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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset .

Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor:   G. Wilton-Jones, 24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) 28270.

Address Change:           John and Sue Dukes
                                        18, Shepton West
                                                Shepton Mallet

Have you borrowed one of the Club's GB or Longwood keys?  Believe it or are not, you are not the only one who wants to go down these caves. We now have two GB keys and one August Longwood key missing from the library.  If you still have one of these please return it post haste.

Welcome to the following NEW MENBERS:

977       Tony Callard
792       Ken James - back in the fold once again;
978       Shiela Furley
979       Richard Natthews
980       John Matthews


Harry Stanbury now at 7, Falcon Terrace, Bude, Cornwall.  In his letter Harry invites any members who happen to be in the area to drop in.

961 Nick Phimister now at 10, Telford Street, Inverness, Scotland.  Nick gives us prior warning that he will be on Mendip at Easter.


"How would you like your ostrich, Sir?"

During mid November the Africa Section both managed to wangle a week's holiday with intent to visit the South African coast and the famous Cango Caves at Oudtshoorn, Cape Province.  A letter from the Town Clerk/ Cave Manager, Michael Schultz, had informed us that trips to the spectacularly well decorated extensions of Canga 2 and 3 would not be possible but that we were welcome to drop in for a chat.

On November 15th, suffering from the usual severe hangover, we left Naseru and drove for a day and a half across the desert like plains of the Gretat Karoo to Oudtshoorn.  Situated in an attractive, fertile valley the town is sheltered by the Outeniquas and Swartberg mountain ranges.  Apart from these rugged, interminable peaks the scenery is almost English – with plenty well-stocked, green fields.  The major difference is that English fields have cows and those here have ostriches!  These vicious and enormous birds are bred and converted into feather dusters, bone meal, high quality leather, souvenirs and ostrich steaks - which the B.E.C. tried and found to be superb - just like a good beef steak and more tender.  On a visit to an Ostrich show-farm we were shown how to ride the birds.  To put an ostrich into reverse gear you grab its neck and twist down and backwards, as in a car.  The bird then hurtles along in reverse!

On Monday 17th we visited Hr. Schultz, who is also a member of the African Spelaeological Association and South Africa's representative for the I.U.S.  He offered us a trip to Cango 2 on the Wednesday (with a high court judge's party).  Unfortunately we could not wait for this, but were given complimentary admission tickets to the show cave instead.


Seen in Oudirshoorn Town Clerk’s office.  S.A.

We drove up to the cave which lies in a dolomite hill below the Swartberg range, about 16 km north of the town.  Feeling most important we joined a throng of weegies, presented our free pass to the guide and spent the next couple of hours in one of the world's most beautiful show caves.

This lengthy phreatic system of roomy galleries was used as a pre-historic habitation site and the entrance chamber contains Bushman paintings and other remains.  In 1780 a herdsman discovered the entrance and a local landowner, Van Zyl, organised the first explorations - exploring much of the present show cave.  This consists of a series of large halls, all filled with huge flowstone formations, columns, palettes, helictites, etc.  Despite their dryness and light coating of soot from early visitors lamps these are very impressive.  At 762m, the system ended in a draughting choke which was pushed in 1972 by cave guides and S.A.S.A. members to reveal the incredibly beautiful 270m extension of Cango 2 ( Wonder Cave).  Photographs section show it to contain superb helictites, crystal formations, etc.  A streamway at the end was pushed by S.A.S.A. in 1975 into Cango 3 - 1600m of cave with even more extensions beyond which are still being explored.  At present the whole system is over 4.5 km long.

The tourist trip has its own South African peculiarities.  There are set times for white and non-white trips (imagine that in Goughs!) the guide gives his spiel in English, followed by Afrikaans, and at the end of the walking section is an undeveloped round trip of tight crawls and chimneys for the more adventurous.  It is quite amazing how many standard weegies go through this area complete with high heels, clean white skirts and no idea what they are in for! The British system of 'over safetyfying' every¬thing would not allow for this - a pity as it is good fun for all.

Our next few days were spent boozing in a wet and windy Cape Town, wine-tasting, sightseeing at Cape of Good Hope, visiting the Sandloper caves on the coast at Storm River Mouth and driving along the picturesque Garden Route for two days of festering and swimming in the Indian Ocean at Port Elizabeth.  It was here we came across a superb 'blue' folk/country/rock group who would go down well in the Back Room!

Tony Jarratt and Colin Priddle.



by Tim Large.

BROWNS FOLLY MINE: Under an agreement between the landowner and the Council of Southern Caving Clubs this mine is now gated. There are two gates - one at either end of the system.  All other entrances have been blocked.  The Club has a key and details of how to obtain it will be published soon.  It is important that parties lock themselves in when on a trip in order to prevent unauthorised access.  This agreement had to be made to ensure continued access, even if somewhat restricted, otherwise there was a definite risk of the mine being closed.

WITHYHILL CAVE:  Just before Christmas the gate on this cave was tampered with in a similar manner to the previous occasion.  The cave is at present closed while repairs are carried out.  Any information as to those responsible for the damage would be gratefully received.

EASTWATER: Recent digging by Tony Jarratt at al in Morton's Pot has revealed s silted beddinmg plane which takes the stream. Prospects look good. Work continues.

Many of you will recall the fatal accident that occurred towards the end of last year during a rappel trip trough part of the Easegill system.  Many rumours were put about concerning the cause of the accident and the true facts are only just coming to light.  In actual fact no belay broke.  A previous party were rappelling through and their rope became jammed, and was therefore left in place temporarily.  The victim of the accident put her descending device onto the rope, assuming it to be a fixed rope, whereupon the rope jerked free.

Rappel, or 'pull through' trips are now fairly commonplace in those Yorkshire systems where it is possible to enter on the top of the hill and leave later by a lower entrance.  The Principles of this method are simple - take a rope twice the length of the longest pitch, abseil down the doubled line, and pull it down after you.  The same rope is used for every pitch and escape routes back upwards are removed - you have to continue down.


Rot - Decay - Twang.

The fact that the Yorkshire accident did not occur for the reasons originally rumoured in no way negates the value of the following article, submitted by Stu Lindsey.

The death of a fellow underground explorer, in pursuit of the fulfilment that voyages into the rocky depths imparts, is never an easy thing to accept, although some may shrug their shoulders and mumble, "It will never happen to me,"  You win a few, you lose a few," etc., etc.  To this end, and prompted by the death of a young girl in the Top Sink series of Easegill, I should like to remind aspiring Belfryites intending to embark on the explorations of the Yorkshire 'pull through' systems to TAKE CARE, and please take note of the following nine hints.

  1. Primary belays should always be backed up by a secondary one.
  2. Never use belay loops (tapes, ropes or cords) that have been left in the cave.  The chances are that the person responsible for leaving it there had deemed it of no further use after his trip.  Remove and take out of the cave these remnants and replace them with your own.
  3. Use two tapes (belay loops (diagram C & D)) on the primary belay point (B).  Make one longer than the other, and place it over the shorter one.  When the rope is placed through both loops the weight is taken up on the slightly shorter one.  Should this loop, but not the bolt, fail then the weight is transferred to the second loop.
  4. Loop the back up belay (A) through the two loops (C & D) and allow 2” - 3" (50 - 70 mm) slack.  This provides adequate cover should the primary hanger (B) fail.  Use tape, cord or rope with 'dynamic property'.
  5. BEFORE each descent check the state of the belay - more so if tape, cord or rope is used in direct contact with angular, metal hangers.
  6. When the belay point is a ‘spar’ wedged across the passage, make your descent from one of its ends.  A hang from the middle only encourages the law of physics to act against your interests.
  7. Descend as smoothly as possible.  Avoid undue bouncing.  Use a low stretch rope.  Marlow S.R.T. rope is ideal for this venture.
  8. Be prepared to ascend - just because you are on an abseiling trip does not mean that you will not have to reverse procedures.  Carry ascending gear or cord suitable for prusik loops.
  9. Finally enjoy yourself.  Doing so makes others happy.  Enjoyment is reflective of your having done the job right, and reflections are what the rescue teams like to see as they sit at home polishing their krabs…..waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting


Primary belay arrangement.

(A)               back up belay with a dynamic tape property

(B)               Angular belay hanger

(C)               Primary belay loop under tension.

(D)               Secondary belay loop, is long enough when primary loop under tension just touches it. Usually ½" longer when folded flat.

(E)               Doubled rope for abseiling - nylon, terylene, polyester, but not polypropylene.

Suggest ½” super blue tape for A, C and D.


Friday Night CC

Prew has asked if I would publish a list of the Friday Night C.C. meets for the year in the B.B.  For those not in the know, the Friday Niters consist of anyone who cares to go along, within reason.  Usally intending Friday Niters meet at the cave at 7.30pm.

Cotact B.E. Prewer. on Wells 73757 if you are interested in going along.

























Tynings Barrows

St. Cuthbert’s

South Wales

Lamb Leer

Fairy Cave Quarry, Shatter

Banwell Bone & Stalactite Caves





Bleadon Cave

Cow Hole






















South Wales


Stone Mines

Manor Farm

St. Cuthbert’s



South Wales


Tynings Barrows








Send to: - Fiona Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset.  Do you want me to lick the stamp?


Swildons – Sump 12    29.12.80

Divers:  Colin Houlden

                        Mike ‘Quackers’ Duck

Porter:  Jane Clarke

Aim:     To reach Sump 12

A decision, one Wednesday evening, in the familiar environs of the Hunters, to go to 12 was really forced on Quackers by me.  We were already committed to go to 9 ‘sometime’ by having been told that 12 was not much further, I decided to make it the aim.  Quackers agreed.

We met at the shed (Belfry) at 1100hrs and were at the entrance by 1145.  There was a distinct people ruckle all the way to the 20’ but a little polite shouting and barging with elbows assisted our passage.  We were separated, but met at Sump 1.  Jane had to return, so we pressed on to the bucket of lead by 2 to kit up.

I led to 9, and with the exception of the bypass of 7-8 all was uneventful.  The bypass of 7-8 turned out to be of doubtful parentage and caused us to de-kit.  A carry to the chamber below the climb and we kitted up to go to 9, and thence to 11 where we de-kitted went on to 12.  After a glance up at Victoria Aven and at (I think) 12b, and then a short rest, we returned.

I had great difficulty going through the squeeze but otherwise the return to 2, where we de-kitted our lead, hoods, valves and masks, went O.K.  I was quite weary by now and carrying a 'taddy' did not help. This became evident at the 20'.  I tried to reach the eyebolt at the top of the ladder and discovered that the mind was willing but the body decidedly weak! The floor below the 20’ belted my right hip with about 14 stone.  It took about five minutes to recover from the shock (the fall did not hurt, just the sudden stop) and then I attempted another ascent.  Arms through the ladder, feet slipped out, backing, help from Quackers – I made it!  Porterage of my bag and the ladder by Ray and Adrian of Crawley C.C. was gratefully received. My egress up the 6' was helped by Quackers' shoulder and we made our way back to the shed and the Hunters.

Notes:   1: Vis was poor to nil all way in sumps;

            2: No line in position through 10, a duck, so not important;

            3: Total time 7¼ hours.

Colin Houlden


Could This Be A Back Door Into White Scar Cave?


Due to its susceptibility to pirating and its location above, well, almost above a cave of controlled access, the exact location of this dig is being kept secret. Tunnelling down through boulders for almost 12' has yielded a small chamber 8' x 4' x l' high.  A large block 4' x 3' x 2' is at present taking most of the room and making things difficult.  The way on appears to follow the steeply descending roof through the sandy spoil, this to dig sand being liberally sprinkled with fist-sized rocks. A profusion of small straws and stalactites have made operations a little difficult, but every precaution has been taken to protect them in our quest to link up with this difficult to get into 4 mile system.

Stu Lindsey.


NEW YEAR’S DIG (Y.S.S.) Section A – a       Grade I   Drawn by S. Lindsay

NEW YEAR’S DIG (Y.S.S.) Section B – b       Grade I   Drawn by S. Lindsay


Radio Location At Shepton Mallet

A Cave in Shepton Mallet – well not quite!

For some time ~here had been increasing complaints of Cider and Perry aromas issuing from the River Sheppey and irate citizens were continually calling the Wessex Water Authority who in turn were threatening our well being.  The problem, quite simply was how was Showerings and Coates Gaymer 's trade effluent reaching the river.

Eventually two intrepid employees with no underground experience9 kitted out in one piece waterproof suits and carrying hand lamps were dispatched up the tail race of an old mill under the bottling hall from which we had found that the effluent was running into the river.  They returned foul smelling with a report that the effluent was getting in from drains supposed to be carrying surface water.  Beyond that point the tail race got small enough to deter the pair.

The decision was taken to locate the source of effluent into these drains if possible, to clean out the tail race and to try to effect an entrance close to the problem area, the only present entrance being through a manhole about 100 feet away.  The problem was that we did not know where the tail race was in relation to the surface because all the plans we had were long out of date and known to be inaccurate.

I was then even more of a novice caver than now but I had already heard of Prew and his wonderful gadget. A phone call produced an instant response and in no time at all, a Wednesday evening planning meeting was arranged.  The following Wednesday the push was planned and with a perplexed engineering staff looking on, members of the M.R.O., Fred Davies, Tim Large, Chris Bradshaw donned wetsuits and entered the newly discovered chamber with radio call and telephone whilst Prew, Fiona Lewis and I stayed in comfort above ground.  Then gradually foot by foot the team made their way up the tail race with Prew tracking them above ground.  A bottling hall has a hundred tons of mild steel machinery inconveniently placed in it and this caused some anxiety as to whether the radio waves would bend.

After some time the push was made to the end of the tail race and two positions marked on the floor to dig new manhole entrances.  On their return to the open air – in the middle of a warehouse full of Babycham – the valiant team covered in black, evil smelling deposits, plodded ignominiously to the boiler house showers they showered fully dressed followed by the normal variety and emerged for a well earned drink.

The next step was to call in Luke Devenish who had two attempts to make a quick entrance but three generations of reinforced concrete floor in-filled with gravel contained all safe charges so we had to revert to traditional pneumatic drills.  The entrance complete there then ensued an altercation between Prew and Luke about the depth of the tail race; Luke’s drill being 3ft. shorter than Prew’s measurement.  Eventually it was realised that Prew had been holding his surface coil 3 ft. above the ground.  This resolved, the radio location system proved to be within 3” in depth projection and slap bang in the middle of the tail race.

So for the first time it had been possible to measure physically the depth of the radio-location coil and prove that it was where it ought to be.  This, coupled with the fact that we had a brand new survey of the tail race, a new manhole that enable sludge gulpers and high powered jetting equipment to be lowered to the polluted spot so that rubbish could be removed following the repairs in the drains, meant that the venture was highly successful and who were involved were pleased with the results.

J. Henley



Bi-Monthly Notes

yet again (sorry)

LANCASTER HOLE:  A short but constricted sump has recently been passed in this cave leading to 427 metres of passage.  There are a number of junctions which still have to be explored and the passage size indicates something big.  The exact location of the sump has not been revealed.

KINGSDALE MASTER CAVE/ROWTEN POT:  The three free-divable sumps linking these caves have been found to become one continuous sump after moderate rain and free divers are warned to be extremely careful.

SOUTH WALES, EASTER:  Once again the club, plus various other friends from the N.C.C., Eldon P.C., Pegasus, C.D.G., etc., will be descending on Chrickhowell for the Easter holiday.  A number of trips are planned, including Pant Mawr, OFD II, Agen Allwedd, Tooth and Llethrid Caves.  If anyone has any suggestions for other trips please contact Martin Grass a.s.a.p. so that these can be arranged.  A trip into GOYDEN and NEW GOYDEN POTS is planned for the Sunday for those who are sober enough.

P.U.  To celebrate Geoff Crossley's 21st birthday anyone who knows him is invited to join in the celebrations at the Queens Arms at Littondale, Yorkshire on February 28th.  As this is the last weekend of the Lakes trip many of us will be finishing the week off here.

MISS PIGGY: Christine Villis would like it to be made known that she is not to be refered to as Miss Piggy, but Christine.

GAPING GHYLL WINCH MEET:  For, the fourth year running Club members will be going to the Bradford Pothole Club’s winch meet at Gaping Ghyll.  As usual we will be ordering our beer in advance, so we have the minimum to carry “up t’ill”.  We will camp at the Ghyll and the B.P.C. very kindly lend us any tackle we require. Apart from a trip into G.G. various other caves in the area will be descended.  Anyone requiring more information or wishing to order beer, should contact Martin Grass or Graham Wilton-Jones.

S.W.C.C. CONTROLLED CAVES:  Members wishing to visit any of the caves under the control of the South Wales Caving Club should take note of the following statement made by the club

We regret that, due to the contamination many caves with carbide, a new rule has had to be made prohibiting the use of carbide lamps in all the caves under the control of the South Wales caving Club.  Formerly it was permitted to carry carbide lamps for emergency only, but unfortunately this lead to visitors entering caves with unserviceable or only partly charged electric lamps and then frequently having to fall back on their carbide lamps.  Please bring additional electric cells for emergency use.  Caves covered by this rule are Dan Yr Ogof, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (1, 2 and 3), Pant Mawr Pot, Tunnel Cave, Llethrid Cave and Tooth Cave.

OGOF Y CI:  It appears that the local farmer decided to dump some sheep carcases in Ogaf y Ci, and cavers who found these reported the incident.  As a result the farmer was prosecuted for polluting the water has taken revenge, however, by blocking the cave.  Since the cave had three entrances presumably he has blocked all three.

LAMB LEER:  The winch scaffolding has been inspected and it is recommended that no more than four people go on it at anyone time.

G.B.:  Yet another part of our underworld is falling apart - the Bridge in GB looks in immanent danger of breaking away.  Take care in this region.

CAR THEFT: Thefts of various items left inside caver’s cars on Mendip are still continuing.  Cars left in the areas around GB, Cuckoo Cleeves, Burrington have been either broken into or else unlocked and then locked up again.  It is probably that the thieves are fully aware that caver’s cars are left for several hours at a time.

Avoid leaving anything, especially valuables, in your unattended car.


Still More About Wigmore.

In his article Wigmore revisited, B.B. 391/392, Trev incorrectly states that the travel time for water from Wigmore to reach the resurgence at Cheddar Risings is 11 hours. (p10, para 4).  Sorry, Trev. You got it a bit wrong.  Travel time is 42 hours, the distance to Cheddar being approximately 11 miles.

Trevor told me this just before his article went to press and unfortunately it could not be corrected intime.

The dye test commenced at 1715hrs. on March 3rd 1978, when 250ml of RWT 20% solution dye was placed in the stream.  Flow was estimated at approximately 10gpm.  A further 250ml of RWT 20% solution was added at 2200hrs.

Sampling began at Cheddar, Line of Works, Sherbourne Spring, Rodney Stoke, Wookey Hole and Rickford Rising. Sampling was at six hourly intervals: 0700, 1300, 1900, 0100.

First arrival of the dye at Cheddar was at approximately 0700hrs on March 5th, a travel time of approximately 42 hours.  All other sites sampled were negative.  Sampling continued until approximately 1600hrs on March 6th.

As far as I am aware this is the only dye test done on Wigmore to date.  These results must drastically modify Trev's theory.

I must lend some support to a theory that a line of drainage could exist in the form of cavernous development, Fed from Tor Hole, Red Quar, Fairmans Folly, Castle Farm and Bowery Corner. Wigmore's development in Triassic Conglomerate is evidence that large cavities can develop in this area but it remains to be seen what form this development takes when the limestone contact is made.

Thanks are due to W.I. Stanton for conducting the dye test and supplying information on the results.

Chris Batstone.


Map showing principal sites of interest and proven feeders.


Input:  March 3rd 1715hrs, 250ml RWT 20% solution into Wigmore Swallet.  Flow c10gpm.

Input:  March 3rd 2200hrs, 250ml RWT 20% solution into Wigmore Swallet.  Flow c10gpm

Time to first arrival of dye at Cheddar – approx. 42 hours.

All other sites sampled were negative.


Letter To The Editor

Withey House,
Withey Close West,

Dear Bassett,

Ref. B.B. 34 (11 & 12), 7.

I'm sorry not to have written up my trip down St. Cuthbert's in the log.  I'm afraid we were in rather a hurry to get to the Hunters.  I'll do it next time I'm at the Belfry.

It was like visiting an old friend/enemy that you haven't seen for years.  All the handholds were still exactly where you expected to find them, and the teasing bits were just the same.  I cut the trip rather short, because things were going very well and I didn't want to spoil it by getting overtired.  So after admiring the Angel's Wings we turned back.  I found I really was a bit tired climbing the Arête Pitch, and so, as I didn't want to make a mess of the Entrance Pitch, I sent out one of the lads to put in the dam.

I don't think I need have worried.  The technique all came back to me and I climbed it with no trouble at all; only a slight excess of puff.

Ever Yours, Oliver.

A Few More Notes.

ONE PIECE GIBBS.  Rich Websall brought an interesting ascending device into the Hunters the other day.  It was made in Czechoslovakia and he picked it up while in Europe over New Year. It can best be described as a one piece Gibbs.  As all its users will know, the only thing wrong with Gibbs ascenders is the way they have to be dismantled to put them on or take them off the rope.  With this new device the cam rotates on a fixed bolt instead of a removable pin. The fixed bolt is attached only to one cheek.  The other cheek is cut away to leave just enough room to feed in the rope.

I'll try and produce a picture of it for the next B.B. and I'll also make up some notes on what it is like to use.

POSTCARDS:  Wig's catalogue is about to be printed, so if you want to upset him, just find a card that he has never seen, and you can put his publication out of date even as it is produced.

Didn't we manage that with Mendip Underground, Wig?



B. E. C. Subscription 1981

Junior    £ 6.00

Full       £ 8.00

Joint     £12.00

NAME / S                     -     -    -     -     -    -     -     -    -     -     -    -     -     -    -     

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NUMBER                      _______________________

ADDRESS                    -     -    -     -     -    -     -     -    -     -     -    -     -     -    -     

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You don't have to use this it's just to encourage you to pay up!


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset .

Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones, 24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) 28270.

Rather a short B.B. this bi-month, I'm afraid.  Several snippets of news but few articles.  I've kept back one article for next month, on Cheddar Caves, in case nothing else comes in.  I’m determined to do at least another monthly B.B. this year! I’ve been premised various writings, including Iceland, Diving in 1980, Use of Explosives Underground, Mendip Mines, Lake District Walks, Tackle Care, Vercours in Winter and a Song about Biffo! If you all keep your promises, then we shouldn't go short on material.

World Depth Record back in the Pyrenees?

It is reported from France that a cave close to the P. S.M. has recently been descended to world record depth.  If the report is correct then the depth will be well over 1400 metres.

Cuthbert’s Leaders: Andy Sparrow and Jim Durston are now leaders once again, and Ian Caldwell has been accepted as a leader.

Cave Keys for PINETREE POT and BROWNS FOLLY: These keys are now in the library and are available to members in the usual way.

Cuthbert’s Rescue Practice: This will be held on Saturday May 2nd.  We will meet at the Belfry at 10 o’clock in the morning. Anybody and everybody is welcome to come along, except for Crikey Mollins and Deadly Ernest!

Bradford Pothole Club Winch Meet Gaping Ghyll:  We shall once again be going to this event to goad the B.P.C., pinch the winch, throw chairs down the main shaft, and generally have a good time.  Remember the dates: Friday May 22nd evening until Monday May 25th afternoon.

If you want to have beer taken up for you let Martin or me know a.s.a.p.  We generally camp up above the B.P.C. city, in our own little village. Let us know if you fancy coming along. Many trips will be available.


Fish Pot

by Dave Hatherley

Neil Brown heard a rumour that was going around Broadway in Worcestershire about a cave in the Cotswolds, into which a dog fell, and a group of cavers from Gloucester were called to get it out.  The cave was reported to be 100 feet deep and the sound of rushing water was heard from the bottom.  This was all in late 1978.  In early 1979 we went to the alleged 'cave'.  Deep snow was on the ground and there was no way we could cover our tracks on this private property.  We found the cave easily for a high wire fence had been put around it.  We climbed the fence and pushed ourselves under a large oak tree root.  On this cold night the feel of warm air draughting from the 'cave' was bliss on our chilled faces.  We had no caving kit with us but, with hopes high, we decided to return at Easter, that being my next holiday.

Next Easter holiday found me with Neil plus 100 feet of tackle ready to descend this 'cave'.  We still had doubts as to its authenticity. There are no caves in that region and being in Inferior Oolitic Limestone a call on the farmer seemed warranted.  The farmer only confirmed the original story he was very helpful and relations are good.

The next Saturday night we called on Frank Trowman (The Incredible Lump) to see if he could assist. Unfortunately he was tied up, being three parts the worse for wear.  At 23.00 we decided to go it alone.  With a few cans of beer and plenty of tackle we headed for the 'cave'.  We changed and started walking towards the wood where the cave lies when suddenly a car pulled up.  There was no way we could disguise ourselves but for cavers.  The driver of the car was very cooperative and explained that he was the warden from the nearby nature reserve and had recently taken the lease of the land on which the 'cave' lay.  He was interested in our activity and would like to know the outcome as he had intended a nature walk to pass the cave mouth.  We agreed to abide by his wishes.  He wished us all the best and we carried on.

We soon reached the cave entrance and belayed to a large oak tree outside the fence.  We both slipped under the oak root and once again the warm draught of air hit us.  The hole was directly beneath us but to the left was a huge pile of old bottles which looked as if they were going to slip into the hole.  Neil said that tramps often came here and used this as their litter bin!  We pushed one down and started to count the seconds…..32 feet per second per second. "Bloody hell!  That makes it over 300 feet."  We then knew that we were in something big.  The top was pretty well blocked, but, getting as much rubbish out as we could and, unfortunately, pushing some down, we had an opening just large enough for us to descend.  We clipped on 20 feet of ladder and I descended with Neil life-lining in the cold air above.  About 15 feet down I came to a boulder which had jammed itself in the rift.  I tried to hit it down without any success.  I ascended and Neil tried.  Still no success.  I went down again and this time thought, “Well, I can't move it.  Can I squeeze past it?"  I did.  The rift opened out and I called up for another 20 feet of ladder.  I clipped this on and descended through an easy ladder pitch to the top of a highly fluted part of the shaft, where one is able to get off the ladder and rest on the top of the fluted limestone.  A lot of water at one time must have caused this. Once again I had run out of ladder and decided to ascend.  Feeling pleased and excited Neil went down next with our final 60 feet of ladder. He must have gone 50 to 60 feet when there was a long pause.  I called down.  His voice seemed very far away when he reported that he had disturbed a colony of bats and was worried by all the broken glass that was falling.  However he carried on.  Soon I was holding only 2 to 3 feet of a 100 foot plus lifeline. After a long pause he started to return. He came out covered in mud and looking tired.  He said he had bottomed it and had pushed a 5 - 6 foot 'stick into glutinous mud at the bottom.  He reported no way on, but why were bats there and why was the cave draughting so much? I was so cold with the life-lining that I could not go down after him.

Both of us were highly excited at our find but, being cold and extremely muddy, decided to de-rig the pitch.  This proved harder than anticipated.  The ladder got caught on the lodged boulder.  I went down and for some reason made a right mess of things (highly unusual, this!).  The ladder was in a hopeless mess - it was covered in mud and tangled like a tangle has never been.  Mendip has nothing on this mud.  It clings to everything and will not come off.  I can honestly say it is the worst, dirty hole I have ever been in.  Anyway, eventually we got this ball of mud up and decided to sort it out the next day.  At last we got into clean clothes and warm car, and drove back to Evesham.  This was at 3.00 in the morning.

We called the cave Fish Pot because it is at the top of a hill called 'Fish Hill'.  In the light of day we called back there to see a line of depressions through the woods.  It looks as if it is a geological fault line.  I am no expert on this so any advice would be welcomed.

Anyone wishing to visit the cave ( you must be mad ) should get in with Neil Brown, whose address will be found in the November B.B.

One final thought: if this cave were on Mendip it would be a first dig job.  It must go somewhere with it draughting like that.


Letter to the Editor

Somewhere in
Darkest Somerset.
B.A.T.    1 P.

Dear Editor,

It would appear some strong words have been caused by the presence of a large wicker basket at the Belfry.  I am now at liberty to divulge the reason for its presence.

Your readers may recall that some months ago a certain gentleman, who took great delight in thrusting people into marrow fissures making them enlarge said fissures into cave sized passages, went away to parts foreign.

All was peace and calm. For a time life once more went about its usual pace of “sleep, wake, pub, sleep, wake, pub”.

Suddenly the peace was shattered by the return of the man of foreign parts.  Suddenly innocent cavers found themselves forced down narrow fissures with large streams pouring upon them.

Representations were made to the L.V.A. without success.  Cavers Anonymous were speechless (mainly because they had just seen the latest prices of Petzl helmets).

Then along came a gentleman called "Smuck" who shall remain nameless with a large wicker basket for the purpose of hiding from the gentleman of foreign parts.

The basket serves a dual purpose - also holding objects of a weighty nature in case they may be placed in high places whence they may fall with a sickening thud upon the heads of certain unsuspecting Belfryites.

I remain yours faithfully

B.A. Twiddle


Monthly Notes

LONGWOOD-AUGUST: This piece of news, although anticipated, was received just too late for inclusion in the last B.B., so it may be old hat to many Mendip regulars.  Pete and Alison Moody have finally reached the elusive waterfall at the end of Reynolds’s Rift.  The noise is created by what is presumed to be all or part of the Longwood stream issuing from a 15cm diameter hole.  The passage continues, aqueous and narrow for the most part and with a current strong enough to wash away your nife cell, according to Alison, and eventually reaches a sump.  A possible route above this is visible - a black space with boulder obstructions – and this is the next site to be pushed.  Since Andy Sparrow has been here with Pete and Alison we shall expect a full report from him.

By the way, Andy, don't forget that you owe us an article Lionel's as well, to go with the survey which has already been published.

SUN MAGIC CHEMICAL HEAT: Fred Weekes of the Valley Caving Club is currently trying out these Orient-manufactured heat bags.  A powder is contained within a cloth bag and this is in turn sealed from the air with a polythene bag (17 x 12 cm).  When the polythene bag is torn open and the inner bag of powder shaken or pummelled, oxygen from the atmosphere reacts with the powder and heat is given off.  I have not measured the temperature so it is best described as 'warm'.  It lasts for up to 24 hours.  Various of these bags were tried out during the Lake District meet - they worked very well on the tops of the hills and around the several bars, although one failed dismally in the murky depths of Windemere.  Presumably they are no good when wet.  If Fred thinks they will be a success he will be marketing them for about 80p. each - good value if kept for use in emergency, as you would a space blanket or a chemi-light.

WEST KINGSDALE SYSTEM:  Last year members of the Northern Section of C.D.G. spent a number of trips exploring Jingling Avens, beyond the long Frake's Passage sump.  Some 150 feet above the water level a wide bedding plane was pushed until it became 'uncomfortable'.  At this point it is only about six feet below the level of the N.S.G. digs in Jingling Pot.  It would see that yet another link in the West Kingsdale System is nearing completion.

LANCASTER EASEGILL SYSTEM:  This cave continues to grow, with another half mile of passage discovered beyond sumps near Fall Pot.  It has been named Woodhouse Way.

CAVE ART IN BRITAIN:  At the beginning of the year there were various press reports of the discovery of some cave paintings in Wales.  Some controversy still surrounds these works, which are said to show a deer and a bison. In fact they are not paintings (any more?) but rock etchings.

WIG-PRINTS IN WELSH CAVE: Hitherto the only known Wig-prints in Britain were to be found in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Recent investigations concerning Wig-prints in Wales, have been fruitless.  Reports of Wig-prints at other spelaeological sites are likely also to be mere rumour. There is fairly conclusive evidence to support the theory that the creator of Wig-prints no longer leaves his humble Mendip abode.

NORTHERN CAVE FINDS: In the Northern Pennines a complex, phreatic, joint-controlled network of passages is presently being explored.  It has so far been surveyed to a length of two miles by members of the Gritstone Club.

A second cave has been discovered in the Magnesian Limestone at Maltby, and its Phreatic origins suggest that many other similar caves probably exist in this extensive strip of limestone.

At the upper end of Littondale, near Halton Gill, 1000 feet of stream passage has been dug into. Named Snuffit Pot, it is a significant drainage route for several of the caves in the area.

The recent extension of Marble Pot to a depth of nearly 300 feet has been cut off by an enormous collapse. This is likely to take several years to clear!

More details of the above four items can be found in Caves and Caving, a copy of which is in the club library for those members not belonging to BCRA.

OTTER HOLE:  A leadership system is now operating, organised by the Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club.  At the time of printing there are no guest leaders, and trips are therefore limited to weekends only.

We have two trips arranged for this year. They are both over-tide trips i.e. about 12 hours duration (plus or minus 3 hours).

Dates are:         July 11th starting at 10am.

                        August 29th starting at 1pm.

If you are interested phone Martin Grass on Luton 35145.

After a very successful February meet in the Lake District I made everyone promise an article or a brief note for the B.B. – everyone that is, except Kangy, who was somehow overlooked. Shame on you all – Kangy is the only one to have put pen to paper.  He writes:


“Apart form the pub, we did Great Gable by the Traverse - plenty of flat areas of ice to fall over on and strong cold wind - and came down over Base Brown.  On Sunday we spent a long time getting to Pavey Ark and even longer getting on top.  The loose powder over the ice was no help…I may well have filled Glenys Grass's earhole with a snowball – could you apologize publicly .... "

He also writes:


In Langdale as the snow came down
And capped the hills with soft white crown,
We shelter sought from bitter day
With warmth and drink to cheer our clay.

With Old Peculiar and old rum,
We thawed ourselves and one by one
Relaxed and burbled in our beer
Of icy climbs and frozen gear.

The B.E.C. had rented cheap
Stone cottages among the sheep
Of Lakeland by the Dungeon Ghyll,
From there to climb and drink their fill.

Befuddled by the warmth and rum,
And missing those who hadn't corns,
We found the moot in snowy weather
Was spent in different pubs together.

The simple answer to this brick
(Ordering more and drinking quick)
'Was, drive off from the "Drunken Duck",
(And guided by the Gods of Luck
And by these friends who shouted more)
Find "Britannia", and its welcome door.

We found it soon cocooned in snow,
And all within was rosy glow,
The Tetleys tipple too was good
Beer drawn non-stop from the wood.

And in a room exclusively
United we’re the B.E.C.
So once again the chat was keen
We planned tomorrows climbing scene.

We didn't sing, we didn't shout
But at the time for chucking out
Boisterous spirits over spilled
And air with flying snowballs filled.


Bristol Exploration Club Meet February 1981.

P.S. Sorry, Glenys!



by Tim Large

CAVE KEYS: - As many of you will know the club holds keys for most of the locked caves on Mendip. They are kept in the library at the Belfry.  If the library is locked then access can only be gained via a committee member (who all hold library keys).  Recently some of the keys have disappeared notably G.B.  Please do not hang on to keys any longer than is necessary, as other members are inconvenienced.  If you require keys for a midweek trip it is usually easier to collect it at the end of the weekend.  Alternatively I have at home keys for G.B., Longwood, and Singing River Mine and am usually at home weekday evenings.  All you have to do is phone me at work on Wells 73960 and I can usually arrange for the key you need.

TACKLE: - Recently a ladder being used on Arête Pitch in Cuthbert’s (while the fixed ladder is out for repair) failed with one Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell on it.  Fortunately for him only one of the side wires snapped leaving him hanging on the other.  He managed to scramble up to cave another day.  The ladder was not of BEC manufacture.  Again recently I have seen a ladder which had failed in a similar manner to the above in that the wire had snapped just above the first rung.  It would appear that both ladders had been used, as is so often the case, by joining the two C links then passing a krab through the lot to attach to a belay.  Only the other day I came across a ladder on the 20' in Swildons belayed in just this manner.  It may be like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs to some people but it happens on club tackle too.  It’s not good for the ladder and its not good for you when they break - and cause headaches! Always use a spreader or other method of belay so that the tails of the ladder are not stressed at such an acute angle.

SWILDONS: - Pete and Alison Moody (WCC) have just dug into a passage in Swildons 4.  It has now been surveyed to about 500' and is estimated to be beneath Fault Chamber.  One sump has already been baled and passed but another confronts the team - work continues.

AGGY RESCUE: - This much publicised rescue was over the weekend of 17/18 January and extended until midday on the 19th calling on large numbers of cavers from all over Britain.  The casualty Tim Flanagan was caving with the Croydon CC on a trip to the end of Southern Stream Passage.  As they were starting on their return back up SSP, a boulder fell and broke his leg in three places.  From what we understand the party went underground at 10am, the accident happened around 5pm that Saturday evening.  MRO assistance was requested at 9.30am Sunday morning.  About 20 Mendip Regulars from BEC and WCC arrived in Crickhowell by about midday.  Most went underground that evening while other’s assisted with radio communications using MRO equipment.  The carry through Sunday night and early Monday morning was undertaken by the Mendip team - the victim still being in SSP being rather cold but in good spirits - helped along by the Doctors bag of trips - oops I mean tricks!!  Meanwhile in the entrance series another group of Mendips bods rearranged the cave!! to smooth the victims exit.  He emerged at 1.30 on Monday afternoon.  Throughout the rescue he was not put into any kind of exposure bag or waterproof suit which says something for his resilience.  So don't have an accident at the far end of SSP. You’ll probably be late home for tea!!


H.M.S. Bulwark is to be scrapped six months earlier than planned.  We should have known that Trevor's drunken activities would lead to this. How can the Belfry survive much longer?


My lovely older man is 44 and I'm 20.  We met while caving beneath the Mendip Hills in Somerset. I think it was the way he so delicately removed my hand from my hold on the cave wall that first made me notice him.  It caused me to fall flat on my face into three feet of freezing water.  With a sense of humour like that, how could I resist him?

from a letter to The Sun.

Who could it be, do you suppose?


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List March 1981

828 Nicolette Abell                       Faulkland, Bath

20 L Bobby Bagshaw                   Knowle, Bristol, Avon

392 L Mike Baker                         Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon

818 Chris Batstone                      Bathford, Bath, Avon

390 L Joan Bennett                      Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L Roy Bennett                       Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

731 Bob Bidmead                        Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol

364 L Pete Blogg                         Cheviot Close, Avenue Rd., Banstead, Surrey

336 L A. Bonner                           Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland

145 L Sybil Bowden-Lyle              Calne, Wiltshire

959 Chris Bradshaw                     Wells, Somerset

868 Dany Bradshaw                     Bristol

967 Michael Brakespeare             Dilton Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire

751 L T.A. Brookes                      London, SW2

981 Terence Buchan                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset

956 Ian Caldwell                           Clevedon, Avon.

977 Tony Callard                          Southsea, Hampshire

955 Jack Calvert                          Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.

902 L Martin Cavendar                  Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.

785 Paul Christie                         London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

655 Colin Clark                            Redland, Bristol

983 Jane Clarke                           Wet Lane, Draycott, Somerset.

211 L Clare Coase                       Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia

89 L Alfie Collins                          Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset

862 Bob Cork                              Stoke St. Michael, Somerset

585 Tony Corrigan                        Stockwood, Bristol

890 Jerry Crick                            Chertsey Road, Windelsham, Surrey

680 Bob Cross                             Knowle, Bristol

405 L Frank Darbon                      Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

423 L Len Dawes                         Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire

449 Garth Dell                             Heywood, Lancs.

815 Nigel Dibben                          Poynton, Cheshire

164 L Ken Dobbs                         Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon

972 Mike Duck                            Wells, Somerset

830 John Dukes                           Shepton Mallet, Somerset

937 Sue Dukes                            Shepton Mallet, Somerset

847 Michael Durham                    Bath

779 Jim Durston                           Chard, Somerset

322 L Bryan Ellis                         Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset

269 L Tom Fletcher                      Bramcote, Nottingham.

404 L Albert Francis                     Wells, Somerset

468 Keith Franklin                        Dandenong, Victoria 3175, Australia

569 Joyce Franklin                       Stoke Bishop, Bristol

469 Pete Franklin                         Stoke Bishop, Bristol

978 Sheila Furley                         Glastonbury, Somerset

835 Len Gee                                St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire

648 Dave Glover                           Green Lane, Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire

860 Glenys Grass                        Luton, Beds

790 Martin Grass                         Luton, Beds

432 L Nigel Hallet                         No known Address

104 L Mervyn Hannam                  St Annes, Lancashire

4 L Dan Hassell                           Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

974 Jeremy Henley                      Leg Square, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

917 Robin Hervin                          Trowbridge, Wiltshire

952 Robert Hill                             Chippenham, Wiltshire

905 Paul Hodgson                        Hoo, Rochester, Kent

793 Mike hogg                             Nuneaton, Warks

898 Liz Hollis                               Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 Tony Hollis                            Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

387 L George Honey                    19044, Odensala, Sweden

923 Trevor Hughes                       HMS Bristol, BFPO Ships, London

855 Ted Humphreys                     Moorsite, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

73 Angus Innes                            Alveston, Bristol, Aven

969 Duncan Innes                        Address Unknown

540 L Dave Irwin                           Townsend, Priddy, Somerset

792 Ken James                            Worle, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

922 Tony Jarratt                           Station Road, Congresbury, Bristol

51 L A Johnson                            Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol

560 L Frank Jones                       Wells, Somerset

907 Karen Jones                          New End Hospital, Hoampstead, London NW3

567 L Alan Kennett                      Henleaze, Brsitol

884 John King                              Partridge Green, Horsham, Sussex

316 L Kangy King                        Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L Phil Kingston                      St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia

413 L R. Kitchen                          Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon

946 Alex Ragnar Knutson             Southville, Bristol

874 Dave Lampard                       Horsham, Sussex

667 L Tim Large                           Wells, Somerset

958 Fi Lewis                                Wells, Somerset

930 Stuart Lindsay                       Keynsham, Bristil

574 L Oliver Lloyd                        Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

58 George Lucy                           Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks

550 L R A MacGregor                   Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants

725 Stuart McManus                    Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset

106 L E.J. Mason                         Henleaze, Bristol

980 John Matthews                      Clifton, Bristol

979 Richard Matthews                  Clifton, Bristol

558 L Tony Meaden                      Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset

963 Clare Merritt                          Chippenham, Wiltshire

957 Dave Morrison                       London NW11

308 Keith Murray                         London  SW7

936 Dave Nichols                         Exeter, Devon

852 John Noble                            Tennis Courts Rod, Paulton, Bath

880 Graham Nye                          Horsham, Surrey

938 Kevin O’Neil                          Melksham, Wiltshire

964 Lawrie O’Neil                         Melksham, Wiltshire

396 L Mike Palmer                       YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset

22 L Les Peters                           Knowle Park, Bristol Avon

499 L A. Philpott                          Bishopston, Bristol, Avon

961 Mick Phinster                        Inverness, Scotland

337 Brian Prewer                         West Horrington, Wells, Somerset

622 Colin Priddle                          Wadeville 1422, South Africa

481 L John Ransom                     Patchway, Bristol, Avon

452 L Pam Rees                          No Known Address

343 L A Rich                               Basham, Alberta Canada

672 L R Richards                         Jacobs, Natal, South Africa

945 Steve Robins                         Knowle, Bristol

970 Trevor Roberts                       Yatton, Avon

921 Pete Rose                             Chandlers Ford, Hants

832 Roger Sabido                        Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

941 John Sampson                      Knowle, Bristol

240 L Alan Sandall                       Nailsea, Avon

359 L Carol Sandall                      Nailsea, Avon

760 Jenny Sandercroft                  Henleaze, Bristol

237 L Bryan Scott                        Havestock Road, Winchester Hants

482 Gordon Selby                        Wells, Somerset

78 L R Setterington                      Taunton, Somerset

213 L Rod Setterington                 Chiswick, London W4

915J Chris Smart                         Woking, Surrey

823 Andrew Sparrow                    Bath

984 Dave Speed                           Dinder, Nr Wells, Somerset

1 L Harry Stanbury                       Bude, Cornwall

38L Mrs I Stanbury                       Knowle, Bristol

575 L Dermot Statham                 No current address

365 L Roger Stenner                    Weston super Mare, Avon

772 Nigel Taylor                           Chilcote, Nr Wells, Somerset

284 L Alan Thomas                      Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                          Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford

571 L N Thomas                          Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.

994 Martin Thompson                   Matson. Gloucester

699 Buckett Tilbury                      High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                          High Wycombe, Bucks

80 Postle Thompsett-Clark            Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L Dizzie Thompsett-Clark         Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L Daphne Towler                    Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L Jill Tuck                             Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

769 Sue Tucker                           Tynnings, Radstock, Bath

678 Dave Turner                           Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath

912 John Turner                           Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.

925 Gill Turner                             Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.

635 L Stuart Tuttlebury                 Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

887 Greg Villis                             Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

982 Christine Villis                       Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

175 L Mrs. D. Whaddon                Taunton, Somerset

949 John Watson                         Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

553 Bob White                             Henley Lane, Wookey, Wells, Somerset

940 Val Wilkinson                        Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                       St. Austell, Cornwall

885 Claire Williams                      St. Austell, Cornwall

916 Jane Wilson                          Portswood, Southampton

568 Brenda Wilton                       Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones             Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones                Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones                    Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

943 Simon Woodman                   Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon

877 Steve Woolven                       Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman                     11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath

635 L S. Tuttlebury                       Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

887 G. Villis                                Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

175 L D. Waddon                         Taunton, Somerset

949 J. Watson                             Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

953 J. Watson                             Southfields, Rugby, Warks.

973 J. Wells                                Yorkyown, New York 10598

397 Mike Wheadon                      Bath

861 Maureen Wheedon                 Bath

553 R. White                               Henley Lane, Wookey, Wells, Somerset

975 M. White                               Upton, Langport, Somerset

878 Ross White                           5 Troop, B. Company, 40 Comando Royal Marines, Seaton Barracks, Crown Hill,        Plymouth, Devon

939 Woly Wilkinson                     Melksham, Wiltshire

940 Val Wilkinson                        Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                       Address unknown

885 Claire Williams                      Address unknown

559 Barry Wilton                          Clutton, Bristol

568 Brenda Wilton                       Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones             Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones                Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones                    Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

943 Simon Woodman                   Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon

877 Steve Woolven                       Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman                     Radstock, Bath


Easter Meet, South Wales

Once again the club will be meeting over the Easter weekend in the Usk Valley. Last year there were about 50 cavers on the camp site, over half who were B.E.C. members.  Let’s hope we can make and even bigger showing this year. Most people will be staying from Thursday April 16th night until Monday 20th evening.

Caves already booked are Pant Pawr Pot, Agen Allwydd and Tooth and Llethrid Caves. Trips are also planned for Hepste River Caves and Little Neath.

Campsite is at Llangatock, beyond the recreation ground.  See you there.

“Tell me about this hang-up of yours!”


Library Exchanges

List of clubs with whom we exchange club journals, which may be found in the Belfry Library.

  • Axbridge Caving Group.
  • B.C.R.A.
  • Bradford Pothole Club.
  • Cerberus Spelaeological Society.
  • Chelsea Spelaeological Society.
  • Descent.
  • Devon Spelaeological Society.
  • Dorset Caving Group.
  • Dr. H. Trimmel, Austria.
  • G.S.B. del CAi.
  • Gloucester Spelaeological Society
  • Grampian Spelaeological Society.
  • London University Caving Club.
  • Mendip Cave Registry.
  • Mendip Caving Group.
  • Northern Pennine Club.
  • Plymouth caving Group.
  • Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club.
  • S.W.E.T.C.C.C.
  • Shepton Mallet Caving Club.
  • Somerset Mines Research Group.
  • The British Caver.
  • University of Bristol Spelaeological Society
  • Wessex Cave Club.
  • Westminster Spelaeological Group.


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset . Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Once again a bi-monthly B.B. - do I hear odd murmurings of discontent, or 'I told you so!'  Will it yet again be a subject for discussion at this year's A.G.M?

I see that my gentle powers of persuasion are about as useless as your promises to write something for the B.B.

This needs words, not promises.


Tuska, -where is the article on Iceland?

Dave, Brian and Jane, did you really visit the Vercours?

(I'll not harass Stu or Colin - they've done their bit this year)

Spandy Arrow, stop telling us how awful the bottom of Longwood is, and write it down. AND, while you're at it, how about the Lionels survey notes/description as well.

Now you're settled into your new house, John, what about the notes on care and maintenance of tackle?

You see, there's a whole B.B. full there, if only I had it here in writing!


John and Sue Dukes new phone number is not as written in the last B.B.  That is the number of the telephone box over the road (Sorry, Ken!) Their number is actually Shepton Mallett 4815.

Karen Jones and Gary Childs should by now be making their way about the United States by Greyhound, bicycles or thumbs, or whatever other means they can muster.  At some time during their ten week tour they hope to drop in on Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the 8th International Congress of Spelaeology, which is being held at Western Kentucky University.

Chris Smart is currently in Nigeria, on an 8 - 10 week tour surveying some vast un-trodden tract of wilderness so the locals can despoil it with power lines.  After the work is over he intends to amble his way back through that region of Africa, so we'll expect some interesting news from him in the near future.

STONE MINES: Anyone wishing to visit Stone Mines in Wiltshire, Avon or Somerset may like to contact Mike Breakspear or Nick Holstead, who will be happy to help.

Telephone: Work; Trowbridge 3641, Ext. 3391 or 3380

Home: Westbury 823577 or Trowbridge 66158


Caves As Nuclear Shelters

by Tony Oldham, Editor, The British Caver

Caves have been used as places of refuge since time immemorial.  Stone Age man's homes are still inhabited today in some parts of the world and the image of a hermit in silent contemplation in a remote cavernous recess is familiar to us all.  During the last War, caves were used as shelters and hideouts by both sides, so it is not surprising that caves are once again being considered as places of refuge, this time from the holocaust of nuclear war.

At first glance some caves have two very important characteristics which are essential for a nuclear shelter:

1)       small water-worn passages in solid rock which are structurally very sound, and offer good protection against blast;

2)       a covering of rock and soil - anything up to 500 ft., which would provide a good shield against harmful radiation.

However, before you rush out to commandeer your nearest caves, it is necessary to take into consideration the following facts:

1)       the cave needs to have two or more entrances for a) ventilation, and b) a second means of escape

2)       the cave temperature will reflect the average mean annual temperature, i.e. about 47oF in the north of England, and 520F or higher in the south.  If the surface temperature is higher or lower than the ambient cave temperature this will cause a natural flow of air. Filters and hand pumps will still be necessary to cleanse the air of harmful dust and chemicals, but natural ventilation, assisted if necessary by an artificial entrance, is potentially a great asset;

3)       whilst the covering rock will provide protection against blast - even a direct hit if the thickness of rock is sufficient - the usual amenities of the commercially available nuclear shelter, e.g. blast door, over pressure valves, etc., will still be needed to minimise blast effects;

4)       commercially available nuclear shelters usually provide protection for 4 to 7 persons, or more if a series of modules are joined together ad infinitum.  It would, however, be possible to find a cave which could house a whole village with full domestic amenities.  One could visualise a project where those sheltering could also include cows for milk, sheep and pigs for meat and where even the household pet would not be forgotten, for cats, dogs and ferrets would be needed to take care of vermin.

5)       caves contain water, though the amount varies from cave to cave, and some may be virtually dry.  Surface water is channelled through swallet openings or natural fissures down into the caves to emerge as springs at the foot of the hill. One would assume that rain-water after a nuclear explosion would be heavily contaminated with harmful radio-active isotopes, which, in a matter of hours, would pass through the caves. Whilst this water would be undrinkable without filtration or distillation, it could be used to carry away waste matter and

a)        to provide a means of generating electricity for a subterranean community, for uses as varies as running a deep freeze to servicing a hospital.  Percolating water must also be considered.  Rain falling on the surface could take as little as a day or as long as weeks to reach a cave shelter, depending on rock cover. Collecting vessels placed under stalactites could, collect pure and wholesome water, free from bacteriological, chemical or radio-active material for anything up to 30 days after a nuclear explosion.

6)       to be of any use as a blast shelter your cave must be 3 or 4 minutes from your residence or place of work.  As most caves are far from centres of population this could be a problem for a town dweller.  However, as fallout shelters caves have enormous potential.  For the first 8 hours a flowing stream would provide water for decontamination and the large volume of pure air could support 3 or 4 people for 30 days without a sophisticated filtration system.

Many people regard caves as cold, damp and claustrophobic, but surely not half as claustrophobic as a concrete bunker with the manhole cover closed.  The temperature, whilst well below that of a centrally heated house is not uncomfortable.  It is not too cold for sitting about in, if one is well wrapped up, and not too warm for vigorously working if one is lightly clothed.  Humidity is the main problem but this could be overcome with forethought, by wearing warm, woollen clothing and keeping stores in waterproof containers.  Asthma sufferers will benefit especially from the pure, moist atmosphere.

To summarise, not all caves are suitable as nuclear shelters unless they fulfil the following conditions:

1)       the covering rock must be more than 10 ft. thick;

2)       here must be mote than one entrance;

3)       there should be two sources of water (flowing and percolating) and no risk of flooding;

4)       the surrounding rock must be solid;

5)       the cave must be within 3 or 4 minutes travelling time of civilisation.

If there is sufficient interest in this project I will describe in a following issue how I propose to convert St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.

Quote Of The Month

“I’m perfectly happy with my body.”  Chris Batsone.


Monthly Notes

WORKING WEEKEND   July 4th and 5th is to be a working weekend, so I hope you receive your B.B, in time.  The following are just a few of the many jobs to be done in and around the Belfry:

·        re-tack plaster board in main room and shower;

·        clean and re-paint main room ceiling; re-plaster new plaster board; re-paint certain interior doors;

·        put in air-brick on west wall of men's bunk room;

·        put in cavity trays to windows at end of men's bunk room;

·        clear Belfry site;

·        cut grass.

ITALIAN BOY DIES IN WELL: Yes, this is no longer news, and we all know how an Italian caver hung upside down in the well for hours, and how shafts were dug, and still the rescue attempt failed.  However, there is an interesting and significant follow up to the saga.

The landowner is being sued for manslaughter.  Since both Britain and Italy are in the E.E.C, they are affected in similar ways by similar laws.  Perhaps this case will bring renewed pressure upon landowners regarding their liabilities. Where now, O great god Insurance?

SHOWERS: Please do not use the off-peak heater for heating shower water during the week.  This takes a lot of time, a lot of power, and it heats up a whole tank full of water.  Use the slot meter on the wall of the men's changing room.  This only heats the 10 gallons of water at the top of the tank, and is therefore far more economical.  Make sure you arrive with plenty of 5p's.

DEAD CARS: Only rarely has any objection been raised to members working on their vehicles on the Belfry site, and members have usually been allowed to leave vehicles in the car park; often in fairly dilapidated condition.  However, if present allowances are abused, and the area outside the Belfry becomes more like a scrap yard, it is likely that some kind of rent will be charged, in order to encourage members to get rid of their junk (valuable or otherwise) more quickly.

OLIVER'S 70th BIRTHDAY: O.C.L. writes that he will be celebrating this event in the Old Grotto of Swildon's Hole, on Tuesday 4th August this year.  Meet on Priddy Upper Green (the one by the church) at 5 pm. There will be sherry and cake, with the catering by Nick Barrington.  All B.E.C. members will be welcome.

DINNER 1981: Once again the dinner will be at the Cave Man, but, by way of a change, no beef this year. We have opted for turkey instead. Price should be about £5.50, which will include a pre-dinner drink and half a bottle of wine each.  We hope to persuade the caterers to supply extra vegetables too.



By Tim Large


Many of you may be wondering what is happening on this front.  Last year a Sub-Committee met and formulated a plan which has since been modified in minor ways by the Committee.  Enquiries have been made to Mendip District Council who tells us that Planning Permission and Building Regulations Approval are required.  An Architect has been consulted and is to be engaged to draw up the plans and specifications for the work.  Even so you may not see signs of work this year, but once Planning Permission has been obtained there will be plenty to do and The Belfry may be out of action for a period of time.


In the meantime we still have a Club H.Q. which desperately needs running repairs.  At a recent Working Weekend some very useful work was carried out.  The Cattle Grid was repaired, Snowcem paint was applied to the front of the Belfry, the Rare Books cupboard was locked and an Airbrick was installed in the men’s bunkroom.  Work was also started on a new Carbide Store and an outside Gas Bottle Store.  Our present Carbide Store was condemned by the Fire Officer and since it would be to close to the proposed Gas Bottle Store it was decided to build a new one, by the Tackle Store.  You may have noticed the appearance of a little wooden shed. This was purchased at a very reasonable price for the storage of tools and materials when the improvements get under way.  The reason for purchase was that our present Tackle Store cum Workshop is fully utilised with caving tackle; battery charger etc.  Despite all the work which has been done - much still remains. A list is pinned on The Belfry Notice Board and your help to maintain The Belfry will be much appreciated.


It may well be possible to obtain a grant towards the Belfry improvements which impose no restrictions on the club other than being open to the public - which we are.  Members views on whether we should seek such a grant would be much appreciated.


Due to the pressure of other commitments Dany Bradshaw has been unable to be present at the Belfry as much as he considers necessary, therefore he has resigned from the post of Hut Warden but will remain as an ordinary Committee Member until the end of the year.  Dany's place as Hut Warden has been taken by Quackers who has been co-opted to the Committee for the remainder of the club year.


Over the years various attempts have been made to purchase or lease the land owned by Inveresk Paper Co which includes the entrance to Cuthbert’s.  Recent negotiations have been successful and we now have a stage at which a draft agreement has been drawn up to lease all of Inveresk’s land. The nominal rental is likely to be in the region of £90 per year.  For this we will secure not only the cave but an area of land the club has shown special interest in for many years.  If we had not shown any interest the land would have gone to nature trust groups.


A club T-Shirt on a similar design to the sweatshirts is being obtained.  There is no need to order in advance as once the shirts arrive they will be sold on a first come first served basis.  Sue Dukes is handling the sales.  More details will be made available when the supplies arrive.


We welcome the following new members to the club: Jeremy Pogue, Phil & Lil Romford, Bill Brooks, Dr Andrew Nash, Mark Brown (Honk), Andrew George (Spew) and Julie Holstead


Quackers, Emborough, Nr. Bath.
Dave Metcalfe, Long Eaton, Notts.
Woly Wilkingon, Melksham, Wilts.
Bob White, Wells. Tele Wells (STD 0749) 74980
Val Wilkinson, Melksham, Wilts.
J. D. Statham, Bruton, Somerset.
Karen Jones, Lightwater, Surrey.


Our present membership stands at 167 members of which 54 are Life members.  This includes new members and means a drop in membership of about 30 on last year.  We are now only 8 new members off our 1,000 member!


In December 1980 a new agreement was signed between C.C.C. and Bristol Waterworks.  Hopefully the permit system is now much simpler and involves less paperwork.  All members need to obtain a new permit regardless of the expiry date of any you might now possess, unless you have obtained one since December 1980. Indemnity forms are not required except for persons aged between 16 & 18 years.  Please remember 16 is the minimum age and in any case appropriate insurance cover is always required for under 18's.

When visiting C.C.C. caves remember to lock yourselves in and do not let any other parties in who do not have permits or keys.  A new gate and padlock has been fitted to Rhino Rift. Keys are held in the Belfry.

Having set up access agreements with landowners it is up to us to defend our agreements and see that landowners requests are adhered to so that caving in these areas can continue.


Haydon Drove Swallet

by Mark Brown

Haydon Drove Swallet is found just north of West Horrington village, behind farm buildings on Haydon Drove Farm (N.G.R. 5880 4825).  Access is controlled by the farmer.  The swallet is an active feeder for St. Andrew’s Well, which is three miles distant and 590 feet lower.  The entrance is located in a very promising position on a limestone/shale boundary.

Digging started on August 3rd. 1979.  A large amount of rubbish was removed from the entrance depression before it was possible to dig properly.  The disposal of the rubbish revealed a large shelf of bedrock jutting out from the east wall of the sink.  The small stream vanished at the base of the rock.  Digging commenced at the stream sink but work was made unpleasant due to sewage from the farm. This slowed progress considerably.  On August 28th a low entrance was uncovered.  This entrance consisted of a low creep leading into a low, wide, flooded bedding-plane.  Entry into the flooded passage was out of the question, so an effort was made to divert the stream from the cave.  This was accomplished when a small hole was opened in the floor of the depression.  Immediately the stream started flowing into this sink-hole, which was enlarged by further digging.  Diverting the stream into the hole had the effect of reducing the level of water in the cave.  Entry was gained and 14 feet of low bedding passage leading into a dry, choked chamber was found.  The stream soaked into gravel at the bottom of a small soil slope in the beginning of the chamber.

Digging stopped until December, when an effort was made to enlarge the entrance.  With this done the terminal chamber was scratched at, until a boulder collapse stopped work.  Every effort was made to remove the rubble blocking entry into the chamber, without success.  However, following a week of rain, in which the swallet was severely flooded; a further development occurred.  A small hole was noticed in the bedding plane.  This hole had been opened by the flooding and was taking a large stream. A strong draught was blowing from the hole.  Despite this find the cave was not dug again for another year, due to the lack of a digging team, the members of which had other commitments.  Digging was re-started in February 1981 and still continues.  Another report will be made pending further development.


Surrey Heath Independent Transport Expedition To The Lake District

by David Lampard.

It came to pass that stealthily, in the early hours of Thursday 26th February, that intrepid band of explorers, the Surrey Heath Independent Transport (acronym noted) descended on No.8, Lingmoor View.  The following morning we were all up by about 9.30, thanks to the help of Mr. Cullen who walked in, informed us that the dawn had arrived, and, in his opinion, we were all destined for a gentle stroll along the High Street.  After a quick rub of the eyes and a belch, I put on my glasses and soon realised that the thing standing before me was indeed Gary Cullen, the dawn had arrived, as he said, and, unfortunately, I was awake.  We soon had breakfast and by 10.00 were piling into the van just in time to hear the usual 'Hello Sh*tbags', echoing down Langdale ~ 'Good morning, Chris!'

We left Gary's car at Troutbeck, Gary and Judy joined us in the minibus and we headed off over Kirkstone Pass to Hartsop where we parked the van.  In no time at all we found we could master the art of walking - just one foot in front of the other - quite easy really!  We walked up the track to Hartsop farm and passed quite a large car-park, which would have saved about half a mile of roadwork.  We followed a track for some distance on the right aide of Hayeswater Gill and stopped for a breather by Hayeswater. We crossed the dam and started a straight up assault on the Knott.  This was modified within a few minutes when we met a track which we followed for a short distance and scrambled ('Oh, I do wish I had brought some crampons.') up the last steep rise to the top of the Knott.

On the way up the Knott we had passed about half a dozen characters carrying rucksacks which must have weighed 30-40 lbs.  One wanted to swap packs with me but I was unfortunately compelled to decline.  We had a short breather by the cairn and headed down the other side to join High Street.  On the way down we met a chap wearing an anorak of the same orange colour as the previous party. He told us that they were Royal Signals Apprentices and he was their, instructor.  We told him where to find them, or rather where they were sitting, and he was grateful.

There then followed a very enjoyable, if slightly windswept stroll along High Street.  We made for the large cairn on top of Thornthwaite Crag where we stopped for a chat with yet more orange anoraks - anyone would have thought there was a war on!  From hare we followed the path or what we thought was the path down the side of Froswick, stopping when Dave Hurrell obviously needed a hand with one of the many snowballs he had been making.  This one was getting too big for him to push.  Gary had the solution of breaking it up with his ice axe.  He must have carried it for this purpose because he did not appear to use it for anything else.  We then discussed the merits of catching a sheep for our evening meal.  They seemed to run away when anyone mentioned 'Mint Sauce'. I then suggested trying luring it towards us instead of chasing it.  This did not work as sheep obviously prefer the males of their own species.

We followed a track along the side of Hagg Gill to Troutbeck.  Before we reached Troutbeck we were rather confused as it appeared to be raining, only the rain looked, felt and indeed smelt like the waste product of cows, and shit it was!  The farmer in the adjoining field was being a little too vigorous with his fertilizer. When we reached the main road the first building we saw was a pub which appeared to be shut as it was about 4.00 in the afternoon.  Not to be put off I went in and asked where we could get a cup of tea or something, looking at the beer.  I completely forgot I had my boots on and I had been sprayed.  For some unaccountable reason the landlady was upset so we walked up to the village.  Bruce went back in Gary's car to collect the van.  He returned shortly afterwards and after buying bog-rolls and digestive biscuits we headed back to Chapel Style.

The evening was spent in the 'Brit' where we partook of traditional ales.  I must compliment Bruce on a very well cooked breakfast on Friday morning.  During breakfast we all decided to do something in the Coniston area.  Paul Christie came in and, completely unprompted, suggested the 'Old Man of Coniston'.  He had worked out a route so we made a supreme effort, after the third game of cards and finishing our coffee, of un-sticking our backsides from the comfortable chairs in which we were sitting.

I travelled in Paul's car which we left in the Crown car park in Coniston.  Paul and I then joined the others in the van and drove to a car park about three miles north of Coniston.  It was a sunny morning, ideal for photography, and those among us who had cameras were well rewarded by the icicles hanging from the rocks above the stream we were following.  Carrying on upstream we came to a footbridge which we crossed.  We followed the right hand side of the Gill until the stream turned from sharp right, out of a fairly high and narrow gorge.  The way on appeared to be up a fairly steep section which would normally pose no problems, but snow and ice made it look rather hazardous. Wet leg No.l of the day occurred at this point, when Bruce made the discovery that he could not walk on water, even if it had ice on it.  We then retreated half way back to the bridge and made our way up the steep bank via tufts of grass and the occasional tree.  We followed the side of the small gorge until we reached a track.  At the head of the gorge we crossed the stream and found a cleft in the rock which turned out to be a hole going down could this be a cave?  There did not appear to be a clear path across Coniston Moor so we followed the stream keeping Wetherlam on our right.  Wet leg No.2 soon occurred when I walked across some fresh snow and was surprised to find my leg sinking up to my knee.  When I removed it, it was very wet and brown all over.  We soon met another track on the next ridge and followed this, passing a sizable canyon on our left.  This seemed to be part of an old quarry.  We found a small lake which made a good excuse for a tryout at ice-skating, wearing hiking boots - Robin Cousins eat your heart out!  This was followed by wet leg No.3 - Graham learned very quickly that ice was thinner near the edge of a pool.

Mars Bars and sandwiches were consumed overlooking the Old Man of Coniston.  At this point, Bruce, to our amusement, jumped up and pointed to a place about 100 yards along the slope and shouted, "Hey, look at that!"  This was immediately followed by a very red face and, “No, it's O.K.  Forget it.  It's not important."  By this time we were scanning the hill trying to find what he had seen.  It turned out to be a sheep with a rather bushy tail. Bruce thought the sheep was lambing - I don't think he had seen a sheep with a tail before.  This is still a source of embarrassment to him, even now.

It was now about 3.00 pm and the sky was beginning to cloud over so we decided to go down into the valley to look at the old mine workings instead of tackling the 'Old Man' himself. We made a rather slippery descent into the valley and followed an old miners' track in the direction of Levers Water. There was quite a large entrance a few yards to the right of the track.  The mine entrance was about 15 feet square and a horizontal passage went in for about 30 to 40 feet.  A chain stretched between the walls to guard a deep shaft in the floor.  We also looked at an interesting and sizable rift in the ground which was well fenced off and was obviously natural (Sorry, Dave, but read your Christmas 1980 B.B.).  A path followed a disused drainage channel which must have originally taken water from Levers Water.  The wood on one of the sluice gates was in very good condition.  We looked into another hole on the way down, being careful not to damage a good display of icicles hanging over the entrance.  This was obviously not a mine - it was too small and had light showing along it.  It seemed to be part of a fairly elaborate system of channels leading to the remains of a wooden duct taking water down to the buildings in the valley.

We reached the Youth Hostel, passing Martin Grass's car en route, and followed the road into Coniston. Two cups of tea later all six of us squeezed into Paul's car and drove to where we had left the van.  We then drove back to the cottages.  The evening was spent eating chicken, chips and part of the basket they were served in, and consuming numerous ales in the Crown at Coniston.

During the night Steve Woolven, his girl friend Nicki, and Lynda, my girl friend arrived.  So did about four to five inches of snow.

One lookout of the window on Saturday morning told us that no matter how picturesque newly laid snow was, we were not going to do much that day.  The rest of the B.E.C. left fairly early for Yorkshire.  Steve had had some engine trouble in the way up so Graham Nye and Steve probed the pile of snow which looked most like a Fiat and in very short time revealed the bonnet.  The trouble was not easy to trace so Steve decided to leave it till the return journey and use my A.A. Relay if needed.  With nothing better to do we walked to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel for some midday refreshment.  We all thought we ought to try something active after a liquid lunch so we made a rather slippery ascent to Stickle Tarn.  Lynda and I decided to turn back at about 3.00 p.m.  The snow which had been falling had turned to rain and, in our opinion, to tackle the ridge back to Chapel Stile at that time in the afternoon was a little mad.  The others, however, carried on.  We returned along the road.  They came in about one hour after us, looking a little wet.  They all agreed that it had not been exactly pleasant up there. I shall not mention any names but they were all slightly puzzled to see three extremely well equipped people, dressed in orange cagoules, over-trousers and gaiters, gradually picking their way up the hill behind Lingmoor View using ice-axes and crampons.  This caused quite a stir, much to the embarrassment of the three concerned who, for the record, had No. 9 cottage (next to us).  The official bulletin from No. 9 was, "We needed the practice."

Sunday's breakfast consisted of, would you believe, 'Vesta Chicken Supreme' (Dachstein leftovers). The weather was worse than the day before and our enthusiasm for tackling Helvellyn had rather waned.  The alternative suggestion from Steve, which seemed a good idea, was to drive to Ullswater and possible climb to the top of Hallin Fell.  This looked like a good vantage point for cameras.  When we reached Ullswater even our enthusiasm for Hallin Fell waned because it was beginning to rain quite hard.  The third choice, in true B.E.C. style, when faced with a situation such as this, was to find the nearest pub.  This happened to be in Pooley Bridge.

On the way back we thought we would give Aira Falls a visit so we drove up a small road and crossed over a field to approach it from upstream.  Steve, at this point, provided the best piece of entertainment that day, completely unintentionally.  He slipped on a rock, put one foot in the water up to his knee, tried to regain his balance and sat in the stream.  The stream swept him down a small chute and left him in the pool at the bottom.  He spent the rest of the trip until we got back to Chapel Stile sitting in the van minus his trousers and wrapped in all our coats.

I took the van back down to the Aira Force car park where I picked up the others.  We then drove back to the cottage, packed, and by 5.00 pm, we were heading for home.  Steve's car trouble was not as bad as he had at first thought and we arrived in Horsham around midnight.


Yet More Monthly Notes

I received a letter from 'Big' Jim Watson recently. He is presently working in the States, living in San Francisco.  He writes;

“I’m afraid I've rather got out of the caving scene around here there are no decent caves within reasonable reach.  I meet up with Jon Selby (Wing Co, of W.S.G.) fairly regularly and have done a lot of towing about, for example, I've visited Redwood National Park, Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley, Yosemite (twice) (I walked up to the top of Half Dome with Jon), Death Valley, Las Vegas, Los Angeles about 3 times, also much Bar-B-queuing on beaches, walking up hills and so on.

The company sent me to Edmonton, Alberta, twice.  The 2nd time I spent the weekend with some friends in Calgary and toured that section of the Canadian Rockies.  I also visited 2 caves that weekend.  The first, a very short cave in Gypsiferous rock at Banff, complete with hot spring and sulphurous fumes, and the next day a cave called 'Ice Cave' a very descriptive name as it seemed fairly extensive and full of ice.  I had no ice gear with me so couldn't get far, but met two people who emerged and paused to remove their crampons before proceeding down the scree-slope which leads up to the entrance.  I had a chat with one guy - a very French Canadian who had done most of his spelunking in Australia (!) and they had been in about 4 hours and got about ⅔ of the way into the cave."

Jim has also met up with Neil Montgomery, of Australian S.R.T. fame, when he was last in L.A.

Jim is currently driving, or un-bending! a Chevy Corvette Stingray, so he should be getting about plenty more yet.

DEEP CAVES: The world depth record is still with the Jean Bernard, and now stands at l455m, the deepest point of this system being a third sump at the end of a narrow, muddy passage.

In Spain, south of the PSM and south of Anialarra, a 400m series of pots has led to large river passage.  BU 56, off the slopes of Budoguia, has been explored to a depth of 1195m.  The cave continues beyond, exploration having been stopped by lack of tackle and time. (see Oct. BB)

Nearby the Jean Bernard, the Gouffre Mirolda has been pushed to a depth of 1100m.

(for further info. on these and other foreign discoveries, see the latest issue of Descent No.48)

MARBLE POT, YORKSHIRE: While up at G.G. this year we had a look at the collapse that had occurred here.  The south east side of the doline has been impressively eroded.  Tons of boulders and mud have fallen, totally blocking the route above the 2nd pitch.  If I were you, I'd forget about the place for a few years!

G.G. - GRIPPING: A lot of gripping (digging of drainage ditches) has taken place in the G.G. field. Fell Beck and the streams feeding P 5 and Grange Rigg are now much more liable to flash flooding. Beware.

AGGIE ACCESS: As from July 1st. this changes to a new system for trips at weekends and Bank holidays. The caving sec. (Martin at the moment) writes for permit blanks (4, 8 or 12 of them at 25p each).  When needed, one permit per trip is taken to Whitewalls (the Chelsea hut on the Tram Road) between 9.30 and 11.30 on any Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday, and swapped for a key.  The new regulations stress that a separate permit must be used for each trip. Martin already has some for anyone wanting to visit Aggie, so write to him or give him a ring.  For anybody wishing to visit Aggie mid-week, or do some diving or digging, then the old system still applies.

TACKLE: John would like help with the preparation of parts and the construction of ladder.  If you can give a hand with any of the following, and John will teach you all you need to know, then give him a ring at Shepton 4815 (not the kiosk!):

cutting C-links;

drilling rungs, for which you'll need a pillar drill; making taper pins;

aralditing rungs.

He would also appreciate assistance any weekend to construct tackle. This will be done at the Belfry.

DIGGING TACKLE: It may be that hordes of members are frantically digging in numerous places all over Mendip, or even further afield.  On the other hand, it may simply be that abandoned digging gear lurks in many an abandoned dig.  Whatever the cause, there's not much at the Belfry.

If you have anything that might make suitable digging equipment, such as old ropes, buckets, those ancient krabs made of steel, spades, trowels, hoes, crowbars, etc., how about donating them to the Club.  Just dump them at the shed and let John or any committee member, or Ken James (who needs some) know that you have left it.  It is sure to find a good use.

If you have a dig somewhere, actively going, let us know what gear is there.  I'll arrange collection of anything that sounds as if it is not being used anymore.


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset .

Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor:  G. Wilton-Jones

Frank Frost

FRANK FROST, known to more recent members of the B.E.C. only through the song, but to older members as their arch-enemy, died last Tuesday, April 21st.

He was a founder member of the Wessex Cave Club and was, for a long time, their President.  He was involved with the Wookey Hole dives of the thirties and was an M.R.O. warden for many years.

Our condolences go to his relatives.


SHATTER, W/L, WITHYHILL: These caves have now been totally closed by the owners, prior to their preparation as show-caves.  The entrances are being completely blocked.  According to Hobbs, this is to 'safeguard their interests ' within the caves.

OGOF PWLL GWYNT:  The spelling, or even the name itself, are not certain.  However, a pothole has been dug into above Agen Allwedd.  The pitches are 68', 30', 30', 15' and 15', being a series of rifts ending in oolite with phreatic passage.  The Shale band that is met in the top of the Main Passage of Aggie has not been reached and it is therefore thought possible that the pothole leads to fossil passages running above Aggie.  The location of the pot is at the top of the scree slope that cuts through the escarpment cliff just south of Aggie entrance.

NATURE CONSERVANCY CONTROLLED CAVES: Legal bodies advising the Nature Conservancy about caves within the land they control have recommended that all caves be kept locked at all times.  This recommendation has now become one of the rules of access, and clearly we must abide by this rule if we are not to jeopardise agreements between cavers and the Nature Conservancy.  Unfortunately it means that, however we may feel about such a situation, we must lock ourselves into such caves and take keys with us.  The Nature Conservancy are making frequent and thorough checks to see that cavers adhere to this rule.  The caver named as leader on the permit must be underground with a party using a particular key.  This poses problems for such an instance as the Llangattwg camp, and we are currently trying to formulate a suitable solution.

Martin Grass & Bassett.

John & Sue Dukes new phone number is Shepton Mallett 2566.   Now you'll be able to tell John the good news almost instantly when you find all that tackle you borrowed, and forgot about, and left in your garage or the boot of your car.,


Static In The Cairngorms

by Roy Bennett

The western drought had dissolved into the usual rain and we had run away east to Glenmore where the sun still existed.  A moderate forecast was belied by blue sky and tempted us to a longish walk through the Larig Ghru to Cairn Toul, the furthest four-thousander.

Two hours walking gave first sight of the peak, the sun vanished, and nasty looking mist crept down over the high corrie walls behind us.  Rain came and went and in a little while we left a convenient shelter boulder to strike up to, and up the north east ridge of Cairn Toul to a damp summit.

Mist persisted with increasing blackness above as we set off to the stony expanse of the Western Cairngorm plateau, using the edge of Braeriach's great rough corrie for guidance.  A precautionary ice axe was on the rucksack, point uppermost.  On stopping to un-shoulder this, I was aware of an odd cracking sound reminiscent of electricity pylons in damp weather.  It was not imagination - the sound was coming from the axe point, increasing as this was raised and ceasing near the ground.  In such circumstances mountaineers are advised to lie flat on the ground until the danger passes - not very practical with slow moving weather, and three to four hours of high ground still to cover.

We therefore carried on with the axe held low, one feeling a bit like a mobile lightning conductor, in the flat, misty expanse.  The blackness gave out a few rumbles as it was left behind, and it was several miles before the axe stopped crackling when held aloft.  Eventually it could be carried as before, and the trip was completed over the rest of the peaks to the entrance of the Larig Ghru, and back to the van.  Darkness was only half and hour behind.


As many members will know, I have quite a collection of stories about encounters with lightning. Two accounts are possibly of interest here, both from the Pyrenees:

Jean-Francois Pernette, on hearing of our many walks over the Lapiaz during severe lightning storms, told us that the sheep huddle together in small groups during a storm. However, it is not uncommon to find such a group of sheep all dead, having been struck by lightning.  Lying on the ground obviously has little helpful effect!

Malcolm Jarratt (remember him?) & Co. went to the summit of Pic d'Arlas during a storm, or at least the prelude to one.  At the summit a metal stake is fixed in a special hole in the rock. Someone took it out, wondering what it was for.  On replacement it began to buzz with electrical noise.  Never before have so many B.E.C. members shot so quickly off the top of a hill - a hill which was immediately afterwards struck by lightning.

The theory is that the metal spike emits electrical particles far more readily than the rounded rock of the mountain top, making a lightning strike unlikely or at least, less severe.



Digging In Little Neath River Cave

by Stu Lindsey

About two years ago I looked at some of the passages around the North Eat Inlets in Little Neath River Cave.  Last Easter, 1980, another visit with John Watson confirmed the possibilities of a further visit to establish the feasibility of attacking the stal'd streambed. This occasion had to wait until Easter 1981 when, armed with a lump hammer and chisel, we descended on the dig.

With a lamp of dubious duration it was predetermined that we would spend one and a half to two hours in the cave - we actually spent three!  Attacking the smaller cobbles revealed a possible cause of the silting up four largish boulders, up to thirty pounds in weight, were wedged across the narrowest point.  Removing these and making the next two feet of horizontal gain took the better part of three quarters of an hour.  Progress then changed dramatically - it was just like digging on the beach!  The next seven feet took half an hour, the greater part being getting the spoil out - no spades or accessories.  Leaving the dig four feet short of a chamber, judged by John to be up to three feet high and fifteen wide, we "flooded" the dig by breaking into a large pool that had been lurking on the left hand side. This has effectively put the small stream through the middle of the dig, but progress onwards seems to necessitate following it for at least the next twenty five feet.

Progress reports should be forthcoming, but let us hope not after next Easter!

Quote of the month.

“I didn't know what getting pissed was until I joined the B.E.C.”  Mark Brown.


The Enigma Of Cheddar Caves

by Dave Irwin.

Simply because the ' Cheddar Caves' are commercial show caves and access to these systems is often barred to cavers, little is known of their histories. It is surprising, too, that the cave management themselves are also vague regarding the early years of the Cox and Gough families activities in Cheddar Gorge.

As a result of the renewed interest in Gough's Cave by members of the B.E.C. during the past year or so, making another assault in the hope of finding the lost river of Cheddar, the writer has been attempting to read a history of the system.  The more references that were read, the more questions were posed, while the answers led to more questions and few answers

It is strange, to say the least, that the authors of the early 20th century gave outlines of the historical background to the exploration of these caverns but each is subject to a different interpretation.  What the author intends to do in this article is to set down a number of questions and then attempt to answer them from several noted authorities.  The term 'authorities' has been used in the broadest sense though several must be regarded as being dubious, their sources of information having been copied from earlier and often inaccurate sources.

There are three caves involved in our discussions: Gough's Old Cave; Gough's New Caves; Cox's Cave.

When was Cox's Cave discovered?

Complete caves of Mendip: ( Barrington & Stanton) p. 58 (1977)

"The cave was discovered in 1837 during the widening of the road, and was at once commercialised by Mr. Cox."

Heart of Mendip: (Knight) p. 439 (1915)

"Cox's Cave, first discovered in 1837, in the course of digging out foundations for a stable….."

The Story of Cheddar (Thorneycroft)         p. 52 (1949)

(quote from an old guide book)
"But the Stalactite Cave, discovered in 1837 by Mr. George Cox"

The Story of Cheddar (Thorneycroft)         p. 65 (1949)

"About the year 1837 Mr. Cox was the owner of a great mill behind what we now know as the Cliff Hotel ....needing more room for storage purposes and for parking his carts he commenced to cut back into the cliff face….."

Cheddar, Its Gorge and Caves (Balch) p. 10 (1947)

"He (Cox) was the owner of the grist mill behind the Cliff Hotel, worked by the water of the big pond.  Requiring room for his carts, or for the conveyances of visitors to his hotel, he commenced to cut back the rock, and in doing so found the entrance to the cave.  This was in 1837."

Cheddar, Its Gorge and Caves (Balch) p. 14 (1947)

"Inspired by his relative, the late Edward Cox, whose cave opposite the Cliff Hotel had attracted much attention in the '30's and '40's of the last century, the late R.C. Gough .. "

History of Mendip Caving (Johnson)  p. 167 (1967)

"It was discovered in 1837 by Edward Cox, but there seem to be no authentic contemporary accounts of the circumstances leading up to its discovery. The most common version of the tale is that Cox, was digging into the rock face to provide more room for his carriages, and this seems as likely as any other."

Mendip Cave Bibliography, Part II: (Shaw) No. 180A. (1972)

(Title of handbill. c 1857) "Cheddar Cliffs, Somersetshire.
The most wonderful production of nature in this Island is the Stalactite Cavern, discovered by Mr. Cox in 1838…." (Shaw corrects this date to 1837)

Mendip Cave Bibliography, Part II: (Shaw) No. 180A. (1972)

(There are further handbills noted, all quoting the same date. These are nos: 180B, 182)

Mendip Cave Bibliography, Part II: (Shaw) No. 185. (1972)

(Title of handbill, 1888?)
"Cox's Stalactite Cavern, accidentally discovered 1837-1838, …"

A Guide to Cheddar (Stevens) Adverts p.7 (1869)

"Cheddar Cliffs, Somersetshire.
Visited by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. The most wonderful production of nature in this Island is the STALACTITE CAVERN, discovered by Mr. Cox, in 1838….."

A Guide to Cheddar (Stevens) Adverts p.29 (1869)

"This marvellously beautiful cavern was discovered accidentally in the year 1837, by the late Mr. Cox, when digging in front of his mill for the purpose of erecting a shed or stable."

From the above ten references, though there are others (all the early Cox's handbills. and advertisements state the discovery as being in 1838), there appears to be doubt cast on the often quoted 1837.  It is, of course, possible that 1837 was the year in which the cave was discovered and that 1838 saw the opening of the cave to the public.  The handbill (Shaw, no. 185) which states "discovered 1837-38" probably indicates the time in which the cave was being explored and prepared for the "official" opening.  The one clear fact that emerges is that Mr. Cox, the owner of the mill, was clearing the area near his property for a shed or coach house.  But which Mr, Cox?  Was it Edward or George?

Shaw, in Mendip Bibliography, Part II (no 179) lists the Cheddar, Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the Parish of Cheddar and states: "includes records of the families of Cox (including George Cox, discoverer of the cave)…."  Another reference in the same work (no 442A) Kelly's Post Office Directory of Somersetshire with the City of Bristol (1861) details George Cox as " Cliff Hotel and Pleasure Gardens, & proprietor of the stalactite cavern". Thorneycroft, too, lists the discoverer as Mr. George Cox. Both Balch and Johnson give the name Edward (probably Johnson used Balch as his reference).

Kelly's Guide is of little use in this matter, because though Stevens refers to "the late Mr. Cox" (1861) the Guide was published some eight years earlier.  It must be assumed on present evidence that the discoverer was George, and that Johnson was wrong, but it is interesting to note that he is only referred to as being the "proprietor" in Kelly's Guide and not "the discoverer and proprietor". Though George is quoted by more than one source it just might be that he was the proprietor of the Cliff Hotel in the 1850's and not the actual discoverer of the cave.

The next question: When did the Prince of Wales visit Cox's Cave?

The postcards published by the Cox's Cave management from 1904 onwards include in their title "Visited by King Edward VII (or, after 1910, "Visited by the Late King Edward VII).  This perhaps begs another question when did King Edward VII visit the cave.  The answer is to be found, not in any regular reference, but in a Cox's Cave souvenir booklet of c. 1910.  Here, inside the front cover, is a clear statement that the King had indeed visited the cave when he was 15 or 16 years old (c 1857).

In 1903 Arthur Gough, (eldest son of Richard, the discoverer of Gough's New Cave) discovered the skeleton of the 'Cheddar Man' in the Skeleton Pit.

Gough's Cave, since its opening to the public at Christmas 1898 (Johnson, p. 172), he’d become a severe commercial threat to Cox’s Cave.  Both managements made exaggerated claims of the smallest discovery and following the unearthing of the skeleton Gough's made the most of the event.  In fact the discovery made national news - this meant free publicity.  Cox's had nothing “to sell”.  Their luck come in 1904, for Martel visited Cheddar with Balch, Baker, etc. and after visiting both show caves, claimed (in Cox's visitors' book) that Cox's was one of the finest caves he had seen.  Whether he meant this or not, Cox's went all out and their hoardings, booklets and postcards all proclaimed that Martel thought their cave the best out of 600 caves visited by the great French explorer.

That was in June 1904. During July Cox's made it known that King Edward VII had visited their cave and, with the King a popular figure throughout the country, this must have brought the people flocking in. According to the Cox's booklet, on August 1st a third party rejected this and issued a statement to the effect that the King had not visited the cave and that the public should not be misled by this.  It is pretty obvious that this statement could only have been issued by the Goughs and, as politicians never refer to their opponents by name in an election, Cox's refrained from naming the Goughs as it would have amounted to free advertising for the opponent in their own publicity material!  However, on the 16th August 1904, Cox's had received a letter from the King's Secretary stating that he had visited the cave about 1857.  So, perhaps by modern trading standards this would not be acceptable. The King had not visited the cave, but the man himself had.

And so to our next question: When did Richard Cox Gough, the discoverer of Gough's New Cave, become involved with Gough's Old Cave?

Gough's Old Cave seems to disappear into the mists of time and it is fairly certain that this cave was the earliest show cave in Cheddar.  Rutter, not the most reliable of topographical writers says (p. 186):

"The visitor is not, however, permitted to enjoy or contemplate the scene, without perpetual interruption from the resident females, who unremittingly persevere in offering for sale, small, polished specimens of rocks, or in recommending a visit to the several caves, few of which are either striking or capacious. From a ledge of rock in front of the entrance, to the cave above that, which has formed the comfortless habitation of a poor woman for upwards of twenty years, the view amply compensates for the roughness of the ascent, being considerably heightened by a bold, insulating mass of rock, rising perpendicularly in front, on the opposite side of the chasm.  One cave above is deserving of a visit, its entrance is nearly 100 feet above the valley, and it penetrates full 300 feet beneath the rocks.  Its interior is rugged and uneven, branching into several spacious vaults, producing a fine echo.  Its roof and sides are covered with stalactites, whose fantastic shapes have been gradually named after such animate or inanimate things, as the lively imagination of the exhibitors or visitors, have fancied them to resemble."

The description implies that the old woman lived in a cave with a ledge of rock below the entrance. This is probably Pride Evans Hole, though it could be a view from the entrance to Gough's Old Cave - bearing in mind that the Gorge must once have been quite impressive before quarrying took place by the first bend (towards the modern car parks).

Stevens (p. 21) also mentions a cave where a woman once lived, and also describes Cooper's Hole.

"Passing the lime-kiln (author's comment - below Lion Rock) and two or three cottages, there suddenly appears a fine effect of varies outline, with abrupt rocks on either side. On the right the ground slopes upwards, partly covered with grass and small shrubs…. On the left the precipitous rocks, arranged in terraced forms, add yet more to the pleasing diversity of the scene.  A large arched cavern at the base of the slope affords excellent shelter in a shower, from which, with the outlines of arch as the boundary to the picture, pleasing sketches might be made, as the effect of light and shade on a bright day present to the observer numerous subject for the pencil.  On the opposite side from this cave, about mid way in the height of the rock, another cavern is seen, where for many years an old woman took up here residence; a rugged path leads thereto for those disposed to explore it"

The two caves described by Stevens are without doubt Cooper's Hole and Pride Evan's Hole (one wonders if any of the B.E.C. members have been disposed to sketch the scene during their recent digging operations!)

The cave described by Rutter is probably that which we know today as Gough's Old.  The height up the cliff face is about right and so too is the length.  Another reference to the cave:

"A Guide to Cheddar……" (Stevens) p. 20 (1869)

"near this point, forcing their way from several outlets, are the streams that supply the lake, rushing out impetuously from the base of the rocks, or bubbling up from beneath the surface, and together forming such a volume of water, that those in ignorance of the springs on the summit of the hills must be struck with surprise as to its source.  In the vicinity of this confluence are two caves, one of considerable extent, which has recently been made accessible, and can be inspected for a small charge; but the stalactites have been broken off and removed, and as a substitute, the walls have been carved with names, dates and other barbarisms, to execute which seems to be the chief delight of a certain class of English people."

History of Mendip Caving: (Johnson) p. 171 (1967)

"There are no authentic records of the discovery of this cave, though a local story has it that it was entered through a hole in a garden of an old couple who showed visitors round it at sixpence a head, an expensive charge in those days."

Complete Caves of Mendip ( Barrington and Stanton) p. 90 (1977)

"The cave was shown to the public before 1837 and was fully opened about 1875 -1880 by R.C. Gough."

"The Story of Cheddar." (Thorneycroft) p. 52 (1949)

(quote from old guide book)
"Although limestone ranges generally abound with caverns or caves, and there can be no doubt many such are within the cliffs, yet previously to the discovery of the stalactite cave, the only one of any extent which has been exhibited to the public, is that which lies on the right side of the cliffs, opposite the lime-kiln, about 90 feet from the road.  It has been explored to the length of about 300 feet, and takes a north-east direction; there is nothing remarkable within it, either of stalactite or stalagmite, or mineral incrustation".

“The Story of Cheddar." (Thorneycroft) p. 60 (1949)

"The Goughs were the first to open caverns for public inspection - quickly followed by the Cox family, and great rivalry developed between the two, one always vying with the other to show the public the 'latest and greatest' discoveries".

“The Story of Cheddar." (Thorneycroft) p. 57 (1949)

(Quote from a letter by William Gough)
"The caves discovered by my father, the late Richard Cox Gough; in 1877 are not now on view and it is doubtful if they ever will be as the new caves he discovered on the same premises about 80 yards away in 1898 far surpass anything discovered in Cheddar up to date 1947".

Heart of Mendip (Knight) p. 440 (1915)

"Much more extensive….is the cave discovered by Gough, just forty years later.  Its original entrance of vestibule, in which carts were often stabled, and in which at times people even lived, was long familiar to visitors who followed the road winding through the Gorge, but it was not until 1877 that the real character of the cavern was made known and its wonders first revealed.  It was, indeed, only after years of arduous labour spent in clearing away vast accumulations of earth and in the blasting through many feet of solid rock, that a way was opened into that series of chambers extending far into the heart of the hills, whose marvellous features have made Gough's Cave so justly famous as one of the most remarkable stalactite caverns in the world".

Mendip Bibliography: (Shaw) Part II No 350 (1972)

"(1866 is the year in which Gough developed Gough's Old Cave.)"

Mendip Bibliography: (Shaw) Part II No 351 (1972)

"See Gough's New Great Stalactite Cavern, discovered November 12th 1877, opposite the far-famed Lion Rock. (Shaw continues) A descriptive leaflet of (Gough's Old Cave) including the extensions found on 12th Nov. 1877".

It would seem from the Rutter extract that visits were made to Gough's Old Cave; probably they were taken in by the villagers for a few pence.  Shaw stated that Gough became involved with the cave in 1866 whereas other authorities give the date as being 1877.  Stevens also implies that the cave had been modified to make access easier, but Barrington & Stanton put this date later at 1875-1880.

There seems to be confusion all round!  If the Shaw date is correct and it is to a degree supported by Stevens, then many authorities have mistaken the 1877 date which was none other than Gough's discovery of the 3rd chamber.  Thorneycroft has got himself into a fine old mess - at one time he says (from an old guide) Gough's Old is said to be older than Cox's (as a show cave) William Gough states that the cave was discovered in 1877 (but Dad must always be the hero!) and finally, Thorneycroft states that the Goughs were the first to open a show cave in Cheddar.  The author feels that Thorneycroft had confused the 'Old' and the 'New' caves and if all is sorted out then the story will make sense.  Knight is even more at sea - the 'New' cave was not discovered in 1877 but between 1892 and 1898 again he has confused the 1877 extension in the 'Old' cave.  Johnson is delightfully vague.

What justification have we for saying that Gough's New Caves were discovered in 1892 and extended in 1893 and 1898.  Most authorities give 1893 as the date of the breakthrough but Johnson gives the discovery of the Fonts as October 1892 and further digging and blasting opened up the cave as far as the Swiss Village on 16th January 1893 (History of Mendip Caving, p.172, (Johnson).  Thorneycroft writes: "About 1893 Gough and his sons made a very great effort and broke through into the lofty fissure near what has become known as the Fonts…" Thus Thorneycroft is giving room for uncertainty. He goes on to say that the Goughs installed gas lighting, later to be superseded with electric light.  He makes no mention of the date of the opening up of St. Paul’s and Solomon's Temple area except to say "some time later".  William Gough's letter published in Thorneycroft gives the date of the discovery of the new cave as 1898 and so we are faced with the definition of the word 'discovery'.  In summary, the references all give the date of the initial discovery as being 1893 but it is possible that the initial breakthrough was made in October 1892.  The fact that Johnson Quotes and month and year implies that he had a reference not yet found by the author.  There are numerous descriptions of the new cave entrance before digging commenced and the date of 1890 is quoted in a few books but there appears to be no contemporary reference to the starting date and so cannot be assumed an exact date.

Using the references quoted above and additional information from the same sources the story would appear to be something like the following:

Gough's Old Cave has been accessible at least since the early years of the 19th century, with villagers taking visitors around this cave and also Great Oones and Long Hole.  Cox's was discovered by Edward (or George) Cox in 1837 whilst making a clearing for a coach house and he opened the cave to the public in 1838. Gough became involved, or at least interested, in the Old Cave about 1866 (Boyd Dawkins had dug there in 1863) and joined company with Jack and Nancy Beauchamp, later to buy them out of the business.  In 1897 and on later occasions he made further discoveries in the cave.  (Johnson is completely at sea over this subject as he suggests that Gough opened up Gough's Old Cave before Cox made his discovery in 1837 - as Gough was born in 1827 he was quite an enterprising youngster!). References have already been made to the large cave entrance below Gough's Old Cave - the entrance to the cave we know today - as being a site large enough to store carts and other objects. Barrington & Stanton claim that Gough could not dig there until an old lady died - this was in 1890.  By late 1892 he had broken through to the 'Fonts' and by 1893 had opened up the main passage up to the Swiss Village.  On November 12th 1898 he, Richard Cox Gough, had broken into the remainder of the cave. Johnson claims that the opening date was Christmas Day, 1898, but what is certain is that electric light was installed and used in 1899.  In that year a Cox's Cave publication bore the following: "Cox's Stalactite Cavern, lighted by Welsbach Incandescent, a brilliant white light, superior to Electricity."

That then is the skeleton of the early history of the two caves but much research is now needed to fill in the details.  Who was Richard Cox Gough?  Where was he born?  Who was Edward Cox (or George)?  Confusion abounds and a long term search for material is now the only way to determine the history of the two caves.  Maybe most of the story will be lost in the mists of time - a little mystery will help to brighten up the story, no doubt!


Monthly Notes

CAR THEFTS:  If there is a B.E.C./Wessex digging barrel again this year, then this snippet should be worth at least 1000 feet of passage.  The accosting, pursuit and eventual arrest of a car full of the culprits just before Easter was a major talking point for some of us at the South Wales meet.  Since someone has promised to write down for us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I will say no more.  Let us hope that thefts from caver’s cars will now cease,

SOUTH WALES, EASTER:  This meet must count as one of the most successful yet, with everybody and his dog in attendance.  There are two articles about the meet in this B.B., and I have been PROMISED others. By way of excuse, any typing errors in this B.B. are entirely due to my fingers being torn to pieces through excessive caving and my brain/neuron being numbed by excessive drinking.

GAPING GHYLL: If you have not ordered your beer by now, you are too late. You'll have to buy your own and carry it up yourself.  Don't forget the dates, Friday May 22nd until Monday May 25th.  See y’all there.

BIG MENDIP FIND: Rumour has it that a 4000 foot cave has been discovered on Mendip.  No-one knows where or by whom, or even if it is true at all.  However, there is usually some truth in the rumours of Mendip! We shall see.

ST. CUTHBERT'S SWALLET: Sump I is gradually choking up with cobbles again and could do with a good clear out.  Could anyone who goes that way please remove a few rocks or handfuls of gravel.  If not we shall have to arrange a special trip for a massive dig in the sump.  Tim has been hard at work putting in the new pipe-work below the entrance dam.  However, all the water seems to be sinking further back these days and the entrance rift is virtually dry on most occasions.  Maypole sink is taking lot of water, and the Coral Chamber stream has grown considerably over the last few months.

TACKLE: A great deal of tackle has gone missing recently - particularly a large number of new tethers and spreaders.  John has said that he will withdraw tackle from the store altogether if the situation does not improve, and tackle will then only be issued from his house.  If you have ANY B.E.C. tackle, please return it NOW.


Peak Cavern

Far Sump may now justifiably be re-named Farr Sump - Martyn Farr recently dived here and passed the sump after 1330 feet.  On the other side is half a mile of mostly large passage.  The most surprising find is that T'owd man was there first.  There are miner’s deads and stemples up in rifts. Obviously there is, or was, another route into this section of the cave, and the present assumption is that the miners came from somewhere in the Speedwell system.

Eat your heart out, Jerry Murland!


Ogof Rhyd Sych

by Graham Wilton-Jones

South of the Brecon Beacons and only just north of the sprawling industrial ugliness of Merthyr Tydfil two little streams grow on the Upper Old Red Sandstone slopes of Garn Ddu: Nant Cwm-moel (bare valley stream) and Nant y Glais come together and flow across the limestone outcrop to meet the Taf Feehan just below the Glais bridge. The little valley created by the combined streams, reputed to be the haunt of otters, is not so bare for its lower kilometre, being attractively wooded with alder and hazel.  Typical of streams in limestone country, this one is intermittent, frequently sinking in its rocky bed or banks to resurge further down. The first sinks, upstream beyond the wood, have given rise to Ogof-y-Ci, whose single stream passage of about 500 metres parallels the Nant-y-Glais.  Ogof-y-Ci resurgence, which lies just underneath its main entrance, is somewhat over 600m upstream of the Glais Bridge. Only 100m up from the bridge is another interesting site, first looked at (underground) by Roger Wing and Derek Sanderson, back in 1972.  They did not push on through the easily dig-gable, low passage and, as far as I am aware, no-one has visited the site since. (see B.B. no. 340, p54).  A little over 400m upstream from the bridge the valley sides steepen and close in, and the stream runs through a small gorge, straight and with vertical sides about 6m high and 6m apart.  At the head of the gorge a series of natural steps lead down the eastern edge to an obvious entrance in the east wall.  This is Ogof Rhyd Sych - Dry Ford Cave.

Martin Grass and I visited Rhyd Sych this Easter Monday, allegedly to help Clive Westlake and Ian Davinson with their photography.  We had originally planned to go over to Pant Mawr Pot, but no other B.E.C. members fancied the long walk over the moor (it takes about an hour) and the pubs were open all day.  Since the weather was settled, almost fine, Rhyd Sych seemed an ideal alternative - it is prone to very severe flooding.  Furthermore it is only a short walk from the road, and Clive knows the cave quite well.  Ray and Sue of the Eldon P.C. joined us, and we set off into the spacious passage, with its small stream trickling over the floor.  This beautiful entrance suddenly reduces to a low, narrow duck at the end of a pool which covers the floor of the 'main chamber'.  Today there was plenty of airspace but it does not take much rain to sump this section.

From the far side of the duck we dropped through a hole into a crawl, then down another hole into a pool, out of which we crawled into the first bedding plane.  The whole of the next section of the cave, a major part of it, appears to be dominated by bedding planes.  These angle down gently and progress is generally across the strike and a little upwards.  The floors and grooves are well scalloped.  The first and second bedding planes are easy enough, but the third is what the French would call ‘etroiture impenetrable’ and what normal cavers call extremely low and tight.  The stream can be heard through the fissure, which is just wide enough to accept small people, and this only at one point.  Clive went through with little difficulty, but Ian and Ray found the squeeze impossible. After three attempts I managed to get through - I found that the tightest part was only a metre or so in, where a scallop projection pressed right against my sternum.  Sue followed me easily but Martin did not bother to try - he and the others went off to look for the bypass.

On the far side of the bedding plane, some 20m beyond the squeeze, we three came upon the stream, flowing down the far side of the slope.  Following up the near side of the water we popped up through a hole into a parallel bedding, and thence into the streamway proper.  The passage upstream becomes a narrow rift, and after climbing up one small waterfall we reached the other end of the bypass and went off to search for the others.  Much confusion followed our attempts to communicate with them - there were a couple of Pegasus members wandering around in the complexities of the bypass and, amidst all the shouting, nobody was really quite sure who anyone else was - but eventually we were altogether once more, Clive and I had collected Ian's gear from back through the third bedding plane, and we could continue upstream.

After climbing up a couple of short waterfalls we found ourselves in yet more bedding plane crawls. The floor has been deeply etched by interconnecting channels which take the stream, and our progress here was particularly uncomfortable.  Although the bedding plane is wide and there are several routes, the obvious way, in or close to the stream, seemed to be the best choice.  After a couple of 'false starts' - brief enlargements of the passage with a few formations - a final crawl brought us into the first of the large chambers.  The stal here is good, showing the sparkle of crystal facets that Shatter used to possess. The most obvious feature of this chamber is a large stal column up on a shelf of stale upstream from here the passage quickly enlarges to the proportions one expects of Welsh caves. It is necessary to climb through and over stal; very carefully, to reach the start of this large passage.  A big boulder pile follows, which we crossed by the right hand wall and thence we went down a loose looking climb - we were given the usual warning about the wall and ourselves being in immanent danger of becoming the floor - to the stream once more.  Up a little climb on the left out of the stream led us back into the final stretch of big passage.  We dropped down a stal slope to a pitch overlooking the end chamber.  On the extreme right hand side it was possible to free-climb down to the chamber floor, where the stream flows gently over gravel, out of a boulder choke.  The main formation here is a calcite flow covered in minigours and forming a canopy over a crystal floor with nests of cave pearls.

Having acted as models in a number of photographs Martin and I had to head out - we had been four hours so far and fully expected to be a further hour and a half making exit.  The chambers are not places to hurry through, the stal deserving more than just a brief glimpse.  However, ignoring the splendours of the place, we reached the bypass to the third bedding plane in only twenty minutes.  Where the water is quite deep in the rift streamway there is another rift leading off to the left.  Along here 4m there is a hole 1m up in the right wall.  Through here we climbed up and followed back over the top of the previous passage until we crossed over the course of the stream (not visible). The choice was now left or right. Turning left brought us to 'the S bend' which we both found reasonably easy.  A little further on we dropped down a short step into a cross passage.  Down the dip leads eventually to a tight connection into the stream, but the way on is to go down only a couple of metres of the passage and then turn right into a parallel, down-dip passage.  Most of this series of passages is crawling (hands and knees with some flat out) and Martin describes it as 'very like Mendip passage, Goatchurch maybe'.  The route is fairly obvious now, and a slight draught helped us on the correct way.  'Wrong' side passages seemed to close down rapidly. Eventually we reached a squeeze through stal, closely followed by another.  We were back where I had been earlier - a low descent over gours brought us down to the passage that separates the second and third bedding planes. Looking up from the third bedding plane squeeze, we had come out of the bypass by the right hand passage.  I have dwelt at length and in some detail on the bypass passage as it could be the essential route for anyone of average or above average proportions.  However, it is not (as stated in Caves of South Wales, Stratford) much longer than the normal route, nor is it very tight anywhere.  We took ten minutes through this section - the normal route via the third bedding plane would take a similar time.

A further ten minutes saw us out of the cave and cleaning off all the mud of the entrance crawls in the entrance pool.  We were well satisfied with an excellent trip and both intend to go back to photograph the end chambers and their magnificent formations for ourselves.


Bournemouth Underground

by Chris Smart.

The title of Bournemouth Underground and the location - Dean Park Road may mislead some people as, to my knowledge, there is an absence of caves or mines in the Bournemouth locality.  However, to quote one old saying (by Fred Davies) "Caves is where you find them!"  Perhaps, more realistically, I may quote another old adage which will explain this short article - "It may be sh*t to you but its bread & butter to me."

For the two sunniest Saturdays in April I was seconded for employment to the firm of Kenmac, who are well known throughout the Engineering world as tunnelling specialists.  Their problem was connecting one 30m deep shaft to another of similar depth approximately 700m away by a horizontal and straight tunnel.  For the technical, the tunnel contractors are working to a specification of ± 35mm. off the true centre line.  Such a tolerance does not leave much room for error and for that reason the use of a gyrotheodolite was required.  Such an instrument consists of a large plum-bob suspended on a fine wire that is motored up to 22,000 revolutions per minute about its own axis.  The plumb-bob is then slowly released and comes into harmony about the earth's own rotational inertia, making it possible to track and measure its oscillations about true North.  By such a method the pointing of True North can be determined to approximately 20 seconds of arc.  By prior knowledge of the azimuth of the required line between shafts it is therefore both possible and simple to turn to required pointing and check the tunnel construction.

This construction is currently in the sedimentary Bournemouth rock sand and tunnelling is the preserve of a small bunch of 'paddies'.  The 'sand' is too soft to require the use of chemical persuasion and similarly too hard to permit the use of picks and spades. Consequently the tunnel is inched forward by the use of hydraulic jacks that bite into the sand and the spoil is then loaded onto a small wagon that is towed out by a small diesel locomotive. All this may make the tunnel seem enormous, but the cutting produces a 1.8m diameter drive and this is then reduced to a 1.6m tunnel by the circular concrete lining.

Mendip Cave Survey Scheme.

The following surveys of Mendip Caves are available as dyeline copies. Prices quoted are correct at the time of this printing.

If you require any of the following surveys then either write to me or see me at the Belfry, when I frequently have a selection with me.




































Brownes Hole

Cheddar Gorge Caves

Coopers Hole

Cuckoo Cleeves

Dallimores Cave

Eastwater Swallet (2 sheets)

Goatchurch Cavern

Holwell Cavern

Hunters Hole

Hutton No.2 Cavern

Lamb Leer Cavern

Longwood Swallet (plan)

Longwood Swallet (upper series)

Longwood Swallet (sections)

Nine Barrows Swallet

Pinetree Pot

Quaking House Cave

Reads Cavern

Rhino Rift

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (plan)

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (sections)

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (September series plan)

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (plan inc, Cuthbert’s II)

Shatter Cave

Singing River Mine

Stoke Lane Slocker

Swildons Hole

Thrupe Lane Swallet

Tynings Barrows Swallet

Ubley Hill Pot

Ubley Warren Pot

Withyhill Cave.


Manor Farm, +report






70p each





























Certain surveys of caves of Wales, Derbyshire and Yorkshire are also available, price on request.

e.g. Agen Allwedd, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu,  Porth y Ogof, Little Neath River Cave, Hepste River Caves, Giants/Oxlow, Peak Cavern, Perryfoot, P 8, Leek Fell,  Washfold,  White Scar.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset . Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

May I take this opportunity to apologise for the late issue of this August B.B., and offer the excellent excuse that I've been caving which is what we're all about, isn't it.  Oh yes, a little bit of drinking as well, but you all know what Euro-fizz is like.

Bob Hill has promised an article about our stay in the Mont Blanc region. He and Jem successfully reached Mont Blanc summit, along with 288 other people, and there are many other tales to tell.  I'll give you all my version after I've read Bob's!

We should also have something on the 600 metre + through trip from Tanne du Bel Espoir to the Grotte de la Diau, canoeing down the Ardeche, and brief mentions of Orgnac and Cocaliere.

Also in next month's B.B., which should be out for the dinner, transcripts or extracts of letters from Blitz, recently returned from Nigeria, Karen and Gary in the States, and Big Jim, who is now going to stay out there a further two or three years. A short run down on the B.C.R.A. conference, more about the Manor Farm dig, how Walsall may go the way of many Florida homes and disappear down a hole, plus book reviews, plus all the latest news I can gather.


P.S.  BRING THIS WITH YOU TO THE A.G.M... .. and please read it beforehand!



1.                  Election of Chairman

2.                  Collection of outstanding ballot papers

3.                  Election of Tellers

4.                  Minutes of 1980 AGM

5.                  Matters arising from 1980 AGM

6.                  Hon. Secretary’s Report

7.                  Hon. Treasurer’s Report

8.                  Hon. Auditor’s Report

9.                  Caving Secretary’s Report

10.              Hut Warden’s Report

11.              Hut Engineer’s report

12.              Tackelmaster’s Report

13.              B.B. Editor’s Report

14.              I.D.M.F. Report

15.              Librarian’s Report

16.              Result of Committee election

17.              Election of Officers

18.              Members Resolutions

19.              Any other business


Minutes of the 1980 Annual General Meeting of The Bristol Exploration Club

The meeting was held at The Belfry on Saturday 4th October 1980 being convened by The Hon. Secretary Tim Large.  A quorum being present the meeting was opened at 10.40am.

The Hon. Secretary asked for nominations for a Chairman.  Alan Thomas and Roy Bennett were nominated from the floor.  A vote was taken and Alan Thomas elected by 21 votes to 1.  In his opening address the Chairman reminded those present that the AGM was the right and proper place to air any grievances or dissatisfaction with the club.  Outstanding ballot papers were called for and the following Glenys Wilkinson, Lawrie O'Neil and Dave Irwin elected as Tellers.  The minutes of the AGM held 6th October 1979 had been circulated and were approved by the meeting.

Matters Arising

Rare Books - The meeting maintained its view that the rare books should be kept in a lockable container.  This matter is in hand.

Constitutional Proposals - No further action is required at present on the proposals put forward by Michael Wheadon.

Insurance - As no viable policy could be found at a cost the club could consider it was considered best to leave the situation as it was until something viable becomes available.

Officers Reports

Hon. Secretary’s Report had previously been circulated in the B.B.  Tim Large had nothing further to add.  It was proposed by Nigel Taylor and seconded by Dave Irwin that he meeting adopt the report- agreed unanimously.

Hon. Treasurers Report was circulated at the meeting, Sue Tucker pointed out that the loses made on the boots could be explained by the fact several pairs had been stolen and payment on three pairs was still outstanding.  The club still had one pair of boots in stock.  Several Belfry accounts had not been passed to Sue Garth. Dell said he would pass these over. Nigel Taylor proposed seconded by Chris Batstone that the reports of the Hon. Treasurer and Hon. Auditor be adopted - agreed.

Hut Wardens Report was read to the meeting by the Chairman who expressed concern over the number of rogue keys and also the question of group supervision at the Belfry. John Turner proposed that no person be allowed to stay at the Belfry unless a member of a bonefide club and supervised by a member.  This was seconded by Val Wilkinson.  A vote was taken FOR - 37 AGAINST - 0 motion carried.  The situation regarding hut fees outstanding had now much improved. Jerry Crick proposed seconded by John Dukes that the report be adopted - carried.

Hut Engineers Report had been published in the BB. Nigel Taylor had nothing more to add. Jerry Crick proposed seconded by Martin Grass that the report be adopted - carried.

Caving Secretary’s Report was read to the meeting by Martin Grass.  Martin stated the need for more Cuthbert’s Leaders.  Chris Batstone proposed seconded by Greg Villas that the report be adopted - carried.

Tacklemasters Report was circulated to the meeting by John Dukes who then amplified his report by saying that we still had tackle missing from last year plus another 9 ladders missing this year of which 6 appear to be unaccountable for.  We have 5 ladders of other manufacture, some being found in Swildons when our tackle has been stolen.  John said the meeting should decide what action the club should take to prevent further loses.  He also pointed out that tackle wasn’t being looked after properly.  Members must use a recognised good practice and ensure it is cleaned after use.  Chris Batstone asked if the club was going to replace and make new tackle.  John explained that materials had been obtained and new ladders would be made and old ones renovated.  Problems were at present being experienced with taper pins but these should soon be overcome.  Garth Dell proposed seconded by Jerry Crick that the report be adopted - carried.

Pete Franklin proposed a vote of thanks to John for maintaining the tackle seconded by Stuart McManus.  The meeting agreed.

Librarians Report - Chris Batstone said that the library had been reorganised and a new catalogue in progress.  No books had gone missing this year as far as he was aware.  The lockable box for the rare books was well in hand.  Woly Wilkinson proposed second by John Turner that the report be adopted - carried.

I.D.M.F. Report - no requests had been received for money.  Chris Batstone proposed, seconded by Garth Dell that the report be adopted - carried.

BB Editors Report had been published in the BB.  Dave Irwin said he had been unable to produce a quarterly BB as proposed due to lack of material. Garth Dell proposed seconded by Bob Hill that the report be adopted - carried.

Result of the Committee Election - 80 ballot papers were counted and the following elected: -

Tim Large - Hon. Secretary
Nigel Taylor - Hut Engineer
Graham Wilton-Jones - BB Editor
Martin Grass - Caving Secretary
John Dukes - Tacklemaster
Sue Tucker - Hon. Treasurer
Dany Bradshaw - Hut Warden
Sue Dukes
Stuart Lindsay

Members Resolutions - The 1979/80 Committee proposed that Martin Cavendar be made an Hon. Life Member in recognition of services to the club.  The meeting carried this unanimously.

Joan Bennett commented on the good effort of the club in raising over £800 towards the Belfry Improvement Fund.

Any Other Business

John Turner asked if the club had sent an official letter of sympathy to the Dors family re Ben’s death. The meeting considered that the club had already adequately expressed its feelings.

Garth Dell asked whether the club subscription would remain the same as last year.  It was proposed by Pete Franklin and seconded by Nigel Taylor that the subscriptions are not increased this year.  Carried unanimously.

There being no other business the meeting was closed at 1.05pm.


News in Brief

Remember the rumour recently of a big new stream cave on Mendip?  Well, I know someone who claims to have been down it.

From a Frog newspaper article, borrowed from Rocksport:  In early August BU 56, the new deep system leading to the Riviere St. Georges, near the P.S.M., was pushed to a siphon at -1335m.

Arphidia, right beside the P.S.M., has been extended to nearly 12km and parts of it run extremely close to the Verna, the huge chamber in the P.S.M.  A link between the two systems, which seems very likely, would give a new world depth records yet again.

Honorary Secretary's Report 1981:

This year has been somewhat turbulent, with much work crossing the committee table but not much to show for it. Membership stands at 172, maintaining nearly the same total as last year.

The Belfry improvements are still in action although they have not moved beyond the drawing board stage. There are several difficulties which have slowed progress.

Negotiations are proceeding to lease the St. Cuthbert's land from the paper mill.  At present a nominal rental of £90 p.a. has been agreed.

Various projects have been started such as rebuilding tackle and maintenance of the Belfry but a great deal of this work still needs doing.  Greater cooperation and involvement, both of committee members and of club regulars, is needed if we are to complete these necessary tasks, many of which must be done before the winter.

On two occasions this year it has been necessary to reprimand members regarding undesirable activities.  This resulted in one member being fined £10 for contravening a committee ruling.

The Club only gets the committee it deserves? but once elected I think it reasonable to expect support of the members.  Some may not always like all the decisions the committee makes, but then everyone must remember that they are always made with all members in mind, not just the active nucleus of that precise time.

Efforts have been made to find a new publications officer, and despite notices in the B.B., nobody has volunteered.  In fact, response to comment in the B.B. on various topics over which the committee may take action has been very apathetic.  If we had the cooperation and involvement so often seen on club cave digs then the more mundane tasks of maintaining the club headquarters, producing publications, etc., would be easily achieved.

During the year our Hut Warden, Dany Bradshaw? found other commitments keeping him away from the Belfry so by mutual agreement Dany stood down as warden and Quackers was co-opted to fill the gap.  At about the same time Sue Tucker advised the committee of her intention to resign at the end of the year.  Sue has been our treasurer now for three years and I am sure you would all wish to thank her for her service to the Club in this important role.  To fill this vacancy the committee is suggesting Sue Dukes, who has expressed an interest in the job.

Every year the pressure on caving increases resulting in an ever increasing round of meetings which need to be attended if we are to protect our point of view.  I have recently been invited on to the Somerset Trust Management Committee for the Mineries and hopefully can put caver’s views and protect our interests.

Hopefully we shall now be able to look forward to better progress in the coming year.

Tim Large.

Attendances at committee meetings, which totalled 11, were as follows:

Tim Large

Nigel Taylor

Graham Wilton-Jones

Martin Grass

Sue Dukes

John Dukes

Sue Tucker

Stuart Lindsay

Dany Bradshaw











2 (out of a possible 4)

T. L,


Honorary Treasurer's Report  1981

Income and expenditure has been generally on a par with last year, with one or two drastic exceptions. The Gas and Electricity accounts have virtually doubled:










So all members using the Belfry remember and take note.  The committee have tried to remedy this but it is up to you to switch off the lights, and turn the gas off when not in use.

It has been nice this year to write cheques for the tacklemaster.  Let us hope that his expenditure of £388.64 on materials has been well spent, and the club will appreciate some new tackle and make sure it does not grow legs!!

I was disappointed to note that the committee efforts to obtain a licence again this year to sell lottery tickets was a complete waste of time.  What happened to the enthusiasm of last year?  Not one lottery.  Does everything have to be left to the committee?

I would like to express my concern to the A.G.M. of the amount of usable cash tied up in Building Society and deposit accounts just gathering 'dust' and, of course, interest, transferred over the years from the general fund.  Perhaps this money could be used for the good of the Club and not, I hope, subsidise the subs.

As the outgoing treasurer I would like to leave the subject of the subs to the A.G.M.  Remember, they did not go up last year, but inflation and wages did, re Gas and Electricity expenditure, and unless the club wants to face a large rise in future years, when the general funds are in a low state, they should go up this year, even if only by £2.00

I.D.M.F.   This account, as usual, is just gathering more and more interest, for yet again no eligible members have asked to use this fund.

Sue Tucker.


Belfry Bulletin Editor's Report  1981

During the first half of the club year there was reasonable response to my requests for articles for the B.B.  However, more recently material has been difficult to obtain and B.B.’s have become rather thin.  Members have promised articles, but in many cases these have been slow in coming, if I have received them at all.  Frequently it is the same people who submit material.  Many thanks to these.  I owe especial thanks to Tim and Fiona for the writing and typing onto stencils of several pages of notes this year; also to Martin, who has assisted me greatly with the compilation of notes.

No doubt the question of a bi-monthly B.B. will again arise at the A.G.M. Several B.B.’. have been produced as bi-monthlies this year, partly due to lack of material and partly because my own activities have not allowed the time for B.B. production, this latter particularly precluding a B.B. in August.

I see the B.B. as performing several functions:

1)       keeping members in touch with the club and its activities (diary and club business);

2)       keeping members in touch with each other;           

3)       giving up to date and detailed news of Mendip happenings;

4)       giving up to date news, mainly in brief, of national and international caving;

5)       offering articles, both serious and humorous.

This last is what actually fills the B.B., and what members must be prepared to take time to produce, if they want a journal of reasonable size, and not simply a short, monthly newsletter.

Graham Wilton-Jones.


Caving Secretary's Report   1981

1981 has been a reasonably active year far the Club, but mainly on the tourist trip side, as little new passage has been found.  (This is probably due to inactivity on the digging front).  Haydon Drove Swallet is being attacked by two younger members of the Club, and hopes are high for a breakthrough.  A regular team, led by Tim Large, has also been active in Goughs Cave and Cheddar Gorge but work has slowed up during the summer months due to the amount of tourists about.

As usual, most Mendip caves have received at least one visit from Club members over the past twelve months. Looking through the log it is pleasing to note a number of trips to Swildons 12 and I have heard rumours of a Club dig at the end of Victoria Aven - any takers?  Off Mendip the arranged Club meets have been well attended: these include Peak Cavern, Otter Hole, the Bradford P.C. winch meet (where five members reached the end of Far Waters) and South Wales at Easter.  This was definitely the most popular with about 30 members turning out with visits to O.F.D., Dan yr Ogof, Agen Allwedd, Tooth and Llethrid, as well as a dip in the sea off Gower.

St. Cuthbert’s has had its usual tourist trips, and the number has remained steady over the last couple of years.  Work in the cave is being concentrated at Sump 2 and a team is regularly working, mainly on a Wednesday night, at blasting its way across the sump.  The Arête ladder is still out as we are still waiting for the new one to be delivered.  Hopefully it should be installed by the A.G.M.  Work is also progressing slowly with refitting the pipes that take the entrance stream into the cave although this might not be necessary now as the water appears to be sinking in the depression and entering the cave at the ledge pitches.  Consequently the entrance rift has been bone dry for months now.  Two new leaders have been appointed this year: Ian Caldwell (B.E.C.) and Alison Moody (W. C. C.)

There has not been an official Club expedition this year, which is a shame with an un-descended pitch awaiting the Clubs return in Austria.  It seems this year that the mainstays of overseas trips have fallen into that cavers trap known as love with J-Rat, Trev Hughes and Bassett all doing their own thing. However, Bassett and Jane have been touring Europe so tales of caverns measureless to man are awaited from them.

I am prepared to stand again for committee, if elected, but I feel more interest should be shown by members in running for committee (competition is healthy).  Too many members this year have complained over their beer pots about various Club matters but none are doing anything positive about it.  Let us hope we see their names on the voting form this year - as well as yours!

Martin Grass.

Latest news from Yorkshire

gathered by Martin and Geoff Crossley:

New Goyden has been connected to Goyden Pot, via a sump and a very low air-space canal.  Total length with Manchester Hole is over 5 miles. This adds up to a system with a downstream sump 20 and a total of 34 known, divable sumps!  Downstream sump 8 in New Goyden has also been pushed to 750 feet on its way to Nidd Head.

Hurtle Pot is now 80 feet deep and 750 feet long from the diving base.

A shaft above Far Waters of Gaping Ghyll has been found.  This was a lost shaft from the 19th century.


QUOTE:  Tourist to cave guide in Cheddar~

"Are all the caves here underground?”


Hut Engineer's Report  1981:

It is often said that hell is paved with good intentions; if that is true then the Belfry certainly is not Heaven!

That, unfortunately, is very true with the Belfry - it is very far from Heaven.  There are always many small jobs here and there to be done around the hut, and it should not take any ounce of sense for those Belfryites so inclined to see what needs doing and get on and fix one or other of these jobs.  Often much nasty back-biting and criticism is levelled at the committee, either individually or collectively.  But I say to those who shout loudest: "Get off YOUR backsides and YOU do it - PUT UP or SHUT UP".

With that to one side, I feel that the club set itself a massive task when it contemplated great changes at the Belfry, and in certain areas tried to pre-empt or was not aware of the various problems which arise with building methods, planning departments or officialdom.  Yet I do not feel that we have wasted any time as it is giving the Club a breathing space in which we can be sure that any money spent on the club hut is not only necessarily well spent but is also an investment in the club future.

It must be so well designed and planned that future generations of Belfryites do not sit about the hut planning to demolish it or tack bits on here and there!

To that end, John Gwythir, a professional and local architect has been engaged by me to present to the Club as learned a plan as can be devised, and thus enable the Club as a whole to make a decision on the matter.  Hopefully, unlike the infamous "St. Cuthbert’s Survey", this will be ready at the A.G.M. and Dinner (1981).

On Saturday 4th April 1981 Tim Large, Fiona, Quiet John, Quackers, Jane Clarke, Stu Lindsay, Dany Bradshaw, John and Sue Dukes, Bob Hill, Jeremy Pogue, Bob Cork, Chris Batstone, Graham Wilton-Jones, Andy Sparrow, Sue Tucker, ex-member Pat Cronin and Walt 'Farmer' Foxwell all descended on the Belfry and together many urgent jobs, large and small, around the hut and site were undertaken - amongst the most useful being the foundations for the new carbide store and gas bottle store, the erection of 'Bob Hill's Hut', repair of the cattle-grid base, hut cleaning and painting and the installation of an air brick in the bunkroom exterior wall (fixed in by Jenny Sandicott).  Though, perhaps, it is generally regarded to be invidious to name names, it was these people who gave up all of their weekend to work and worked hard.

Unfortunately, despite Graham Wilton-Jones's excellent work on getting out the Belfry Bulletin, the only thing I lazily bothered to contribute this year (that's honesty, Graham) i.e. a warning of a midsummer working weekend in July, did not get published in time - and had to be cancelled on the actual weekend due to a massive M.R.O. mock rescue involving the Belfry.

Tim, Fiona and I stayed for a week at the Belfry in July, and more odds and ends were accomplished along with meetings with the planners and architect.

What remains to be done is general upkeep of the hut nothing new but as all householders know, vitally important.  As the season dips into winter, I believe that the hut is generally in a good condition, but I urge each and every one of us not to become complacent in this regard.

Lastly, due to pressures of work, it will be necessary for me to go to London in January 1982 for three months, and I may not be able to attend all three of the winter meetings.  With this in the minds of you, the club members, I offer to stand for re-election to the Club Committee for 1982, and would, if re-elected, prefer to stand in a 'general capacity' on the committee, in order that I could concern myself directly with the club hut redevelopment and necessary fund-raising.  May I wish my successor all the power he can muster to his elbow.

Nigel Taylor.


Tacklemaster’s Report  1981

As can be seen from the following list, tackle is still going missing but not by the quantities of last year.  Would the members please consider what they propose to do about it as it is impossible for the tacklemaster to control the present system with any certainty of knowing where the tackle is at any time.

All the ladders and tethers have been dipped in Croda and approximately 150 foot of ladder has been re-wired.  Numerous ladders have had to have the ends remade after a very short time as ladders are not being belayed correctly and the thimbles are being pulled out.

During the last year I have bought the following:









Litres Croda PW 24

Metre 8 x 22mm2 chain (50 links)

4mm ferules

4mm thimbles

4mm wire

4,5 x 30mm long taper pins

ft. ladder rungs

“C” links


£ 5.08







I am at present making the jigs and tools to assemble the materials here in stock which will give us about 60 ladders.  We have enough ladder rungs in stock to manufacture:

100 - 4mm ladders, taper pin construction; 10 - 4mm ladders, pin and araldite; 10 - 3mm ladders, pin and araldite.

I have had offers from a few members to assemble this ladder, but would do with as much assistance as possible as it is very time consuming.  When the jigs are complete, I would like to arrange for a tackle making day, once a month, and I should be obliged if the members will support me in this. The job which will cause a problem is the drilling of the rungs as we need the use of a pillar drill for approximately 10 man-hours to drill the rungs we have now.  Any offers?

Finally I would like to thank the members who helped me during the year, and, in particular, Trevor Hughes for the donation of a wire rope, and also remind members to fill in the tackle book every time they use an item of Club tackle.

John Dukes,

1 -  list of tackle overleaf

Tackle code

Date of


Dates checked

Tackle code

Dates checked



Aug ‘79

Oct ‘80

July ‘81

Sept ‘81


Aug ‘79

Oct ‘80

July ‘81

Sept ‘81












































May ‘81

May ‘81

May ‘81



May ‘81

May ‘81

May ‘81

May ‘81


May ‘81

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Round Britain Caving Trip 

Saturday 26th. September 1981.

Sponsored – proceeds in aid of Mencap, the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults.

By the time you read this our Round England and Wales marathon may well be over, one way or the other.  On Friday 25th of September, at 11pm, four of us (Tim Large, Martin Grass, Buckett Tilbury and Graham Wilton-Jones) intend to leave the Hunters and do the following caving trips:

Little Neath - flood entrance to sump 2 and back;

P8 (Jackpot) - to sump 5 and back;

West Kingsdale – valley entrance to Rowten sumps and back;

Swildons - to sump 2 and back.

We intend to be back in the Hunters before closing time on Saturday 26th.  Obviously trip locations or schedule may be revised if the weather is bad.  Hoping to see lots of you in the Hunters on Sat. night!