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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.

Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Dates For Your Diary

October 14th

Eldon Hole (phone Dave Metcalf for details – Blackpool 65985)

October 20th

Stream Passage Pot (phone Dave Metcalf for details – Blackpool 65985)

November 25th

Leck Fell – Pippikin Pot (phone Dave Metcalf for details – Blackpool 65985)

December 8th

BCRA Winter Meet, Wells.  Provisional programme being arranged by Jim Hanwell includes a survey of work carried out at Westbury Quarry (Chris Hawkes); Austria and the humorous talk by Jim Hay – a repeat of the BCRA lecture.  In addition JayRat and Wig will arrange a static display of selections of their caving prints and Mendip postcards.  At the moment it is hoped that the Teacher Training Centre in Wells will be available for this meeting.  A dinner is being arranged at the Hunters in the evening.

New Year Dates

April 25th NCA Symposium ‘Caves and the Community’, Buxton.

September 22-28 European Regional Speleo Conference, Sofia, Bulgaria.

The Eighth International Speleo Congress is being held in Kentucky in the US of A on July 19-24th 1981


Club Notes

compiled by 'Wig'


As a result of a trustee wishing to resign, the introduction of the new constitution at the 1978 Annual General Meeting which requires trustees to be members of the club, Martin Cavender is drawing up the official paperwork naming the new trustees as from the 1st October 1979.  As from that date the new trustees are:

Bob Bagshaw, Roy Bennett, Les Peters and Alan Thomas


At the September Committee meeting it was decided that guests wishing to borrow cave keys from the Belfry will leave a deposit of £5 for the key and each member of the party will be charged 25p per head hire charge.  This charge is to recoup some of the expenses incurred by the club through its sub to the CSCC and the Charterhouse Caving Committee.  Members will be able to obtain the keys free of charge but they are reminded that any guests on their party are liable to the 25p charge.


Wessex had some 330ft of assorted passage at the end of September - mainly in Swildon's Hole.  Another 50ft plus is in the offing in Shatter Chamber Extensions.

B.E.C. are at lust getting worried!  50ft of new passage was found in Tynings recently and on 29th September, Danny Bradshaw and Bob Cork added 254ft in Wookey 24 (still going); Manor Farm is being saturated with digging teams in an effort to boost this.  A secret weapon in the form of Chris Richards can at last be revealed with a new cave on Western Mendip – see next B.B.

N.B.  We must also dutifully report the sad loss of some 4,500ft of passage by the Wessex - not 3,000,000 miles away from Eastwater Lane.  They have a lot to catch up!


Hon. Treasurers Report, 1979

completing our current series of club officers reports, Sue Tucker presents …

As Treasurer I have had a very enjoyable year serving on the Committee, and would like to thank the Committee for all their help.

Since the start of the Club year I have made a little alteration to the books, and have opened many more accounts to give clarity and to ease the accounting load at the end of the year.  I have also taken over from John Dukes the responsibility for B.B. postal (which ties in closely with the subs) and, when necessary, the collation.

I am very pleased with the way that the subs have come in this year und trust it wasn’t entirely due to the cost, and hope that the club membership will continue to support the club in the very difficult years ahead.

It has been a greet disappointment to me that the club made a loss this year, caused by inflation (coupled with a 2/3 year sub) not only catching up with us, but souring way beyond expectations, whilst the club tries to survive on a grossly inadequate sub.

The main areas of expenditure have been:-

Repairs & Maintenance        £233

Insurance incl. Pub. liability £312

Electricity incl. showers       £218

Replacement of tackle          £184 (after the losses of last year).

and, of course, the B.B. This has cost the club a staggering £461 of which £70 was spent on envelopes and £176 on two years supply of paper.  This was off-set by a sub of £356 - a loss of £105 not taking into account other items the subscription has to cover, i.e. insurgence, and I cannot foresee this figure getting any smaller, as this year we will have to purchase envelopes, the next paper and so on ad infinitum, we of course, have to take into consideration the postage which has just risen.

So the sub must rise drastically in order for the club to recoup the losses, keep puce with inflation and be in a position to keep the hut in an adequate state of repair (let alone improvements) if we are to compete with other clubs on Mendip.

I have done some research on the projected cost of the B.B. for next year und hope that this AGM will digest the figures and NOTE the savings to the club of the alternatives.

All figures worked on an Est. 250 envelopes per month:



4, 000 purchased




Sept 78

£70 outlay

250 x 12

250 x 6

250 x 4




= 1,500

=1, 000




= £26.25







Sept 79+

£104 outlay

250 x 12

250 x 6

250 x 4




= 1,500





= £39.00








+ Supplier: Harpercroft. I phoned the supplier on 27.9.79, today’s price for 4,000 envelopes would be £104, unfortunately they have not that amount in stock, there is a 20 week delay in delivery from the manufacturers and Harpercroft cannot guarantee the price as they do not know what it will be.

All the following figures are worked on an est. U.K. postings and 30 various o/seas countries.

1978/79 total postage £133.73.  1979/80 total postage £283.20 (est)


























O’seas surface












Est. cost


220x12x8    = 211.20

  30x12x20p =   72.00


220x6x11p   = 145.20

  30x6x10p   =   36.00

220x4x13½  = 118.80

  30x4x36p   =   43.20










Join the est. figures for postage and envelopes together: Monthly 362.00; Bi-monthly 220.20 and quarterly: 188.00 - surely the figures speak for themselves. Sue Tucker

Cambridge Bottom Eislufthohle

Nick Thorne has sent in the following report on his trip to Austria with the Cambridge….

Late July and August of this year saw Cambridge University Caving Club in the Totes Gebirge of Austria again, for the fourth year running.  Unlike previous expeditions which spent a large proportion of the time prospecting, this year's expedition had only one objective.  Our prospecting to date had unearthed no fewer than three pots in the 200-300m depth range and one, Eislufthohle, 350m deep and still going. And it was Eislufthohle, with its powerful draught and huge shafts, that was the sole raison d’etre for this years effort.  As the pot became deeper and harder to push, it was clear that a more serious expedition was required than ever before, with the sole aim of bottoming the place. Consequently it was a small (only eight) but dedicated bunch of Cambridge Speleos that took to the field this summer, gunning for a really deep pot.

Eislufthohle, discovered in 1977, is situated on the Loser Plateau, reached by driving up a toll road in the village of Altaussee (near Bad Aussee, about 35Km from the Dachstein where Graham Wilton-Jones and J’Rat were) and then walking through pasture for about an hour.  In the year of its discovery Eislufthohle was pushed to 150m depth to the Tap Room (see survey).  This involved descending the 75m Plugged Shaft.  This snow and ice nasty begins after an initial snow slope and spirals down through snow plugs and icicles, the pitch being split several times. Immediately following this is Saved Shaft, 13m to the Boulder Chamber.  Crawling through boulders leads to a climb down and a crawling traverse over a puits-en-bayonette.  This pitch was descended in 1977, but since it had no draught it was consequently named Keg Series, and abandoned in favour of a route beyond the pitch head.  This way was followed down a short climb and a broken 30m pitch to a vadose canyon and the Tap Room a good sized chamber to end exploration for a year.

Last year CUCC pushed Eislufthohle to still bigger things.  A climb down and a crawling traverse led to a small chamber with a huge boulder suspended in the roof, and the take off to the fourth pitch in the floor.  The pitch begins as a slot and widens into a fine sized rift with a small stream falling at one end.  About 15m down the rift lenses in a little and the rope was belayed for a further 30m descent to the floor.  We were tackling exploration at this sort of depth last year, as some of you will doubtless remember by caving overnight.  (This avoided negotiating the difficult Lapiaz to the cave entrance during darkness).  We pushed our sleepy bodies down the short fifth pitch, having made a 'bold step' across the passage to reach the pitch head.  Next came a superb piece of pot, guaranteed to blow the cobwebs out of anyone’s brains.  A short traverse led to the spectacular Greene King Pitch.  This drop is huge and black and the rope hangs nicely free in a finely sculptured corner of the main shaft.  The Balcony Pitch follows immediately to gain the floor of the 'Hall of the Greene King'.

After essentially nothing but good, honest grabbing vertically, we were then surprised and not a little disappointed when Eislufthohle started spreading outwards. A large passage with equally large hanging death led to a short pitch from jammed boulders.  From the bottom the route forked.  At the time we followed the right hand passage along a traverse to a very muddy, broken 20m pitch, a free climb and more traversing. This year we took the left fork and managed to bypass this section, of which more later.

This next traverse was quite a long one in a very tall vadose canyon.  Although not technically difficult it was quite arduous, especially with tackle.  It ended in a slippery mud slope/pitch, The Fiesta Run.  Below this the mud cleared a little and the traverse continued down to another pitch head with the dull roar of water somewhere down below.  It was at this stage during last year’s exploration that proceedings were bought to an abrupt stop by a car accident. (See B.B. 321 for an action replay of all the gore).

With the accident being caused, in no small way, by the fact that we were caving overnight, it should come as no surprise to learn that we gave up such tactics this year.  Instead we supplemented our luxurious base camp in the village with a smaller advanced camp at the edge of the Karren Field (about 20 minutes walk from the cave) and then linked the cave and the advanced camp with a long length of high visibility polyprop string.  On the whole this ploy proved very successful despite several very cold, sleepless nights up at advanced camp, piling boulders onto tents in order to stop them taking off in the driving rain.  To be honest it was very comforting knowing that the camp was here bringing civilization a little closer to you after a long, hard trip.

It took us three trips to rig in down to The Hall of the Greene King at the start of this years caving, the main stumbling block being a new arrangement of snow in Plugged Shaft necessitating new bolts.  Then, continuing down below the eighth pitch we decided to make the left fork, the main route. (The right fork is omitted from the survey).  This way descended a fine free hanging 15m pitch and reached more traversing.  After a short distance a 10m pitch entered a small chamber containing an expedient little water trough, ideal for washing muddy ironmongery - The Gents.  Below The Gents the previous years route was picked up on the long traverse to the Fiesta run.

Once below this we were soon at the limit of previous exploration and moral began to rise with each of us eager to be 'out in front'.  We started to rig the twelfth pitch of the pot.  After only three metres the way on down seemed fairly thrutchy and more obvious was a traverse outwards.  This was followed to a broken 15m pitch and a free climb down to the base of a sizable aven.  The passage was totally dry, the stream having been left at the previous pitch. What on earth was the pot doing now? The outlet from the chamber/aven was a descending traverse to the inevitable next pitch.  This again was a broken 15m one, but unlike the last one, this one landed in a fairly restricted passage.  One of our lunatic fringe pushed this tight, muddy grovel for perhaps 30m until he popped out into the roof of another shaft, quite roomy, that he estimated as 15m to a floor with a stream.  Had we picked up the stream way again?

We were never to find out. The difficulties involved with this ‘dry route’ made sure that the next party in the cave had a closer look at the twelfth, later named Madlmair Shaft after our beer vending campsite owner, in order to push downwards instead of the traverse.  The restricted pitch head soon opened out and a 'good' descent was made, 28m down to a ledge, the shaft continuing.  We were back in business.

The next trip saw tackle hastily pulled out of the dry route and down the new shaft Eislufthohle had answered our prayers and returned to its former vertical self.  So much so that in one trip 120m of depth was added, with yours truly swinging on the rope of the fifteenth pitch very close to the 500m mark.  I say swinging because the rope was actually 3m short of the floor!  Ah well.  The cave covered on this trip included a fine, wet 33m section from the ledge to the floor of Madlmaier Shaft.  An 'under/over' type move followed (everybody went over as under was wet) and then the 13th pitch.  This was descended 50m in a large dry gully, the stream having been lost in the floor. One rebelay was required just over half way down.  The stream then reissued from a hole high up in the wall and cascaded down onto the free climb and pitch that followed.  The 14th pitch was noted for its airy take off from natural belays.  (One of the few non-bolted pitches in the pot).  It was quite wet and gave onto a large platform at the head of the 15th pitch.  This pitch as I said before had to wait for another trip and a longer rope to the bottom, but nonetheless the view onwards was encouraging to say the least.  The passage was about 5m wide, goodness knows how high, mid simply went on off into the inviting blackness as far as a light could shine.  Eislufthohle was getting bigger all the time.  It had the 500m depth barrier beaten, and looked like making mincemeat of the 600 one too……And then…………..

Well, I suppose all good things must come to an end.  The weather closed in something rotten, and for about 5 days it rained heavily and the wind blew.  And of course now we had a cave where it mattered whether it rained or not.  The lower pitches would be awash and further exploration had to wait.  Several bad nights were spent up at advanced camp waiting for the sun to shine and calculating runoff times.  The expedition was drawing to a close and time was running out (I think I've written about the previous two years weather as well!)  We reckoned on one last pushing trip providing that we combined it with a little surveying/photography/de-rigging.

When the break in the weather finally came, we soon got down to the head of the 15th amidst lots of flashbulbs going off.  A proper length rope was rigged and 20m descended to the floor.  The stream ran along just under the boulder floor, and the passage sloped steeply past huge boulders in the floor and ceiling, and then absolutely unmistakably thick, black mud covered rock.  It was mud created by a sump backing up - the pot would shortly end.  Soon the head of the pitch was reached.  Drop tests indicated a short pitch with a deep pool just ahead.  An interested party soon gathered at the pitch head to witness the placing of what we believed to be our last bolt in Eislufthohle.

With the pitch rigged, we descended and our footprints soon desecrated the virgin black mud on the bouldery shore of an enormous lake - the far wall being only just visible.  How inconceivable that a passage of such size should close down to a sump, yet it had.  Eislufthohle had been bottomed.


Turning about, we began to de-rig.  Our moment of glory was soon weighed under by wet pitches, tackle hauling and prusiking with tackle.  In one massive effort our five man party managed to clear the cave below the Hall of the Greene King.  We eventually emerged to a starlit sky after about 15 hours underground.  Over the remaining few days of the expedition, in blistering sun again, the gear was bought the rest of the way to the surface, and so back to base.  Our advanced camp had served its purpose too, and was dismantled.

As we packed to leave for home, we considered both achievements arid plans.  We had taken three years to bottom a 500m pot, something none of us had done before.  We had gained valuable expedition experience in what, by continental standards, I believe is not a simple pot.  Unfortunately we have no complete high grade survey of the place.  Our grade 5 survey stopped at the Tap Room with a defective Clino, and the rest of the cave was just a question of measuring pitch lengths. This exercise alone however, makes us feel confident that 506m is a minimum depth possible for the pot.

For the future, then I think few of us, if any will return to this exact area of Austria again for at least a couple of years.  This in no way reflects the caving potential of the area as our results will testify. Finding deep pots on the Loser Plateau is a real clinch; pushing them however, as one of our rank dryly points out, is a little more difficult.  Our reasons not to return in force for a couple of years stems from a desire to see some other countries and karst areas in order to widen our experience.  Most of us haven’t seen a continental cave outside Eislufthohle!

Finally I would like to thank the IDMF committee for donations towards my expenses over the last couple of expeditions.  The aid I found invaluable; so much so that I would like to see the fund continue for a long while yet for others to use, supplying the capital in future quite possibly by repaying donations.


Cavers Bookshelf No. 6

Vertical Caving by Mike Meredith

64pp.  17 plates.  169 drawings. £2.50

This book does not set out, to cover Single Rope Techniques in as much depth as Thrun or Montgomery. Provided one accepts that its scope is limited to "French" systems and Petzl equipment, then it becomes a good publication to read in conjunction with practical experience.

The ethics of using bolts in the number and with the frequency advocated on the continent is of course a matter of debate.  Whether in ten or twenty years this amount of discretion will be looked back on with distaste or acceptance of the method as essential for the sake of safety, only time will tell.  The fact is that Mike Meredith's book gives a sound and very clear description his chosen techniques, with only one exception.

It is a shame that there is one area of apparent contradiction when he comes to deal with the use of the "Shunt".  He quite correctly states that because this device will absorb shock loading by sliding to a stop on the rope, rather than having a cutting cam, it is very suitable for use as a "dead man's handle" while abseiling etc.  However on page 29 he states:-

“A shunt cannot be safely used for self life-lining and on page 37 he says that a shunt should not be used as a safeguard when bolting a traverse line at the head of a pitch"

This apart, this book represents good value for money, by today’s standards, must be compulsory reading for continental expedition members.



by Time Large

One year closes and another begins.  You will have noticed from your ballot paper that Chris Bastone and Martin Bishop are not standing for the Committee.  Chris has been Hut Warden for several years now and has decided to take a well earned rest. It will be difficult to find a comparable replacement.

The Club Sweat Shirts have been ordered and should be here soon.  If you have not already ordered one then do so ready for the next order as all are spoken for on the first supply.

The Treasurers report will highlight the clubs financial position.  As has already been detailed in the B.B. subs will need increasing. Our Building Society capital is greatly reduced to cover ever increasing costs and to offset the reduced sub this year. Although covering only 9 months our major expenses for the period remained the same as usual.  In some cases e.g. insurance, there were premium increases.

While not wishing to criticise life-members, and all that they have done for the club in the past, I think that they have had good value for their money.  Life Membership will always be theirs but I wonder if the clubs financial position could be slightly alleviated if they could contribute towards the costs of printing and postage of their B.B. - what do you think Life Members?

I hear from Zot that he has a job on an Antarctic Survey supply ship, and is leaving before he can provide his usual humour at the Dinner.

Star Mines – Shipham

(Ed. note - my apologies for the error of name the author should be recorded as Neil Weston.





Compiled by ‘Wig’


Following the notes on possible liabilities having fixed aids in caves published by NCA (published in the BB) the South Wales Caving Club have reviewed the situation within caves under their control.  Those to be retained is listed below, for other locations with aids should be assumed that they have been removed and tackle taken with you on the trip.


All aids have been removed.


Entrance ladders
Maypole chain
Maypole wire
Bolt Traverse wire, bar and ladder
Bolt traverse 2 wire (presumably this is the 'jury Fairy' line.)
Lowe's chain
Poles across the pots.


Letterbox handline
Divers Pitch Handline
Skyhook lines to be fitted to Fault Aven Series
Arête rope
Great Oxbow ladder (alternative to be placed)
Maypole Inlet ladder


Belay bolt on Crevasse
Maypole bridge


Bolt for ladder into G. Platten Hall
Dalis Delight handline
Abyss handline
Rising ladder
Flabbergasm Oxbow handline around pool
Bolt for ladder into Great North Road.

The SWCC state that though they intend to inspect the remaining aids regularly is recommended that all are supplemented by a lifeline.

TYNING'S BARROW - Following the re-opening of the cave and a newly agreed access arrangement with the farmer the Belfryites have been down and have pushed Drunken Horse Passage to its conclusion.  Jay-Rat and Tim Large investigated the ruckle at the upper end of the passage and located a short side rift ending in a sump and on the north side located a sizable chamber above the boulders - Mountbatten Chamber.  Details of the access arrangements and of this chamber is given else where in this BB.

LAMB LEER access is now controlled by the Council of Southern Caving Clubs and the BEC, as a shareholder of the Southern Caving Clubs Ltd has a key.  It should be remembered that all cavers should call at Beaconsfield Farm for permission to park and change in the disused quarry. Anyone finding the lock faulty or that the lock is missing should contact Oliver Lloyd, the director of the company dealing with Lamb Leer access.

Wessex Cave Club Journal reports that on Wednesday 30th May that severe flooding occurred on Eastern Mendip.  Browne's Hole was resurging and the entrance to Stoke Lane Slocker was submerged under a foaming whirlpool.  A minor collapse in the Thrupe Lane depression eased the flooding into the cave itself.


In the last B.B. (Aug/Sept 1979) was the first publication of Chris Richard and Marie Clarke's survey of the Banwell Caves.  A letter has been received by 'Wig' from John Tucker (author of ' Smaller Caves of Mendip', BEC Caving Report No.9) stating that they (John Tucker and Percy Baker) have produced a booklet entitled ‘The Baker Extension to the Banwell Bone Cave’.  John says, “You will notice a marked difference in my cross, section of the entire cave system, but this only an approximate sketch of the system based on lower grade surveys and the smoke tests carried out by the Axbridge Group. If members would like copies they con have one for 20p each, which will just about cover postage and envelope.”

This publication is a nicely produced, type-set, publication, 14 pages including 7 photographs, a plan and elevation with sections of the Baker Extension and a short bibliography.  For those collecting details of Mendip caves through publications this is an extremely interesting and good buy.

Banwell Caves Access –

Whilst on the subject of the Banwell Caves it is as well to give details of the latest position regarding access.  The cave access is vested in the Dundry Caving Group (no longer any connection with the South Bristol S.S.) apparently a club of about two members only.  Access is through Steve Redwood of Banwell but you have to be led down the caves or whether you are able to collect a key is not known.  From some of my usual resources the house is up for sale again in the near future so this will see a change in access arrangements again remains to be seen. Currently there is no restriction on Sunday caving as there was with the previous owner.


Recently little stickers have been appearing everywhere on Mendip and some were seen at the BCRA Conference in Manchester stating that the BEC get everywhere, one was even appearing on Oliver Lloyd’s back for a time!  Whether this is true or not they are certainly getting to the far reaches of the Wookey System.  Bob Cork and Danny dived through to Wookey 24 and laid the aerial for a radio transmission on the 29th September.  Duly on the day, ‘Prew’ et al assembled on the hillside above the cave and found as with previous locating exercises that the expected point was ‘miles’ form the actual location.  This time the coil was laid out in Wookey near Sting Corner and from the CDG survey of the area it was expected to find the point above the top end of the large dry passage of Wookey Twenty.  This was not to be – the location was found to be some 400ft to the east.

After switching on the transmitter, Bob and Danny went off to explore the Oxbow above the active river in the far reaches of Wookey 24 and found approximately 250ft of new passage trending to the north-west, ending at a deep rift requiring tackle. M Presumably this will be an additional 250ft for the Digging and finding of new passage Barrel Competition – more of this later.


The notorious ruckle is on the move again and the cave is blocked.  The Wessex have made fruitless attempts art re-entry and all they have succeeded in doing is to upset the farmer and blown in the cliff above the cave.  Very careful negotiations are in hand with the farmer and one or two Mendip cavers in an attempt to recover the political situation and to allow an attempt to re-enter the cave to get under way.  It should never be forgotten that many of the farmers on Mendip let cavers have access to the cave entrances form a friendly basis and anyone doing a foolish and stupid action as at Eastwater could see the caves well and truly closed.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.

Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Paul Esser Memorial Lecture, 1980

Oliver Lloyd has sent the following notice:


The lecture is on Wednesday, 13th February, 1980, at 8.15 pm. in the Tyndall Memorial Theatre, Department of Physics, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol 8.

Martyn Farr, aged 28, is one of our Ace Cave Divers.  He started cave diving in 1970 and has done notable dives, extending to their utmost limits such caves as Wookey Hole, P8 in Derbyshire, Dan yr Ogof, Porth yr Ogof, Ogof Afon Hepste and all principal caves in Co. Fermanagh.

He has written a book about cave diving called 'The Darkness Beckons' which will be published in February 1980.

He is an experienced lecturer with a nice easy style and lots of beautiful photographs, including underwater shots, which he takes himself.

As usual admission will be free.  Those coming from a distance may have seats reserved for them, if they will write and give me the numbers in their party.

Oliver C. Lloyd, M.D., Trustee
Withey House,
Withey Close West,
Bristol, BS9 3SX



Next month in the B.B. Solutions to the X Word in August BB; articles by Derek Sanderson; Martin Grass, Trev Hughes and Stu Linsey among others …..this Xmas issue promises to be a good read….


BELFRY FEES – change of rates

Hut Fees:                               Members 50p       Guests £1.00

Camping:                                Members 50p       Guests £1.00

Day Fees:                              Members 25p       Guests £.0.50

CLUB OFFICERS FOR THE YEAR 1979/80 as elected at the Annual General meeting.

Hon. Secretary:

Tim Large

Wells 73960 (work)

Hon. Treasurer:

Sue Tucker

Radstock 35165 (home)

Hut Warden:

Garth Dell

Telford 6013 Ext 326



(work – ask for Garth)

Hut Engineer:

Nigel Taylor

Wells 72338


John Dukes

Wells 75686 (work)

Caving Secretary:

Martin Grass

Luton 35145

B.B. Editor:

Dave Irwin

Priddy 369

Committee Members

Graham Wilton-Jones

Aylesbury 28270


(Committee Chairman)



Stuart Lindsey



Non-Committee Posts:





Sales Officer:




Publications Editor:

Tony Jarrett & Chris Batstone.

NB. All postal deliveries to be sent as usual to D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.


Surveys: Graham Wilton-Jones

Carbide: Hut Warden - Garth Dell

Boots: Hut Warden or Hon. Sec. - Tim Large.


To be announced.


More club notes:

Key holders for the tackle store and Library will be listed in the December B.B.

To ensure that accurate accounts of sales of carbide can be kept will members please let Garth Dell have as many Marvel tins or similar, as you can muster.  Members will remember that this is the way in which we sold carbide in the past.  Each type of container can be weighed and the amount of your sale recorded in the paying-in book.  Throw away your old bags but keep your tins!

A basic supply of tackle will be kept in the Belfry and the tackle store which will suffice for general needs.  Members requiring large quantities for away trips should apply to John Dukes in the first instance.  John is on the telephone or if that is not convenient then drop him a letter – giving him plenty of warning so that arrangements for the pick-up can be made. When returning the tackle make sure that it is clean and dry and make sure that it is returned to John in person. DO NOT LEAVE RETURNED TACKLE IN THE BELFRY OR ELSEWHERE ON SITE.



…..a regular column by our Hon. Secretary Tim Large….

The new Club year begins with 224 members in the Club.  Of those 76 voted in the committee elections.  The A.G.M. was poorly attended with only some 40 members being present.

A REMINDER…..SUBS ARE NOW DUE and should be paid by the 31st December 1978.  To enable the club to function various projects it would be appreciated if you could all pay your sub as soon as possible.  The new subscription rates below:

Full member      £8.00

Joint member     £12.00

Junior member   £6.00

The Committee has three main items to action from the A.G.M.:

1.                  Fund raising scheme for Belfry Improvements.

2.                  Insurance to cover all members and Cuthbert’s Leaders when caving.

3.                  Mike Wheadon submitted some criticisms of the Club Constitution.  A Sub-Committee is to be formed to consider it.

At the October Committee Meeting the Hut Fees were increased (the new rates are given on page 1). Over several years much has been said about arrears of Hut Fees by some people.  I can see no reason why anyone should be in this position.  You know what they are, so make sure you have got the money.  Everyone always seems to have enough for beer, but never for Hut Fees!

The Digging Competition between ourselves and the Wessex is being fiercely contested.  In recent weeks new passage has been found by one or both every weekend.  Pete and Alison Moody are working in Swildon’s Shatter Series with good results. We are relying on Manor Farm which has recently yielded 70ft of new passage at the lower end of NHASA Gallery. Also some new passage has been found in Long Chamber Extension, Cuthbert’s.

The Committee has been approached by the M.R.O. regarding installation of a radio transmitter/receiver at their depot in the Stone Belfry.  It is proposed to have a base station there with remote unit wire to a position by the telephone in the Belfry.  This was approved by the Committee.  Included with the equipment is a mobile radio for car installation and a portable personal unit.  This will greatly improve communication during rescue work and enable cavers and equipment to be summoned quicker.

ADDRESS CHANGE: Jim Smart, 73 Queen's Road, Clifton, Bristol.


BCA WINTER MEET in Teacher Training Centre, Wells.  DECEMBER 8th.

Lectures commence at 2.00 with William Stanton on new information gathered from new bore holes; Chris Hawkes talking on Westbury Quarry; Fred Davies on the epic Cowsh Aven dig ending with a discussion on recent radio locations at Wookey.  'Prew' will be giving a talk on the equipment used in Wookey.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List October 1979

828 Nicolette Abell               Michaelmas Cottage, Faulkland, Bath

20 L Bob Bagshaw               699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon

392 L Mike Baker                 10 Riverside Walk, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon

901 Richard Barker               40b Croxteth Road, Liverpool 8

295 Arthur Ball                     4 Charlotte Street, Cheadle, Cheshire

892 Marlon Barlow                93 Norton drive, Norton tower, Halifax, West Yorkshire

818 Chris Batstone               8 Prospect Place, Bathford, Bath, Avon

390 L Joan Bennett               8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L Roy Bennett                8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

860 Glenys Beszant             14 Westlea Road, Warmley, Broxbourne, Herts.

731 Bob Bidmead                 Valley Way, Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol

720 Martin Bishop                Bishops Cottage, Priddy

364 L Pete Blogg                  5 Tyrolean Court, Cheviot Close, Avenue Rd., Banstead, Surrey

336 L A. Bonner                   Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland

145 L Sybil Bowden-Lyle       111 London Road, Calne, Wiltshire

883 B. Bowers                     44 Manor way, Bagshot, Surrey

959 Chris Bradshaw              9 Colles Road, Wells, Somerset

868 Dany Bradshaw              7 Creswicke, Bristol

751 L T.A. Brookes               87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2

891 Neil Raynor Brown          25 Lingfield Park, Evesham, Worcs.

687 V. Brown                       3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol

756 Tessa Burt                     66 Roundwood Lane, Harpendon, Herts

777 Ian Calder                      22 Greenways, Lydney, Gloucestershire

778 Penelope Calder             22 Greenways, Lydney, Gloucestershire

956 Ian Caldwell                   44 Strode Road, Clevedon, Avon.

955 Jack Calvert                   4 The Hollow, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.

929 Jane Carson                  Basement Flat, 8 Worcester terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8

902 Martin Cavendar             The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset

903 Francisca Cavendar        The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset

785 Paul Christie                  7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

782 Patricia Christie             7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

655 Colin Clark                     186 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol

211 L Clare Coase                The Belfry, 10 Shannon Parade, Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia

89 L Alfie Collins                  Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset

377 L D. Cooke-Yarborough   No known address

862 Bob Cork                       25 The Mead, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset

585 Tony Corrigan                139 Stockwood Lane, Stockwood, Bristol

827 Mike Cowlishaw             14 Plovers Down, Olivers Battery, Winchester

890 Jerry Crick                     Whitestones farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Nr. Bristol

680 Bob Cross                     42 Baynham Road, Knowle, Bristol

870 Gary Cullen                   47 Eversfield Road, Horsham, Sussex

405 L Frank Darbon              PO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

423 L Len Dawes                  The Lodge, Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire

449 Garth Dell                      AI 5 Printing, HQNI, BFPO 825.

710 Colin Dooley                  51 Osmaston Road, Harbourne, Birmingham 7

829 Angela Dooley               51 Osmaston Road, Harbourne, Birmingham 7

164 L Ken Dobbs                  85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon

830 John Dukes                   Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             11 Catherine Place, Bath

925 Gillian Durrant                14 St. Andrews road, Broadstone, Dorset

779 Jim Durston                   Hill View, Old Beat, Maidentown, Nr. Burlescombe, Tiverton, Devon

322 L Bryan Ellis                  30 Main Road, Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset

232 Chris Falshaw                23 hallam Grange Crescent, Sheffield

909 Helen Fielding                175 Bramley lane, Hipperholme, Halifax, West Yorkshire

269 L Tom Fletcher               11 Cow Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham.

894 Phil Ford                       40 Station Road, Greenfield, Holywell, Clwyd, North Wales

404 L Albert Francis             22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset

569 Joyce Franklin               16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

469 Pete Franklin                 16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

835 Leonard Gee                  15 warren Close, Denton, Manchester

265 Stan Gee                       26 Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport.

752 M. Glanville                    Jocelyn House Mews, 18a High street, Chard

894 Bruce Glocking              213 St. Leonards, Horsham, Sussex

647 Dave Glover                   c/o Leisure, Green Lane, Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire

927 Richard Gough               35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey

928 Jenny Gough                 35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey

790 Martin Grass                  14 Westlea Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts

432 L Nigel Hallet                 62 Cranbrook Road, Bristol

910 Sandra Halliday              22 Whitcocks Road, Hanham, Bristol

104 L Mervyn Hannam          14 Inskip Place, St Annes, Lancashire

4 L Dan Hassell                    Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

893 Dave Hatherley               6 Withiel Drive, Cannington, Bridgewater, Somerset

942 Robin Hayler                  39 Ditching Hill, Southgate, West Crawley, Sussex

935 Lynne Hendy                 10 Silver Street, Wells, Somerset

691 Dudley Herbert               20 Runswick Road, Brislington, Bristol

917 Robin Hervin                  12 York Buildings, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

863 John Hildrick                  Tarngulla, Old Bristol Road, Priddy

952 Robert Hill                     32 Ridings Mead, Chippenham, Wiltshire

773 Rodney Hobbs               Rose Cottage, Nailsea

373 Sid Hobbs                     Hokestone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy

736 Sylvia Hobbs                  Hokestone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy

905 Paul Hodgson                15 Cromwell Terrace, Chatham, Kent

960 Alicia Hodgson               15 Cromwell Terrace, Chatham, Kent

793 Mike Hogg                     32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warks

898 Liz Hollis                       1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 Tony Hollis                    1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

920 Nick Holstead                Little Maplecroft, Bath Road, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

387 L George Honey             Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden

808 John Hunt                      35 Congre Road, Filton, Bristol

923 Trevor Hughes                Wardroom, HMS Bulwark, BFPO Ships, London

855 Ted Humphreys              Frekes Cottage, Moorsite, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

363 Maurise Isles                 50 Warman, Stockwood, Bristol

954 Elaine Isles                    50 Warman, Stockwood, Bristol

906 Annette Ingleton             Seymour Cottage, Hinton St. Mary, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

73 Angus Innes                    18 David’s Close, Alveston, Bristol, Aven

168 Margaret Innes               18 David’s Close, Alveston, Bristol, Aven

540 L Dave Irwin                   Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Somerset

922 Tony Jarratt                   Alwyn Cottage, Station Road, Congressbury, Bristol

340 Russ Jenkins                 10, Amberley Close, Downend, Bristol

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

560 L Frank Jones                103 Wookey Hole Road, Wells, Somerset

285 U. Jones                        Woking Grange, Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey

907 Karen Jones                  Room 63, New End Nurses Home, New End Hospital, Hampstead, London NW3

567 L Alan Kennett               9 Hillburn, Henleaze, Bristol

884 John King                      4 Nightingale Road, Langley Green, Crawley, Sussex

316 L Kangy King                 22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L Phil Kingston              257 Pemona Street, Invercargill, New Zealand

413 L R. Kitchen                  Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon

904 Calvin Knight                  Crossways. Hillesley, Wootton under Edge, Gloucestershire

 John Knops                         IDA Cottage, 235 Englishcombe Lane, Bath

946 Alex Ragar Knutson       21 Milford Street, Southville, Bristol

874 Dave Lampard                Woodpeckers, 11 Springfield Park Road, Horsham, Sussex

667 L Tim Large                   53 Portway, Wells, Somerset

795 Peter Leigh                    5 Armoured Workshops, BFPO 126, Enkessen

958 Fiona Lewis                   53 Portway,  Wells, Somerset

930 Stuart Lindsay               5 Laburnum Walk, Keynsham, Bristil

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

58 George Lucy                    Pike Croft, Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks

495 L Val Luckwill                8 Greenslade Road, Sedgeley hill, Dudley, Worcs.

550 L R A MacGregor           12 Douro Close, Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants

725 Stuart McManus            33 Welford Avenue, Wells, Somerset

106 L E.J. Mason                 33 Bradleys Avenue, Henleaze, Bristol

957 Dave Morrison                27 Maurice Walk, London NW1

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

963 Clare Merritt                   9 Pipsmore Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire

704 Dave Metcalfe                10 Troughton Crescent, Blackpool, Lancs.

931 Warren Miner-Williams   5 Somerset Crescent, Stoke Gifford, Bristol

308 Keith Murray                  17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7

936 Dave Nicholls                 2 Hartley Road, Exeter, Devon

852 John Noble                    18 Hope Place, Tennis Court Road, Paulton

880 Graham Nye                  7 Ramsey Road, Horsham, Surrey

938 Kevin O’Neil                   99 Forest Road, Melksham, Wiltshire

624 J. Orr                            8 Wellington Terrace, Winklebury, Basingstoke, Hants

396 L Mike Palmer               Laurel Farm, YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset

22 L Les Peters                    21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon

499 L A. Philpott                  3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon

961 Mick Phinister                4 Old Mill Lane, Inverness, Scotland

724 Graham Phippen            Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol

944 Steve Plumley                4 Rickford, Lane, Burrington, Nr. Bristol

337 Brian Prewer                  East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset

622 Colin Priddle                  PO Box 14048, Wadeville 1422, South Africa

481 L John Ransom              21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon

452 L Pam Rees                  No Known Address

343 L A Rich                        Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada

940 Chris Richards               11 Highland Close, Worley, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

672 L R Richards                  PO Box 141, Jacobs, Natal, South Africa

945 Steve Robins                 16 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

921 Pete Rose                     2 The Beacon, Ilminster

918 Richard Round               131 Middleton Road, Banbury, Oxfordshire

932 Theresa Rumble             29 Cotham Road, Cotham, Bristol

832 Roger Sabido                 15 Concorde drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

941 John Sampson               8 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

240 L Alan Sandall               43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

359 L Carol Sandall              43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

760 Jenny Sandercroft          5 Eastcroft, Henleaze, Bristol

747 D.R. Sanderson             2 Drake Close, Poulder, Ringwood, Hants.

237 L B. Scott                      Merrymead, Havestock Road, Winchester Hants

78 L R.A. Setterington          4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset

213 L R. Setterington            4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4

872 Mark Sherman               Wood View, Grey Field, High Litton

926 Steve Short                    Flat 6, 68 Upper Church road, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

915 Chris Smart                   15 Timor Close, Popley Islands, Basingstoke, Hants

911 James Smart                 c/o 72 Winchester Road, Brislington, Bristol

950 Steve Smith                   39 Tintagel Road, Keynsham, Bristol

951 Roger Smith                  39 Tintagel Road, Keynsham, Bristol

851 Maurice Stafford             28 Rowan Close, Sonning Common, Reading, Berks.

1 L Harry Stanbury               31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol

38L Mrs I Stanbury               74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol

840 G. Standring                  71 Vienna Road, Edgeley, Stockport, Chester

575 L D. Statham                 The Bungallow, North Barrow, Yeovil, Somerset

365 L Roger Stenner             18 Stafford Place, Weston super Mare, Avon

837 Richard Stevenson         Greystones, Priddy

962 Christine Stewart            15 Ashford Road, Portsmouth, Hants.

865 Paul Stokes                   32 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey

583 Derek Targett                 North Hall Cottage, Chilcompton

772 Nigel Taylor                   Whidden Farm, Chilcote, Nr Wells, Somerset

284 L Allan Thomas              Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                   Pendant, Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford

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

876 Nick Thorne                   20 Hawkers Lane, Wells, Somerset

699 Buckett Tilbury               15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks

692 Roger Toms                   18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester

803 R.S. Toms                     18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester

80 J.M. Postle Tompsett       11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L M.J. Dizzie Tompsett     11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L Daphne Towler            7 Ross Close, Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L J. Tuck                       3 Crown Rise, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

382 Steve Tuck                    Colles Close, Wells, Somerset

768 Tony Tucker                   75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

769 Sue Tucker                    75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

678 Dave Turner                   Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath

912 John Turner                    Orchard Cottage, 92 Church lane, Backwell, Avon

635 L S. Tuttlebury               28 Beacon Close, Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

887 Greg Villis                     The Oaks, Round Oak Road, Cheddar, Somerset

175 L D. Waddon                 32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset

933 Dianne Walker               8 New Buildings, frome

949 John Watson                 113 Abbey Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

953 Jim Watson                   c/o 15 Farm Grove, Southfields, Rugby, Warks.

592 Eddie Welch                  18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

861 Maureen Wheadon         91 The Oval, Bath

553 Bob White                     Cedar Hall, Henley Lane, Wookey, Wells, Somerset

878 Ross White                   PO38389Y, 5 Troop, B. Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, Northern Ireland, BFPO 802

939 Wally Wilkinson             17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

940 Val Wilkinson                17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol

885 Claire Williams               Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol

916 Jane Wilson                   University lab of Psychology, Park Road, Oxford

559 Barry Wilton                  Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

568 Brenda Wilton                Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

943 Simon Woodman           Link Batch, Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon

877 Steve Woolven               21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman              11 Moreland, 11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath

937 Sue Yea                        Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset


Please inform the Secretary of any changes of address anbs soon as possible so this list can be amended and to make sure of receiving your B.B.

Many thanks to Fiona for typing the members list.

Remember:  send any address changes or corrections to Tim Large, the Hon. Secretary.


Dachstein 1979

by Graham Wilton-Jones.

The results of last year's expedition were published in the BB, vol.32, no.10, Oct. '78, no.366, and vol.33, no.2, Feb '79, no.370.

This year there were'" fourteen of us on the plateau, including eleven cavers - Throstle, Mervyn and Dave of Valley Caving Club, Buckett, Ann and Tina, Stu Lindsay, Chris Smart, Big Jim Watson, Andy Sparrow and friend Dave, Trev Hughes, J-Rat and G. W-J. The main batch of us left Britain on July 20th, Trev on his bike and five of us in Stu's car, loaded with roof rack and trailer.  In the Autobahn traffic jams we amused ourselves cadging beer from passing American servicemen, Stu taking a thousand photographs through the windscreen, and J-Rat, now on the bike, showing off by simultaneously smoking beer swilling and running over a beautiful pair of sunglasses.  On the open road I amused myself by trying to burn out Stu’s gear box - I got it to the clouds of white smoke stage.  Three days later we were firmly installed in Der Glocken, field H.Q. of the B.E.C in Austria a small, comfortable hut next to the Wiesberghaus.  The three V.C.C members were already there, along with an edible dormouse who raided the larder frequently.  Rat and I sensibly ate in the Wiesberghaus.

During the previous five weeks the region had suffered rain almost every day and the plateau was very wet, but it did mean that there was much less snow than last year.  Our first task was to continue the exploration of C19, Maulwurfhohle, below the 10m shaft discovered last year.  Early on Monday Thros, Dave and Merv set off to rig down to and re-bolt Dorisschacht, using the Hilti gear we had acquired from the Himalayan expedition.  To their dismay they found that the threaded portion of the eyebolts was too long. J-Rat and Big Jim entered the cave a little later but Jim found the squeeze in Gargantuagang a little difficult to negotiate and backed out, minus parts of his Enduro suit.  J-Rat went on to the head of Dorisschacht and. dropped 100' of ladder - to the bottom.  Things were not starting out too well, it seemed.

Chris and I rigged a telephone line across 1500m of lapiaz to C19 entrance, and returned to the hut for some more wire (where did Buzby's profits go?) where we met Siegfried Gamsjager. Siegfried is the manager of the Dachstein show cave, an excellent friend and a useful contact.  He came back with us into C19 as we rigged more line through the narrow, twisting Gargantuagang to the head of the first pitch, Platzlschacht.

Stu and Trev spent the beginning of this first full day on the plateau in finding and levelling a place to pitch their tent.  Throughout the expedition, come rain, wind, storm and tempest, their tent stood firm, and empty!  During their search for a suitable, site they had been diverted somewhat upon finding three holes - C33, C34 and C35.  The last two were short shafts but the first went in 63m to a shaft about 10m deep, for which they decided a ladder was required.  Much was their disappointment the following day when they descended the shaft to find a chamber with a cairn.  Underneath was a note indicating that one Siegfried Mittendorfer had explored the cave in 1961.  To cap it all S.M. turned up at the Weisberghous later in the week with his nine year old daughter, and together they descended the cave and both free-climbed down the shaft!

Tuesday was met with low cloud initially but this cleared a little towards the end of the day.  Merv, J-rat and Jim descended C19 and dropped TTFN shaft, left from last year.  The passage continued, high but not wide, to a very narrow and damp 6m pitch almost immediately followed by a bigger pitch.  They returned after a nine hour trip to make their way back across the lapiaz in the dark. This latter became a commonplace occurrence, poor weather keeping us in the hut until late, and lone trips meaning we came out at midnight or after as often as not.

We had been lucky to find a good file among the tools at the Wiesberghaus and were able to cut the bolts shorter, but we then found trouble removing the spent cones from the bolting tool. Clearly we were going to be beset with troubles.  Chris and I descended Platzlschacht with the telephone line but I dropped a bag of gear, including precious and fragile jumars, all the way to the bottom. Thereafter began an inventory of dropped equipment, and it grew impressively long.

Chris and I came out and joined Stu and Trev in a search along the base of Niederer Grunberg near the region of an avalanche of huge, fallen blocks, which we nicknamed the 'Titans'. Stu climbed about on the cliff face and discovered C36, an enlarging bedding plane high up in the cliffs, and C37, a 7m snow plugged shaft, concealed from below by debris.  Down below we found C38, a deep, angled shaft; C39, a horizontal tunnel in the west side of the valley and close to C38; C48, a  m. shaft next to a 3m horizontal hole south of the Titans; and C49, a slope on snow, following the bedding, 100m north west of the Titans. Towards the end of the expedition Stu returned to C38 for a more detailed look and found the shaft to be at least 2 m deep and possibly wet.

Last year we had noticed a large hole in though south east face of the Niederer Grunberg about 100m from the summit and some 250m above the Schladmingerloch.  We considered the possibility of abseiling to the hole from the top of the cliff.  We felt that there was every likelihood that the hole would lead to the top of C19, perhaps into the big aven, Aufartz, above Platzlschacht.  Early on the Wednesday, in beautiful weather, we climbed up through Schladmingerloch and on to the summit of Niederer Grunberg. After admiring and photographing the impressive views, we climbed down an obvious chute between the two summits and, directed by Thros and Chris we were on the scree slopes of Ochsen Kogel opposite, we attempted to reach the hole.  We had tried this communication using walkie-talkies but found that shouting was clearer - we were 600m apart and the acoustics would have blown Wig’s mind. Finding a distinct lack of belays, a lot of very sharp rock ideal for destroying SRT rope and those hanging thereon, and many loose boulders, Stu tried to sweep us all from the face with one the size of the Belfry stove, causing incredible echoes around the Schladmingerloch, I chickened out of the abseil.  Everyone gave sighs of relief and we headed back to the top.

Stu had found an 8m shaft a little below the summit, C40, just too narrow to enter because of boulders at the head.  We descended the hill via the north-west slopes, having to search among the cliffs for a safe route down.  Here we came upon C41, a shaft over 10 m. deep, and a little bellow this was C42, a series of deep rifts curving in under the hill  Halfway between here and the Titans, in the same valley we had been in the previous day, J-Rat found a shaft blocked with boulders at the top.  Using another boulder he demolished this obstruction to reveal a deep, widish rift, C43.  Five other sites had been found or looked at today; C44 is a 10m long 30O slope under a dead tree (there are not many of these) in the valley near the Titans. Its small entrance will probably be difficult to locate in the future; C45, found by Throstle, is a bell shaped 20 m shaft close to the edge of Herrengasse; half way along the north-west face of Ochsem Kogl a 2m by 1.5m entrance leads to 15m of passage heading 45O to the cliff face.  This is C46; C47 close is by.  A 5m high by 3m wide entrance leads past a waterfall to 12m of passage; Trev and Merv had a look at the obvious, large square alcove in the cliffs of Hoher Grunberg, behind Schladmingerloch, but it was snow blocked after only 6m.  It was designated C50.

  On Thursday we were to meet Siegfried for a trip into the further reaches of the Dachsteinmammuthohle.  Once again it was a beautiful day and we set off for the Gjaidalm (ski school and alpine hut) where we sipped beer or tee-mit-citron while we waited for Merv, who had mistakenly headed towards the Simonyhutte. There are two cable cars form near the Gjaidalm – the military seilbahn goes down direct to Obertraun (near Hallsatt lake) while the Dachstein seilbahn goes via Krippenstein and the Dachstaein show caves (our destination).  Taking time over his tea and not knowing the geography of the area, Big Jim got split up from us and went to the military seilbahn.  We would have not worried unduly only he had the 100 m rope required for a big shaft in the Mammuthohle (no-one else wanted to carry it).  He finally arrived in the correct place about an hour late and we set off into the cave.  Most of the section of the Mammuthohle that we traversed consisted of large phreatic tunnels (up to 10 m in diameter) floored with extensive mud fill. Passing through the show cave we followed the draught to the head of Theseusschacht, for which we used the 100m rope.  We climbed out of the shaft just above the bottom, into a tube that is more than half filled with a dry and dusty clay.  Here, on carbide blackened tablets of clay we found signatures, and occasional artistry, of the famous, the not so famous and the infamous.  We added our own and Seigfried wrote his for the nth time - he leaves his mark every time he passes that way.  We now followed the Minotaurusgang, the floor of which is completely covered in mud cracks.  At one point the clay rises nearly to the roof and the wind whips up disturbed dust into one's face.  Beyond the site of a small bivouac a few, ancient, dry stalactites and curtains wriggle down the sloping roof of a phreatic loop and some lumpy stal clings to the walls. Siegfried is of the opinion that many stals may be hidden beneath the mud.  Finally we reached the 'Bock Stalagmit'.  In 1913 Hermann Bock did a solo trip along Minotaurusgang and discovered a solitary stalagmite in a small chamber at one extremity.  Choosing this sole stal, bless his soul, he put his signature and the date at the top - the vandal!  Back at the base of Theseusschacht we made our way up an alternative route Edelweissgang. This is more homely, English passage with easily traversable and climbable rifts, followed by a long, steeply ascending bedding plane, coated with wet mud and peppered with 30 m deep holes to trap the unwary.  Retrieving the rope from the top of the shaft we made our way to the west entrance, just for a look as Sigfried had no key for the gate there.  At the junction between the main cave and the west entrance passage there is an ice lake, overhung by ice drapery.  At the west entrance itself is an icy draught. Returning and passing underneath a roof of loosely packed pebble fill, no doubt thinking about becoming a conglomerate, we quickly made our way out to the East entrance.  Unfortunately the restaurant had closed two hours previously, but when you are guests of the manager…. After a good meal, many beers and a slide show we left six hours after closing time to stay in a hut nearby.


In the morning most people wanted to visit the ice cave.  This done we made our way back up to the plateau, taking care not to lose Jim near the military seilbahn again.  In Barengass (Bear Alloy) Stu and I had a look at some of the more obvious holes. Emerging from one I noticed some others that could not be seen from the valley pathway below.  Climbing up an obvious gully I found one entrance, but it seemed a little narrow.  Traversing round a ledge in the cliff, some 25m above the valley floor, I found two more entrances, and asked Stu to bring up a torch for them.  One, running parallel with the cliff, became rather narrow after a short distance, but the other, Stu observed, had a draught strong enough to blow dust out of the entrance.  It was designated C51 and the name is Barengassewindschacht. Collecting some gear from the Weisberghaus, only half an hour away, we returned with Trev and Jim.  The entrance was rather low but the floor was only loose rocks and boulders.  I kicked down some of the smaller ones into the shaft below and then the other three descended the first 6m shaft.  Two ways down followed, joining via a chamber.  Trev descended a further 8m to find a short climb down to the head of another 8m shaft.  On the way out, knowing what a passion Trev has for breaking things, I persuaded him to push the remaining huge boulders down the first shaft.  He was reluctant to do this as they formed the floor on which he lay.  I told him to come out and I would do it.  Actually I had no intention of doing it – I’m not that stupid – but it did the trick. A few Hughesian blows and down plunged half a ton of floor, accompanied by screams.


"Are you all right, Trev?"



"Yeeeusss", replied with a mixture of tremble, whisper and wail.

"Well push the others down then.”

Two more tons and one hell of a din were accompanied by banshee howling.  Trevor does not like boulders.  He received no sympathy or concern over this time.  We all retreated to the Weisberghaus for well deserved refreshment.

Saturday dawned wet, with more rain after a night of rain and storms.  Added to yesterday’s showers the plateau was very wet once again. Occasional rumbles of thunder could have easily put us all off caving for the day and sent us scuttling inside for numerous beers and peach cakes but we foolishly steeled ourselves against the elements.  The first group set off into C19 to push the next pitch.  They were followed around midday by another group, whose intention was to re-bolt Dorisschacht, again, but once more they were dogged by bolting tool trouble - the cones could not be removed once used.  Several rungs slipped on the 100 foot ladder being used on part of Dorisschacht just to add to our difficulties.  Chris and I rigged the telephone and line down to the head of the as yet un-named pitch in Many Meetings.  Meanwhile the pushers had found the next pitch, Valley Schacht, to be 1 m to a ledge followed by an 18m drop into a, big, winding rift.  They began to make their way out.  Stu was the first of the expedition to reach the surface, just as a big thunderstorm was brewing.  J-Rat 'phoned Chris at the entrance at the same moment as the lightning struck.  Stu thought there was an avalanche off the big overhang of Grunberg and flattened himself against the cliff.  There was a flash and an instantaneous explosion. Chris and J-Rat, the latter deep underground, were both knocked unconscious.  Thros and I, fettling my carbide at the top of Platzlschacht, saw and heard an explosion beneath our feet (the wire was above our heads) and assumed it to have been a carbide explosion.  We were somewhat surprised at the echoing rumbles from the passages below. Throstle's hand was scorched. Dave, halfway up the rope on Dorisschacht, saw an enormous flash below him but heard no explosion.  Merv at the bottom saw and heard nothing.  Trev, on the ladder below J-Rat and Jim, a little further into the cave, saw and heard nothing but reached the top to find J-Rat in a heap asking what happened and saying, “I know you but I don't know your names.”  Chris and J-Rat's telephone hands were numb for several days afterwards and their ears stung for a long time.  Exit was made successfully, the un-named pitch was christened Blitzschaeht, and Chris was thereafter known as Herr Blitz at the Weisbergerhaus.  Although we had telephone communication from Blitzschacht to the entrance immediately after the incident we never again managed from the Weisbergerhaus to the cave.  When the wire was being cleared from the plateau later Merv discovered a melted and broken section only 300m from the Weisbergerhaus.  Well, Buzby.  How do you avoid that?

The next day was really beautiful, the way it should be after a storm, and we lazed the morning away, sorting and mending gear, refreshing ourselves in the way the B.E C. knows best, and even having a midday meal in the Wissbergerhaus.  In the afternoon Throstle wandered aimlessly and chased Gemsen (chamois) J-Rat continued to read his book, and Merv and Dave ascended both Niederer and Mittlerer Ochsen Kogel, finding a cave near the summit of one of them.  They returned via the Simonyhutte.  The rest of us went over to Barengassewindschscht where we found the first pitch to be an easy free climb now.  We laddered down the second pitch, neither entrance of which had been obstructed by all the boulders thrown down, and I rigged and descended the third pitch. 10m along a narrow rift I came to a small hole at the top of a wide, 27m pitch.  The rift continued, narrow and low, for a further 5m to curve round to the right to the head of a pitch, possibly part of the 27m.  Jim and Trev prepared for the rigging of the 27m shaft while I made my way out.  Part way down the valley side from the entrance of C51, I had a closer look at an entrance noted previously.  A large boulder blocked the entrance but by removing the scree from around and underneath it I was able to push it to the bottom.  The cave, C52, sloped downwards at 45O but unfortunately it was filled with boulders after only 4m.  Hopes of another entrance to C51 were dashed though no doubt it could be dug at the point where the draught comes up through the boulders. We searched further along the cliffs of Barengasse, but found nothing else of note.


Extended elevation. Sketch Survey BEC 1979     Scale 1:1000


The Valley lads went down to Hallstatt on Monday morning, partly to replenish essential supplies - the dormouse had consumed more than its fair share, even having tried human being, until human being tried it!  Their other job was to meet and direct Buckett and family.  Meanwhile, on the hill the rest of us were off into C19 again. Jim and J-Rat went to the big rift at the bottom, Bang Gang.  The climbed up to reach a phreatic bore tube some 30m above the floor.  After 100m, this ended at a pitch, Eric Schacht, which was free climbable to within 6m of the floor.  There was no sign of the stream which had started at TTFN Schacht. At stream level the passage soon became rather narrow so they traversing along the middle level.  The sound of the stream seemed to disappear after about 30m suggesting either that the rift was closed or blocked below, or that the stream had turned into another course, away from Gang Bang.  Up above, Trev and I put in a bolt at the head of the Valley Schacht, solving the problem of removing spent cones by heating the end over a carbide flame.  We returned to Gang bang with Jim later, following the middle level, finding several wider spots in the traverse below us, but decided that tackle was required to descend these.  This would hopefully bypass the narrow section in the streamway.  On the way out we measured, by constant estimation, both the length and the amount of descent of Belfry Avenue.  The length was reckoned to be 150m and the total drop from the bottom of Blitzschacht to the top of the little chock stone ladder above TTFN was 50m.


Buckett and Merv were the only two prepared to go down C19 on the Tuesday, the last day of July. Maulwurfhohle was becoming a very wearing trip, much harder than the Berger, for example, according to J-Rat, in spite of its comparative shallowness.  Buckett pushed on at streamway level in Gang Bang and it was still going after 45 to 50m, much in the style of the entrance passage, Gargantuagang.  Buckett objected to being told that he looked like a caver of the 1930’s, with his black fibre helmet and his jumper stretched to around his knees – “But I am a caver of the 30’s” he replied.  (Actually he started caving before Merv was thought of).

Trev and Stu headed for the top of the Dachstein.  Unlike us last year; they had a rope and were able to lifeline up the non-existent ‘via ferrata’ and abseil back down.  The top of the mountains were clear early on but rain showers and mist came along in the late morning, and clouds filled up the valleys.  This did not clear until the evening.  Chris and I set off up the Niederer Ochsen Kogel, finding several holes near the eastern corner.  Just as I reached the summit, getting a brief glimpse of the Weisbergerhaus far below, the mist shrouded us.  We gave up the idea of going to the schacht, or schlund, that is marked on the map, and instead turned our attention to some of the holes nearer at hand.  Close to the summit of Niederer Ochsen Kogel there is a large depression at the centre of which there is a snow patch on scree and a couple of deep rifts.  We found another deep, snowy rift on the traverse route that we made down the south west face.  Crossing the cliffs towards Wildkar Kogel the obvious, large, dark hole proved to be only a fairly shallow collapse.  Below Wildkar Kogel there were several holes.  One was a cave at the end of a large snow field, which I followed down as far as I could without a light.  Nearby were deep shafts with snow at the bottom, and above those a phreatic tube, almost filled to the roof with cobbles, C57.  To the east and south of Wildkar Kogel were many other tunnels, shafts and rifts worthy of further investigation.

On Wednesday August 1st we left Buckett and family in peace and headed down to the valley via Herrengasse and the Tiergartenhutte.  Some went to have a quick look at the Waldbach Ursprung, the big resurgence for the area, and then we crossed over the bridge over the Wildbach and walked through the forest to the old salt mines at Salzberg.  The oldest know Celtic community originated here, 4500 years ago, salt being immensely valuable in those far off days.  A very rich, bronze age burial ground has been excavated here.  Hallsatatt is also reckoned to have its origins in the third millennium B.C.  The salt mines themselves, which are still worked today, consist of a complex of adits leading to, via short slopes off to the sides, to large wash out chambers.  The chambers are filled with water and the salt gradually dissolves out of the rock.  The brine is then drawn off, the chamber re-filled with water, and the process starts again.  Highlights of the trip are a slide, as on a banister, down a special wooden slope which the miners seem to use as a quick way down, and a ride on an open train, heads brushing the adit shuttering if you lean too far to one side.  It was too late to look for the Koppenbrullerhohle show cave afterwards, so we spent the late afternoon viewing the village of Hallststt, and unspoilt Cheddar of the Alps.  In the evening we met Hermann and his friend Norbert, who later proved that Austrian cavers get just as legless and stupid as their British counterparts.  If you hear any rumours of that evening’s activities, they are probably true. Trevor in particular, excelled himself.

Early on the morning, after the never to be forgotten night before, we were up, having stayed in an Alpine Club hostel.  The previous afternoon Thros and Trev had dived off the balcony into the lake for a swim, and they chose to do this again to waken themselves.  Ere long we were climbing up the steep slopes of the Achern-Tal, above the Waldbach, to the entrance of the Hirlatzhohle.  This is situated at the base of the 1200m high Hirlatz-Wand and has some 9km of passages.  There are many fixed aids throughout the cave, including wood and wire ladders in various states of decrepitude, and wires for traverses.  A very strong wind howls through the blasted entrance, and makes it very easy to find one’s way through the entrance series, especially in the labyrinth.  Immediately after the entrance the passage spirals up a canyon with potholes in the floor, some of then filled with clear bluish water.  Since one ladder was damaged we took a lower route through the labyrinth which included a damp grovel through a bedding plane, one of the few places where we were not able to stand up.  Eventually we ascended a widened tectonic joint using a ladder, then down the beautifully shaped, phreatic, Gothic Passage and further ladders to enter the main system.  At this point it is a huge, boulder floored, dry streamway.  In one direction we were shown some superb limestone fluting – the Organ Pipes, but were unable to go further as a ladder was required for a 60m pitch.  In the other direction we dropped fairly rapidly down the boulder floor top reach a dark, winding lake with a waterfall entering one end.  Traversing above the lake we soon entered wide, sandy chambers and the site of a bivouac, complete with ancient, rotting bell tent.  From here we began a long but gentle climb, passing at one stage through the Black Chamber, where all the yellow-grey sand is covered under a layer of fine soot.  This is believed to have been caused by a forest fire on the hill above. Further on the passage was nearly filled to the roof with clay, which stopped abruptly forming a wall.  A narrow, vadose rift had been cut through the clay but the sides were too fragile to allow a safe traverse of the rift. Instead we had to climb up the wall using a fixed ladder.  Finally the clay infilling met the roof, and a narrow, vadose canyon brought in an inlet from one side.  We had taken four hours to reach this extremity of the cave, a very good time apparently.  To make the exit we took a mere two hours, but we left Erica behind.  She is a life size, and life like, image of Eric’s sister, or mistress, created in the sand beside the bivouac tent, much to the amazement and amusement of the Austrians.  We did not see much of Eric after that.  Dashing down the hill and round to the Dachstein seilbahn we managed to catch the last cable car back to the Gjaidalm.  After a meal in the hut there we made the Weisbergerhaus in about an hour.

Andy and Dave had arrived on the plateau and spent some time with Buckett looking around Schladmingerloch. Hidden behind a shoulder of rock on the northern slopes of Ochsen Kogel they found a small rift from which issued a cold draught, strong enough to chill the air several metres from the entrance. The entrance passage of Andy’s Roaring gale Hole, C55, led, after a short distance, to a pitch, which was not descended. They also managed to reach the hole in the south east face of Niederer Grunbereg by traversing around ledges and then doing a short abseil, C60 quickly led to a pitch with a draught. Above it and to the right a small, C19 type rift, designated C61, was followed for a few metres but was thought to lead into C60.

Siegfried arrived on the plateau again in the morning and six of us made our way up into the Schladmingerloch, where we spent some time watching a herd of chamois.  These animals seem to feed out on the open screes when there is no-one about, and also play on the snow, making slides. They are very wary, however, and quickly disappear onto the grassy ledges of the cliffs with amazing agility. We could do with a few chamois to reach some of the caves.  I put in a bolt at the head of the pitch in C55, the Gale hole, and Siegfried and I descended it to a depth of about 30m, passing some massive jammed boulders on the way.  The shaft appears to be a widened section of a deep, winding rift.  Over the floor of boulders I squeezed and traversed down a narrow gap to a final choke of gravel and peat with no sign of the draught.  A little way up, though, the rift continued, too narrow, running parallel with the face of Ochsen Kogel.  I climbed straight upwards for about 10m and came upon a widening of the rift through which most of the wind came and beyond which I could see an inviting, black space.  Unfortunately the route is very narrow and I did not like the look of it.  About 8m below the head of the pitch a passage seems to lead over the top of the black space, but an unprotected traverse is required to reach it, perhaps requiring a couple of bolts to negotiate.  Opposite where the entrance passage opens onto the head of the pitch is yet another passage, T-shaped and similar in size to the entrance passage that is about 2m high and varying in width from 30cm to over 1m. In the entrance passage there were some very largo calcite crystals which had grown in layers that had subsequently broken.  The individual crystals were up to 10cm long and several had a hole down the centre. Siegfried said that these were very rare, being known at only three other sites in Austria.

J-Rat, meanwhile, had climbed the cliff ledges across to C60.  A few metres inside he climbed down the pitch and followed about 50m of narrow passage, gradually descending, and suddenly emerged on the cliff face again, some 30m lower down and to the left.  A great disappointment, dashing our hopes of a higher entrance to C19. In the grassy slope above C60, near the abseil point, a tight bedding plane entrance, C54, led to a roomy chamber with two ways on but both were boulder blocked, making the total length about 15m.  Buckett and Andy looked at various holes below Ochsen Kogel.  One of these, C53, has a large entrance but the two ways on inside both lead to crawls, one of them flat out.  There are at least 50m of passage but no draught in either branch.

On our way back from the Schladmingerloch Andy and I had a look at C20, a left over from last year. This year the snow was well clear of the entrance, Andy found that it was possible to squeeze and free climb down, especially with the help of a rope, while I climbed down the 5m pitch where it was wide enough to require a desperate straddle.  Another drop led to the choked bottom of an inclined rift but straight ahead was a fine, cylindrical, phreatic tube, about 70m in diameter.  After about 10m a large chamber with an aven was reached, a rift with breakdown leading straight onwards, while below was a climb down to a short pitch.  Things looked promising, and it was particularly disappointing to find, later on, that all ways soon stopped.

Merv and Dave had gone to the top of the Dachstein for the day, and the remainder of the expedition went to push Darengassewindschacht.  They descended the 27m pitch to find what they described as a 'Swildon's type streamway dropping in steps for 16 or 17m to the head of a very large pitch.  The exaggerated claims of stones dropping free for six seconds (170m) were gradually whittled down to a more reasonable ‘two seconds free followed by several seconds of clattering', which later proved to be correct.

We prepared to do C19 the next day but, after a clear early morning, cloud and mist came up, followed by rain accompanied by occasional thunder.  The rain continued until three in the afternoon so we occupied ourselves in the Weisbergerhaus, gradually become more and more crushed by ill equipped hordes from a church youth club, who arrived through the chill drizzle in various states of exposure and exhaustion.  By 1630 the skies had cleared but C19 was out of the question so Stu, Trev, Thros, Buckett and I went over to Barengasse and C51.  I put in a bolt at the head of the next pitch, after many problems and descended, feeding the 100m rope from the bag as I did so. Having passed several ledges, two of them substantial, without using rope protectors (very bad practice, but then so is abseiling of one bolt) I asked Buckett to join me, and I continued down a slope and a further pitch, using 63m of rope from the bolt.  The rope now hung over some particularly vicious flakes, some of which had been broken by the rope.  I felt the rope bag and there seemed to be little rope left (in fact there was still 37m) and I could not be sure if the last person to use it had put a knot in the end (as it turned out they had not).  I was becoming wet and cold from the constant drip in this pot, and quickly decided to forego the pleasures of the next, inviting looking pitch and make for the surface.  In short, I chickened out.  We de-tackled the whole system and made exit in about five and a half hours.

Our final push into C19 began early on Sunday.  As the youth club gathered together for an outside mass, Merv, J-Rat, Jim and Andy set off to the cave to push beyond the bottom of Eric Schacht, survey out and begin de-tackling'.  Merv turned back after a short while as he did not feel up to the trip, so he busied himself clearing telephone line from the plateau.  The other three reached the bottom without difficulty and descended Eric Schacht to find a boulder floor with no sign or sound of the stream. High up on the far side of the phreatic tube could be seen continuing, but a hairy, exposed and difficult climb or a bolt traverse are the only means of reaching it.  The rift continues, tight and awkward.  They decided to finish exploration at that point and began to survey out along Bang Gang.  Buckett and I set off down the cave in the afternoon, having said our fond farewells to Trevor, and we all met up at the top of TTFN Schacht.  We chain ganged the tackle, enormous amounts of it, along Belfry Avenue, surprising ourselves at the number of ledges available for stacking the gear. Also, surprisingly, we lost none of it down deep rifts, from which retrieval would have proved impossible. At Many Meetings the three pushers, very tired, rather dispirited at not finding an easier route to deep cave, but very relieved about not having to negotiate the avenue again, made their way out after thirteen hours or so of particularly gruelling caving.   Buckett and I stayed to raise the tackle up Dorisschacht and to de-tackle this.  We finally emerged around 2am and made our way back to the hut across the now very familiar terrain.  Thanks to Stu for cooking us a spag. bol., to Jim for staying up to keep it hot, and to J-Rat, whose Irish Cream we half-inched.  Needless to say we did absolutely nothing on Monday.

Sparrow and Co and the Valley lads had returned home leaving six of us to remove the remainder of the gear from C19, which we did early on Tuesday.  The expedition was over.  As I write this, early September, the temperature at the Weisbergerhaus has dropped to -3OC and the snow is already down to 300m below the hut.  We have not achieved what we had expected or hoped for this year, although we still have good cause to return in 1980. Barengassewindschacht (C51) has better potential for striking an old, horizontal system of large phreatic tunnels than anything else discovered, and is the most likely possibility so far of reaching the main drain.  Maulwurfhohle (C19) is most certainly not played out and a hard, super enthusiastic team including a good climber could do something with it yet.  Most of the new sites found were not explored this year due to lack of time, and there are still some holes left unexplored from last year.  C29, an ice cave, is one of these.  It lies in an ideal position to enter C19 beyond Eric Schacht.

Insofar as we enjoyed ourselves this year the expedition was a success - we do after all do it for fun, or so I am led to believe.  Much greater success in terns of length or depth could well be in the offing for next year.


The Discovery & Exploration Of Wookey 23 - 25

by Chris Batstone

The numbering of sumps in Wookey can for some seem strangely complex.  From one to nine the system is relatively easy to understand, there being airspace between the sumps.  From 9 to 22 things become slightly obscure.  To clarify this however, the reader should be aware that between 9 and 22 the cave is totally submerged, except for the 20th chamber the numbering is merely to signify stages in exploration.  The conventional sump numbering system is used beyond the 22nd chamber.


By early 1976 the Cave Diving Group attempts to find the continuation of the cave system beyond the 22nd chamber had been fruitless.  Despite this a number of divers were still enthusiastic enough to keep up the search.

On February 21st1976, Colin Edmunds and Martyn Farr had gone in to 22 to investigate the far sump. Previously Parker had reported that "it was static and did not go."  During their investigation of the sump they found an opening much like the "slot" in 15.  They explored the passage beyond until the line ran out.  They had explored 300ft of passage down to a depth of 65ft.  The two divers were forced to return to base having no more line with which to explore further.

A day later on the 23rd February, two more divers Oliver Statham and Geoff Yeadon went in to push the sump further.  Statham led the dive, he followed Edmunds line to the limit of the previous dive. Then tying on his own line pushed on to surface 60ft further in Wookey 23.  He was soon joined by Yeadon who was following behind surveying as he went. They had found a passage 40 x 25ft with a sandy floor.

The next sump did not seem very inviting so they spent some time investigating an aven for alternative routes, none were found.  Statham dived sump 23.  This he found to be a series of short sumps.  Each time he surfaced he found deep water high rifts with dry passage leading off, but steep mud banks to make his exit difficult.  He found that exiting from the pool in "24" was difficult due to its steep mud bank.  He was soon joined by Yeadon who helped him out of the pool onto the mud bank.

Yeadon wandered off along the large sandy passage they had found, looking for the next "inevitable sump".  Excitedly he shouted to Statham to "de-kit".  The passage was not going to end in a sump just yet.  The two explored up the passage, where they heard the roaring sound of a large amount of water.  Climbing over some boulders they found the subterranean River Axe flowing in a passage 40ft high and 5f. wide.  They swam upstream against a very strong current, for approx. 150ft.  The passage opened out into a large Chamber, with a high level route leading off.  They stayed in the river passage which had narrowed to 2-3ft wide and about 50ft high.  After about 300ft they came to a cascade which they climbed, into a large chamber.  Here the high level passage mentioned earlier joined the river passage.  This chamber opened out to a lake.  The divers swam across the lake to investigate a rift, but no way on could be seen.  The water in the lake came up from under the left wall this then was the next sump (24).

On their return they made a quick survey and explored the high level passage; the total passage length was 2,000ft plus.

A week later on the 27th February Martyn Farr and Colin Edmunds were back.  Arriving at Sump 24 Farr dived reaching a depth of around 85ft. The way on was up a steeply inclined dip.  On his second attempt he reached an air surface.  His dive had been 350ft long finishing at a chamber (25) covered in thick deposits of mud.  He swam across it until he came to what he thought to be a bridge of rock.  Pulling himself up about 3ft out of the water he could see into another pool approx. 30ft in diameter.  He returned to Edmunds in 24 where they explored some side passages. They returned to 9:2 after 6¼ hours in the cave.

Farr and Edmunds returned to Wookey on the 10th April aiming to photograph the new extensions and have a look at the terminal sump (25).  On reaching 25 Farr christened the chamber the " Lake of Gloom".  He discovered that the rock bridge was in fact a solid rock wall.  Making impossible any attempt to dive through to the next pool.  However he managed to "de-kit" and climb over into the pool to make a quick inspection.  Finding that the sump was very large and deep and to dive further would require a good deal of support.

It was now apparent from the last pushing attempt that considerably more support would be needed to push any further.  With a dive of over 2000ft long and 80ft deep to 25.  The problems of high air consumption had to be considered, a large amount of extra air cylinders were needed.  The problems of decompression, too, had to be considered.  Decompression stops in cold water can be very wearing. To offset the cold, constant volume, drysuits were acquired.  These dry suits had the advantage of keeping in the body warmth, and counteracting the negative buoyancy at depth.  The major disadvantage of these suits is that they tend to cause overheating when the diver is not in the water.  A large amount of the equipment was obtained from sponsors who donated either equipment or money to the project.

Many weeks were spent practicing with the new equipment and techniques associated with it.  Numerous artificial aids were transported into the extensions; this included two lengths of rigid steel ladder to 25 to aid the scaling of the barrier wall.  To facilitate easy passage of the canals and climbs, these were roped up to assist the divers in high water conditions.

A water tracing exercise was also carried out on November the 27th.  Two tests were made.  One using rhodamine dye from 25.  This was detected at the resurgence after 9 hours.  The other test was made from St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  140 grams was put into the sink and followed through the cave to sump 2.  But the dye was not subsequently detected at the resurgence after 56 hours.  It may be supposed that the amount of dye used was too small.

The Push

The 11th June 77 had been set for the assault on Sump 25.  In the preceding weeks the essential equipment had been transported to various parts of the cave ready for use.  The 9th Chamber was crowded with divers, supporters, television film crews, newspapermen and tourists.  The divers were Martyn Farr, Dave Morris, Colin Edmunds, Brian Woodward, Richard Stevenson, Paul Atkinson and George Bee.

Due to high water conditions the dive was postponed, although a performance was put on for the benefit of the media.  This also gave an opportunity to put the finishing touches to the final preparations.

The same team of divers were back at the cave on the 18th June.  Farr dived with Morris as back up diver.  The others went to 24 to help ferry and check the back up equipment. Leaving Morris in the Lake of Gloom, Farr dived down the Well, finding the line reel previously left in from the July '76 dive, at approx. 100ft depth.  He decided to follow the passage floor down.  Passage dimensions were approx. 4ft wide by 25ft high. Visibility was poor due to mud from the floor, which he disturbed as he swam.  At 135ft depth Farr came to a 10ft vertical drop.  He could see the passage continued on downwards.  Descending this he soon reached 150ft depth.  Here he dropped the line reel and made a rapid return to Morris at the Well to decompress.  The divers returned to 9:2 de-tackling as they went, making a short decompression stop before surfacing in 9:2 after a trip lasting 8 hours.

Although the main objective of the dive to push the final sump failed, the exercise has been useful, several lessons had been learnt.  Decompression and use of open circuit breathing mixtures have been established in cave diving, besides setting a new British cave diving depth record.

To the authors knowledge no further pushes have been made on sump 25 nor are any further planned, at the time of writing.  The story does not stop here, the events of the 1976-77 dives are just another chapter in the story.  As diving equipment and techniques improve, so divers will be able to push even farther and deeper into the sumps of Wookey Hole.

It is hoped this article has provided a clearer picture of events at Wookey Hole to date.

References: -

C.D.G. Newsleters No's '39 to 45 (new series)

B.C.R.A. Bulletin No 17 Aug 77.  Recent developments at Wookey Hole.


The Descent Of King Pot

a new find on Scales Moor, Yorkshire

by Martin Bishop.

On Friday 22nd June, Trev Hughes, Tim Large, myself and Rocksport's own Fiona, set forth for Yorkshire and the Northern Cave Club Brada Garth Hut in Kingsdale.  I had been previously invited to attend their annual barbeque at the entrance to Yordes Cave, but then I was told of the new find - there didn't need any further persuasion!  Anyway, we managed to make the Craven Heifer in time for a beer, meet the lads and arrange our King Pot trip for the following morning.

Saturday morning 'dawned' about 8 a.m., and after breakfast a short discussion and some cider (we always take the necessaries) Trev, Tim and myself and Dave Gallavar (NCC) set off for the cave, sorry - pothole.  Our journey was to be interrupted by watching the fanner and friend castrating sheep using an amazing tool which resembled a miniature hatchet!  From this point to the entrance, Trev made Tim quite ill by insisting on a sheep’s nuts kebab at the barbeque.  Eventually we made the entrance end after a quick check of our gear we began the descent.  Enough of this frivolity, I'll now get down to the business of describing certainly one of Yorkshires best trips and certainly one of the most impressive.

The cave consists of an awkward 25ft entrance pitch, followed by a 10ft rope descent into a small chamber.  From this chamber a 35ft pitch leads into a series of crawls through boulders to the head of a 10ft pot.  This crawl marks the end of the 'old cave' and the scene of the breakthrough in early June.  Beyond a 10ft climb leads into 25ft of rift passage to the head of the 5th pitch.  A 30ft ladder dropping through boulders takes you into a few hundred feet of passage to an exceedingly loose choke.  About halfway along this passage a climb takes you into a grotto full of straws which rivals Easter Grotto in the Easegill System. Once past the unstable choke you enter, what was for me, the worst part of the system  A short rift passage leads into a flat out crawl in a narrow phreatic tube with a 3ft deep, 6-8" wide trench cut in the floor.  After 100ft the passage (still small) goes through a tight 'S' bend and through a tight squeeze to the head of the next pitch, 25ft ladder required.  At the bottom of the pitch a 2ft wide, meandering stream passage continues for 700ft and up to 40ft high, at the top of which is a 8ft dia. phreatic tube full of pretties.  At the end of the meanders, a 10ft pitch quickly followed by a 15ft pitch leads to a loose climb up a slope to a large chamber beyond which is an even larger chamber entered via a 45ft pitch - King Henry's Hall (150ft long, 100ft wide and 100ft high) - so named after the boulder at the head of the pitch which is about the size of a mini-car and has no visible means of support.  At the end of KHH a 35ft pitch down a narrow (Cuthbert's style) rift leads through 200ft of rift passage to two very large un-named chambers.  From this point about 600ft of canal passage with a good stream, takes you to the head of the 70ft pitch.  The pitch is really superb and has a rock bridge which spans the head of this 30ft dia. pot.  After a fine descent the stream passage below leads 300ft to a sump.  Back under the 70ft pitch, a 10ft climb over a rock barrier leads to a muddy, flat out and wet crawl to some small chambers and an inlet junction on the right of the main passage gives was, after a climb up a mud bank, to a chamber with some fine abandoned gours about 8ft wide and 100ft long.

Dropping back into the main passage, 700ft. of canal leads into the Scales Moor Main drain. Downstream from the junction about 450ft of superb stream passage with a hell of a lot of water, ending at a big, blue and very deep sump pool.  Upstream of the junction 300ft of passage ends at another sump of the same calibre. So we start out, breaking the journey by looking at two inlets, one halfway back through the canal and the other at the far end.  The first leads to a lake and a passage beyond that has a strong draught issuing from a choke and looks a promising site to push.

The other inlet is gained by a 5ft climb up into a classic 12ft dia. phreatic passage.  This continues for about 220ft and stops at an abandoned lake chamber; the acoustics in this passage are phenomenal.  On the return trip we split into two parties, Tim and Dave racing on while Trev and yours truly taking our steadier pace. About three and a half hours later we gained the surfaced knackered but dead chuffed at being the first non-NCC cavers to be allowed down. My next visit to this cave will be with two NCC members to dive the terminal sumps, to do this must involve a 10-15 hour trip, so I could be after some ‘bottle-boys’ - any offers?

To conclude this article we go on to the barbeque which proved to be a very good night with stacks of beer and food; to Trev's disappointment no Sheep's Ball Kebabs but after a few beers he was not bothered.  Tim Large must be getting old - he found it necessary to go to bed at about 11.30p.m. – SOBER!  Trev finally disappeared by 2.30am and I strolled (or staggered) along Kingsdale with the dawn, rising behind me.  So come Sunday.  Cider for breakfast, then to the Craven Heifer for lunch where Trev and I thrashed the NCC and (commiserations to Funky Dibben) the Derbyshire C.C. at darts after a few more beers at Dave Gallavers house in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, we made our way home.  A great weekend.


A No Name Article

By Michael Palmer

A White Scar Caving trip was arranged for 14th Jan. '78 by Martin (how green is my) Grass and so, to use a well worn phrase, a small band of BEC members drove the boring Motorway route to Horton-in-Ribblesdale to be the guests of the Bradford.

The party consisted of two groups, the Palmer family with Greg Villis and Christine, and Martin, Glenis, Pat and Paul Christie.  Martin had hoped for slightly better support of the trip but as it transpired the numbers were adequate.

En-route the Palmer group we’re fortunate enough to stay the Friday Night at Fred Weekes' Paddiham 'put you up', where they enjoyed fine hospitality.  The other group made it to the Bradford Cottage in time to find enough space for their sleeping bags.

Saturday morning, early but not so bright, saw the groups assembled in the White Scar Cave car park, where the events of the drive up in the fog and snow were discussed at length, while secretly hoping that the leader wasn't going to turn up.  He did, accompanied by a few friends, and so we all had to change in the freezing cold and prepare ourselves.  The route had to be changed because the usual air space at Big Bertha boulder choke had sumped.  This was fortunate in some respects, since the alternative was the higher level Battle Series which only a few dozen parties have previously visited.

The route at this point is upwards through a naughty corkscrew squeeze, emerging into an extremely large chamber.  From this chamber the leader took us to the caveable extremities of the Western Front and the Northern Front to look at very nice formations and a wonderful crystal pool which unfortunately was dry.  On the trip out Paul Christies wonder light failed again and to cap it all he later lost the Carbide lamp, loaned by Greg, while negotiating a swim in the cold streamway.

At the entrance the women had prepared welcome hot cup of tea, having returned early from their shopping in Settle.  After a quick change and a thank you to our leader we made a hasty return to the Bradford Cottage for a shower and hot food.

The hut warden had made a double booking, so bunk space was scarce.  However, after a little bartering and swearing sufficient room was found for the women, Martin and Paul, while Michael and Greg slept in the van. At the Helwith Bridge later on Saturday night we were blessed with the presence of a lost sheep, one Andy Nichols, who reported that he is fine and enjoying his change to Northern climes.

A trip to Swinsto had been organised with Fred Weekes for Sunday morning, which found the men once again standing by the roadside in the freezing cold changing into wet wetsuit. The women folk did a more sensible thing by going walking from Ingleton to see Thornton Force, which is a very impressive sight after wet weather.

Except for Fred this was everyone’s first trip into Swinsto, so there was lots of speculation about the sort of trip it would be.  The arrangement was that we would abseil through the system, pulling the rope down behind us, into the Kingsdale Master Cave and leave by the Valley entrance.

Sufficient articles have already been written about this trip so enough said, but it is relevant to record that this is a fine sporting pothole and the grand finale of the Kingsdale Master System is worth the effort.  The only bad spot of the trip was when the rope nearly didn't free itself from the top of the main pitch

We were all by this time on the ledge which divides the pitch into two; we were also being blown by an icy cold wind, caused by the swollen stream descending the pitch. After only a few minutes we were all very cold and subsequently decided in the warmth of the hut that it would not take very long for exposure to set in if trapped on the ledge under such conditions.  So, as a safety measure it was considered advisable to take a second rope of about 60ft, to avoid the danger of getting stuck should the main rope become stuck in any belay.  Feeling very pleased, with ourselves we returned to the hut for a hot meal before saying our good byes.

The weather was not too kind and the accommodation was overcrowded, but two fine caving trips made the weekend worth while and thank you to those who came and to Martin for organising the main trip.



by Tim Large

whose address is c/o Trading Standards Dept., 31 South Street, Wells, Somerset.

The year marches on so quickly these days, before we know we are at the A.G.M. and Dinner will be upon us. Already I can hear the usual rumblings of discussion.  I hope these rumblings will be aired in the proper place - the A.G.M.  It often seems to happen that various moans develop before the A.G.M., but those concerned air their grievances everywhere but at the meeting.

DINNER:  As you have already probably read in previous B.B.’s, the Dinner is to be held at the Caveman, Cheddar and the meal will include Roast beef, Yorkshire Pud, wine and a drink before the meal (either a pint or a sherry) all for £3.50.  The management of the Caveman have been ‘grilled’ by myself and I’ve been assured that a) the meal will be over in about one and a half hours and b) no-one will need to complain about the quantity of the food.  The veg., etc., will be laid out in dishes on the table. I hope that this year the Dinner will be memorable one and that there will be no repetition of the food throwing that occurred last year – we do not wish to stoop as low as the Wessex.  Last year some idiot threw pats of butter which landed on a lady’s dress (she’s no lady! Ed.).  It was lucky for him that he was never caught!


New members

Dave Nicholls, 2 Harklcy Rd., Exmouth, Devon.
John Knops, Ida Cottage, 235 Englishcombe Lane, Bath, Avon (lapsed member rejoined)

Changes of address:

Roger Sabido (832) 15 Concorde Drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, B310 6RZ
Buckett Tilbury (699) 15 Fernie Fields, Aylesbury, Bucks.
John Dukes (830) Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Som.
Sue Yea, Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Som.
Richard Knight (904) Crossways, Hillesley, Wotton-under-Edge, Glos. GL12 7RD.
Nigel Jago (753) West Cottage, Church Lane, Farrington Gurney, Avon.
Derek Targett (583) Norton Hall Cottage, Chilcompton, Midsummer Norton, Avon.
Mike Baker (392) 10 Riverside Walk, Midsummer Norton, Bath, Avon.
U. Jones (Jonah) Woking Grange, Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey.

Leaders for Shatter Cave, Fairy Cave Quarry: -

Dave Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Tele; Priddy 369
Mike Palmer, Laurel Farm, Yarley Hill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset. Tele Wells 74693

Max. no. in party is 5, electric lamps only, 25p per head into the coffers of the C.S.S. and give the leaders about 4 weeks notice please.

MORE ADDRESS CHANGES received by the Editor:

Teresa Humble, 71 Chiltern Close, Warmley, Bristol, Avon.
Colin Priddle (Pope) 15 Mons Road, Delville, Germiston 1401, South Africa.

Colin writes '…its good to hear of new caves being found on Mendip.  I have taken a step nearer caving again – by moving to Rhodesia.  It must be a step nearer returning to England too.'

ON MENDIP recently has been Jonah who turned up at the Belfry on his motorbike and when being asked by Trevor Hughes if he was a caver replied “My boy, I’ve been caving for 35 years!”  Trevor quickly shrank from sight!  Also seen at the Hunters - the one and only Steve Grime recounting tales of his travels abroad.  Incidentally, Jonah has donated a quantity of material for the club library including a rare copy of 'Historia Rievallensis' by the Rev. W. Eastmead published in 1824. The book contains an account of the recently discovered CAVE AT KIRKDALE.  Many thanks Jonah.

A.G.M.  Due to the committee proposals as a result of the work of the Constitutional Sub-committee it has been decided to hold an EGM on Saturday 7th October starting at 10.00am at the Belfry.  The A.G.M. will commence after this E.G.M.  This will conform to the spirit of the resolution at last years A.G.M. which requested this work to be carried out - namely that the revisions should be accepted before the 1978 A.G.M.


Caving In Gibraltar

By Trev Hughes

The Rock of Gibraltar is a limestone peninsula approximately 3 miles long by 1 mile wide.  The Rock is triangular in cross section and the ridge reaches 900ft above sea level.

Due to continued military interest and the limited area of level ground the rock has, over the years, become honeycombed with mined passage ranging from 250 year old gun batteries to present day command centres.  The total length of mined passage is now nearly 35 miles at many different levels.  It is perhaps less well known that there are 176 known natural caves on the rock, all are very old and are of phreatic or fault origins, there being no surface streams on the rock.  The highest entrances are at 750 ft above sea level (I know because it’s a long beer initiated slog up the water catchment steps).

Probably most people have heard of St Michael's show cave which is two thirds up the western side of the rock.  The large chambers in this cave led to its wartime use as a hospital.  The largest chamber in the show cave was a ward; it is now used for concerts, seating about 500.  The lower chamber was adapted for use as an operating theatre.

During the latter part of the war the Royal Engineers drove a tunnel horizontally into the hillside to connect with the operating theatre providing a convenient wheelbarrow route for bits of broken soldiers.  During these blasting operations instead of a pile of rubble at the end of their tunnel the Sappers found a large hole, so the lower and lower lower series of St Michael’s cave were found.

The lower series is formed along a large fault with a considerable vertical down throw, it connects with the lower lower series in the blasted entrance passage and in a 100ft pot within the system.  Stream action appears to have played no appreciable part in the formation of cave passage. The lower series like the show cave is extremely well decorated with large areas of flowstone and columns; cave mud is noted for its absence.  Although fairly short (660ft) the lower series has a vertical range of 80ft and provides some sporting climbs and an interesting 1-2 inch wide traverse around a 20ft deep lake.

The only interest in caving on the rock is a small group of resident Army cavers and a few local people who comprise the rocks only caving club!  However, they are always willing to provide a guide for non-local cavers such as a visiting naval caver like myself.  Most of the caves on the rock are short but some are relatively sporting such as the lower lower series of St Michael’s cave.


Letter To The Editor

To the Editor of the BB

Firstly the thoughts of 'Chairman' Alfie, if only others could have been prepared to write articles I am sure that Alfie’s thoughts may have been a bit watered down.  I think you should give him a round of applause for keeping the B.B. going so long.

As far as the B:B. is concerned you in the Bristol area are lucky in that you can read through the Bulletin and then throw it on the fire if you feel like it.  Other people overseas look on the B.B. as a God-send, which reflects the good old times in the Belfry, when it was the Old Belfry, before it burnt down.

You should ask yourselves, what are we trying to do?  You have a wonderful club on Mendip dedicated to caving and I say OK to the social activities of the older members (I myself included) who can't go caving (I'm blind and can hardly walk) and like to sit around and talk about the good old days (were they? – wife’s comment).

An idea for an article in the B.B.  Could a rough map of Mendip be produced showing where new caves have been discovered.

By the way, there's a second Belfry out here - a log cabin similar to Belfry 1.  In a good winter (not green) you can ski miles through forest, so why not pitch your strength against this nature and not against older members of the B. E. C.

Yours, George Honey, Sweden, 6th July 1978.


CAVING BOOTS (CRANGE TYPE). There are still some pairs left - mainly sizes 8, 9, 10.  PRICE £8.75. For those not familiar with them, they have external steel toe caps and commando soles.  Contact Tim Large (address see LIFELINE).

CAVING EXHIBITION: Arrangements are being made to hold this in the autumn at Wells Museum.  The purpose is to exhibit historical/antique items of caving equipment.  Anyone who has anything suitable, either to donate or loan should contact Tim Large. Work telephone Wells 73960.  Best times 8.30-10.30a.m. or 4.30p.m. to 5p.m.

Proposed Exhibition of Caving Equipment at the Wells Museum

Mr. Cook, Curator of the Wells Museum is interested in setting up an exhibition of caving equipment, past and present sometime in the autumn.  The success of this venture will be dependant on the quantity of material is forthcoming.   Anyone prepared to loan or give equipment should contact either Wells Museum or Chris Bradshaw at Rocksport, Bus Station, Wells, Somerset.  Telephone Well 0749 73054.


How To Avoid Caving Trips

By Annie Wilton-Jones

You may have noticed a distinct absence of I. Wilton-Jones’s on Mendip in the last couple of years. We’ve certainly noticed an absence of Lukin's cheese and cider in our diet so we can’t have been in the area for a while.  It would seem that we have developed quite a talent for avoiding caving and it is only fair that we should pass on this expertise to other would-be defaulters.

One of the first things to do is to get married.  As every married caver knows, this entails not so much the loss of your freedom as the gaining of a second set of excuses.  A frequent result of taking this first step along the road of avoidance is the purchase of a house.  This is a very good avoidance method in its own right.  It gives you two let outs: -

1) Mortgage repayments should easily high enough to reduce your ability to pay for petrol to a minimum. Trips to Mendip will therefore be similarly reduced.  2) There's always ‘so much to do in the house’.  A new house will be of faults and an old one will require extensive renovation and then there's the garden!  Of course the single caver can always try the house purchase without bothering with the marriage method.  It still works just as brother-in-law G. W-J will, no doubt, testify.

After a while, of course, your pay will go up a bit so the mortgage repayments will not cut down your spending money as much and, at about the same time, the house and garden will reach a comfortable condition.  The new house excuse will, therefore, be less effective so a fresh one must be found. Might I suggest the development of a second interest a least as time consuming as caving?  Running is a good example, this will require that a lot of time is spent in training and a lot of money is spent getting to races. It is also something that cannot be ignored for a week or so as you will lose your fitness. There will, of course, be the odd weekend when there’s no race and you will have a little money your pocket but you’re bound to be able to think of something you need for the house that will cost money and take the whole weekend to install.

Now is the time to introduce a further excuse.  Why not start a family? This is a good excuse for the wife to stay above ground - a large stomach is very cumbersome and gets in way in crawls and on ladders - but, on its own, is not sufficient excuse for the husband to stay in the daylight.  The answer is 'blood pressure'.  A nicely raise blood pressure will put the wife in bed for months at a time, maybe even in hospital, until the baby is born. Marvellous excuse!  How can the husband go caving when he has to look after house, garden and pets on his own while also trying to find time to go to work and visit his wife?  One point. On this excuse, though, is to time it correctly.  If you misjudge it you may end up missing the BEC Dinner which somewhat spoils the effect.

Of course, once the baby is born (in our case a daughter, Clare) you have a ready made excuse.  The baby is too small for you to take on long journeys and your wife is too tired for you to leave her to cope on her own. However, as wife and baby settle into a routine caving might become a possibility again so why not break your ankle? It's a bit painful at the time but it can be quite fun hobbling around on crutches and every one feels sorry for you.

When the ankle heals you could go into hospital for a minor op, but this won't last very long so you'll soon need a better excuse.  I don't recommend the following one but it works very effectively:

Get knocked down by a car. The main problem with this excuse is that you can’t control the seriousness of the accident.  Assuming that you are not killed, you may well be so badly injured that not only will you never cave again but you may also never do anything active again either.  If you are lucky your injuries will eventually heal but you won't know the final outcome for many months.  You will spend these months in hospital and/or attending painful physiotherapy sessions while hobbling about, once again, on those crutches.  At the end of all this treatment though you may still be able to cave so just in case you find you can, it might be an idea to start a second baby now so you'll have an excuse ready when the time comes!

Seriously though, Ian will still be on crutches for quite a while and we don't yet know how well his leg will heal.  However, you will see us on Mendip again in, we hope, the not too distant future, along with one or two babies, one dog, two cats and two or more gerbils!

Annie W-J.


Additions To Cliftworks Passage, Box Mine's

by members of the Cotham Caving Group.

In Mendip Underground (1) the description says of Cliftworks Passage “…enters the most recent workings, much blackened by diesel fumes.”

The object of this article is to try to describe Cliftworks Passage in more detail, so that the visitor to the mine will be fully able to appreciate a most interesting part of the mine.

Follow AO route from the Backdoor to Cliftworks Passage as described in the guide.  Turn right at the water tank at the junction, pausing to look down the Well opposite.  Proceed along Cliftworks Passage, passing B11 and WO Passages on your right.  Passing under several dry stone arches and through a doorway, you will now be in an isolated part of the mine from which the only connection is back through Cliftworks Passage.

About fifty feet past the door on the right is the first of several side passages.  This one is roughly five hundred feet long and along its length, on the right side, you will find a well, tools and finally a crane. At the end are natural springs. Just short of the end, on the left, is a connection through deads to a passage which runs parallel to it.  In the area of this connection passage are some examples of the large tongs which were used on the cranes to pick up the blocks of stone.  After passing through the connection turn left to return back to the main route.

Cliftworks Passage goes for about another three hundred and fifty feet past the side passage, when you come to a 'Y' junction where, on the right, is an air shaft of approximately four feet in diameter.  Straight on, over a large roof fall, is the main passage.  To the left is a complicated series of passages forming an oxbow to the left of the main route, rejoining it at the far side of the roof fall.

Climbing over the roof fall, you will have a walk of about six hundred feet to where the passage takes a sharp left turn; here some tools can be seen placed on a block of stone on the right side of the passage, with a low roofed passage ascending behind. This is the exit of the second side passage, from near the doorway in Cliftworks Passage.  About one hundred feet past the first side passage is the entrance to the second side passage, also on the right.  Nearly two hundred feet on, on the right, is the connection with the first side passage described earlier.  Passing over the roof fall (in the Cliftworks Passable) you come to a "Y' junction, stood in the middle of which is a rail mounted, hand powered winch. To the right is a side passage along which can be seen tools; a saw sharpening bench - a very good example of a crane with chain and stone tongs in position; this is the crane which appears in the 'Mendip Underground' photograph.

Straight on from the junction is the main way on to rejoin Cliftworks Passage at the point where the tools are on the block of stone.  There ore several interesting passages off this route and at one point you can make an earlier connection with Cliftworks Passage, rejoining it near the large roof fall.

Standing near the tools in Cliftworks Passage, and looking forward, the end is three hundred feet further on where one can see the first signs of pneumatic drill working (these drills were known as 'windy drills' by the miners).  The main way on is to the left, soon reaching a three way junction. Taking the right hand passage, passing the remains of a hut on the left to reach the final working face after some five hundred feet.  At the face are more tools, springs and another crane.

Length of Cliftworks Passage from entrance on the A4 road = 2,500ft.

Length of second side passage (Original Cliftworks)                    =1,350ft.

Survey of the main passage by T. Meek, P. Marshall and A. Type (of the C.C.G.).  Other parts of the survey by P. Marshall, B & L. John, A. Tye and D. Marshall (of the C.C.G.). 

NOTE: Some parts of the roof are showing signs of age and should be passed with care.


(1) Mendip Underground by Irwin & Knibbs, Mendip Publishing, Wells, 1977 (Price £2.95).



Additions to the Library:

Shepton Mallet Journal, Series 6 No.4 Autumn 1977 includes Mount Suswa Caves, Kenya; The Law Hick (mining) and Thrupe Lane Survey.

Chelsea Newsletters Vol.20 Nos 1-4.  No.1 includes an article on the Aggy Sumps

Wessex C. C. Journal No. 172 including Cuckoo Cleeves extensions; Water Tracing – Mangle Hole and Swan Inn Swallet; Swildon’s Renascence Series (survey) and the Black Cavern Pwll Du Gwent, S. Wales.

Cave Diving Group Sump Index, 2nd Edition 1977 revised by Ray Mansfield.  Potted histories, descriptions and diving log on all sumps in the Mendip region.  Copy donated by Ray Mansfield with thanks.

Yeovil Caving Club - Sump Nos 7 and 8.  No.8 includes article 'Caving – a safe sport!  This is full of inaccuracies - the author must research his material more fully.

Cave Diving Group – A Cave Diver’s Training Manual by O.C. Lloyd, 1975.  Donated with thanks by Martin Grass.

Cambridge Univ. Journal ' Cambridge Underground 1978'. See Jottings July B.B. Donated by Nick Thorne with our thanks.

Patent Specification No.1481303. Taken out by Dave Sweeting on the swaging method of attaching ladder rungs to the wire rope.  Published July 1977.

Climbing Magazines – those that we have in the collection have been bound into volumes and where they are not complete they have been filed into loose paper files.  Many thanks to Kay Mansfield for undertaking the task of binding and to Stu Lindsey for a good supply of binding materials.

Library List Part 2 will appear in the September B.B. March 1978 B.B.  Part 1 appeared in the March 1978 B.B.

During a recent check of the Library a number of items were found to be missing - anyone with library material should let the librarian know as soon as possible (Dave Irwin] Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells) so that a check can be made against the register. Books include Darkness Under the Earth and Limestones and Caves of NW England. A full list will appear in the September B.B.

A circular advertising the 2nd International Caving File Festival at Vercours, France has been donated to the library.  The dates are 23 – 27 August.  Camping Hotel or dormitory facilities are available.  Write to (if interested) Festival du Film de Speleologie, 26420 La Chappelle ene Vercours, France.


Library list


Newsletter: Vol 1 (1,2,4,6,7,8); Vol 2 (2-8, 10, 11); Vol 3 (1, 3-10); Vol 4 (2-11); Vol 5 (1-3); Vol 6 (1-3); 1959 Mar/Apr; May/June; July/Aug; 1960 Jan/Feb; Mar/Apr; May/June; Sep/Oct; 1950 (Autumn); 1951 Jan; July; Aug.




C.D.G. Review 1955-1957

Newsletters 1965 (Dec); 1967(Oct/Nov); 1968(Apr/July); Nos 9-12,14-19, 21, 23,3 4, 35.

Newsletter ( Somerset Section): July, Aug, 1967.

Misc. papers: Divers, log Sheet; (Wookey) Jan - May 1949

Divers Plans - Swildons and Stoke Lane.

Sump Rescue Equipment, O.C. Lloyd, 1965

Newsletters 1st Series 1 - 20, 25, 29, 30, 33 (NB Nos 21-24 not published)

Notice of operations at Wookey 9/48 - 4/49.

Derbyshire Sump Index, 1968.




Publication No. 22, 14

Newsletter 128 - 133 (end of run- followed by merger with BSA)

Index of Newsletters to 129.

Transactions Vol.5 (1); Vol.7 (3); Vol.11 (1); Vol.14 (4); Vol.14(1, 4); Vol.5 (1-4)

Constitution of CRG

CRG/SPORTS COUNCIL - Technical Aids in Caving Symposium (March 1972)



Conference Programme, 1974

Proc. of the 7th. International Speleo. Congress,   Sheffield (sept.1977)

CERBERUS S.S.  Newsletter 18-22, 24-36, 38-49, 51-54.


Newsletters Vol 1(complete); Vol. 2(Complete); 11 (12); 13 (1, 2); 14 (3, 11, 12); 15(1-11); 16 (9); 17b (1-7, 9); 18 (1-6, 8, 9, 12); 19 (1-2); 20 (1-2).

COTHAM C.G.  Newsletters Vol. 5 (1-3); Box Stone Mines, reprint, 1973


‘Some Notable Quarrymen,’ 1973.

Box Quarries, Vol. 1, 1976.

Memoirs, Vol. 4, 1968-1969.

Box Stone Mines, 1st. Edition, 1966.

CRAVEN P.C. Journal Vol. 3 (1-3), 5, 6); Vol. 4 (2-4).

CROYDON CAVING C.  Pelobates 17, 24

                                        Mersham Firestone Quarries, 1976.

DERBYSHIRE S.G.: Bulletin Vol. 1 Part 1, 1975

DERBYSHIRE C.C.: Dodgers Despatch 1-8

DESCENT:  Nos 7-9, 11, 37

DEVON S.S.: Newsletters 100-104, 112-118.

DORSET CAVING GROUP:  Journal Vol 1 (1-6); 2 (1-4, 6); 3 (1-5); 4 (1-3); 5 (1,2)

DURHAM UNIV. S. Assoc.:  Journal No. 1, 1977.

EXETER UNIV. S.S.:  Vol 8 (3); 9 (1).


Dates For Your Diary

Friday ‘niters’ meets. Details from Richard Kenny, ‘Yennek’, St. Marys Road, Glastonbury, Som. Tele Meare Heath 296.

August 18th

September 1st

September 15th

September 29th

St. Cuthbert’s – all meets at 19.39 hrs..

Lamb Leer

Browns Folly Mine.

Mangel Hole & Sandford Levvy.

For those interested in joining Dave Metcalfe in Yorkshire the following trips have been arranged by him:

August 26th

September 23rd

October 29th

November 18th

December 16th

C.P.C. Winch meet at gaping Hole

Gingling Hole, Fountains Fell.

Notts Pot.

Top Sink.

Swinsto/Simpsons Exchange.

OCTOBER 7th at the BELFRY    E.G.M. at the Belfry at 10.30hrs to discuss the rev' Club Constitution. If adopted by the meeting this revision will be in operation for the A.G.M. which will start immediately the E.G.M. is concluded - most probably after lunch break.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING   Once again the year rolls on and the call for nominations is out again.  Of the existing Committee the following people have stated their wish to resign at the end of the current club year, Nigel Taylor, Russ Jenkins.  Nominations must be handed to the Secretary by the 9th September.


8ft x 11ft GOODALL FRAME TENT for sale - £30.

Phone Bristol 697313.  The tent is being sold by Roy Marshall one of our past Climbing secretaries.

The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.

Editor:  D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.


The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.

Editor:  D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.

Dates For Your Diary

July 7th

South Wales (OFD) – Friday niters trip.

July 21st

North Hill – Friday niters trip.

August 4th

Stoke Lane Slocker – Friday niters trip.

September 9/10th

BCRA National Caving Conference, Renold Building, Manchester.  Accommodation – Booking not later than July 14th. – charge £4 per night.  Tickets at door £1.00.  Conference Secretary D.M. Judson, Bethel Green, Calderbrook Road, Littleborough, Lancs.  Make cheques out to D.M. Judson, Conference acc.

A letter from David Metcalfe states that he would be pleased to see ant BEC members at the following meets arranged for the Northern Dales Speleological Group.

August 6th

Giants Hole, Derbyshire.

August 26th

C.P.C. Winch Meet Gaping Gill.

September 23rd

Marble Steps Pot.

October 1st

Gingling Hole, Fountains Fell.

October 29th

Notts Pot.

November 18th

Top Sink.

December 16th

Swinsto/Simpsons Exchange.

Late News And Notes

As we go to press news has been coming over the radio and making headlines in the daily press of a rescue taking place in Scotland.  Not that we wouldn’t take notice of it anyway, it was made all the more juicy in that it involved our own '"Wigmore man - Tony Jarrett (Jayrat). On a surveying trip lights failed and apparently there was a small boulder fall in the area.  Goon and helpers were flown, half way to the cave at least, by helicopter from Edinburgh to Assynt!  I wonder if Jayrat has ever read the club rules and I can't help feeling that there's going to be some heavy p ... taking when he appears back at the Belfry in the next couple of weeks …. if he has the nerve to come back

ST. CUTHBERT’S…Work has commenced again after a lapse of 8 years in sump 1 area.  Wig, Dave Turner, Brian Workman et al are digging under the roof (there’s no walls or floor!) on the left, upstream of the sump.  A nylon, 8” dia tube now carries the water through the sump and empties it into the '2' streamway about 200ft further on.  Please take care not stand on the pipe or cut it. The eventual move is to dig out the sump and investigate the bedding plane on the right of the crawl into the sump itself.



by Tim Large

New members:

Sue Yea, 102 York Rd., Montpellier, Bristol.
Clive Parkin, c/o P.O's Mess, H.M.S. Daedalus, Lee-on-Solent

CONSTITUTION SUB-COMMITTEE has now met and much fine work carried out by Martin Cavender has resulted in the sub-committee sorting out a revised constitution based on the existing one, but being much more readable and less ambiguous.  It will be for the A.G.M. to decide if it is to be accepted. (Copies will be circulated with the August B.B. as a BB Supplement, as was the A.G.M. Minutes. Ed.)

BELFRY – more work has been done around the hut, including an inspection pit to investigate the septic tank (no', it's not a cave dig!).  During the working weekend the showers required repairs as the hot water pipes sprung a leak.

MIDSUMMER BUFFET - This event was well attended and a good time had by all!  It was good to see many of the old faces including Mike Baker,' Kangy," Maurice Iles among many others.  It just might be a regular mid-year event in the future.  About 100 members were milling about the room; almost as good as the dinner!

A few weeks earlier, at the same venue Jane Kirby and Sue Yea held a joint birthday party.  Ross White had to be rescued from the bog by Roger Dors and Jane as he fell asleep - or was it into a drunken stupor?

BELFRY continued - The modifications to the Old Stone Belfry have nearly been completed.  The MRO have been allocated a little more room and the age old problem of the guttering on the roof cured once and for all.

We are now the proud possessors of a battery charger which will probably be housed in the remaining part of the Stone Belfry when it is fitted out as a workshop cum storeroom.

B.E.C. SWEATSHIRTS - If there is sufficient demand for these the Club will buy a quantity suitably inscribed with the Club emblem.  Any ideas on a design would be appreciated.  Let me know if you are interest to give me some idea of numbers to order.

A CAVING NOTE - Recently Northern Cave Club dug into a new system at the bottom of the 500ft long and 160ft deep King Pot (Yorkshire).  Now they have uncovered a master cave system about 1 mile long and 450ft deep which includes 15 pitches and makes it a classic Yorkshire trip.  Martin Bishop, Trevor Hughes and myself were lucky enough to be invited to take a look and were most impressed and shattered by the time we got, out.  At present survey, photographic and diving work is in progress.  Access is limited to N.G.C. members only at present.

Camera Raffle - The camera was won by Bob White the draw for which took place at the Midsummer Buffet. The winning ticket was drawn by Jackie Dors.  As far as can be gathered about 30 pounds has been raised for club funds.

Pope has written to say that he is leaving his current address and will let us know his new one in the near future.

Officer’s reports will be presented to the August C0mmittee Meeting and they will appear (hopefully) in the September BB.

Charterhouse Committee have passed a resolution stating that permits will be valid for one year.  BEC, WCC, SMCC and others have objected. Meeting asked to be called soon. More details later.


Sunto Instrument Bracket And Maintenance

By Chris Batstone

Many Suunto users will be aware of the few minor faults with these superb instruments for cave survey use. The major disadvantage being the fact that both instruments are separates and the surveyor has to waste valuable time sorting out which instrument to use, particularly when they are hanging from the neck on their carrying cords.  To overcome this problem the two instruments may be combined together with the aid of a simple 'L' shaped bracket, using the screw holes for the 1anyard attachments.

Thus the surveyor has both instruments to hand at every which effectively speeds up the survey work.

Construction of the bracket is quite simple provided one has as drill and files and a suitable vice for holding the work.  Anyone with a little skill in metal working can make the bracket quite quickly.

The bracket must be made from a non-ferrous metal or alloy such as brass or aluminium to ensure that the compass is not influenced by magnetic effects.  The shape of the bracket should first be marked out on a piece of 1" thick sheet (see fig.1 for dimensions).  Two holes are drilled for the screws that attach the instruments. The bracket can then be cut from the plate and filed up to remove any sharp edges.  The bracket is then bent slightly, as shown, in fig. 2 to align the instruments.

FIGURE 1.  Suunto Instrument Bracket.
Scale - Twice full size.  Dimensions in inches.


Note:    Soft aluminium will bend easily with the bracket assembled the instruments thus making the alignment easier.

Brass and hard alloys. These may have to be annealed before bending in a vice.  The bends should be made carefully, in stages, testing the bracket up against the instruments for fit.  (The best bend radii for this type of material should be in the order of 3t –Ed)

Once the bracket has been bent to a suitable shape it can be attached, to the instruments using either the old lanyard screws or compatible round or cheese headed screws of the same thread (these are probably No.8 UNC - Ed.)  The instrument was first used with great success on the Tyning's Barrows Swallet survey - see April, 1978 BB - and has proved its worth on other trips, Wigmore and Rocket Drop.

Figure 2 – Bracket assembled


Sealing the Instruments.

Although the Suunto instruments appear to be proof against all things, including nuclear attack, they are prone to leak when expose to wet, muddy cave conditions.  If allowed to continue for any length of time, the optics will soon become obscured by a thin film of mud.  Prevention is better than cure, so owners of Suunto equipment would be well advised to seal their instruments before taking them underground.



The grub screw hole may be sealed with paraffin wax or plasticene this will only be necessary if the original sealant has been removed.

Dismantling And Cleaning

If the instrument develops a leak and the optics become dirty internally, it will become necessary to dismantle it.  The construction of both the compass and clinometer is identical (with the exception that the compass unit is liquid filled).  The body is an accurately machined alum alloy block housing, the compass or clino cards sealed in a Perspex unit and the lens for reading the graduations on the instrument.  The sealed unit is held in place by a press fit alum alloy back plate and a grub screw to prevent the unit from moving in the body when assembled (see Fig. 4)

Figure 4 - showing method of construction. (lateral cross section)


1 – lens

1a – Perspex lens integral with sealed unit

2 – plastic window

3 – compass or clinometer in sealed unit

4 – grub screw

5 – back plate

6 - aperture

Dismantling is a fairly simple job:

A 3/32" or ⅛" diameter hole should be drilled in the edge of the back plate, no more than ⅛" deep to avoid damaging the sealed unit.  A small watchmaker’s screwdriver is inserted into the hole and the back plate prised off.  With the screwdriver, the grub screw is removed and the sealed perspex unit can be taken out.  The lens assembly has no obvious means of removal and should be left in situ.  To attempt to remove the lens could ca»se irreparable damage; it can be cleaned without removal.


Dirt can be removed from the inside of the lens with a fine sabre artist’s brush of good quality.  If the dirt is 'stubborn', a few drop of distilled water may be sufficient to loosen the dirt which can be cleaned off with the brush.  The unit should then be rinsed with distilled water and left to dry in a warm atmosphere. The perspex unit may be wiped clean using a lens cloth but take care not to scratch the perspex lens on the outer rim.


Once all parts are clean and thoroughly dry, re-assembly may commence.  This procedure is a straight reversal of the dismantling procedure. Ensure that the re-assembly of the unit is carried out in a warm and relatively low humidity room to avoid subsequent condensation on the optics.

The small hole drilled in the back plate may be sealed with epoxy resin.  The sealing operation, previously described should then be carried out.


All of the operations described in this article have been carried out by the author and found to be satisfactory.  Readers are warned that these recommendations are not those of the manufacturers and may therefore invalidate any warranty or guarantee agreement.  Further the author accepts no liability for inaccurate information.  At the time of publishing (June 1978) the information was correct for Suunto KB14 and PM5 clinometer.  Further information on renovation and repair of Suunto equipment may be found in BCRA Bulletins.


BCRA  Bulletin No.3.  Feb. 1974. G. Stevens

Grampian S.Gp. Bulletin No.2 Series 2.  J. Batstone.


Next month in the B.B. - an up-to-date account of the recent pushes in Wookey Hole by Chris Batstone, a club trip into White Scar Cave by Mike Palmer, AGM announcements, the latest findings by the Committee and the Sub-Committee on changes to the Club Constitution and The Unknown Streamway by Wig.  Also will be a report on the Peak Cavern trip organised by Martin Grass.

The Austrian trip is on with about a dozen or so BEC and Grampian members seeking out deep caves in the Dachstein area.  It is hoped to be able to publish their work as soon as it is received from them by post from Austria - can't be more up-to-date than that!


Why Ski in the Pyrenees?


One of the advantages of the Pyrenees as a skiing area is that if a base is chosen out of the mountains then you're not stuck to one station, there is a choice.

The Pyrenees run East/West and there is, on the French side, a good road running parallel with them and about 1 hour from whatever station is chosen.


It is particularly important not to be committed to one station because in general they are small and at a lower altitude than the Alps, and if from far off England you book Guzet Neige for instance you could be caught with poor snow or bad weather.  There are stations which are fairly reliable Salardu in Spain for example or Pas de la Case in Andorra are highish and can give excellent skiing both on and off the piste. The advantage of the Pyrenees is the warmth of the sun.  Watch out for sunburn.

Lucheon would be a reasonable place to stay it's not too dear en pension and it is possible to visit a number of interesting ski stations easily from there. Superbagneres was one of the earliest stations to be established and is the nearest to Luchon.  It has the advantage that the road goes to the highest point, so that the beginner’s slopes always have the best of the snow. The biggest French station from here is Les Auges/Peyresourds, two stations linked by high level routes. There is a superb descent at Peyresourds - if only the dreaded T8 teleski doesn't break down!  It drops directly from the highest point and curves leftwards following a valley out into the sticks away from the station. Once out of the valley the route winds back to the station and the infamous T8!  The T8 is symptomatic of French Pyrenean skiing.  It's not very well maintained.  The ski tours are rough and bumpy under ski because they don't bother to flatten them and the pistes are as nature intended.  I rather like it!  Luchon also gives access to the Val d'Aran and the most important Spanish station, Solardu.  The Spaniards make an effort and it is almost up to Alpine standards.  Certainly the Val D'Aran, the upper valley of the Garonne where it emerges after sinking in the Trou de Toro, is well worth a visit on its own a account.  While considerable development is being undertaken in the name of tourism, most of it is in good taste and worth seeing.  Salardu is, high and has many good runs, away from the popular slopes.  It's worth struggling to get away from the clank of the tours into the quiet of winter mountains.

Up and down the chain of the Pyrenees are many small but interesting stations. Font Romeau is elderly but well equipped and sunny.  It isn't very steep but it's beautiful.  Guzet Neige, one of the nearest to Toulouse is good but not too reliable for snow in a poor season. It is set in trees and there are a number of good runs.  Towards the Atlantic is La Mongie, good but a long way from Toulouse, though this could be combined with a visit to Cauteret and the adjoining stations.

If you do decide to ski in the Pyrenees then call into Toulouse to collect your F.F.S. card which gives you insurance and the right to reductions on the ski tickets (forfaits) of the order of 25%. You could park your car in the car park underneath Place Capitol and collect card and forfaits from the very friendly Club Escargarol which is situated underneath the arches at the side of the square.  They also hire out skies and boots at very reasonable rates and arrange trips.


Snakes Of Italy

Translated from the Italian with added information and advice for walkers climbers and campers by Stan Gee

Due to certain changes in environment in. the mountain areas of Italy, the snakes of these areas are increasing in numbers and are now presenting something of a hazard to mountaineers and walkers.  So much so that the Club Alpino Italiano are now involved and a National Campaign for information on poisonous snakes has been launched.

The following is a translation of the booklet "Vipere Italiane" published by the Instituto Sicroterapico Vaccinogeno Toscano and is meant to publicise their snake bite vaccine "Sclavo" but at the same time it provides a useful guide to the snakes and their habits, identification, safety first and simple first aid.  However, before considering the aspects of the various types of European snakes it should be understood that all the poisonous snakes of Europe are of the Viper family sub divided into 4 main groups which are themselves sub divided into many localised groups.  These localised groups have adapted to their local environment by way of colour change etc., and thus descriptions given here may differ widely from the same species found in other parts of Europe.  For example the common adder of Britain can be found in 4 main colours and several other lesser colour differences depending on the area of habitation.  Furthermore although the common adder is of the same main species as the Italian ''Marrasso Palustre" (Viper Berus) or Marsh Viper, it is quite different in colour size and ferocity.

However, from the point of view of the mountaineer or walker etc., the normal grass snake and the rarer smooth snake are both very easy to identity and all others may be considered to be dangerous, to some degree.

The following is a direct translation from the booklet "Vipere Italiane" but only insomuch as the information relates to mountaineering and outdoor life:-

The Vipers in Italy.

All of the poisonous snakes in Italy fall into the viper family and are found in all parts of the country with the only exception of Sardinia (the book does not state what snakes, if any, are to be found in Sardinia) and form 4 main groups.

Vipera Aspis

Vipera Berus

Vipera Ammodytes

Vipera Ursinii





Common Viper

Marsh Viper

Horned Viper

Bear Viper

The second of these species is found in almost any situation, plains, Hills, mountains, woods, stones in areas that are damp, humid or marshy and in the walls that line country roads.  Due to this facility to live anywhere they are the most prolific of the snakes and are easily found and are thus the most dangerous to open air people.

Common Viper

Is found all over the country in areas of scarce vegetation and stones where they love to lie in the sun. The male is about 65-75 cm long and the female 75-85 cm long.  The body colour is very variable ashy grey, grey-yellow, dark brown or rose coloured. The back has a zig-zag mark that can be continuous or interrupted sometimes standing out vividly sometimes less vividly from the colour of the body.  The end of the tail is generally yellow-orange.

The Marsh Viper

Is a snake of extreme irritability i.e. is always ready for aggression.  It is found all over Italy, but particularly in Alpine districts where they have been found at altitudes in excess of 3000 meters in damp flat areas, banks of rivers and streams etc.

The extremity of the head, seen in profile appears round and on the top of the head are some shield like marks usually 3 and of different shapes, instead of the fragmented scales as on the asp.  The size of the adult marsh viper is generally longer than the Asp and its length is between 60 & 80cm long.

The body and scales are grey, brown yellow or rose coloured and the dorsal has a symmetrical design consisting of brown spots along the length and alternate vertical zig zag marks. Generally these marks are darker than those of the Asp and in the mountains snakes are sometimes found that are almost completely black.

Horned Viper

This is considered to be the most dangerous of European snakes, due to the quantity of Venom it injects and the speed of action of this venom (about 15 mins).  It prefers to live in rocks and sunny arid areas and it can be found also in woods that are not dense or on the edges of forest glades. It is present in the pre alp ( Gran Paradiso) and up to altitudes of 1600 meters and is often active at night.*

It is the easiest to recognise of all the other species of viper due to the presence of a small horn at the front of the head.  This horn is about 5mm high and renders this snake recognisable at first glance.  Other recognisable features are its size, in which it is larger in diameter than the other snakes and longer, 90-100cm.  Apart from this it has the general characteristics of the Asp but the colours of the dorsal marks are much darker in contrast to the rest of the body.

Vipera Ursini

Is found generally only in the central Italian mountains, Sibillini and Gran Sasso areas.  In general appearance it differs little from that of the Marsh Viper but is much, smaller, about 50cm at most.  It is considered by some to be a sub species of the Marsh Viper and is recognisable from the Marsh Viper by its smaller head and by the presence of a dark spot on the neck.

General Identifications

Apart from the colouring which can sometimes be confusing there are several other points that will enable the reader to differentiate between a dangerous and a non dangerous snake.

The Eyes

A grass-snake has perfectly round eyes and pupils whilst all of the viper family have vertical slit pupils.

The Head

The grass-snake has a long tapered head covered with large scales, the viper is more triangular and snub nosed and has smaller scales.

The Body

A grass snake’s body tapers gracefully to the tail, the viper thins down abruptly thus giving the impression of a fat body and a short thin tail.


When disturbed the grass-snake moves away with a great flurry of movement and sometimes threshing movements.  The viper glides away usually with the head some 3 inches above the ground.

Simple Safety First observations particularly for campers, walkers, climbers and cavers:-

1)                    Always wear boots and heavy woollen socks.

2)                    When walking announce your approach by using a stick to occasionally tap the ground.

3)                    Before sitting down on grass or stones, use a stick to strike the ground and surrounding grass.

4)                    Do not lean against tree trunks that are covered with foliage or piles of logs.

5)                    After resting, thoroughly shake out discarded clothing before putting on, watch particularly insides of rucksacks.

6)                    Do not leave car doors open if you are leaving the car for any reason.

7)                    Pay particular attention if entering abandoned cottages or climbing stone walls.

8)                    Especially cavers should beware of horizontal passages or holes with little depth which may be the home of hibernating vipers.

9)                    Pay particular attention during the summer months and early autumn when the females like to hang in trees or bushes 4 or 5 ft above ground level, as a bite in the head or neck is nearly always fatal.

10)                If you should have need to kill a viper for any reason, use a stone or a stick and stay at a safe minimum distance of 1 metre,

This then is the essence of the booklet "Vipera Italiane" which goes into mulch more detail; most of which is not of interest to the mountaineer.

The details and advice given above can be applied to all of the mountain areas of Europe and to much of North Africa as well, where, although there is greater diffusion of types of snake most of the dangerous ones fall into the viper category.

The first aid information was dealt with in the April 1976 edition of "Climber & Rambler".


First Aid

Should you or a friend be unfortunate enough to be bitten the following advice, taken from an article by W.J. Wright in January edition of the St., John Review, is given.

Most people, when bitten, think they are going to die and as a result develop shock - cold clammy skin, feeble pulse, rapid shallow breathing and perhaps semi-consciousness. A person bitten by a viper may have blood-stained saliva followed later by non-clotting of the blood and perhaps blood coughed up.  A striking snake does not always inject venom but if swelling above the knee or elbow occurs within two or three hours then venom has been injected and it is a severe case.  Local swelling in the area of the bite will occur within a few minutes if venom has been injected.  In this case the area round the bite should be cleaned, preferably with soapy water, and a dry dressing applied.  Do not use a tourniquet but a firm but not tight ligature above the bite helps to compress the tissues and delay absorption into the system.

The St. John First Aid Manual continues, support and immobilise the limb concerned, and should breathing fail, commence artificial respiration.  In all cases seek medical aid.  The manual also states that many people die from fright, after being bitten.

The dangers of snakebite are recognised by the Club Alpino Italiano and most of their larger Rifugi hold stocks of serum and many of the larger villages as well.

* Translators note (from previous page)

Snakes of the viper family can, to some extent, control the amount of venom that they inject, depending upon the size of the victim.  The Horned viper usually injects all at one go.


Into The Devil's Arse

or A trip into Peak Cavern

An account of a club trip by Martin Grass

Our first attempt to enter Peak Cavern was in November of last year but due to flood waters throughout the show cave (necessitating swimming along normally dry passages) the trip had to be abandoned.  In march of this year we were luckier and were able to walk through the whole show Cave without getting wet.  The main attraction of Peak as a show cave is the large entrance where rope-makers once worked and lived.  A short, low passage at the end of the entrance chamber leads into the Great Cave, another large chamber, with fascinating, glowing formations which on inspection proved to be 'cats eyes' which had been embedded in the rock!

A large dry passage enters Roger Rains House, the third and last large chamber in the tourist section, with a waterfall entering from high up on the, right side of the passage. The cave now changes to an almost horizontal stream passage to a 'T' junction where the show cave ends.  Left at this junction quickly ends in the Buxton Water Sump which was first successfully passed by Don Coase back in the early ‘50s.  Right at this junction leads past old mine workings (lead) at Victoria Aven onto Speedwell Pot which feeds vast quantities of water from Speedwell Cavern into Peak. It was interesting to learn that this pot was caped a few years ago with a giant concrete plug, the intention being to extend the tourist season by keeping some of the flood waters out of the cave.  Various muddy climbs over boulders and a sandy crawl ends at the Muddy Ducks which are nothing more than large puddles.  Once through these the passages become a larger phreatic tunnel called The Upper Gallery with two side passages leading off, one to Pickerings Passage and the other to a pot completely filled with fine sands which greatly impressed Mr. ‘N’ who had visions of exporting it all to Mendip to make cement and other such solid materials.  Easy going down, the Upper gallery turns to a short traverse to the Surprise View a 20ft fixed ladder down into the Main Stream Passage, the famous phreatic passage which is up to 50 feet high.  This magnificent passage can be followed up stream to the down stream end of Buxton Water Sump or up stream to Squalls Junction where the main Peak water enters at three waterfalls.  Near the junction we took a high level muddy crawl to the left which led to Lake Passage and Ink Sump, a beautifully clear green sump which has not been dived to any conclusion (at present unfortunately diving has been banned by the owners of Peak).

Back in the main stream the large tunnel continues past some very high evens to Far Sump which is about; 200 feet long.   As diving has been banned BCRA are trying to construct a large dam and lower the sump by bailing- such is their determination to extend the system.

After a soggy Mars Bar or two we returned to Squaws Junction and made our way via some of the muddiest passages I have ever been in, back to the Surprise View thus completing a very pleasant round trip.  A quick wash off in the streamway and we started to make our way out.

On the return journey some of us visited Pickerings Passage.  This awkward free climb is similar to Marble Pot in Cuthbert’s but larger and not so tight.  At the end of this passage is Moss Chamber where the unfortunate Neil Moss is still stuck in a narrow fissure half way up a steep stal flow.  Ironically the only formations in the whole cave are here.

Throughout the whole of this series and particularly in Moss Chamber are rusty relics still left from the attempts to rescue Moss from his fissure.  Thermos flasks, food tins and telephone wires are scattered about giving the place a morbid atmosphere.

We exited after a pleasant 5 hours underground and although not a hard cave, Peak makes a very satisfying and sporting trip.  Our thanks go to Pete Smith from BCRA who led the trip.

Another trip has been planned for later in the year, any member interested contact me as numbers are limited.  The exact date will be published in the B.B. as soon as it has been confirmed.


Cadbury Camp Mineshaft

By Tony Jarratt

On the weekend following the ‘Great Snowstorm’ the Belfry regulars were contacted by archaeologist and ex-club member, Keith Gardner, who wanted a mineshaft investigated.  The hole had appeared after the snow, on the wooded fortification of Cadbury Camp hill fort overlooking Yatton (NGR: ST 439650) immediately above the Country Club.  Bob Cross, John Dukes, Rog Sabid; and Wig bravely answered the call and John and Rog found the shaft to be approximately 150 feet deep, 8 - 10 feet in diameter at the top, tapering to about 5 feet at the bottom.

The first 8 feet or so is stone-lined and the rest is in solid limestone with a floor of rubble and earth at least 4 feet deep.  The shaft was partly covered with old railway lined and rotten timbers placed there after a previous collapse earlier this century.  No passages lead off the shaft and there are no signs of haulage marks on the sides or of any other mining remains in the immediate vicinity.  Shot holes were noticed in the shaft sides.

Various theories as to its use have been put forward, the most probable being that it is a trial shaft in search of iron ore, which was mined all along the hills as far as Winford, the nearest group of workings from Cadbury being in Kings Wood, half a mile away. Here there are many shallow shafts and levels driven insooth limestone and earth.  Suggestions as to its being a well are made doubtful by the dryness of the shaft, its position of only 50 feet from the steep hill-side and the fact that shaft bottom is about 85 feet above saturated moor level.

A dig at the bottom would prove interesting but rather difficult due to lack of dumping space - all spoil having to be hauled to the surface.  A few years ago a similar, though only 40 foot deep shaft opened up in the grounds of the Country Club and two others are rumoured to exist further along the ridge towards Claverham, though have not yet been investigated.

The Cadbury shaft is an excellent SRT practice site and the local council and commoners association have jointly paid for its capping and the provision of a manhole for access.  A 1” ring spanner and lifting key are required (a set will be kept in the Belfry).  Best access is from the ‘No Through Road’ ( Henley Lane) just past the Country Club going towards Yatton.  A public footpath leads to the foot of the hill and by climbing up through the woods behind the club the shaft can be found at the top.  Prospective diggers will need cutting gear to remove the five bar gate thrown down by local yobs!  A further pleasure of the site is its close proximity to Richard’s cider farm. Probably the best brew in the locality and £1-00 per gallon.

From the Tacklemaster

Ladders and ropes, too many to enumerate, are missing from the tackle store, with no indication of the borrowers or whereabouts in the tackle log.  Particularly annoying is the removal from the library a length of new super-braidline nylon before it had even been coded.  Somebody must know where it is.  Please return any tackle you have borrowed, whether booked out or not, as soon as possible, for checking.

REMEMBER – the tackle log has six columns:


Name;   Tackle description or number;     Cave/area;         Date out;           Signature;         Date in;

Code numbers are on ladder end rungs, on metal rings on ropes and on tags on tethers and spreaders.



compiled by Nipha

LONGWOOD SWALLET The Bristol Waterworks Company are fitting a new automatic pump into the pumping station above the entrance to farm. The pump will automatically switch on and off according to the water level in the reservoir not the local conditions of the stream.  Previously it has been manually operated.  The B.W.W. is placing a notice inside the cave entrance as shown below:




Under certain conditions this cave can be flooded without warning if pumps stop at the nearby pumping station.

Persons entering the cave do so at their own risk. They must be in possession of a current Charterhouse Caving Committee permit.


This will pose quite a problem for cavers as the stream under wet conditions will rise suddenly and without warning.  Though the blockhouse will divert a lot of the surface stream down the valley to the blocked Water Chamber entrance, it is probable that the water will seep through the boulders above the entrance shaft.  I am led to believe that a similar pump is to be installed at the pumping station above Swildon's entrance.  This could cause the M.R.O. to have quite a headache!  One only needs to remember the days when the pipe was removed from the ‘40’ – there was a callout every Saturday night for at least 6 weeks after at about 10.30pm.

The B.W.W. have issued the following warning to clubs:-



Longwood Cave has long been known to be dangerous because of the risk ff flooding from a stream.

That danger is even greater now because the cave is likely to flood more often.

Pumps that take water from the springs at Charterhouse will now stop working automatically.

This can cause a sudden flood wave, making some passages impassable and the exit and entrance extremely difficult to negotiate.

There are warning notices stressing this danger at the cave entrance.

Access to the cave is controlled by the Charterhouse Caving Committee, and only cavers holding a current permit should enter the cave.

T A K E   C A R E !


Ten Years Ago ..

A subject, still much talked about on Mendip, is the July Flood of 1968.  Ten years ago when many of the current bunch of cavers hadn't even thought of going caving on Mendip.  They certainly cannot remember the horror on the faces of cavers about at the time when they heard that the '40' had gone.  Anyone not realising the extent of the damage in the caves should read the July 1968 BB for a fairly comprehensive coverage of each affected cave.

CAMBRIDGE University 'Underground, 1978' has been donated to the Club Library. It contains several interesting articles including their activities in Austria on the Loser Plateau.  Also to be found is details of further work in Yorkshire.  Good reading and plenty of surveys.


The C.S.C.C. now control access to the cave through the S.C.C. under licence from the Somerset County Council.  Keys to BEC members can be obtained at the Belfry (the BEC will shortly be a shareholder in the SC Company.  Member clubs of the CSCC will have to pay £0.50 for access and non-member clubs of CSCC will be required to pay £2.00.  A £5.00 deposit is required from either type of club, this is, of course a returnable deposit.  The BEC and any other club who is a shareholder in the company will not have to pay the tackle fee.

Clubs wishing to obtain a Key, if not arranged through one of the shareholder clubs should write to

J. L. Thomas, 53 Warham Road, Harrow Weald, Middx.


One has heard on several occasions stories of caving operas made up by cavers, now a modern composer Klaus Cornell has written an oratorio entitled ‘Oratoria Spelaeologica’ after his visit to the well known Swiss show-cave Beatus Hohlen.  The work is in 5 movements and is a musical impression of the underground scenery and his personal feelings at the visit.  A record has been issued of this work that apparently has received several concert hall performances, complete with genuine underground sound effects (hopefully not those of genuine cavers!)  Milch (SMCC) came across this reference in a Dutch (?) motoring magazine, dated 8-7-76 and it is also mentioned in the 'Lquipe Speleo Bruxelles (73) p22 for December 1977.  At the moment, Milch, Ray Mansfield and Wig are desperately trying to find out who has made the recording and of course get a copy.  The owner of the shop frequented by ‘Wig’ was last seen scratching his head and burrowing into his great pile of import listings. It may be that the record has been issued locally in Switzerland by Claves – a Swiss record label.

Mendip Dig - news flashes:

WCC are digging at Limekiln, an old John Cornwell site; Elm Cave has been investigated by Wessex who have found that the water level in the flooded chamber is falling – they are sitting by the water waiting for the chance to dig.

Lionel's Hole - Andy Sparrow et. a1. are still pushing the new extension.  Pete Moody has dived the downstream sump for about 15-20ft.  The underwater passage is quite roomy, about 3ft square.  The terminal choke is being dug, a fair ol’ draught is reported to be whistling from it.

Viaduct Dig is progressing slowly but they are working towards an active stream passage.  A lot more banging is required before the 'Thrupe' diggers can get there.  The cave is now about 400ft. long and 90:ft. deep.

Wigmore Swallet - Tony Jarrett and Stu. Lindsey have been putting the finishing touches to the Winding Shaft ready for the capping and gating operation.  The BEC Committee have allocated £50 toward the cost of gating.

Box Mines - Stu Lindsey reports that the Cotham C.G. have found about 3,000ft of new passage, off the Clift workings.


In a letter from Stan Gee is a self portrait ‘Ready for a mountain walk’, here it is: reproduced faithfully by the BB editorial staff:-



'Pope'; our Rhodesian correspondent has sent through a newspaper cutting from the Rhodesia Herald, Salisbury (May 19th, 1978) headlined

"Valour award for Cave Action"

The following is a shortened version of the account:-

"A 40 minute fire fight inside a cave last September has earned a temporary lance corporal with the Rhodesian Light Infantry the Silver Cross Of Rhodesia for displaying, supreme valour in action ..... !

The Lance Corporal was in charge of a group of four men sweeping a hillside feature of reported terrorist presence.  The press report continues.  “During the sweep the officer commanding the troops followed a terrorist into a cave. Firing followed, and Lance Corpora1 Phillips realised the officer was lying injured inside the cave.  He and another non-commissioned officer made an attempt to rescue the wounded officer, but because he was inside the cave lying wedged between rocks, this was not possible.  It was apparent to the Lance Corporal that there were at least three armed terrorists inside the cave.   Because it would have been a hindrance, he put his rifle to one side, and armed only with a borrowed pistol entered the cave in another attempt to rescue the officer. Lance Corporal Phillips was subjected to heavy fire from a range of less than 5m ...... When Lance Corporal Phillips ran out of ammunition he withdrew from the cave to reload.  Back in the cave, he moved further inside, beyond the critically wounded officer, and provided covering fire against the remaining terrorists so that a medical orderly could enter the cave and remove the wounded officer.  Before this could be done the terrorists opened fire again and Lance Corporal Phillips moved deeper into the cave, killing one terrorist and wounding another. When the officer had been removed, Lance Corporal Phillips then used grenades to dispose of any remaining terrorists.  The cave was searched at first light and three terrorists were found dead.  A wounded terrorist left the cave by another exit during the night."

Apart from the stabbing incident between two cavers in Yorkshire a few years ago I wonder if this sets a record for the most unusual cave rescue incident?

New Mendip Surveys:

Thrupe Lane survey is available through the Mendip Survey Scheme and was also published in the S.M.C.C. Journal (Autumn 1977).

Wigmore Survey is ready and will be published in the BB as will Rocket Drop.


Dye Tracing At Wookey Hole

By Dr. W.I. Stanton

This article has been reprinted from the CDG newsletter with permission of the CDG Secretary

These experiments were devised in response to a suggestion by Martyn Farr that a repetition of the 1967 Cuthbert's - Wookey trace, with added detail, might allow prediction of the nature of the unexplored passages between the two known systems.  It was hoped in view of the very fast flow through time of eight hours, that the deep sump beyond Wookey 25 was the last. Vadose passages like those of Cuthbert's 2 might begin immediately upstream.

The plan was enthusiastically supported, and there were volunteers enough for all sampling (at 15 minute intervals) to be done manually.  Samples were run through the flourometer every two hours.  On 27.11.76 150 grams of flourescein were added to the Cuthbert's stream at the cave entrance, and the dye was followed underground. Travel time to Sump 1 was about 1.5 hours.  Soon after, Martyn Farr poured 40cc. of 20% Rhodamine WT solution into the Well at Wookey 25.  This began to appear at the resurgence 7 hours later.  The flourescein however did not come through, although sampling continued for 80 hours after input.  It might have been absorbed en-route by the peaty water that we had stirred up in the Mineries swamps during the input.  There was considerable despondency.

One thing was clear; flow-through was very much slower than in the 1967 test.  It was natural to suppose that this was because the river was at medium stage, whereas in 1967 it had been in flood.  Theoretically if the volume of ponded water back in the sumps (phreatic storage) is very large, as is obviously the case at Wookey, the total amount of water in the system decreases by a rather small percentage, as the flow drops from flood to draught conditions.  In this system when the flow halves, flow-through time will almost double (twice as slow).  In a vadose streamway like Cuthbert's the converse applies; the volume of water in the system shrinks very considerably as the flow falls, so that flow-through time lengthens only slightly.

Bristol Waterworks has a continuous flow measuring station on the River Axe downstream of the resurgence. Flow during the 1967 test was about 40mgd. (million gallons per day) whereas in the 1976 test it was (roughly, as the gauge was malfunctioning) 1.5mgd.  Another trace was attempted on 4.6.77 using Rhodamine W.T. for both inputs. Dave Morris poured 40cc. of the dye into the Axe at Sting Corner and a few hours later I added 100cc to the stream at Cuthbert's entrance. To avoid more caver frustration a mechanical sampler was used at the resurgence but the result was operator frustration, as the clockwork timer worked in fits and starts.  Nevertheless enough data were obtained for conclusions to be drawn.

The Sting Corner dye resurged in about 15 hours and the Cuthbert's dye in about 68 hours.  Flow was fairly low at the time: about 5mgd. I concluded from this result that the volume of water in the Cuthbert’s Wookey system upstream of Sting Corner was roughly three times the volume downstream of it.  The time differences between traces, as already mentioned, show that much of this volume is sump. Probably therefore large deep sumps continue for a long way upstream of Wookey 25.

The theory outlined above does not take into account of diminishing bore sizes as the channel is followed upstream past, confluences, such as that of the Swildon's and Cuthbert's waters.  However it seems not unreasonable to suppose that the ratio of average phreatic bore size to average flow remains roughly constant, in which case the argument would still apply.


The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.

EDITOR: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset. Tele: Priddy 369


Next month will see in the start of a new club year and of Course the AGM and Annual Dinner.  What follows is all the paperwork you will need for the EGM and AGM including the Officers Reports that have been vetted by the committee at their August meeting.

E.G.M. of B.E.C. to be held at the Belfry at 10.00 (not 10.30) a.m. on Saturday 7th October 1978. This meeting has been called by the 1977/1978 Club Committee.

1.                  Election of Chairman

2.                  Motion proposing a revised club Constitution (a draft copy was circulated with the August B.B.)


Annual General Meeting of the B.E.C. to be held at the Belfry on Saturday 7th 1978.  Time - to commence on conclusion of the E.G.M.


1.                  Election of Chairman

2.                  Election of Minutes Secretary

3.                  Collection of members resolutions

4.                  Minutes of the 1977 AGM

5.                  Matters Arising from the Minutes of the 1977 AGM

6.                  Hon. Sees Report

7.                  Hon. Treasurers Report

8.                  Auditors Report

9.                  Caving Secs Report

10.              Climbing Secs Report

11.              Tacklemasters Report

12.              Hut Wardens Report

13.              B.B. Editors Report

14.              Election of B.B. Editor

15.              Librarians Report

16.              Publication Officers Report

17.              Election of Club Trustees (dependent upon EGM)

18.              Election of Officers (dependent upon EGM)

19.              Members Resolutions

20.              A.O.B.


Hon. Sec's Report

This year has been a busy one; in committee and within the Club, both on the caving side and socially.

The Committee has, been involved with setting up the sub-committee to review the constitution and much good work has been done by this body, particularly Martin Cavender, who without his help on the legal side many problems could not have been overcome. Martin has also helped solve the problems of Club Trustees and this should be overcome in the near future. The club has maintained its membership numbers with one or two exceptions, but we have been pleased to welcome some new members.  The committee has been more selective regarding new members and several were deferred, mainly because they were not known well enough.  It is interesting to note that the average age of new members is rising, and is about 24-25 now.

Socially, the regulars have enjoyed several (!!) of the usual 'Belfry Barrels' on Saturday night. Together with one or two birthday, celebrations and the midsummer buffet, these have made for an enjoyable year fitting in with, but not deterring the main activity of the club, caving.  As indicated by Nigel Taylor's report, the caving scene has been encouragingly active both on and off Mendip.  The Club now appears to be functioning much more happily and hopefully will do so in the future.

I have been in attendance at various CSCC meetings and it now looks as if the south is getting some sense from other regions which the club supports and we shall continue to pressure NCA into what we believe is the correct way of doing things.

At the CCC meeting, some nonsensical proposals were passed regarding the restriction of the time limit on permits, but the club now opposes these and action has been taken to remedy the situation.

Our activities, both caving and social have involved us with other clubs - liaison with our friends near and far being most welcome.  I hope we can look forward to continued progress during the coming year.

Tim Large

Hut Engineer's Report

I was co-opted on to the Committee in the middle of May this year, as a result of the resignation from the post of Engineer of Martin Bishop.  At that time, the hut was in a reasonable state bearing in mind the considerable use it had been put to by the club and the Royal Navy.  Maintenance has continued piecemeal since then, with minor jobs being attended to whenever time and help was available.

A brief summary of work done, not necessarily in order: Clothes line re-erected; double-drainer sink fitted under water heater; heater removed, cleaned, refitted; wall to window ledge under heater tiled; outside guttering repaired; hole adjacent to drinking pool backfilled and re-turfed; window frames painted outside; septic tank excavated and inspected (work in hand); lockers painted, inventory of Belfry tools and possessions made, ventilator fitted above cookers.

A lot of work still needs to be done, mainly: alterations to tackle store, providing a larger store/workshop; soak away needs finishing; Belfry drive and car park needs some chippings; large amounts of walls, doors and ceilings need repainting and the showers need some efficient form of ventilation.

I hope that, if I am re-elected, or indeed if someone else is voted Engineer, the regular members will help continue the work on our most valuable asset.

Bob Cross


Hut Warden’s Report


In general, running the Belfry has been relatively easy this year; numbers staying at the hut have been evenly divided between members and guests.  A noticeable drop in the bookings from groups bring large parties to the hut has occurred.  This, I think, is party due to the introduction of the three tier system. The introduction of the three tier system has caused a few misunderstandings amongst a number of our members but I hope these have now been cleared up.   Admittedly there are areas for improvements.

During the course of the year the Belfry has been used as a venue for NCA, CSCC and ISC meetings.  A number of foreign cavers were made very welcome by the Belfryites during the ISC and it is hoped made some useful contacts. It’s really amazing how quickly Australians pick up Anglo-Saxon.

The hut has been reasonably clean and tidy over the past twelve months although there have been occasions when things have lapsed.  Much work in and around the Belfry is still to be done and I feel that it is rather a pity that more attention is not paid to this part of club activities.  A good deal of tidying up has been done but once again by the same old people who are doing the work and sacrificing much of their time in the process.  The excuse that no-one knows what needs doing does not carry any weight – you only have to ask.


This year, hut takings are upon last year but this is chiefly due to the Navy groups from HMS Daedalus who have increased their number of visits.  The financial position is as follows: -

Hut fees, publications and spares, showers and tackle fees etc……………£670

Navy parties (paid up)……………………………………………………...£170

Navy parties (due up to 31st July)……………………………………….....£190


The above figures are shown simply as monies paid over to the Hon. Treasurer after day to day expenses for repairs and maintenance of the hut – they are exclusive of overheads such as electricity, gas and rates.

From an inspection of the books for 1976-77 it may be seen that the hut fees and scales are approx. the same this year as last year’s figures. As I have already explained the Navy mid-week parties have provided our largest increase, in the region of £250 on last year.

Still on the subject of money – overdue hut fees are still outstanding.  At last years AGM, my attention was drawn to the large amounts of outstanding fees.  Of these I have managed to collect a fair proportion, what remains I have brought forward on to this years of outstanding fees to ensure that these debts are not forgotten.  It is hoped that a large proportion of these will be paid up by the time of the AGM.

It now remains, in conclusion, to thank people who have helped out on various occasions and made my job easier in the past twelve month’s reign of terror.

Chris Batstone


Caving Sec’s Report

I am pleased to report that the club has had a good and active caving year.  To give you some idea of the members activities I have examined all three caving logs and the following figures may be of interest to members.  These are based on the period 1st October 1977 to 23rd July 1978 and obviously are only those recorded by obliging and dutiful members,

St. Cuthbert's

32 general members trips, 4 club digging and 32 guest trips of which’s 7 were private Cerberus Speleo Soc; 2 WCC; 1 SMCC giving a total of 68 trips.

The Leaders Meeting was held on the 30th October 1977 in Cerberus Hall, St. Cuthbert's and was attended by 11 BEC and 5 guest leaders of which 2 were S:MCC and 2 Cerberus with the fifth being an independent leader.

General Mendip

The log records some 90 Mendip general trips and 30 digging trips – not surprisingly Swildons was favourite showing 25 visits, GB - 16, Manor Farm -9, August Longwood - 5 and Eastwater - 7 whilst the remainder covered the other smaller Mendip caves with 28 associated visits.

Wigmore Swallet, the only BEC official club dig bore the brunt of much fevered digging activity and was to a small extent a minor success with a fine 30ft entrance shaft some 15ft x 10ft at the top and some approx. 200ft to its name.  Lionel's Hole at Burrington is proving a good success but these details have appeared in the BB also some work has been attempted at Sludge Pit renewed activity has restarted in St. Cuthbert's at Sump 1.


16 trips have been made in this period to Yorkshire.  Juniper Gulf, White Scar, Long Churn, Marble Pot, Bar Pot, Heron Pot, Gaping Gyhll, Disappointment Pot, Kingsdale Master Cave, Tatum Wife, Dow Cave and Dowber Gill Passage, Yordas, County Pot, and King Pot being visited.

South Wales

South Wales has been the second most favourite area with some 8 trips, those being into Rock and Fountain, OFD, Porth yr Ogof, Pant Mawr Pot, Tunnel and Agen Allwedd.


6 trips have been made to this area, the caves visited being Speedwell Cavern, Giants, Oxlow Cavern, Peak Cavern and P8.

Other Areas

Two Otter Hole trips are recorded in the Forest of Dean area and to prove that the BEG get everywhere there has been one trip to Sutherland end a visit to Fingels Cave, furthermore at the moment several of our members are abroad on expeditions to Austria and France amongst other areas.

During my year of office there has been much political activity on both National and local level - but though same of this is allegedly associated with caves and caving I have no intention whatsoever to mention any of this in nor report simply for personal reasons.  I neither enjoy nor indulge in such activities as I feel these are best left to others and not to the club caving sec.

Initially, at the start of my year of office, I attempted to arrange some regular meets and jointly with the Climbing Secretary, several requests for ideas were put in the B. B. - the response was overwhelming – nil!

Accordingly I decided and made public my intentions not to make any arrangements, several of us instead – making known locally our intentions of away trips to Derbyshire and Yorkshire and simply seeing who turned up.  This approach seems to be what the active BEC bod prefers.

One point of issue that I wish to bring before the AGM is the somewhat dubious state of the fixed tackle in St. Cuthbert's of which I believe next years committee should be made aware, Arête Pitch ladder and fixing chain, the positioning of a proper rawlbolt in the entrance rift are just two of the problems.

Also I wish to suggest to the persons to whom it concerns that when any dig is undertaken, it is not an official club dig until a request for such has been made to the club committee for insurance and other reasons.  Furthermore, much of our digging gear has been abandoned around disused digs and sites thus depriving others if its use and also leaving the club open to possible criticism.

Lastly I must state that I stood last year for election to the club committee and was obviously successful, however my belief that a members who stands as such must be prepared to tackle any job of elected was truly tested as no other person at the tie wanted the post!  However, I am now aware of the fact, I will return to regular uniform duties as of May 1979, I cannot guarantee that if I were to stand and be elected to the new committee that I should manage to attend every monthly meeting therefore I am now putting myself forward as a general candidate for the new committee only on the clubs acceptance of that position.

May I wish my successor well with his endeavours.

Nigel P. Taylor
July 1978


Librarians Report

It is gratifying to be able to report that the library is being used to a fair degree as a reference source and for general reading.  During the year the usual additions have been made from various club exchanges but I feel that a major overhaul of our exchange list is overdue.  Several clubs have stopped publishing and until they resume their publications, the BB exchange should be dropped.

Several items have been purchased and many donations have been received including maps, club journals and books.  To all who have contributed our thanks.  Members who have caving material that is gathering dust on their shelves could possible consider donating this material to the club collection before disposing of it into the dustbin.  The black side is the loss of several items mainly CRG Transactions and a couple of books. Personally I believe that they have been taken out without the borrower recoding the details of the relevant book. Would people concerned please return these items or inform next years Librarian of their whereabouts.

Space is now a major problem and the wardrobe in the Library is to be revamped to house a larger part of the collection.  This will cost a few pounds but considering the value of the collection, both from a monetary point of view as a reference source, this will be money well spent.

I would like to records our thanks to Kay Mansfield for binding up a large number of the club periodicals which incidental, she has been doing for a number of years now.

Having done this job for six years I feel that it is time someone else should take over.  Six years is too long in any Club post.  However, having said that I am prepared to continue if the Club so wishes.

Dave Irwin

Climbing Secs. Report

The Climbing section whilst almost, grind slowly to an imperceptible crawl over the last year. BEC members visited Austria and small parties made forays into North Wales; The Lakes etc.  The faithful few still keep the name alive but I think the roll of climbing Sec. be amalgamated with another committee post.

Russ Jenkins.


B.B. Editors Report

It is with some concern that I give this report as I know that several club members do not approve of the style of the BB's I have produced in the last year.  Having said that I do not intend to enter into a long dissertation on the matter except to say that I seriously believe that the BB must reflect the activities of the current active membership of the club and be a source of information on caving and climbing matters generally.  It should also be to a standard requested by the active membership - if it fails to meet this demand we might as well resort to the armchair.  The position of the BB in its relation to the Caving Reports including 'Cave Notes' has been very much misunderstood by several members over the last few years. The BB contains articles of a general nature, whereas the single topic material of a more serious and original nature left placed in the Caving Reports.

The club purchased a new batch of covers at the beginning of 1977 when the format changed from A5 to A4 but these have only lasted until August this year.  To get us off the hook, Garth Dell printed a number of covers, sufficient for the next 18 months or so.

The Club should also investigate the possibilities of purchasing a printing machine.  Up to date we have survived by individuals owning such a machine.  Alfie bought the off-set litho machine some years ago and gave me the Gestetner. When Alfie stopped printing the BB last year so went the use of the offset litho machine.  The Gestetner is currently being used and as far as I'm concerned this is club property but it will not last forever.

During the course of this year, the Committee sanctioned the purchase of 100 reams of paper at £1.12p per ream.  This is not ideal paper for the duplicator but it prints adequately though perhaps not with the same clarity if we were using the good quality Gestetner paper. But events forced us to make such a purchase as the cost of Gestetner paper rose from £:2.50 to £3.60 in less than five months.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all members who have contributed material and ask them to be patient if their material is not published immediately - topicality is given first priority.  I've been fortunate this year in that there has not been any shortage of material - so keep it up please.  Secondly I must thank those members who have helped in many ways - typing, printing, collating at the Belfry.  There are a few names I must record in my thanks, Maggie Large for a considerable amount of typing; John Dukes for printing and Mike and Pattie Palmer for the postal and distribution.  Incidentally, Mike has done a grand job in the hand distribution - he has reached 30% of the club membership.

The BB Editor is now in a unique position as he is elected by the AGM after the precedent set by the 1977 AGM.  If anyone is prepared to take over the job they are welcome but in not I'm prepared to continue if members feel that the end product is to their requirements,

Dave Irwin

Publication Editor’s Report

There have been no publications this year and no new ones ere envisaged for the immediate future. I have not been able to put sufficient time into the job, and none of my anticipated timetable worked out in practice. The facilities available to me are no longer in existence.

The Cuthbert’s Reports have progressed a little, and thanks are due to Glenys Bezant for typing proof copies for photocopying offset plates.

It has been decided to alter the format of the Burrington Atlas, since there are several alterations or additions to be made to this publication.

I hope that someone with more energy, time and enthusiasm will be prepared to take on the post next year, as I do not think it fair to hang on to a job which I have not done well.

Graham Wilton-Jones


Tacklemaster’s Report

My report this year is one long moan.

I have spouted enough on previous occasions about taking proper care of equipment we have, about using the tackle log correctly and keeping the store neat and tidy.  The moan is about missing tackle this year. In particular we still have five lifelines missing, one being a brand new length of superbraidline nylon left in the Library until I could label it.  At one time all the older tethers were missing, though one turned up recently in a totally useless condition.  Several ladders are also missing.  For a short period of time, even the tackle log went missing.  The missing equipment cannot be accounted for by going through the tackle log to find who borrowed it, for it just has not been signed out.  After I mentioned the loss of certain items of tackle in the BB some months ago, two ladders and a rope, in a disgusting state, were returned.  That was all.

Thanks once again to Mike Palmer for the plentiful supply of C links.  Most of these have been used for the manufacture of new tethers which have now gone into circulation.

The superbraidline that was not stolen has been cut into lengths of 50ft, 100ft and 150ft.  It is kept in the roof along with other reserve store tackle such as the lightweight ladder.  During the last weekend in august the roof was broken into again yet again.  How long will the reserve tackle be safe?

Reserve tackle has been mixed up with equipment from the ordinary store, and lightweight ladder has been used for general trips on Mendip.  The arguments against this practice should by now be well known. The lightweight gear is not substantial enough to withstand constant use, and is reserved for the use solely away from Mendip.

To return to the original moan, I cannot see the Club sanctioning the expenditure of further monies on tackle while the current phase of misuse continues, nor can I justify any request from me for extra equipment.  That I can see is the restriction of tackle by removing it from the Belfry site, a very sorry but seemingly necessary state of affairs.

Graham Wilton-Jones

Nigel Jago

Members will be shocked by the tragic loss of Nigel Jago who was fatally injured at work on Friday 1st September 1978.  His work for the Club as Climbing secretary and climbing generally are well known to members of the club. 

Our deepest sympathies to Sue and the children.


Twenty Years Ago In The BB

Memory Joggers

compiled by Martin Bishop

I decided a few weeks ego, to dig back through some old BB's and see what I could find.  After awhile I thought, why not sort out a few articles and republish them.  So, I've picked out a few from the year of 1958 to start with.  I feel that these snippets will not only jog a few memories, but also bring home to some of the new members that things at the Belfry really ain’t so different today.

Mat 1958 'Cooking for Cavers I

Baked Beans a la Hobbs
Ingredients: 1 tin baked beans
1 bottle Coate's Triple Vintage Cider

Method:  Stagger from bed.  Cast bleary eye around kitchen.  Locate ingredients.  Imbibe sufficient liquid from bottle to find tin opener.  Open tin.  Imbibe more liquid to fortify constitution.  Wait until floor becomes steady before lighting gas.  Catch sight of beans.  Close eyes and reach for bottle.  Swallow.  Repeat as necessary.  Turn beans out carefully into saucepan.  Finish bottle to settle stomach.  Throw beans into rubbish bin.


You really don't change, do you Sid!

October 1958 Extract from the Log.  22-23 Sept 1958.  St. Cuthbert's.

A party of four, including Mike Wheadon, Mike Palmer, Albert Francis and Prew went down at 8.30pm and went straight to Catgut Extension.  Went into the chamber found by Mike Wheadon on the 21st September. SIZE IS SIMILAR TO THAT OF QUARRY CORNER.  THE FORMATIONS AT THE TOP END ARE PROBABLY AMONG  THE FINEST IN THE ENTIRE CAVE.  The chamber was named September Chamber.  At the bottom of third chamber, a small hole leads to a chamber in the centre of which was an aven.  The top could only just be seen with the aid of a powerful lamp.  Height is over a hundred feet.  From here a bedding plane continues down dip to an old stream passage having excellent formations.  This carried on until a T-junction was reached.  Left is a short passage.  Right goes for about 70-100ft and many ways still to be looked at.  Series is called September Series.

November 1958 re Old Stone Belfry.  New Hut

We still need willing hands to build this new hut.  When you next use the Belfry, think of those past club members who put it up so that YOU could be comfortable on Mendip.  Now’s your chance to do your bit!  Remember there are FREE bed nights for all who WORK at this job.

For those who prefer to sing their notices, we have:-

“Cavers sitting in a daze
By the stove’s heat-giving rays.
Foremen form the building bawls,
Stop flipping rays and raise flipping walls.”


The Grand Tour - Caving Style,

by our Manchester exile - Nigel Dibben.

For the last two years, a course at Manchester University has seriously limited the amount of caving that I have been able to fit in (cries of AH! from the wings).  So to make up for, this, I arranged not to start work until late August end to get five weeks on the Continent beforehand.

The symposium in Bristol on Northern Spain gave a good opportunity to get up to date on what was happening there and to meet again some of the MUSSS cavers.  As a result, the first stopping point was to be Spain, followed by Italy where Stan Gee would be in late July and France where I would take pot-luck on who I would meet.

I left for Spain on 5th July and travelled via the Belfry, Weymouth, Cherbourg, Nantes etc and reached Spain on Friday evening to find the only MUSS member there at the time in one of the bars!  As no other cavers were expected to arrive until the following Monday or Tuesday, we went for the weekend to the Picos de Europa to visit Lancaster University SS at their remote camp at Tresviso (2 hours walk or 1 hour by Land Rover from the nearest road!) and to walk up to the spectacular Cares Gorge where the footpath is cut into or through the mountainside some 500ft from the bottom and another 500ft from the top - at the least.

Back at Matienzo, the first group of cavers arrived on Tuesday so the serious business of caving began on Wednesday.  MUSS technique is quite simple and very pleasant; every day starts at the bar at midday, no cave is entered until at least 2p.m., exit around 8 - 10 p.m. and then keep the bar open until 1 or 2 a.m., or later every other day or so.  By this method, we spent nine out of the next ten days underground pushing and surveying 1.5km in  Solviejo (the local name meaning “Old Sun”) discovering and surveying in a large a cave 300m long by 50+m deep (Torca Mustajo) revisiting sites found previously but never before entered and doing a few ‘pleasure’ trips.

Undoubtedly the best of the latter was a trip into the massive Uzueka system which at present consists of about 15km of passage – most of this forming the length of the cave as opposed to being maze work as in some other ‘long’ systems.  The particular aim on this trip was to visit an aven about halfway along the cave.  Named the Astradome, this aven is certainly the most spectacular that I have ever seen being perfectly cylindrical and about 60-70ft in diameter.  The echo in the oven is quite incredible us the sound reflects straight up from a pool of on the floor, and down from – we presume - the roof.  For some time there had been a considerable amount of speculation about how high the aven was: - 100ft, 100m, 1000ft?  Various estimates had been made.  It was certain that the top could not be seen with a spot-focus beam so at least it must have been more than 100ft.  Our technique was novel, to say the least; a bottle of helium had been obtained together with some weather balloons kindly donated by their manufacturer.  Being the only diver on the party, Salford Pete (Bolton Speleo Club) was volunteered to carry in the bottle which was the size of a ‘40’ (I think).  The balloon was sent up with a length of light string attached and a definite roof was reached against which the balloon bounced.  Unfortunately the roof must be decorated with straw stals, one of which punctured the balloon which descended a bit more rapidly than was intended. (There was still enough helium left to give some fun breathing it in and speaking with ‘Mickey Mouse’ voices, although we decided to stop that when we became dizzy – 3 miles from the surface!

Anyway, to cut the story short, the string was measured outside the bar that night and found to be EXACTLY 100m long which, with the height of the holder, gave an overall height of 100m to the aven.

After this period of activity, I felt I was due for a bit more relaxation so I joined Stan in Italy.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon after two days driving (nearly 900 miles as far as from Stockport to Matienzo) I met up with Stanley in the Rifugio Pietrapana after a brisk walk from the village of Levigliani.  For two days there was no caving to be done so I made do with a couple of walks and hill climbs until The Bradford Pothole Club arrived to visit the Antro del Corchia.

This fine system had been the target of a number of expeditions by the DCC in the late 60's and early'70's and in 1973 I had done the through trip from the original entrance to the lower entrance - Buca del Serpente.  The BPC split their assault into two days, the first spent tackling as far as the stream passage, which is only reached after a couple of hours in dry passage; the second day was spent bottoming the cave in 13 hours and de-tackling completely.  The cave is best appreciated in this way as the tackling trip can be taken at a leisurely pace in dry kit with time for a visit to the fine Stalagmite Gallery whereas the second day is taken a bit more rapidly in wetsuits down the very sporting streamway to the bottom.  The biggest pitches are 100ft and 140ft, all the rest being 25 to 30ft and the trip involves every sort of caving except the worse sorts of flat out crawling.  I highly recommend it as a sporting cave with depth.

After the Corchia, I rejoined Stan and two Italian cavers from Gruppo Speleologico Verona (who had been to Mendip last September).  For two days we went caving in the area around the Rifugio at Buca del Cane (visited by DCC in 1973) and some little known shafts on Monte Freddone.  Caving with Italians is an education in itself - but when one of them is known to have some rather unusual ideas, about pitch-rigging, it becomes a bit hair raising too.  We were prussiking on alpine ropes (i.e. knicker-elastic) using the continental technique of rigging pitches designed: -

a)       to ensure that the trip takes as long as possible (add at least half an hour a pitch)

b)       to ensure that the safety of every member of the party is put at the greatest possible risk possible

c)       to ensure that as much equipment is required as possible and that preferably as much is damaged or left in the cave as can be.

In short, I did not really approve.  The technique amounted to putting a new bolt at the top of each pitch over 50ft (whether necessary or not) and belaying a loop of the rope to it so that, one had to change ropes, often 100ft from the floor.  In one case, at the top of a 140ft pitch, this supplementary bolt pulled out when I was 10ft below it - 20ft from the TOP of the pitch.  After a 10ft free-fall and a few well chosen words, it was necessary to prussic up past the knot that was all that remained of this ‘safety’ device.  The moral is to avoid continental rigging (they didn’t seem to use any natural belays or rope protectors) and to carry a 'cow's tail on your sit-harness.

However, after two weeks in Italy, Stan was leaving for home so I drove back into France to the Vercors in the hope of meeting some other DCC members there. The DCC had moved on so during a day of torrential rain (lasting 36 hours non-stop) I went to four show caves in the area.  At the last one visited, I met up with some members of the Worth Valley Caving Club who kindly let me join their ‘expedition’ for the rest of the week. Their aim was not to find anything new but merely to enjoy a couple of weeks unrestricted caving in the fine systems in the area.  So we spent the next three days looking into caves that were not too badly affected by the earlier rain.  Eventually, all good things have to come to an end and so on the 11th August I set off back home, stopping once in France and arriving at Stockport on the Saturday night.

My gratitude must go to the members of MUSS, DCC, BPC, GSV and WVCC with whom I caved and to divine providence that allowed me to cover over 4,000 miles in a Bedford van without any breakdowns!


G.G. Winch Meet Whitsun 1978

By Glynis Beszant

 (Ed. note: I feel, after the thoughts of Chairman Wilton-Jones in the last few issues this article reflects the female mind when the men are underground!!  Still it’s good to see the girls writing their side of the caving saga!)

A party of three BEC members which comprised of G.W-J, Martin Grass and myself arrived rather late at the BPC dump; the lateness was due to us sharing the idea of going north with half the populace of London.  However, we, got there to see Rich Websell and Rob Palmer of the Wessex and as it was 2 a.m. we thought we’d be friendly and phone the Belfry just to check that the rest were coming up next day - as well as speaking to the Wessex, of course!

Next morning the condemned (me) ate a hearty breakfast before we drove to Crummock where we’d start the walk to G.G.  After packing our rucksacks so that we could carry more beer and less clothes, we set out with a full pack apiece and Graham with an additional suitcase.  He would insist that it was what the best dressed walker carried.  After walking up and down dale in the blistering sun with a stop every twenty minutes or so for Graham to relieve his suitcase arm and for me to reduce to a grease spot we were diverted by the sound of banging.  Arriving over the next hump we saw various BPC members digging away at a small shakehole ( Yorkshire’s picked up some Mendip habits after all).  We stayed around until the next lot of bang went off then completed the last leg to arrive knackered, at Gaping Gill.

After a very disbelieving welcome from the Bradford, after all we had promised faithfully for three years running and only made it this year, we looked around for somewhere to camp.  As all the ground near the beck was covered in a multitude of canvas we decided to pitch the tents at the top of the incline near the elsan tent, Bradford reckoned it eminently suitable for the BEC.

After hanging around for a couple of hours Tim L, Andy Sparrow and Backbone turned up with one rucksack full of compo rations – I wonder where they got them (?).  After eating we decided to go and identify some holes.  Graham, guidebook in hand, led the way.  We had an uneventful time chucking rocks down holes until we got to Marble Pot when after lobbing down huge boulders Andy heard a noise.  A lamb was at the bottom of the pitch.  The more athletic hacked back to camp for ropes.  On their return the ropes were lowered, the lamb fixed into slings and hoisted to the surface.  We returned to the beer tent and went to bed.  We were all wakened, except Martin, at 3am by the Bradford beating beer barrels around the tent!

Martin, Sparrow and Batstone went down the winch next day to look at Mud Hall and Sand Caverns and came up the winch much later to sunbathe.  Chris Batsone had warned them of unusual formations in Sand caverns before the trip and sure enough there was a pile of t..ds just waiting to be discovered by the BEC. Tim and Bassett in the meantime decided to take a million foot of rope that Graham had brought up back to the camp back to the car and to replenish our beer stocks.  On their return the variety of beer cans acquired from the pub put the idea of collecting empties to decorate the Belfry into Tim’s mind. This had alarming results as he promptly jumped into the rubbish pit to collect various cans only half an hour after the elsans had been emptied there.  Tim and G.W-J then went down Disappointment to Far Country and planned to come up on the winch.  However due to the drive wheel on the winch breaking (they had a spare) the queue was 3½ hours long and so our errant heroes came out Bar Pot.  During this time Martin had become Red Cross Brigade sending soup down to the frozen cavers in the windy bottom of the Main Chamber.

Dinner was late that night and the beer tent was first priority.  In the night Martin was awakened to Bassetts bare buttocks protruding in the tent - he'd been woken by a sheep rummaging in the rubbish pit and had got up to chase it out.  I must add that the sheep had proved a bit of a problem this weekend.  Apart from being brazen enough to filch food from around the tents and falling into caves AND the rubbish pit, they also had a curious effect on people.  Pete Faulkner was seen running a complete circuit around the top of GG shouting obscenities at woolly beasties and even Backbone was heard to shout 'mint sauce' at frequent intervals.

Next morning we woke to find that Tim had already walked to the top of Ingleborough and back in time for breakfast (mad fool).  After breakfast is when my purgatory began.  I had used every excuse not to go down the winch - even the lack of the £1 needed.  So they had a whip round (I think Tim footed most of the bill) to send me down.  The hour of torture began and I was, sent down after Tim.  The first 20ft over the overhand was alright but the speed after that convinced me the cable had broken.  A scream rent the air much to the amusement of those on the surface and I ended at the bottom an embarrassment to the BEC being in tears and calling for help to get me out.  A slightly nonplussed Tim hoiked me out and when I'd recovered showed me round the majestic splendour of GG Main Chamber!  Why isn't there an easier way down?

On the way up I decided that the speed down, if not right, for descent would be bloody marvellous for the ascent.  Still I tried to be stoic and fixed my eyes ahead, not looking up or down.  On reaching the surface a stream of abuse issued from the winch chair much to the amazement of Martin who was so sure I would have enjoyed it.  Tim got into the chair next and spent the next minute blowing his whistle for ascent - he didn’t' know the winch was broken - again.  Eventually Tim was brought up only to be showered with water by Graham.

Camp was struck, loaded into rucksacks and we walked back to Crummock rescuing two more sheep from Car Pot on the way.  There's something most peculiar about that route - it, took three hours to come up and 45 minutes to get back!  We loaded up the cars and sped off to Austwick and the Fighting Cocks where we were refreshed with ale and sandwiches.

Kingsdale was next port of call and martin, Sparrow and Bassett sweated up to Heron to abseil through and exit at the lower entrance.  Batstone and Tim investigated Yordas cave while I caught up oh my suntan. When the Heron crew joined us it was decided to abseil down Yordas Pot and out the cave.  Much discussion followed as to which rope to use on Tim’s 160ft pitch.  Graham had a 120ft rope which he was prepared to use but Tim wanted to try his new 160ft rope.  Just as well the later was used as the pitch turned out to be 80ft!  A quick brew up and we zoomed down to Keld Head for the lads in black rubber to wash and cool off.  By this time Sparrow was becoming very agitated about the time he would get back to Mendip as it might be too late to get his leg……well it’s a bit personal, you know what I mean!!

At last we were squeezing ourselves into cars already full to bursting with tents etc., and began the long haul down the motorway back the smoke - all slightly overdone with suntan but otherwise rather satisfied with the weekend.


Letters To The Editor

To the Editor, B.B.

Arriving at the Belfry on the 28th July (Friday afternoon) I was somewhat staggered by the absolute chaos and filthy mess within.

The furniture, such as it is, was completely soaked and thrown about the room, every article of cutlery was dirty and left in a heap on the worktop.  The whole hut smelt like a cow shed with rotting food, stale air and a general smell of filth.

I'm not saying that the type of piss up that resulted in this mess should not happen in the shed but the members involved (some of them of many years standing) should ensure that the place in cleaned up afterwards.  I hope other members will support any action that the Committee might care to take.  If anybody thinks this is the pot calling the kettle black, I clean up, my mess.

Trev Hughes, Aug 1978.


To the Editor, BB - A letter to the Pigs…

 (Pigs being the obnoxious members/non-members/guests using the Belfry)

On 3 or 4 occasions during, the past couple of months the Belfry has been left in a deplorable state. On one occasion during midweek it took about an hour to clean the hardened spilt food and grease from, the table and cooking areas, clean the sink and do the, washing up.  NOW this weekend 27th-28th July, the Friday night arrivals found they not only had to wash up partly cleaned cutlery etc., but after their labours found the furniture soaking wet, also the bunkroom backdoor was left open, a good job the recent invasions of undesirables were off to parts further north!  With attitudes such as these no wonder the Hut Warden has found it necessary to remove the greatest part of the cooking utensils only leaving a few tea-mugs out.

It also appears that an apathy of doing things in half measures is becoming incumbent amongst Belfryites, half the tackle store done and half the half made cess pit has been started.

Stu Lindsey.



by Tim Large

The lifeline can finally be belayed this month.  I hope it has been able to keep members, particularly those absent from Mendip, in touch with the clubs activities.

The Club has had the offer of some very cheap foam mattresses end has decided to purchase 100 of these to keep the bunkroom well provided for.  Also Tom Temple has donated a small number waterproof mattresses which will come in useful for the more incontinent amongst us.

At last we have the details for the purchase of Club sweatshirts.  The price will be about £5 being in one colour - NAVY with a white design incorporating Bertie.  A limited quantity will be purchased to begin with so if you are interested contact John Dukes - cash with order - sizes are small, medium and large.

I understand that the Cambrian Caving Council intend to vote against any NCA Constitutional changes proposed by the CSCC at the forthcoming NCA AGM in January 1979.  It appears that again they are not taking any notice of the views of the grass roots cavers.  If this is the case the Club will support any action intended stop this unacceptable attitude.  This could involve a boycott of the NCA AGM by CSCC which would mean that the meeting would be inquorate and no decisions could be made.

Ben Lyon of Whernside Manor has sent out a questionnaire on cave usage in the Dales.  Apparently the Yorkshire Dales National Park intends to judge the value on any cave site and the frequency of visitors.

If any cave is only visited once per year, does it make it less important than one that has weekly visits by the hordes?  We would oppose closing of any cave regardless of its popularity.  What may be a lesser known cave today could be the King Pot of tomorrow.

The Committee have decided to publish the attendance record of this years Committee meetings they are as follows: -

Committee member













Dave Irwin













Tim Large













Martin Bishop













Graham Wilton-Jones













Russ Jenkins






Resigned from attending meetings in February with committee’s approval.

Barrie Wilton













Nigel Taylor













Alfie Collins




Chris Batstone













John Dukes

(co-opted in February)









Martin Grass

(co-opted in February)









Bob Cross

(co-opted in June)





Sue Tucker

(co-opted in July)




+ present, A Absent


If elected to the Committee next year I would be prepared to undertake the secretarial task again, having thoroughly enjoyed nyself despite the various problems.  I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the AGM and Dinner.

Safe caving,
                        Tim Large.


Library List

Number #3 - additions to the Library List published Sept. 1972.

Parts 1 & 2 were published in the March and August 1978 B.B.'s.


Newsletter May      1965; Feb. 1968; July 1968; Oct & Dec. 1968

1969 - Jan - April; 1972 - Nov/Dec

1973 J/F; Ap; My; Jy; Sept.

1974 J, F, Mar, A, My; Sept; Nov; Dec.

1976 Jy/A; B/Oct.

1977 J/F; Mar/Ap; My/Ju; N/D.


Bulletin 2(4, 5)

Index to Bulletin Vols 1 - 5 (1974)

Bulletin, 2nd Series 1(1-2; 4; 5)

Bibliography of Technical Articles

Caving Songs of Mendip; Occ. Pub No.3


Journal 2 (1) (2).


Ladder Construction - Epoxy Resin Process


Journal (14)


Index to all volumes.


Newssheet Nos: 2 - 8, 10 - 17, 19 Journal Nos 5 & 6

Newsletters Nos: 2, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 20, 21, 24, 29-31, 35, 38, 39, 41, 42, 50, 55.


1958 (Jy, Au, D)

1959 (May, Jy, D)

1961 (Jy, O)

1962 (Mar, Ju, S, D)

1963 (Mar, Ju, S, D)

Development of Artificial Climbing

Journal 2 (1)


Journal (3)


The Northern Caver 2 (1)


Newsletter (41); Journal 2(3); 3(1)


Annual Dinner

The 29th B. E. C. Annual Dinner SATURDAY 7th OCTOBER 1978 at the CAVE MAN REST., CHEDDAR

PRICE £3.50 each includes a free pint or glass of sherry before the meal and a bottle of plonk (between two) with the meal.

Meal includes Roast Beef nod Yorkshire Pud. ‘Silver Service’ is definitely OUT this year.  The veg. will be placed on the table; only the meat will be waitress service.   So, hopefully the meal will be over in about 1½ hours.

Send your reservations and money to the Club Treasurer Sue Tucker, at 75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Redstock, Avon.

All bookings should be in with Sue by the 2nd October at the latest.


It is with great regret that we have to report the death of two of Mendip’s well known cavers - 'Digger' Harris after a long illness and Prof. E.K. (Trat) Tratman.  'Digger' was a Hon. Life Member of the BEC and will long be remembered for his lack of smell that enabled him to gain an entry into the well known Cow Hole and his efforts in the exploration of Wookey Hole in the 1930's.  'Trat' whose caving activities date back to 1919 caved extensively through out Europe but will forever be associated with the caves of Clare in Eire, Swildon's Hole and for his study of the Burrrington Coombe caves.

News in brief:

Rock and - Fountain, S. Wales; large extension found, believed off the 3rd. Boulder Choke.  Said to be huge passages.

New stock of carbide ordered for supplies at the Belfry.

Don't forget to send in your order for a BEC sweat shirt to John Dukes.

ADDRESS CHANGE: Teresa Rumble, 71 Chiltern Close, Warmley, Bristol, Avon

Meets in Yorkshire organised by Dave Metcalfe: 10 Troughton Crescent, Blackpool.

Oct. 1st. Gingling Hole, Fountains Fell.

Oct. 29th. Notts Pot

Nov. 18th. Top Sink

Dec. 16th. Swinsto/Simpsons exchange.