat, all the children hanging around went discretely away.  I wondered if this was for our convenience or because their parents did not want them to witness a twice daily display of bad manners.  If we left any of our kit lying about the village, somebody always brought it back to us.  Everyone washed and put on a clean shirt in the late afternoon.  And these people are poor.  It cost us three pounds to hire a man and four mules for a day which began at 4am. and finished at 10pm.

The first day (actually the 7th of August) we went up onto Astraka carrying all the ladder and rope. We had a fourteen year old guide called Dimitrios and had to keep calling him to come back because we could not keep up with him.  He led us first to what we called the Ice Cave.  There was a readily accessible plug of snow in it which – as we were in great thirst – we began to devour by the handful, despite the bird droppings in which it was covered.  After a couple of days we no longer suffered from thirst.

We soon located the hole we called Provetina.  Actually that is the name of the area – proveta means sheep, and soon put five hundred feet of ladder down.  Jim Eyre went down about four hundred feet and said that the ladder did not reach the bottom.  Thus somewhat excited, we returned to Papingon.

The next day was supposed to be a rest day, but Tony and I left about midday to see the resurgence in the Vicos Gorge.  This proved much more difficult than we thought and we were gone seven hours and when we returned, I was exhausted.  The water from the resurgence enters the gorge from the North East. Beyond the resurgence, there is a dried up stream bed which continues to the South east.

Leaving at 4.30am with the mules, we went up to the Katathygien, or mountain hut that we were allowed to use.  It was superb and had only been opened the previous month.  The mules went as far as towards Provetina as Toderca – their owner – would let them.  Another day was spent lugging the gear the rest of the way towards the hole.

The winch which we had, proved unworkable, so we never did get down the hole.  We contented ourselves with going various distances down the ladder.  On the 12th, Malcolm Smith and I used the winch cable to measure the depth of the hole. It proved to be 572 feet to the ledge. There is definitely a second pitch which would seem to be of the order of three hundred feet, but we were unable to measure it.  Malcolm and I spent that night in a rock shelter that had a dry stone wall windbreak in front of it and was cunningly constructed because we were very comfortable in spite of a howling gale which sprang up.  Next day, we surveyed the Ice Cave.

Getting ourselves and the gear back to Papingon involved a few more adventures, but that was Provetina for 1966.

Afterward, I spent a few days on Olympus on my own.  Olympus is mainly limestone and abounds in holes. I found nothing of any size, but I feel sure that a thorough search would be rewarding.

In Yugoslavia, we visited the magnificent show cave of Postojna, and afterwards contacted the Karst Research Institute with whom we went caving.  It was called Polaka Jama and it was the 3,000th cave they had explored since the foundation of their institute.

Two more show caves, and that was the end of August.  The Eisriesenwald is too famous to want any description.  To those unfamiliar with ice, it is a very fine experience. Lastly, in Belgium, having seen the magnificent Grotte de Han before we visited the nearby Grotte de Rochfort.  What this lacked as a cave was made up by a son et lumiere spectacle and a u.v. artificial waterfall.

I understand that two teams are going to attack Provetina this year.  One will be led by Jim Eyre and the other by Frank Salt.  I wish them both impartially the best of luck.  If by any chance, neither get to the bottom, I shall have a go next year.  It is a magnificent shaft, well worth descending, even if it leads no further.

Vertical Section of Provetina. Scale 1 : 1,500.
Based on sketch by J. Eyre.

From the Hon Treasurer

As members are aware, the club is seriously considering the erection of a new Belfry.  Amongst the many questions which the Long Term Planners are no doubt considering, the question as to what sort of sum of money the club can raise must be perhaps the most important.

By next Annual General Meeting, we shall all know what the planners have in mind, and will have the opportunity to vote in favour or against, but meanwhile, some idea of the way in which members are likely to respond to appeals for loans and/or gifts must be found.

A Deposit account has therefore been opened with Lloyd’s Bank at Bristol as a Building Fund.  Any contributions made to this fund will be accepted on the understanding that they will be returnable to the contributors if the project is not put in hand.  It will not be possible to return interest on individual contributions, however.

Quite a few members of club are paid monthly, by cheque straight into their bank accounts.  Many people who are paid by this method, do a check against their estimated balance every time they receive a statement from the bank, and, provided their account balances within a pound or so, remain reasonably happy.

Such members might be prepared to make out a Standing Order to credit the B.E.C. Building Fund with, say, a pound a month.  Such Orders from 25 members over three years would bring a sum of £900 to the fund.  Members may, alternatively, make a gift or an interest free loan to the fund.

There will, no doubt, be other methods of raising money in the Planning Report, and members contributing to the Building Fund need not be afraid that they will be called on to bear all – or even most – of the financial burden.  However, by getting the fund going NOW, we shall be in a better position to gauge the financial side of the job by the time the A.G.M. comes round.  We cannot start a variety of fund raising schemes at this stage, because the club has not yet voted for the plan.  We can, however, start the Building Fund, because all the money can, if necessary, be returned to the contributors.

Please take this appeal seriously.  If the scheme is voted down at the A.G.M., it will have proved a convenient way for the contributors to have saved up for the Dinner and for Christmas!

If you are willing to contribute IN ANY WAY, please write to R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Treasurer B.E.C., 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4, enclosing your cheque or money and stating whether it is a gift or a loan, and if you have signed a Standing Order at your local bank (Payable to BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB) at Lloyd’s Bank, Bristol, please write and tell us how much your order is for, how often payable and for how long.

Yours Hopefully.
            Bob Bagshaw


G.B.  The Caving Secretary would be glad of any volunteers to take trips down G.B.  Please get in touch with Roy Bennett if you can help.


Arrangements are being pursued at making the B.B. more legible by having it printed by a better process.  These arrangements depend on the editor being able to guarantee a B.B. of adequate size by a deadline date.  A reserve pool of articles etc. would be a great help.  How about it?

Yes, it’s happened again. For the second time during the Editorship of the present editor, a number has to be missed out.  The last time this occurred was November 1959.  On that occasion, a series of mishaps to the duplicator was to blame.  This time, it has been mainly the lack of material.

When the first editorial of this “regime” was written, for B.B. number 110 in March, 1957; it was said that articles would be obtained “by passing amongst you with a big stick”. The editor has, for some time now, felt that he has not been doing this job as well as he once did.  Eleven years is a long time, and it would seem to be the best thing for the Club to have a new face running the B.B. next year.  We hope to be able to make a suitable suggestion to the A.G.M., but meanwhile, the present editor will try to produce a last minute spurt with the few issues remaining under his editorship.


de Joly and all that

by Kevin Barnes.

Belgium contains on of the finest cave systems in the world – the Grotte de Han.  Its size, formations and waterways are well worth a visit in spite of the extravagant entrance fee.   But what I intended to tackle was the Chasm of Belvaux where the river Lesse disappeared underground, only to appear 1,138 metres through the mountain at the Grotte de Han.

In 1818, the Comte de Robiano tried to sound the mystery of the chasm, and more recently, M de Joly attempted the source in a diving suit, only to find the same trouble as my story will tell.

To look at the chasm on a postcard is quite something, but when one gets close up in real life, it is different.  The river Lesse, in a fast swirling torrent, enters the chasm and turns round an ‘L’ shaped bend and then travels for fifteen metres in an underground gorge before disappearing below the rock.  However, packed between this sump and the ‘L’ shaped bend is the most grotesque collection of bottles, tins, bits of wood and debris in general.

This, however, should be nothing to daunt the foolhardy, so I donned my wetsuit and secured a line with a belay by two companions, I entered the water.  The water in the chasm may be divided into two parts.  On the opposite bank was the fast rushing white water, while the near side was a slightly more placid type.  My first attempt got me within ten feet of the debris, and it was only when I found myself drifting upstream that I realised that the more placid water consisted of a strong eddy current in opposition to the main stream.  This meant that I could only approach the debris from the fast flowing side.  I had the good fortune to have an airbed, which was quickly inflated and, hanging on to it, I paddles forth.  Every time I got near the main stream, I was forced out again. A few seconds later, I fell off the airbed and was ignominiously dragged ashore.  Having taken a few breaths and told myself I was an idiot, I once more sat astride the airbed.

This time I lunged at the stream and suddenly I was in the main flow.  Disaster struck.  I headed straight in to the rock face.  The airbed overturned and the pair of us were hurled with some force against the debris. I straightened up, shaking and found myself on a log which was submerged four feet below the water.

The debris was a mass of oscillating rubbish and the smell was vile.  Using the airbed as a type of float on a mass of quicksand, I climbed on top of the debris, and made my way to the sump end.  The debris ended in a mass of logs each a foot in diameter completely blocking the way on.  I could find no way through, round or over them, and I set out for the return journey.

To enter the rushing water was like jumping into the unknown.  By myself, it would have been impossible to return.  I gave a signal for my companions to pull.  The water hit me – forced me under – my helmet fell off – and a bootee was wrenched off my left foot.  Then it was all over, and I was pulled close to the bank where – spluttering and cursing – I touched terra firma again.

Monthly Notes – No 4

Editor’s Note.    The compression of the May and June B.B.’s into one (short) number – the editor will be on holiday for the next fortnight – has meant that Dave Irwin’s excellent Monthly Notes on caving matters will be found below at number 4 (for June 1967) as this one contains more up to the minute information….

by Dave Irwin.

Gough’s Cave. Permission is being sought to stage classical plays in the Black Cat Chamber.  (Daily Telegraph 25.5.67.)

THAT’S US!      “They have such lost degraded souls
No wonder they inhabit holes;
When such depravity is found,
It only can live underground.”  (G.K. Chesterton)

Emborough Swallet     Keith Franklin and Phil Coles have begun work.  To date, a shaft some seven feet deep has been dug, but now needs shoring (This has been done temporarily – Ed) Any help would be appreciated.  According to both diggers, it looks extremely promising.

Lamb Leer.      Over the past few years, M.N.R.C. have made an extensive effort to locate Palmer’s Chamber.  The latest dig off Agony crawl is plagued with a high concentration of Carbon Dioxide. Another dig off the main chamber could possibly lead to Lyon’s Lake Chamber.

White Spot Cave ( Yorks.)         Members of the Happy Wanderers Caving Club have reported to have discovered three miles of new stream passage.  This was found by the discoverers of a new entrance to the system.  A connection with the show cave has been made.  Anyone with more details?

C.R.G. Publications.     A new survey of Lancaster/Ease Gill system complete with report is now available. Price 17/6.  Available form Bryan Ellis.  62 pages of text plus photographs and bibliography.  Very good value.

Lightweight Carrying Sheets.  These are manufactured from a material developed for space garments.  A sheet of this light plastic will carry the weight of a man.  It is treated with and aluminium coating which reflects body heat.  This sheet – or ‘rescue blanket’ is 84” x 56” and folds down to 4.5” x 2”.  Weight is four ounces.  Price is 20/-.  The other version made by the same manufacturer is of heavier material and has corner eyelets.  Wt. 11oz. Price 68/6.  Whether this material is suitable for cave rescue is not known, and will be worth trying.  U.K Distributor – SAMS BROTHERS LTD., CONDUIT LANE, HODDESDON HERTS.

Longest Caves.            Flint Ridge (U.S.A.) 55 miles.
Hollock ( Switzerland) 53 miles.
Mammoth Cave ( U.S.A.) 51 miles.

Flint Ridge and Mammoth come within 200 miles of each other!

M.R.O.              The Hon. Sec.’s Report (Published March 1967) for 1966 pointed out some serious comments as a result of rescues during 1966.

1.                  Clothing for sump trips does have to be adequate.

2.                  Sitting still when cold is as tiring as caving.

3.                  Climbing on a tight lifeline is good, as long as the subject can climb.  When he falls off the ladder it is best to let him down to the bottom at once.  It is only possible to pull him up by direct pull if there is a second man on the ladder to stop the subject from jamming on the overhang.

4.                  The long round trip (Swildons – Shatter Link and Figure of Eight) is exceptionally difficult and arduous and have given more than half the parties attempting it serious trouble, including two M.R.O. callouts.

Procedure in the Event of an Accident.

1.                  Person having knowledge of accident will go to the nearest call box or telephone (details at cave entrance) and ring the police.  WELLS POLICE TEL. No. WELLS 3481)

2.                  The police will require the following information:-

Name and address of caller.
Number and situation of call box or telephone.
Nature of Accident.
Name of Cave.
Position of accident in cave if known.
Number of people on party.
Whether experienced cavers

3.                  The informant will remain at phone for further instructions.

Edison Lamps. (Model ‘L’)  Spares for this lamp are available from CASEY BROS., 208 WESTFIELD STREET, ST. HELENS, LANCS.

Dalesman Publications.           Have a revised version of “Caves of Derbyshire” back in print.  It is a slightly different format with limp covers. Price 10/-.  “Caves of the Marches and Wales” is now out of print.  A new edition is expected soon.  Incidentally, clubs making bulk purchases are given generous discounts.

St. Cuthbert’s.  Work continues at the sump.  The ‘big’ traverse for the new survey is about to be closed and corrected.  When the traverse is completed, several of the new surveys will be drawn and published in the early autumn.

B.E.C. Caving Report No.5.      A revised edition of this report Headgear And Lighting will be available soon. Revision by Geoff Bull.  Price and publication date details later.

Nine Barrow Swallet.  Following the collapse of the shaft at Fairman’s Folly, Wessex C.C. have switched their attention to the old B.E.C. dig at Nine Barrows Swallet.  On the subject of digs, the U.S.S.S. are said to be progressing well at manor Farm and M.N.R.C. have prepared the ground to commence digging at Stockhill Swallet.

B.E.C. London Section.            Some time ago, enough members lived in the London area to form a London Group which, during the time of its existence, was extremely active.  The same situation exists today, and any member interested  in re-forming the section are invited to contact Dave Irwin, 9 Camden Hill Gardens, London, W.8.  Telephone PARk 6127.  A general get together and a natter can then be arranged.

Rock and Fountain Inn.           The proprietors of this pub are prepared to serve cooked meals as a reasonable price to any members caving in the Aggy area.  The pub is located on the old Brynmawr road.  At least a day’s notice would be appreciated.

Letter to the Editor.

Withy House,
Withy Close West,
Bristol 9.

Dear Alfie,

I wonder if you would like to have two corrections for the B.B. concerning cave rescues.  (No. 230, Page 14).  The reason for contacting John Childs is not in the case the C.R.O. is needed. It is to enable him to put caving parties in Ireland in touch with each other, so that they know where to turn for help if needed.  Call out is through the local police or Gardia.

If cave rescue is required in the Devon area, it must be done not through Col. Fraser but (as everywhere) through the police.  Dial 999 and the police are supposed to contact the nearest rescue team.

Oliver. C. Lloyd


A very informative report on pitons has recently been published by the National Engineering Laboratory at East Kilbride, Glasgow on behalf of the British Mountaineering Council.  This report (which is short and available in the club library) is well worth reading by anyone who uses or who intends to use pitons.

Even climbers who make regular use of pitons may be surprised – and perhaps dismayed – at some of the conclusions drawn.  A good piton should be made form high tensile steel, shoulder have a small eye as close to the shoulder of the piton as possible (in the case of elliptical eyes, the ellipse should slope downwards towards the rock face when driven in with the shoulder downwards).  The shoulder should be as square as possible, to enable the piton to be driven right up to the shoulder.  This should always be done, and where this cannot be effected, a loop with a karabiner attached should be tied onto the piton right against the rock face.

The use of pitons in vertical cracks is generally frowned upon, although it is recognised that individual skills in the placing of pitons plays a large part of their ‘holding power’. Even so, the report prefers an indifferent horizontal crack to a good vertical crack under most circumstances.

Pitons were ‘pulled off’ by use of a hydraulic test rig – and in some cases the pull requires was as low as 400lbs from hard limestone!  On the other hand, well designed pitons of good high tensile steel driven into hard volcanic rock stood pulls offs in excess of 5,000lbs.

S.J. Collins


Helmets.  Fibreglass helmets are now on sale at the Belfry at 10/- each.

Donation of Furniture. The Hut Warden would like to thank Bob Price for his gift of chairs for the Belfry.


(We will be printing Steve Grime’s interesting letter next month).


Can you write?  Why not have a bash?  Write for the B.B.


The season for nomination of candidates for the next year’s committee is now upon us.  As older members will know, we no longer print nomination forms, but ask each member who has a nominee in mind to find out whether he (or they) are willing to serve on the committee if elected, and then send their names to the Hon. Secretary, R.D. Stenner, 38 Paultow Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3; to reach him as soon as possible after receiving this B.B.  Don’t forget to add your own name and your membership number.  This is to make sure that you are entitled to nominate people for the committee.  Only paid up members of the club are entitled to do this.  Another thing to remember is that all retiring members of the committee are automatically nominated unless they decide to retire.  As far as is known only one member – Roy Bennett – does not wish to stand next year.

If the Long Term Plan gets passed at the A.G.M. – you will find your copy with this B.B. – then we shall want a strong committee to ensure that the plan gets put into action in a smooth manner.  It may thus be very important to have good nominees this year – over to you!

Annual Dinner.

This year’s Dinner should be a good affair – at least from the food point of view.  The menu is a real chunk of haut cuisine with a choice of roast haunch of venison with port wine sauce.  If required, you can have roast Aylesbury duckling with apple sauce instead, but you must say if you prefer this when placing your order with Roger Stenner.  This fantastic meal is dirt cheap at a quid a head.  It is at the Cave Man – 7 for 7.30 – get your order in as soon as possible!

Club Ties.

Once again, it is possible for a caver to be well dressed in a genuine B.E.C. tie.  These ties are 100% hard wearing nylon and are woven (as distinct from another well known club tie which is only printed on).  All the best people wear B.E.C. ties.  These are obtainable from Roger at 17/6 each.

Annual General Meeting.

In view of the amount of business to be got through, it is being considered to start the meeting in the morning of the first Saturday in October, and to go on after a suitable adjournment for beer at lunchtime.  Details will be given in the September B.B., but try to keep the whole of this day free if possible.



Although circumstances have compelled the committee to call a halt to the publication of the parts of the Definitive Report on Cuthbert’s, make sure of your copies by placing an order for all parts when they come out with Bryan Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset.  He also has other reports, surveys, etc. for sale and will send a list on receipt of a stamped address envelope.

Now that wet suits, ‘space blankets’ and all the appropriate by-products of technology are aiding cavers one way or another, it might be of interest to hear from others who can remember interesting trips made under the kind of difficulties which would not occur toady.  How about it?

Monthly Notes – No 6

by Dave Irwin

St. Cuthberts Report.

(B.E.C. Caving Report No.13.  Parts A to O).  The committee have issued the following statement.  “That for reasons beyond our control, publication of this report will be postponed until further notice.”

B.S.A. Conference.

8th – 11th September, 1967, is being held at Birmingham University.  The theme is “Year of Discoveries” and includes lectures on Little Neath Cave (P. Standing); Giants and Oxlow Cavern (G. Westlake); Kingsdale Master Cave (Brook); Dan-yr-Ogof (A. Coase) etc.

Aille River Cave

Total length of passage explored approx. 2,600ft.  This cave is subject to severe flooding.  The cave has since been visited by the Craven Pothole Club, but whether they found more passage is not yet known.

Proventina ( Greece).

It is reported that Jim Ayres (Red Rose) and party have descended the initial section of the shaft, landing on a ledge some 700’ from the surface. The pitch continued to a depth of 1,400’ to another ledge.  A stone dropped from this ledge took 10 secs. to hit rock!  Some shaft!!  Alan Thomas is planning a trip there next year.

Weather Forecasts.

For accurate forecasts of Mendip and South Wales caving areas, phone LULSGATE 444.  Charge 1/6.


Jeanmaire, Kingston and Priddle.  Diving trip to Swildons II.  Investigated outlet of stream from north West Stream Passage.  Dived to length of 30’.  An air bell found 6’ high, 4’ feet across and 15’ feet long.  Further dives are planned.


Upstream sump of the Porth-yr-Ogof feeder.  Dived approx. 90’ to depth of 25’.  The submerge passage (6’ x 4’ high) ends in a mudbank. The walls of the passage display good scalloping and rock pendants.

Eastwater Cavern.

The entrance collapsed sometime between the 2nd and 5th of August.  At the moment, it is impossible to enter the cave. A possible entry, if the ruckle proves too dangerous, is via Boulder Chamber.

St. Catherine’s.

Doolin System, Co. Clare, Eire.  Oliver Lloyd has found more passage during his recent visit to the cave.

Cuckoo Cleeves.

The base of the entrance pipes is being supported by a brick wall.  The work is being carried out by Tony Dingle (W.C.C.) and is believed to be near completion.

Survey Course.

Anyone interested in joining the second course should contact Roger Stenner at 38 Paultow Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3.  The date of the course is still to be fixed – probably some time in October.


The M.R.O are organising a national conference of Cave Rescue Organisations to be held at Bristol University on Saturday 30th September.  If any member wishes to attend please contact Dr. O.C. Lloyd, Withey House, Withey Close West, Bristol 9.  Speakers are required on the subjects of Cave Rescue Organisation in other countries and on the organisation of rescue on caving expeditions abroad.  Contact Oliver if you have any experience on the above topics.

Laddering St Cuthberts

by R.S. (Kangy) King

About 1954 to 1955, the effort required to explore the lower reaches of St. Cuthbert’s was such that some trips lasted for up to 24 hours, and it was becoming difficult to do a reasonable amount of exploration inside eight hours.

In this pre-wetsuit era, various devices were used to ward off the effects of exposure.  Oilskins with hoods were employed in the perpetual stream of the Entrance Rift.  The stream itself was dammed at the surface an hour before a trip and allowed to drain during the trip, then dammed again an hour before the estimated time out. The telephone was very useful for this purpose after it had been installed and was used to order supplies and hot water to be prepared.  Before this time, the damming of the stream served as an incentive to punctuality on the way out.  Food was usually taken down and cooked in the Dining Room and oh, those bellyfuls of hot grub!  Although the detail arrangements became a ritual and were enjoyed for their own sakes, the intelligentsia of the club were planned ahead to more efficient methods of exploration.  These crystallised in the autumn of 1954 to the need for a series of fixed ladders on the driest route.  The route planned was that still used now accepting the Wire Rift as an alternative to becoming wetter on the Pulpit Route.

Don Coase obtained some redundant steel ladder and this was cut up into five and a half foot lengths – the longest that would go through the original entrance squeeze. Fishplates were made and bolted to the sections, which were suitably identified later for assembly in the cave. These markings can still be seen on the Arête ladder.  The ladders were then stacked – ready for assembly – in the cave.

On Saturday evening in Mid-February 1955, I happened to join a party of three Sandhurst cadets down Eastwater.  The Hunters was open and, as Eastwater is a notoriously dry cave, we called in for a drink – probably lemonade.  Don Coase and Roy Bennett were sitting in the bar drinking – lemonade – and muttering about what a pity it was that their Cuthbert’s trip was off because nobody had turned up.  We muttered sympathetically why not go down Eastwater instead?  So later, we were picking up piles of wire ladders and ropes and enquiring anxiously about a rather large mound of short steel ladders while Coase and Bennett pulled on layer upon layer of stiff, muddy clothing.

St. Cuthbert’s Entrance Rift was interestingly filled with a foaming stream of water, which came straight off the frozen fields.  The Coase and Bennett donned (Is this a pun? – Ed) drip deflectors; camouflage oilskins and gas cape hoods and kindly lowered the steel ladders, ropes, fishplates, nuts and bots, the gas mask bag of tools, spare carbide and tins of food while the ex-Eastwater party shivered in Eastwater gear.  I have learned better since, but at the time it always seemed logical to strip if great wetness was anticipated.  We paid dearly for that trip.  A swimming costume and a wool jersey topped by a boiler suit might have been ideal wear for a fast hot Eastwater trip but it was sheet stupidity for a slow, freezing Cuthbert’s working party.  The uncontrollable shivering started as soon as we were sloshed out at the top of the Arête and continued for the next ten and a half hours.

The Arête ladder was laid and the prefabricated steel parts lowered.  The fitting had been well done, and the ladder was soon assembled across the floor of the chamber on the far side of the boulder.  Eagerly, the men who had nothing much to do while this work was going on combined to heave the ladder up into position and we all raced up and down it to warm ourselves up.  Both ledge pitches were erected in a similar manner while the cold became more and more intrusive.  By this time we were all beginning to have had enough, and so the Mud Hall ladders were left for another weekend, and we went hard for a hot meal in the Dining Room, taking the ritual; obstacles of caution at Quarry Corner, and the slide down Everest briskly.

Chattering self-congratulatory noises how easy our work would make the trip out, we finished off a scalding hot ‘binder’ and then, trying hard not to let cold wet  clothing slop against shrinking flesh, stared for the entrance.    Everest was warming, the awkward climb up into Pillar infuriating, the Wire Rift exhausting, the new ladders interesting, and the terrible wait at the foot of the Entrance Pitch almost unendurable.  My turn for the pitch came after ten hours of being colder than I have ever been.  I have a most vivid memory of feeling of surprise and apprehension, as I watched my swollen white fingers take a long time to grip the final rung, and of apprehension as I pulled, because I could not feel whether they had gripped properly or not.  I wish I could remember who it was who managed to Rift carrying two ladders.

Out in the grey dawn, hot drinks, rough blankets, and then sleep as the first flakes of snow fell.

A Hundred years ago

Searching feverishly in the Belfry Bulletin Files for something to fill this space, we came across this snippet from a newspaper of a hundred years ago (unfortunately we can’t say which as the reference has come off!)…

A Somerset California

The Mendip Hills, in the vicinity of Wells, have recently become a scene of busy industry in ‘diggings’ wherein however lead takes the place of gold.

Professor Anstead recently discovered a consolidated mass of lead in the parish of St. Cuthbert’s – lying through the bed of a long dried up stream which ran for ages through the mine workings.

It is now valued by him at many thousands of pounds and require only the cutting out with a spade and rewashing to produce the already granulated lead.

All this has resulted in a smelting association being set up bearing the name of the locality. Several old Californian immigrants have engaged themselves in this matter.  Powerful stamping machines have been placed on the ground, also washing machines, and a crowd of labourers busy working in a spot so lonely and remote recall vividly the stories of similar enterprise in California.

St.Cuthbert’s Mine has become one of the local curiosities.


In spite of the fact that an impression is gained by members of the public – through the publicity which follows each caving accident – that caving is a dangerous sport, the fact is that it remains remarkably safe considering the very large number of people so regularly involved.

In this setting, the tragedy of Mossdale becomes one of a scale which we hope will never happen again. There is little we can add to what already appeared, except on behalf of the club, to extend our sincere sympathy to all the friends and relatives of those who have died do suddenly and tragically.


Long Term Planning.

Little has been mentioned of late, but the report has now been prepared and, after typing and duplicating, each member of the B.E.C. will be receiving a copy.  This is a subject with far reaching consequences, and every member is urged to give the report his full attention.

Nine Barrows Swallet

It is not often that we are able to print an article on a new Mendip cave. Not a ‘major’ cave as yet – but there is still time for that to happen!

Nine Barrows Swallet is to be found in a field at the top of Eastwater lane on the right hand side. Although it is not a very large swallet, it takes a fair size steam in times of heavy rain.  Geologically, it is on the shales, O.R.S. and limestone boundary and almost on the junction of the East and West Priddy Faults, so it is easy to understand why this swallet has attracted the attention of various people over the last eight years.

The first person to dig there was Mike Holland of Wessex.  He soon gained support from Jim Giles of B.E.C. and Wessex, and they dug together for a couple of years, getting into a small chamber in boulders with no obvious way on.  Holland left Mendip soon after this, and Giles carried on with the help of ‘Mo’ Marriott and the Franklin brothers, all of the B.E.C.  They followed the stream down and excavated a hole some five feet by four feet in section and five feet deep.  At this point, Jim Giles lost interest due to the apparent instability of the dig and because of other commitments on Eastern Mendip.  After the requisite shoring had been put in, digging continued spasmodically until Marriot joined the Brain Drain some three years ago.  The stream now entered into what looked like open cave, but this was unfortunately only six inches wide!  This setback also coincided with the onset of winter which made digging extremely unpleasant as the stream found interesting diversions – like down the neck and out of the trouser leg (it was just pre-wet suite era).  So support for finding an alternative route was sadly lacking and, except for a few isolated occasions, work ceased until May 1967.

Renewed activity at the swallet was prompted by a coincidence.  The Wessex dig at Fairman’s Folly collapsed after heavy rain. This upset their digging programme, and so they were looking for another dig in order to keep their team together. Nine Barrows also suffered a collapse (‘Old Moore’ Giles was four years early in his prognostications!) but what in normal circumstances would have been a calamity, turned out to be a blessing, for it revealed an easily accessible choked rift.  The Wessex asked for permission to dig and, on being granted this, put in an extensive effort for several weekends.  The new dig was about five feet above the old site, as the top of the shoring Marriot and Franklin had put in could just be seen at floor level.

Progress, mainly by A. Sural, S. Church and J. Cornwell, was fairly rapid until just before Whitsun when the way became blocked with boulders, although empty space could be seen beyond.  Those boulders were successfully removed by J. Cornwell, aided by several B.E.C. members on Friday 13th June, showing the cave to be open.  It was decided to wait until Saturday before descending in order to give the other Wessex members concerned an opportunity to be on the first trip.

Duly, the B.E.C. contingent (A. Thomas, P. Coles, J. Manchip and the Franklin brothers) assembled at the appointed hour at the cave and waited.  After an hour had gone by, it appeared that the rest of the combined party were not going to be able to turn up, so a reconnaissance trip was decided upon. (This was not necessary in fact, as it turned out later that a Wessex member has already been down earlier that morning). The tight entrance opened out into a fairly large chamber some thirty by twenty feet and fifteen feet high.  This had a few side passages with interesting but not spectacular formations and a sloping boulder floor leading down into a water worn rift seen feet high by two feet wide.  The roof of the rift consisted of jammed boulders but most of the wall was solid rock. The stream – or what was of it – was met about twenty feet down the rift and, apart from one detour, could easily be followed.  It was at this detour that the party decided to go back and find the rest of the party before continuing.  However, the Wessex contingent, consisting of J. Cornwell, J. Church, T. Dingle and H. Brown were met after retracing only a few steps.  J. Cornwell then took the lead and progress continued downwards with the rift getting smaller and smaller and finally ending in a flat out crawl.  Just before this the stream disappeared into an impenetrable rift on the left.

Various probings in the rift revealed nothing of any importance, except that it was all very unsafe. The end of the crawl led to what looked like the beginning of a boulder choke with the probability of a way on in the floor.  Plans were made to come back the next day and explore these and other possibilities which presented themselves on the way out.  On returning to the surface, it was decided that a temporary gate should be erected at the cave entrance and work was started straight away (This is now a permanent gate, with keys held by the B.E.C. and Wessex who jointly control access).  Also, that same evening, the end of the crawl was banged and, with high hopes for the next day, the party adjourned to the Hunters.

Sunday the 15th June produced the major discovery of the weekend.  The bang was successful and, instead of a boulder choke, a large chamber was entered.  It was some seventy feet long by thirty feet high and had fine crystal walls and formations, but again, disappointment followed.  This chamber was a dead end and, although the stream could be heard below, but no way could be found to get at it.  The pot at the end of the crawl was still too tight to get into, so further chemical persuasion was used.  The bottom proved to be choked and other alternatives are now being examined.  The present position is that Nine Barrow has ‘gone’ and – with any luck – is still going – right down to Wookey.

K. Franklin.

Monthly Notes  - No 5

by Dave Irwin.

August Longwood System.  Members wanting a trip into this system will be able to obtain the key from Gordon Tilly at the Belfry.  To ensure that the key is available when you want it, drop Gordon a line at his home address, “Jable”, Digby Road, Sherborne, Dorset.  This arrangement is only a temporary measure until the new tenant moves into the farmhouse. Mr. Young retired recently.

Corrections.  In Monthly Notes No.4, read WHITE SCAR for WHITE SPOT.  Also, Flint Ridge and Mammoth Caves are only 200 metres apart – not 200 miles!

Charterhouse Caving Committee.  In the absence of Prof. Tratman, who has joined the U.B.S.S. expedition to Jamaica, Roger Stenner has been appointed acting secretary.

Electrolyte.  Is available at the Belfry.  2/6 for a complete refill.  Carbide. This is available at the Belfry at 1/6 per lb.

St. Cuthbert’s.  The Main Traverse covering the main framework of the cave has now been closed and corrected. The closure error was 0.54%. Production of the various parts of the report are now going ahead to schedule with four parts being published later this year.  These will be ‘History of Exploration’, ‘Gour Hall’, ‘Rabbit Warren’ and ‘Old and New Routes’.  Surveys are to C.R.G. Grade 6.  SEND YOUR ORDER TO BRYAN ELLIS FOR THE WHOLE FIFTEEN PARTS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to enable him to determine numbers to be printed.  Part ‘O’ Miscellaneous Information, including a complete bibliography up to August 1966 is still available price 2/6.

New Books. ‘History of Mendip Caving’ by P. Johnson, published by Davis & Charles, Newton Abbot, Devon. 196pp, 20 photographs and 9 sketch surveys.  Price 35/-. This history deals with cave exploration from the early discoveries by mineworkers to the present day.  The text is well written and holds interest.  The author – a member of the U.B.S.S. – is biased towards the discoveries of that club and has a rather low opinion of Balch and his associates.  Photographs include most of the other major caves on Mendip but none Cuthbert’s.  In general, the photographs are of a very low standard, considering that most are not of historic interest.  ‘Mines of Mendip’ by J.W. Gough.  This classic work is being revised and reprinted in the autumn. Price about 35/-.  Same publishers.

Malhan Cove, Yorkshire.  It is rumoured that a large cave system has been discovered near the resurgence.

Nine Barrows Swallet.  Has at last gone.  (See article – Ed).  The boulders at the entrance are unstable, so take care.  The East Somerset C.C. are now digging under the decorated chamber at the end of the system.  1/- entrance fee is to be paid to Gordon Tilly on behalf of the landowner.  The key is kept at the Belfry.

Pant Mawr, South Wales.  It is understood that divers have entered a series of new passages.


The Editor, of late years, has managed to restrain his natural tendency to indulge in horrible rhymes, but now and then, things get too much for him.  Overhearing a conversation in which most of those present confessed to not knowing the meaning of the word ‘prognostication’ in the article on Nine Barrows Swallet, he has not been able to resist the following comment…


What a sorry situation
Now the word ‘prognostication’
Has become a mystery
To members of the B.E.C.
I say again, as adumbration,
It is a sorry situation
When pentasyllables are banned
Because no one can understand.

Oh, higgorance!  Oh, sorry state
I venture to prognosticate
That this ‘ere modern heddication
Will lead us to a situation
Where, even with a predilection
For the shorter word ‘prediction’,
Authors – to avoid a mess –
Will have to call the thing ‘a guess’

Four letter words will fill each page
Of B.B.’s in some future age.

Editor’s Note.    Sorry about the above, but you will have a new Editor soon who may well be freer from such outbursts!

Ireland – June 1967

by R. Bennett and D. Irwin

First Week – Activities Various.

After a not to be recommended crossing, the Bennetts and Dave Irwin arrived at Cork to investigate the attractions of the Emerald Isle.

Mitchelstown New Cave, Co. Tipperary was first visited.  This is a show cave laid out with a few rough paths only, and lit by a Tilley lamp carried by the guide plus a few candles carried by the party.  The trip was well worth while, however, as the formations are very good and must be photographed.

Base camp was then set up in Co. Clare, and in spite of the weather (hot and sunny) the delights of Polnagollum and Poll an Ionian were sampled.  The latter cave was difficult to find without a large scale map.  It is situated about a quarter of a mile South West of Ballynalacklen Castle at the bottom of the largest of the cliffs in the valley.  Its main feature of interest is a large chamber containing an enormous fluted hanging stalactite which has been measured and is twenty five feet long.  Polnagollum, Ireland’s largest cave, is a must for any caving party, if only to do the impressive meandering Main Stream Passage.

To avoid further difficulties with the weather, a trip was made to look at the Burren.  This is a unique area of upland limestone similar to some of the classic Karts areas of Yugoslavia.  The hills, which rise to nearly 1,000 feet have been denuded of the most of their soil and show great areas of bare limestone pavements and cliffs.  The valleys contain many hollows and depressions, the largest and most spectacular which is the “Polje” of Carran.  This is a more or less flat bottomed valley, completely enclosed, and about a mile wide and several times this length.

Ireland has very many low lying sinks which have never been penetrated.  The Fergus river sink is one such and was visited to look at its caving possibilities. It is a large sink in a small steep sided valley and clearly often takes a considerable amount of water, which sinks in numerous holes.  Several possible sites for a dig were noted, and some probing was done in a choked rift in the valley bottom past a few yards downstream from the right hand aside of the sink proper.  This looked very promising and easy to excavate.

As water conditions were still very low, a look was taken at the Fergus River rising (Poulnabee).  This is in a low limestone outcrop containing many enterable holes, and in spite of local opinion the “there was no cave there’, wet suits were donned and the holes thoroughly pushed.  They all led to a network of open joints and bedding planes occupying the space between the outcrop surface and standing water at river level – a height of ten feet. Everything closed down apart from one sump, which was rather similar to the other passages and probably closed down also.  This brilliantly confirmed the locals opinion of the absence of a cave, but the lack of development was rather unexpected.  The sink, which takes water from the shales, is only about half a mile away, so there should be no lack of aggressive water at the rising.  This could be spread out just below the valley surface in a network of joints already opened by surface erosion, but even these would be expected to concentrate into more continuous passages near the rising.  Local opinion has that the sink and rising are not connected as the sink water is peaty and that at the rising is always clear.  There is a profusion of water weed at the rising suggesting that this is a spring percolation water of high carbon dioxide content.  If this is the case, the sink water must resurge elsewhere, and the absence of cave development is explained.  There was, however, no time to study this matter further, as the party intended to move to the Aille River Cave site in Co. Mayo.

Second Week – Aille River Cave

Actually a visit was paid to this site during the first week on 15th June, and what appeared to be a new cave, was discovered.

The Site.

The Aille River Cave lies some six miles East South East of the town of Westport, Co. Mayo.  The sink is located at the base of a five hundred foot long by forty to fifty feet high limestone cliff.  At the point of engulfment the water flows under a wide and rather shattered bedding plane cave which ends in sump.  This was the previously known extent of the Aille River Cave.  The river is believed to resurge some two miles away to the East at Bellaburke, discharging both from small fissures and directly into a large pool, thence flowing away as a large river in a southerly direction into Lough Mask.

J.C. Coleman’s excellent book ‘The Caves of Ireland’ refers to two accounts of early entries into the cave, but details for when these entries occurred or how far they reached have been lost.  The local inhabitants are quite convinced that the whole area will collapse into a vast hole.  At frequent intervals, depressions appear but most of these are filled in immediately with stones, clay etc.  One recently was opened up by a plough and to quote Mr. McGreevy, a local farm manager, ‘the hole about the size of this room’ (about ten feet square).  Along the track, a short distance from his cottage, one can walk on what is ‘hollow ground’.  By stamping the ground, a definite booming sound is heard.  It is proposed to tarmac the surface of this track. Heaven help the roller driver!

The river rises some eight miles away on the Western slopes of the Partry Mountains, and drains approximately twenty square miles of countryside. During the winter months, and often in May, the cave is subject to severe flooding when water reaches a depth of some forty feet at the sink and several square miles of peat and bogland are inundated.  When the water rises to a certain level, it overflows into a valley to the North of the sink and pours into a large elongated shake hole with a flat boulder floor at one end.  This fills up after two hours but usually empties again rapidly.  The shake hole is mainly in alluvium and probably is on the old surface course for the river.  Although the floods are severe, they rarely last more than twenty four hours, but it can take little more than an hour for the flood water to reach the sink in bad conditions.


In the field a few yards behind and to the right of the cliff there is a large shake hole.  A recent collapse in the side of this has left an open hole of considerable dimension down which the sound of running water could be herd.  A quick inspection showed that an unimpeded descent could be made to a river chamber leading to deeper water.  This seemed just too good to be true, and before changing to explore further, we had a chat with the local, the aforementioned Mr. Patrick McGreevy.  He confirmed that earlier in the year some C.P.C. members had been there, but had been hampered by flood conditions so that they were apparently unable to get very far.

The entrance shaft was some eighteen feet dep.  At the bottom of this, a scramble over a boulder led us to the river in a wide chamber with several rock pillars which created some confusion as to its real shape. The river entered from our left from a boulder ruckle.  This was followed for a few feet only, although a way on could be seen.  Moving downstream through a lake, a canal was entered on the right and followed for nearly two hundred feet.  We traversed along the side of the right hand wall clambering over submerged boulders.  The water to our left was much deeper, and at times out of our depth.  After a hundred feet or so, a mud slope was reached. This slope led to a high level chamber which was well decorated on the upstream side.  A passage continued above the formations, but was not followed for fear of damaging the stal. flows.  A boulder fall was soon met and at least two places showed that the passage continued on the other side.  Time idi not allow us to ‘garden’ this passages, so they were left.  Returning to the short canal, we followed it for some distance only to find that it sumped.  At this point, the water deepened considerably.  On returning to the entrance chamber the first lake was crossed to the left to a steep sand slope and a quick look was taken at a second lake before going out.

On the following Tuesday, the exploration was continued beyond the second lake.  The slope between the lakes rises some ten feet and is covered with current markings showing that the water often flows this way under flood conditions.  Here, the passage dimensions were similar to those of the short canal – about ten feet square.  The rock was wet and gave the passage a dark sombre appearance. 

The second lake, four foot deep, is some thirty feet in length and may be bypassed by an oxbow in the form of a dry sandy crawl.  The passage beyond changed direction somewhat, and at this point we heard the sound of running water.  Hurrying along the passage, the sound became progressively louder until, suddenly, hidden between two large boulders, we saw the river flowing rapidly in a deep vadose trench running across our path.  Still, the sound of cascading water came from ahead of us, and so leaving the cross passage we continued onwards until, reaching a large junction with the water now flowing in the opposite direction and swirling round a sharp bend, we saw it led to a rift.  The character of this section is similar to the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Main Streamway.   With the water about knee deep flowing in a perfect ‘V’ groove about three feet wide at the surface.  The rift ran in a Southerly direction only at end in a third lake after about a hundred feet.  Traversing around the side of the lake, we reached a boulder strewn floor and looked at the way on – a twenty to twenty five foot wide canal, receding into the distance.  The average depth turned out to be about four feet and it seemed endless on the first visit. At the end, it appeared to sump in deep water even under the prevailing low water conditions.  A small choked passage continued in the right hand wall. The length of this canal (The Long Canal) was estimated at seven hundred feet and is a most spectacular feature. Seldom is it less than fifteen feet wide with a roof height of some ten feet gradually decreasing to seven feet near the end.  It is a magnificent phreatic bore a tube with a finely rounded roof occasionally cut into open joints.  Suppressing the urge to explore side passages, the trip was completed by doing a quick survey from the third lake to the entrance using a prismatic compass and fifty foot Fibron tape.

Other passages were found, mainly on the Northern side of the Main Passage between the third and second lakes.  Some were still pools or active streamway, while others were passages containing stalagmite.  The most Easterly of these was a mud choked rift some ten to fifteen feet high containing some river eroded stalagmite pillars of dilapidated appearance, and drip pockets in soft mud floor.  Near the second lake, passages pass over the known cave and in one, about thirty feet above river level, a piece of wood was found cemented to stalagmite.  The general side passages were short and appeared to have been choked by the river.   They were not all thoroughly investigated however, and may yield further with suitable probing.  Altogether, about 2,500 feet of passage was found, there being of course still quite a long way to go to the rising.

Note:  Copies of the Provisional Survey may be obtained from Bryan Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset.  Price 1/6. The survey is to a scale of 100 feet to 2cms.


Overheard outside the Hunters….Alan Thomas praising a well known caving club by saying “The W****x is a fine club, it’s second to one on Mendip!”


If you can read this, it is highly likely that you can WRITE as well.  Why not prove your versatility by writing something for the B.B.?


Don’t forget that copies of all the B.E.C. Caving Reports plus copies of most surveys of Mendip Caves, and many other publications are available from: -

B.M. Ellis, Esq.,

Send stamped addressed envelope for his complete list.

A mini B.B.

We have seen the arrival of the mini car – then the mini skirt.  Now we have the mini B.B.

More seriously, the present page arrangement does not permit a six page B.B. and, since there is not enough material for an eight page issue, we have taken the unprecedented step of issuing a four page magazine.  This is probably the smallest B.B. ever produced.  On the one hand, this mini mag can be considered to be a waste of good covers, staples and stamps.  On the other hand, it is felt that members want to see a B.B. in September, however small – and to fill up four more pages with sheer padding would be an even bigger waste of paper, covers, staples etc. (Note, the number of pages relates to the original size BB)

As you know, it was announced in the May and June issue of the B.B. this year that the Editor was thinking of retiring from this job.  One of the reasons behind this has been the increasing difficulty in getting enough articles.  As I found out when I took over this job, a new face does seem to give a boost to members, and I hope that this will occur with your new Editor, who will be taking over next year in January. In the meantime, for the remaining three issues of the B.B., might I appeal for more material?

Annual General Meeting and Dinner.

As you know, the A.G.M. will start at 10.30 in the morning this year.  This could be a good move as, with luck it will mean that we stand a chance of finishing in mid afternoon even with the Long Term Planning Report to consider.  This will give members more time to get ready for the Dinner.  This arrangement will not work unless we can get an early start so PLEASE try to turn up at ten thirty.  Don’t reckon that because every one else is bound to be late, there is no need for YOU to be early.  We need thirty members before we can start, remember.


It is a healthy sign that we have no fewer than twelve good nominations for this year’s election. This coming year could be a crucial one for the club, and it is more important than ever for you to vote for those people who you think will be able to steer the club through the times ahead. You may send your completed form to Roger, or present them yourselves at the start of the A.G.M.

Car Badges.

In addition to the new supply of club ties announced recently, we now have a new batch of car badges.  These are available from Bob Bagshaw on Thursdays at club, or at the A.G.M.

Caving Publications.

B.E.C. Caving Reports, Surveys etc., are still available from Bryan Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset. If in doubt as to what is available, send a stamped addressed envelope for the full list.

Club Library.

This is now at Dolphin Cottage – Dave and Katy Searle’s cottage.  It is near the Belfry and there is no excuse for not being able to get there if you are a regular visitor to Mendip.  Why not go and see what the club has in its Library?


This is at the cave Man Restaurant.  7 for 7.30. Roast haunch of venison.  Tickets at £1 per bod available from Bob Bagshaw at 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.

Monthly Notes No 7

by Dave Irwin

Potholing in the Press 1966.    Looking through the scrapbook for 1966, I found that the attitude of the press appears to be changing for the better.  Among all the vivid accounts of the rescues are serious articles that have appeared in the national publications and dailies.  These include Balinka Pit (Men Only), Knocker Pot (Scotsman), Welsh Copper Mines at Amlwch (Guardian), Oxlow – Giants Connection (Guardian), Dan-yr-Ogof (Observer Colour) and Lafferties 127 days in Goughs (Guardian & Express).  The highlights of the year were three incidents which made the headlines, Eileen Davies’s masterful crawl resulting in the discovery of Dan-yr-Ogof 2,3 and 4; the Giant’s rescue and Lafferties breaking of the world record for an underground stay.  The Express made headlines of the test for the foam rubber bag designed by the Wharfdale Fell Rescue Team.  Accounts also appeared of the B.E.C. exhibition at the Bristol Museum (Evening Post), rock fall in Cheddar Gorge, G.B. discoveries and details of the ‘trogs’ at Matlock.

Goatchurch.     Tony Jarrett of the Axbridge reports, “After several digging sessions, a small rat like chamber has been entered in the floor of the Water Chamber in Goatchurch Cavern.  The stream which disappears in the  Water Chamber enters the dig from a low passage high up on the right and sinks again in the floor.  There are some formations.  We are now digging in the floor, following the stream and have reached a series of small rifts with stalagmite coated walls.”  Sound like the Burrington Breakthrough on the way!

Contour Cave.  (alias Sludge Pit, Ten barrows, Boveways) is Mendip’s latest discovery.  Dug by members of the Bridgwater Technical college aided by the ‘banging’ skill of John Cornwell, the 2,500 foot long cave was entered late in August.  The main feature of the cave appears to be a long eighty foot high rift with an upper complex of phreatic tubes, said to be more complicated than Cuthbert’s Rabbit Warren. Dennis Warburton has started a survey. The cave is locked.  No arrangements have been made regarding access and anyone wanting a trip should contact John Cornwell first.  It appears that there is a high concentration of CO2 in the sump.  So be warned. The entrance lies on the 900’ contour near the Nine Barrows entrance.

Nine Barrows Swallet. Dennis Warburton and Phil Davies have recently completed an accurate survey of the system.

Use the Gates! Since the opening of the two new swallets described above, many people have been climbing over the walls.  They have also left open gates and generally annoyed the two resident farmers in the neighbourhood.   If you are walking over this area  –  or indeed, any part of Mendip – please observe the country code by NOT climbing over walls and hedges and by opening and SHUTTING gates.

Gouffre Berger.            Pearce is report to have dived the ‘terminal’ sump, entered open passage, dived another sump, and entered a large passage, only to be halted by a fifty foot pitch.

Eastwater Swallet.       A meeting is to be held on 24th October at the Hunters to discuss the possibilities of re-opening the system.  Warburton and Surrell, who surveyed the system, are of the opinion that there is a good chance of sinking a shaft in the Boulder Chamber area.  This is NOT an open meeting, and only club representatives will be admitted.

Emborough Swallet.    The present Franklin – Coles dig has been joined by Alfie Collins and the Searles.  Shoring is being constructed.

Washfold Pot.  This pot was bottomed by Bennett, Kingston, Petty and Franklin with a combined W.C.C. trip on 9th September 1967.  A Penyghent trip fell through at the last minute.

In the B.E.C. Library.   (1) Homes of Primeval Man.  (Pub. Artia 1964).  An interesting picture book, briefly describing some of the Czechoslovakian caves. The photographs in the main are excellent, but the text at times is a little overpowering.  Particularly useful to cave photographers.  (The Library is at Dave Searle’s cottage).