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Editors Note

A Happy New Year to all members and readers.  With this issue of the B.B., we enter the twentieth year of its publication and, as hinted earlier, it is intended to make a series of improvements (or, at any rate, changes) to mark the event.  As you will have seen, a new cover starts with this issue.  We had intended to have it on a light grey paper and to have the number and month printed on the cover but, owing to a misunderstanding with the printers, neither of these things came to pass. Thus the cover is somewhat less of an improvement than we had hoped, but at least the colours line up properly. Those few who attended the last A.G.M. had an opportunity to discuss cover designs and to protest against this one if thought to be necessary.

A smaller change. Which will not be noticeable until next month, is that the pages are now to be numbered in volume order for ease of reference for those who collect B.B.’s and bind them into volumes.  (we know of one member who does at any rate!).  On the inside of each page will be found the B.B. and page numbers and the month – so everybody should be satisfied.

The Editor would like to thank those who wrote or spoke to him praising the Christmas B.B.  Much as he would like to take the credit, it must be pointed out that this mainly due to the good standard and large amount of articles submitted and also to the stalwarts who collated; stapled; folded; wrapped; addresses and posted them.  Let us hope that we can keep as good a standard during 1966.



When the Belfry was first opened in 1947, it was agreed that the basic charge would be a shilling per member per night.  Since those far off days, prices have risen – until today that shilling is only worth something between fourpence and fivepence.  Even so, the basic Belfry charge has never gone up.

The charge has been increased temporarily on two occasions once, to pay for the Calor installation and once to pay for the installation of main water and electricity.  In both cases, the extra charge was removed when the items were paid for.

Most of the other facilities at the Belfry were paid for out of the Belfry profits and even today, this is just possible.  It is quite a feat to be able to do this out of the 1947 value of less than fivepence per member per night.

At the January meeting, the Committee, after some discussion, agreed to increase the Belfry charges to 1/6 per member and 3/- per guest.  This is intended to be a permanent increase effective from the 1st of February 1966.  Even at this price, the Belfry is still cheap compared with nearly every other caving and climbing hut in the country and, and in purchasing power, members are still getting more for their money than they did in 1947.  The increased profit will be used to improve the Belfry facilities still further.  After the flush toilets have been completed, showers are next on the programme and this will be followed by other improvements being planned by the Belfry Planning Committee.

The decision to increase the Belfry rate may, of course, be rescinded at the next A.G.M., but the Committee feel that this increase is hardly enough to hurt members financially and it will enable the Belfry to continue its tradition of supplying value for money in these more expensive times.

The Gouffre de Friouato

by Alan Thomas and Mike Luckwill

The Gouffre de Friouato (Ifri-ou-atto) is situated approximately fifty miles east of Fez and is marked on the Michelin map of Morocco (No 169).  About eighteen miles from Taza on the metalled road from Taza to Bab-Bou-Idir we found a steeply rising tortuous un-metalled turning to the right. Driving up this for a long way past groups of sheep with their shepherds, we came surprisingly to a set of six or eight concrete steps.  This led up to the cave entrance.

The cave is over a mile long and a thousand feet deep.  I am afraid that, in the absence of an accurate survey, a description such as this can only be in superlatives.  Norbert Casteret described it as the most remarkable cave he ever explored.  We found the entrance was the deepest; the chambers were the highest; the formations were the biggest etc., etc. that we had ever seen.

The entrance was quite dry and an excellent changing room.  This is just as well as the second time we visited the cave, it was raining. Just inside began a remarkable series of stone and concrete steps which led down the side of the pot to a depth of approximately six hundred and fifty feet.  In places, the steps gave way to sections of sloping iron cat ladder and rickety guide rails of reinforcing rod.  Towards the bottom, we were intrigued to see occasional steps smashed to pieces, presumably by rocks falling from above.  One missing section of cat ladder was found at the bottom.

The pot down which we had descended dwarfed Gaping Ghyll (of course).  I should perhaps mention that the first time, we went down very quickly and both felt quite ill at the bottom, probably due to the rapid change in altitude.

More stone steps led through a relatively tight section for a hundred feet or so, which then opened out into an enormous chamber (marked ‘A’ on Mike’s plan) in which we descended a further hundred and fifty feet to the bottom of the steps.

We had now gone down altogether about a thousand steps of stone or concrete.  Who had built them and why?  Surely they were not the ultimate in fixed aids, constructed by local cavers? A winch would have been more satisfactory.  The steps were too strenuous for ordinary tourists and we found no evidence of mining. I am in touch with the Casablanca Caving Club and hope that they may be able to provide the answer these questions and also provide us with a survey, as numbers which we found on the rocks indicated that it might have been surveyed fairly recently.

Unfortunately there are also many other kinds of writing on the rocks and walls – mainly French but some Arabic.  It is a pity that such a fantastic cavern should be marred by vandalism, but hardly surprising when it is impossible to keep such inscriptions off Mendip.  We also thought that the steps were a pity, but as we only had a hundred feet of ladder with us we would have not been able to go down had they not been there.

At the bottom of the steps, the roof must have been about two hundred and fifty feet high.  The end of the chamber was separated from the rest of it by some boulders, round which we climbed and the continuation was about the size of G.B.  Here we turned sharp left into a long chamber (‘B’) with crystal pools containing water. At the end of this chamber, we crossed to top of a remarkable and enormous natural dam and followed the sloping left bank of some large pools.  As soon as we entered the passage where the pools were, we saw two very large stalagmites.  Beyond here, the passage consisted of a dried up crystal pool about five feet deep with which was associated strange formations seeming to have crystal bases surmounted by stal.  It was around here that the walls and rocks glistened with myriads of minute crystals.

We then traversed to the right of a pot about forty feet deep, in the bottom of which we could see fine mud formations.  Just past here were three more gours, at the third of which was necessary to squeeze between the rim of the gour and the roof.

A plank (Wot! More artificial aids? – Ed.) led us across a fifty foot pot to a ‘T’ junction. Turning right, we came into a high cavern (‘D’).  There were many gours and heavy planks were provided to walk across.  The passageway from here led to a forty foot hole in the floor, which it was necessary to go down and up the other side.  Just before we made this descent, we saw huge streaky bacon curtains – about thirty feet long – on the right hand wall.  Beyond the hole in the floor, the passage was narrowed by further curtains on either side which very high indeed.

Past here, a smallish hole led us to a muddy chamber on the right hand aide which opened a rift protected by a stout steel guard rail and believed to be two hundred feet deep.  How we wished for ladder!  But we were already so tired that the two of us would not have been able to carry it out.  As it was, the hundred feet of tackle that we had brought as far as the bottom of the pot proved heavy going up the steps.

Beyond the rift, a further passage led to the end of the cave.  This account has been largely written from notes made by Mike at the time. The plan was made with the assistance of a hand held compass, distances have all been estimated and depths calculated by counting steps.

Footnotes:         Alan & Mike found that it took forty hours of non-stop driving to get from Cherbourg to Algerinas.  This means that it is possible to travel from the Belfry to Morocco by car and arrive on the third day.  Alan is going to write a general article on Morocco as a country to cave in and is already contemplating another trip if anybody wants to go.


Have you paid you annual sub yet?  Subs fall due on the 31st of January.  Why not get it over once and for all?  A life sub at five guineas is CHEAP.  (After all, subs might go up!).

Access to Mendip Caves [ 1 ]

Dave Irwin.

Many members often ask how to obtain permission to enter controlled systems on Mendip.  As a result, I’ve listed all caves that are controlled in one form or another.

Swildons Hole Call at Main’s Farm, Priddy.  Farmer charges 1/- per caver.  Changing accommodation available in barn.  Blockhouse being built.  Permission will not be granted when cave is known to be in a dangerous condition.

Eastwater Swallet        Call at Eastwater Farm.  Farmer charges 1/- per caver.  No Changing facilities.

Stoke Lane Slocker     Call at Cook’s Farm.  Farmer Stock welcomes cavers.  Changing accommodation available.  Farmer charges 1/- per caver.  Please fill in visitors book if requested.  Cave liable to sudden flooding after moderate rain.

Lamb Leer       Cave controlled jointly by M.N.R.C., W.C.C. and U.B.S.S.  Indemnity from to be signed by the leader and all names on party to be added to it. Form to be returned at least one week prior to the date of the trip.  Key will not be sent to leader until form returned.  Write to L.M. Teasdale, 32 Tonfield Rd., Sutton, Surrey (W.C.C.)  Proof of B.E.C. membership might be required.  Charge of 2/- per caver.  Money to be sent to Mr. Teasdale.

Banwell Bone Cave     Controlled by Axbridge Caving Group.  Write for permission to B.J. Chapman, 1 The Square, Winscombe, Somerset, giving as much warning as possible.  This cave is not open to cavers on Sundays. Do not call at Farmers house.

Banwell Stalactite Cave          As for the Bone Cave.


Caving meets.

Readers will find a printed pull out supplement with the B.B.  An additional meet is G.B. on Sunday 27th February.  Meet at the cave 11am.  C.C.C. permits required.


A third reminder that there will be a photo Essay competition at next year’s Dinner.  Full rules will be out in next month’s B.B.  START PLANNING TO WIN THIS NOW as a fair amount of work is involved.


The 1966 conference of the British Spelaeological Association will beheld in BRISTOL from the 9th – 12th September.  We have promised to provide a stand with exhibits, photos etc.  The two ‘obvious’ subject being Cuthbert’s and Cave Communication.  We must have enough to exhibit now that we have promised.  What about it?


Work is commencing on the long awaited detailed report on Cuthbert’s. To ensure that this is as complete as possible, members are asked to submit any photographs, log books referring to the cave and particularly to the mining and pre-1953 dig.  Members may rest assured that material will be looked after and returned to them as soon as it has been copied.  Please send all materials to PHIL KINGSTON who is also in the process of building up a reference library on the cave.

We start with the most topical news – of the Cuthbert’s rescue trip last weekend…

Cuthbert’s Rescue

A tourist party, leader R.S. King, descended via Pulpit pitch intending to return by the fixed ladders. It was arranged that John Stafford and companion should reverse this route, and carry out the tackle from Pulpit. The two parties crossed in the stream passage below Bypass at approximately 1pm.

Shortly after this, John slipped and fell a short distance from the downstream entrance to Bypass Passage. He suffered head and ankle injuries and was immobilised.  His companion went for help and contacted a party led by R. Stenner.

Meanwhile, Kangy’s party on the way out, checked and found Pulpit still tackled although enough time had elapsed for John to completed this part of the route.  King went straight to the surface to enquire and establish that John was still in the cave.  The time by then was 2pm.  A search programme was then arranged.

At this point, Stenner came out of the cave with the news of John’s position and injuries.  A rescue was organised and a party went to John with medical kit arriving at 2.30pm.  Soon after this, John was roped to the carrying sheet and lifted via Sentry Passage to Upper Traverse.

By this time, pitches were being rigged throughout the Lower Traverse – Pulpit rescue route and the doctor had arrived at Upper Traverse.  At 3.30pm, John began to recover from the initial blow to the head and it was recommended that he should not be transported in the sheet, but should be assisted.

His condition at that stage was that he was badly stunned and unable to stand without assistance. He was put into an exposure suit and his sprained ankle strapped.  A climbing harness consisting of a seat and shoulder sling linked with a karabiner was fitted, and this was used for all subsequent lowering and raising operations.

The remainder of the rescue went very smoothly. The only departures from previously practised drill being that, fortunately, a carrying sheet was not required.  John was able to give some assistance at awkward places; he was hauled up Pulpit without a pulley, two men being stationed on the pitch to assist.  The man belayed at the projecting flake was particularly useful.  On the Entrance Rift, John was clipped to the ladder by his harness and pulled up with the ladder.  He was out of the cave by 8.00pm.

Thanks are due to the cavers and to the doctor, all of whom so willingly helped and made the rescue a success.  The unsung heroes of this rescue should not however, be forgotten – all the members who, in practice rescues, worked out the route, placed the rawlbolts in precisely the right places and familiarised themselves and others with the techniques, thus saving many hours.

R.S. King.

Readers may like to know that the latest report on John is that he is recovering well and will be about again.

Anita – John’s wife, would like to thank all those who took part for getting John out so smartly.


With springtime just – we hope – round the corner, we think it is a suitable point at which to publish the relevant information about the Ian Dear Memorial Fund for the benefit of younger members who may be starting to plan trips abroad.  You will find this information on the next following page of this B.B.

Spelaeobiology in Cuthberts

Contrary to popular belief, the odd characters one meets occasionally in St. Cuthbert’s kneeling in quiet corners or crouched astride the streamway uttering weird cries are neither disciples of an exotic eastern religion nor are they bewailing the lack of imagination on the part of the Belfry Engineering when it comes to the selection of suitable sites for the location of essential facilities for civilised life.  The likely explanation is that a rare specimen has just escaped the clutching hand of one of the “bug hunters” currently loose in the cave who very much need your help in the mammoth task of locating and studying all the varied species existing in St. Cuthbert’s.

Many people have already given valuable assistance by passing on information about the odd “creepy crawly” they have encountered on their travels, but much more news and many carefully collected specimens are needed before we shall have anything like a bare outline of the lives of the small creatures whose domain we so regularly invade.

Apart from collecting specimens for identification, we want to know where they are, how many exist, and how changes in temperature; humidity and the composition of their environment affect the populations in addition to attempting to answer the perennial question of who eats who or what!

Isolated specimens are always welcome, but they are of infinitely greater value if linked with detailed information and careful observation of the environment and general surroundings.  We must be especially careful to distinguish between the life in the streamways and in areas subjected to flooding and that in isolated pools and remote areas of the cave. In the former case, many of the species found will be from the surface waters and may have only established a temporary foothold after being washed into the cave, or they may have adapted to their new surroundings and established a permanent breeding population.

In the isolated pools and away from the streamway, one is more likely to find the true cave dwellers, many of which are relatively rare and may belong to species only found below ground in very restricted areas.

Conservation is vital, and over collecting and other disturbances to the environment must be kept to the minimum if many of the interesting species are to survive.  We have already lost one well established population of Niphargus, and very care should be taken to avoid contamination of the cave with carbide residues, waste food and discarded clothing – all of which are aesthetically objectionable to the vast majority of cavers and may have fatal effects on many species by polluting the water and disturbing the balance between the differing populations.

Phil Kingston and I are keeping a supply of sample tubes and the various preservatives available at the Belfry and have an established system in operation for obtaining expert identification of all specimens collected, as well as co-ordinating all the information that comes to hand, so if you see; find, or collect anything in St. Cuthbert’s, please let us know before the details are forgotten.

N.L. Thomas.



Life membership at the ridiculously low price of £5/5/- saves paying 22/6 every year.  As the treasurer issues over 100 membership cards every year, please send you existing card for endorsement (Not your driving licence!).  A stamped addressed envelope would help no end!

The Ian Dear Memorial Fund

For the benefit of members under the age of 21, the rules governing this fund are set out below: -

1.                  The bequest has been used in accordance with Ian’s will to set up a fund to assist junior members to visit caving or climbing areas of the continent.

2.                  Any members under the age of eighteen may apply.  Members who are over eighteen but under twenty one may be considered in exceptional circumstances. The age of qualification will apply on the first day of July in the year of the proposed trip.

3.                  Applications must be received by the FIRST DAY OF MARCH of the tear of the proposed trip. The applicant must furnish brief details of the itinerary and cost at the time of his application.

4.                  The maximum amount to be allocated in any one year shall be limited to fifty pounds. The maximum amount allocated to any individual shall be limited to ten pounds.

All members to whom this applies are, of course, already aware of the terms of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund, and this notice is by way of a last minute reminder.  You have only a few days left to make a claim on the fund if you are entitled to and have not already done so.

Caving Associations

Cave Research Group of Great Britain.

The Southern General Meeting will be held at Wells on Saturday 18th June, 1966. Members are invited to submit papers to be read at this meeting and/or to be published.

Association of the William Pengelly Cave Research Centre

A symposium is being held this coming Saturday at the British Museum, Cromwell Road, London S.W.7. from 10.30am to 6pm.  The subject is “Living in the Dark” and consists of a series of short lectures and discussion periods.  This is very short notice, but any members who wish to attend should contact Bob on Thursday night on receiving the B.B.

British Speleological Association.

A further reminder that the B.E.C. is officially supporting the meeting to be held in Bristol later this year and will be having a stand in the exhibition.  Alan Thomas has agreed to act as Co-ordinator for this exhibition and all offers of help should be made to him.  The theme of our exhibition is to be “This year’s work in the B.E.C.” and we are going to make every effort to ensure that an impressive amount of work is shown.  Please get in touch with Alan if you have any ideas or can contribute in any way.


It’s been quite a long time
Since we had the odd rhyme
To fill up these blanks on our pages.
And if YOU sat and wrote
Some short jotting, or note,
We’ll not need another for ages.

Caving & Climbing Log

….for JANUARY 1966……..Edited by Phil Kingston.

January has seen a lot of digging in Cuthbert’s – especially in Mud Ball Chamber dig.  On January 8th, fifty feet of muddy rift passage was found here by Roy Bennett, Tony Meaden and team.  The final choke was pushed on the Sunday, but the passage closed down so digging is continuing in the floor.

Andy MacGregor and Dave Irwin have restarted Mo’s Dig behind the Dining Room and have broken into small air spaces.

The Climbing Section have been active in Cheddar Gorge.  Grime and Mills have put up a 35 foot A.2 and surveyed further and longer artificial Climbs. King is thrutching about in the Frome Valley and news of the sandstone climbs there should soon be forthcoming.

Mines have been popular this month with visits to Box Mines and Dundry Freestone Mines.  A report and survey will be appearing in the B.B. shortly. A new extension found in these mines is thought to be the lost twin pot.

N. Thomas and Phil Kingston have done some collecting trips in Gough’s and Cuthbert’s and have doubled the number of species known in Gough’s.

N Petty has found a small series of passages with good prospects of extensions high above the Cascade in Cuthbert’s.

Trips this month include twelve down Cuthbert’s, four down Gough’s, two down Swildons and one down each G.B., Goatchurch, Denny’s, Fox’s, Box Mines, Hunters, Dundry Mines and Lamb Leer.


Westhaven School,

The Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

I read with great interest Dave Irwin’s article on the club trip to Austria.  There was, however, one important omission.  Our Austrian friends informed us that we should not light our cigarettes from carbide lamps, as this causes the teeth to decay.  I’ve never heard of this before but I have since noticed that a large number of the B.E.C. are missing a nearside front tooth – yourself and myself being two excellent examples.  Perhaps a dentist would like to comment?

Alan Thomas.

Editor’s Note:    Alan is not, of course, referring to the type of ‘Dentist’ so noticeable at the Belfry when his turn to ‘flash the ash’ comes round, but the genuine tooth pulling (as distinct from leg pulling) type.  How about it?  We shall have to depend on other clubs here, as we have none of the fraternity to my knowledge in the B.E.C.  As for my tooth, it was a perfectly sound tooth but, owing to an abscess, I had it drilled right through.  This weakened the tooth for subsequent chewing of hard toffee and it came to pieces. I still have there root and am hoping to have it rebuilt one day.


Have YOU any interesting facts to disclose; grouses to air or views to express?  And enables YOU to speak to the club on (almost) any subject. Why not write and tell us now and again?


Regular visitors to Mendip may have noticed and absent figure of late around the Mendip scene. Mr Cassey has moved on to Taunton, we understand, after more years ‘On the Hill’ than the Editor cares to think about.

Nearly of all the older hands at the Belfry have their own memories and favourite tales about Mr Cassey. Most of us, at one time or another have been guilty of some minor piece of anti-social behaviour and the understanding but firm way in which such peccadillo’s were pointed out made a lasting impression on more than one high spirited caver.

Cavers of many years ago were a very independent minded group of people who did not as a rule take kindly to outside discipline and it say much for Mr Cassey’s sense of humour , tact and understanding that he made so many friends amongst the cavers of that time.  Many members will remember the time when we invited him to our annual dinner as Guest of Honour, and the typical speech he made on that occasion.  We would like to wish Mr Cassey success in his new appointment, and hope that we shall come to know his successor in the same way.


The W.S.G. Dinner

Readers will have noted that caving club dinners are not, as a rule, described in the B.B. as much as was the case some years ago.  After all, we all tend to go to each other’s dinners a lot more than we did, and we all have got to know the Cliff; the Cave Man; the Star; the Swan; and other popular venues so well that description has become rather superfluous.  We make an exception however, of one recent W.S.G. Dinner – held in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street last weekend.  The setting was magnificent to start with. The actual dinner was held in a real wine cellar – with real FULL bottles of wine lining every wall – the whole scene lit by candlelight.  After a really hot soup, swiftly and unobtrusively served, the choice was roast beef or the speciality steak and kidney pie of the house.  Whichever was chosen, the helpings were enormous.  This was followed by an equally large helping of the best homemade fruit pie seen for a long day, and when the cheese and biscuits finally came round, most members were too full to tackle them. Second cups of coffee were readily available and the wines were as one might suppose, excellent.

Dave Irwin gave a caving quiz on slides which went down very well and this was followed by readings, recitations, etc.  The official guide told us some very interesting tales of the history of the inn at an earlier stage of the proceedings.  The W.S.G. are to be congratulated for producing such a splendid venue and such a good evening.


The next meeting of the Communications Committee will be on SUNDAY, MARCH 6TH at 1pm. at Dave Searle’s house.  Prew will be trying out his system on the previous Saturday, and the results will be discussed at the Sunday meeting.  The Chairman – ‘Sett’ – would be grateful if all interested persons could make an effort to attend.  It is most important that at least one B.E.C. Communication system is ready in time to be displayed at the exhibition in September this year.

New Members and Change of Address

Members who would like to keep their list of addresses up to date should include the following…..


SAC, Jackman, A. M.R.S., R.A.F. Valley, Anglesey, N.Wales.

C.J. Priddle, 19 Stanbury Rd., Horfield, Bristol.

R. Orr, Flat 4, Brackendale House, Brackendale Rd, Camberley, London.


M. Baker, “Morello”, Ash Lane, Wells, Somerset.

App. Cdt. Compton P.F., No218 Course, No1 sqd, R.A.F. South Cerney, Cirencester, Glos.

Members who change their addresses are asked to let Bob Bagshaw and/or Joan Bennett know as soon as possible.  This will avoid B.B.’s being sent to old addresses.


TWO important announcements. Firstly there are a series of Belfry Working evenings on WEDNESDAYS.  The Belfry needs a lot of regular attention if it is even to stay as it is, and more if it is to be improved.  PLEASE support the Hut Engineer and TURN UP EARLY.

Secondly, the next meeting of the Communications Committee will be on Sunday, 1st May at 11.30am at Dave Searle’s Cottage.  We have made rather a mess of getting the time and place right in the past, which probably accounts for the low attendance, but again, PLEASE turn up this time.

NOW AVAILABLE. B.E.C. CLIMBING REPORT.  “Some Sandstone Climbs in the Frome Valley”

This is a report on climbs made on outcrops of sandstone by B.E.C. climbers.  The justification for the report is that climbing techniques required on sandstone are different from those required on the more famous local limestone.  The effect of rain is small and on several occasions it has been possible to climb in this area when limestone climbing would have been impaired.  Copies are available from R.S. King, 22 Parkfield Bank, Pucklechurch, Nr Bristol, at 2/6 per copy – Postage & Packing 6d extra.

Photoessay Competition

As a result of the notice in last month’s B.B., several members of club have expresses their intention of entering this competition on Photoessay lines.  The scheme has now been discussed with them and some basic rules agreed.  These have now been expanded into a set of rules for the competition as follows: -


1.                  There shall be two basic classes.  Class “A” for 2” x 2” colour slides, and class “B” for Black & White prints.

2.                  Any members may send in any number of entries in either or both classes.

3.                  Where more than one entry is submitted, the subject must be a different one for each entry. Thus, the same subject may not be submitted by one member in both classes.

4.                  All photographs must be the work of the exhibitor.  The processing may, however be carried out professionally.  The layout, in Class “B” must be the work of the exhibitor.

5.                  The subject may be any aspect of club activities and may be treated seriously or humorously.

6.                  Each entry shall consist of a minimum of SIX and a maximum of TWELVE slides or prints. There ahs been some discussion about this rule and, as a result, entries having less than six slides or prints will be considered.  The exhibitor of such an entry may, however, run the risk of disqualification.

7.                  A title shall be provided for each entry.

8.                  Connecting or descriptive words up to a maximum of TWENTY words per slide or print may be used. The use of such words is not compulsory.

9.                  A system of judging will be worked out later by discussion with the competitors.  All entrants must agree to abide by these rules.


Each entry in this class shall comprise a set of slides plus an optional ‘script’.  This script shall consist of the words allowed in the rules plus instructions as to when each slide is to be changed.  The title of the entry may be written down at the top of the ‘script’ or be provided as a title slide.  In the latter case, this slide shall not count towards the total number submitted.  It will thus be possible to show 12 slides plus the title slide if desired.


Each entry in this class shall comprise a set of prints plus an optional ‘script’.  The entry shall be mounted on a suitable piece of hardboard, exhibition board or similar stiff backing material.  The entry shall be titled and the script, if any, laid out with the photographs in any manner desired.   (i.e. can be put between each photograph and the next – under each photograph – or in any other manner).  Photographs need not all be the same size.  The only restriction is that competitors are asked not to make their entry too large.

The closing date for this competition is the day of the 1966 Annual General Meeting and Dinner – October 1st. 1966.


It is not too early to be thinking of said Dinner!  If YOU have any ideas of what you like “Laid on” – within, we would hasten to add, reason – let any member of the Committee know.  Just think, You could start a new B.E.C. tradition!  (like buying the Editor a pint?).


As most members know, the subject of Cave Communications is one in which the B.E.C. is actively working. The Communications Committee hopes to be able to demonstrate a working system at the B.S.A. conference later this year.  It is thus interesting to see that our more ‘far flung’ members are also interested in this subject, as the following letter from George Honey shows…..

34, Knightsbridge Walk

To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

On my recent visit to Mendip I found the subject of Cave Communication was causing much interest. May I add a few words and ask for comments from fellow cavers?

A present, the only way of communicating from cave to surface or over a long ladder pitch is by telephone.  This, of course, is inconvenient as telephones are heavy and cables soon deteriorate when left underground.  This brings up the first point.  How large a piece of equipment will cavers carry?  I am thinking now in terms of a ‘black box’ the size of a Nife battery.

The other way round the problem is, of course, to use radio, but we all know that you can’t receive even Caroline through five hundred feet of Mendip.  It is possible to use radio underground, however, in the following ways.

1.                  On a long Ladder pitch like Gaping Ghyll or in any very large chamber almost any form of Walkie Talkie will do, the cheapest at present are transistor W/T’s which work in the 7 to 9 Mc/s band and cost about £8 a pair.  They are, however, quite useless through five hundred feet of rock.

2.                  If a discontinuity can be found, like vertical fault, it seems very possible that Very High Frequency can be propagated along the line of the crack.  This method is of academic interest only as the cost of equipment is likely to be prohibitive.

3.                  Communication by induction is quite feasible.  Already one successful experiment on Mendip has been carried out. I feel an extension of Prew’s system would be to run an insulated wire from the surface through the cave.  Only one wire would be needed but what would caver’s think about leaving wires ion the caves?  The whole idea is to build a system similar to the paging systems installed in hospitals.  The main equipment would of course be on the surface and all the caver would have would be something the size of a small transistor radio.

4.                  The final system which is well worth investigating is the use of low frequency radio waves which would suffer less attenuation when passing through rock than do frequencies we listen to a radio station on.  There are some problems here, though.  A suitable frequency would be 20 – 30 Kc/s and the aerial for such a system would have to be several turns of wire right round the edge of a field above the cave or a vertical wire several hundred feet long hanging down, say, a mine shaft.

James R. Wait of N.B.S. ( United States) has a done a great deal of work on L.F. propagation.  Most of his work is in the Proceedings of the National Bureau of Standards and the American Radio Engineer.  I have got the data for rock below 1 Mc/s and it seems that we stand a chance.  I have had a talk with the propagation boys and they said that there has been a big security clamp on L.F. propagation, as it is being used for long range submarine communications.  They thought that over the distances we were interested in, a few watts might suffice if we had the whole thing tuned up properly.  There are frequencies where there is a lot of noise and stray earth currents may be troublesome but they suggested 20 – 30 Kc/s with single sideband modulation and ferrite rod antennae on the portable stations.

I would be pleased to hear from all cavers on their views of what they want a communication system to do.

George H. Honey.

Easter 1966

by P.A. Kingston

Most of the members arrived at Heirwith Farm or Greenclose Cottage on Thursday night with the exception of the Bennett’s and Phil Kingston, who spent Thursday walking over Ingleborough looking at Gaping Ghyll and the so-called dry shafts of Newby Moss, all of which were taking streams.

Friday morning saw party of ten assemble at Bull Pot.  After a bit of trouble with an un-booked party, the pot was descended.  The first pitch of thirty five feet led to a wet pitch of fifteen feet.  This was followed by a dry fifty foot pitch, the first twenty feet of which is very similar to the Entrance Rift of St. Cuthbert’s.  The next pitch – fifty feet and extremely wet – considerably reduced the numbers in the party.  Roy Bennett and Phil Kingston descended and Alan Thomas after descending most of the way, found his hands were too cold to climb and returned up the pitch.  Roy and Phil then continued into a dry series and carried on happily to the bottom via a pool with a deep mud floor.  When the return journey was started, considerable difficulty was encountered.  After an hour of combined tactics, the bottom of the fourth pitch was reached and ascended. The second pair (Trevor Birkbeck and Martin Hutchins of W.S.G.)  reported having similar difficulty in a wet passage at the bottom of the Fourth Pitch.

The evening saw the B.E.C. at the local hostelry.  The next day saw a large party – led by Norman Petty – descend Upper Long Churn and Alum Pot via Lower Long Churn.  The waterfall from Diccan Pot into the final chamber of Alum Pot was extremely impressive. Meanwhile, the Bennetts and Alan Thomas found a useful contact for future trips behind the Ingleborough Show Cave.

Easter Sunday saw a vast number of cavers descend via Bar Pot to Gaping Ghyll Main Chamber with excursions to West Chamber, Old East Passage, Pool Chamber and Sand Caverns. Dave Irwin remained at the head of the hundred foot pitch to lifeline.

This badly timed trip resulted in arrival on the surface too late to visit the pub, but we were saved from an evening’s abstinence due to Tony Meadon pleading his case to the landlord of the pub and thus obtaining one large bottle of mead which was gratefully consumed in Norman Petty’s tent at 1.30 in the morning.

A weekend in which more people caved than was expected, the weather more miserable and the Northern Pennine Club more violent than at the equivalent weekend last year.

Owing to demand for Belfry places by visiting clubs, and the need to accept them whenever possible in the interests of good relations and maintenance of Belfry Funds, members are strongly advised to BOOK IN ADVANCE whenever possible.  On Bank Holiday weekends, THIS IS ESSENTIAL.

Readers will no doubt wonder what has happened to the Caving Log recently.  We assure them that it is not the fault of the compiler, but that it has happened that the right sort of space has not appeared in the layout of the B.B.  We hope to be publishing a larger number next month, with plenty of room for this – brought right up to date – and other articles.  Thought you might like to know.



The last page of this B.B. contains another of the cartoons by Jock Orr which have been appearing of recent months.


Caving in Switzeland

by ‘Mo’ Marriott.

Caving life is really very dull here.  It consists of exploring one ruddy vertical hole after another!  To be serious, it is actually pretty interesting – most of our efforts are concentrated in an area about forty miles from here and this area is real mountain Karst country, albeit rather juvenile.  The amount of work to be done is vast, work that can, however, be unrewarding at times.  The area is simply littered with shafts, some of them deep (deep means over three hundred feet) but many of them are disappointingly blocked with snow, even at quite considerable depths.  The deepest hole to date was found to be blocked with a mixture of snow and ice at a depth of about twelve hundred feet – and it took the best part of eight days to find this out!  (I wasn’t on this trip, unfortunately).  Our great hope is that we shall be able to get into a system which will connect with a quite gigantic rising in the South West corner of the area.  Our hopes are spurred on by two things.  First, the size of the rising, which seems to dictate that the whole area is being drained at one point – this augers well for the existence of a master type system.  Secondly, there is a very large difference in height between the main area where the shafts are found (1,8000 to 1,9000 metres) and the rising at 450 metres O.D.

If we could push a system right to the rising level, we would have a world beater on our hands, although I might add that this possibility does not figure very largely in our calculations or account for our enthusiasm.  I feel that if such as system id ever found here, it will only be at the expense of a lot of very hard work.  Of course, there is also the possibility that such a hole does not exist here in any case.  Our biggest ladder pitch so far is just on the six hundred foot mark – and ruddy marvellous it was too!

I had one or two second thoughts just as I was getting on to the ladder, but it is quite the finest shaft that I have ever seen, or am ever likely to see for that matter.  It struck me as slightly ridiculous at the time that this monstrous pitch – free hanging all the way – was deeper than the deepest British cave.  I can assure you that it gave me a profound sense of respect!

The principle disadvantage of this kind of caving is that the available caving season is rather short. One can usually reckon on beginning in the early part of June, and the season ends in October or December depending upon the weather.  Of course, a cold winter – or the early onset of bad weather can cut down the available season even more.  Even though the skiing season acts as a compensation during the winter months one gets a bit frustrated knowing that those dam great holes are just waiting there, probably blocked with snow.

That is more or less a general picture of caving here in Yodel Land, I’ll tell you more about it in the summer.

Editor’s Note:    We expect that ‘Mo’ will be surprised to see this article, as it was not intended by him to be such, but was part of a letter. However, we understand that we have his permission to print it, and we hope that ‘Mo’ will keep us abreast of his work out there during the summer.

Photographic Competition

Members will note that the rules for this competition have not yet been published.  This is because the grapevine has so far failed to suggest that anyone might be thinking of entering.  We obviously don’t want to run a competition for which there is going to be insufficient support.  Perhaps people have got the idea that this is a fantastically difficult thing to do. The organiser would therefore appreciate if anyone who thinks that he or she might possibly enter could let him know, and it might then be possible to arrange the competition to suit their ideas. Contact Alfie for further information.

Caving Notes

G.B. Saturday, March 26th.  11am at the Belfry.

Easter.  April 8th – 11th.  Yorkshire, including G.G., Bull Pot, Browgill and Calf Holes.  For transport contact Roy Bennett or Dave Irwin.

Swildons.  May 15th. PRACTICE RESCUE 10AM  SUNDAY.  Meet at Maine’s Barn.  Route: Twenty back to the Water Chamber

Agen Allwedd.  May 21/22.  Names to Dave Irwin.  Members not having signed an indemnity chit should do so as soon as possible.  Forms available from Keith Franklin or Dave Irwin.

June 18th.  St. CUTHBERT’S PRACTICE RESCUE.  11am. All leaders please note this date.


Nife Cell Spares.  Main lamp bulbs and armour plate glasses are available at the Belfry. Any other spare     parts can be ordered against cash.

Carbide Lamp Spare.  Most spares are available.

Access to Mendip Caves

(Continued from the January B.B.)

Longwood Swallet.  This cave is controlled by the Charterhouse Caving Committee.  Indemnity forms are obtainable from R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Rd, Knowle. These are to be returned to Bob when completed, and he will send a five year permit.  Call at Lower Farm.  Farmer charges 1/- per caver.  Changing accommodation is available.  Permit must be shown to the farmer.  It is best to write to Mr Young, Lower Farm, Charterhouse, Nr Wells, Somerset, as the number of parties in the cave at any time is restricted.  When B.E.C. members wish to take guest, the guest must complete an indemnity form and Bob will issue a temporary permit to cover the actual day or days required.

G.B. Cavern.  As for Longwood Swallet, but the permit must be countersigned by the Hon. Sec. of the U.B.S.S.  There is also a U.B.S.S. charge of 1/- per caver as a tackle fee.  For permission and keys, write to Dave Irwin, 9 Camden Hill Gardens, London W8 or B.E.C. Assistant Caving sec. Keith Franklin, 20 Clayton Street, Avonmouth, Bristol, giving at least four weeks notice.  Tackle fee should be sent to either of the above when returning the key. Instructions hung inside the blockhouse should be strictly adhered to.

Rhino Rift.  As for G.B. Cavern.

To be continued.

Emergency Food

The Chelsea Cave Group were recently given an illustrated lecture on the Horlicks Packs, and many types were passed round for inspection, including the two Aggy M.R.O. packs.

The average adult requires about four thousand calories per day – an example for practical purposes in an emergency being 4oz of sugar (in form of sweets, tablets, etc and a pint and three quarters of water).  This is sufficient for 24 hours.  The representatives at the lecture added that teenagers normally require something in excess of this, but the additional quantity would vary very much from one individual to another..

A pack now being manufactured by Horlicks for emergency occasions is contained in a standard tobacco tin, this type weighs only a few ounces and it is well to carry in addition to such items as matches, candle, toilet paper, spare bulbs, iodine and medicated plasters in a similar tin.  This kit can be easily be assembled for a few shillings.  Who can tell when Swildons will flood again?

One or two novelties were also shown.  A plastic clip – used to seal polythene wrappings, when empty of food stuffs, makes a useful water bottle with clip seal.  An extra tobacco tin lid with an ‘H’ shaped hole punched out of its centre makes a useful emergency stove.  The centre flaps may be bent downwards at right angles to the plane of the tin lid and the tin itself then fitted into the lid.  This arrangement leaves a space under the tin for a small block of solid fuel of the metaldehyde type.

Also being manufactured for long expeditions are 20 man-day boxes constructed of plywood and stiffened with bimetal frames.  These have been designed primarily for Polar expeditions, but have been used on mountaineering expeditions.  They are completely Husky proof.  Apparently, these dogs are blessed with extra strong jaws and are often fed with unopened tins of bully beef.

If water is suspect in any cave, a small drop of iodine will completely sterilise it, although the taste will be quite revolting.  A sterilising kit may, on the other hand, be bought from any good chemist for a few shillings if necessary.

Although hot food is pleasant, it should be well down on the list of priorities.  In emergencies, the temperature of the food is unimportant with respect to calories.  The actual calorific value of the food hardly changes with temperature.  This has recently been proved in the U.S.A.

From his records and questionnaire sheets which are sent out with every consignment, the lecturer concluded that water was the major problem.  Although it was bulky, water should always be carried as the one and three-quarter pints per day minimum was absolutely essential.

Editor’s Note.    The above has been in the B.B. files for some time, but has not been published before as we have no record of the name of the contributor.  However, we thought that the subject of what and how much to take in the way of emergency food supplies had not been tackled before in the B.B. and so we are breaking our usual rule.  Perhaps we can have some comments from any of our medical members?

Instructions for passing through Swildons Sump 1

In these days of wet suits and other sumping gear, it may be of interest to read Don Coase’s original instructions for passing Sump 1 in Swildons.  This is reproduced from the B.E.C. caving log for July 1946 – six months before the B.B. started.

1.                  Get straight into the water up to your neck.  Don’t paddle around and take half an hour getting up to your waist.  The cold will sap your vitality.

2.                  When up to your neck, let your breathing slow down to normal.  About a minute should be enough for this.

3.                  Deliberately sink to the bottom before moving.  Then pull yourself along the line, but don’t rush it.  The reason for this is that there is a step in the roof (see sketch) and contacting this too forcibly is not good for the cranium. Don’t take too deep a breath before starting.  It only strains the lungs and heart.

4.                  As soon as the step is passed, let yourself rise.  Some one who has been through before should preferably go first, so as to hold the guide wire up on the other side, as it is possible to go under another overhang if not careful.  Go through with the guide wire in your RIGHT hand, and use it to pull yourself along with. DON’T let go of it.  You have plenty of room to swim with your feet to help you along.

5.                  Returning. Repeat above, but there is no step to contact.  Guide wire should be held in the LEFT hand this time.

In view of the fact that this B.B. is again rather late, in fact it is unlikely to be read by members until after the month of May is out – it is rather poor taste that we mention that this B.B. marks a milestone for the Editor (or do I mean millstone?). Anyway, it seemed a good excuse for the oversize B.B. – the occasion being that the present Hon. Ed. has produced as many B.B.’s as all the previous holders of this horrible club office put together.

 (Shouts of “Resign!  Chuck him out!” &c.)

However poor the excuse, the B.B. this month IS larger and what is more contains practically nothing but CAVING in one form or another.  Two articles on a cave discovery, an article on a caving trip, caving notes and a letter on a cave rescue.

The remaining long article is also about an aspect of caving which (quite deliberately) rarely gets into the pages of the B.B. – Spelaeopolitics.

Nevertheless, it is probably good for us to think about the sort of plans which the bureaucrats are thinking up for our sport and the article brings you up to date on one aspect of this and also suggests what we might well do about it.  A certain amount of correspondence on this subject might not be a bad idea – providing we don’t devote too much space to it!



Don’t forget the Date of the A.G.M. and Dinner – it is always the FIRST Saturday in OCTOBER. While you’re at it, how about putting in an entry for the Photessay composition?

The first of our accounts of the new discoveries in Dan-Yr-Ogof is reproduced from the C.R.G. Newsletter by kind permission of the author, Bill Little: -

Dan-Yr-Ogof: Notes on the New Extensions

As readers will be aware from press reports, some major passages were discovered on Tuesday and Wednesday, 12th and 13th of April.  Some members of S.W.C.C. had completed a scaling operation up Dripping Aven without revealing anything ‘new’.  Afterwards, Eileen Davies was anxious to make another attempt to squeeze through the endless crawl with other thin members willing to follow her.  After negotiating a number of very awkward narrow bends, we had found a calcite floor the next barrier to progress.  The difficulty was as much due to the associated bending as to the lack of height.  Some of the calcite floor was chipped away, and beyond we found room to turn round. Although this passage is exhausting, the worst psychological barrier had now disappeared.

A thirty foot ladder was rigged down a muddy chimney which opened out dramatically.  It was already late, and the formidable third lake was well above the average level.  About half the party followed Eileen, whilst the others were either prevented by their size or were put off by the crawl – now renamed the Long Crawl.  A support party was called in to assist the initial explorers.

The first passage into which the ladder dropped (Gerard Platten Hall) has a mud and boulder floor. A small stream flows along the centre from some mud-choked passages on the right.  Following down this stream, the passage is wide and higher, comparable with Davy Price Hall in Tunnel cave.  A side passage and two potholes on the left were descended some hundred feet to a lake, where the clear water of the little stream joined a murky, deep lake. The mud banks suggested that this was the main river, still much nearer to Llynfell (the Dan-Yr-Ogof resurgence) than the Giedd (its main course).

Along G.P. Hall, a clean swept floor of bedrock led to a three foot deep crystal-encircled pool which occupied the full width of a junction.  Ahead, ‘Flabbergasm Chasm’ is a lofty arched passage with a sand floor and some seven or eight foot straws (macaroni).  It ends in a sudden drop to the other passage.  This is the Grand Canyon and, after becoming loftier, meanders in broad sweeps.  The black, ripple-marked walls are pasted with gypsum crystals. There are some patches of well developed eccentrics; long straw; columns and a few knobbly stalactites.

A decline in height causes stooping before one climbs ten feet up into a large chamber.  Large passages lead in two directions before hills of mud meet their roofs.  To the right the noise of rushing water led us to a little stream cascading in a clean washed gully.  Climbing this revealed the water falling from a boulder choke about a hundred feet above the bottom.

Between the last chamber and this waterfall, a climb amongst large rocks revealed another chamber and the Green Canal.  This – when first seen – was quite clear with the sides encrusted with crystals below water level.  There was negligible outflow.  Swimming a short way along this five or six foot wide tunnel suggested the desirability of the use of a dinghy.  There were no handholds or footholds for a heavily booted caver to rest upon.

It was now morning and we retired.

Another party came in later on Wednesday and boated through the Green canal while the writer attended to his business.  Outside there was a heavy snowfall and blizzard, but larger and longer passages were reported to have been found.  The was some three quarters of a mile, I reckon, between the Long Crawl and the Green Canal, so that suggests at least one and a half miles of ‘new’ passages traversed.

Exploration stopped at the top of a reputedly sixty foot pitch for want of another ladder. Hereabouts were reported huge sandbanks of peaty sand with green sprouting grass seeds suggesting recent flooding on a larger scale than in the previous known parts.  At the weekend, the level of the Third Lake was up higher and the thawing of the late snow, together with the saturated bogs seemed to point clearly to the likelihood of any party going in on the Saturday being cut off.  We did not venture though the few inches of air space, and waited for most of the Sunday before the level dropped one inch.  A small party swam through the chilly melt water in Lake Passage.  For a few hours the squeeze resounded with grunts and hammer blows as the remaining calcite floor was ripped up and stowed away in corners.  Much remains to be done to ease the other bends.  A brief visit was made to G.P. Hall and the Pothole Passage to collect fauna, now sent to the Biological Recorder.

It is the wish of the original explorers of those new parts, that the formations are photographed before being damaged, and also that the work of blasting out obstacles in the Long Crawl, together with the placing of Preservation Tapes and Survival Rations, goes ahead without disturbance at every safe opportunity.  Because this cave now represents a unique site in the country to study the invisible as well as the obvious biological phenomena, in both ‘clear’ cave waters as well as in the separate river system in the lower levels, every effort will be made to sample all the indigenous populations from bacteria upwards before any appreciable contamination is carried in by human agencies.  It is therefore desirable that as few as possible should enter during this period.

We hope to have the patient co-operation of all cavers whilst a few selected experts finish and scrape samples into sterile containers.  As we have waited at the end of the show cave for the swirling waters to recede, nature has seemed to cling to her mysteries as tenaciously as ever.

W.H. Little.

We follow Bill Little’s “official” account with a rather more personal and B.E.C. orientated article on the same discovery…

Gerard Platten Hall

…by Alan Coase and Colin Graham.

Eighteen months ago, intensive work was begun in Dan-Yr-Ogof and this includes work in a passage called Long Crawl, at the furthest reaches of the cave.

A few weeks ago, late on a Sunday, Alan Coase and Eileen Davies reached a squeeze, but lack of time made them turn back.  Flooding prevented any more work until Tuesday, 12th April when Eileen Davies and Bruce Foster, followed by Colin Graham, Neil Anderson and Alan Coase passed the squeeze and the following chimney and twenty foot pitch into the new extension, called Gerard Platten Hall, in recognition of his work in the cave before the war, and assistance given to Alan Coase and others in recent years.

The series is very large by any standard and must rank amongst the major finds of recent years. Exploration is still in the initial stages.  Time, high water, and a sixty foot pitch have so far prevented any deep penetration, but the remarkable thing about the passages is that they are becoming larger the further one penetrates.  It is interesting to note that in the first part of the new extension, there is a great abundance of formation, the greater part being straws with most well over seven feet in length.  There is also a quantity of excellent mud formations and crystal pools in this section, but perhaps the most interesting feature are the banks of helictites.

Once a deep and clear canal is crossed (by dinghy) a stream passage is reached.  This obviously floods on occasion and there is evidence of peat mud.  Formation here is rare and although the passage is over seventy feet high.  There is also an aven, the height of which is impossible to assess.

A further level was reached with a large stream flowing.  This section floods considerably.  Further exploration is being curtailed while the extension crawl is being enlarged, a telephone installed and emergency rations carried in.

Caving Notes

by Dave Irwin.

Giant’s Hole – Derbyshire.  The thirty foot fixed ladder has been removed from Garland Pot. All those tackling this system need an extra 30’ ladder with about a ten foot tether.

Cuthbert’s Report.  The first two parts of the fifteen Cuthbert’s Report will be available in September from Bryan Ellis.  This will be as follows.  Part ‘G’ Cerberus and Maypole Series and Part ‘O’ Miscellaneous Details including Access Details, Leaders List, Tackle Details, Rescue Procedures, etc.

Nife Cell Spares.  Most parts are available to special order.  (see Dave Irwin for price list).

Fauna in St. Cuthbert’s.  In addition to the list in the C.R.G. Biological Supplements, the following have been found in the cave. RIVULOGAMMARUS PULEX, SIMILIUM ssp. Larvae, DIXA spp. Larvae, LUMBRICIDAE spp.

ACCESS TO AGEN ALLWEDD.  A circular from Bill Maxwell (C.S.S.) states that indemnity chits are no longer required.  Formalities must, however, be completed at least two weeks before a proposed visit. A printed list of names and addresses of all in the party should be sent to Bill, together with £1 deposit for the entrance key.  Also indicate (a) name of club, (b) leader of underground party and (c) date of proposed trip.  The key will be sent to the leader approximately one week before the trip and should be returned as soon as possible to W. Maxwell, 12 Heybridge Drive, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex.  Send two S.A.E.’s when applying for permission.  The permits do not give permission to dig, camp, bang or use water tracers etc.  All the forgoing require special permission.

Dan-Yr-Ogof.  A club trip will likewise be organised to the new extensions to this cave as soon as practicable.

Pembrokeshire.  R. (Kangy) King is organising a club meet to this area if sufficient support is given. Several potholes were bottomed last year.  All interested should contact Kangy at 22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Nr. Bristol.

Agen Allwedd

by Geoff Bull.

Not until I looked at the survey a few days before, did I realise what I had let myself in for.  By then, of course, it was too late.  A wavering line stretched across the page representing a mile and a half of Southern Stream Passage.

The directions to get to this passage could not be simpler.  “From the first boulder choke – reached by taking every left turn for a thousand feet or so – walk down Main Stream Passage for about two thousand feet, pass Main and East Passages and turn right into another large passage.  From there, either drop down through a hole in the floor or continue along the passage and then drop (literally!) through a narrow tube and climb down a rift into Southern Stream Passage.”

I found, at the cost of some effort in the tube that, although there may well be two entrances to Southern Stream Passage, only one exists.  In coming out, simply keep on to the end of the passage among the boulders.

The way down Southern Stream Passage involves crawling, stooping, wallowing in the stream under low roofs, scrambling over and around boulders and – just occasionally – walking upright.  The endless passage might be monotonous if you had time to think about it. After nearly a mile, however, there is a short stretch of “wide” passage and a pothole with a fine piece of symmetrical coloured fluting in the wall.  Then it’s back to the old slog again.

At the end of Southern Stream Passage is the huge Stream Passage, leading to the Terminal Sump from Biza Passage and the Fourth Boulder Choke.  Some people had the energy to look at this, but for the writer it was – with apologies to Alan Thomas – a case of Aggy Aggy 5; G. Bull, nil.

Nylon Rope

When to discard?

The Spring 1965 issue of “Mountaineering” – the Journal of the British Mountaineering Council (Club Library) has an article “Your Rope” which includes detailed notes on the inspection of used climbing (or caving) ropes.  This will be reprinted as a B.M.C. circular for ease of reference.

What type of rope?

The British Standards Institution have published a British Specification for Nylon Climbing Ropes.  This is B.S. 3104, 1959.  It gives the highest possible energy absorption in order to protect against the risk of rope failure on falling.  The recommended rope is a number 4 or “Extra Full weight”.  Viking ropes are made to B.S. 3104.  There are of course other nylon ropes available, but it is possible that these may not match up to B.S. 3104 performance which was arrived at with some trouble.  For example, the War Department purchased a number of ropes on open tender which turned out to be very bad in practice – some becoming so stiff as to be unmanageable and others coming unlaid.

R.S. King.

Towards a National Council ?

by Dave Irwin.

Having recently discussed the subject of a National Council of Caving Clubs with several people, I found that most seem evenly divided over this matter and on the face of it, only a few have really given the matter any thought at all.

So far, little or no mention has been made in the B.B. regarding either the proposed National Council or the Council of Southern Caving Clubs (C.S.C.C.).  What follows is a general outline of the points of disagreement and some thoughts of my own that do not reflect the official policy of the B.E.C.

In 1963 many of the northern clubs banded together to form the Council of Northern Caving Clubs. This was because several of the major caving areas in the dales were closed to cavers.  In order to re-open these areas, landowners would only listen to a single body comprising the local clubs who could then speak with one voice. Eventually, Casterton and Leck Fell was re-opened due to work if the C.N.C.C. for certain times of the year. Much of this heath land is used by the owners for breeding and shooting grouse, and cavers now have access to the area during the winter months.  Permission to enter the systems is given by the C.N.C.C.  It should be said that at this point that information given to the writer by a northern caver had led him to believe that cavers in the north seem to think it is their right to be able to enter caves without due regard to the local landowners or farmers.  Before the control of caving areas by the C.N.C.C., caver/farmer relations were at a low ebb.  Because of these problems, a point if view was developed that a National Council of caving Clubs would be a responsible body to deal with cavers’ problems and which the farmers and landowners could contact and meet with to solve troubles as and when they arose.  It was also argued that a National Council; would also solve problems in the field of public relations.

Leading cavers of the southern clubs were in general opposed to the formation of a National Council, but were driven into action by a letter circulated to all major caving clubs by the C.N.C.C. which suggested that if clubs which were not members of the C.N.C.C. were not interested in the formation of a National Council then they – the C.N.C.C. – would take the matter into their own hands and proceed with the formation of a National Council by themselves.  It was also suggested that this body would be eventually affiliated to the National Council for Physical Recreation.  As a result, the C.S.C.C. was formed to look after the interests of southern clubs as it was felt that, if the northern clubs went ahead with the formation of a national body, then the southern clubs would not have a say in matters affecting their own areas.

At the same time, as the C.N.C.C. letter was circulated, the club representing the Midlands – the Cave and Crag Club – proposed the formation of a British Caving Council.  The S.W.C.C., taking an independent line, in my opinion stated the root of the matter and said, “…we feel also that the independence of caving clubs must be maintained with the minimum of outside interference, and that club affairs should be governed solely by the individual club members through their committee.”

The C.S.C.C. comprises most of the major caving clubs in southern England and its basic policy is to ‘Live and let live’ In other words, to take no action where individual clubs can or would prefer to try to solve the problems which occasionally face them.  Also, in the event of a N.C.C.C. being formed, it could then voice the opinion of southern caving clubs.

As a result of all this activity, the C.N.C.C. backed down and said they would not pursue the matter of the formation of a national council unless they had full agreement of the C.S.C.C.  The question is now – do we want a National Council of Caving Clubs?  If not, then do we still want the C.S.C.C. now the threat of having one formed whether we like it or not has receded?  Or has it?

Perhaps the most difficulty part of this matter is to produce an argument of substance against a national council.  Should this be formed, and then followed up with affiliation to the C.N.P.R. it might mean that we poor cavers would be able to obtain grants from the state to build luxurious caving huts.  Under the title of “Pothole Politics”, Ray Kershaw states “….there IS going to be a National Association.”  He goes on to postulate that such a body will probably evolve rather than suddenly be formed and suggest that the first step in this process would be the combining of rescue organisations.  He continues to state that he thinks the B.S.A. is the ideal body to be the National Council.

After this length preamble on the “state of the art” the writer would like to set down his views for further discussion through the medium of the B.B.  Why such a council as proposed is unnecessary and what he would prefer to see develop.

Most cavers tend to cave in the main nearest their homes (water or gas main? – Ed.) occasionally visiting other areas when time allows.  Hence they become parochial in outlook.  When visiting other areas they generally visit the more well known caves in the area.  Cavers from the north, for instance, will, when visiting Mendip, have Swildons in the forefront of their mind.  They will not be particularly interested in the little dig around the corner from the caving hut at which they happen to be staying.  Their interests in this direction lie in their own hunting grounds which they know well.

Clubs too have their individual characteristics, reflecting the interests of their members. Affiliation to a political council would tend to make for a uniformity and to mould individuals into ‘army thinking’. The formation of a National Council would eventually take away the control of access to caves now managed by local clubs.  This trend would inevitably bring open caves under their control.  On Mendip Cuthbert’s G.B., Pinetree Pot, Lamb Leer etc. would all become National Council controlled caves and would be joined by the open caves of Swildons, Eastwater etc.  When discussing problems of cave preservation, access, etc who knows best how to deal with all forms of local interest?  The local clubs every time – not a National Council Secretary of a committee meeting held, perhaps, a hundred miles away.  Local difficulties can always be solved by maintaining good relations with local people.

References are always being made about the ‘Cave Cowboy’ or ‘Yobbo’ problem.  It is felt in some quarters that, by using the power of a National Council to gate caves, the troublesome element would be greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated.  The mechanism would be to force prospective cavers towards the established clubs, or, where they formed a new one, to refuse access to the caves to this club until some laid down standard had been achieved.  This would have the effect of virtually forcing new clubs to join older clubs.  Admittedly, there is a danger amongst the clubs which have lately been springing up all over the country who are found caving with inadequate experience, clothes or tackle or who run into difficulties through taking novices on arduous trips (Longwood 1962).  This problem could just as easily be tackled through the local clubs by methods suggested later in this article.

It has been suggested that a National Council would form a group to deal with public relations to put the cavers’ point of view at a national level.  In my opinion, this would achieve very little.  The best way to put our sport over to the public is by word of mouth and by helping to reduce the number of preventable accidents and hence the press’s chances to scream.  The British public are essentially ‘sporty’ but this only applies to sports that they can watch.  Thus more films of caving activities – made by the clubs – could easily fill the gap.

Rescue organisations are, according to the Ray Kershaw article already referred to, being organised into a National Body.  From what I have heard, no one on Mendip knows about this, if it is true.  Could this be the thin edge of a wedge?

M.R.O. is a bo0dy unto itself and makes its own decisions to suit its local problems.  The local clubs contribute financially when necessary for equipment etc.  Personally. I feel that cavers should not look to public funds to finance our rescues. An occasional meeting between C.R.O.’s would pay dividends, but this should not be mandatory.

To sum up.  What then is needed?  Some will still say “A National Council”.  Others will, no doubt say “Follow a laisser faire policy”  I personally am against a ‘political’ form of national council.  The free sport as we know it will become organised to an extent that will discourage many.

I’d like instead to suggest a centre which could act as a clearing house for all caving information. This body could act in an advisory capacity, information centre, library, museum etc  –  in other words, a much expanded C.R.G.    At the moment this body is undergoing a ‘face lift’ perhaps going some way towards this goal instead of their nebulous backroom body it has seemed to the average caver – that is, if he has even heard of it.  This type of system works very well in another hobby of mine – philately. The Royal Philatelic Society of London acts in a similar manner to the council I propose, and is open for individuals to join but not clubs.

The threat of the N.C.C.C. is still a real one.  Murmurs are heard even on Mendip.  Do we want a political body that would take away the responsibilities of individual clubs and fill our lives with form filling, or do we want to encourage a body already in existence to provide a service of lasting and genuine interest amongst the caving population?  The choice is yours.

Dave Irwin.


Unfortunately, the letter which follows arrived just too late for inclusion in the last B.B.  We understand that, after John’s successful recovery, he sportingly put on a barrel at the Hunters for his rescuers.

Nr. Axbridge,

To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

I shall be most grateful if you would permit me to make use of your excellent journal for the purpose of thanking those members who took part in the rescue last month when I fell in Cuthbert’s

The speed and efficiency of the party was really first class and they performed what could be genuinely be described as a ‘painless extraction’ of victim from cave!

I hope to be about on Mendip again when I shall have the opportunity to thank personally those concerned.

John Stafford.

List of Addresses.

Those of you like to keep your last list of members’ addresses up to date like to add those of some recent new members as follows…

G.S. Watt

B. Crewe

A.J. Whiteman

Miss G. Staplehorn

A.J. Handy

P. Bridges

D.L. Rebori

J.R. Henderson

A.H. Reed

59 Southbrow House, Duckmoor Rd, Ashton, Bristol.

16 Pine Wood Rd, Midsomer Norton, Somerset.

1 Golden Rd., Clifton, Bristol 8.

83 Throgmorton Rd., Knowle, Bristol 4.

2 Coleshill Drive, Hartcliffe, Bristol.

51 Rockhill, Wellsway, Keynsham, Somerset.

11 Kellaway Ave., Westbury Park, Bristol.

8 Oldfield Place, Hotwells, Bristol 8.

156 British Road, Bedminster, Bristol 3.

And the following members’ changes of address….

Mr & Mrs J. Major

Capt. R.F. Kitchen

P.H. Blogg

8511 L/Cpl G. Dell

Saint Cross, Greendown, Litton, Bath, Somerset.

25 Furse Hill Rd., Tidworth, Hants.

Hunters Field, Chaldon Common Road, Chaldon, Surrey.

9 Platoon, 3 Bad, B.F.P.O.40.


This has been added since printing to explain to members just what IS going on.  We have had some extremely bad luck with the duplicator which, apart from all the other troubles it has been suffering from of late; has just acquired another quirk..  It apparently will print anything on any paper EXCEPT the paper we have got for the B.B. This has made this MAY B.B. extremely late – and I don’t suppose many of you will actually get it until well into June.